What is 'ancient history'? I know it's not science, but ...

Is it just subjective opinion?

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Re: What is 'ancient history'? I know it's not science, but ...

#21  Postby Agrippina » May 08, 2015 8:22 am

I would say that the science aspect comes into the actual research process.

Do you simply accept that the Israelites conquered the whole of Canaan because the Bible says so and because there is no superficial evidence to show that they didn't? Or do you look with skepticism at the Bible because it contradicts itself, and seems improbable? This is not science. Or not how science is done.

What you do is to look at extra-biblical evidence, and what you find is that other people living in the area make similar claims. However, none of the other people claim that they took over a million people wandering around the desert with nothing to eat except manna and the occasional flock of pheasants, and none of the other people support that claim from the Hebrews.

This is the first step in the scientific process: skepticism.

Which then leads to an examination of what evidence there is. As there is no evidence for the existence of people wandering around the desert for 40 years, it may be assumed that it didn't happen. This is where assumption and deduction come in.

We assume the roaming in the desert didn't happen because there are no graves, no latrines, no skeletons of animals sacrificed, and so on. The earliest evidence for it comes from much later, when Mount Sinai became a shrine and facilities were built there.

So from this point of view, history makes assumptions, until archaeologists can show without a doubt that they've uncovered evidence for the exodus, we assume it didn't happen. This is no science, just historical assumption.

Then there are the claims of massive amounts of people being killed in wars. The Bible makes these claims but so do people like the Persians and the Hittites make similar claims. The Egyptians too, but we have their records to show that they did in fact rule Canaan in the late second millennium BCE. Which makes the Bible's story of the Children of Israel ruling as overlords and conquering all the people, a little suspect. This is moving into the realm of scientific investigation.

Then there's the claim that David was a great king, and that he ruled over a great kingdom. Archaeology has uncovered the ancient ruins of Jerusalem and it was nothing like what the Bible describes, archaeology is science, the Bible isn't.

I don't want to wander into the pits of discussing the reality of Jesus, there's a thread for that, so I won't talk about it.

We do know that the Romans ruled over Palestine. We have the Roman records, and their records demonstrate absolute obsessiveness with keeping records. This is science,the records are still in existence. What there is no record for is for the trial of Jesus and his crucifixion. There are ample records for Julius Caesar's capture and detention by pirates more than half a century earlier, and for his having crucified all of them when he managed to get released. This shows that the Romans were already recording this decades before Jesus existed. Using just this one example of evidence, we can make assumptions that the crucifixion didn't happen. But not only because it was standard Roman execution style, note how the survivors of the Spartacus were crucified along the Appian Way, more evidence for it being Roman. We also have the evidence of rabbinical writing that says that it wasn't Jewish tradition to even hold a trial on the day before Passover, and that if there was an execution, it wouldn't have happened on a Friday, and certainly not on Friday before Passover. Also Jewish execution was stoning. It was ordered in the Torah, and they stuck to the rules when it came to killing criminals. So the Jews have no record of his execution.

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. We know that. But history makes assumptions, and deductions based on tradition, culture, norms, rules, laws, habits and so on. If there are no records, and no one outside of the Bible says that there was a man named Jesus executed by the Romans on that day, then it most likely didn't happen. Again, until someone produces evidence for it, just like God, we can say with 99.99% certainty that it didn't happen.

Here the science is the evidence of Roman executions of which there are many, but the absence of any evidence for Jesus, is not scientific.

So while science is applied wherever possible, it is not always possible to produce scientific evidence, so history draws conclusions from what evidence there is, but does apply the scientific method as follows.

When we make these conclusions, we use more than one piece of actual evidence for the conclusion. We can't say that because Julius Caesar did it, ALL Romans crucified. However, the evidence for Spartacus supports crucifixion as their method of execution, as does other writing. It's not a matter of saying "because this, therefore this" it's a "because this, it is most likely this, but we're not completely sure."

Look at the recent discovery of Richard III's skeleton, for example. When the bones were uncovered, the historians were excited about the find saying that they were probably his bones. They didn't publicly announce that they were certain they were his bones and immediately conduct a burial, they tested them, examined them for all sorts of evidence of his diet, his bone structure and his DNA, which they were then able to make deductions about his life, and to show that he was indeed Richard III. This is how science helps history NOW to be more certain about the earlier deductions.

This is just off the top of my head. I'm taking a break from editing so I don't have time to offer links. I will find them if anyone wants me to later, on my next break.
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Re: What is 'ancient history'? I know it's not science, but ...

#22  Postby Darwinsbulldog » May 08, 2015 9:03 am

igorfrankensteen wrote:As to History being a Science, or similar to a Science, I personally disagree, and further, would point out that the suggestion that it NEEDS to be one, and the way that some people try to suggest that it is, is an excellent example of something the Historians disciplines can illuminate, and that no hard sciences can. It is an indication of the modern, extremely UNscientific near worship of Science, which some Historians have been tracking.

Make no mistake, I am certainly not even remotely a fanatical warrior Historian, dedicated to proving the worthiness of the subject, or anything like that. I am concerned entirely with correctly recognizing reality, via the appropriate use of the many tools that Humans have to work with.

