major complications

The Krugman anecdote silbey excerpts here reminds me of how I ended up finally deciding, after leaning that way for about a year, to major in history. I was sitting in a political science lecture when the professor, who had worked out a generalized model for explaining certain phenomena, said somewhat off-handedly that while political scientists try to simplify things and create models, historians pick at those models and point out all the ways they don’t quite fit particular instances.

At least that was the gist of what he said; it’s been years since I took that class and I remember him making the point in a pithier way. He wasn’t disparaging history, but it was clear from the way he said it (if it wasn’t already clear from the fact of his being a political science professor) that he preferred the political science way of thinking. Anyway, I heard that and I thought, that settles it–I’m majoring in history.

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