Comments on: History Under Attack, part II: Can splitters be polemicists? http://www.historiann.com/2011/01/13/history-under-attack-part-ii-can-splitters-be-polemicists/ History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Tue, 23 Sep 2014 19:16:33 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 By: Diane Ravitch: the only honest reformer, or an opportunitistic, grudge-bearing polemicist? : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present http://www.historiann.com/2011/01/13/history-under-attack-part-ii-can-splitters-be-polemicists/comment-page-1/#comment-911934 Mon, 28 Nov 2011 16:21:54 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=13859#comment-911934 [...] the course of a long career.  Because of my conviction that historians are bad polemicists because we tend to be splitters devoted to nuance rather than lumpers devoted to political advocacy, I believe that a history education makes one more immune to intellectual fads, and there appears [...]

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By: Gingrich prexy run reflects his sense that history is a superhero comic book plus decoder ring : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present http://www.historiann.com/2011/01/13/history-under-attack-part-ii-can-splitters-be-polemicists/comment-page-1/#comment-824481 Wed, 11 May 2011 12:44:07 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=13859#comment-824481 [...] gimmick.  (H/t to Roxie at Roxie’s World for the photoshopped beauty above.)  First of all, because real historians do nuance and complexity and resist simple answers to complex questions, I know of no actual historians who are of the personality or temperament of Newt Gingrich.  This [...]

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By: Sunday roundup: unicorns, meritocracies, and humanities grants edition : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present http://www.historiann.com/2011/01/13/history-under-attack-part-ii-can-splitters-be-polemicists/comment-page-1/#comment-785442 Sun, 06 Feb 2011 17:19:52 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=13859#comment-785442 [...] Tony Grafton is back with another column in Perspectives this month in which he cites in particular the discussions here and at Jeremy’s blog last month about his January American Historical [...]

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By: Just Do It: Historians and the General Public | Crossroads http://www.historiann.com/2011/01/13/history-under-attack-part-ii-can-splitters-be-polemicists/comment-page-1/#comment-783123 Mon, 31 Jan 2011 20:14:13 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=13859#comment-783123 [...] Historical Association.  Several responses are more reaily available: I direct you here and here (which follows here, so you can get some idea of the content of the original [...]

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By: Big Time « The Crolian Progressive http://www.historiann.com/2011/01/13/history-under-attack-part-ii-can-splitters-be-polemicists/comment-page-1/#comment-783090 Mon, 31 Jan 2011 16:38:45 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=13859#comment-783090 [...] unfortunately, is behind a subscription wall.) In his column, Grafton provides a synopsis of my and Historiannn’s comments on the recent and continuing attacks on the historical profession. Grafton also responds [...]

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By: Comrade PhysioProf http://www.historiann.com/2011/01/13/history-under-attack-part-ii-can-splitters-be-polemicists/comment-page-1/#comment-774674 Sat, 15 Jan 2011 22:40:33 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=13859#comment-774674 (1) I love Indyanna’s sports metaphors, too!

(2) Actually, deranged ignorant assholes apply plenty of scrutiny to what scientists do and, especially, what research is funded by federal grants. The ban on human embryonic stem cell research is a perfect example of this.

(3) Until I read this poste, I had no idea that arguments had nuts.

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By: Sungold http://www.historiann.com/2011/01/13/history-under-attack-part-ii-can-splitters-be-polemicists/comment-page-1/#comment-774565 Sat, 15 Jan 2011 17:41:14 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=13859#comment-774565 I would hate it if we ever *stopped* purveying complexity and uncertainty. Our culture is riven by people who insist that they know all the right answers, and who deny uncertainty. Learning to reject facile black-and-white thinking and to seek nuance ought to be among the primary skills students take from higher ed.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying I love, love, love this post!

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By: Tony Grafton http://www.historiann.com/2011/01/13/history-under-attack-part-ii-can-splitters-be-polemicists/comment-page-1/#comment-774065 Fri, 14 Jan 2011 22:02:21 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=13859#comment-774065 Dear Historiann, dear all,

This has truly been inspiring, for me at least, and in my next column I will discuss the responses to the first one, here and elsewhere, and see if I can push the discussion a little bit forward with your help.

Thanks so much,

Tony

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By: Western Dave http://www.historiann.com/2011/01/13/history-under-attack-part-ii-can-splitters-be-polemicists/comment-page-1/#comment-773964 Fri, 14 Jan 2011 19:08:05 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=13859#comment-773964 I think we have to do a better job communicating how history training helps us think through real world problems. There is a reason why Goldman Sacks for years only hired history majors. And that’s because studying history teaches you how to evaluate evidence, who is lying, who isn’t. One of the reasons why we had the economic collapse recently was because people relied only on numbers to do economic evaluation and didn’t visit the factories or job sites and interview the folks there to see if the numbers were backed by reality. We saw it with Enron. People trained in history would have recognized the problem. (And some of them did).

In the Madoff case, the opposite happened, you had lawyer/regulators who didn’t understand that Madoff wasn’t just brilliant, but that his results were mathematically impossible. They were only concerned that the paperwork was filled out correctly. People trained in history would have recognized the problem. (And some of them did).

What history (and of course, all the liberal arts) teaches us is something called problem solving. It’s the most important life skill there is. In history it works like this: why did somebody do x. Ok to answer that question, what do I need to know? What sources can I find? What am I not going to find – that is what are the limits of my knowledge. What can other people who have looked at it tell me. Can history answer this question or do I need other fields’ help?

If you’ve ever tried to buy a house or a car you’ll need these skills (particularly a used car). If you ever need a lawyer, you’ll need these skills. If you ever… well you get the idea.

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2011/01/13/history-under-attack-part-ii-can-splitters-be-polemicists/comment-page-1/#comment-773941 Fri, 14 Jan 2011 17:26:34 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=13859#comment-773941 widgeon–I think you’re right that these “behind the curtain” exercises work well with students, even undergrads. Your comment on why it’s important that people understand our work better gets at a point I should have made in the post above, which is that most people don’t understand why our jobs are different from secondary school history teachers’ jobs. Hence their frustration that we’re not on our feet teaching all day long–if we’re not, then, we must not be earning our keep. When you invite your students to understand a little bit of your life as a researcher and scholar, that starts to change.

Interestingly, my students are much savvier about the different demands on regular vs. adjunct faculty than I would have expected. When I was talking to them about what they thought was a reasonable turnaround time for grading their essays, they said, “it depends on the number of other classes they’re teaching,” and said that they don’t expect as fast a turnaround time from adjuncts as they do from regular faculty. (Now this indicates that they may not really understand the rest of regular faculty workloads–but I thought it was a pretty reasonable and humane response w/r/t the adjuncts.

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