Which leads to a point which should be noted in connection with the idea of trying to turn History into an official Science of some sort.

I suggest for consideration, that using the wrong tool, or the wrong mechanism or the wrong experimental concepts to attempt to conduct Scientific investigations, is considered by scientists to be non-scientific behavior. Demanding that something which is obviously not repeatable be tested for repeatability, is more than absurd. It's ingenuous.

I also suggest for consideration, that the Sciences themselves, do not consist entirely of the study of repeating mechanisms. Simple example, the scientific examination of how the Universe came to be as it is, does not require that someone repeat the creation of a universe in order to provide support for it.

But surely historians can form falsifiable hypotheses and then test them. One can posit, for example, that an environmental disaster could have caused the end of a civilization, or at least contributed towards it. Then you can look at the geological/archeological evidence which supports or refutes it.
I see no essential difference between such a study and palaeontologists posting that a creature could have existed at a certain point in the past with a mosaic of features of both fish and tetrapod, and naming it Tiktaalik? Not all science is lab experiments anyway. So long as the process is not biased or circular I would have no problem calling history a science. it uses reason, tests hypotheses with the available evidence, papers are published and works reviewed.
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Re: What is 'ancient history'? I know it's not science, but ...

#23  Postby Agrippina » May 08, 2015 10:17 am

Here is an example of evidence from a genuine ancient source, c8th century BCE.

Sennacharib's Prism

What I find amazing about this thing, and the stele with Hammurabi's Code is the amount of time and patience it must have taken to carve these words into the stone. Serious tenacity there.

The content might be as questionable as the Bible, and as Herodotus's Histories, but the fact that this thing exists, and can be dated to the period it refers to makes it more valid than the Bible which was gone through three millennia of writing, rewriting, chopping and changing, and which can be shown to have faulty history.

So we take Isaiah's account of the siege of Jerusalem, compare it with this stone, and somewhere in the middle, with the help of archaeology, we find something that may resemble the truth.
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Re: What is 'ancient history'? I know it's not science, but ...

#24  Postby Thomas Eshuis » May 08, 2015 1:25 pm

MS2 wrote:
Sendraks wrote:My experience with historians is that information gets broken down into two sections when being disseminated.

1 - what the evidence tells us.
2 - what we might conjecture from that to fill in any blanks in the evidence.

It's usually pretty clear where the line between 1 and 2 is.

It seems to me to get less clear the further you go back in time.

That's a misperception on your part.
What becomes less available the further back you go, is evidence. Especially of the written variety.
Descent historians fulyl acknowledge this and point this out.
Many armchair historians seem to think you can just fantasize at will to fill in the gaps.
That doesn't mean the line becomes less clear, it means people aren't doing sound research.

MS2 wrote:But maybe I'm thinking here of those TV programmes that 'fill in the blanks' almost to the exclusion of everything else in order to tell us startling new conclusions. Perhaps the academic papers are far more circumspect?

Yes they are. Most tv programmes are infotainment, emphasis on entertainment.
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Re: What is 'ancient history'? I know it's not science, but ...

#25  Postby Thomas Eshuis » May 08, 2015 1:26 pm

MS2 wrote:
Clive Durdle wrote:Science does not mean only experimental science!

So are you saying history is/can be science? If so, in what sense?

It's a so called 'soft' science, like sociology.
"Respect for personal beliefs = "I am going to tell you all what I think of YOU, but don't dare retort and tell what you think of ME because...it's my personal belief". Hmm. A bully's charter and no mistake."
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Re: What is 'ancient history'? I know it's not science, but ...

#26  Postby Thomas Eshuis » May 08, 2015 1:29 pm

MS2 wrote:
Sendraks wrote:My experience with historians is that information gets broken down into two sections when being disseminated.

1 - what the evidence tells us.
2 - what we might conjecture from that to fill in any blanks in the evidence.

It's usually pretty clear where the line between 1 and 2 is.

It's interesting how you phrase 1. To my mind, evidence doesn't speak for itself. It has to be interpreted. Interpretation suffers the problem of subjectivity. I gave the example earlier of an archaeologist having to decide a pot fits a particular style. Do you not think this is an issue?

Scientists look to overcome subjectivity by repeating experiments, but historians can't do that.

Like Clive pointed out, science =/= repeating experiments.
It's based on falsification and verification.
In history this means, not repeating experiments, but to analyse the available historical evidence and see whether it supports or contradicts your theory.
"Respect for personal beliefs = "I am going to tell you all what I think of YOU, but don't dare retort and tell what you think of ME because...it's my personal belief". Hmm. A bully's charter and no mistake."
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Re: What is 'ancient history'? I know it's not science, but ...

#27  Postby Thomas Eshuis » May 08, 2015 1:30 pm

Darwinsbulldog wrote:
igorfrankensteen wrote:As to History being a Science, or similar to a Science, I personally disagree, and further, would point out that the suggestion that it NEEDS to be one, and the way that some people try to suggest that it is, is an excellent example of something the Historians disciplines can illuminate, and that no hard sciences can. It is an indication of the modern, extremely UNscientific near worship of Science, which some Historians have been tracking.

