Methods for Human History: Disciplines and Perspectives

Everyone has a place in life and a perspective that reflects their individual experiences and interests. Additionally, most adults have an education and have acquired knowledge on a range of topics. My recent work explores people’s perspectives and the many disciplines of human knowledge.

This collection of essays highlights five basic methods that help define human history and add new understanding to human life and society:

Group Behavior

Humans have three overlapping frameworks for behavior: as individuals, as members of informal groups or networks, and as members of one or more institutions. I am exploring all of these areas, and the “collective intentionality” of groups in institutions.

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Creating Knowledge

Historians of science have traditionally neglected the world, while world historians have neglected changes in knowledge. But, as demonstrated by these three books published by the World History Center (2016–2018), both analyses can be combined to enhance one another. The texts focus on the translation of knowledge (1000–1800 CE), links of knowledge among world regions (1700–1800), and global transformations of life sciences (1940–1990).

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Languages and Early Migration

The distribution of languages and their speakers—today and in the past—gives important insights into migration and other historical experiences. This collection of maps and essays shows how language distribution reflects major changes in history. In an exciting recent example, the discovery of extensive rock paintings in the Amazon Valley of Colombia confirms a hypothesis about the early spread of speaking communities in South America.

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Biological, Cultural, and Social Evolution

This analysis argues that the human species changes under the influence of three evolutionary processes: biological evolution through natural selection, cultural evolution through dual inheritance, and social evolution through institutional evolution.

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Information Science

“Information science” is still a new term. It refers to the reorganization of our knowledge—and uncertainty—about the exchange of information at every level. Information science is a mix of basic principles and categories of information with advanced techniques for analyzing specific types of data. In this essay, I point to major issues in information science and encourage readers to apply them.

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