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Why do we study history?


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#1    pantodragon

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Posted 03 June 2013 - 04:31 PM

Historians, or the ones I heard on the radio this week, think highly of Queen Zenobia.  The reason?  As soon she became Queen of Palmyra in the 3rd century AD (possibly by murdering her rivals –-- but that’s OK with the historians because murder was the sort of thing one did in those days --- I wonder if that excuse would stand up in a modern court of law --- “Murder, M’lud?  What’s wrong with that?  Everybody’s doing it.  My client is therefore innocent of all charges”……) she expanded her kingdom with lightning speed to an impressive size.

Which cultures Zenobia bludgeoned to death to achieve her “success” was not mentioned, of course.  But anyway, it was her spectacularly fast creation of an empire that impressed the historians.  (I can just imagine the hard-ons the historians must have been getting at the thought, particularly as Zenobia was supposedly a “beautiful” woman with many admirers.  Actually, you don’t need to be beautiful to have lots of admirers.  If you are in a position of power, then even if you are as ugly as sin, people will still be queuing up to brown their noses on your bottom.)

As well as the spectacularly fast creation of an empire, Zenobia oversaw its similarly rapid collapse --- all in less than a decade.  The historians blamed the fall of Zenobia on Emperor Aurelian.  And that’s because historians, no different from other academics, are just plain stupid.  They can’t see the wood from the trees.  They can’t generalise.  They cannot abstract.  (Well, what can one expect from people who live a cloistered life?)

Zenobia’s rapid decline is a recognisable phenomenon to any businessman.  It is well known that too rapid an expansion of a business leads to its collapse.  Growth should be steady with ample opportunity to consolidate etc, etc.  So it wasn’t Aurelian that destroyed Zenobia’s empire, it was Zenobia who destroyed her own empire.

And as if the failure of those historians to abstract and generalise from real life wasn’t bad enough, their whole discussion left me wondering why, exactly, they bother to study history.  One of their justifications, of course, is that history is studied to enable us to learn from the mistakes of the past.  Oh really?

Well, Zenobia made a spectacular boo-boo of a mistake: too quick expansion = inevitable failure and collapse.  There are plenty more of those boo-boos writ large on the pages of our history books.  Yet do all those mistakes make one jot of a difference?  Does it put the brakes on science as it gallops off into the sunset pursuing its latest pet theory, leaving swathes of dead and wounded in its wake?  Does it slow down the expansion of the internet, growing so fast that, as one scientist/academic admiringly said: “the internet is growing so fast that soon we will not be able to keep up with the changes”?  And note, that scientist/academic was ADMIRING the speed of technological growth, not condemning it.

The idiocy of academics really takes one’s breath away at times…….

So, why do we bother studying history?


#2    Royal

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Posted 03 June 2013 - 06:17 PM

We study history so that when people such as yourself make generalizations and abstracts about this or that historical event, we can then show you the error of your ways!

"you oughta be in here looking out"

#3    ouija ouija

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Posted 03 June 2013 - 07:21 PM

Good topic, Pantodragon!
This is the second time in a matter of days that an UM topic has been made about something I had been thinking about.
Some one from so far back in time is not going to have any effect on the way people live their lives today(exceptions are a handful of religious leaders and philosophers).
The human race does not learn from it's ancestors' mistakes, in fact I would almost go as far as saying that the exact opposite is true: a precedent has been set. That lot behaved really badly ..... we can too!

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#4    pantodragon

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Posted 06 June 2013 - 03:09 PM

View PostRoyal, on 03 June 2013 - 06:17 PM, said:

We study history so that when people such as yourself make generalizations and abstracts about this or that historical event, we can then show you the error of your ways!

You study history because you haven't the ability to think things out for yourself.  You have to do it the hard way, AND get it wrong, to boot.  See my post: Weather forecasting for dummies (Science & Technology).  My next post is going to be: History for dummies!


#5    pantodragon

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Posted 06 June 2013 - 03:11 PM

View Postouija ouija, on 03 June 2013 - 07:21 PM, said:

Good topic, Pantodragon!
This is the second time in a matter of days that an UM topic has been made about something I had been thinking about.
Some one from so far back in time is not going to have any effect on the way people live their lives today(exceptions are a handful of religious leaders and philosophers).
The human race does not learn from it's ancestors' mistakes, in fact I would almost go as far as saying that the exact opposite is true: a precedent has been set. That lot behaved really badly ..... we can too!

