Historical standards, and hierarchy of evidence?
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05-03-2014, 12:12 AM (This post was last modified: 05-03-2014 12:18 AM by PoolBoyG.)
Question Historical standards, and hierarchy of evidence?
Can someone point out to a well defined list of standards, or hierarchy of evidence for claims made in history?

Say we're going to verify the claim that "Ronald Reagan told his body guards to shoot up a club in Thailand."

Video footage would be greater evidence than a photo. And a photo would be greater evidence than an eyewitness. But many eyewitnesses may equal out a photo. A local newspaper fits in between somewhere. And many newspapers may be a higher rank.

And it gets messy. Who was the eyewitness. One type of witness is more credible than another. Photos can easily be doctored, so how does a photos rank shift?

An admission might be the highest form of evidence in this case, but a person could admit anything for any reason. It has to be in conjunction with other evidence. But how much evidence.

What's the bare minimum, and types, of evidence required to, say, honestly print the claim in history text books or biographies of Reagan?
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05-03-2014, 12:20 AM
RE: Historical standards, and hierarchy of evidence?
Ah good, question.

I've never really viewed it as something standardized so much as you just intuitively know when the subject in question has met its burden of proof. Definitely one of the sketchier topics in empirical data gathering, but with so much evidence and data available about most given historical contexts, there's usually plenty of information to work with. The fact that the manner in which we connect the significance of different events is somewhat arbitrarily constructed makes it even more difficult of a task.

History is a construct, but some constructs of history are more reliable than others.

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05-03-2014, 05:26 AM
RE: Historical standards, and hierarchy of evidence?
Nature of the source. How well it fits in with all other history of the world. And if the source had a reason to lie.
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