313 votes
Accepted

Do historians agree that most wars are caused by religion?

The idea that "most wars are caused by religion" is trivially false. From what I can see, this is a rhetoric rooted in a critique of theism, rather than serious historical analysis. Even a casual ...
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111 votes

Are there any important biographies of nobodies?

Louis-François Pinagot He was an illiterate shoemaker in western France in the 19th century. French historian Alain Corbin picked Pinagot at random on a town registry, and wrote his biography as a ...
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67 votes
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Is the photograph "England’s Revenge in India" real, staged, or fake?

It seems to be the painting Suppression of the Indian Revolt by the English, a painting by the Russian artist Vasily Vereshchagin c. 1884 According to the annotation on Wikipedia: It ...
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59 votes

What is the source of quote attributed to W.E.B. Du Bois: "When you have mastered numbers..."

The quote is by Harold Geneen from his 1984 book Managing. I first found evidence of this from Wikiquote: When you have mastered the numbers, you will in fact no longer be reading numbers, any ...
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56 votes
Accepted

What is the source of quote attributed to W.E.B. Du Bois: "When you have mastered numbers..."

Good editor. I wouldn't have thought to challenge that, but its true that numbers weren't exactly Du Bois' thing. Not saying he wasn't good with them, just that isn't what he's famous for, or spent ...
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49 votes

How accurate or supported is Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs, and Steel"?

The book is well written and well explained; Jared Diamond actually takes real pain to explain that his theories are not implacable and must not be taken as a 100% reliable blueprint for predicting ...
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44 votes

What is a major historical event historians are deeply divided over?

On a lighter note (compared to the suggestions in other answers), possibly more suited to 12-year olds and with no possible covert political/religious/etc message, try: Did Robin Hood exist? Did King ...
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  • 5,500
42 votes

How to rebut Holocaust denial argument?

The right response is to laugh at it. I don't think this can or should be directly rebutted. Arguing details of a theory that is that far from the mainstream implicitly puts it on equal logical ...
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  • 110k
41 votes

What is a major historical event historians are deeply divided over?

The Anglo-Saxon invasion/settlement of Britain? It's agreed that in the space of a few centuries, most of Britain went from being: mixed Christian/Pagan in religion mostly Celtic-speaking by language ...
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39 votes
Accepted

When was the American War of Independence first called a 'Revolution'?

It is spurious to assume that the French Revolution somehow originated the term, or otherwise set the standard for what could be called a "revolution". The reality is that different revolutionaries in ...
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37 votes
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What historical evidence is there for the existence of Jesus Christ? What do we know about him?

Thomas Pornin's answer is very good answer to the question of "Can we know anything about Jesus?" But since your question was technically "What do we know about Jesus?", I thought I'd add a few facts ...
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37 votes
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Is it true that Hitler led to the invention of the atomic bomb by the Americans?

The discovery of uranium fission by Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann (German chemists) in the Jan 1939 issue of Die Naturwissenschaften (The Science of Nature) sparked great interest among physicists ...
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  • 474
35 votes

Do historians agree that most wars are caused by religion?

In addition to the good answers given already, I'd like to point out that wars are typically not mono-causal. Very often, several reasons as well as causes (i.e. sparks that light the fire) come ...
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35 votes

What is a major historical event historians are deeply divided over?

How about the Late Bronze Age collapse? It would fit nicely into the background you provided under point three and I think could be explained at an age-appropriate level with lots of somewhat commonly ...
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34 votes
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What kind of evidence (if any) could be used to identify a large conquest in the time before writing?

Diffusion of technology and fashion. Some pre-written civilizations are identified by their artifacts, like the Beaker Culture or the Corded Ware Culture. A large-scale conquest would spread the ...
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29 votes

Does Chinese history really span the past 5000 years?

The basis for the 5,000 years figure comes from tracing Chinese "history" to the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors. This figure includes over 1,000 years of legends. The next 1000 years are semi-...
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  • 96.2k
29 votes

By mid-1945, was Japan capable of maintaining the war even in the absence of further direct American attacks?

No. Japan had almost no capability to continue waging war. In fact, strangled by the American blockade, Japan was tottering on the brink of collapse. Experts both then and since believed that the ...
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  • 96.2k
29 votes

What did the people of the Middle Ages call their period?

Joachim of Fiore (1135 – 30 March 1202) divided history into 3 ages according to the Holy Trinity: The Age of Marriage (God) The Age of Holiness (Christ, the son of God) The Age of the Second Coming, ...
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29 votes

How do historians know the details of a seemingly private event?

The simple answer is that often the people involved write down (or verbally pass on information that is later written down by other people) these 'private communications' after the event, in memoirs, ...
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29 votes

Are there any important biographies of nobodies?

I think you may look into biographies of war heroes. War is an opportunity for a person to do something notable to attract biographers’ attention and still stay just one of the many. For example, The ...
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  • 1,817
28 votes

Are there any important biographies of nobodies?

The Merchant of Prato by Iris Origo (1957) is a biography of Francesco Datini a 14th-century merchant banker. The only distinguishing factor of Datini is that by chance a huge stash of his written ...
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26 votes

Do historians support the existence of brothers to Jesus?

Historians quite widely agree that there very probably was a historical person called Jesus. They do agree that this person provided the blueprint or projection space for the belief that centered on ...
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25 votes
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Do any historians consider superior German airpower as the most important factor in the Battle of France?

To my surprise, this may be somewhat accurate. In the critical Battle of Sedan on May 13, Guderian fielded 1st and 2nd Panzer divisions, reinforced by Grossdeutchland infantry regiment, one regiment ...
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25 votes
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How can I properly learn the history of a country whose language I don't speak or read?

When people say you need to read sources in n languages to fully understand some piece of history, it is usually motivated by one of two things: A desire to exclude someone's expertise by saying they ...
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  • 374
24 votes
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How to rebut Holocaust denial argument?

What are you trying to rebut, that the plaque changed, or that the number of deaths is uncertain? Maybe the plaque originally stated the estimated number killed total, but now it just refers to the ...
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  • 37.3k
24 votes

Where can I find the earliest surviving versions of Herodotus's Histories?

For a critical discussion on how modern versions of Herodotus' Histories have been compiled from the surviving manuscript sources, you could do a lot worse worse than the 1983 essay On Editing ...
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  • 76.4k
24 votes

What is a major historical event historians are deeply divided over?

Well it's a pity that the only civil war your class is aware of is a fictional one between superheroes, because otherwise the US civil war fits your criteria perfectly I think. My personal opinion and ...
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23 votes
Accepted

Did Hongwu Emperor flay 5000 women, and why?

The claim is sourced from 明興野記, lit. Unofficial Records of the Rise of Ming, by the contemporary Yu Ben. It was originally titled 紀事錄, lit. Chronicles, but a certain Zhang Da Tong later changed it ...
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  • 96.2k
23 votes

Are there any important biographies of nobodies?

Not a book, but there is a long-running documentary film series in the UK following the lives of ordinary people with a film every seven years from the first when they were seven years old. The latest,...
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