Most overrated historical event?

What, in your opinion, is the most overrated, over-discussed, overly-written about historical event?

While I do get sick of all the HITLER HITLER HITLER books, articles, movies, and documentaries, and I can see WW2 and/or the Civil War getting some votes in this thread, at least their supporters claim that these events mattered is undoubtedly true. So, in my mind, while they get extremely overplayed at times, those two subjects did impact millions, hundreds of millions of people and their resolution had a serious impact on the future development of the world.

In my opinion, there is no story more irrelevant that gets major play in the US history books than the tale of the Salem Witch Trials. A damn town in New England goes crazy and hangs a few teenage girls for stupid reasons. OK, got it, we’ll put that in the books: “Don’t kill teenage girls for stupid reasons.” Also, “You really need to work on your rules of evidence” – yeah, that might need to be a priority.

While I understand why the story has remained popular (Teenage girls! Possibly having sex! Getting killed for it!), what puzzles me is the number of people who think the SWT has some deeper meaning for the later development of the US. It doesn’t. It was some groups of relatively isolated people who underwent mass hysteria. (OTOH, I have heard arguments that the SWT effectively killed the idea of a theocratic form of government for the colonies… but I’m not sure that the idea was all that strong to begin with, outside of certain spots in New England.)

Anyway, this thread isn’t about discussing the SWT and their effects, but it’s about what you think is the most overrated, over-discussed, over-thought moment of history?

I don’t think the Salem witch trials are as you describe; though I don’t necessarily disagree with you.
People with better historical grounding may chime in and indicate the teenage girls didn’t get hanged, they were the ones doing the accusing. Adults, I believe, were the ones killed. Conveniently, those adults tended to have some properties and wealth the people in charge wound up in control of.

Justin Bieber’s drunk driving arrest.

Heck, make it Justin Bieber, period.

It’s almost painful for this old space-head to type it, but:

The manned lunar missions. What promised to change the course of history - of humanity - was sold out for a Cold War stunt. We’ve never recovered from that short-sighted mistake.

The life and assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Was he important in the 1960s Civil Rights movement? Sure. Is he worthy of deification? Not at all.

Adults were hanged at Salem. Except for one–a man who declined to testify. He was crushed to death by stones.

Really, if somebody doesn’t like history–let them maintain their ignorance. But they shouldn’t demonstrate their ignorance to claim a certain bit has been “overrated.”

I bow down to your superiority in not answering the question, but still finding fault in how it was asked. You get a lot of friends like that?

Looking at your location, shouldn’t you be bitching about The Alamo?

Sorry, I find do some bits of history more interesting than others. But even those bits are more interesting than ignorance…

When I was in college I linked the importance of the Salem Witch Trials to de Tocqueville fear of the masses. I think a lot of Americans recognize the importance of the event without being able to communicate it - while everyone talks about democracy being great, a system of pure democracy would be a mob-ruled, incredibly dangerous place.

My vote? The Titanic. The boat sunk.

The core question is interesting - and I answered it - but your example and the reasons for asking are kind of loopy and inaccurate. You seem to have some fixation on the Salem incidents but not much historical grasp, so maybe it would have been better to truncate all of that to one or two sentences and let us get on with the answers.

Following up like the quote above indicates to me you aren’t much interested in the answers anyway.

Truth be told, a Cold War stunt is all it ever was. The whole purpose of the moon missions was to one-up the Soviets.

It turns out that getting to the Moon is too difficult and expensive, for too little return, to be anything more than a test of a nation’s technological capabilities. That’s why China is planning manned lunar missions: to prove that they’re the technological equals of the United States.

But manned spaceflight, on a sustainable platform and with focused goals, represents untold possibilities and value.

We traded that for the stunt, making nearly all manned spaceflight just an extended stunt. None of it has resulted in anything useful, except for the few missions that could have as easily been done by unmanned craft.

I just had a thought that fits the OP:
The assasination of JFK is an over-rated historical event.
Sure it was a terrible shock at the time, but the long-term impact on history is pretty minor. The Big Things* of that decade would have happened in just the same way, whether Kennedy or Lyndon Johnson was in the White House.

*(the Vietnam war, the civil rights movement, etc…If JKF had been alive, what would have happened differently?).

The Relief of Mafeking: even at the time it was essentially a non-event blown up by a publicity-hungry Baden-Powell and a complaisant media eager for a feel-good story.


A bunch of kids got together, had a rock concert, basically trashed the place (look at some pictures of what the field looked like afterwards) and left.

Kind of a cool concert, but any feelings of a “Woodstock Nation” got left behind at Altamont.

Well, my understanding is that other nations, perhaps especially the Germans, viewed Britain’s lackluster performance in the Boer Wars as evidence that they were fat and lazy and didn’t have the stomach for a real war, i.e. with Germany. To the extent that any event in the Boer Wars, such as this one, might have worked against that perception, it might have delayed German aggression so that it happened later than it otherwise might have.

If, maybe, perhaps. Tentative at best, but still an example, I think, of how relatively small events can play out on the larger stage.

China isn’t the “technological equal” of the US if they do teh same thing that we did 40 years ago. A Chinese space shuttle or a mission to Mars would place the nation on more of an “equal” footing than traveling to the Moon four decades later.

Having said that the Cuban Missile Crisis is always an overblown situation in my view. The US already had nukes in Greece and Turkey which could do the same thing that Russian missiles would have done had they been kept in Cuba. And looking at how f*cked up the USSR was at the time , the whole “world was at the brink” nonsense in retrospect seems rather silly.

Interesting question.

The Alamo is a minor event, yes, but it did help spur the war leading to the independence of Texas, so in the end I’d say it was significant.

I like the suggestion of the Titanic sinking.

Yeah like the moon mission really happened. :rolleyes:

The tumbling of the Berlin Wall. The events leading up to it and succeeding it were much more important; the actual event isn’t that big a deal IMHO - it just got more headlines.