The Enemies of Historical Accuracy
Contrary to the common perception, "History" is not a true science. True, the field of Historical Study does, to some extent, rely on true scientific method for, at best, a respectable level of accuracy. But it also requires the use of imagination and insight… tools which are not usually accepted by hard science as valid mechanisms for the application of the scientific method.
In fact, the most critical component of the process of "Historical Analysis" is not the data itself. It is the unique talent of a historical researcher to take flawed, conflicting, horribly biased and often badly translated documents- or in most cases only the decayed fragments of those documents- and miraculously transform this confusing heap of rather unscientific chaos into a cohesive chronology of Mankind’s Past. A tall order indeed…and, hardly an activity of ‘pure’ hard science.
Historical Analysis, very much like Psychological Analysis, is an "art" practiced in the realm of science. Like all arts, the quality of the art produced is dependent upon both the talent of the artist and the perceptions of the person viewing the work. Without the foundation of good scientific data (i.e., the knowledge of compounds, pigments, form, perspective, color-combinations, techniques, base materials and applicators), the artist would lack the technical skills to allow him to properly apply his talent to his work. This would, of course, have a negative impact on the art that he produced (regardless of the artist’s talent).
It is exactly the same with the Art of History and the Artist-Historian.
The best historical works are those ‘historical compositions’ which combine technical data with the interpretative intuition… the "gift" of interpretation.
How then should we define Interpretation of historical data? How do we judge the criteria for excellence in ‘historical interpretation’? Conversely, how too, do we determine poor historical interpretation? The answers to these questions must be provided in order for the historical scholar to make sound judgments on the quality of the documentary portrayals of past events.
To begin, interpretation of historical-data consists of analyzing hard scientific data (gathered by archaeological research, sociological research, and anthropological research) and a literary analysis of related historical works, as well as the literature, art, religion and customs of the "historical subject".
But how does one achieve excellence in interpreting this data, especially when the available data is often only tiny fragments of the examples mentioned above?
The obvious answer seems to be quite simple. The historian who is making the analysis needs to be completely unbiased throughout the entire interpretation process. And, although this seems the obvious path to achieving excellence in historical analysis, it is, in fact, inaccurate and virtually impossible to achieve. Why? Social conditioning marks each human being with deep biases. From childhood to old age, we are all constantly submerged in and molded by cultural-specific biases. These biases run deep and they taint our perceptions in every aspect of our conscious and unconscious thought-lives. We, without even being aware, receive daily "conditioning"… conditioning which is bound to our specific cultures and subcultures… conditioning which fills us all with racial, religious, intellectual, artistic, sexual and chronological prejudices. These prejudices exist in each one of us. No matter how subtle or how blatant these biases may be… they are there and they do impact our perceptions… and thus, our interpretation of data either personally obtained or data gathered by others of our species is immediately suspect. However, the fact that our perceptions are flawed- an unavoidable aspect of living in our given societies- does not mean that excellence in interpretation is beyond our reach… perfection, yes… but excellence, no.
Prejudices can be controlled… biases can be modified and utilized as valuable tools in the analytical process. Coupled with imagination- the open-mind- these controlled biases can actually be used to defeat historical interpretations most vile nemesis. That "nemesis"… that enemy is, of course, the erroneous application of a pre-conceived and unsubstantiated historical paradigm to any given historical subject.
Much of what is currently viewed today as "accepted history", is plagued by two diseases. The first of these ills is "unbridled bias". The second and most deadly to the accuracy of "content value" is, as mentioned in the above paragraph, the "erroneous paradigm".
Okay, so we can solve the problem of unbridled bias by simply admitting we have it and then applying a nice sturdy bridle to it. But, what do we do about the problem of the ‘erroneous paradigm’?
Well, lets look at that problem for a moment and see what we are up against.