Make no mistake, I am certainly not even remotely a fanatical warrior Historian, dedicated to proving the worthiness of the subject, or anything like that. I am concerned entirely with correctly recognizing reality, via the appropriate use of the many tools that Humans have to work with.

Which leads to a point which should be noted in connection with the idea of trying to turn History into an official Science of some sort.

I suggest for consideration, that using the wrong tool, or the wrong mechanism or the wrong experimental concepts to attempt to conduct Scientific investigations, is considered by scientists to be non-scientific behavior. Demanding that something which is obviously not repeatable be tested for repeatability, is more than absurd. It's ingenuous.

I also suggest for consideration, that the Sciences themselves, do not consist entirely of the study of repeating mechanisms. Simple example, the scientific examination of how the Universe came to be as it is, does not require that someone repeat the creation of a universe in order to provide support for it.

But surely historians can form falsifiable hypotheses and then test them. One can posit, for example, that an environmental disaster could have caused the end of a civilization, or at least contributed towards it. Then you can look at the geological/archeological evidence which supports or refutes it.
I see no essential difference between such a study and palaeontologists posting that a creature could have existed at a certain point in the past with a mosaic of features of both fish and tetrapod, and naming it Tiktaalik? Not all science is lab experiments anyway. So long as the process is not biased or circular I would have no problem calling history a science. it uses reason, tests hypotheses with the available evidence, papers are published and works reviewed.

:this:
"Respect for personal beliefs = "I am going to tell you all what I think of YOU, but don't dare retort and tell what you think of ME because...it's my personal belief". Hmm. A bully's charter and no mistake."
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Re: What is 'ancient history'? I know it's not science, but ...

#28  Postby MS2 » May 08, 2015 4:27 pm

Thomas Eshuis wrote:
MS2 wrote:
Clive Durdle wrote:Science does not mean only experimental science!

So are you saying history is/can be science? If so, in what sense?

It's a so called 'soft' science, like sociology.

Hmmm. I think some people would regard it as being one of the humanities rather than a soft science. But OK, I can see (as illustrated by this thread!) that some see it as a science. For myself, I agree that done well it will be open to revising its hypotheses in the light of new evidence, and in some ways this can be seen as equivalent to the testing that goes on in science, but I'm not sure that makes it actual science.
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Re: What is 'ancient history'? I know it's not science, but ...

#29  Postby MS2 » May 08, 2015 4:50 pm

Thomas Eshuis wrote:
MS2 wrote:
Sendraks wrote:My experience with historians is that information gets broken down into two sections when being disseminated.

1 - what the evidence tells us.
2 - what we might conjecture from that to fill in any blanks in the evidence.

It's usually pretty clear where the line between 1 and 2 is.

It's interesting how you phrase 1. To my mind, evidence doesn't speak for itself. It has to be interpreted. Interpretation suffers the problem of subjectivity. I gave the example earlier of an archaeologist having to decide a pot fits a particular style. Do you not think this is an issue?

Scientists look to overcome subjectivity by repeating experiments, but historians can't do that.

Like Clive pointed out, science =/= repeating experiments.

Clive did claim that, but I'm not sure he is right. My understanding is that science consists in the formulation of hypotheses which can be tested by repeatable experiment. Such experiments can include things like surveys in the soft sciences. History though, involves hypotheses about things that took place long ago, where surveys aren't possible.
[Edited]

It's based on falsification and verification.

In history this means, not repeating experiments, but to analyse the available historical evidence and see whether it supports or contradicts your theory.

Agreed. And this is a feature that does make it like science.

What's your view on my piece of pottery example, by the way? Do you agree that it requires subjective interpretation? And if so, what do historians do to overcome it? As I understand it, it would be a matter reaching consensus among experts?

(I'm not asking any of this to try to denigrate history, by the way, despite what some people seem to be thinking. I just thought it was an interesting issue.)
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Re: What is 'ancient history'? I know it's not science, but ...

#30  Postby Thomas Eshuis » May 08, 2015 5:05 pm

MS2 wrote:
Thomas Eshuis wrote:
MS2 wrote:
Clive Durdle wrote:Science does not mean only experimental science!

So are you saying history is/can be science? If so, in what sense?

It's a so called 'soft' science, like sociology.

Hmmm. I think some people would regard it as being one of the humanities rather than a soft science.

That's a false dichotomy.
Sociology and history are part of the humanities, whilst also being soft science.

MS2 wrote: But OK, I can see (as illustrated by this thread!) that some see it as a science. For myself, I agree that done well it will be open to revising its hypotheses in the light of new evidence, and in some ways this can be seen as equivalent to the testing that goes on in science, but I'm not sure that makes it actual science.

What's not to be sure about?
Science operates on falsifiable theories and verification through evidence.
Both apply to history.
"Respect for personal beliefs = "I am going to tell you all what I think of YOU, but don't dare retort and tell what you think of ME because...it's my personal belief". Hmm. A bully's charter and no mistake."
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Re: What is 'ancient history'? I know it's not science, but ...

#31  Postby Thomas Eshuis » May 08, 2015 5:10 pm

MS2 wrote:
Thomas Eshuis wrote:
MS2 wrote:
Sendraks wrote:My experience with historians is that information gets broken down into two sections when being disseminated.

