Book 2 – Page 72

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Re: Book 2 – Page 72

Postby sleepymancer » Wed Sep 28, 2011 11:55 am

Wow. The fun's rolled in over this. (sorry, just edited to get rid of a lie from the beginning of this post, I clearly could be bothered to respond in detail, and to sort out the quoting. dropped a bracket along the way, and didn't think Kreistor would want my arguments here attributed to him...)

Kreistor wrote:No, you're saying, "If it can't be proven to not have happened, then it might have happened."

Since it is impossible to disprove a negative, you get to believe anything you want. I can't prove space aliens didn't kill the knights, either, so they are equally likely to have done that as they took off their boots. Ultimately, you have no method to reject any of a thosand theories -- they put wood on their boots and skated on the mud, they sat on the mud and slid around, crawled, built daVinci helicopters and fly, strugn ropes from tree to tree and rappelled across...

See, I can do it too! Believe ANYTHING because you can't disprove it? Absurd.


As long as it is within the realms of the possible. I think you have to be open-minded as to what is possible, yes, but ultimately we set boundaries of the physcially possible and the extent of the evidence and then propose what we think is most likely. What we deem possible and what we deem most likely are determined by our preconceptions. If you look at the scholarship on a given subject over time, it becomes apparent that the further back in time the interpretation was written the less feasible it seems. The taken-for-granted assumptions of society change, and the argument of what was likely suddenly falls apart.

Kreistor wrote:The evidence against your belief is that in on-site testing, leather boots were not hampered by the mud at Agincourt. There was no motivation to remove the boots. So go ahead and believe whatever you want. It's not different from "space aliens done it" in the end.


My argument defines parameters of the possible, not what happened. An example, imagine that in an empirical investigation of an ordinary die it was proven to have six sides. Your argument is akin to saying that because it has six sides it must roll a six every time. You are equating a boundary parameter with an outcome.

(as an aside here, I would totally have strapped wood to my feet and skated on the mud. That sounds like fun! :lol: )

Sleepymancer wrote:We cannot interpret the past on the basis of empirical tests and experiments.


Kreistor wrote:You know nothing about being a historian. It is *all* about what you can prove could be done.


Sorry, you've missed my meaning there (I'll take blame as I don't think I worded it too clearly). However, I am going to keep stressing the word 'parameters' as I think its snuck through below the radar; tests and experiments show boundaries of what was possible, that is to say the paramaters. Unless you can conclusively narrow the parameters down to a single option, then you can't equate the paramater with what actually happened. See the die-rolling above - not always a six.

As to knowing 'nothing about being a historian', meh, I don't do too badly ;)

Sleepymancer wrote:There was a brief period in the ~1950s and ~1960s when history and archaeology tried to become scientific disciplines, but that was rapidly disabused.


Kreistor wrote:HAHAHAHAHAHAH! It was 100% successful, but you're wrong on the dates. discovering the past through duplication of the evidence goes back to the late 1800's.


That's debatable. Serious scientific archaeology (also called the 'New Archaeology' or 'Processualism') reached its peak with David Clarke's Models in Archaeology (1972) and his article 'Archaeology: The Loss of Innocence', Antiquity 47 (1973), 6-18 (so yes, I was a little out on the dates, but he crystallised a few ideas that had been floating around in a semi-formed state, such as those underlying Lewis Binford's 'Archaeology as Anthropology' American Archaeology 28 (1962) 217-225. The history side began - and ended - a little sooner.

They certainly set some useful grounds, and it has generally been argued that the post-Processual lash-back (see Michael Shanks, Christopher Tilley, Ian Hodder, etc.) was too much of an over-reaction, (although many of the issues they raised were not really answered). The current trend, snappily named post-post-post-Processualism (I skipped some phases in the development) revolves around a) a polyphany of voices and the strength of discourse, and b) the moderation of alien's killing knights in French fields through judicious amounts of common sense...

Kreistor wrote:Total BS. Re-engineering the past is done with the knowledge of modern science.


your word 're-engineering' is indicate of where our two approaches differ. In history I look to find out what could have happened, to postulate what I consider to be likely and most importantly to discuss what it meant. You are trying to make the past better.

Sleepymancer wrote:Ultimately, however, the study of the past is subjective and interpretive.


Kreistor wrote:Yeah, you try to get accepted as a historian that way. Good luck with that.


*runs eyes down cv*... nods contentedly to self

Sleepymancer wrote:The best a reconstruction, test or experiment can do is say 'this can or can't be done', not whether or not it was. To assume that because a thing was possible or even was just a 'better' alternative, that it must therefore have been done is logical fallacy.


Kreistor wrote:And yet they still try, put together the devices to demonstrate their theories, and either they are accepted or not.


Everybody look!!! : Kreistor and I agreed!!!!! re-constructions demonstrate if a theory is possible!


Kreistor wrote:Only one record of the battle remains. There were almost certainly others, but they simply didn't survive.


Fair enough.