First, in order to find a cure for this ill, we have to see that it is there and we have to admit that we see that it is there. And (as indicated in the "Forward" of this work), that is accomplished by applying a simple formula to the paradigm in question. I call this formula "The Anomaly Scale". It’s really very simple to use. You just take the paradigm in question and look for any anomalous data related to that paradigm… and bingo… out pops the answer. If you’ve got those nasty little anomalies crawling around all over the place (or even just one or two), then, you’ve got an erroneous paradigm! Case closed. Wait a minute, now. Aren’t there degrees of error? Yes, there are… but degree of error is irrelevant. Any error in a paradigm means that the paradigm is NOT a ‘factual paradigm’… it is a faulty and dogmatic Technical Blueprint and not the "Concept of the Possible" that is the requirement of a factual historical paradigm. So, what we need to do is change how we view the paradigm in question and be willing to modify and change that paradigm in accordance with all the data. It just doesn’t make ANY sense at ALL to hide, delete, ignore, or ridicule data simply because it doesn’t fit in with one’s belief of how, when, where, why, who and what occurred. That’s not scientific thought. That’s religious conviction. Those are, and have always been the tactics and the mode of operation used by Religion against Science. That’s not open-minded research and eager growth in knowledge… that’s blind faith in the infallibility of a concept that barely qualifies as "theory". But, that is exactly what members of the scientific community in general are doing, thinking and practicing!
Can I prove it?
Yes. And, so can you. All that you have to do to prove this to be true is present data (and I’m talking about data that has been collected, analyzed and verified using the same methods as ‘accepted data’) which contradicts or calls into question some portion of the established paradigm. Now, watch how fast those resurrected ‘inquisition tactics’ are applied to both the data and the researcher (you).
To what sort of anomalous data am I referring?
I’ll list a few examples just to heat things up a bit:
(First an example of a find that is accepted)
Find Location Est. age of mineral deposit
Fossil Remains of Hominids Africa 1.5 to 2 million years old
No big deal. Easy to swallow. Fits the accepted paradigm just fine.
(Okay, now a few anomalous finds… definitely NOT accepted or acceptable)
Find Location Est. age of mineral deposit
Inscribed Copper Coin USA 200,000 to 400,000 years old
Block of Marble from a Quarry USA 500-600 million years old
Clay Figurine of Human Form USA 2 million years old
Metal Tubes (same shape-diverse sizes) France 65 million years old
Okay, now you can see why these anomalies (and literally hundreds more like these) received such venomous treatment from the scientific community. Now I’m not claiming that ALL of the anomalous finds that have been discovered are what they seem… I’m saying that, in general, these type of anomalous finds have not received and do not receive a thorough and unbiased review from the mainstream scientific community. They do receive nice ‘poo-poohs’ and really wonderful ‘brush-offs’… but not serious study. Why?
Isn’t it obvious?
It’s because of the aggressive protective reaction that is a common component of the psyche or mind-set of the religiously fanatic. You presented something that was obviously and patently contrary to their belief system and they took the ‘angry’ or ‘condescending’ defensive stance. Now if these types of anomalies can be properly explained (NOT ‘explained away’) even within the bounds of the current (and rather restrictive) Historical Paradigm… then, fine. Let’s explain them. Let’s publicize and publish the results of those research findings so that we may justifiably put both the anomalies and the questions they raise, to bed. Let’s play fair. Let’s not stoop to the use of the same tactics that were used by Religion to oppress and suppress the field of Science and the community of scientific minds. This should be the mind-set of the Scientific Community.
Sadly, it is not.
The most recent example of this dark-age mentality can be seen in the ridiculously heated debate over the proposed (scientifically based) revision of the age of the Sphinx. The geological evidence for a date of from 9,000 to 13,000 years B.C.E (BC) is just as sound as using a ‘suspect’ graffiti-mark to establish builder and construction date for the Great Pyramid. So what’s the problem? Well… damn it… it messes up the ‘divine’ time-line of the established paradigm… so that data obviously is bad. Because we know…
What exactly do we know?
How did we arrive at that knowledge?
Were we accurate in our initial conclusions?
Does the evidence continue to support our conclusion?
Is there any conflicting data?
Has that data been fairly and thoroughly analyzed?
Anger, anger, anger. Name-calling and ridicule abound. Over what? The Divine Paradigm has been proven wrong before. Oh, yes, it has. I seem to recall that there was once a staunch belief that "the beginning" of, or birth-place of Civilization was Ancient Greece… oh (oops) and then Egypt… oh, wow (oops again)… and then, eventually Sumer (actually ‘Shumer’)*. Oh… and remember that nutty amateur archaeologist who actually believed that the city of Troy once existed and wasn’t just a legend in a dusty poem about the gods (lower case ‘g’ fully intended)? He found Troy… it was a real city. Imagine that. There are many other examples but I’d like to keep this work to a reasonable number of pages.
