Author: changabula

Are Western Historians Biased? [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2007-2-17 13:11:29 |Display all floors


I wouldn't say they are biased, but they do tend to give a certain slant to history, sometimes confusing facts with opinions.

Western reporters do that all the time. They are supposed to report news, but the overlay that with their own opinions and, worse still, their judgements. This is often reflected in the choice of words.

There were, as circumstances would have it, no intellectual property rights on all these inventions from the East. It was quite literally a case of cultural cross-fertilisations of ideas.

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Post time 2007-2-17 18:08:43 |Display all floors
The trouble with popular history is that it is popular.

One of the most widely accepted views of how Europe and America rose to their current position is founded in the Italian Rennaissance.  In the 1400s, devestating plagues tore through Italy and Europe, which killed 30-50% of everyone alive.  In their wake, resources abounded and so the wealthy funded artists and scientists, like Leonardo Da Vinci, who produced great works.  It was their scientific advancements that have led to the great achievements of the West.  

It wasn't until a year or two ago that I realized the flaws in this thinking.  Viewed from another standpoint, it says that human progress occurs when the rich act charitably and a lot of average people die.

Popular history will always be limited in its ability to explain what is going on because historians are historians.  They cannot analyze historical events through the lens of an economist, a political scientist, an artist, or a medical professional.  They can only see history as historians.  And what does it mean to be a successful historian?  To be successful in publishing is the measure of a historian, and so they must conform to current economic, political, artistic and scientific whims.  Of course, for many people this is not difficult because conforming is what they do best.


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Post time 2007-2-17 18:32:35 |Display all floors

Populism and conformism

Is there really a distinction between the two in terms of writing history?

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Post time 2007-2-17 19:27:05 |Display all floors
Even now we have to be careful with bias on the Internet. WikiProject says under:

WikiProject Countering systemic bias/History

Does a historical bias exist ?

The English speaking wikipedia does have a bias toward inclusion of some topics. The history of certain countries and areas are well covered. English speaking countries with large populations, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia have a large number of detailed articles. Other western countries such as Germany and France are also well covered as their histories are relevant to the "Western canon" of history. Their populations are also generally well educated in English, and their nationals can contribute to the English wikipedia. More peripheral European areas are not as well covered but still have some good articles.

However, certain areas, notably Africa, have very poor historical coverage. Most areas of Africa have vague general history articles covering their entire history even though a large volume of scholarly material does exist covering their histories in more detail. Wikipedia, which has a stated goal of being aimed at the poorer regions of the world, barely covers the history of these areas, except in rare cases.

Rough evaluation of coverage:

Coverage         Region
Excellent    North America, Western Europe, Australia & NZ
Good           East Asia, Japan, Eastern Europe
Mediocre    Latin America, Middle East, South Asia
Poor            Sub-Saharan Africa


The causes of this bias are fairly readily apparent. Wikipedia exists almost solely on the Internet and is thus on one side of the Digital Divide. Wikipedia writers mostly come from developed nations. Take a look at Wikipedia:Wikipedians by country. Our writers submit articles about what they know and what they know is more likely to be close at hand.
I am Chinese and Proud of it!

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Post time 2007-2-17 19:30:47 |Display all floors

What a question when China is rewriting history

[ Last edited by christopher_104 at 2007-2-17 11:33 AM ]
Fake world map tues 6 feb.jpg
reports wrong Chinese director.jpg
If you want to strike back use facts not fiction

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Post time 2007-2-17 19:46:00 |Display all floors

Calling Xinhua

Over to  Xinhua, can your reporter please expand on this topic.

I must say I am most interested.

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Post time 2007-2-17 20:14:37 |Display all floors
Originally posted by cestmoi at 2007-2-17 15:00
The Anglicised word "algebra" is derived from the Arabic word al-jebr. Classical algebra has been around for almost two milleniums. That said, modern algebra, has been around only the last two hundred years.

None of the sciences would have been possible without the Hindu-Arabic numeral system as we know it today. It is only science if it is quantifiable, measurable and repeatable and you cannot quantify or measure without numbers. ...

These are things I learnt at school.

There is no attempt to "hide" the fact that European civilisation has learned a great deal from Asia.
It's in our education, it is covered in popular history, it's even mentioned in popular fiction.

Even our languages of Western Europe, with 3 or 4 notable exceptions, have "Proto Indo-European" roots. They come from the same original source as the languages of India, Afghanistan and ancient Persia (Iran).

One day we may even see acknowledgement of what East Asia has learned from those ancient societies to their west!
"他不是救星, 他是一个非常淘气男孩" - Monty Python

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