1 - what the evidence tells us.
2 - what we might conjecture from that to fill in any blanks in the evidence.S

It's usually pretty clear where the line between 1 and 2 is.

It's interesting how you phrase 1. To my mind, evidence doesn't speak for itself. It has to be interpreted. Interpretation suffers the problem of subjectivity. I gave the example earlier of an archaeologist having to decide a pot fits a particular style. Do you not think this is an issue?

Scientists look to overcome subjectivity by repeating experiments, but historians can't do that.

Like Clive pointed out, science =/= repeating experiments.

Clive did claim that, but I'm not sure he is right.

But he is.

MS2 wrote: My understanding is that science consists in the formulation of hypotheses which can be tested by repeatable experiment. uch experiments can include things like surveys in the soft sciences. History though, involves hypotheses about things that took place long ago, where surveys aren't possible.

That's an asburdly specific definition of science.
History repeats experiments by providing citations for the textual and archeological evidence, which can be verified by anyone.
At the same time, new evidence might turn up that challenges current theories, leading to revision, like in any other scientific field.

MS2 wrote:
It's based on falsification and verification.

In history this means, not repeating experiments, but to analyse the available historical evidence and see whether it supports or contradicts your theory.

Agreed. And this is a feature that does make it like science.

No, that makes it a science, albeit a non-exact soft one.

MS2 wrote:What's your view on my piece of pottery example, by the way? Do you agree that it requires subjective interpretation?

No more than in paleontology.

MS2 wrote: And if so, what do historians do to overcome it? As I understand it, it would be a matter reaching consensus among experts?

No and I've tried to point this out before in the thread that shall not be named.
Neither science in general, nor history specifically is based on an appel to consensus.
You know why? Because that's an appeal to popularity fallacy.
Like I said before, a good historian specifies which of his claims are inferences and which are based on soudn evidence.


MS2 wrote: (I'm not asking any of this to try to denigrate history, by the way, despite what some people seem to be thinking. I just thought it was an interesting issue.)

The way you are asking questions seem to imply that history is some sort of philosophy where people just study their navels and pick whatever interpetation they fancy.
It's not at all like that.
"Respect for personal beliefs = "I am going to tell you all what I think of YOU, but don't dare retort and tell what you think of ME because...it's my personal belief". Hmm. A bully's charter and no mistake."
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Re: What is 'ancient history'? I know it's not science, but ...

#32  Postby MS2 » May 08, 2015 9:37 pm

Thomas Eshuis wrote:
MS2 wrote:
Thomas Eshuis wrote:
MS2 wrote:
It's interesting how you phrase 1. To my mind, evidence doesn't speak for itself. It has to be interpreted. Interpretation suffers the problem of subjectivity. I gave the example earlier of an archaeologist having to decide a pot fits a particular style. Do you not think this is an issue?

Scientists look to overcome subjectivity by repeating experiments, but historians can't do that.

Like Clive pointed out, science =/= repeating experiments.

Clive did claim that, but I'm not sure he is right.

But he is.

MS2 wrote: My understanding is that science consists in the formulation of hypotheses which can be tested by repeatable experiment. uch experiments can include things like surveys in the soft sciences. History though, involves hypotheses about things that took place long ago, where surveys aren't possible.

That's an asburdly specific definition of science.

'Absurdly' - really? You couldn' t just say something like 'in my opinion more specific than is appropriate'? I was hoping to have a friendly discussion but obviously you prefer a different approach. So I'm not going to respond any further to the rest of your post, other than to say if I'm being absurdly specific perhaps wiki is also when it discusses the scientific method (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method):
'Although procedures vary from one field of inquiry to another, identifiable features are frequently shared in common between them. The overall process of the scientific method involves making conjectures (hypotheses), deriving predictions from them as logical consequences, and then carrying out experiments based on those predictions. An hypothesis is a conjecture, based on knowledge obtained while formulating the question. The hypothesis might be very specific or it might be broad. Scientists then test hypotheses by conducting experiments. Under modern interpretations, a scientific hypothesis must be falsifiable, implying that it is possible to identify a possible outcome of an experiment that conflicts with predictions deduced from the hypothesis; otherwise, the hypothesis cannot be meaningfully tested.'
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Re: What is 'ancient history'? I know it's not science, but ...

#33  Postby Thomas Eshuis » May 08, 2015 9:55 pm

MS2 wrote:
Thomas Eshuis wrote:
MS2 wrote:
Thomas Eshuis wrote:
Like Clive pointed out, science =/= repeating experiments.

Clive did claim that, but I'm not sure he is right.

But he is.

MS2 wrote: My understanding is that science consists in the formulation of hypotheses which can be tested by repeatable experiment. uch experiments can include things like surveys in the soft sciences. History though, involves hypotheses about things that took place long ago, where surveys aren't possible.

That's an asburdly specific definition of science.

'Absurdly' - really?

Yes really.

MS2 wrote: You couldn' t just say something like 'in my opinion more specific than is appropriate'?

I couldn't since that was not what I was trying to say.

MS2 wrote: I was hoping to have a friendly discussion but obviously you prefer a different approach.

With all due respect, that's nonsense.
I'm calling the definition you're providing absurd, not you.
It has nothing to do with friendly or not friendly.
It's a jdugment on the definition, not you as a person.

