11.0469 evidence

Humanist Discussion Group (humanist@kcl.ac.uk)
Wed, 17 Dec 1997 20:08:24 +0000 (GMT)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 11, No. 469.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

Date: Tue, 16 Dec 1997 09:49:10 +0000
From: Willard McCarty <Willard.McCarty@kcl.ac.uk>
Subject: evidence

Thanks to Patrick Durusau in Humanist 11.463 for subjecting my use of the
term "evidence" to scrutiny. I was indeed intending the kind we are now
getting from large databases, the preparation, delivery and application of
which require our attention -- or so it seems to me. I was also, however,
suggesting that this kind might prompt us to reconsider the whole question
of evidence in the humanities and its relation to scholarship. The
penetration of computing techniques into the disciplines we all know very
well does not mean that the scholars in them will simply be doing what they
did before, only faster, more efficiently, more accurately and so on.
Changes brought about by the applications of computing are bound to have
broad, systemic effects. Does it not seem reasonable to argue that if
empirical evidence becomes so much easier to get, then the kinds of study
that depend on such evidence will tend to be favoured, especially if those
kinds are regarded by administrations, funding bodies et al. as particularly
attractive? If this is the case, then is it not urgent for us to understand
both the probable effects and how to instruct our students in uses of
evidence that will tend to produce better rather than worse scholarship?


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Dr. Willard McCarty, Senior Lecturer, King's College London
voice: +44 (0)171 873 2784 fax: +44 (0)171 873 5801
e-mail: Willard.McCarty@kcl.ac.uk

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