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Chinese Knew North America More Than 4000 Years Ago!

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Author Topic: Chinese Knew North America More Than 4000 Years Ago!  (Read 2107 times)
Bianca
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« Reply #30 on: September 03, 2007, 06:43:40 am »








A statement that cannot be tested might very well be true, but it remains a belief. And no belief system, no religion, will set up verification standards which can be tested outside its faith.

Most facts in history are statements about the past, however distant or recent. They are most often statements that have gone through many heads and hands and are often open to some question. Proof usually means that the evidence for a statement looks good and that most others agree the evidence is reliable, correctly interpreted, and sufficient.

Stepping around the words “reliable,” “correctly,” and “sufficient” for the moment, facts in the humanities are neither perfectly reproducible nor immediately observable. Some researchers have tried revelation and seances, but asking Huwu Shan if he were ever in Texas seems impossible. One might, however, ask most of the people living in Hidalgo County about their first language.

When one looks at records such as interviews or diaries or recordings—when one asks others about what language they speak—the reply is primary data. So would a genuine letter written by Hwui Shan.

Primary data are sometimes considered to be the most accurate. An eyewitness or participant’s account of an event, written or recorded close in time to the event, seems reliable. Yet even a witness may have some bias that would cause an unconscious or conscious alteration in what “really” happened. In a genuine, primary letter, Hwui Shan could lie. Possible motives for bias need be considered by a historian. And one need always remember that a recollection of an event written fifty years later by a witness may not be as accurate as a memory written when the memory was fresh.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2007, 06:47:07 am by Bianca2001 » Report Spam   Logged

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Bianca
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« Reply #31 on: September 03, 2007, 06:48:25 am »








Secondary data are often considered to be more reliable if compiled some time after an event. The person speaking of the event was not a witness, not a participant, perhaps lived centuries afterward. Yet, secondary data can explain contradictions and can seem objective. It may be. But secondary data is usually loaded with interpretation. Suppose a person quotes Rafaela Gonzales’s dairy, which is verified to have been written by her in 1985. She says she climbed Guadalupe Peak that year, and no reason exists to disbelieve the statement. But the person quoting, the interpreter, claims this was the first time a person climbed the mountain. Disproving the interpretation is easy and starts with a suspicion: the date of 1985 is late for anyone “first” climbing a rather small “mountain” in a well-explored place like Texas. Next, earlier diaries can probably be found from the ranching families who lived there from the early 1880’s and the much earlier Spanish explorers. Anyway, there is a USGS survey marker very near the summit which bears a documented date much earlier than 1985. Also, a stainless steel pylon (about six feet high) was there long before 1985. Still there, it commemorates an early airline mail route. Somebody had to have put it there. All of these considerations are verification tests relying on commonly accepted logic.

The “suspicion” above is also more or less an interpretation. Something like: “Even if Chinese explorers were in West Texas a handful of thousands of years ago, they probably were not led by a woman.” This kind of interpretation is based on the fact that before the present day, very few women were explorers. They either were not allowed to be or were doing other things. And this is a form of negative evidence. An exception could exist.

Thus, statements of any kind, even “objective” observations, may be laced with interpretation. So can conclusions and inferences. Consider this interesting phenomenon the next time you and another driver and the policeman talk after a fender-bender.
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Bianca
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« Reply #32 on: September 03, 2007, 06:49:43 am »








Scientists prefer to deal with properly reported (reliable) primary data which is well-recorded (correct) and in enough quantity to seem to rule out the possibility of exception (sufficient). An astronomer, although unable to sit inside a star, can examine the very light that comes loaded with information. A historian cannot walk the plain of San Jacinto during the significant battle. Both must interpret data.

So, whatever data is verified, there still remains the task of significance, of interpretation. And this depends to some degree on the interpreter. Certainly, all the conclusions need to be consistent with verified fact and earlier, reliable interpretations. Or, even when the data seems good, maybe the historian feels for some reason that earlier interpretations were wrong.

For example: was the defense of the Alamo really all that important? Certainly so if one considers the pride and heroism that is evoked in some people when the story is intoned. Everyone needs things of pride, self, and group. On the one hand, the battle can be seen as absolutely significant, a heroic delaying tactic which allowed the Texan army to prepare for a decisive victory. The delay saved hundreds of settlers’ lives in the way of the Mexican Army.

