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Old 10-21-2015, 01:44 AM   #31
vicky_molokh
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: History

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Originally Posted by Phil Masters View Post
Expert Skills "never provide the ability to do practical tasks", by definition. Research and analysis are the "practical task" part of a professional historian's work, as opposed to the simple accumulation of facts.
Except that they do. E.g. Expert Skill (Memetics) is explicitly used for Artifact Analysis and is the only skill that doesn't have a penalty attached for this task. It also works for Population Analysis (and is one of two skills without a penalty).
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Old 10-21-2015, 04:15 AM   #32
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: History

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Except that they do. E.g. Expert Skill (Memetics) is explicitly used for Artifact Analysis and is the only skill that doesn't have a penalty attached for this task. It also works for Population Analysis (and is one of two skills without a penalty).
Okay, that was of course my fault (and I may sometimes try to compensate for it). The rule about Expert Skills not being used to do stuff is inherently hard to enforce, in that, if you know enough raw facts, you can compare a specific circumstance to those facts and get a somewhat analytical result ("This is just like X"). Which was what I was trying to approximate with the Memetics rule.

However, in this particular case, I think that the idea makes sense. Someone who does high school history courses (which are mostly about giving a baseline of facts), and then reads a lot, can pick up a lot of factual information, but they'll never learn the professional academic historian's job skills of digging through the archives, critically comparing primary sources, and drawing solid new conclusions. To learn that stuff, you need a college-level course - and that of necessity will involve specialisation.

Making General History an Expert Skill (Hard) rather than a Hobby (Easy) is perhaps a matter of taste - you can always slap modifiers on the in-game skill rolls, producing identical net results - but I prefer it because "History" is a big subject, and knowing lots about all of it should be hard work.
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Old 10-21-2015, 06:17 AM   #33
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: History

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...
However, in this particular case, I think that the idea makes sense. Someone who does high school history courses (which are mostly about giving a baseline of facts), and then reads a lot, can pick up a lot of factual information, but they'll never learn the professional academic historian's job skills of digging through the archives, critically comparing primary sources, and drawing solid new conclusions. To learn that stuff, you need a college-level course - and that of necessity will involve specialisation.

Making General History an Expert Skill (Hard) ...you can always slap modifiers on the in-game skill rolls, producing identical net results - but I prefer it because "History" is a big subject, and knowing lots about all of it should be hard work.
History is a form of science, that is you use a scientific method. The problem with the a science is they want experiments repeated. History does not do repetition ever but the outcome was certain.

The clue in history over chronology is that history attempts to find answers to why things happened rather just put events in an order.

Comparing, to know where you can compare, finding a rich source of material to cross examine with Primary and Secondary sources.

Knowing other Historians to help with the search. And yes sometimes the findings are a rejection of popular thought.

For me, there is history and popular history. The latter tries to fill a quick fix narrative that is an expression of the politics of the day.
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Old 10-21-2015, 05:59 PM   #34
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: History

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History is a form of science, that is you use a scientific method. The problem with the a science is they want experiments repeated. History does not do repetition ever but the outcome was certain.
What does "was certain" mean?

Can you predict what is going to be happening in the Middle East five years from now, or fifty years? Can any living person or group do so?

Predicting the past is a mug's game, of course. It's easy to "predict" if you already know the answer. You can always produce an algorithm to match any known series of points. Whether it will match any points that you haven't fitted it to is sheer luck.

If you want an interesting test, there is predicting the historical outcome of a situation you haven't studied. In principle it would be possible to test your accuracy against the known facts. In practice we'd find it hard to be sure you didn't already know something about it.

A "certainty" that doesn't meaningfully apply to anyone's actual state of knowledge doesn't seem to count for much.
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Old 10-21-2015, 06:02 PM   #35
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: History

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Expert Skills "never provide the ability to do practical tasks", by definition. Research and analysis are the "practical task" part of a professional historian's work, as opposed to the simple accumulation of facts.
A person with expert knowledge almost surely knows where to look stuff up. It would be a poor practitioner of Military Science who didn't know how to find things in Jane's, and an equally poor Computer Security expert who didn't have sites marked that listed new threats.

I think I would make the distinction like this: the Expert Skill involves knowing how to find history texts in the library and how to read them; the actual History skill involves knowing how to use the original archives and make sense of the texts.
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Old 10-21-2015, 06:32 PM   #36
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: History

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What does "was certain" mean?

Can you predict what is going to be happening in the Middle East five years from now, or fifty years? Can any living person or group do so?

Predicting the past is a mug's game, of course. It's easy to "predict" if you already know the answer. You can always produce an algorithm to match any known series of points. Whether it will match any points that you haven't fitted it to is sheer luck.

If you want an interesting test, there is predicting the historical outcome of a situation you haven't studied. In principle it would be possible to test your accuracy against the known facts. In practice we'd find it hard to be sure you didn't already know something about it.

A "certainty" that doesn't meaningfully apply to anyone's actual state of knowledge doesn't seem to count for much.
You can use the scientific method in the sense of applying experimentation to learn the facts surrounding a given incident. For instance take a cruise on the Olympas to find out what factors an Athenian captain at Salamis would have had to deal with. That is not a substitute for other methods like gaining Area Knowledge(Barry Strauss learned that the wind shifted at a certain time of day from local fishermen at Salamis). Nor is it a substitute for records of what did happen. The scientific method only tells repeatable events and the Great King is not going to march on Greece again and if the Ayatollah does it is not going to be hoplites and triemes that turn him back.

History is a type of Journalism. Or vice-versa. And depends on similar techniques. The scientific method tells what repeatable factors are present. Not all factors are repeatable.
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Old 10-28-2015, 12:10 PM   #37
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: History

One could say that history is really about as "scientific" as evolutionary biology, and vice-versa. The scope for controlled experiments in either is somewhat limited, but one can attempt to observe the past, and to treat things that happened as accidental experiments.

Actually, similar remarks apply to astronomy, or planetary-scale geology - or various population-level social sciences. Experimental science, with rigorous applications of the scientific method, is very nice for them as can work it, but it's not the only game in town.
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Old 10-29-2015, 04:53 AM   #38
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: History

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One could say that history is really about as "scientific" as evolutionary biology, and vice-versa. The scope for controlled experiments in either is somewhat limited, but one can attempt to observe the past, and to treat things that happened as accidental experiments.

Actually, similar remarks apply to astronomy, or planetary-scale geology - or various population-level social sciences. Experimental science, with rigorous applications of the scientific method, is very nice for them as can work it, but it's not the only game in town.
They are not accidents. But the political outcomes of contending forces.
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Old 10-29-2015, 06:08 AM   #39
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: History

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They are not accidents. But the political outcomes of contending forces.
They are not, however, usually intended as experiments. Hence, their experimental nature is accidental.
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Old 10-29-2015, 08:00 AM   #40
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: History

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One could say that history is really about as "scientific" as evolutionary biology, and vice-versa. The scope for controlled experiments in either is somewhat limited, but one can attempt to observe the past, and to treat things that happened as accidental experiments.
Not very relevant to history, but there have been some very interesting deliberate experiments in evolutionary biology recently.
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