SEGMENT 1 The historical method aims to understand events that took place in the past through using written records or documents. It requires collecting information and determining facts. Facts should be differentiated from the assumptions and assertions of the historians, because this can enhance the veracity of historical methods and writings…
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Some historians are also interested in asking how and so what. Various questions in history are hard to answer because: 1) sources do not fully describe what happened, or do not honestly explain why they did something; 2) sources sometimes use “couched” or “diplomatic” words to express themselves; 3) history is a complex combination of numerous factors, such as culture, morality, beliefs, et al., that affect language and ways of communicating and understanding each other; 4) definitions are not universally agreed upon; and 5) subjects change throughout time. Proper historical writing seeks out facts. In reality, however, facts can be presented with biases, because historians themselves have different viewpoints on what happened and why/how they happened. Proper historical writing should also differentiate facts from assertions. If historians want to talk about interpretations or arguments, they must be clear about this intention in their writings. History should not be about what they think happened, but what truly happened. In the absence of facts, historians offer conjectures and theories about history. Some fields of science accuse social science as a “phony science,” because it is open to researcher bias and methodological weaknesses. Social science research, however, can respond to these weaknesses and reduce writer bias and methodological flaws, thereby improving the validity of their methods, findings, and conclusions. The problems of social science research are: researcher bias, bad data set, logical fallacies, relativism and normative definitions, level of certainty and variations, credibility of sources, misleading statistics, misinterpretation of facts, conspiracy theories, and other research problems that concern language. Like other research, their analysis and conclusions can also be prone to fallacies in reasoning. Some of the common problems with writing are: 1) not knowing who your audience is, and so the language and writing style do not fit their level of knowledge and expectations, 2) using biased language that alienate or discriminate other groups, 3) not using the right punctuation marks, and 4) not proofreading. Proofreading is essential because it catches and corrects typographical, grammatical, spelling, and usage errors. Student should maximize existing writing centers. These centers can help them make their thesis, outline, and first draft. The advantages of primary source are that writers can interpret the primary sources for themselves, instead of relying on the interpretations of others, and primary sources gather data firsthand, thereby reducing bias from having someone interpret it. Secondary sources are helpful in gathering background or historical information about a topic, and in expanding understanding on events or subjects, by exposing the readers to different perspectives, interpretations, and conclusions. Secondary sources also already synthesize or combine studies and facts, thereby reducing time needed to read them all. What historians add or not add to “history” impact their narration of “facts.” It is interesting how world history books, for instance, include or do not include certain events, people, and conjectures. This may be due to the need of condensing material, but this can also be linked to what the writers and publishers think as important and unimportant. Sometimes, I read history and ask, how about the women? What
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