Thaller, Manfred (2017). Why the Obvious is Misleading. Observations on the Discussion about the Usefulness of Formal Methods in Historical Research (Reprinted from Historical Social Research pg 443-67,1992). Hist. Soc. Res.. S. 221 - 243. COLOGNE: GESIS LEIBNIZ INST SOCIAL SCIENCES. ISSN 0172-6404

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Starting at the very end of the seventies a wave of criticism against quantitative studies can be observed. This, however, is not really directed against the quantitative methods, but part of a larger change of focus in History, which emphasizes an alleged contradiction between historical (as part of the Humanities) and the hard sciences. The paper refutes this position along two lines. Many of the alleged shortcomings of studies based on quantitative methods - as well as other methods requiring information technology - can be observed also in traditional historical research. Studies applying information technology find it much harder, though, to hide these shortcomings. More positive is another perspective: the kind of critique appearing now can be traced to difficulties in handling new types of historical sources, which became accessible recently - and can be handled only, if information technology is employed properly. This goes together with a decrease of the interest in general methodological reflection of historical sources as an intellectual domain. The historical disciplines should react to this do in this situation by a change of perspective. Historical methods emphasized so far the need to extract historical knowledge in situations where a lack of sources existed. Nowadays we need a methodology for deriving secured historical knowledge in situations where the problem is orientation within confusing and overwhelming masses of such sources.

Item Type: Journal Article
CreatorsEmailORCIDORCID Put Code
URN: urn:nbn:de:hbz:38-245198
DOI: 10.12759/hsr.suppl.29.2017.221-242
Journal or Publication Title: Hist. Soc. Res.
Page Range: S. 221 - 243
Date: 2017
Place of Publication: COLOGNE
ISSN: 0172-6404
Language: German
Faculty: Unspecified
Divisions: Unspecified
Subjects: no entry
Uncontrolled Keywords:
19TH-CENTURYMultiple languages
History; History Of Social Sciences; Social Sciences, InterdisciplinaryMultiple languages
Refereed: Yes


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