Categories
Historical Expertise

Resigning from the Enlightenment Project

In his response, Dr. Rundvist restates his original claim and enlists me in the project: history of science ([deleted because I over stated the case]) must show how past scientific debates have been resolved the in present, thereby contributing to an overall increase in human knowledge. Dr. Rundkvist characterizes knowledge in a way that I […]

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Historical Expertise

Martin Rundkvist’s Enlightenment Project

The following is essentially a guest post by Martin Rundkvist. He is responding to my comments a few days ago about “Scientific Progress and the History of Science,” which was a response to his “Historians of Science Need to Know Current Science.” Dr. Rundkvist was polite and invited me to respond to his comments. Although […]

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Historical Expertise

Scientific Progress and the History of Science

In “Historians of Science Need to Know Current Science” Martin Rundkvist rants about those annoying “knowledge relativist historian[s] of science.” Those degenerates are ignorant and lazy, and mock the hard intellectual work and real accomplishments of science. They are also hypocritical. They don’t really believe all that relativist claptrap. Rundkvist wants, instead, a history of […]

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Historical Expertise

Scientists Prove that Herodotus Lied

Flushed with their success in proving when the Iliad was written, scientists have now proven that Herodotus’s Histories do not necessarily reflect universal practices and timeless truths. A pair of anthropologists recently compared Herodotus’s account of Egyptian embalming practices to some scholarly descriptions of and a handful of their own CT scans of surviving mummies. […]

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Historical Expertise

David Nutt is Wrong …

Unfortunately, as David Nutt’s recent comments indicate, journalists, audiences, and scientists themselves too readily assume that universal authority and knowledge inhere science.[1] Expertise in a specific technical scientific domain is readily equated with expertise in general. Knowledge in one domain, however, does not in itself demostrate knowledge in another. According to The Independent and Reuters […]

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Historical Expertise

Why Novak Lost to Inman

Matt Novak from Paleofuture took Matthew Inman and his comic about Telsa to task in his “Edison vs. Tesla & the Myth of the Lone Inventor” at SxSW. Novak adopted a two-pronged approach: he attacked the comfortable idea that there was a lone inventor and, along the way, refuted many of the specific claims for […]

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Historical Expertise

Geneticists Date Homer

In “Linguistic Evidence Supports Date for Homeric Epics” Eric Altschuler and colleagues bring “formal statistical modeling of languages” to bear on the question of when the Iliad “was produced.”1 Such an approach might prompt some interesting discussion, but only when informed by relevant expertise. Regrettably, they willfully disregard alternate forms of expertise:2 Our analysis is […]

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Historical Expertise

Perry Anderson on Carlo Ginzburg

Marc Bloch, in the spirit of the Annales, had rejected the intrusion of judicial models into history, as encouraging not only concern with famous persons rather than collective structures, but moralising treatments of them. Perry Anderson’s “The Force of Anomaly” is both a review of Carlo Ginzburg’s Threads and Traces: True False Fictive and a […]

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Historical Expertise

History is Always Advocacy

In the comments to the post Gopnik on Galileo people have raised some good points that warrant further reflection. I want to begin by underscoring my point in that post: Gopnik repeats a number of problematic historical tropes. Historians of science have for years refuted those tropes, revealing how and why they are fallacious. Despite […]

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Historical Expertise

Does History Have a Role in Society?

Sarah Dunant’s opinion piece, “What is history’s role in society” makes some good points. These and many works like them have helped to revolutionise our view of the past, incorporating the richness of the ordinary and the iconoclastic. Like a huge pointillist painting, the background to all those well-known central figures is slowly but surely […]