How can we expain history to schoolers in several minutes.

Aug 2016
807
USA
#11
Hi RidiculousName,

It seemed so, stating what I state, I was basically totally disagreeing with your sentence “History is basically an anecdotal field.” That doesn’t seem compatible with a Human and Social Science.

Or, if there is a remote chance of you being correct, maybe I was just hurt in my pride for passing too many years studding and teaching anecdotes :D
Anecdotal just means stories and is the opposite of empirical. I don't find anecdotal evidence to be a terrible thing. In many cases it's the best evidence we've got.

History overlaps with all other scientific fields of study, and the term is quite vague, but "Historians" typically focus on written history.

A link describing the job of a historian.
https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/historians.htm

There are other fields such as anthropology and archeology that are based more in empirical data.

In my opinion, a "science" needs to include empirical data to be considered such.
 

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
4,617
Portugal
#12
But... My feelings about it are confused - too many mistakes and simplifications.
That is the problem of over-synthesis, it is impossible to explain a complex theme in 15 or 20 minutes.

Anecdotal just means stories and is the opposite of empirical. I don't find anecdotal evidence to be a terrible thing. In many cases it's the best evidence we've got.
First time that I see the use of the word “Anecdotal” as an antonym of “Empirical”. Even so I see continuously here on historum a concept that “History” is a sum of stories, or in your case a sum of “Anecdotes”. It doesn’t shock me, different concepts and paradigms are always welcome in all sciences, what surprises me is an apparent suggestion that that specific paradigm, that is not far from common sense, is the only existent in the world. Returning to the Social Sciences, like if the Positivism, the Annales School and the “New history”, the Marxism and the Structuralism and that all those currents of thought that made history what is today, didn’t exist, and that they never look to History as a storytelling.

Sometimes it seems like we are still in 1970’s when Geoffrey Barraclough wrote the article “History”:

“…it is important to emphasize that the purpose of the following pages is to study contemporary trends which appear to be of universal significance, and not to present a survey of current historical writing in different countries or regions. Much historical work - perhaps as much as nine-tenths of the total output - is entirely conventional in approach, and while often adding considerably to knowledge. does not (and is not intended to) suggest new directions or methods.”

http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0013/001374/137480eo.pdf, p.229

So what wrote Geoffrey Barraclough some 40 years ago is still true today. Most of the historical output is still very traditional (i.e. storytelling) in approach, adding to that some of the output under the “umbrella” history doesn’t even have a scientific approach and/or is not made by historians.

The problem may have relation with the word “history” that is at the same time the designation of an area of knowledge with a scientific approach and an area of common sense about the personal and collective myths and memory.

History overlaps with all other scientific fields of study, and the term is quite vague, but "Historians" typically focus on written history.
With the first sentence I agree completely. Besides in the last decades the concept of multidisciplinarity invaded all the sciences and allow them to leave their traditional hunting grounds. As for the “Historians” focusing typically in written sources (slightly different and more exhaustive that written history), doesn’t mean that they should forget other kind of sources and documents from the past.

Thanks for the link. “Historians research, analyze, interpret, and present the past by studying historical documents and sources.” seems quite a consensual definition. Recently, while questioned, I wrote what is a historian in another thread, giving just a bit more emphasis to the “present the past” part:

http://historum.com/general-history/129961-influence-eurocentrism-our-grasp-history-4.html (post #36).

There are other fields such as anthropology and archeology that are based more in empirical data.
Not sure. That would give a thread of its own right. Anyway today anthropology and most especially archaeology overlap continuously with history. Today an archaeologist is also a historian, a much specialized historian. Using partially the previous quote, he “research, analyze, interpret, and present the past by studying historical documents and sources.” In a minimalistic view, he just has to pick the shovel to study the sources.

In my opinion, a "science" needs to include empirical data to be considered such.
In Human and Social Sciences the extent of “Empirical data” is more limited than in the others sciences, since usually there isn’t experimentation or the experimentations are limited due to moral issues. But they are not totally impossible, even in history.

As usual, the omnipresent Wikipedia provides us a generic overview, further words about the theme can be redundant:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_science
 

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