No, historians do not necessarily need to be good at math. While some areas of history may require math skills, such as economic history, statistics, and data analysis, many other fields do not.
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Historians do not necessarily need to be good at math, but it can be helpful in certain areas of history. As stated before, economic history, statistics, and data analysis may require some mathematical skills. However, many other fields do not.
Historian and author, David McCullough, once said, “History is not a science, it’s an art.” This quote emphasizes the idea that history is more about interpreting and analyzing past events, rather than using hard data to come to a conclusion.
Here are some interesting facts about the relationship between math and history:
- Mathematics was an important aspect of ancient civilizations, including Egypt, Babylon, and Greece. These societies used mathematics for practical purposes, such as measuring land and building structures, as well as for more abstract concepts like philosophy and science.
- During the Renaissance period in Europe, math and science began to be seen as important fields of study for understanding the world around us. This led to important discoveries in areas like astronomy and physics.
- In the modern era, statistics and data analysis have become increasingly important in various fields, including history. Historians may use statistical methods to analyze large data sets, draw conclusions about past events, and predict future trends.
- Many famous people throughout history have used math to achieve great things. For example, Leonardo da Vinci used math to design incredible inventions, and Galileo Galilei used mathematics to understand the movements of the stars and planets.
Overall, while math skills are not necessarily required for all areas of history, having a basic understanding of mathematical concepts can be helpful for analyzing data and drawing conclusions about past events.
Mathematicians and physicists have different ways of thinking about and approaching problems, with mathematicians preferring to focus on the logic of their arguments and physicists looking for situations where the mathematics applied can be used to explain real-world phenomena. One example of this difference is the theorem that three dimensions of space are special, with mathematicians being able to derive the same results in a two-dimensional space if they are careful enough. However, the modern attitude of mathematicians is not to be beholden to physics, with many of them preferring to work on problems that are more interesting or relevant to themselves.
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Numbers, in fact, play a significant role in the everyday work of most historians, and achieving quantitative literacy can help you become more efficient in your regular job.
When I was about 24, and an arrogant, know-it-all undergraduate (it came with the territory) I was convinced eliminating all requirements outside my major would be a great idea. It would shorten my college career (I almost became the world’s first tenured undergraduate), save me from reading a lot of things I didn’t want to read, and it would above all protect me from having to understand math, which made my palms sweat when I was in the same room with it — or on the same campus with it.
I wasn’t a history person then, but majoring in creative writing, and I had wonderful reasons why I didn’t need a second language, didn’t need to learn any sciences and memorize terminology, didn’t need to take 20 credits outside my major in the humanities…. requirements outside my field were dumb, irrational, traditional.
I have mentally been writing an apology letter to the UW Faculty Senate, which developed these guidelines, for the last 40 years, polishing and adding to it.
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So historians now have to get their heads around mathematics, too. While a database is never much more than an expression of arithmetic or linear algebra, the increasing amount of available data is calling for a more sophisticated approach.
Art and Art History. Classics. Communication. English.