Saturday, July 22, 2006

For your weekend reading
A new Carnival of Bad History is up over at Hiram Hover's.

In one of the posts, Wilson, The Elfin Ethicist, provides us with rules for writing tendentious history.
  • First, make no effort to develop historical research and interpretation sensibilities apart from your particular ideological project. Jump right in.
  • Evaluate the reliability of any source according to whether it corroborates your opinions.
  • Make no distinction between facts and interpretation. In any case, remember that the truth of the latter determines the truth of the former.
  • Assume that ulterior motives lie behind the work of any scholars who disagree with you.
  • Project today's political battles onto your ancestors' lives.
  • Use nice round numbers. Then round them again. With enough rounding, any number will support your position.
  • Either adopt a position of total relativism or ignore context altogether. Switch sides as appropriate.
  • Blame historical figures for failing to take into account what you know but they did not.
  • Remember that a lack of acceptance or publicity is always evidence of a conspiracy.
  • When characterizing your opponents' work, employ the term "revisionist" a lot. At the same time, obsess over how wrong the conventional understanding is.
  • Remember that "left," "right," and other sweeping political labels always provide accurate insight into individual opinions. Everyone within the Left or the Right thinks and acts alike, for all practical historical purposes.
  • Always think of yourself as politically incorrect. At the same time, always think of your detractors as fringe radicals.
  • If you must read the things your opponents write, read only the stuff that uses the most pejorative language. This will provide inspiration and spice up your prose, as well.
  • Never, ever consider the remote possibility that your detractors are intelligent people speaking in good faith.

With only a few modifications, these same rules could be used by aspiring political pundits, creationist defenders, greenhouse skeptics, or really any current events blogger. I plan to hang them over my computer.

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