Why would anyone care about history?
Why would anybody care about math? One can just punch those numbers into a calculator or an inexpensive math program and get the correct solution every time. Why do people even bother to learn math? If you're an engineer you have to take so much math it's crazy... Calculus, Differential Equations, Statistics.. etc etc.. who ever uses any of that knowledge? I think I used algebra once to figure out shares of my tips when I was waiting tables maybe 40 years ago. Seems like a terrible waste of time factoring all those quadratic equations in my youth if that's the only use I got out of it, right! Math whether you ever use algebra much less calculus teaches a simple disciplined set of rules to approach and apply to problem solving. It's a way of exercising and disciplining your mind and exposure to a way to reason. A way to think! And there are many ways to think.
Sciences? Why study sciences? I mean sure if you want to be Steven Hawkings or Albert Einstein it makes sense but why should every kid who attends High school be forced to take biology, physics, and or chemistry; when will they ever use that? Biology with it's vast categorizations of all living things, making associations and organization out of animals and plants which don't really seem to have all that much in common at first glance. The reason is, you are litterally walking through how someone created order out of chaos, aren't you. Same with physics, applying math in a new and different way to understand how the world works around you. The point isn't just to understand physics, it's to expose you to a different way of thinking. Applying theories, observation and iteration to refine one's understanding of the world around us. Hell just understanding observation yields understanding took the human race several thousand years to wrap our brains around.
The answer to all these questions is the same. It's about learning how to think. People reason in different ways and their have been truly great thinkers down through history who have approached different problems in different ways. What were their challenges, what was tried, what worked, did anything work.. History is millenniums of case studies of how to reason. What are the results good and bad for every experience humanity has ever faced, or refused to face.
What's a better approach to understanding how to reason than watching the people who came before you try and fail, or try and succeed?
At the high level with provable facts, it makes some sense to study history. But my experience is that classes get way to far down into the weeds and are biased with political opinions.
Spoken like an Engineer. Provable facts are just one way to reason. Creating quantifiable results out of what seems to be chaos is what Newton did, what Gregor Mendel did, Galileo, and Copernicus. But another tact would be to appreciate that sometimes their are no provable facts, there are many ways to reason and sometimes the provable facts one's father handed down to us are just wrong and come up with a whole new way of interpreting them.. That's what John Maynard Keynes did, and then Milton Friedman did to Keynes. There are many ways to reason, and history are case studies in all of them.
I lean to Ford and Bismarck being correct.
Interesting you picked Ford and Bismarck, because their perspectives couldn't be more different. Ford is great example of what can happen to single minded obsessive geniuses who pursue their own disciplines and devalue what drives other peoples through processes. Alternatively Bismark was a guy who was known for understanding how his potential advisories thought and used that information to out maneuver them.
Ford was the consummate engineer. He probable did as much as anyone to invent the modern era. His early behavior defines him as someone who thought about and cared for average people. He was the first to invent the moving assemble line which allowed him to create the first affordable mass produced automobiles for the masses, The Model-T. He was also the first major manufacture to move from a 100 hour work week to a 40 hour 5 days a week work week and did so without reducing his employee's salary. Ford said in 1926 when he implemented the 5 day work week, "leisure time is not a class privileged" Add that to the fact that Henry Ford in 1914 had jumped his employee's from $2.35 / day to $5 / day or nearly twice the going rate for manufacturing jobs. However Ford's lack of ability to appreciate what drove his market ultimately limited his industrial accomplishments. Ford's lack of appreciation for things like personalizing , design and marketing lost Ford sizable market share to his competitors. Before WWII he became famous for hiring thugs to manhandle and beat down his workers.
On the other hand Bismarck was man who's entire career was colored and predicated on an understanding of what motivated the person sitting on the other side of the table. His entire career is grounded in history. The double alliance, the triple alliance, the unification of Germany, avoiding the two front war in the Bulgarian crisis. Bizmark's entire political career is testament to how understanding the history gives one powerful tools on molding the future and avoiding the mistakes of the past.