* Note: There is a growing body of evidence which indicates that "Sumerian Legends" contain information that points to their belief that they were descended from an even older civilization. The possibilities are intriguing!
At this point I want to re-state the objective of this portion of "Ki-umun". That objective is to bring the ‘Holy Paradigm’ down from its’ unwarranted "throne of grace". I want to take the current paradigm and de-mystify it until it is once again viewed in the proper light. I want the reader to realize exactly what (and who) the enemies of "Historical Accuracy" really are. If, as I have proposed, this new ‘inquisition’ is actually occurring (and it is), then we have to determine why this is so. What are the motivating factors that are driving members of mainstream science to behave like religious zealots?
Thus far, we have identified two of the enemies of historical accuracy.
- Unbridled Researcher Bias
- Erroneous or Deified Paradigms
Now, let’s take a look at what motivates these enemies of true science. What gives birth to bias, prejudice and, the ridicule of those who are different or of differing viewpoints? What factor causes the irrational-defense of a mere ‘concept’ against any opposition or even the hint of opposition? What is the one factor that is common to both bias and erroneous, over-blown conviction?
I’ll give you a clue.
(CLUE): It’s the same root-cause that manifests itself as the human ‘Religious Urge’.
Answer: The disaffected and/or dysfunctional Human Ego. Bear with me as I elaborate.
All things manifested, all events, all actions stem from a root-cause. That’s not theory… that’s provable, verifiable scientific fact. If an event or action is not clearly understood, then, it stands to reason that it’s root-cause has not been clearly identified and clearly understood. I think we all can agree on that much. Therefore, when we see any problem, its only true solution must be resolved at a root-cause level. And, in addressing the problems of uncontrolled bias and faulty paradigm, as we travel along toward the sources of the problems, we come upon a common thread… US. And that, boils down to our very concept of SELF… Ego, if you will. The ‘Religious Urge’ (see the articles by Alexei Dolgorukii for details), as I see it, is not a phenomenon unto itself. It is a phenomenon that has its root in the condition of the SELF. If the Ego (or SELF) is healthy and adjusted, what is manifested is good old human curiosity… the drive to learn and discover… the need to know and understand. If the SELF, Consciousness or Ego is dysfunctional, then, in direct proportion to the type and severity of that dysfunction, the "Discovery Drive" as malfunctions. These malfunctions manifest in various ways. One such malfunction is what Alexei Dolgorukii calls "the religious urge", which when analyzed completely, obviously contains quite a diverse number of very negative behavioral phenomena.
The various manifestations of the "religious urge" have never, do not now, nor ever shall, have any place in the exploration of the sciences. Anger and the irrational defense of a mere theory are NOT signs that a healthy "Discovery Drive" is in operation. On the contrary, these negative attitudes are the common by-products of the "Religious Urge" in full operation.
It would do us no good to proceed with the contents of this book if we were operating with any other motivation than a singular, healthy drive to discover. This is not to say that the reader should not maintain a healthy level of inquisitive reserve. To do otherwise would not be the mark of a wise researcher. However, this open-minded reserve, should never be mistaken for its negative and destructive opposite… what we now falsely call "skepticism". True ‘skepticism’ is what I have just described as ‘open-minded reserve’. It is not the arrogant and violently aggressive attitude that demands all things that are unusual, or new, or that don’t fit within the defined boundaries of some deified paradigm, be debunked or dismissed.
Harboring the enemies of ‘Historical Accuracy’ cripples our reason and robs us of the sheer exhilaration of discovering the incredible depth of our history… as well as the absolute wonder of our very being. Embracing these enemies is a viscous barrier to beginning our journey of discovery… a discovery of the mysterious magnificence of our cosmos.
Perhaps, it is simpler to say, "The Researcher should first examine his/herself before he/she examines the data".
(An excerpt from "Ki-umun") COPYRIGHT: Mark Brock-Farrington