April 21st, 2007

Viking Spongebob

Make certain You're Right--Then Go Ahead

They say the Honorable David Crocket said that. If he didn't, he should have. He'd have made a damn fine historian and probably not been slaughtered at the Alamo...

I recently read a post about being open to new interpretations of historical "facts." As an example, the author noted that she had found an instance which shook previously conceived notions of what was correct.

All very well and good, and written with the best of intentions. TBut I found it was a poor rationale for a good rule. But I think she was too ready and willing to use a single instance as a reason to rethink a long-established theory. Unless she found at least one and preferably two other instances of what she found, I don't think the theory she had has been hopelessly invalidated. It certainly merans an absolute "they never did this" is disproved, but any serious historian who makes such absolutes is a fool anyway; there's always an exception somewhere that proves the rule. And when you take into consideration that her interpretation is dubious to begin with, I am even more critical of the situation.

I think that a too quick and too ready rush toward revisionism is at least as bad as an ossified clinging to past "facts." It reminds me too much of bad SCA "research," where one exceptional instance becomes proof for a thousand bad interpretations.

Not being wedded to an historical "fact" is one thing. Rushing toward revisionism to show open-mindedness is another, and it reminds me of the bearskin helmet debacle of a few years ago. The fact that she offered such a weak rationale as proof for such a good thing--don't cling to a theory in the face of overwhelming contradiction--is someone disturbing and troubling.