ANST - What I learn in College

stddly at stddly at
Tue Nov 11 13:29:25 PST 1997

The best/worst thing I learned in college is that "stated fact" and
"true fact" are not the same thing. It doesn't matter who the authority
is, the only way to really know if something is as true as it can be 
figured out is to investigate it yourself.

This especially applies to any subject that is not a "hard science".
In a course I took called " Historiography" we investigated how and
why historians put their slant on their works. Each person puts their
own slant on the "facts" and that slant is often taken as "fact" when
it is truly an opinion on how the fact came about.

What gets rough is when you investigate a "fact" and the only sources
are from eras where people made up their own "fact" to fit the view of
the times (like the Victorian Era, the American 1950's...etc...)
I'm running into this problem at the moment with my textile and grain
research. The books that state "fact" on farming tecniques and distribution
of grains all refer to Victorian and eary 20th C sources for their facts.
People are reticent to re-test evidence (even though our technology has
increased our accuracy) and would rather rely on previous research as fact
so that they have somekind of base to go on, rather than "reinvent the wheel"
Seeing how this works in hard science has made me even more sceptical of
anything that does not use mostly physical evidence.

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