Sunday, September 06, 2009


History is not everyone’s favourite subject. Back then, during the schooldays, history seemed to be remembering obscure names and dates. Endless dates. Not dates with the favourite girl in school but dates of historical events. Most of us could not understand what use all those history lessons were to us apart from it was another subject, another brain draining exam to pass, especially for those who wants to score straight As. No choice. Must do history. To make things worse, we had history teachers who made the lessons more conducive to journey into the dreamland. Secondary students nowadays are lucky. It seems history is an elective subject, not a compulsory one.

Over the years, as the gray hairs slowly appearing, as the music taste change from the fast beat to more mellow easy listening songs, history has grown more meaningful. Not obsessed with it but more of a curiosity. Not a history buff, but more of taking a keen interest.

People says we study history so that we will not repeat the mistakes of the past. Some says everything has cycles and by studying the past will help us prepare for the future. Some study history to gain knowledge. Knowledge of what happened, why it happened, the environment it happened so they can appreciate it more. Reasons may vary but all points to one thing, it is important to learn, to know history. Not just to pass the exams. Hopefully, this will be stressed more to the students unlike during our time where we were puzzled what good history was to us.

One part of history that always interests me is how science had developed. Science always pride itself in doing things the Scientific Method. With an engineering background, looking at things the scientific way is built in. The scientific method is simply making observation, state the problem, formulate a hypothesis (assumptions), experiments to test the hypothesis, analysis of results, interpret data and formulate conclusion then publish the findings. By all accounts, the pioneer of the Scientific Method is an Islamic scholar, Abū ʿAlī al-Ḥasan ibn al-Ḥasan ibn al-Haytham, better known as al-Haytham or AlHazen. History has shown the Islamic World contributed massively to the science world by laying foundations to many of today’s sciences.

Back to the scientific method, it will be a good thing if each and every one of us make it a habit to think in a scientific way. Think based on real facts. Know all the facts. Not just jump to baseless conclusions. Do not assume unless we have proven our assumptions, unless we have the evidence. Determine first if there is really a problem before sitting down to solve it. Addressing the wrong questions may lead to the wrong solutions, no matter how wonderful such solutions seemed to be. Ending up with a complete waste of everyone’s time. To quote the youngsters, “BUANG KARAN SAJA!”

Here are some quotations on what History is all about:
Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it. – George Santayana
The past is useless. That explains why it is past. - Wright Morris
Only a good-for-nothing is not interested in his past. - Sigmund Freud
What experience and history teach is this-that people and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it.- G. W. F. Hegel
History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are. - David C. McCullough
History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce. – Karl Marx
One of the lessons of history is that nothing is often a good thing to do and always a clever thing to say. – Will Durrant

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