There is a notion that history consists of ‘the facts’ – that all you have to do is discover ‘the facts’, which are literally true at face value, and that these ‘facts’ then ‘speak for themselves’. Such thinking, among other things, has fuelled the kind of dribble that I see pouring from the minds and … More Why the way we think about history is important
One of the funniest – yet unintentional – ironies I’ve heard of in recent years was the time a local ‘peace action group’ were charged with possession of unlicensed firearms. That’s right. Apparently, in order to stop human violence it was necessary to fight and kill. It always intrigues me how easily a cause or … More When intolerance trumps reason
One of my pet peeves is the way logic is misused in some social media. It happens a lot, as far as I can tell on the subjective evidence of my Facebook feed. The way it works is like this. Somebody comes up with a postulate about something specific, which they then use to ‘disprove’ … More How social media deceives you with fake logic
A while back I went for a walk down Lambton Quay, Wellington’s ‘golden mile’ of retail shopping. It was swathed in stale cigarette smoke and the noxious sick-sweet smell of ‘vapers’. You know, the idiots who get their nicotine through ‘e-cigarettes’ and blow out vast clouds of sugary steam for others to choke on along the … More A counterblast to vapers
One of the things that always intrigues me about history – as a field of endeavour – is the way so much effort is put into thinking about how we understand the past, and in particular, how to assess the nature of the data. Although enthusiasts often take the attitude that ‘the facts’ as shown … More Cool ways of understanding the past
One of my frustrations when writing is that I’ll often come up with a way of illustrating a concept or idea, only to have somebody ‘correct’ me because some minor detail only they know of is an exception to the trend I’m describing, and therefore I am a worthless idiot who is ignorant of my … More The frustration of writing about concepts and ideas
There was, I suppose, a universal sigh of relief when New Year 2017 ticked over and the world left the Year from Hell. We do like our arbitrary calendar dates. Reality, of course, seldom conforms to calendar dates. After all, Lemmy Kilmister kicked off the 2016 celebrity die-off just after Christmas 2015. A friend of mine suggested … More Reality isn’t just defined by calendar dates. Unfortunately.