Reply To: Mon 17 March: Greece and Revisionist Environmental History

Start Forums Courses Current Debates and Themes in Global Environmental History Mon 17 March: Greece and Revisionist Environmental History Reply To: Mon 17 March: Greece and Revisionist Environmental History

Author Replies # Posted on March 18, 2014 at 14:07

How would you argue that pseudo-ecology is a problem in understanding ancient ecological history besides Greece?

A reflection by Yongliang Gao

For me, the problem is raised by multiple causes. But it is fundamentally rooted in the attitude that people possess other than the scholars do. I would say that preconception is the foremost problem for understanding ancient ecological history. In fact, scholars, which in many cases the social scientists or natural scientists, possess affluent evidences that are able to demonstrate ancient historical ecology from diverse senses. The preconceive idea, which people have towards historical ecology nevertheless, is hard to be oscillated.

As Rackham reveals, people incline to get an ecological understanding through unprovable materials (i.e. poem, painting or other textual/pictorial materials) rather than scientific evidences such as fossils, specimen and etc. This is because legendary stories often haunt the textual/pictorial materials, which are attractive and widely promoted to the public. The scientific evidences, however, are insipid and dreary, which usually serve only for scholars. This means, although the scientific evidences seem to be more trustworthy compared with the ‘unscientific’ materials, people often turn blind to them. My opinion is that unless revisionist scholars are able to employ tempting approaches for promoting the scientific evidences, people will continuously use the ‘unscientific’ materials as the primary means for understanding ecological history. Consequently, pseudo-ecology will survive unremittingly.

Besides, if pseudo-ecology exists universally, it is necessary to critically reexamine world ecological history. To rethink it essentially raises another problem, which is to what extent can we trust the data and information from previous literatures. If we are uncertain of the ecological documents we are referring to, no matter how capable we are of in designing the ecological history research, we will undoubtedly produce another pseudo research. My concern is whether scholars can establish a feasible system for testifying and evaluating the former data and information.