Thursday, May 4, 2017

Do you know what happened?

Prof. Daniel Cobb says that Europeans who first met native Americans held the idea that the Americans kept no historical records against them, taking little or no history keeping to a sign of primitive levels of living.  Many current Americans might take issue with the notion that keeping track of history is important.  When did we last consult our history records?

Cobb says that wampum belts and other items did preserve some calendar information and history. But the question of how much we use history, that is, records of past events, interests me.  I am conscious that the history or report of an experiment is needed for science and I think science, or investigation if you prefer that term, is important all the time.

I would like to know how much history is enough.  I think the answer is unsatisfactory since I think we need more or less random items at random times.   If we have digital records, we can search for the word's "Sam's birthday".  Otherwise, we look where we think we will find what we want and look somewhere else if we didn't succeed.

If we aren't looking for a fact or a date, well-written historical fiction may give us the feeling of the experience of someone in the past better than a prosaic statement of daily activities.  I guess we can ask our grandparents about something if the information pertains to a time within their lives.  I notice we can recall times when we were very elated or very scared without necessarily feeling the same emotion to the same level.  I also see that I can have a current feeling about a period of time, such as gratitude for that happy month at camp, or anger about being mistreated as a prisoner, even if I never had quite that feeling at the time.

If the detectives need evidence that the suspect did go to the house that night, they might watch a security camera tape carefully  to locate a picture of him ringing the doorbell.  If the lighting or the angle of the picture fails to show clearly who was at the door, we could say our history is incomplete.  We could ask for more cameras and more lights from now on.

Popular Posts

Follow @olderkirby