Photo from Flickr/blacque jacques (Creative Commons)
A short piece in the latest Scientific American contends that historical records can be read like data from a grand experiment. History is a science, says author Michael Shermer, and historians can develop and test hypotheses just as other scientists do.
The article is a recapitulation of an argument presented in Jared Diamond’s Natural Experiments of History, a new book he co-edited with James A. Robinson, a Harvard professor of government. The book employs the “comparative method of historical science” to examine the diverging histories of Haiti and the Dominican Republic:
“… Diamond demonstrates that although both countries inhabit the same island, Hispaniola, because of geopolitical differences one ended up dirt poor while the other flourished.”