Thursday, 2 August 2012

Protip: "Definitive" history.

A slightly different post here today!

If anyone ever describes the work of an historian, be it their own work or somebody else's as "definitive", (for example: "This recent book by John Historian is the definitive History of the Malaysian Spice Industry!") you can safely write them off as full of it.
There can be no "definitive history" of anything, there will always be new sources previously unknown or overlooked, old translations that need improving upon etc. Anybody who uses the term "definitive" (and is not engaging in deliberate hyperbole), has one of two things in mind:

1) They don't want to have to read the accounts of anyone else out of sheer laziness or dogmatism. 
2) They don't want you to read the accounts of anyone else because they have their own agenda that they need you to play a part of, or at the very least keep out of the way of.

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