Why Study History?

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Why Study History?
By
Anita J. Rowe
DeVry University
May 11, 2013
Professor Betsy Anderson

Why Study History?
Why should we study history? Why should we study about the participants in that history? What should we hope to gain from these studies? I hope to answer these questions, but first we must think about where we get our information about historical facts. How reliable are they? How do we know the truth? The study of history is both interesting and beneficial but we have to have a basic understanding that there are primarily three basic sources for obtaining information. We must realize that we cannot believe everything we read and the further we are away from the primary source of information, the more we must question the reliability of that information. There are four factors that determine the truth: verifiability, reliability, plausibility, and probability (Anderson, 2013). So, what are these three basic sources for information? The first is the primary source. This is the first hand, primary witness or the original documents. The secondary source would be a collection of reports such as a book about the subject. The third or tertiary source would be reports about reports, such as information gathered from the internet or in encyclopedias (Anderson, 2013). But even information from the primary source level cannot be guaranteed because “the interpretation of facts and the authors’ agendas combine with the cumulative piling of inferences upon one another to quickly dilute the reliability of information” (Anderson, 2013). Taking those factors into consideration, we should look at why we bother to study history at all. How does it benefit us? Peter Stearns of the American Historical Association cites two reasons to study history. First, history helps us to comprehend people and cultures. Those who study and know history have a better understanding of both the past and the present. History helps you understand the origins of contemporary political...
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