On the other hand, it was collective and accidental stupidity. The main delay for the Mexican army was not the thirteen days, but the muddy rivers on the way into East Texas, and the inability to join forces with the southern army. Settlers to the east had short but ample time to learn which way to run from the fast-fleeing revolutionary government and the few groups of mounted rangers who acted as rear scouts. And, anyway, had San Jacinto proved a disaster for the Texans, United States forces were already ready to step in (as they did ten years later) and take Texas (and a lot more of North America) from Mexico. The military conclusion of the Alamo battle was not important at all.

Or maybe both. Some interpreters struggle hard to include every possibility in their conclusions.

In any case, many facts about the Alamo battle can be known, because military records and diaries confirm a lot (not all) of the events. The “outline” of what went on is known. What the events “mean”—their interpretation—is more open. Neither undisputed fact nor corroborating evidence exist for Hwui Shan’s story.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2007, 06:51:16 am by Bianca2001 » Report Spam   Logged

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Bianca
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« Reply #33 on: September 03, 2007, 06:54:09 am »








And whatever the data, it can be handled in different ways. A natural scientist tends to use the kind of logic called inductive. That is, a common part of the scientific method is to observe many instances of something happening a particular way—and if the something happens or is observed the same way each time, a scientist may assume with some degree of reliability that it will always happen that way. A predictive theory is so constructed. This is thinking proceeding from specific cases to a general statement, a hypothesis. This is one way of moving from evidence to proof.

Although all thinkers use induction to a great degree, the humanities tend to be deductive. They take a specific happening or statement, combine it with other facts derived from other happenings, and draw inferences or conclusions. (A majority of people in Hidalgo County speak Spanish; people in Hidalgo County who speak Spanish are of Mexican descent; therefore, the majority of people in Hidalgo County are of Mexican descent.) Deduction works well unless any part of the process is invalid or a statement is not true—as in the example above. Then, the whole construction turns out to be logically unsound, or false, even though the truth of the final conclusion may still be “true” if proven by other means.

The social sciences—sociology, psychology, much education these days—are in the middle of all of this. Some workers in these fields try to establish general, reproducible facts through experiments in the same manner as physicists.(2)

Of course, some statements are true because they are definitions: “A red traffic light means stop,” or “all bachelors are unmarried.” These statements are true by arbitrary definition. But everyone is aware that most of the statements of history are hardly definitions—they are questioned, changed, and reinterpreted in different centuries even when taken from the same data.
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Bianca
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« Reply #34 on: September 03, 2007, 06:55:31 am »








Indeed, many of the accepted statements in the humanities are inferences (or even beliefs) but are documented well enough that most people do not question them—or they are statements so obvious to common knowledge that they are almost never questioned.

This range of experience makes some facts look nearly relative. This is not a failure of data or verification. Natural scientists are faced with somewhat the same situation. They realize that it is impossible to describe, absolutely and completely, some physical states. The historian knows that a single interpretation of even the best data may be impossible.

But this does not mean chaos for either physics or history. Enough can be known to describe a rational, dependable, predictable world for life as we know it. Definitions are easy. If one remembers the meaning of a red traffic light, one will probably not be flattened by a truck facing the green. Historic facts are not quite like definitions, of course. But if one has a knowledge of past happenings, current consensus, and story varieties; if one has a knowledge of one’s neighbors; and if one has a good view of what is in one’s own head—life will be understandable, not repetitious, less dangerous, and more interesting.

One should be able to make some sort of judgment of evidence and consider how “facts” are supported. History may not repeat itself totally in a useful or predictable way, yet people can get along in the world a lot better if they have a knowledge of facts in the humanities and can judge those facts. Without them, people can never even hope to understand their own age and themselves. Without knowing how to consider evidence, people can easily be fooled by fast talkers. Interpretation and judgment are questions of efficiency, and the importance is direct.

A person must consider and judge evidence—not just swallow statements—in order to live a productive and creative life.

Everyday life is the greatest of the humanities. Interpretation is difficult but important. “Those immigrants are taking our jobs,” “you can’t trust anyone with green skin,” “Hwui Shan walked across Texas,” “anyone can be a success.” Are these facts or interpretations of other data? Are these beliefs? Do they make any difference?

If they do make a difference, how can the evidence be judged?

The structure about the way one thinks of everyday questions is, happily, the same as deciding whether an explorer by the name of Hwui Shan walked through North America fifteen centuries ago. Whether he did or not might make no difference; the ability to examine such a statement can be the most important talent a person can have.



 
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