Knowledge Beyond Numbers

At a time when our civilization is trying to organize itself on scientific principles of mathematical probabilities, statistical modeling, and the like, is traditional narrative history of any real use? Yes, says a distinguished practitioner of the discipline; it can always help us. It might even save us.

I was recently sent a well-argued report written by sensible people which insisted that a larger place must be found in our schools and colleges for instruction in mathematics and “quantitative thinking.” Scarcely had I finished reading it when a full professor came by to tell me that cliometrics (which applies statistical analysis and the theoretical explanations of social science to investigations of the past) was sweeping the country and threatening to destabilize all future tenure decisions in history departments.Read more »