MS2 wrote: So I'm not going to respond any further to the rest of your post, other than to say if I'm being absurdly specific perhaps wiki is also when it discusses the scientific method (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method):

Not replying because someone uses words you don't like isn't conducive to a rational discussion either.
Again, I was merely commenting on the definition you provided, not you as a person.
Other than that, I already explained why 'repeated experiments' is an inaccurate description as it tend to create the image of lab experiments, whereas in fields like history, paleontology etc, the tests of an hypothesis consist of reviewing the available evidence. Both are examples of applying the scientific method.
"Respect for personal beliefs = "I am going to tell you all what I think of YOU, but don't dare retort and tell what you think of ME because...it's my personal belief". Hmm. A bully's charter and no mistake."
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Re: What is 'ancient history'? I know it's not science, but ...

#34  Postby MS2 » May 08, 2015 10:36 pm

Thomas Eshuis wrote:
MS2 wrote:
Thomas Eshuis wrote:
MS2 wrote:
Clive did claim that, but I'm not sure he is right.

But he is.

MS2 wrote: My understanding is that science consists in the formulation of hypotheses which can be tested by repeatable experiment. uch experiments can include things like surveys in the soft sciences. History though, involves hypotheses about things that took place long ago, where surveys aren't possible.

That's an asburdly specific definition of science.

'Absurdly' - really?

Yes really.

MS2 wrote: You couldn' t just say something like 'in my opinion more specific than is appropriate'?

I couldn't since that was not what I was trying to say.

MS2 wrote: I was hoping to have a friendly discussion but obviously you prefer a different approach.

With all due respect, that's nonsense.
I'm calling the definition you're providing absurd, not you.
It has nothing to do with friendly or not friendly.
It's a jdugment on the definition, not you as a person.

I know that. I didn't claim you were making a judgement about me. My point was that my definition was clearly not 'absurd'. It may have been, as you also said, overly-specific. But it clearly was not 'absurd'. I subsequently provided you with a quote from wiki to show it was in line with a mainstream 'source' (subject to all the usual caveats about wiki of course). Yet you had decided to call it absurd. Which suggests to me that you both want to shout me down and also aren't open to considering whether there may be some value in what I have to say. That is OK. You don't have to listen to my perspective if you don't want to. But since that is how I perceive your attitude I'd rather not continue the conversation. I'm certainly not going to engage in another one of those fruitless arguments peppered with comments like 'that's nonsense' that so often go on.

MS2 wrote: So I'm not going to respond any further to the rest of your post, other than to say if I'm being absurdly specific perhaps wiki is also when it discusses the scientific method (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method):

Not replying because someone uses words you don't like isn't conducive to a rational discussion either.
Again, I was merely commenting on the definition you provided, not you as a person.
Other than that, I already explained why 'repeated experiments' is an inaccurate description as it tend to create the image of lab experiments, whereas in fields like history, paleontology etc, the tests of an hypothesis consist of reviewing the available evidence. Both are examples of applying the scientific method.

Right, so I wasn't being so much 'absurd' as using words which you think create a misleading image!
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Re: What is 'ancient history'? I know it's not science, but ...

#35  Postby igorfrankensteen » May 08, 2015 10:55 pm

Darwinsbulldog:
But surely historians can form falsifiable hypotheses and then test them. One can posit, for example, that an environmental disaster could have caused the end of a civilization, or at least contributed towards it. Then you can look at the geological/archeological evidence which supports or refutes it.
I see no essential difference between such a study and palaeontologists posting that a creature could have existed at a certain point in the past with a mosaic of features of both fish and tetrapod, and naming it Tiktaalik? Not all science is lab experiments anyway. So long as the process is not biased or circular I would have no problem calling history a science. it uses reason, tests hypotheses with the available evidence, papers are published and works reviewed.


I agree with what you've said here. However, I resist most people who push for History to be seen as a Science, because most of them do so for all the wrong reasons. They don't do it because they recognize the logical similarities, such as you describe. They do it because they want the respect being given to hard sciences to be accorded to them as well.

This is identical to a racial group wanting to be recognized for their resemblance to those who are prejudiced against them, in hopes that this will result in them being seen as equals. The correct thing to do, is to require yourself to be recognized as valuable in and of yourself.
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Re: What is 'ancient history'? I know it's not science, but ...

#36  Postby Thomas Eshuis » May 08, 2015 11:02 pm

MS2 wrote:
Thomas Eshuis wrote:
MS2 wrote:
Thomas Eshuis wrote:
But he is.


That's an asburdly specific definition of science.

'Absurdly' - really?

Yes really.

MS2 wrote: You couldn' t just say something like 'in my opinion more specific than is appropriate'?

I couldn't since that was not what I was trying to say.

MS2 wrote: I was hoping to have a friendly discussion but obviously you prefer a different approach.

With all due respect, that's nonsense.
I'm calling the definition you're providing absurd, not you.
It has nothing to do with friendly or not friendly.
It's a jdugment on the definition, not you as a person.

I know that. I didn't claim you were making a judgement about me. My point was that my definition was clearly not 'absurd'.

Then why the comment about 'having a friendly discussion' and me 'preferring a different approach'?

