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NRE86
United States
I am a professional historian, amateur political scientist, and hobbyist artist.
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:iconapaskins1991:
apaskins1991 Featured By Owner Nov 18, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for the fav 😀
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:iconnre86:
NRE86 Featured By Owner Nov 18, 2017
NO problem, I really like the design!
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:iconblu-oltremare:
Blu-Oltremare Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2017   Digital Artist
Thank you for the favourite! =)
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:iconredbeatha:
RedBeatha Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2017  Student Digital Artist
Thanks for the fav! ^^
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:iconnre86:
NRE86 Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2017
Thanks for the great work, simply loved it!
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:iconuncledon:
uncledon Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2017

I note that you are a historian. I am a geologist and deal with empirical evidence which my limited knowledge of the mechanisms relating to historical research leads me to think are not as easy to come by in some cases. That being said might I ask your opinion on an issue I recently came across?

I think that very few would doubt the validity of stating that such a figure are Julius Caesar did in fact exist though I have encountered some did for certain reasons relating to their ideology. This is based on the wealth of material artifacts, his own ‘histories, Roman records and the writings of his contemporaries. Understandably just as with current figures we must devote detailed research, comparative analysis and a portion of subjective interpretation as to many details and possible motivations of such persons yet the mere fact that they did exist and did the major or most important events attributed to them is likely without question.

This leads me to my questions.

First if I to propose to you that if none of the aforementioned supporting evidence in fact existed for someone not from among the elite that this would not be unusual what would be your response? Even though many artifacts and documents from such people have been uncovered such as the Vindolanda tablets many of which were written by just such anonymous individuals.

Next were I to then propose that this is the most common state for the vast majority of people throughout history what would be your response?

Finally were I to the suggest that without any conformation evidence other than a single oral tradition or cultural text of suspect origin a person named in such should be accepted as a credible character what would be your response?

I would rather you gave you opinions without further details if possible as to do so could taint the issue.

If this is a problem or you feel that this is not the place for such inquiry I will of course understand but I do thank you for your time and await your reply even if it is a negative one.

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:iconnre86:
NRE86 Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2017
If I understand the questions correctly, the query or two that you've asked is what history is all about. I like to think that history falls into the category of other sciences, that is to say that for much of history we have other theories. Some theories are so sound however, they are almost absolute in that we know that event A + event B for certain =event C.  In the end, as you say, it all comes down to evidence and how well we, as scientists, can interpret and validate the evidence.

I think not approaching anything in history without some form of skepticism is a fault. After all, unless you lived the event yourself we cannot be 100% certain that every detail of the event or the person's life is as we believe we know it. I think without that skepticism, without asking the other "what if" questions we lose sight of what history and other sciences are all about and that is, exploring all the angles, all the "what if's"

So if we only have circumstantial events, as you suggest in your first question, I think as a historian we can at least attest that said character "may" have existed and "may" have done what we believe them to have done.  

Is this a common state, sure, because again our eye-witnesses are usually dead by the time we really want to know about the event. So again, we must approach these people and events with some skepticism otherwise we might miss evidence we might not know we were looking for otherwise.

If all we have are oral traditions or text I don't think we can necessarily dismiss them outright as they may have some credibility to them. However, any good historian in my mind would treat them as the end all evidence only since oral traditions and texts are as fallible as the authors who tell or write them. In truth there is very little evidence that isn't completely infallible when you think about it because it's all made of human hands.

Still no matter what the evidence is, I don't think we can truly dismiss it or truly accept it. Instead, the best approach in my opinion is to simply gather it, study it, and see where we can fix it into the puzzle with which we are trying to solve. Doing this, while ensuring that where we "fit it" is where it makes to most sense and not where we want it to go.
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:iconuncledon:
uncledon Featured By Owner Edited Feb 6, 2017
Thank you for the response and I certainly agree that skepticism is if anything a key foundation to all science whether it be the hard sciences of physics and chemistry or what some call the ‘soft sciences’ of sociology and psychology. We must review and assess the evidence that does exist in light of the greater store and determine if it presents a more complete explanation of the world or not.

Let me clarify my ‘problem’ a bit further if I may.

If a pivotal historical character that is related in only one single source which many scholars have doubts as to the authorship, for which no original exists only copies, that has gone through multiple translations and the date of its origin places it very significant period of time after the events would you then accept a claim from a colleague that the total lack of supporting evidence for that character claimed to have been among the lowest tier of society yet is also declared to be of tremendous prestige as ‘what one would expect’ and that alone lends credence to the claims of the person’s existence?

In effect what appears to be an application of the common conspiracy theory construct that ‘no evidence is in fact evidence’ even as the colleague attempts to claim that they are not in fact promoting the validity of this idea.

Here is a hypothetical that may solidify the concept. A colleague tells you that there is a document widely accepted by a certain ethnic group in a region the Middle East which relates that a person named Xee was from the most humble origins of this place and people yet rose to be second only to Alexander the Great but for which no other artifact or evidence has ever been found and that the only existing copies of this person’s ‘story’ are in Turkish having been translated from Arabic though they were likely written first in ancient Persian. The colleague offers only rhetorical argumentation going so far as to claim that all historical figures were only written about long after their deaths to account for the delay in documenting these events, asserts that the lack of supporting evidence is ‘natural for such a humble person’ even as they claim they were also of such great import and further insists that say mention by Herodotus that this group existed and believed in this character a long time after the events is in fact evidence that the character should be viewed as valid or at least viewed in the exact same light as Alexander.

I should point out that for at least a century or more scholars have been aware of this legend, have poured through libraries and collections seeking other mentions and that archaeologists have searched ancient sites for artifacts regarding it all resulting in nothing being uncovered. Which of course does not mean that something might turn up tomorrow but at present no other evidence in fact exists except for this one document and the associated assertions.


What would be your response to this claim and argument?

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:iconnre86:
NRE86 Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2017
Well personally, this for me falls into a schrodinger's cat-style situation. For it's just as easy that this person or event or place exists that it doesn't. If we don't have enough supporting evidence then for me the belief that this person existed is simply a hypothesis. We tell believe that "we believe" or "as we understand it" that this person "might" have existed and that they "might" have done what the information, or lack there of, suggests they did.

It's like you said, just because we don't have all the information or we only have one account of the information, doesn't necessarily mean that it didn't exists or they didn't exists, it just means there is a possibility. After all, until you look into the box the cat is both dead and alive. Well the same could be said about your hypothetical. That is, this is how I like to approach history (actually its how I approach most things in life). Until we have all the facts to swing an educated opinion to one end of the argument or the other, I think there's room for both and as civilized people we have to respect both opinion and treat both sides of the argument, as just that, an opinion until we can, through research checking, and double-checking, say for certain that one opinion is right and the other is not.

After all, Troy was the stuff of legends until it was found.
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(1 Reply)
:iconwayleri:
wayleri Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you so much for the fave! I appreciate it! Hamtaro Mouse Emoji-06 (Kawaii Dance) [V1] 
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