How to Change History: William Petty, Irish slavery, and a fake debate

Treating debunked pseudo-history and personal attacks as legitimate criticism of historical research is bad enough on the letters page of a widely-read history magazine. Publishing articles based on spurious sources is worse. In my last post, I discussed History Ireland's publication of Mike McCormack's letter attacking Liam Hogan for exposing the myth of Irish slavery. … Continue reading How to Change History: William Petty, Irish slavery, and a fake debate

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Crackpot Historicism

The observation that the Trump era is a good time to be a historian is by now cliché. The routine yet outlandish lies that increasingly puncture public discourse; the proliferation of "fake news" and the appropriation by its makers of the label "fake news"; the appeal to "alternative facts" and the self-fulfilling prophecy of "post-truth" … Continue reading Crackpot Historicism

Arguing for history: If not skills, then what?

The quiet, leafy corner of Twitter where I spend increasing amounts of my time exploded this morning with responses to the following statement: Society doesn't need a 21-year-old who is a sixth century historian. It needs a 21-year-old who really understands how to analyse things, understands the tenets of leadership and contributing to society, who … Continue reading Arguing for history: If not skills, then what?

Skills, Knowledge, and (Not) Selling History

Why study history? What can I do with a history degree? Why is the history major in decline? These three questions, or variations of them, seem to have been with us forever, or at least as long as I've been studying history (taking in college, that's about twenty years). They're the titles of campus workshops. They're … Continue reading Skills, Knowledge, and (Not) Selling History