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Book Review: Alex Rosenberg, How History Gets Things Wrong: The Neuroscience of Our Addiction to Stories (MIT Press, 2018).

A new book by an established philosopher of science challenges the value of narrative explanations, of history, and of purposeful action more generally. Historians, it seems, have been doing it wrong. They have been under the spell of believing that people act with purpose, and that by studying history we can understand human motivations and […]

A Tale of University Bureaucracy, in 89 (or so) emails.

January 10, 2018: M applies for a seminar that I am running. January 15, 2018: I write M to congratulate her on being accepted to the seminar. January 17, 2018: M confirms that she will attend the seminar. January 18, 2018: I inform all of the seminar attendees about the reimbursement procedure. March 9, 2018: […]

The Vanishing Academic Conservative Historian (Part 2: the bet is accepted)

Alright, folks, I’ve received quite a few reactions to my post from July 4th.  It seems that all you have to do is mention politics in academia and everyone gets into a tizzy. If only Dutch history were so popular. At any rate, someone has taken me up on the bet, that within the next […]

The Vanishing Conservative Academic Historian

Let’s say you are a young conservative undergraduate, and you would like to go to grad school in history. Where would you look for a friendly advisor? If you are considering an Ivy League school, you might want to think again. According to research by Langbert, Quain, and Klein, available data indicates a ratio of […]

Graduate Students and Elite Historian Networks

It is my intuition that the best-placed young historians today come from a small set of elite universities.  But, as Lavar Burton would say, don’t take my word for it.  Take a look at the 2015 article by Clauset, Arbesman, and Larremore, “Systematic inequality and hierarchy in faculty hiring networks”    which shows that the […]

History Visualized with Epochs

It was common in the United States in the nineteenth century to speaks about history broken up into “ages” and “epoch.”  Because time was moving quicker than ever before, and changes were all around to see, contemporaries needed to use language that divided time into distinct periods on the path towards progress and civilization. A […]

Why all history methods books on Amazon.com are highly rated

A curious thing happened today when I looked up a book on Amazon.com.  I was reading Sometimes an Art, a book about history by the great historian Bernard Bailyn. I felt the book was pretty dry, uninspiring, and out-of-date. Certainly, it doesn’t match the quality of Bailyn’s other words, which have garnered him all of […]

The Coolness of Deirdre McCloskey

Deirdre McCloskey, professor emerita of everything, once wrote a book chapter titled “The Coolness of Alexander Gerschenkron”  about her mentor in the economics department at Harvard. I’m beginning to think someone ought to write a full-length piece about the “Coolness of Deirde McCloskey.” I once wrote an article criticizing a small bit of McCloskey’s work, […]

Choose-your-own-adventure in American History job hunting

Page 1: A typical ad: West Pennsyltucky Technical Community College has an opening for a Visiting Assistant Professor of American History at their regional branch campus in Texazona. It’s a 6-6 teaching load with an option to teach extra online courses for $1500 a piece, and you also have to make marketing calls to recruit […]

Brief, Briefer, and Briefest History

or A Brief History of Brief Histories. Once upon a time, history was long, boring, and cumbersome. It was full of facts, and it went on and on. Nobody could read more than a page of it without falling asleep at their desk. Something needed to be done. What if we could condense a history […]