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Most people think that history is all about reading important events in the form of a story or narrative. Rarely do they associate the study of history with mathematics or any quantitative methodologies. Perhaps this is so because most contemporary historical resources, be they in the form of a book or journal article, appear to be qualitative at least. But will the study of history become more math-intensive or quantitative?

closed as off-topic by NSNoob, Felix Goldberg, Mark C. Wallace, SMS von der Tann, Medi1Saif May 11 '16 at 5:30

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is pure speculation that will the study of history become more math-intensive or quantitative? – NSNoob May 10 '16 at 12:11
  • @NSNoob - Well, you could look at things as they are now, as they used to be, and what the trend appears to be. As long as you report that, rather than assert knowledge of the future, I wouldn't consider it speculation. – T.E.D. May 10 '16 at 13:36
  • Agreed. +1 good question. – Ne Mo May 10 '16 at 14:35
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    How do you measure this? How would you measure the trend? How to Ask makes it clear that H:SE is not a place to predict the future. I suggest that the question be revised to discuss current trends, not the future, and I suggest that OP needs to provide a way to measure the concept. Is a paper with 2 equations mathematical? 3 equations? 5? Is a paper with DNA analysis but no equations math intensive? – Mark C. Wallace May 10 '16 at 16:56
  • There is at least some realization that Bayesian arguments are appropriate to assessing the relative merit of competing interpretations of evidence. While we might not agree with some of his arguments this is apparent in the writings of Richard Carrier. – Conrad Turner May 11 '16 at 2:19
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One important innovation in 21 century is the use of DNA analysis for historical and pre-historical research. Here is the book which lists some recent achievements: Nicholas Wade, Before the dawn. Discovery of the lost history of our ancestors, Penguin Press, NY 2006.

It is mostly about pre-history, but there are some amazing examples from history as well. (For example it was established that Jefferson had children from one of his slaves. An example from pre-history: it was possible to establish when people started to use cloth, by analyzing the DNA of lice:-). DNA analysis is certainly a quantitative method using many results of various exact sciences.

There are also several archeological dating methods based on exact sciences, but they were known since 20 century. The things like astronomy, chemistry and geophysics (climate history, for example) which are also exact sciences were used even earlier.

  • This is interesting, but it doesn't answer the question - is DNA analysis mathematical? What % of history papers include reference to mathematical techniques? – Mark C. Wallace May 10 '16 at 18:11
  • DNA analysis involves a lot some mathematics. And it is certainly a quantitative method. – Alex May 10 '16 at 19:26

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