Considering all the fake news today, how subjective people can be in their account of an event, and how easy it is to manipulate information, how do historians discern fact from fiction?

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Curious because even today, there is so much fake gossip, misguiding news, and just people turning things around on each other that makes me wonder how we navigate that when looking at our history.

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12 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

They don’t.

They try to find corroborating evidence that suggests that their view is correct.

But, fundamentally, history is about people, and we never know their intentions. History is one giant crap shoot.

Plus, there’s an expression that “history is written by the winners”. Which is obviously right. Only the winners generally get to dictate that the version of the events is as they saw it. Which clearly suggests that there is often no objective reality, just different viewpoints.

History isn’t science.

Anonymous 0 Comments

They don’t.

They try to find corroborating evidence that suggests that their view is correct.

But, fundamentally, history is about people, and we never know their intentions. History is one giant crap shoot.

Plus, there’s an expression that “history is written by the winners”. Which is obviously right. Only the winners generally get to dictate that the version of the events is as they saw it. Which clearly suggests that there is often no objective reality, just different viewpoints.

History isn’t science.

Anonymous 0 Comments

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Anonymous 0 Comments

[deleted]

Anonymous 0 Comments

[deleted]

Anonymous 0 Comments

They don’t.

They try to find corroborating evidence that suggests that their view is correct.

But, fundamentally, history is about people, and we never know their intentions. History is one giant crap shoot.

Plus, there’s an expression that “history is written by the winners”. Which is obviously right. Only the winners generally get to dictate that the version of the events is as they saw it. Which clearly suggests that there is often no objective reality, just different viewpoints.

History isn’t science.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Napoleon once said “history is a set of lies agreed upon.”

For most of history, historians mostly took their sources at face value – a ton of obviously biased writing was accepted as neutral fact by, say, medieval people reading stuff by ancient romans.

In more modern times, a massive part of reconstructing history is learning to judge the reliability of each source, understand the motives of each, read between the lines, and figure out what’s most likely to be true when combined with physical evidence. But it’s still a whoooole lot of “our best guess is…”

Anonymous 0 Comments

Napoleon once said “history is a set of lies agreed upon.”

For most of history, historians mostly took their sources at face value – a ton of obviously biased writing was accepted as neutral fact by, say, medieval people reading stuff by ancient romans.

In more modern times, a massive part of reconstructing history is learning to judge the reliability of each source, understand the motives of each, read between the lines, and figure out what’s most likely to be true when combined with physical evidence. But it’s still a whoooole lot of “our best guess is…”

Anonymous 0 Comments

For starters, they don’t accept everything at face value. A lot of the work is in identifying the biases, motivations, and limitations of the various available sources. They look to see if other, contemporaneous sources agree or disagree, and whether or not physical evidence or specimens corroborate claims made by those sources.

Anonymous 0 Comments

For starters, they don’t accept everything at face value. A lot of the work is in identifying the biases, motivations, and limitations of the various available sources. They look to see if other, contemporaneous sources agree or disagree, and whether or not physical evidence or specimens corroborate claims made by those sources.