What Historians Do

I got this from John Fea’s book Was America Founded as a Christian Nation. It applies to what I am doing in my own historical research. After listening to him I started changing my approach to my research. of course this was also affected by Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace. Because of Mills I had already started doing genealogy completely differently than other genealogists I know. I had started to think like a lawyer in terms of legal proof. But I also started to think like a scientist by demanding an explanation for why events took place. What were the underlying causes of events? This soon became more fascinating than the facts of genealogy. I find myself wanting to write a history book about the lives and migration paths of my ancestors.

Then I picked up Fea’s book and this reinforced my realization that I was woefully underprepared to understand my own past! I had not taken enough history courses in college to know how historians do anything. Well, Fea helps with that a bit. Let me share some of his ideas, below.

Fea is quoting Historians Thomas Andrews and Flannery Burke. He says there are 5 C’s of Histororical Thinking.


Historians must see change over time. While some things stay the same over the course of
generations, many things change. The historian’s task is to chronicle these changes. As historian
John Tosh puts it, “There may be a gulf between ‘us’ and ‘them,’ but that gulf is actually
composed of processes of growth, decay and change which it is the business of the historian to


Historians must interpret the past in context. They examine the documents of the past in
light of the time and the place in which they were written. Words ripped from their cultural and
chronological context provide useful material for the compilers of quotation books, but they are
useless to the historian. The words of the founders, for example, must always be interpreted from
the perspective of the eighteenth-century world in which they were uttered or written. There is a
wide chasm that separates the past from the present. Context helps us to realize that more often
than not people in the past do not think and behave the same way that we do.


Historians are always interested in causality. I remember a few years ago when the talk
radio host Rush Limbaugh announced that “history is real simple. You know what history is? It’s
what happened. Now if you want to get into why what happened, that’s probably valid too, but
why what happened shouldn’t have much of anything to do with what happened.”8 Limbaugh
could not have been more wrong about what historians do. They are not only interested in facts,
but always ask why a particular event in the past happened the way it did.


Historians are concerned with contingency. This is the notion that “every historical outcome
depends upon a number of prior conditions.”9 Contingency celebrates the ability of humans to
shape their own destiny. Every historical moment is contingent upon another historical moment,
which in turn is contingent upon yet another moment. Historians are thus concerned about the
big picture—how events are influenced by other events.

5. COMPLEX (History is complex.)

Finally, historians realize that the past is complex. It often resists our efforts to simplify it or
to cut it up into easily digestible pieces. Most students of history are exposed to the past through
textbooks that offer rather straightforward narratives of how a particular era unfolded. While
often necessary for overviews and syntheses of the past, textbooks often fail to reveal that the
past can be messy, complicated, and not easily summarized in a neatly constructed paragraph or
two. Once again, the debate over whether America is a Christian nation is instructive here. On
one hand, the opponents of Christian America draw the conclusion that just because the
Constitution does not mention God then it must hold true that the framers did not believe that
religion was important to the success of the Republic. On the other hand, defenders of Christian
America conclude that if the founders were people of Christian faith, then they must have set out
to establish a uniquely Christian nation. Logicians call these assertions “non sequiturs.”
Historians would argue that those who draw such conclusions lack an appreciation for the complexity of the past.


OK, that leads to Fea’s CONSTRUCTION

The task of historians is to use these five Cs to reconstruct the past and make their findings
available to the public. Historians make the dead live. They bring the past to an audience in the
present. If we think about the vocation of the historian in this way, then we must distinguish
between “history” and “the past.” The past is the past—a record of events that occurred in
bygone eras. But history is a discipline—the art of reconstructing the past.

References provided by John Fea:

1). Thomas Andrews and Flannery Burke, “What Does It Mean to Think Historically?” AHA Perspectives 45: 1 (January
2007). Accessed at http://www.historians.org/Perspectives/issues/2007/0701/0701tea2.cfm.
2) John Tosh, The Pursuit of History, 4th ed. (New York: Longman, 2006),
3) Gary Nash, History on Trial: Culture Wars and the Teaching of the Past (New York: Vintage, 2000).
4) Andrews and Burke, “What Does It Mean to Think Historically?”

OK, that’s enough for now. I have to actually apply these 5 or 6 “C’s”, and re-visit the topic later after some experiences in tracing my family’s past.

Stonehenge Standard Time

You may have noticed the Stonehenge Standard Time post circulating, right? So, what am I to do with the mini-stonehenge in my family’s ancient back yard in Stanton Drew, Somerset? It doesn’t get as many visitors, (except for wannabe druids), but how do the cows deal with daylight savings time? Are they sleep disturbed certain times of the year?