Kreistor wrote:If it was included in Cornwell's story, then maybe has a reason for it. I'd love to hear it. But you're not giving it.


A, I've not read the Cornwell. is that where the idea came from? As I've been pointing out all along, my argument here regards the parameters fro re-constructing history, rather than the specific details of Agincourt.


[Quote+"BLANDcorporatio"]But agreed. I'd qualify that by saying that it's more plausible, to me, that the Archers didn't remove their boots, on grounds that I know reasons why not to remove and no reasons to remove.[/quote]

Sounds very good to me, that nuance is what the entire thing has been about.


effataigus wrote:...the process of historical study I subscribe to is very similar to the process of science. There are observations (arrowheads, first hand accounts, carbon dated scraps of whatever (probably not for this battle), isotope analyses suggesting this iron came from this specific mine), and theories are put forth to account for these observations. Some of these theories can be eliminated through further tests, though likely not all.


Yes. That's the same that I do! I work with material culture and texts, I use information obtained from scientific experts in other disciplines (for example C14 dating is chemistry, not archaeology) alongside material remnants of the past (texts are written on manuscripts so count as materials in my view) and I use that is the basis for interpretation. I outline what is logically possible, determine the pegs of what must have happened (relative orders of stratigraphy, for example) or what could have happened, and expand out from there. Constantly refining it by testing my arguments against the evidence and for theoretical stability.

Speaking of, time I got back to work :D
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Re: Book 2 – Page 72

Postby drachefly » Wed Sep 28, 2011 12:07 pm

Kreistor wrote:
drachefly wrote:Kriestor, holy crow. Certain negatives are very plausible. Others, not so much so, simply due to the amount of information they contain (teapot in orbit kind of stuff).


So, how do you decide which plausible ideas are reasonable? There ae some that argue that space aliens are plausible in all cases, and no amount of argument will convince them otherwise. Plausible and reasonable are not synonymous.


Additional information, as I said! I mean this in a technical sense. How many bits of information are required to specify the addition to the theory? Each bit comes with a prior probability cost.

The issue about constructing narratives is a bit different. In science, you only get to pick a narrative if it's supported to the exclusion of all others. Otherwise, you're in a state of "I don't know". You still have a probability distribution.

In the case of space aliens, simply introducing the space aliens into the system requires far more explanation (and thus, bits of additional information), than it provides. The issue of footwear had already been raised by the model - will the boots stick in the mud? We now have reason to believe that they wouldn't. They would be on-site, though, and in a battle. Their life could depend on not being stuck in that mud; will they be confident enough in not getting stuck that they'll use boots? Will they think that removing the boots would help or make things worse? We don't know.

Actually, I'd bet pounds to pennies that some archers kept their boots on and some took them off. When you're looking at large ensembles like armies, the probability of any individual datum is greatly enhanced.

(edited to fix a wrong word in the last sentence)
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Re: Book 2 – Page 72

Postby effataigus » Wed Sep 28, 2011 1:22 pm

sleepymancer wrote:Yes. That's the same that I do! I work with material culture and texts, I use information obtained from scientific experts in other disciplines (for example C14 dating is chemistry, not archaeology) alongside material remnants of the past (texts are written on manuscripts so count as materials in my view) and I use that is the basis for interpretation.


Interesting. I see the distinction that you are making now, though I'm not wholly satisfied with it. By this definition the oceanographer that measures seawater chemistry and then uses a computer model to interpret the generated data is an oceanographer, a computer scientist, a chemist... and why not throw in a driver if he/she drove his/herself to work that day. I think that that argument is valid even if I tried to paint it here as ridiculous, but I'd argue that a simpler way of classifying this person is an oceanographer who uses a variety of skills in pursuit of his/her work.

In any event, it sounds like we are speaking differently about the same thing. Sometimes I swear that language is more trouble than it is worth :P

I suppose the most substantial disagreement then is is in how far we press on with speculation when the support beams of evidence grow thin. Science suggests that you should stop there until you have a testable hypothesis for what the unknown might be. It sounds to me like you're saying that archaeology will keep going by filling in gaps with assumptions about what "makes sense" to them. I don't really see anything wrong with that (and indeed it opens up a whole profession for people that understand the assumptions of the bygone eras) as long as the new material is presented as highly uncertain. On the downside, this also opens up the door to history being remade to suit the present by applying modern assumptions (everyone wears shoes, for a benign example... the pre-WWII assumption that Jewish bankers have been trying to control the world for centuries for a less benign one) to olden times. I guess it depends on whether you only want what is known (the science approach), you want the current best guess about the past (the archaeology approach as given here), or you want a neat and memorable story that is grounded in history (the bardic approach).

Anyway... just ramblin.
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Re: Book 2 – Page 72

Postby sleepymancer » Wed Sep 28, 2011 1:48 pm

effataigus wrote:
sleepymancer wrote:Yes. That's the same that I do! I work with material culture and texts, I use information obtained from scientific experts in other disciplines (for example C14 dating is chemistry, not archaeology) alongside material remnants of the past (texts are written on manuscripts so count as materials in my view) and I use that is the basis for interpretation.


