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Biased History

An overview of what bias can mean in a Historical context

Will Stanley

on 18 January 2013

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Transcript of Biased History

Budapest San
Francisco Compare one primary source with several others of a similar context. Are they similar? How do the facts compare to one another?
By being meticulous a historian can determine which sources are trustworthy and which are not.
Be sure to ask the same questions about each document: Who wrote it? Who was he? Why did he write it? To whom did he write it? Cross-Examination In order to make an observation which is free from bias, students must be sure to take care when observing a primary source document
Ask yourselves these questions: Who was the author? What was his background? Who were his target audience? What did he mean to achieve by writing what he did? Careful interpretation Christopher Columbus was remembered for his feats of his exploration, to the extent of having a national holiday in his name (Columbus Day).
This was an insult to many indigenous tribes, who were exploited and destroyed by Columbus
This was recently acknowledged, and the name of the holiday was changed Examples cont. Europeanization is basically the belief that Europe is responsible for most of the technological advancements that led to the modern world.
This idea has infiltrated the science of Historiography, leading to some embarrassing examples of bias and bad history Europeanization Bias is simply a point of view. Everyone has some degree of bias in every aspect of their life.
Example: John loves his daughter very much. When she is caught shoplifting, John gets into a heated argument with the authorities. Because of his bias towards his daughter, it is difficult for John to understand that she has committed a crime. What is Bias? Historiography is the method in which Historians examine evidence from the past (primary and secondary sources) and draw conclusions.
It is known as the study of the methodology of History What is Historiography? Bias is part of who we are. Since we cannot escape it, we must find ways to keep it in check.
When investigating a primary source, be sure to do some extra research about the author and his time.
Beware of historical “trends” such as Europeanization. They can lead to bad history and under-developed conclusions. Why does it matter? Bias is a part of who we are. Everyone has a perspective, which is shaped by their personal history. Thus it is impossible to be completely free from bias
However it is possible to take measures to keep this bias in check. A good historian will recognize the importance of this. Preventing Bias? Gutenberg’s Printing Press: renowned for being the “first” printing press with removable type (which allowed printers to rearrange letters).
Actually, a printing press, with similar removable type technology, was invented in China hundreds of years earlier. Examples of Europeanization Historians are not immune to bias; in fact they are quite susceptible to it.
Historical perspectives are often shaped by area of study.
Example: Professor Smith has spent much of his life studying how great the Han dynasty was. Therefore he will be skeptical of any who say otherwise, regardless of how they present their case. History + Bias =? Identifying and Analyzing a major problem in Historiography Biased History Biased History Chinese Printing Press Native American Population Bias within Society today Politics are full of bias. Politicians are almost always representing a certain political party, and these are infamous for being biased on certain issues. If you can grow to understand bias, you will be a better citizen and a more active voter. Here's a hypothetical question: If you were considering voting for a president and you found out that they were biased, how would it affect your decision? For example, if they had a prejudice against the unemployed, would you still vote for them? Would it be enough for you to switch candidates? Consequences of Bias Following the previous example, what if this biased and prejudiced president was elected, whether you voted for him or not? Would he implement his bias into his position of power? These are all important issues to consider. Conclusion Assuming everyone has bias, how much does it really matter? Can there be too much bias or too little bias? Consider these questions. Whether it's in ancient history or here and now, bias is a serious thing. It can have a tremendous affect on the perspectives held by important people.
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