Daily Archives: 24 October, 2009

the truth is out there?

the truth is out there... or is it?

the truth is out there... or is it?

Recent events in the news have made me think back to one of my first lectures at University, many moons ago. In the Historical Methods unit, we were being encouraged to think more critically about what we were studying. A good theory. In practice it did far more to fry our brains.

But I digress. This particular lecture introduced the idea of the ‘historical truth’. The idea of truth, the lecturer argued, was absurd. Instead of there being something called ‘the truth’, there are only various different interpretations, which are naturally different based on a persons experiences and perspective.

No such thing as the truth? He must be mad, we all though. But its only by looking back, and having watched Nick Griffins absurd abuse of history, that I see the idea of the truth in a new perspective. Sure, there are some things that are beyond doubt. Water boils at 37 degrees, a normal human being has two eyeballs and sooner or later we all die. But that is all very scientific. Also, every crime must have been committed by someone, and it is the work of the detective to find out who.

Some things cannot be proved. Something more fluid things simply cannot be proved or disproved. Religion, for example. How can you prove a higher being? That is more belief than truth. As Richard Dawkins would say, no-one can offer any proof of this, apart from ‘god works in mysterious ways’. Which is not proof.

Nick Griffin comes from the David Irving school of history. Namely, that they have already decided what they want to see, and select sources and evidence that supports their argument, and ignore everything else. This is not history, it is lying and abusing your position to hoodwink people. It should be a matter of honour to historians that they look at the evidence in an as impartial way as possible, then come to a conclusion. This process if further enhanced by publishing your work, giving talks, and debating with other historians. In this process, something close to the truth usually appears.

A propensity to knowingly lie is not something that you can trust in a Historian. As Professor Richard Evans commented on Irving, his work is completely worthless and he cannot be trusted, due to his track record with evidence. The ironic thing is, the fact that Irving is a denier of the holocaust is one of the most concrete things any Historian could ever come across.

So, the truth is out there. Or is it? Its one of those arguments that will never be solved, and will run and run all the time historians are paid to pick over technicalities. Personally I find historiography rather tedious, and prefer to spend my time actually researching things. But all the same, some idea of objectivity and use of evidence is important to bear in mind, in life as well as in history.

1 Comment

Filed under debate

USNS Laramie

USNS Laramie

USNS Laramie

I quite unexpectedly saw the USNS Laramie coming into Portsmouth Harbour today. She is in the UK supporting US warships taking part in a NATO exercise in Scotland recently.

The Laramie is a 31,200 ton tanker of the Henry J Kaiser Class. He role is to support US warships at sea by providing fuel oil and aviation fuel. They can also carry a small amount of dry and frozen food. She has a capacity for 159,000 barrells of fuel oil and aviation oil, 7,400 square feet of cargo space, 8 20 foot refrigerated containers and room for 128 pallets. The high gantires enable her to refuel ships while underway, a process known as Replenishment at Sea, or RAS. With gantries on both sides, she can RAS with two ships at once.

The US Navy’s support vessels – oil tankers, supply ships, hospital ships and container vessels – actually come under the Military Sealift Command, hence the USNS prefix and not USS. This is a designation that is also used by the Royal Navy, whose non-fighting support ships come under the Royal Fleet Auxilliary and have the designation RFA. Both the MSC and RFA’s ships are manned mainly by civilians.

The US Navy have 14 ships in the same class, which makes it possible to support and replenish a large number of warships, at sea, around the globe. In comparison the Royal Fleet Auxilliary, only has four oil tankers. The two ships of the new Wave class have a similar size and capacity, but the two ships of the Rover class are only 11,000 tons.

3 Comments

Filed under Navy