Interesting. I see the distinction that you are making now, though I'm not satisfied with it. By this definition the oceanographer that measures seawater and then uses a computer model to interpret the generated data is an oceanographer, a computer scientist, a chemist... and why not throw in a driver if he/she drove his/herself to work that day. I think that that argument is valid even if I tried to paint it here as ridiculous, but I'd argue that a simpler way of classifying this person is an oceanographer who uses a variety of skills in pursuit of his/her work.


I put the distinction between the disciplines rather than between the people. For example, for convenience I define myself as a medievalist but i use a range of disciplines to undertake research. Some I do myself, some I go to other specialists for. The key discipline that I use forms a sort of primary filter that I sort the secondary data through. I can't use the secondary data if I don't have some kind of understanding of the discipline its come from, but if my understanding of my core-discipline sinks below the level of the tools that I am using to perform it then I have stepped out of my academic 'comfort zone' and will probably produce but scholarship as a result.

Two anecdotes that I think illustrate what I mean reasonably well are:

1. I was at a conference a couple of years ago about digital manuscript studies. One of the presenters observed that when the computers get more exciting than the thing you are studying then you know that you are in the wrong discipline. As a consequence he had moved from the history department to the computing, to better pursue his work and research interests.

2. My girlfriend is a research chemist who used to work in industry developing new formulations. A few years ago we decided to re-construct some medieval-style inks from eleventh-century recipes. My interests were in how did the recipes work, or indeed, did they work, what was the ink like to write with, and so forth. She read one of the recipes, frowned and said 'this won't work. We will have to add [x] to make it functional'. Her approach revolved around improving the formulation to make a better ink in the present, rather than investigating the historical one.

I hope that illustrates how I'm thinking here. I think you have got what I'm trying to say, but as you yourself said:
effataigus wrote: Sometimes I swear that language is more trouble than it is worth :P
I tend to witter on, produce copious typos and run off on nonsensical tangents. If I've done this here, please forgive me :D
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Re: Book 2 – Page 72

Postby Dr Pepper » Wed Sep 28, 2011 2:35 pm

sleepymancer wrote:
Dr Pepper wrote:
Kalak wrote:I came to see what the discussion would be about after 11 pages, and promptly decided that all discussion after the 4th or 5th page is talking for the sake of talking.


Yeah, usually. But this time it is informative to learn that Agincourt is being reevaluated. But then 700 years if english triumphalism is probably enough.


Well, I'm talking for the sake of pedagogy ;)


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Re: Book 2 – Page 72

Postby Sieggy » Wed Sep 28, 2011 4:00 pm

Actually, where I got that was from a grousing excuse that one of the Frenchmen who had been ransomed put about after the battle. (We wuz robbed! They cheated! Lousy rotten no good low-class peasants had NO business killing our gallant knights! Etc . . .) One of the complaints that he made was that the English were uncouth louts who had mud between their toes during the battle, and were either too uncivilized to wear shoes or had gotten so hungry during the siege of Harfleur and the subsequent march that they had eaten them.

Personally, I figured that when you're knee deep in mud, being barefoot just makes you more mobile. The simple ability to move back out of range, wait for your opponent to take a shot, then step back in and crank him a good one is worth having wrinkly toes. Especially if he has a sword and you have a pole arm . . . nothing like being able to hit your opponent from a couple of feet farther away than he can hit you. And given that the majority of battlefield injuries were to the lower extremities (at least in combats where you used shields and shield walls, as the excavations from the battle of Wisby showed), having your legs buried in mud actually made them less vulnerable.
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Re: Book 2 – Page 72

Postby mortissimus » Wed Sep 28, 2011 4:27 pm

sleepymancer wrote:
Sleepymancer wrote:We cannot interpret the past on the basis of empirical tests and experiments.


Kreistor wrote:You know nothing about being a historian. It is *all* about what you can prove could be done.


Sorry, you've missed my meaning there (I'll take blame as I don't think I worded it too clearly). However, I am going to keep stressing the word 'parameters' as I think its snuck through below the radar; tests and experiments show boundaries of what was possible, that is to say the paramaters. Unless you can conclusively narrow the parameters down to a single option, then you can't equate the paramater with what actually happened. See the die-rolling above - not always a six.

As to knowing 'nothing about being a historian', meh, I don't do too badly ;)

Sleepymancer wrote:There was a brief period in the ~1950s and ~1960s when history and archaeology tried to become scientific disciplines, but that was rapidly disabused.


Kreistor wrote:HAHAHAHAHAHAH! It was 100% successful, but you're wrong on the dates. discovering the past through duplication of the evidence goes back to the late 1800's.


That's debatable. Serious scientific archaeology (also called the 'New Archaeology' or 'Processualism') reached its peak with David Clarke's Models in Archaeology (1972) and his article 'Archaeology: The Loss of Innocence', Antiquity 47 (1973), 6-18 (so yes, I was a little out on the dates, but he crystallised a few ideas that had been floating around in a semi-formed state, such as those underlying Lewis Binford's 'Archaeology as Anthropology' American Archaeology 28 (1962) 217-225. The history side began - and ended - a little sooner.

