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Teheuti 
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Historical Method & Evaluation


It is my understanding that, in this section of the forum, participants can be asked to cite sources, documentation and logical reasoning in support of theories.

To support this end I propose a list of concepts and techniques that can be helpful to those who are not trained historians that reflect what a critical reader/writer should be concerned with. But first a quote from Ross Caldwell describing Historical Research (copied from Berenice, below):
Quote:
It doesn't set out to prove anything about Tarot (for example); it studies the known facts, and tries to figure out what it is. It draws conclusions, it doesn't impose conditions. In this sense history is like a science, archeology or forensics (as Huck pointed out, it is like a detective trying to figure out whodunnit). Work outward from the facts, not inward from a bias (bias will form as the facts become clearer)."
Below is my outline summary of an excellent report written for the layman regarding sources of information:
Summary of CSI Report – “Evaluating Historical Materials”
by Dr. Larry D. Roberts
http://www.cgsc.edu/carl/resources/c...12/csir_12.asp
[Although this is written for the army, I think this paper provides an excellent overview for the serious layman who wants to critically evaluate historical materials.]

Areas of Evaluation

• The expertise or qualifications of the author, especially regarding
- academic preparation
- extent of personal research
- personal experience

• The author’s purpose for writing the material and point of view, and, as a result, what biases and slants might exist.

• The sources used in preparing the book, article, thesis, and their breath and depth.
- The primary sources used (eyewitness accounts, ideas or artifacts from the time and place in question)
- Independent verification from other sources
- Accuracy and appropriateness of secondary sources

• The work itself.
- Does the author support his/her major points with well-reasoned arguments and justly derived concepts?
- Does the work achieve the purpose or objective for which it was written?
- What has the author done best or contributed to the field through this work?

The Evaluation Process

Step 1: Get overview via:

- author and publication information/date

- title & cover info (how accurately does it reflect the material inside)

- table of contents (what’s actually covered) [hint: turn chapter/section titles into questions and see if/how the author answers them, mkg]

- reviews (especially by other authorities in the field)

- the author’s statement of purpose or thesis (usually near the beginning)

- sources (look at footnotes and bibliography)

Step 2: A critical reading that

o lists key points and author’s proof of each

o compares the author’s material with that from other sources, looking for conflict or agreement

o checks if all the text and materials are appropriate to the subject & purpose

o considers what is supported by sources and what by logic and how accurate each of these are

o notes what the author has not addressed but should have

Step 3: Determine

- How well has the author achieved his/her purpose?

- Is the position adequately supported and interpreted?

- What can be gained from reading [learning about] this material?

* * * * * * * *
As the author of ten non-fiction books I think this is an excellent checklist for me as a writer (to make sure I've dealt with all of the above) and it shows what I would ideally want from a discerning reader.



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Last edited by Teheuti; 28-01-2012 at 06:31. Reason: Clarified the Steps & terminology
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Old 10-01-2011     Top   #1
Huck 
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OOps ... that's a lot of stuff and I feel sure, that's too complicated.

Might be good for somebody with methodical style, who wishes to write a book, and who NEEDS an orientation and a check list.

I don't work this way.

My orientation and research method is different.

History, alright ...

The mind for history is naturally structured in time and space.

Time counts like this:

0001 AD Jan Feb etc 1,2,3 ... 29. 30, 31
0002 AD
0003 AD
... etc.
0001 BC
etc ...

Important for History:
Understand, that 10 years had been a damn long time from 1000 - 1010 and also from 2000-2010. Most people think, that 1000 is the same as 1010, cause it's so far away ... well, this is enough for everyday life, but it doesn't work in history.
If you don't understand that, you're an historical idiot. So this is REALLY important, cause you nerve other researchers with your wrong imaginations.

If you hear of a person and you research her/him, observe constantly, how old the person was at a given time. It's a difference, if he/she was 15 or 50.
If you research the communication of two persons, observe, how old both were, when they communicated. It's often important, that you know, who was the elder person.
Persons change during their life. They usually are not born famous for instance. It's trivial, but people often forget this. Such people are historical idiots. Don't be an idiot.
Practical History and research demands the use of some intelligence.

