Are political hopes blurring our theoretical visions? Our answer is this: Reflexively admitting a connection between our hopes and our hypotheses is a necessary component of theoretical honesty in social science, especially when dealing with our own times. Social theory is often likened to lenses of various cuts that enable us to discern patterns in human action. When the lenses are cut solely to confirm one's faith and denounce whatever opposes it, the resulting vision is strictly ideological. Such lenses, commonly worn in politics and public debating, function more like blinders. Theory is different because it has to be testable. What constitutes tests in social science has been a matter of controversy. We are methodological pluralists insofar as we doubt attempts to legislate the one right way of doing social science. Yet we are not complete relativists. Different kinds of problems and scales of analysis leave researchers the choice of investigative techniques. Experiments and statistical correlations have an important place in the toolkit of social science but their role cannot be universal. Disciplined ethnographic observation is often more revealing in studying localized social environments. At the macrohistorical level, which is where we work, the main method might be likened to connecting the dots in a big puzzle. Another test for macrohistorical theory are counterfactuals, the alternative roads that seemed possible at one historical juncture but were not taken. In other words, we must show both how we get from one historical situation to another and what are the actual range of structural possibilities and the factors on which events turn. This is perhaps as close we can get to an experiment in our kind of research.