They certainly set some useful grounds, and it has generally been argued that the post-Processual lash-back (see Michael Shanks, Christopher Tilley, Ian Hodder, etc.) was too much of an over-reaction, (although many of the issues they raised were not really answered). The current trend, snappily named post-post-post-Processualism (I skipped some phases in the development) revolves around a) a polyphany of voices and the strength of discourse, and b) the moderation of alien's killing knights in French fields through judicious amounts of common sense...


Looking at archeology and history in Sweden, that era of scientific exploration is marked by its tomes collecting a lot of dust. Sure, if you want to know how many goatheads can be found per farm in a specific village in Dalarna, you might find your answer there, but the writing is unreadable.Without some story related to human beings and human society to meagerness of physical evidence becomes an ultimate snooze pill. This also makes it not so influencial as given the choice a well-written account is more often read.

effataigus wrote:I suppose the most substantial disagreement then is is in how far we press on with speculation when the support beams of evidence grow thin. Science suggests that you should stop there until you have a testable hypothesis for what the unknown might be. It sounds to me like you're saying that archaeology will keep going by filling in gaps with assumptions about what "makes sense" to them. I don't really see anything wrong with that (and indeed it opens up a whole profession for people that understand the assumptions of the bygone eras) as long as the new material is presented as highly uncertain. On the downside, this also opens up the door to history being remade to suit the present by applying modern assumptions (everyone wears shoes, for a benign example... the pre-WWII assumption that Jewish bankers have been trying to control the world for centuries for a less benign one) to olden times. I guess it depends on whether you only want what is known (the science approach), you want the current best guess about the past (the archaeology approach as given here), or you want a neat and memorable story that is grounded in history (the bardic approach).

Anyway... just ramblin.


I think the common-place history of say history channel is far more influencial on society then academic archeology and history and if academics retreats to what can be proven by natural science standards it leaves even more space to just-so stories. Social science standards might be less safe then natural science standards, but compared to guns-n-nazis-channels it is a wonder of critical thought.
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Re: Book 2 – Page 72

Postby sleepymancer » Wed Sep 28, 2011 4:44 pm

Dr Pepper wrote:
sleepymancer wrote:Well, I'm talking for the sake of pedagogy ;)


Well pedagogy is one of the modes of operation for a sleepymancer.


I assume you mean in the manner of this 'spell' http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0010.html ? ;)
I believe the counterspell involves a sudden bell causing everybody to pack up and leave, especially if the sleepymancer is midway through the casting. The counterspell can be tuned into dancefighting to make a retaliatory attack that will hit at least one more time. The sleepymancer than shows the infernal side of the magical discipline and goes for a Finnishing move and summons Lordi ...

I swear that made sense in my head.


Sieggy, some very interesting points you make there. "mud between the toes" is a great insult. I wonder whether it was literal and immediate, or a broader comment on availability of shoes/boots amongst the lower classes. I've been looking at the Old English legal-text Rectitudines Singularum Personarum recently (which concerns the rights and obligations of various workers on a late Anglo-Saxon estate) and it mentioned that one of the perquisites of the folgere - or 'follower', as in the ploughman who follows the plough - is that he receives his shoes and gloves from the lord of the estate. Presumably others must have had to buy/make their own or would simply do with out. Now that legal-text was originally composed in the mid to late tenth century, but there's an early twelfth century copy (the earliest surviving) and five copies of a Latin translations from the mid twelfth through to the sixteenth centuries, so it must have continued to have some relevancy.

Incidentally, Kreistor, there's some further evidence for medieval shoes being usable on freshly ploughed soil (at least in southwest England, the text probably originates from Bath Abbey) - can't get more freshly ploughed than the soil that the man following the plough walks on!
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Re: Book 2 – Page 72

Postby Kreistor » Wed Sep 28, 2011 8:01 pm

BLANDCorporatio wrote:I'm sure you'll provide the answer you expect, eventually.

The answer I was tempted to provide included a lot of abstract nonsense like evidence and hypothesis and bla bla, but I felt it adequate to illustrate what that bla bla means. So I did answer your question, by highlighting why Space Aliens Idea is too outlandish for its own good, whereas barefoot archers isn't even in the same league.

I don't think the Archers went barefoot, by the way. But there's degrees to which something can be unreasonable.


It's Occam's Razor, of course. We've spoken at length about it, and you described the process wihtout stating the common name for it. And I mena the original definition, "The answer that introduces the minimum number of unknown entities is the most likely solution." rather than the more modern misinterpretation that "The simplest answer is the most likely solution."

sleepymancer wrote:What we deem possible and what we deem most likely are determined by our preconceptions.


The problem is, for you, it's not "we" it's "I". If "we" were involved it would be a negotiation.

