Category Archives: History

Polemic : The shameless arrogance of an amateur identity historian

The shameless arrogance of an amateur identity historian.

Identity history : The act of interpreting parts of history in order to project onto yourself the roll of hero of victim or project onto others the roll of the villain.

Most historians shun this amateurish approach to historical narratives due to obvious reasons. Most examples of Identity history seem harmless enough, genealogy for instance often focusses on ancestors that were somehow notable, mostly ignoring the lesser known forebears. The famous ancestor then somehow reflects its attributes on the contemporary individual, although odds are that (s)he is just as unremarkable as most of the genealogy that was ignored. The BBC show, “who do you think you are?” is a good example of seemingly innocent identity history. Famous people track down their ancestral roots until they find some remarkable story about the success or grievances of somebody down their family tree.
Continue reading Polemic : The shameless arrogance of an amateur identity historian

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Historical juxtapositions and Godwin

I wrote about how the notion of Godwinning, mentioning Hitler or WWII in conversation is a conversation stopper, not because it’s a priori untrue but because this always triggers the Godwin remark at which point no argument can be made in return, even if the analogy made was correct.

Crying Godwin isn’t much better than making a bad comparison between any historical figure or period to something else. but there is something even worst than the Godwin fallacy.

Continue reading Historical juxtapositions and Godwin

Conversation stoppers : Godwin

Internet “laws” or “rules” are generally humorous observation on human behavior on the internet captured in a short neat definition. They are of course superficial generalizations that we can all attest to from experience. Be it the first couple of rules of IT where it states that : “If a program doesn’t work, It needs a manual” or : “If a package is finished, it needs to be expanded”. Rule #34 is a famous one that states that “if something exists, the internet has porn of it” and indeed, this seems true on first glance.

Then there is Godwins law, which states that given any discussion, as it progresses the chance that anybody will use an analogy to WWII, the nazis or Hitler will approach one. This is a funny observation that has its origins in reality for sure. Many frustrated debater will have succumbed to the temptation to compare his adversaries with Nazi’s without good reason and this tendency displayed by most people isn’t praiseworthy. Continue reading Conversation stoppers : Godwin

On the origins of black Pete, A proper historical context.

Draft 5 currently under revision : click here for version 4 of the paper : ZP_hist_context_Draft4

Every year when festivities of Sinterklaas come to the Netherlands, the skewed debates around Black Pete (zwarte Piet) raises it’s ugly head again. What really annoys me is the incompetence and utter selectivity with which historical claims are made in this “debate” and criticism is brushed aside simply by playing the racism card.

History is an academical discipline and a hard one at that. It’s not a plaything that one can simply cherry-pick in order to construct an arbitrary interpretation of history. Unfortunately, our shared history is often abused by individuals or groups in order to either claim personal grievances or greatness. This selective laymen attempt at historical identity manufacturing has been frowned upon, rightfully, for decades now by most people because it is a fallacy and often a dangerous one at that. By superficially skimming historical narratives one could link ones identity to that of kings or martyrs easily and, to the untrained eye, convincingly.

Continue reading On the origins of black Pete, A proper historical context.