The History of Psuedohistorygreenspun.com : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread
Pseudohistory is purported history which
- treats myths, legends, sagas and similar literature as literal truth
- is uncritical and unskeptical in its reading of ancient historians, taking their claims at face value and ignoring empirical or logical evidence contrary to the claims of the ancients
- is on a mission, not a quest, seeking to support some contemporary political or religious agenda rather than find out the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about the past
- often denies that there is such a thing as historical truth, clinging to the extreme skeptical notion that only what is absolutely certain can be called 'true' and nothing is absolutely certain, so nothing is true
- often maintains that history is nothing but mythmaking and that different histories are not to be compared on such traditional academic standards as accuracy, empirical probability, logical consistency, relevancy, completeness, fairness, honesty, etc., but on moral or political grounds
- is selective in its use of ancient documents, citing favorably those that fit with its agenda, and ignoring or interpreting away those documents which don't fit
- considers the possibility of something being true as sufficient to believe it is true if it fits with one's agenda
- often maintains that there is a conspiracy to suppress its claims because of racism, atheism or ethnocentrism, or because of opposition to its political or religious agenda
Examples of pseudohistory include Afrocentrism, creationism, holocaust revisionism and the catastrophism of Immanuel Velikovsky.
Pseudohistory should be distinguished from the ancient texts it is based on. The sagas, legends, myths and histories which have been passed on orally or in written documents by ancient peoples are sometimes called pseudohistory. Some of it is pseudohistory, some of it is flawed history and some of it isn't history at all.
by RockyMarijuana was the favorite weed of our founding fathers but was artificially demonized by a threatened timber industry. The Wiccans of today are part of an unbroken chain that predates Judaism. The efforts of president Abraham Lincoln brought about the abolition of slavery in the U.S. The human race was created by a race of extraterrestrials. The earth is hollow; inside, there is to be found: a sun, vegetation, animal life, and undiscovered human and semi-human civilizations. Jesus had a girlfriend. The CIA killed JFK. The Russians killed JFK. The Illuminati killed JFK. The Illuminati exist. The ancient Egyptians were Negroid. Only a handful of Jews were killed under the Nazi regime. The Virgin Mary was artificially inseminated by aliens.
From the statements above, are there any that you choose to believe? Do you profess these beliefs as fact? What tools do you use to convince others? Are the things you believe really true? How do you know?
There are several reasons why an individual may choose to adopt a belief. One very general motivation is comfort. To not know is uncomfortable. Believing is the closest we can come to knowing, without knowing. Yet, the difference between believing and knowing is so vast that one must approach belief with excruciating caution, and thus sacrifice the goal of comfort. A sub-heading under comfort is identity. It hurts to be surrounded by those who believe while being undecided or unbelieving. One can instantly go from a state of isolation to a state of kinship simply by adopting a belief.
Some of us are belief impared, and not ashamed of it. I, personally, am so skeptical that I look upon common skepticism with great suspicion. Common skepticism can easily decay into a belief system itself. So when a so-called skeptic says: "Jesus didn't walk on water.", I say: "How do you know?". I choose not to have a belief on the matter. Of course, the term "belief" can be used much more loosely to describe a mindframe that is, although not rigid, extremely confident of various concepts. For instance, I believe that this padded chair is not going to give out under me. I'm very relaxed in this chair right now. If it does give out, if it sends me smashing onto the barely carpeted concrete floor, I will feel only slight pangs of guilt for having been so presumptuous. There is a way to gauge the absurdity of a belief. Figure out whether the belief is based on experience or rumor. I have experience with my chair, so I trust it. I was not around in the days of Jesus, so I don't live my life under the assumption that he walked on water, or even that he existed. There are (I freely admit) flaws in this mode of operation, not the least of which is that it doesn't account for situations such as this: I believe, in fact, live by the rumor that ramming your car into a brick building at 100 mph can have a negative effect on your health, and the working condition of the car. Of course, I do doubt that rumor but I am not going to put it to the ultimate test.
All matters of history are matters of rumor. Well documented history is well spun rumor. My main working tool for this point is to say that you weren't there, and I wasn't there; that is the difference between history and personal experience. In the case where a third party claims to have been there and has his version of the truth, there is the matter of that person's sincerity and competence. In cases where a person claims to have attended an event in a previous life, things become even more complicated.
I want to make clear that this personal method of thinking I am sharing with you is not an insensitivity to any particular version of history. I can never, in good conscience, ignore claims of wrong doing, cover-up, or suppressed history. I'm just saying, when it comes down to it, it's next to impossible to convince me, either way, on any issue. That is not to say that I wouldn't give one side of an issue the benefit of the doubt. There are even undecided issues that I take action on, though always with the greatest of caution.
Views of history are potentially as subjective as any other kind of opinion, and, ultimately as unverifiable. How verifiable are the following opinions?
- Only through accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior, can you know everlasting peace.
- Mama Celia's pasta with clam sauce is the best tasting food on the planet.
- Pearl Jam rocks!
- Burning the American flag should be punishable by death.
-- anon (email@example.com), July 27, 2000
An Irish Truth:
Something that isn't true, but should be.
-- (Paddy@OFurniture.eire), July 27, 2000.
My Eyes Glaze Over. Brain farts, Sancho.
-- (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 27, 2000.
And notice how "pseudo" is spelled, Mr know-it-all
-- (email@example.com), July 27, 2000.
Even if you come to accept any particular set of "historical" facts as true, you won't have any more than the raw stuff of history. The act of telling history is essentially an act of placing meaning into a set of facts. As such, it is akin to all other kinds of story telling.
History is somewhat stricter than other kinds of story telling, in that it tries to confine itself to the (roughly) verifiable facts. Any good historian (like any good journalist) prefers to have several sources for any one particular fact.
But, in spite of the fact that I acknowledge the problems with settling on any one version of history, I find it to be an honorable and even indispensible form of knowledge. Sure, we can never be sure that Grant is buried in Grant's tomb. But, if we give up telling stories about our past and our humanity, we lose far more than we gain in the "integrity" of our disbelief. So long as history tells us who we are as humans, I am prepared to accept its flaws.
The reply that quoted the Irish proverb about "what ought to be true" rings true enough to me. History should not be relegated to the dust heap, because it happened before anyone now living was born, or because it only captures one colored gleam from the prism of human life.
-- Brian McLaughlin (brianm@Ims.com), July 28, 2000.