Posted: Feb 27, 2010 10:04 am
by Monkey's Nephew
TimONeill wrote:
Monkey's Nephew wrote:Look - I'm not a historian,


Okay.

just a guy who knows a poor argument and poor evidence when he sees it.


If you say so.

Accepting for the sake of argument your assertion that historians follow this convention of accepting hearsay until evidence appears that it's false, that doesn't make it any less hearsay.


Sorry, but if historians were so insanely hyper-sceptical that they instantly doubted any reference to anyone in any historical source on no rational basis whatsoever, the whole field of history would have to pack up, go home and all historians would now be flipping burgers.


Well, that's nice, but I'm pretty sure nobody suggested that.

The idea that we have to reject any reference to anyone , without any reason to do so, simply because it can be called "hearsay" is absurd.


That's also nice, but again, that wasn't suggested.

Sorry, but 99.99% of pre-modern history is based on what you call "hearsay". So unless you have good evidence that it can't be accepted, it is.


... provisionally. As in any other branch of inquiry, things should be reported with an indication of confidence in keeping with the quality of the evidence. The evidence you have available is, in many situations poor. That's just the way it is - and hence your conclusions must, by necessity, be quite tentative. That doesn't make the study of history bad, or useless, or unworkable - it just makes it like every other branch of science.