Oh the Humanities!

For those who are wondering whether the hard sciences can effectively integrate with the social sciences, who eschew tying the sacred word of 'science' to anything in the profane, social sphere (or conversely, who dread the cold metrics of science creeping into the heart and soul of culture)...we present the history of...well...History.

History was once simply a term for the PR industry, a tool of the powerful (or those desiring power).  The early empires wrote and rewrote history to justify the consolidation of power and deter revolt, as with Akhenaten in Ancient Egypt.

Let's not kid ourselves, the same thing happens today.  Spend any time outside of the US (and outside the company of a tour guide or tourist-board minder) and you will quickly learn how watered down the high school history lessons were.

Today there are standards of academic rigor within the formal discipline of History.  You might not get a straight answer about US foreign policy in a mainstream class or best-seller, but if you dig deep enough you will find authors like Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky. Because Chomsky and Zinn are dedicated to examining primary source material and substantiating claims they make, they have a leg to stand on even when the social and political tides are against them.

Now, one can be critical of the introduction of a scientific methodology to the discipline of History.  In valuing primary source material, History gathers the bias of literate cultures and classes.  It often leaves out the stories of laborers, women, children and nomadic peoples.  Even with the expansion of forensic techniques in Archeology, this bias still exists.  But to lament the imperfections is to miss the point.

We are now aware of these biases, and can take them into account.   History was made more accurate and more democratic through the application of scientific methods.  This revolution was set into motion by Ibn Khaldun in the 14th century.

It is time for the revolution to spread to other disciplines.

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