August 31st assignment by Jack Masterson

How do we separate valid historical evidence from useless information and material trash? Further, why are some individuals so fixated on reconstructing past happenings, filtering useless substance from vital building blocks as a restoration carpenter might do, and why is there such fierce debate in the historical community about this filtration process; determining what is relevant and what can be swept under the rug? In short; why does history matter? The grade school answer would be ‘well, we can always learn from the past’? Nice, but why then have so many historians fallen over to the school of thought that views history as a series of cycles, where although the terrain may be different the players and the game itself are essentially always identifiably the same. Going further down this road, we can point out that history itself was invented by man, and what the modern student thinks of as ‘history’ is actually a quite recent invention; the practice of modern historiography comes out of 18th century western Europe, although some might argue that Athenian and Roman Antiquities produced something that look like history. In short, I’m going to finish up my piece by arguing that history itself is merely a branch of academia; it is not an applied science like economics or biology as some historians might have you believe. It has no applicable relevance on anyones life, and I say that as a history major and someone who has been devoting his life to the study of the past for the last decade of so.

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