Historians' Fallacies: Toward a Logic of Historical Thought

If one laughs when David Hackett Fischer sits down to play, one will stay to cheer His book must be read three times the first in anger, the srcond in laughter, the third in respect.The wisdom is expressed with a certin ruthlessness Scarcly a major historian escapes unscathed Ten thousand members of the AmericanHistorical Association will rush to the index and brea If one laughs when David Hackett Fischer sits down to play, one will stay to cheer His book must be read three times the first in anger, the srcond in laughter, the third in respect.The wisdom is expressed with a certin ruthlessness Scarcly a major historian escapes unscathed Ten thousand members of the AmericanHistorical Association will rush to the index and breathe a little easier to find their names absent.
Historians Fallacies Toward a Logic of Historical Thought If one laughs when David Hackett Fischer sits down to play one will stay to cheer His book must be read three times the first in anger the srcond in laughter the third in respect The wisdom is expr

  • Title: Historians' Fallacies: Toward a Logic of Historical Thought
  • Author: David Hackett Fischer
  • ISBN: 9780061315459
  • Page: 412
  • Format: Paperback
  • 1 thought on “Historians' Fallacies: Toward a Logic of Historical Thought”

    1. Great critical thinking when it comes to historiography. The logic chopping is a little pedantic at times but the overall affect is greater clarity on how to reach responsible historical conclusions.The problem however is that Fischer thinks historians should spend all their time answering "what" and "how" questions and avoid trying to answer "why" questions. Now "why" would he say that? Well he tells us. He says that the "why" questions deal with metaphysical issues that yield no fruitful or de [...]

    2. In the 50s and 60s of the twentieth century David Hackett Fischer was a renowned American historian who earned his spurs in the historiography of the United States. In 1970 he published this booklet in which he gives an almost exhaustive enumeration of the different types of errors his colleagues of then and of the centuries before him have committed. As you can imagine the work caused a huge wave of indignation in the historical Guild. Of course, in itself his deed has something quite arrogant [...]

    3. Originally written to help historians avoid dozens of fallacies, this book is wittier than it ought to be. Engaging to read for non-historians interested in history. Helps those of us who read history for enjoyment and enlightenment to recognize errors made by even the most prominent and respected historians. Fischer spares no one, high or low, though he criticizes respectfully. Fischer takes an empiricist and utilitarian approach that is refreshingly forthright. He is actively hostile to histor [...]

    4. Excerpt from my report:Every so often, a work surfaces which attempts to redefine the boundaries of an idea or discipline. Einstein’s theory of relativity opened doors to new ways that physics could be perceived; Emile Durkheim infused a new validity into the study of sociology. Likewise, David Hackett Fischer’s Historians’ Fallacies seeks to do nothing less than change the way that history is understood by academics. Though noble in its cause, the book misses its mark: rather than expandi [...]

    5. I had to read this in college, and I'll admit that it seemed terribly dry the first time around. After all, in those days I wanted to learn history - not pick apart someone's writing style. However, I found my copy recently while doing some cleaning and sorting, and sat down to read it again.It really is a helpful book not just for reading and writing history, but for considering a whole host of subjects. The author does a good job of picking apart logical fallacies so that we can recognize them [...]

    6. Fischer is not a man of diplomatic language: "historians are inexact scientists, who go blundering about their business without a sufficient sense of purpose or procedure. They are failed scientists, who have projected their failures to science itself. Nothing could be more absurd, or more nearly antithetical to the progress of a potent discipline ". Naturally he refers to indeed widespread dislike among historians against any theory of history and against the tendency to find in laws and struct [...]

    7. "How intriguing are the fallacies that lead men's minds astray." - Tarquin.I find myself drawn to lists and examples and studies of logical, rhetorical, historiographical, and other types of fallacies, again and again. The main reason may be that so many of such fallacies are encountered so often on the internet, on blogs and forums, even those claiming to be the most reasonable, fair, and "logical," and in newspapers and television news programs, where they seem to have undergo random evolution [...]

    8. A rather enjoyable and provocative look at the "fallacies" of historians--- including some major names. What Fischer seems to mean by "fallacy" varies chapter to chapter, from suspect metaphors to ideological blinders to embarrassing anachronisms. Moreover, his examples of bad historical writing often seem idiosyncratic. Fischer criticises a bio of Calvin Coolidge called "A Puritan in Babylon" for the mix of images, bute title seems to me to be immediately evocative and immediately comprehensibl [...]

    9. I read this as a reference for a paper I am writing for English class. Since I am a history major, we had to write something pertaining to it. This is not a book on history but on how to look at, and work with history. The book was a fascinating look at how one historian feels all historians should focus their work. Some of it was a bit dry, and hard to get through while other parts were extremely funny. Though an older work, I think it still has valid information for today's historians. I am lo [...]

    10. This book is very helpful for anyone who is interested in history at a deeper level. He identifies many mistakes that historians make on every aspect of their trade. He has many, many examples, (occasionally from his own books) and with funny and biting commentary. Although at times I disagreed with him, and he tends toward too academic language and creating terms for things that just need explaining, it is a very helpful book. Many of the things he mentions are things that I see I need to watch [...]

    11. This is more of an arm-chair classic in the philosophy of history - especially teaching history. Using major historical works pre-1970, Fischer points out fallacies in research, interpretation, and presentation. Ultimately, the book comes down to proposing a simple question: "why do we teach history?" It is more rhetorical than anything else. However, he does raise some valid observations in discussing the fallacies.

    12. This book is an essential read for anyone considering a career as a historian, or even interested in the historical process and wanting to be able to look at historical writing more critically. I'll agree with the commenter that said the book dragged in places--by the end you can definitely tell he had a length requirement to meet! Still, the first 75% of the book is incredibly useful, even if you just want to be able to shout "Fallacy!" during debates with friends. ;)

    13. Rarely does a book about historians and their writings deserve such praise. But David Hackett Fisher deserves the rank of "public intellectual" based, I think, solely on this book. It is witty (I laughed outloud regularly), almost G. K Chestertonian. Most importantly of all, the book encourages people to think well, not in a way that attempts to know everything about everything, but in a way that knows something about something.

    14. Long before David Hackett Fischer gained fame for books like Albion's Seed, Paul Revere's Ride and Washington's Crossing, he wrote this guide on how NOT to write history. Using examples from histories both famous and obscure, Fischer illustrates a series of logical fallacies that could have been avoided. The only reason that I don't give it five stars is the turgid writing style.

    15. A must read for anyone who wants (or needs) to communicate persuasively. Not a study on argumentation but a thorough treatment of logic flaws that can undermine your thinking. Sounds dry but as a bonus Mr Fischer absolutely crushes a number of historian sometimes in hilarious fashion. You will definitely find yourself thinking more clearly.

    16. Fischer's thesis is that as history becomes more logical it will become more useful to society. Following from that, he examines fallacies in historical writing so that the reader will write better history. Fischer is not a philosopher and so as a result plays a bit fast and loose with definitions. Not perfect, but worth a read for anyone interested in writing history.

    17. A relevant book on this mistakes historians make in thinking. The book is relevant because is catalogs many of the common mistakes people make in thinking in general. Sure, it's fun to giggle at the mistakes of some pretty big historians, but many of these mistakes are common.

    18. This book, which I loved, actually unfitted me for life in America. I cannot help but apply these logical tests to politicians, businessmen, religious leaders, and I find them lacking.

    19. History is usually written by the winner or the survivor and colored with their perceptions. The author examines several theories that could be flawed.

    20. Interesting look at how historians perceive historical occurrences and the mistakes/errors in doing so from a pre-eminent historian.

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