MS2 wrote: It may have been, as you also said, overly-specific. But it clearly was not 'absurd'.

If it's overly specific to the point it excludes things that are also scientific, it is absurd.

MS2 wrote:I subsequently provided you with a quote from wiki to show it was in line with a mainstream 'source' (subject to all the usual caveats about wiki of course). Yet you had decided to call it absurd.

And I've repeatedly explained why.
An argumentum ad lexicum, especially when employing wikipedia, won't change that.

MS2 wrote:Which suggests to me that you both want to shout me down and also aren't open to considering whether there may be some value in what I have to say.

Utter nonsense.
First of all, I cannot shout you down.
You're completely free to post or not. Unlike a verbal conversation I can do nothing to 'shout you down'.
Secondly, all I did was express that the definition is absurd. That in no way implies an intent by me to shut you up or shout you down. Nor does it express close-mindedness.
Please adress what I actually post instead of making assumptions about my motives.

MS2 wrote: That is OK. You don't have to listen to my perspective if you don't want to.

Again, I have not expressed any such motive.

MS2 wrote: But since that is how I perceive your attitude I'd rather not continue the conversation.

A rationa and honest discussion requires that you engage with what people actually post and not with imagined motives.
If I wished to dismiss you or your posts out of hand, I would have done so.

MS2 wrote: I'm certainly not going to engage in another one of those fruitless arguments peppered with comments like 'that's nonsense' that so often go on.

This is beginning to sound more and more like tone-policing in lieu of actually adressing my points.
Now, unlike what you've done, I'm not going to pre-assume that's what you're doing and ask you to adress what I actually post and not dismiss things based on the words I use.

MS2 wrote:
MS2 wrote: So I'm not going to respond any further to the rest of your post, other than to say if I'm being absurdly specific perhaps wiki is also when it discusses the scientific method (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method):

Not replying because someone uses words you don't like isn't conducive to a rational discussion either.
Again, I was merely commenting on the definition you provided, not you as a person.
Other than that, I already explained why 'repeated experiments' is an inaccurate description as it tend to create the image of lab experiments, whereas in fields like history, paleontology etc, the tests of an hypothesis consist of reviewing the available evidence. Both are examples of applying the scientific method.

Right, so I wasn't being so much 'absurd' as using words which you think create a misleading image!

Except that it is.
As I've explained twice now, science isn't based strictly one experiments, repeatable or otherwise. Hence to define science as only that which is based on repeatable experiments is absurd.
"Respect for personal beliefs = "I am going to tell you all what I think of YOU, but don't dare retort and tell what you think of ME because...it's my personal belief". Hmm. A bully's charter and no mistake."
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Re: What is 'ancient history'? I know it's not science, but ...

#37  Postby MS2 » May 08, 2015 11:29 pm

Thomas Eshuis wrote:
MS2 wrote:
Thomas Eshuis wrote:
MS2 wrote:
'Absurdly' - really?

Yes really.

MS2 wrote: You couldn' t just say something like 'in my opinion more specific than is appropriate'?

I couldn't since that was not what I was trying to say.

MS2 wrote: I was hoping to have a friendly discussion but obviously you prefer a different approach.

With all due respect, that's nonsense.
I'm calling the definition you're providing absurd, not you.
It has nothing to do with friendly or not friendly.
It's a jdugment on the definition, not you as a person.

I know that. I didn't claim you were making a judgement about me. My point was that my definition was clearly not 'absurd'.

Then why the comment about 'having a friendly discussion' and me 'preferring a different approach'?

MS2 wrote: It may have been, as you also said, overly-specific. But it clearly was not 'absurd'.

If it's overly specific to the point it excludes things that are also scientific, it is absurd.

MS2 wrote:I subsequently provided you with a quote from wiki to show it was in line with a mainstream 'source' (subject to all the usual caveats about wiki of course). Yet you had decided to call it absurd.

And I've repeatedly explained why.
An argumentum ad lexicum, especially when employing wikipedia, won't change that.

MS2 wrote:Which suggests to me that you both want to shout me down and also aren't open to considering whether there may be some value in what I have to say.

Utter nonsense.
First of all, I cannot shout you down.
You're completely free to post or not. Unlike a verbal conversation I can do nothing to 'shout you down'.
Secondly, all I did was express that the definition is absurd. That in no way implies an intent by me to shut you up or shout you down. Nor does it express close-mindedness.
Please adress what I actually post instead of making assumptions about my motives.

MS2 wrote: That is OK. You don't have to listen to my perspective if you don't want to.

Again, I have not expressed any such motive.

MS2 wrote: But since that is how I perceive your attitude I'd rather not continue the conversation.

A rationa and honest discussion requires that you engage with what people actually post and not with imagined motives.
If I wished to dismiss you or your posts out of hand, I would have done so.

MS2 wrote: I'm certainly not going to engage in another one of those fruitless arguments peppered with comments like 'that's nonsense' that so often go on.

This is beginning to sound more and more like tone-policing in lieu of actually adressing my points.
Now, unlike what you've done, I'm not going to pre-assume that's what you're doing and ask you to adress what I actually post and not dismiss things based on the words I use.

