BOOKS (all kinds): Mostly Accurate Now or Frequently in Error Yet?

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Posted by Steve Price on May 12, 1999 at 07:44:47:

In Reply to: Rug Books: Mostly Accurate Now or Frequently in Error Yet? posted by R. John Howe on May 12, 1999 at 06:17:18:

Dear John and Everyone Else,

You ask, are rug books nearly accurate now? The question can be asked about any information source in any subject. Presumably, knowledge is being refined and made more accurate with time, but this happens in fits and starts and there are periodic setbacks - times when we have probably moved backward, accuracy-wise - in a process in which the overall long term direction is forward. This is true of rugs, just as it is in medicine, biology, economics, and every other branch of learning.

One of the things that people have trouble accepting is that truth is usually temporal. That is, today's facts become tomorrow's quaint notions, and there are very few closed issues (and we don't know which ones they are!).

Are rug books mostly accurate now? I suspect that almost all are and have been for a very long time, and Jon Thompson's estimate of a 75% error rate is a gross overestimate even in the very worst cases. I'm sure he was being facetious when he said that. Are today's books more accurate than those of, say, 40 years ago? It would be astonishing if it were otherwise. Just as astonishing as it would be if we didn't learn some new things in the next 40 years. But Amos Bateman Thacher's "Turkoman Rugs", written about 60 years ago, is still right (by today's standards) about most of the things in it.

Steve Price

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