Front Page Titles (by Subject) Paradigms as Procrustes\' Bed - Literature of Liberty, January/March 1978, vol. 1, No. 1
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Paradigms as Procrustes' Bed - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, January/March 1978, vol. 1, No. 1 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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Paradigms as Procrustes' Bed
“Towards a Better Understanding of Ancient Societies.” (Helios Journal of the Classical Association of the Southwestern United States) 4 (1976): 3–15.
Scholars should be more knowledgeable in their methodology and attend to the interdisciplinary application of various social science techniques in studying history. Such methodological self-awareness and sophistication would produce significant insights into social values and assumptions that inform historical events. Negatively, sound methodology would expose the warping effects of unexamined assumptions [cf. Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970, 2d ed.; A.W. Gouldner, The Hellenic World: A Sociological Analysis (New York: Harper & Row, 1969); and T.F. Carney, Content Analysis (Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1972)].
Traditional methods of historical analysis often ignore how the historian can manipulate putative “facts” subjectively. He thereby erects conceptually impressive but realistically flimsy edifices of interpretation. Thomas Kuhn has shed light on the blinkering effect of adhering uncritically to a particular theory or “paradigm” in studying history. The dangers of unacknowledged assumptions appear for example in the time-honored theory that the topography of mountains and valleys “caused” the numerous small city-states of ancient Greece. Here a conjecture, endlessly repeated, becomes a historical cause, an assumed “fact” in need of no further defense. Merely because the conjecture satisfies the paradigm's logical or formalistic requirements of cause and effect, scholars elevate it to a truth and “fact.”
This methodological “Procrustes' Bed” imposes causality simply to frame an elegant hypothesis, yet it disregards recalcitrant facts: (a) that Greek political fragmentation was the rule even when the geography was favorable for union, and (b) that in other non-Greek societies, with terrains similar to Greece's mountain valleys, political fragmentation did not occur. An aesthetically pleasing theory sometimes pleases more than the true facts. The paradigm bewitches the mind from noting contradictory evidence that does not fit the paradigm. This bewitchment blinds scholars from inquiring why the Greeks desired this political form; it also conceals the anachronistic modern assumption that “larger states” are good and that “extensive division” is a curse.
An unexamined paradigm or uncritical methodology creates a cognitive straitjacket. To overcome the blinkering effects of a reflex use of unexamined methods we must consciously inspect our inherited patterns of thought. We must question our assumptions and thus compel ourselves to ask different questions and produce different answers.
History, particularly ancient history, can use one particular form of a more self-conscious methodology. It employs the methods of the social scientist (techniques of controlled data gathering, construction of models, scrutiny of classifications, and especially, “content analysis”). These tools allow us to search beneath the visible social surface to underlying values of culture and society.