A thought I just had in the shower at 12:49am:
Getting a Masters degree in history is akin to solving a jigsaw puzzle, except the individual pieces are hidden throughout the house. Everybody knows that the pieces exist; the trouble is finding them. What I mean is that we (junior historians) know that the statistics and interpretations exist, but putting them together just means wading through the online based journal articles and published books, and finding the arguments that support the subtlety suggested views of our professors (not that it is their intention to do so-- but why would they assign a reading list that purports views contrary to their/established interpretations? I would heap immense respect upon the professor who offered evidence that is contrary to an established viewpoint). Original thought is discouraged. Towing the line is the name of the game. This seems to be more of a lesson in patience than in critical thinking. Better yet, this process is a measure of who has the financial capacity to afford this educational luxury.
Perhaps the evolution from armchair historian to professional historian comes in the PhD process. Maybe that is where the good are separated from the great; the passively-interested from the deeply concerned. Maybe we are learning the method now and the application (i.e. original thought) comes later. If this were the case, I just wish it was admitted. But again, only those who can afford this luxury can partake in the process, and that's sort of fucked up.
I think I am just tired from reading so much. A lot of this stuff is quite mind numbing.