I am not qualified to debate these points. It would entail far more research--likely at the British Museum, like Brent, if anyone wants to pay my way--than I have time for. In any case, my posts address Tey's claims about research. I am not totally invested in Tey being right about Richard (partly because I'm not sure that she is).
What I am qualified to discuss are Brent's claims:
Claim 9: Taught history can be wrong/ misleading.
Although this smacks of the cynicism that I deplore, Brent has a point. He uses the Boston Massacre as an example:
The total casualties were four. I was brought up on the Boston Massacre, Mr. Grant. My twenty-eight inch chest used to swell at the very memory of it. My good red spinach-laden blood used to seethe at the thought of helpless civilians mowed down by the fire of British troops. You can't imagine what a shock it was to find that all it added up to in actual fact was a brawl that wouldn't get more than local reporting in a clash between police and strikers in any American lock-out . . . That's partly why I like to research so much.Brent is being a trifle dismissive. The point of the Boston Massacre is that it offered a great rallying point for disenchanted colonists. What I've always found far more fascinating than the numbers is that the soldiers involved were defended, in part, by colonial lawyers! John Adams and Josiah Quincy II helped acquit 6 out of the 8 British soldiers. That degree of objectivity (John Adams was already a declared Patriot) impresses me no end.
The important aspect of Brent's self-revelation re: the Boston Massacre is that it leads him to Claim 10: Truth isn't in accounts but in account books.
"A neat phrase," Grant said, complimentary. "Does it mean anything?"Brent is discussing primary research. He makes a mistake (common to students) in that he assumes that primary research doesn't lie; on my semester research test, I ask, "Is a primary source automatically more credible than a secondary source?" Over half my students get the question wrong by answering, "Yes." But a drunk as eyewitness is far less credible than the CSU investigators who came in after the fact.
"It means everything. The real history is written in forms not meant as history. In Wardrobe accounts, in Privy Purse expenses, in personal letters, in estate books. If someone, say, insists that Lady Whoosit never had a child, and you find in the account book the entry: 'For the son born to my lady on Michaelmas eve: five yards of blue ribbon, fourpence halfpenny' it's a reasonably fair deduction that my lady had a son on Michaelmas eve."
|Judith Rich Harris|
The fact is, birth order theorizing, while not quite as bad as astrology, is not all that dependable since so many things affect how children behave (a youngest child who has an early growth spurt will often assume a leadership role on the playground, which will ultimately have greater effect on the child than the home environment, etc.). As Judith Rich Harris states, " Getting research mentioned in a newspaper or magazine article is far more difficult than getting it accepted by a journal. I'll bet you've never seen a newspaper article with the headline STUDY FINDS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FIRSTBORNS AND LATERBORNS. And yet there have no doubt been thousands of such studies."
In other words, sometimes following things back to their original source will prove nothing. As Brain Games points out, we are conditioned to make comparisons and find differences even when there are none.
Which is why both Brent and Grant are very brave to take on primary research. It is a daunting task!