History Is Paper Thin

(You know what? I had a great little monologue about how my Dad is upset that someone would dare question his efforts to land a man on the Moon. It was brilliant, I tell you, all about how nobody accepts any facts as factual any longer if it doesn’t fit your particular warped little world-view. But my own argument led me back to this one no-doubt arguable point: humankind’s history is as malleable as the medium it is printed upon once those who have lived it have passed. You either take the printed word for it or you don’t. Instead of boring you with such logical thought, I think I have condensed it down to simple argument, which covers all of the above and more. I hope you enjoy the edited version.)


In other words, just because we can change the written record of history, we should?

I think he’s saying that’s the problem, that people try to change written history just because they dont like it.

Actually, I’m willing to believe that 99% of modern history has been ignored or changed because of one tired old cliche:

History is written by the victors.

I believe it was Napoleon who said, “History is a collection of lies agreed upon.” Get used to it.

Who controls the past,
controls the future.
Who controls the present,
controls the past.

I suggest that we not get used to lying about history.
I suggest that we instead continue to fight ignorance.


Please add me to the waiting list of those posters willing to blow you.
I wish I had your understanding when I was 15.

We are pious toward our history in order to be cynical toward our government - Garry Wills

Yeah, but you get a lot of history together, you can make a pretty goddamn thick book.

This is just another childish outburst on my part. I’m working on a couple of cases where there is an absence of documentation due to age, destruction, theft, and misfiling. Those on the opposite side of this case are relying on the missing documentation, and common errors in other documentation, to prove their arguments. The case histories originate from beyond living memory.

I see the same patterns emerging in this latest affront to our common sense. There is a chance, someday, that their arguments might find their way into widespread acceptance.

History is my passion and my career. So it pains me to see our past twisted beyond recognition through intentional, sensational, malignance. I do not want to live in a world where Sirhan Sirhan was a patsy, where no Jews were ever exterminated by the Nazis, or where humankind did not walk upon the moon. I know it didn’t happen that way, but what I know matters not to those who want to believe. That makes my efforts seem rather pointless, doesn’t it?

My outburst is posted here because I don’t see any solution. I’m just barking at the moon, so to speak.

What makes you think that’s the moon? :stuck_out_tongue:


A recent concern of mine is not that people intentionally twist history, but that people think that they have the whole picture, when in fact they just have little snipits. In todays world we save so many artifacts and record so much information for posterity’s sake that it seems natural to believe that we are creating a perfect record of history, when in fact for everything we keep track of there are countless things that we don’t. Ignorance is the most dangerous when we are ignorant of our ignorance (or something like that).


2Sense, are you saying you don’t recognize a slightly misquoted Rage Against The Machine song when you see it?

In that case, I retract my statement, and add another “me too” to the OP. :smiley:

As a person desperately clawing his way towards a Ph.D in history (99% done! I swear!), I should be able to refute all of the stuff said about historical thought by quoting some deep thinkers like Foucault and Emanuel le Roy Laudrie and Toynbee and then tie it all together with a smart and cutting remark.

However, since it is late, and I’m tired, I’ll just say this for now to those people in this thread who seem to be accusing historians of being simplistic fools:


Ahem, thank you.

Duke, I don’t think people are calling historians simplistic fools, it’s just that there are a few simplistic loudmouth fools calling themselves historians.

I call them revisionist idiots for the most part.

I thought that was from George Orwell’s 1984.

Shamefully, I enjoy Rage and I missed the reference.

This post wasn’t the only example of Mercutio’s greatness that I was going on. And how do we know that he is quoting Rage? Sure he’s too young to remember when this song first came out but he could be familiar with Afrika Bambaataa. Lets not be too quick to sell the guy short.

Just my 2sense

I thought Mercutio’s line came from Command & Conquer: Red Alert :smiley:

The quote is from 1984. I would imagine Mercutio either got the quote from that source or heard it elsewhere since the quote is pretty famous. I’m not selling the guy short but if the choices are that he either (a) is quoting a famous passage or, (b) came up with the same quote, word for word, on his own I’m picking (a).

We must remember that what little most people remember from history they learned in elementary and high school. Just the reduced American jingoism since my school days (1959 to 1972) has made what I learned VASTLY different from what my children are learning. And that doesn’t take into account the PROFOUND Catholicentric bias inherent to my education. My only-slightly-joking reaction to my public high school’s texts was, “I had no idea so many Protestants were involved in world history!”