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Principles of Applied Epistemology (APPLIED EPISTEMOLOGY)
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N R Scott


In: Middlesbrough
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Wile E. Coyote wrote:
You start by believing your world is an island (I) of which you are the centre.

I like this. Not quite as quotable as "all history is myth unless proven otherwise", but definitely another premise I'll be borrowing.
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Mick Harper
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In: London
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The starting point is always Central.

The most pernicious application of this principle is in astronomy. If you are the earth, then you are the centre of the universe which revolves about you. The Sun and the Moon are your parents, dad and mum respectively. The planets are named and familiar -- your immediate family -- and the brighter stars ie the ones that you can identify and give names too, are the famous people in your society. Then the unidentifiable and apparently uncountable stars are the rest of humanity. It proved difficult to shake until the advent of SCUM theory.
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Wile E. Coyote


In: Arizona
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On line wrote:
Icknield Way
prehistoric trackway from Norfolk to Dorset, Old English Iccenhilde, Icenhylte (903), which is of unknown meaning and origin. There was a Romano-British Iceni tribe in modern Norfolk. The name was transferred 12c. to the ancient Roman road from Burton on the Water to Templeborough.


It's not unknown to the Wolf. Once you have the Icen view.
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Ishmael


In: Toronto
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Wile E. Coyote wrote:
This is of course why later folks considered California an Island....


Based on my map study, which I conducted about six years ago, it was because they confused the latitudes of California and Vancouver (and, possibly, because whoever was controlling California forbade exploration of latitudes above that of San Francisco).
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Mick Harper
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An interesting (to me) case of expertitis came up the other day. As you know it is my proud record that nobody has ever been able to come up with an error in any of my books though everybody is constantly saying, either to themselves or out loud in reviews, “He’s got that wrong.” It always turns out to be a disagreement and not an error. This is actually rather surprising since I’m not very punctilious as a fact-checker. (Hatty is, so that may be the explanation.) Anyway this latest bit of punch-and-judy came about over a passage in The Unreliable History

The British developed in the opposite direction, starting with whimsy and ending in order. Their best tank of the early years was called the Matilda though not on account of her waltzing ability, having a top speed of eight miles an hour. Their worst tank was called the Churchill which serves them both right.

My interlocutor pointed out that the Churchill has claims to being the best tank of the war, and one would have to say such a vast gulf might indeed qualify as an error rather than a disagreement. But it raises some questions about revisionist history so I thought I’d wax a bit lyrical on this (to most of you) obscurely technical point.

More later
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Mick Harper
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Weapons of war get judged by the harshest of criteria, life or death, win or lose, so one would think there would be a fair measure of agreement about their efficacy. But there really isn’t – either then or now. Mostly this is down to the fact that ‘it all depends’. A Spitfire may be ‘better’ than a Hurricane but it may still be better to build Hurricanes instead of Spitfires for a vast number of other reasons. The Germans thought well of the Spitfire when fighting against it, the Russians thought ill of it when using it against the Germans, Germans shot down Russians in droves. Who should one ask?

Not, it would seem, revisionist historians. Who come in waves. Revisionist historians follow AE rules of orthodoxy just as much as ordinary historians -- and of course every serious historian likes to think he is a revisionist historian anyway. So, for example, since the Spitfire is a revered national brand, the first wave can only say, “Not as good as it was cracked up to be.” Then, when a consensus is achieved, the next wave will say, “Well, actually it was pretty damned good.” Not, you will note, “Hey, guys, it was even worse that we thought.” Revisionism doesn’t operate like that. History swings like a pendulum do.

later: we might get round to tanks
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Mick Harper
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So, yes, the Churchill. Best or worst? First off, the context. My claim was made in a humorous chapter not about tanks but about tank names. I had reasonable expectations of some latitude on the part of the reader. This is in addition to the whole book being dubbed ‘Unreliable’ so that I could launch new ideas without having to justify any of them as the finished article -- an important consideration and one which fatally handicaps most writers on important subjects. (And most reviewers of books launching new ideas about important subjects.) None of which justifies actual errors, even errors of judgement, so what is the status of the Churchill? Where on earth did I pick up this idea of the Churchill being, allowing for some licence, a pretty bad tank?

From an academic military historian actually. A lecturer from Sandhurst College no less. He was standing in front of a Churchill at the Bovington Tank Museum and traducing it merrily. There then followed shots of Churchill tanks stranded on the beach after the Dieppe raid of late 1942. The reason this had stuck in my mind was the accompanying commentary (I paraphrase): “The Germans were so bemused at the British using what appeared to be their newest and presumably most secret tank on such a hazardous mission that naturally they sent them off for inspection by their own tank experts. The word came back that they were so poor the British had clearly used some failed prototype which they didn’t mind losing in such numbers, to be left in enemy hands.”

But then came the revisionist backlash which, I have to admit, I hadn't kept up with. Will do so in a twinkling.
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Mick Harper
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In: London
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Sorry, I started saying 'Cromwell' (another British tank) in that last post instead of 'Churchill' -- which I have now amended. It's highly appropriate I got confused because there is a certain amount of confusion about the name 'Churchill' itself. When the tank turned out to be a dud, it was put about that it wasn't named for the Prime Minister but for John Churchill, his illustrious ancestor. Personally, I would have used 'Marlborough' to avoid any possible confusion but anyway, as we shall see, the Churchill turned out not be such a dud after all so no more was heard on the subject.

All this is slightly apocryphal and I should like to hear more from anyone who knows the full (or as may be, actual) story. Now back to our story.
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