Space: maps.google.com
additionally: historical landmaps, there's a lot in the web
important for history: understand distance between locations and travel speed. Renaissance for instance didn't know Jumbo Jets and taxi drivers.. 200 km could take a lot of time in these days.

************

History is already structured by itself, you don't need to do it. You just have to understand, that it is already structured.

It's your history, it's your memory, you get no other. You cannot change it, you're receptive.

... :-) ... that's enough for the moment.



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Old 10-01-2011     Top   #2
Debra 
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General guides to evaluating historical research are helpful, but I think that a forum discussion isn't just a matter of presenting a complete written thesis or judging some else's research.

For example, in looking at the CSI report, it occurs to me that there are additional considerations for art history. At least part of tarot history is art history and most evidence from the beginnings of tarot are pieces of art, along with a sprinkling of written documents that include references to these cards and related images. Art history is a specialty area with different considerations than other historical specialties. Images are not the same as ideas or events.

Also, I think that historians usually have colleagues who they can bounce ideas off of. I don't know if anyone here is a professional historian, but I bet that most of us don't have a department lounge at the local university where we hang out with our colleagues and play with ideas. I think that's a major reason people read and contribute to the history forum. So I hope these history forum discussions will welcome academic-style presentations and other approaches as well.

Last edited by Debra; 12-01-2011 at 16:43. Reason: clarification.
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Old 12-01-2011     Top   #3
Teheuti 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huck
Understand, that 10 years had been a damn long time from 1000 - 1010 and also from 2000-2010. Most people think, that 1000 is the same as 1010, cause it's so far away ... well, this is enough for everyday life, but it doesn't work in history. <cut . . .>
If you hear of a person and you research her/him, observe constantly, how old the person was at a given time. It's a difference, if he/she was 15 or 50.
Having written four biographies (in one book), I agree about how important this is. I work a lot with timelines and I always keep track of people's ages - although, since I used astrology as a biographical tool (the four I wrote about all used astrology & tarot), I was also looking at the major life crisis points. I also found it fascinating to see what events overlapped and therefore were influencing a person's perspective at that time.

However, not all biographers nor historians organize material chronologically. Many of the books on W. B. Yeats, for instance, are organized by theme, which can be very confusing if not handled well.

Researching and writing about history requires a lot of other tools that I didn't mention, so, keep the ideas coming!



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Old 12-01-2011     Top   #4
Teheuti 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Debra
=For example, in looking at the CSI report, it occurs to me that there are additional considerations for art history.
Oh, goody. Could you mention some of those?

Also, as Huck mentions, primary sources and straight research also have their own considerations that are different than the approach I first mentioned (which is mostly aimed at secondary sources like books by historians—amateur or professional).



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Last edited by Teheuti; 12-01-2011 at 18:17.
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Old 12-01-2011     Top   #5
Bernice 
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This extract from a post by Ross G Caldwell uses an unbiased and objective approach based on existing known facts.
Quote:
"(Extract regarding Historical Research):
It doesn't set out to prove anything about Tarot (for example); it studies the known facts, and tries to figure out what it is. It draws conclusions, it doesn't impose conditions. In this sense history is like a science, archeology or forensics (as Huck pointed out, it is like a detective trying to figure out whodunnit). Work outward from the facts, not inward from a bias (bias will form as the facts become clearer)."
It has no prior theories, 'evidence' builds from the ground up.


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Old 13-01-2011     Top   #6
Debra 
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Hi Bee, Mary, everyone

Objectivity is a goal, but surely there's no such thing as a completely neutral account. People in the disciplines of history and other social sciences don't deal with evidence completely independent of their theoretical orientations. For example, figuring out what's important--what counts as "evidence" amongst all the bits and bobs of "stuff"-- requires some sense of the "likely story."

I'm not saying that history is anything we want it to be. If there are mysteries in the history of tarot, it's right to say: Here the answer is simply Unknown. And I think it's appropriate to speculate about what might fill the gaps in the story. These speculations are as much a part of historical method as the informed assessment of artifacts and records.

For this reason the standard practice in history should not be to attack what's put forth (and certainly not to attack the advocate), but to assess the ideas and evidence in a constructive spirit.