You see, there's a point where opinion becomes ego, and when you stand in place with absolutely no evidence for your belief, that's not opinion you're defnding, it's your belief that you can't be wrong.

your word 're-engineering' is indicate of where our two approaches differ. In history I look to find out what could have happened, to postulate what I consider to be likely and most importantly to discuss what it meant. You are trying to make the past better.


Uhm... hunh? Re-engineering the past is the process of developing and testing the ideas of how things were done. For instance, there is a new proposal about how the stones were moved up the pyramid... using a type of crane known to have existed, but shown in images to have been used (and is still being used) in irrigation. Instead of a massive ramp, the previous best and not particularly loved proposal, it takes small groups of three or four men per crane moving one stone at a time. So, how did they figure it out?

I have no idea how you think I'm trying to "make the past better". What I don't accept is speculation with no effort to replicate the engineering. Your method, which seems to entail an entirely mental process, fails if you have inadequate models of the world in your mind. When you build it, then I'll consider it.

me wrote:And yet they still try, put together the devices to demonstrate their theories, and either they are accepted or not.


Everybody look!!! : Kreistor and I agreed!!!!! re-constructions demonstrate if a theory is possible!


How disingenuous of you. *I* was the one that brought in the evidence that leather shoes worked adequately in Agincourt from experimentation. You have yet to demonstrate anything about bare feet from testing. I was already in this position to start. When you come and join me, since you're still wallowing without any testing, I'll welcome you here.

me wrote:If it was included in Cornwell's story, then maybe has a reason for it. I'd love to hear it. But you're not giving it.


A, I've not read the Cornwell. is that where the idea came from? As I've been pointing out all along, my argument here regards the parameters fro re-constructing history, rather than the specific details of Agincourt.


from what are you reconstructing it? Have you an eyewitness account? A treatise from the 1500's? A wall hanging? A lithograph? Since you aren't getting it from Cornwell, something has to tell you they removed their shoes. (I checked Wikipedia, and it has no reference to it.)

And, anyway, by your admission, you aren't reconstructing. You are seeking all possible solutions, not the most likely solution, which means you are basically firing a shotgun at the wall and saying, "The right answer is one of these. Have fun being unable to figure out which it was." that's not reconstructing History, it's muddying the waters with irrelevancies.

Yes. That's the same that I do!


Except you didn't in this thread. You are standing behind a theory with no evidence, no motivation, and keeping it alive only because, to me, you can't accept that you might be wrong. You are ignoring a fundamental aspect of warfare (that bare feet can get you killed) in order to stand by a belief that is only possible. This is war. These archers are going out to kill men with swords, maces, and even shields that can crush feet. They're going to be stepping on arrowheads from the thousands of fired arrows. Removing shoes isn't just unnecessary, it can cause you injury, through both intent and accident. But no, it's possible, so they must have done it, right?

There's a difference between claiming how you act, and how you actually act, and I call, "BS," on this claim, You're talking a line, but doing something else.

quote="drachefly"]Additional information, as I said! I mean this in a technical sense. How many bits of information are required to specify the addition to the theory? Each bit comes with a prior probability cost.[/quote]

That's the problem... for most history, there is no new information forthcoming. The library of Alexandria burned and took enormous amounts of history with it, leaving us somewhat blind. We aren't going to get too many Dead Sea Scroll finds. So, we're stuck with what we've got.

sleepymancer wrote:2. My girlfriend is a research chemist who used to work in industry developing new formulations. A few years ago we decided to re-construct some medieval-style inks from eleventh-century recipes. My interests were in how did the recipes work, or indeed, did they work, what was the ink like to write with, and so forth. She read one of the recipes, frowned and said 'this won't work. We will have to add [x] to make it functional'. Her approach revolved around improving the formulation to make a better ink in the present, rather than investigating the historical one.


Is that what you think I meant by "re-engineering the past" with a view from modern engineering? No, it was not.

What I meant was, because historical records are often not contemporary, the described events can be blown out of proportion. The Archimedes Death Ray is one of those. The text describing it was written more than 100 years after the defense of that port, and nothing contemporary wiht the battle describes such a weapon used any other time. In trying to reconstruct the weapon, we can begin with modern materials and methods, because if we fail with far superior materials, we would certainly fail with period materials. You can work backwards from modern methods to historic methods, in order to make the effort both cheaper and easier. The ultimate goal is a period accurate device, but we don't have to waste our time with period accurate problems (ie. bad sealing methods, inadequate oils, weak metals) if it doesn't work with better materials.
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Re: Book 2 – Page 72

Postby sleepymancer » Thu Sep 29, 2011 5:02 am

Kreistor. My apologies, I sometime come across a little strong-worded and stubborn and I'm sad to say that you are not the first who has described me as being to egotistical. I will try to moderate my tone, and see if I can get my meaning across!

I think one of the problems is that we are actually arguing on two separate fronts:

1) did the archers at Agincourt remove their shoes/boots or not, and
2) how do we prove/disprove that?

