Problems Faced by Historians – TOK

Today, we discussed the problems faced by Historians, whether it is the reliability of the information is reliable or not, whether history can have varied interpretations. Me and a partner discussed some of these problems associated with history.

1. Accuracy of Historical Knowledge (This could include the problems of memory, speculation (assumptions) of information, Exaggeration of Information.

2. Varied and Different Interpretations (Different schools of thoughts; Orthodox, Revisionist)

3. Conflicting Information (e.g. the facts of different accounts are different)

4. Significance of a certain historical event (E.g. the holocaust is a more significant event relative to the Serbian genocide)

The problems listed above are some of the problems that may have a threat to our knowledge. I think a lot of the knowledge in our world is considered “historical knowledge”, I think that it has to be somewhat significant to a specific community or the world to be considered “historical”. But I think this idea that historical knowledge is just events that are significant is a social construct, meaning historians choose and select information they want to present to the general public. I think it’s extremely hard to neutralise the threat to knowledge. There are some problems with accuracy of historical knowledge which I think can be “solved” by making the best possible, educated guess from the evidence that is available to historians. Although there are various other problems with knowledge in history such as the significance of a certain historical event, it is really difficult to solve these problems simply because there is simply events that are deemed by our society in general to be less important that are not reported or talked about as often.

In fact, I think these problems could contribute to the diversity and dynamic nature of history. For example, it may seem very bad to have varied and different interpretations of an event, but actually the different interpretations of an event help us develop a more objective view into an event.

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