Filling in the story of tarot requires acknowledging that it involves an art form as well as a social practice. I'm not an art historian and there are many relevant aspects of art history that I don't know. But I do have a sense that they would look for evidence in the materials and the mechanics of production, as well as in artistic conventions. For example, what's the history of paper production? How were images produced, how were they reproduced? How does the image get translated into the piece of paper in front of you? How does the passage of time affect the image we see now? What visual language did they understand then that we have to work to understand now? Etc.

I'd also like to add something about the "essential readings" in tarot history. Some of these books are impossible to find, or well beyond the budget of an ordinary mortal. Many of the recognized experts haven't published their ideas in books--it would be helpful if they'd point us to their websites, if they have one, or where ever it is that their ideas are laid out systematically. And I see that it's only fairly recently that a few art history books are appearing on some "tarot essentials" reading lists.
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Old 13-01-2011     Top   #7
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I studied history undergraduate, but consider myself a real amateur. I know I should be more structured but Tarot history is unique in that it attracts few academic scholars, and that leaves the field open for a more experimental approach. Most Tarot historians are independents and I think that makes it exciting and fresh. For me the first requirement is to understand historical context. For Tarot that means the early Renaissance (15th Century), and then the occult revivals beginning in the the 18th Century. Once I had this theory that Tarot had something to do with centrifugal force, and I had to dismiss that theory because in the 15th Century there was no such thing. So, it's important to have your theory be historically viable. I think it's important to read the literature of the age. I have read Zanoni: A Rosicrucian Tale, for example...(occult revival lit 101) And I have read some of the medieval writers (Bonaventure and early Renaissance people like Nicholas of Cusa). Above all I trust my intuition and follow my hunches, and I keep following them until I run into an big contradiction or until I have painted myself into a corner. There is this image I have of the researcher who has all these books piled everywhere, and decks, and notes, and drawers filled with dead end ideas, and that to some extent is the crazy element within Tarot research. You can end up possibly mad.
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Old 06-07-2012     Top   #8
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Not outside of all forms of divination


I'm assuming I won't get a response since this is a 4 year old thread, but I want to add a thought to this discussion for any readers coming upon it. IMO you can't isolate tarot from other kinds and types and styles of divination if you want to get at its roots. It seems to me (and I am not an anthropologist nor an historian), that divination is innate to the human experience. We are pattern observers, it's a very large part of why we have been successful as a species, albeit prone to stereotyping. So it isn't a stretch to suggest that divination, has been with us from the beginning in some form or another because it is externalization of how we internally process information. Make sense?
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Old 20-09-2016     Top   #9
Huck 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lumi View Post
I'm assuming I won't get a response since this is a 4 year old thread, but I want to add a thought to this discussion for any readers coming upon it. IMO you can't isolate tarot from other kinds and types and styles of divination if you want to get at its roots. It seems to me (and I am not an anthropologist nor an historian), that divination is innate to the human experience. We are pattern observers, it's a very large part of why we have been successful as a species, albeit prone to stereotyping. So it isn't a stretch to suggest that divination, has been with us from the beginning in some form or another because it is externalization of how we internally process information. Make sense?
You're right, that divination is a very old interest of the human mind. A lot of historical confirmation, no problem.
However, the problem of the early use of Tarot cards for divination (and playing cards generally) is the missing evidence. The earliest evidence for divination with cards is 1505, a German text with 8-line-poems for each card of normal playing cards. The text was more or less copied from a lot book (for divination) from c. 1485, and this older system didn't use cards, but mainly pictures of birds in context with a circle and a mechanical wheel, which gave the result, which bird or animal could say something to the given question. A very primitive form of divination, not comparable to cartomancy as we know it today.
This latter came up in the second half of 18th century, so roughly more than 250 years later. First either with normal playing card decks and then with specific divination decks. Tarot became involved in the 1780s by Etteilla, but he used a modified Tarot deck, not that, what is common today. The latter became involved in cartomancy in a stronger form in the second half of 19th century.


1505 card divination


c. 1485 lot book of Martin Flach, one of the birds



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Old 20-09-2016     Top   #10
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