My arguments are only in relation to point 2). I have no evidence either way for point 1) to form an opinion from, and Agincourt is out of the time period I specialise in so I'm not conversant with the documentary and archaeological evidence for the battle or for either argument beyond what has been raised in this forum. Therefore, I have no opinion on whether or not the archers removed their shoes/boots. However, I am willing to be persuaded either way if shown a convincing enough argument and methodology.

My problem has simply been that I find it hard to equate the parameters of the possible with what must have happened (my previous example of the six-sided die still stands here, I think).

That is to say, modern experiments have shown that the mud can be walked on in boots appropriate to the period (and presumably by experimenters kitted out in appropriate gear, who were trained to use the weapons and equipment in the same manner as their medieval counterparts, raised on the same diet, had undergone the same travel and sleeping conditions to get to the battle and so on, so as to remove the variables).

Now, I've just re-read your original post on this subject where you point out the details of this experiment and I've noticed, which I didn't properly at the time, that you actually used the word necessary which is to say that, to paraphrase, therefore 'it was not necessary for the archers to remove their boots'. On reflection, I agree with that entirely: your argument there points out that it was not necessary, but does not conclude specifically whether or not they actually did. I missed that detail at the time, mea culpa. However, since then you have expanded your argument to equate that because it was not necessary they did not do it which is where my issue has lain.

You have since expanded your reasoning to say that you are using Ochams razor, an approach which has equally been described as parsimony. Two sides of the same coin. I am personally uncertain of how applicable Ocham's razor is for predicting human behaviour when the individual's are from a different culture and time (it is hard enough to predict modern people's behaviour!). With humans the shortest route with the least number of components (or, indeed the simplest) is often not the route chosen. Imagine our archers positioned on the flanks raining arrows ineffectively onto armoured knights who are trudging into a ploughed field and wallowing stuck in the mud. If you will, consider two hypothetical interpretations regarding the shoes.

Having seen that the knights are stuck in the mud and arrows are ineffective:

Option 1) remove shoes/boots in case get stuck > wade out barefoot into the mud with knives at the ready

Option 2) risk getting stuck in the mud while testing if it will support a person in ordinary boots/shoes > discover it is safe and then wade out shod into the mud with knives at the ready.

If the least number of actions includes thinking and risk assessment then I think Ocham's Razor puts them about equal. Especially as, if the archer were not already in the mud, then they would not know if they would be able to move in it with shoes before stepping into it, so the possibility that they might not be able to move and will be stuck until slaughtered themselves has to be weighed in when considering their probable actions.


In terms of logical conjecture for why you wouldn't risk it in battle (in your most recent post) I think you raise some very valid point. I think Sieggy's points for why you would go barefoot are equally valid, so I'm still on the fence here. Sorry!

Not sure if that has made things any clearer about my perspective here. and my apologies again for having come across as being so confrontational over this! I Hope I've done better here?

Finally, I find myself wondering if the document you relate describing the battle is the same one that Sieggy refers to with the ransom details?
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Re: Book 2 – Page 72

Postby sleepymancer » Thu Sep 29, 2011 5:17 am

Sorry to double post, but I think I need to deal with these separately

Kreistor wrote:
sleepymancer wrote:2. My girlfriend is a research chemist who used to work in industry developing new formulations. A few years ago we decided to re-construct some medieval-style inks from eleventh-century recipes. My interests were in how did the recipes work, or indeed, did they work, what was the ink like to write with, and so forth. She read one of the recipes, frowned and said 'this won't work. We will have to add [x] to make it functional'. Her approach revolved around improving the formulation to make a better ink in the present, rather than investigating the historical one.


Is that what you think I meant by "re-engineering the past" with a view from modern engineering? No, it was not.

What I meant was, because historical records are often not contemporary, the described events can be blown out of proportion. The Archimedes Death Ray is one of those. The text describing it was written more than 100 years after the defense of that port, and nothing contemporary wiht the battle describes such a weapon used any other time. In trying to reconstruct the weapon, we can begin with modern materials and methods, because if we fail with far superior materials, we would certainly fail with period materials. You can work backwards from modern methods to historic methods, in order to make the effort both cheaper and easier. The ultimate goal is a period accurate device, but we don't have to waste our time with period accurate problems (ie. bad sealing methods, inadequate oils, weak metals) if it doesn't work with better materials.


I actually meant that piece regarding my better half as an illustration regarding disciplines and people on a slightly different thread in the conversation, rather than an illustration of what I thought your methodology was. Having read it in that light, however, I can see why you would be offended, and I think it comes across as worst-possible practice from your methodology or mine, (which is why I let that project slip quietly away, lol )!!!

As a person who works with texts, my interest is far more often on, what was trying to be done with the text itself rather than the events it purports to describe. I can see the benefits of what you are doing with your methodology, I guess its what you'd call a teleological approach beginning with the end-product and re-building it that way. It sounds both sensible and fun. However, I can also imagine the response you get from the academic community (and imagine I came across entirely as a proponent of that way...)
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Re: Book 2 – Page 72

Postby drachefly » Thu Sep 29, 2011 10:36 am

Kriestor" wrote:It's Occam's Razor, of course. We've spoken at length about it, and you described the process wihtout stating the common name for it. And I mena the original definition, "The answer that introduces the minimum number of unknown entities is the most likely solution." rather than the more modern misinterpretation that "The simplest answer is the most likely solution."


