Oh the humanities!

Scientist on books

Credit: Robert Neubecker

Throughout my science education, I have dutifully memorized facts: the stages of photosynthesis, the enzymes involved in the Krebs cycle, how to balance equations in chemical reactions. In contrast, the focus of my ancient history classes was on answering big, open-ended questions: Why did historical figures act in certain ways? How did the assassination of Julius Caesar affect the Roman Empire? Would our world be different had he not been murdered? There were other questions, too, related not just to historical events but to the nature of knowledge, to what we know and how we know it. What's the evidence? How reliable is it? Does the conventional explanation account for all the available information (including competing ideas) and the broader context? (Keep reading at Science.)

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