Restricted What is the appropriate standard of proof in our Civil War Discussions?

jackt62

Captain
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
Location
New York City
Exactly right. And hopefully we're not trying to score points around here, but rather to discuss a historical topic that we're all deeply interested in. We can all learn from each other if we're willing to listen.

Very true. I am sure most folks on this forum are not professional historians, writers, scholars, teachers, etc. of the CW but may simply have a keen interest and fascination with any number of topics that are discussed here. For someone (such as myself), who has read, discussed, and visited extensively about the CW over many years, I don't always, or even often, remember from where I can cite a specific source for information I may provide in a post. (A lot of what I've learned is from this forum.) Usually, my posts are based on a collective knowledge built up over a long period of time. So as far as an appropriate standard of proof is concerned, I would say that while specific citations are always good, they are not absolutely necessary. On the other hand, one should never just make stuff up without any firm basis.
 

Fairfield

Sergeant Major
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
I would say that while specific citations are always good, they are not absolutely necessary. On the other hand, one should never just make stuff up without any firm basis.
Would that it were true: that all people here argue in good faith and on the basis of accumulated knowledge. While I don't believe that it is necessary for each declaration made to be documented because it might make for difficult reading, I do think that anyone who makes a statement ought to be able to provide some kind of back-up if challenged.

I had an especially nasty exchange with someone (now gone) who absolutely refused to give any kind of source and actually was quite insulting about having been asked about it. Sometimes I think that people argue not from accumulated observations but from pure emotion; they are genuine--but inaccurate. Perhaps if they were able to see the fallacy, they'd reconsider.

These discussions are also learning opportunities. I've changed my mind and I'm sure that others have also. When someone says "No, that isn't accurate because..." isn't an personal insult. No one should get his/her back up. And sometimes, we are, indeed, wrong.
 

A. Roy

Sergeant Major
Forum Host
Joined
Sep 2, 2019
Location
Raleigh, North Carolina
So as far as an appropriate standard of proof is concerned, I would say that while specific citations are always good, they are not absolutely necessary
Good points here. As you suggest, many discussions here are more informal, so citations are useful but maybe not always essential.

I was reflecting on this thread today, and I wonder whether the word "proof" in the title kind of implies a dispute. Same with "evidence." I know that technically they're neutral terms, but somehow they sound more disputative. "Reference" and "citation" might have a more neutral sound. "Prove it" sounds more like a challenge. "Can you give me a reference?" less so. Just thinking out loud...

Another thought about proof: I recall a discussion here from a couple of months back which spiraled into one of our typical north-versus-south ideological clashes. One fairly-new member kept citing "proofs" for her argument and got frustrated when she couldn't change the other member's mind no matter how much evidence she presented.

Roy B.
 
Top