John F Sowa wrote:
On 5/25/2012 2:16 PM,
Chris Menzel wrote:
> Of course, the very
fact that recorded histories are often full of
> *lies* implies that
the actual historical *truths* are being ignored or
> distorted. No grist
for the anti-realist's mill here. Move along. :-)
This is a circular
argument. First you assert that you believe there are such things as
actual historical “truths” implying “facts”, and then
you rely on your own assertion to further claim that they (if they exist at
all) “are being ignored or distorted”. Sounds illogical to
me. Your belief train is circular.
I very strongly agree.
The following claim is at
the level of a joke on a late-night talk show:
"History is the lie that historians agree on."
It has enough appearance
of truth to get a laugh from the audience.
You practiced de minimus
here – the Thingular equivalent of ad hominem. None of the above is
factual; it is all your opinion not a clear logical refutation of the publicly
subscribed belief system that the late-night shows you watch are laughed at by
what you called “the great unwashed” in an earlier post.
I object to the rhetorical
and unsupported nature of your claim and find that you have posted no
compelling evidence, just your opinion which you appear to be wedded to like “the
chrome on a trailer hitch” as Kenny Rogers once said in a different
context. Since you believe your own assertions, you are reasoning
circularly by taking that approach.
Believing your own
assertions and making conclusions from them is the source of much error.
But anybody who has read
any history beyond what is approved by
the local school board
1. Many statements
are firmly grounded on facts, but any
statement can be questioned on some detail.
Actually, every statement
can be questioned on many levels of detail. It’s those same school
boards that “protect” the public from “erroneous” “facts”
and interpretations, i.e., the ones that threaten their political hold on
parents, teachers and students. Those ARE the “authoritative
historians” you mentioned.
2. Historians take
great delight in exposing the errors of
They agree with other logicians who revel in the same bathwater.
3. Every history
book, even the most carefully and most honestly
researched and written, omits or misinterprets many facts.
That should be obvious
from the well known fact that reality has a much larger bandwidth than any book,
video or medium of any kind. There are millions of facts that COULD have
been added to the book, but it is the filtering of the “authoritative historians”
that selects the very small slice of asserted “facts” that are
actually reported. The vast majority of history remains forever
4. New discoveries
are constantly being made that force a review and
reinterpretation of many of the most widely believed statements
by many of the most authoritative historians of the past.
So this proves that “many
of the most widely believed statements” are not correct (instead, these
are the lies that historians agreed on at the time) and must be re”interpreted” by those later
“authoritative historians” claiming the side of objective unbiased
truth against all those “great unwashed” who have the temerity to interpret
for themselves their experiences and histories?
I would think that the inevitable
“new discoveries” are made by reinterpretation immediately PRIOR to
those “reviews and reinterpretations” … by said later “authoritative
historians” of the present. Why should they, even further removed
from the firehose bandwidth of history, be any more right than the earlier “authoritative
historians”? By your reasoning, still later historians will “take
great delight in exposing the errors of still other historians”, i.e. the
current crop of “authoritative historians”.
See James Burke’s
excellent documentary series “The Day
the Universe Changed” and/or “Connections” which show how flagellant and fickle history
actually is. He traces the sequence of beliefs held by historians,
scientists, politicians and merchants – every separable distinction among
people – and shows how irrelevant the sequence is to any unbiased
absolute objective truth you can draw a boundary around.
5. But a great deal
of what was considered dubious in old histories
(going back to Herodotus, for example) is often corroborated
by new evidence dug up by archaeologists.
reinterpretation, Atlantis is now believed by certain “authoritative
historians” to actually have been located in a Minoan island culture that
was wiped out by a volcano on Santorini in the “Mediterranean”
(aka “Middle of the Earth”). The tsunami that followed did final
damage to the Minoan culture, according to the said “authoritative
historians” whose reinterpretation will be in future reinterpreted yet again.
Summary: There are
facts, even about history, and it is possible
to find new evidence about
any time period that can corroborate,
revise, or improve our
understanding of the past, recent or ancient.
But said “facts”
are merely the reports of individuals and the “interpretations by
authoritative historians” differ only in being written down by different
reporting subjective interpreters. And who is the “our” that “understand”
the past? We have a different culture, and very few concepts of our
present culture can map both completely and well onto the concepts of previous
or future cultures. So “reinterpretation” is a continuing
iterative process that will never stop. But that doesn’t mean the later
reinterpretations are any more correct the earlier ones. That is James
Burke’s main theme of the documentary series. Later
reinterpretations are simply more acceptable to the culture in which the
reinterpretations are to some extent believed.
Perhaps you are watching
too many late night shows.