The modern statement, presented properly in a Bayesian context, would be that more complex solutions have a lower prior probability, and so must have correspondingly greater explanatory power to be as likely as a simpler theory. Let's see how this applies in this case:

Kreistor wrote:
drachefly wrote:Additional information, as I said! I mean this in a technical sense. How many bits of information are required to specify the addition to the theory? Each bit comes with a prior probability cost.


That's the problem... for most history, there is no new information forthcoming. The library of Alexandria burned and took enormous amounts of history with it, leaving us somewhat blind. We aren't going to get too many Dead Sea Scroll finds. So, we're stuck with what we've got.


Your response is based on a misreading: I clearly stated that this additional information is the information used to specify the addition to the theory, NOT data of evidence. To clarify, as it seems you really don't understand this: You have a theory here. How many bits of information are required to state the theory, with the evidence in hand?

Let's get a bit more concrete and abstract at the same time. You have this set of 12 data points on a graph, and you're trying to perform a blind curvefit. There are several candidate models - a straight line fit through the origin (1 parameter), a power law (2 parameters), and a power law plus an offset in X (3 parameters).
The chi-squared is the sum of the squared number of standard deviations off of the model that each data point is. You expect the chi-squared figure for a good fit to be around the number of data points minus the number of fitting parameters (for data sets much larger than the number of parameters).
The chi-squared figures for these fits are:
Ax (1 parameter): 13.6
Ax^P (2 parameters): 10.2
A(x-X)^P (3 parameters): 9.6

So, which fits most tightly? The 3 parameter fit - it had the most knobs to turn, and it was in a strict hierarchy with the others - it couldn't do worse!

But which of these is best? Each parameter is only said to have explanatory power to the degree by which it decreases the chi-squared. If it doesn't decrease the chi-squared by more than 1, it's not paying for itself in terms of explanatory power, and if it only decreases it by around 1 the model is barely improving on the state of knowledge before. The smaller the gain, the more trivial the effect explained.

Adding the power law let the chi-squared drop by 3.4, a big win. Adding in an X offset only dropped it by 0.6 - the X-offset did not provide as much explanatory power. And, worse, the number of points is getting to be a noticeable fraction of the total data set size - overfitting alert! If the effect is real but the small increase is due to the small number of points, then if we can take more data, we'd expect that improvement in chi-squared to increase linearly with the number of points until it was larger than 1.

Another example would be you have a long historic curve, then after a few parameters, the best additions to the model will be bumps 'explaining' individual events. They can still pay for themselves, especially if there's a rational basis for their inclusion. They can lead to better understanding.

Now, back in history. We have three models here: a model that doesn't mention footwear in any way, and one each that affirms the presence or absence of footwear. Even if each fits the data to the same degree, the one that doesn't mention footwear has less information in it, and thus a smaller probability cost.

~~~~
* That's not the same thing as an answer revealing many new questions, like the discovery that stars are so distant that they must be of sizes comparable to the sun. That just revealed our prior ignorance; it didn't manufacture new ignorance.
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Re: Book 2 – Page 72

Postby Sieggy » Thu Sep 29, 2011 2:18 pm

Ummmm . . . I think you're arguing apples and crescent wrenches here . . . my original statement that the archers at Agincourt fought unshod was based upon a contemporaneous statement made by a (disgruntled) survivor of the battle on the losing side who felt that the English had behaved in a base and less-than-honorable manner which somehow constituted cheating. This has been also picked up upon by other historians, as I recall Keegan made reference to this in his book on the subject, as well as others who had noted that the English were more agile than their French opponents under the unique conditions of this particular battle.

Under normal circumstances, no, it would be foolish to remove your footgear or your greaves, and your officers would quite properly ream you for doing so. But when you're ankle / midcalf / knee deep in mud, then it makes a lot of sense. Especially if you're not all wrapped up in the notion of 'proper' behavior or 'winning', and are more concerned with 'getting the hell out of there alive'.

As for speculations, I've been fighting in armored combat for close to 30 years, though now that I'm getting old & feeble and the bones aren't knitting like they used to, I've switched over to light weapons and study late medieval / renaissance technique. Meyer, Talhoffer, Cappo Ferro, etc, and dabble a bit in Spanish School. Got pics if anyone is interested. So I know whereof I speak on this topic.

The group I'm with (the SCA) does extensive re-creations (with varying degrees of scholarship, of course) on a very wide range of subjects, cultures, and time periods (6th to 16th centuries). Though our re-creation of period heavy combat is limited by modern constraints (lawyers), what we do is extremely close to period Hastaludes and Tourney combat. If anyone would like to see it up close or (heh) try their hand at it, we have events and practices all over the country (world, actually) on a very regular basis. We usually have loaner gear and love tenderizing fresh meat . . . Or go to YouTube and search for 'SCA fighting', 'SCA combat', 'Pennsic battles', or for fencing 'SCA rapier combat' (for real fun, though, do a search for 'SCA rapier kill shots' . . . ).
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Re: Book 2 – Page 72

Postby Goshen » Thu Sep 29, 2011 5:17 pm

That's awesome Sleggy! I was in the SCA during my teens and really enjoyed it. I've always wanted to go back, but am overwhelmed with other pursuits. I need a second self, at least.
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Re: Book 2 – Page 72

Postby Housellama » Thu Sep 29, 2011 8:04 pm

drachefly wrote:
Kriestor" wrote:It's Occam's Razor, of course. We've spoken at length about it, and you described the process wihtout stating the common name for it. And I mena the original definition, "The answer that introduces the minimum number of unknown entities is the most likely solution." rather than the more modern misinterpretation that "The simplest answer is the most likely solution."


The modern statement, presented properly in a Bayesian context, would be that more complex solutions have a lower prior probability, and so must have correspondingly greater explanatory power to be as likely as a simpler theory. Let's see how this applies in this case:

(snipping lots of math)

Now, back in history. We have three models here: a model that doesn't mention footwear in any way, and one each that affirms the presence or absence of footwear. Even if each fits the data to the same degree, the one that doesn't mention footwear has less information in it, and thus a smaller probability cost.