MS2 wrote:
MS2 wrote: So I'm not going to respond any further to the rest of your post, other than to say if I'm being absurdly specific perhaps wiki is also when it discusses the scientific method (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method):

Not replying because someone uses words you don't like isn't conducive to a rational discussion either.
Again, I was merely commenting on the definition you provided, not you as a person.
Other than that, I already explained why 'repeated experiments' is an inaccurate description as it tend to create the image of lab experiments, whereas in fields like history, paleontology etc, the tests of an hypothesis consist of reviewing the available evidence. Both are examples of applying the scientific method.

Right, so I wasn't being so much 'absurd' as using words which you think create a misleading image!

Except that it is.
As I've explained twice now, science isn't based strictly one experiments, repeatable or otherwise. Hence to define science as only that which is based on repeatable experiments is absurd.

I've read the above. You're an intelligent guy, so I'm very sure you knew I was using the 'shout me down' phrase metaphorically. Yet you chose to refute it on the basis it was meant it literally. That tells me my judgement is right and you are simply out to win debating points. If I then try to 'address your points' as you request, I have to waste time defending my position to the nth degree in case I get accused of absurdities, and in turn ripping your position to shreds, etc etc. No thanks.

Dont worry though, I see someone else has come along who you need to put right on the absurd notion that history might not be science.
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Re: What is 'ancient history'? I know it's not science, but ...

#38  Postby igorfrankensteen » May 08, 2015 11:35 pm

Agrippa:

I appreciate what your post tried to do, but you said some things which are on the wrong side of things, I think.

Which then leads to an examination of what evidence there is. As there is no evidence for the existence of people wandering around the desert for 40 years, it may be assumed that it didn't happen. This is where assumption and deduction come in.


Error. Assuming something didn't happen because you've found no support for it yet, isn't scientific, and doesn't demonstrate good Historical research practice either. The correct way to handle such things, is to say simply that there is no evidence to support such and such a Biblical claim. "Assuming" is NOT a recommended, or respected act by any disciplined Historian.

I don't want to wander into the pits of discussing the reality of Jesus, there's a thread for that, so I won't talk about it.

We do know that the Romans ruled over Palestine. We have the Roman records, and their records demonstrate absolute obsessiveness with keeping records. This is science,the records are still in existence. What there is no record for is for the trial of Jesus and his crucifixion.


Another common error for non-Historians. First, though it is true that the Romans did keep a lot of records, they did not keep 100% complete records. To assume that all records were complete, and to assume as well that after the fall of the Empire, that it's conquerors carefully preserved all of those records, is silly, as soon as one actually looks at it. It's a bit like the assumption some people have, that every creature who ever existed, became a fossil after the appropriate amount of time, and therefore that if we don't have a continuum of skeletons showing each bit of evolution, that therefore evolution didn't occur after all.

You are quite right in several other "off the top of your head" items, such as the recent to do about Richard III. Hard science is one of the tools that Historians use as a part of following the discipline.

DEDUCTIONS are a part of writing good History, not ASSUMPTIONS. And even deductions need to be identified as such.

Peer review is an interesting subject area. It does take place to a degree, but as we've begun to notice recently in the Hard Sciences world, we can't deduce from the fact that there is SOME peer review going on, that therefore the discipline can be trusted implicitly. Since History is NOT something which can be "replicated experimentally" for the most part (yes, one can verify evidence some of the time, other times not), there is a limit to what even rigorous peer review could accomplish.

In fact, there is an entire aspect of History which is one of the absolutely MOST fascinating ones for me: it is called "Historiography." it is the study of how the telling of History itself, is affected by everything from present day (of the particular Historian under scrutiny) politics, to fads in the telling of History itself. Even though the past )( so far as can be determined) cannot be changed, what we THINK happened in the past, changes all the time. Sometimes owing to honest reappraisals, but even more commonly to serve the newest authorities, or would-be authorities.

This is why, to really "do" History well, one must do much more than read old documents and records. One must study the general nature of the people who created the documents, and what may have influenced them to do so.

It is very possible, for example, that the reason why the Crucifixion of Jesus resulted in no record being kept by the Romans, is that the people who killed him didn't see him as important enough to warrant a record. I don't want to get into Jesus directly either, but you did bring it up after saying you didn't want to. We're both silly self-victimizers in that way, I guess.
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Re: What is 'ancient history'? I know it's not science, but ...

#39  Postby Thomas Eshuis » May 08, 2015 11:55 pm

MS2 wrote:
I've read the above. You're an intelligent guy, so I'm very sure you knew I was using the 'shout me down' phrase metaphorically.

I wasn't, which is why I adressed both the metaphorical and literal sense.

MS2 wrote: Yet you chose to refute it on the basis it was meant it literally.

No, that's half the story.
I adressed both the literal and metaphorical possibility, because I cannot read your mind and hence be sure which was your intent.
Unlike what you've done, once again in this post.

MS2 wrote: That tells me my judgement is right and you are simply out to win debating points.

So you're convincing yourself of an initial presumption, even after I've corrected you on that, by making another presumption. This time one based on a misrepresentation of what I actually posted.
I noticed that you still haven't adressed the point in all your efforts to psycho-analyse me.
Once again I urge you to drop your failed attempts at psychology and adress what I actually post.

