Richard P. Feynman needs no introduction and I'd like share a few of his quotes that should be of interest to ACW readers. I'm putting my own headings (in bold) on his quotes.
On pop history and the McPhersons of the world:
If I could explain it to the average person, I wouldn't have been worth the Nobel Prize.
On the value of personal research in primary sources:
I never pay attention to anything by "experts". I calculate everything myself
On Civil War "experts" -
We absolutely must leave room for doubt or there is no progress and no learning. There is no learning without having to pose a question. And a question requires doubt. People search for certainty. But there is no certainty.
More on experts:
Learn from science that you must doubt the experts. As a matter of fact, I can also define science another way: Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts
How to write Civil War history with integrity:
Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given, if you know them. You must do the best you can — if you know anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong — to explain it. If you make a theory, for example, and advertise it, or put it out, then you must also put down all the facts that disagree with it, as well as those that agree with it.
The problem with authoritative histories of the war:
I have the advantage of having found out how hard it is to get to really know something, how careful you have to be about checking the experiment, how easy it is to make mistakes and fool yourself. I know what it means to know something, and therefore I see how they get their information and I can’t believe they know it, they haven’t done the work necessary, haven’t done the checks necessary, haven’t done the care necessary. I have a great suspicion that they don’t know, that this stuff is [wrong], and they’re intimidating people.
Your humble blogger would add that getting stuff wrong and intimidating people is American Civil War history in a nutshell.