Why History is Important TodayRoundup
tags: education, STEM, History Profession, Trump
Luis Martínez-Fernández is a professor of history at the University of Central Florida.
We live in Orwellian times. Truth is fake and fake is truth. Good is bad and bad is good. Fact is fiction and fiction is fact; and as in George Orwell’s dystopian classic 1984, “ignorance is strength.” Yes, strength for those who insist on keeping the masses ignorant. This is when historians must step in.
We also live in times when history, as well as the arts and humanities, are increasingly neglected in schools and universities, sacrificed at the altar of the gods of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
This is largely based on incorrect assumptions about its lack of practical application and the belief that the study of history sheds light exclusively on the past. That is simply not true. The training and practice of history provide a long-term (telescopic) perspective, sensitivity toward the interconnectedness of human actions and reactions, and intuitiveness that helps understand the present and even anticipate future outcomes.
That said, us historians are generally shy about forecasting anything. We are trained to avoid it, partly because we focus on the past and write about events and realities from decades if not centuries ago. We are even dissuaded from fantasizing about counterfactuals, what-ifs such as what would have happened if Caesar had not crossed the river Rubicon or Richard Nixon had won the White House in 1964?
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