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"What If History: Is There Any Validity To Counterfactualism?" Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP22 Jan 2019 4:03 p.m. PST

"When you're a kid, the ‘What If" factor enters into your conscious during the questioning phase, cementing, during the age somewhere between 5 and 11, as the most annoying of your adolescence for people around you; when your whole life becomes the big "why?" it's hard not to be exhausted with the endless possibilities for answering your questions. In fact, it very easily becomes impossible to end the conversation without bringing in another what if. In other words, it just never ends.

Applying the what if factor to history and the minute details in events is exactly the same way; except instead of calling it what if, we call it counterfactualism. And like your 5 year old self, once the questions start, it's hard to stop. It's why among contemporaries, counterfactualism hardly has a place in intelligent discussion and reasoning. One historian dubbed the very idea a "mere parlor game" because historical fact, as it were, is hard to approach with counterfactualism when the very nature of historical methodology uses central evidence to make its claims. Yet counterfactualism continues on, in sly evidential claims and implicit ones as well, especially in contemporary literature created for the masses. But like all things, counterfactualism comes in a didactic form: good and bad, and things are bad because they have no reasoning, catering off into the imagination with no grounding, while good counterfactualism is good because it is well reasoned and has grounding.

While seemingly counterproductive to good history, the use of counterfactualism does engage the imagination—in fact this is many historians reasoning for keeping counterfactualism alive in scholarly study—but the real reasoning behind continuing its presence in argument and discussion is because counterfactuals appeal to laws, rationality, and casual analysis…."
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Zephyr122 Jan 2019 9:45 p.m. PST

"except instead of calling it what if, we call it counterfactualism."

What if we don't call it that? I certainly won't…

NavyVet22 Jan 2019 9:55 p.m. PST

In the multiverses we live in all things are happening . So what is happening depends on which timeline you are living on.

Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP23 Jan 2019 8:56 a.m. PST

As in with the "news" media, etc., comments, "facts", etc. are generally what fits the author's, speaker's, etc. beliefs, narrative, agenda, etc.

E.g. what just happened in DC by the Lincoln Memorial, IIRC. Multiple factions, multiple factors, multiple observers, etc., all with multiple beliefs, etc.

A sad example of "He said … She said" … in over drive, on steroids, etc. Regardless of what actually occurred.

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