15 thoughts on “The War On History”

  1. Removing the statue of Robert E. Lee from “Lee Circle” in New Orleans. But not rename the circle? Dare I suggest “Jackson Circle”?

    The memory hole is very busy these days.

  2. Over the years, I’ve been asked many times what subjects engineering students should study most intensely. My answer was always that every student in every field needs to first learn to read and write the English language to the absolute best of his or her ability, and then to master Western history. By the latter, I always meant the way history had always been taught. Progressive history of the type described in the article hadn’t penetrated my education at all. Maybe mine was exceptional.

    1. I have been thinking about recruiting English majors as engineering graduate students. If they are skilled at oral and written expression, that is 90% of what a research engineer does in terms of getting work published. A lot of that is almost like the legal profession in terms of framing a persuasive argument more than the science and math of it.

      Do you think such a student could be brought-up-to-speed on calculus, differential equations, linear algebra and domain-specific knowledge in a field of research, say in about two years of intensive, on-the-job, largely self-study? Or am I discounting the level of preparation in an undergraduate engineering degree?

      1. I think that a literate student can be brought up to speed in any subject, by any number of means. And a literate student aware of history will know the importance of whatever he or she is studying.

        1. But I would say that it might greatly depend on how much damage the English department has inflicted on their logic and reasoning abilities. If their head has been packed with post-modernism and textual deconstruction, etc, then there’s no telling what you’d be working with.

      2. I think the symbology of language, specifically writing, and that of mathematics is very different and probably use different parts of the brain. I’m unconvinced proficiency in one guarantees or even shows the promise of proficiency in another. I believe they are unrelated in this odd way. You’d think otherwise. Now there are exceptions. You’d have to be willing to do a lot of heuristics until you found a good candidate.

        I remember the case of the mathematical savant who can factor and detect large prime numbers in his head. He didn’t gain this ability until a near death experience having contracted a disease in childhood. Thereafter he gained the ability. But he doesn’t do the mental mathematics you and I might when we do division in our heads. No, he visualizes the numbers as some type of mental symbology or picture and then lets it change form and shape until it devolves into a contour that he identifies as the answer and then converts that symbol back into numbers. Yeah, I don’t know how he does it either….

          1. In my first year Physics class in university, the prof asked for a show of hands, who plays a musical instrument? 146 out of 150.

      3. Much like you want engineering students to learn English, English students should learn more math. Writing for a living often requires an understanding of statistics, economics, and many other fields typically not associated with writing.

        Having said that, I wouldn’t be surprised if you found more than a couple English majors that would be good candidates.

  3. “Perhaps ironically, on one quiz, 29 out of 32 students knew Jefferson owned slaves, but only three identified him as president. Interestingly, six of them incorrectly believed Ben Franklin had held that office.”

    Ben Franklin…the only President of the United States, who was never President of the United States.

    – The Firesign Theater, Everything You Know is Wrong

  4. Seconded on math not being in any way related to language (at least not in my head). I think internally in terms of pictures, and a sort of non-verbal logical/programmatic structure. I have to translate what I’m thinking into English. Verbal-centered models of cognition always seemed crazy to me, but maybe other people really think like that?

    Of course I’d like to write better. The problem is, as far as I could tell, the English (scratch, “communications”) class requirements at my undergraduate school were a strange exercise in seeking one last bit of revenge against the engineering students before we could escape into the subjects that we actually wanted to learn. There was veiled hostility in those classes that was striking and bizarre.

    The liberal arts majors (even the economists!) were never asked to learn mathematics at any level early on. (That also made the upper level econ courses surreally easy for us, when the economists were crying about basic statistics).

  5. Ben Franklin…the only President of the United States, who was never President of the United States.

    On the other hand, one of our territories was named after him. >:)

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