Shadow Banning

This came from a recent discussion about blog sites not being able to be posted on facebook and seen in the facebook browser.

Susan Lambeau, Looking at the facebook post in a browser if you click on the picture it launches a new browser window (the default browser of your system) and goes to https://phys.org/news/2023-12-theory-einstein-gravity-quantum-mechanics.html which is the URL of the article at phys.org. But using the facebook app what happens is you cannot get to phys.org. Instead Facebook generates a new web page that looks like the page at the above URL and send you to there, but inside the facebook app.

The implication here is facebook can censor the content. If they don’t want someone reporting on adverse side effects, for example, they can ban that.
Legally they can do that because they own the content on their website. They do not own the content on outside websites.

Even if you put the URL “https://phys.org/news/2023-12-theory-einstein-gravity-quantum-mechanics.html” on your facebook post people using the app will not be able to see the URL. They filter it out and re-write the display that is rendered.

This is important. Why? Well, for example, there is a recent scientific paper published in Canada about contamination level of DNA fragments in Pfizer covid vaccines. Facebook will not allow discussion of the paper. You cannot post the paper. You cannot post a link to a website talking about the paper either. They just remove your post. Sometimes they warn you not to try doing it again. The information is suppressed. This is one of the reasons people blog – to avoid censorship.

One of the side effects I recently noticed was it is not possible to get to a certain blog on medium.com where there are book reviews of books on science. The owner puts the link on her facebook group but facebook app users cannot get to the site to give feedback to the reviewer.

Really old people who still have computers and know what a browser is are slightly better off. But the new gen-alpha audience is totally locked into phones. Even my 40 year old daughter in law does not know what a browser is. And her kids have never seen a computer.

I think there is a word for this. I have heard it called “shadow banning”. The idea is to prevent unauthorized information from being viral. Or being capable of being viral.

So if a research scientist or an MD wants to say something that is “forbidden” she may be subject to shadow banning. Was there much of that happening during the lockdowns? You tell me!

When I travel I usually do not access facebook from a computer, but use a phone. I miss being able to copy a URL to paste into a note for later retrieval.
for example, the book review site. I had to ask the owner to message me the URL.

I hope this helps explain some of my concern. I want an open world wide web, not one that is controlled by a coalition of big tech that chokes off information.


If Apple

If Apple made cars:

Could only drive on special roads

Would need authorization for each passenger

The engine wouldn’t be accessible

It wouldn’t have windows

It would require special fuel

It would cost 69% more than other cars

The main appeal would be conformity

Only celebrities would endorse them

If Microsoft

“If General Motors had developed technology like Microsoft, we would all be driving cars with the following characteristics:

  1. For no reason whatsoever, your car would crash twice a day.
  2. Every time they repainted the lines in the road, you would have to buy a new car.
  3. Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no reason. You would have to pull over to the side of the road, close all of the windows, shut off the car, restart it, and reopen the windows before you could continue. For some reason, you would simply accept this.
  4. Occasionally, executing a maneuver such as a left turn would cause your car to shut down and refuse to restart, in which case you would have to reinstall the engine.
  5. Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, was reliable, five times as fast and twice as easy to drive – but would run on only five percent of the roads.
  6. The oil, water temperature, and alternator warning lights would all be replaced by a single “General Protection Fault” warning light.
  7. The airbag system would ask “Are you sure?” before deploying.
  8. Occasionally, for no reason whatsoever, your car would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key and grabbed hold of the radio antenna.
  9. Every time GM introduced a new car, car buyers would have to learn to drive all over again because none of the controls would operate in the same manner as the old car.
  10. You’d have to press the “Start” button to turn the engine off.

Todays YEC Rumors

A friend posted this:

I wrote to her the following:

My friend David Rhoads tells me the YEC people claim the laws of physics change (when it is convenient for their viewpoint). I dont know if thats true. It seems to be. He has studied this for years. So, let us assume its true. God changes the laws of physics. OK, so then tell me why God cannot tweak the DNA of 100 organisms in a species to cause 50 reproducing pairs to suddenly exist to make a new species?

If God can and does change the laws of physics WHY cant he spawn a new species every day of the week?

Keep in mind the YEC claim is that the ENTIRE COSMOS had the laws of physics changed the first few days of creation and also changed the day Adam sinned.

Their claim is the speed of light everywhere changed.

Well, thats waaaaaaayyyyyy bigger of an effect on the universe than making a new species would be on tiny little earth.

So I am having a hard time understanding why god cannot do macroevolution.