~~~~
* That's not the same thing as an answer revealing many new questions, like the discovery that stars are so distant that they must be of sizes comparable to the sun. That just revealed our prior ignorance; it didn't manufacture new ignorance.


Trust the quantum physicist to frame it all in the terms of what MIGHT be true. You guys are never really sure about anything these days huh...

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Re: Book 2 – Page 72

Postby BLANDCorporatio » Fri Sep 30, 2011 5:32 am

Housellama wrote:Trust the quantum physicist to frame it all in the terms of what MIGHT be true. You guys are never really sure about anything these days huh...


:lol: On a somewhat related note, I always imagine neutrinos as wearing Arlecchino (aka Harlequin) suits, for some reason. Those jokers!

My bet'd be on an error in the electronics btw, but really that's all I can say. That whole thing is way out of what I'm vaguely knowledgeable about.
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Re: Please Ban Me

Postby sleepymancer » Fri Sep 30, 2011 7:58 am

HeineeBreadia wrote:Please Ban Me! Please Ban Me!

Please Ban Me

Please Ban Me Please Ban Me Please Ban Me Please Ban Me


I assume, then, that you are taking the role of King of France for the battle, and rather than raising the arriere ban yourself, are relying on your nobles (the moderators? us?) to do it for you instead???

:lol:
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Re: Book 2 – Page 72

Postby Kreistor » Fri Sep 30, 2011 8:53 am

Sieggy wrote:Ummmm . . . I think you're arguing apples and crescent wrenches here . . . my original statement that the archers at Agincourt fought unshod was based upon a contemporaneous statement made by a (disgruntled) survivor of the battle on the losing side who felt that the English had behaved in a base and less-than-honorable manner which somehow constituted cheating. This has been also picked up upon by other historians, as I recall Keegan made reference to this in his book on the subject, as well as others who had noted that the English were more agile than their French opponents under the unique conditions of this particular battle.


This I can respond to.

The enemy seeing the Archer unshod do not know the reason they were unshod. They can believe it was intentional, but that may not be true.

Henry marched his army 360 miles in the days leading up to Agincourt, and the timing of this was at the end of the campaign season, when equipment had already begun breaking down.

They were unshod because they wore out their boots. Shoes with gaping holes in them fill with mud and become hindrances, so if your shoes are worn out, you take them off,

As I said, experiments in the mud show good leather boots do not sink kneedeep in Agincourt mud, so they didn't remove them for that. But there may be other perfectly good reasons why some were without shoes.
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Re: Book 2 – Page 72

Postby drachefly » Fri Sep 30, 2011 11:45 am

Sieggy wrote:Ummmm . . . I think you're arguing apples and crescent wrenches here . . . my original statement that the archers at Agincourt fought unshod was based upon a contemporaneous statement…


That's why I emphasized 'even' towards the end. That way it layers on top of your argument. Of course adding evidence can tip the scales one way or another.

HouseLlama wrote:Trust the quantum physicist to frame it all in the terms of what MIGHT be true. You guys are never really sure about anything these days huh...


This isn't exactly new - the math has been around for around 250 years. I guess I've been primed on it since I'm a quantitative scientist, but it's nothing to do with quantum mechanics. It just has to do with not being omniscient, something everyone has experience with.
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Re: Book 2 – Page 72

Postby BLANDCorporatio » Fri Sep 30, 2011 4:06 pm

drachefly wrote:This isn't exactly new - the math has been around for around 250 years.


Indeed. Here we are though, still reading Erfworld in the 22nd century ;)
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