Opinions/thoughts on amateur historians?

Dec 2016
5
United States
#1
I'm not sure if this type of question is allowed, but I'm wanting opinions.

I have no formal education in history, but I love reading/studying about WWII (as an actual hobby). What are your thoughts on people becoming/aspiring to be amateur historians?

It's more of a personal quest if you will, but I could choose far worse hobbies. At the same time, I wasn't sure what other people that loved history thought of so-called "amateur historians".

Growing up watching the History Channel, I remember seeing them interview historians like this (some actual historians).
 
Feb 2019
17
Denmark
#6
I appreciate the words. I work with a guy that also has a degree in history and he was saying something similar.
It is true.

I have no degree in history, but I know that getting a degree in history will give you the tools of the trade so to speak, on how to think about history. It is all about critical review of the history.

Take the Bible for example; Historians will not only read the Bible as such - they will dig into the origins of the Bible, and how it was composed (like Julius Wellhausen - author of the Documentary Hypothesis).
A historian will combine archaeological findings with the earliest written records and do everything he/she can to destroy their own ideas and opinion on whatever subject.

This is what scientists do: They rip stuff apart, not just the thing they are studying, but their own theories as well. They do everything they can to find evidence their own theories are wrong.

Amateur historians should be doing the same thing.
 

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,485
Dispargum
#7
Those who do not study the mistakes of the past are doomed to repeat them, but those of us who do study the past are doomed to sit by helplessly as everyone else repeats the mistakes of the past.

My moment came in 2003 when someone was saying there were WMDs in Iraq. In 2006 when everyone else was asking 'Where are the WMDs?' it was not the least bit satisfying to say, 'I told you so.'
 

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
4,725
Portugal
#8
I'm not sure if this type of question is allowed, but I'm wanting opinions.

I have no formal education in history, but I love reading/studying about WWII (as an actual hobby). What are your thoughts on people becoming/aspiring to be amateur historians?

It's more of a personal quest if you will, but I could choose far worse hobbies. At the same time, I wasn't sure what other people that loved history thought of so-called "amateur historians".

Growing up watching the History Channel, I remember seeing them interview historians like this (some actual historians).
Having a formal education in history doesn’t make anyone a historian. I completely agree with Kirilax, and a couple of days ago I said the same in other thread. A historian is a producer of knowledge. A historian is not one that reads much about history or sees many documentaries.

Anyway there are amateur historians that give some contributes to the discipline.

For instance in military history the contribute of (serious) wargamers and reenactors has been positive and sometimes it made the historians begin to think with other perspectives, especially in some pragmatic things.

But often their lack of training is quite evident in their writings. Usually their best (more positive) contribute is on local history, in regions/cities/towns that the historians don’t look so close. In other words, they have their niche. Also… common problem about the amateur historians is that their work, in specific niches, is often stained with ultra-nationalism and/or para-history. Their passion about the subject makes them often break the most basic common research procedures.

The research of the self-educated historian Manuel Luciano da Silva about Dighton Rock and Christopher Columbus come to my mind: Dighton Rock - Wikipedia

Almost everyone on this forum is an amateur historian.
Unfortunately I don’t agree with you here. There are some and it would be interesting to see some more. I have a perspective similar to Kirilax. I think that to be consider a historian we need to write something more than a couple of posts.
 

Similar History Discussions