Is there a name for this fallacy of historical writing?

Erroneously applying today’s values or newly developed knowledge to judge past events.

(not a great) example: a writer calls the medieval builders ‘primitive’ because they used trial-and-error, and many cathedrals collapsed under construction.

Who has theorized about this problem, and does it have a name?

I hope this isn’t too vague. Thanks in advance.

Using modern values to judge history is called “presentism”.

I think this can be called “anachronistic” thinking. I see the Wikipedia article on anachronism has a section labled “Scholarship” which confirms this.


I have noticed it’s very common. One of the hardest things for people to understand is that people in the past thought differently from us. Certainly “anachronistic thinking” covers the issue.

Look at the Wikipedia entries for chronological snobbery, presentism, historian’s fallacy, and whig history for a group of similar fallacies. I’m not sure which best describes what you’re talking about.

Outside the halls of learning, of course, this is just called “20/20 hindsight.”