I dont believe in naturalistic macro-evolution. I believe in theistic-macro-evolution. So to me what we seen in the natural world and what we see in the bible is One-Seamless-Truth.

So….”Evolution requires a lot more faith than the Creator view”… why do the YEC people limit God’s power? They believe God cannot do evolution. He is constrained to only being able to do creative acts at the beginning. Even if it means he changed all the physical laws of the universe. But during history? Oh, well, he is not allowed to tweak biology.

So I think this evolution versus theology idea seems to be a false dichotomy invented in the middle of the 19th century.

If we believe God can heal people and can resurrect people, why cant he make new species? I don’t get it. I used to go visit Henry Morris at his school in San Diego. I believed his world view. But now it doesnt make any sense.

On Cosmic Origins

LINK TO THIS POST: https://randomraindrops.com/2023/11/30/on-cosmic-origins/


On cosmic origins, Sy Garte says on page 52 of his book The Works Of His Hands,

Let me pull out the two conclusions.



Lets look at how Sy leads up to the third possible solution and his conclusions. Lets see what he says about the other two logical possible solutions.

Sy Garte On Cosmic Origins
Starting on page 49 of his kindle book The Works of His Hands Sy says the following about “Fine Tuning in Cosmology”

Lets re-iterate the three possible solutions.

1. THEORY OF EVERYTHING (that connects gravity to quantum physics and explains everything)
3. GOD (unprovable)

Bonhoffer On Stupidity

Bonhoeffer is being used to call Trump evil.  This was said to Jeff Greenberg.

Quoting Dean Ohlman:

Stupidity is a more dangerous enemy of the good than evil,” wrote Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German theologian. Penning this sentence ten years after the accession of Adolf Hitler to supreme power, these words reflected tough lessons soaked in blood. Bonhoeffer formed part of a small circle of resistance to the dictator in Germany, risking his life for an ideal.
It was a dark time in his homeland. Total war had engulfed the world, and a totalitarian regime was controlling the country. Bonhoeffer pondered how this came to be. He thought about the nature of evil, but came to the conclusion it was not evil itself that was the most dangerous enemy of the good. Rather, it was stupidity.

For you can fight against evil. Evil gives people a queasy feeling in the stomach. As Bonhoeffer continued, “evil carries with itself the seeds of its own destruction.” To prevent willful malice, you can always erect barriers to stop its spread. Against stupidity you are defenseless.

“Against stupidity we have no defense. Neither protests nor force can touch it. Reasoning is of no use. Facts that contradict personal prejudices can simply be disbelieved — indeed, the fool can counter by criticizing them, and if they are undeniable, they can just be pushed aside as trivial exceptions. So the fool, as distinct from the scoundrel, is completely self-satisfied. In fact, they can easily become dangerous, as it does not take much to make them aggressive. For that reason, greater caution is called for than with a malicious one. Never again will we try to persuade the stupid person with reasons, for it is senseless and dangerous.” — Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Jeff Greenberg replies: 

Harsh but true! Pray that this demonic force will indeed be imprisoned and no longer a threat to Life.

What price piety is paid by these slanderous  ultra-left “Christians”?   Its a case study in hatred in the name of Christ. That is what Jeff Greenberg just came to mean to me.

Origins and Science Note 1.

The mobile version removes background colors and images. Then in the facebook app they edit the words. They remove links so you cannot click them.

On November 28, 2023 I made a note of a discussion on origins, below. It has to do with YEC.

David Rhoads and Susan Haywood. Off topic of what the OP was….but …. I am puzzled by the theology of anyone who claims God can and did alter cosmological constants like the speed of light willy nilly and they think that is perfectly proper. But God cannot tweak mutations in DNA. For example, in a population of organisms God cannot invoke a mutation in two individuals or in 100 individuals all at the same time in order to make a new species that can reproduce with itself. That is too much for God to do, yet he can alter the physics of the entire universe! Are they serious?

I also do not see where the bible makes any claim about physics or about biology or DNA or species. Seems to me beliefs about these topics are conclusions jumped to by fallible humans. They are contrived notions or fabricated notions. Where does the bible say God cannot be involved in the evolution of biological organisms? Why do YEC’s believe God is forbidden to do any such interaction with biology in the universe? And yet he can snap His fingers and the speed of light changes “just like that” based on some decision some human made 6000 years ago. It makes no sense to me as a theology.

Here is the link: [Facebook users copy and paste into a URL in a browser to go to web page]

Genealogy Note Nov. 2021

Ever play the message passing game in 3rd grade?

