Whatever they teach the aspiring Civil War historian in the academy, they teach an indifference to numbers that is remarkable.
Rather than buckle down and do some serious accounting, the historian retreats into the world of numerology – mystical numbers, numbers of destiny, numbers of power, sanctified by the priests of a buddy system that produces Pulitzer Prizes. Many have the guts to say figuring doesn’t matter, or we can never know exactly, or even that it is difficult to reconcile the material. So why try? They then go on to elevate champions and demote goats based on suspect figures.
First, is there any merit to his initial claim that students in the academy our woefully ill-prepared to deal with "numbers" in their research? Second, is there anything beyond the standard list of suspects that we’ve heard about before that apply to this second passage? If not, wake me up when this is over. How about a couple of real examples to flesh out what you mean in all of this? How about just one example from the literature to work with?