MS2 wrote: If I then try to 'address your points' as you request, I have to waste time defending my position to the nth degree in case I get accused of absurdities, and in turn ripping your position to shreds, etc etc. No thanks.

Translation: I cannot adresss the points being made, so I'm going to dismiss them out of hand. :naughty:
If you make a claim, you cary the burden of proof, regardless of anything your interlocutor posts or in what language.
I'm not out to score points, nor do I care whether people agree with me.
I care about the facts and if people can demonstrate I'm wrong, I will recognise that and adjust my view accordingly. As I've done on this board on multiple occasions.
This tactic of accusing your intelocutor of being close-minded or being out to score points, in order to dismiss out of hand the actual content of their posts is disengenuous.


MS2 wrote:Dont worry though, I see someone else has come along who you need to put right on the absurd notion that history might not be science.

I see that you once again have not read what people actually post. igorfrankenstein was talking about hard science specifically, not science in general.
"Respect for personal beliefs = "I am going to tell you all what I think of YOU, but don't dare retort and tell what you think of ME because...it's my personal belief". Hmm. A bully's charter and no mistake."
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Re: What is 'ancient history'? I know it's not science, but ...

#40  Postby Thomas Eshuis » May 09, 2015 12:08 am

igorfrankensteen wrote:Agrippa:

I appreciate what your post tried to do, but you said some things which are on the wrong side of things, I think.

Which then leads to an examination of what evidence there is. As there is no evidence for the existence of people wandering around the desert for 40 years, it may be assumed that it didn't happen. This is where assumption and deduction come in.


Error. Assuming something didn't happen because you've found no support for it yet, isn't scientific, and doesn't demonstrate good Historical research practice either. The correct way to handle such things, is to say simply that there is no evidence to support such and such a Biblical claim. "Assuming" is NOT a recommended, or respected act by any disciplined Historian.

:this:

igorfrankensteen wrote:
I don't want to wander into the pits of discussing the reality of Jesus, there's a thread for that, so I won't talk about it.
We do know that the Romans ruled over Palestine. We have the Roman records, and their records demonstrate absolute obsessiveness with keeping records. This is science,the records are still in existence. What there is no record for is for the trial of Jesus and his crucifixion.

Another common error for non-Historians.

Did you miss the part where Agripinna stated she has a degree in ancient history?

igorfrankensteen wrote: First, though it is true that the Romans did keep a lot of records, they did not keep 100% complete records. To assume that all records were complete, and to assume as well that after the fall of the Empire, that it's conquerors carefully preserved all of those records, is silly, as soon as one actually looks at it.

While this is true, it still is odd that there is not a single contemporary record, official or otherwise of Jesus.

igorfrankensteen wrote: DEDUCTIONS are a part of writing good History, not ASSUMPTIONS. And even deductions need to be identified as such.

Peer review is an interesting subject area. It does take place to a degree, but as we've begun to notice recently in the Hard Sciences world, we can't deduce from the fact that there is SOME peer review going on, that therefore the discipline can be trusted implicitly.

Agreed, but then I think most people with an academic education or profession are well aware of that.
This notion also leads to the incorrect assumption that science is based on consensus, rather than the principles of falsification and verification.

igorfrankensteen wrote: Since History is NOT something which can be "replicated experimentally" for the most part (yes, one can verify evidence some of the time, other times not), there is a limit to what even rigorous peer review could accomplish.

It can, at the very least, verify important aspects like wether rigourous citations and annotations have been provided, whether said sources actually state what the author claims they state and whether there is contradictory evidence.

igorfrankensteen wrote: In fact, there is an entire aspect of History which is one of the absolutely MOST fascinating ones for me: it is called "Historiography." it is the study of how the telling of History itself, is affected by everything from present day (of the particular Historian under scrutiny) politics, to fads in the telling of History itself. Even though the past )( so far as can be determined) cannot be changed, what we THINK happened in the past, changes all the time. Sometimes owing to honest reappraisals, but even more commonly to serve the newest authorities, or would-be authorities.

This is why, to really "do" History well, one must do much more than read old documents and records. One must study the general nature of the people who created the documents, and what may have influenced them to do so.

Indeed, this is why philosophy of history is an interesting and useful aspect of the historical profession as a whole.

igorfrankensteen wrote: It is very possible, for example, that the reason why the Crucifixion of Jesus resulted in no record being kept by the Romans, is that the people who killed him didn't see him as important enough to warrant a record.

If the biblical account of the trial and execution is accurate, Jesus was executed for treason, for claiming to be the king of the Jews and thus a challenger of imperial authority.
Seems quite a serious and notable charge.
Caveat being of course that the biblical account is accurate in the first place. ;)

igorfrankensteen wrote: I don't want to get into Jesus directly either, but you did bring it up after saying you didn't want to. We're both silly self-victimizers in that way, I guess.

I don't think we should pre-emptively avoid the topic all together, as long as we keep things respectful. Let's not 'ban' subjects because of a rotten thread.
"Respect for personal beliefs = "I am going to tell you all what I think of YOU, but don't dare retort and tell what you think of ME because...it's my personal belief". Hmm. A bully's charter and no mistake."
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