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 No.1040

My problem focuses on history and humanities, but I guess it could apply to other subjects. How do you guys "use" sources? How should leftists approach primary and secondary sources when studying or debating? How should we approach anticommunist ones? How do you make sure sources are correct? For example: Say you have 2 books on the Russian revolution, the first one is more left wing and the second is more anticommunist. How do you prove who's right and wrong? What do you do if the two books contradict each other? Sorry if that's too many questions, but I have a lot of doubts when it comes to learning from books and using them for debates.
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 No.1041

>>1040
>How do you guys "use" sources?
By quoting them in the text, referring to them, and then listing them in the bibliography. The key here is to be true to the sources. It is bad historic writing to use a source that does not say what you want it to say, but pretend like it does.

>How should leftists approach primary and secondary sources when studying or debating?

Critically.

>How should we approach anticommunist ones?

Even more critically.

>How do you make sure sources are correct?

You don't. You can never know something for sure, but corroborating sources are usually a good sign. When reading historical works you have to be aware that a lot of it is conjecture. Not made up, but kind of pieced together to make sense, often by generalising what we know of the time. Like for example you can say a particular Consul in 50 CE Rome had a bath in his house without having evidence of that Consul having a bath, but having evidence that rich people in Consuls in Rome in 50 CE generally had a bath.

>Say you have 2 books on the Russian revolution, the first one is more left wing and the second is more anticommunist. How do you prove who's right and wrong?

You don't "prove" anything, but you can do two things: 1) attack the book you disagree with, which can be anything from attacking the sources, criticising the way the author uses sources, criticise the author himself (ad hominem, despite its bad rep is a legit argument, e.g. Ancient aliens guy has no business speaking about aliens cause he has a bachelor in communication, not history or something relevant); 2) find sources that corroborate an opposing view.

>What do you do if the two books contradict each other?

Check other authors and other sources. If all you had was those two books, then you'd have to read what the authors have read (check their sources) and then see for yourself whether the conclusions they drew makesl sense.

Just remember, nobody is infallible and when you agree with a work, that is when you have to be the most critical and do your research, because it could easily be a case of confirmation bias. Therefore, self-reflection and criticism of your own positions is necessary at every stage of historical writing or research.

tl;dr: don't believe the first thing you read
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 No.1045

>>1041
Much appreciated, comrade!

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