A Guide to Writing Bad History

by Fred Ray on July 15, 2006 · 0 comments

Writing history is one thing, but if you want to write really bad history, here’s a quick guide.

Among the recommendations:

* 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.

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