The teacher puts the whole class in a circle . “Emily”, she says, ‘I am going to whisper you a secret.” She whispers in Emily’s ear. “Now you tell Rachel”. Emily whispers the secret in Rachels ear. Rachel tells Aaron. Aaron tells Bob, And so on. It gets to the last kid in the circle, Tommy. Tommy says it out loud to the class. The teacher then says what the original secret was. Which of course isn’t very much like what Tommy just pronounced. The point is the message morphed by being passed from person to person.

Is this an aspect of hearsay?

Regardless, message passing doesnt work. Well, not very well.
This is why genealogists look for eyewitness reports of events, meaning they saw the event and recorded it at the time. The witness must have been at the place and at the time.

That is what a PRIMARY SOURCE consists of.

Gravestones are not primary sources, BTW. The people doing the burying are not witnesses to the birth and are not recording it.

A census record and a death certificate also are not primary sources. We do contrive a lot of birth dates from these documents, but these are contrived. And subject to error.

My wife’s family members keep asking me to do genealogy for them. They want me to interview witnesses, obtain documents, figure it out, and document it. They keep asking and asking and asking. I get quixxed about it and my wife gets quizzed about it like they are actually interested.

I say to them “feed me notes, documents, letters, records.” Communicate with me. Dont pass rumors and messages to my wife.

They to a person steadfastly refused to even lift a little finger to go along with this. And tell me I am supposed to do it all for them.

I am now telling them NO. Stop talking to me about this if you are not willing to help. You are wasting my time.

WYSIWYG Book Layout

Factors of choosing an authoring tool. What you see is what you get. WYSIWYG.

So, if you use 3 columns of text you have the opportunity to design left-right pages so graphics can be centered or be offset towards the spine or towards the outer edges.

When starting a chapter I try to use the left page as a full page photo, the chapter title and half page of text are on the right side and that is page 1 of the chapter. Afterwards each facing page spread has a left-right character.

I want my editor tool to show this. I want the text to flow around the photos and images.

I have a thing about “creating”. I do not just write long pieces of text. I want pictures, graphics, artwork, maps, diagrams, tables, and more. It must produce a PDF. I want to see what the PDF looks like in near real time. I do not want to hire a layout person for $000’s to create the final product for me.
That would be like a blind man hiring a sculptor. I am doing sculpting, not authoring.

Cancel Your Own Self Westerner.

Chief Ish-Tak-Ha-Ba. Remember that name!!! It means “Sleepy Eyes”. And the high school in Sleepy Eye Minnesota carries the name “Indians” in honor of their namesake, who died in 1859 and whose remains are buried under a large granite monument in town. Four years ago his great-great-great-great granddaughter donated his pipe to the Sleepy Eye historical society in a ceremony that drew press attention.

Meanwhile, at Mahnomen, Minnesota public schools, the schools logo looks like a dreamcatcher with the word “Indians” across the top. They consider it is done with a sense of pride. The majority of the population is Indian and they like it – it gives them a sense of pride.

BTW, I am part Cherokee. So I like this idea. Lets celebrate some native American heritage.

Let us not forget the Warroad, Minnesota Warriors, who have a special logo designed by native american students that shows an indian warrior’s face with two feathers. I say “bravo” for them. Its about time!

So its ok to use these logos if the people whose culture is represented actually want them. The politically correct just dont want them used if the people dont happen to have a background in the heritage. In that case its considered offensive.

But in Washington State, the mascot “Vikings” now has to be changed because the “offended” dont feel included in Viking heritage. I KNEW IT! I KNEW VIKINGS would be considered politically incorrect. And it is! But in this case you cant have innocuous because someone ISNT represented by the mascot.

The PC are offended if you name something they think is about them, and the PC are offended if you DONT name something that is about them. Soon, absolutely all speech in America will be censored by some minority that is offended. So the Seattle Pina Colada Blenders will be banned because the non-drinkers feel offended that their culture is both not included and too included to be allowed.

America has gone nuts, and free speech is getting shredded by the lunatic left.

I’m also Irish, and I shudder to think the non-Irishmen wont be allowed to celebrate anything Irish because either the Irish didnt give permission or the non-Irish feel left out. It a way for the PC to extinguish recognition of Irish culture. Its coming.

Interesting Question about Realty Income (O)

One of the reasons why Realty Income used to trade at a premium valuation is because it was highly specialized and it had achieved a great track record in its niche. But now it is stepping out of it. Last year, it started investing in casinos Then, it invested in vertical farming.After that, it acquired Spirit Realty Capital (SRC), which significantly expanded its industrial property portfolio. Now, it is investing in data centers… What’s next? Is there anything Realty Income wouldn’t go into?