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Truth is Powerful

The Questions of Our Past


Although the discipline of history lacks laws like those found in science — that predict a range of natural phenomena – history does indeed, I’d submit, have laws that are universally applicable. Here are eight:

Law 1: It happened earlier.
Events tend to have precursors, precedents, and parallels. Almost always, the roots of a development began earlier in time. For example, many of the social phenomena linked to the pandemic actually predate COVID-19’s first cases.

Law 2: All heroes have feet of clay.
Look closely enough, and even our most admired saints and heroes are flawed, containing complex mixture After all, they’re human and as Kant put it, humanity is made out of crooked timber that can’t be made straight.

Law 3: Victories invariably result in new problems.
History doesn’t allow for closure. Ending one conflict only lays bare or instigates new challenges. The textbook example is the end of the Cold War, which unleashed a new set of conflicts.
A corollary: Historical events have consequences that almost never can be anticipated. Law 4: Reputations rise and fall. As time passes, new perspectives on the past emerge. Columbus, celebrated as an intrepid explorer and the bearer […]

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