Yes, I absolutely agree.  They DO use history to justify their own bad behaviour.


#6    Rlyeh

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Posted 06 June 2013 - 03:50 PM

View Postpantodragon, on 06 June 2013 - 03:09 PM, said:

My next post is going to be: History for dummies!
And written by a dummy.


#7    lightly

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Posted 08 June 2013 - 10:52 PM

To learn what NOT to do ?


  *

Edited by lightly, 08 June 2013 - 11:22 PM.

Important:  The above may contain errors, inaccuracies, omissions, and other limitations.

#8    PersonFromPorlock

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 12:42 AM

How about we study history to find out how we came to be who we are?


#9    Odds

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 01:02 AM

Humans have an inherant sense of curiosity. We find things we don't yet know interesting. Do historians get things wrong? Sure, everyone does from time to time, but when it comes to studying things thousands of years ago, who's to say who's opinion is right or wrong anyway. Hell, the vast majority of medicine and science in itself is only theory, until as which time it becomes 'know' as fact. And even then it gets debated and retested over and over again with differing opinions. So hey, let's give up on that too :rolleyes:

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#10    sam_comm

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 02:39 AM

History is great. We learn what has been done and how. We learn lessons and knowledge from the past. It doesn't mean we will listen to them though but they're here for everyone that wish to know. I believe we can learn a lot from the Ancient people that once thread this earth. There are great tales and deeds. We will also make our own mistakes and learn from them in our time. Hopefully in the futur they'll look at what has been achieved and what could have been done differently. Human are not perfect and are in constant evolution.

But why should we forget and not uncover the truth from the past? Not everyone have a mind for history and some doesn't care at all. But it's important that our societies teaches what once was and what our ancestors did in their time. History is a great way to understand other culturs as well.

Edited by sam_comm, 10 June 2013 - 02:42 AM.


#11    pantodragon

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 04:25 PM

View PostOdds, on 10 June 2013 - 01:02 AM, said:

Humans have an inherant sense of curiosity. We find things we don't yet know interesting.

Yes, this thing about curiosity --- so society supports a large number of people and allows them to wander round the world satisfying their own curiosity and writing books about it instead of the individuals whose taxes provide that support using the money to allow THEM to tripse round the world and satisfy their OWN curiosity.  It seems to me that the world of acdemic historians stifles and blocks the curiosity of individuals.


#12    tipsy_munchkin

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 05:31 PM

isn't this the same topic you started a while back pretty much? Why not add to your existing thread? While the title is subtly different it makes exactly the same point in the OP of both.

http://www.unexplain...howtopic=245876

    

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#13    tipsy_munchkin

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 06:17 PM

http://www.unexplain...y I may have been thinking of this thread also for those interested.

Panto i understand each of your threads posed a different question but I do feel the rhetoric of the OP is basically getting to the same point. ie. academics don't know what they are talking about.

    

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#14    pantodragon

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 03:47 PM

View Posttipsy_munchkin, on 10 June 2013 - 05:31 PM, said:

isn't this the same topic you started a while back pretty much? Why not add to your existing thread? While the title is subtly different it makes exactly the same point in the OP of both.

http://www.unexplain...howtopic=245876

No, it doesn't make exactly the same point.  Also, I am not dead i.e. my thinking has moved on, my understanding deepened, my perception widened.......I'm bestowing upon you the benefits of my progress.  Also, have you really got nothing better to do other than "police" my posts?

Edited by pantodragon, 13 June 2013 - 03:48 PM.


#15    pantodragon

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 03:54 PM

View Posttipsy_munchkin, on 10 June 2013 - 06:17 PM, said:

http://www.unexplain...y I may have been thinking of this thread also for those interested.

Panto i understand each of your threads posed a different question but I do feel the rhetoric of the OP is basically getting to the same point. ie. academics don't know what they are talking about.

Apart from being very rude.......you are like a secretary dis-satisfied with the filing system.  If you were in charge of a rainforest, you would have all the trees of the same kind shifted to the one location, all the animals and birds and insects confined to neat little areas--- I hope you can understand that that would destroy the rainforest.  That attitude will also destroy the creative and rich world of human communication.  This is what you are doing to your own mind too, by this attitude.





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