David Hackett Fischer. Historians’ Fallacies: Toward a Logic of Historical Thought. New York: Harper & Row, 1970. xxii + 338 pp.
In this final chapter, I want to offer a brief survey of some of the more common fallacies that historians commit. It is by no means exhaustive, and the reader who wants to read more about these kinds of issues should consult the old but still very useful, and at times very funny, book by David Hackett Fischer, Historians’ Fallacies: Toward a Logic of Historical Thought. Fischer deals with so many fallacies in such a devastatingly clear and ruthless manner that most, if not all, of us will blush as we read it, recognizing our own foolishness and ineptitude at various points in his narrative.
I don’t call myself a historian in the same way that most lay people don’t call themselves theologians. But nearly everyone’s a theologian; some are good ones.
A historian is someone (anyone) who asks an open-ended question about past events and answers it with selected facts which are arranged in the form of an explanatory paradigm. (Fischer, p. xv)
So nearly everyone’s a historian. This forty-year-old book will help you be a better one.