Author Topic: Historical inaccuracies most people believe because of popular culture  (Read 1212 times)

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Online Neutral Milk

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This came up in the "very best TV shows" thread regarding Chernobyl. I'll just quote the part that made me want to create a separate thread.

I feel like these type of shows need to either begin or end with a discussion of all the mistakes and "creative freedoms" they made, to prevent them from being a source of misinformation. People can skip it if they don't care about accuracy, but with no reference to it, it's presented as if it's all fact.

It is pretty interesting to think about how many inaccuracies the majority of the public holds about historical events come from movies about said events. But you weigh that against the public never really knowing about those events at all. Which is better? Does it actually matter in most cases?

To add..

For each case of a historical inaccuracy would you rather people knew that the event occurred at all and had some mistaken ideas about it, or that they didn't know about it at all? Does it matter if Joe Blow who works as a teller at a bank knows about the Rwandan Genocide at all? And if it does matter if he knows about it does it matter if he gets all the facts right vs if he thinks there was a hotel run by Don Chedel that played some major role?


Offline Harry Black

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I have stopped watching true story stuff and even documentaries for this reason.
If theres a show or movie or doc that everyone is raving about, I start with googling what it got wrong or misrepresented and then just start reading about the topic. I find it more rewarding and less frustrating.

I dont think we are better off with the factual inaccuracies, because depending on what they are, they can cause people to draw conclusions about current events etc based on false information, as happened with the JFK movie for example.
Theres also the characterisation of historical characters which comes with inevitable and really terrible editorial bias, because they have to make a decision about the few things this character will represent.
This can then serve to make us more or less sympathetic to a position and detracts from the facts speaking for themselves. Sure, it can be used for things we deem positive, but it does so at the expense of the reputations or memory of real people and can equally and just as often be used for things we may not agree with.
I guess its good that people like Hawking and Turing and Dorothy Vaugn (who I had to google, to my shame) get the recognition they deserve.

Online Neutral Milk

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I'm going to play nihilistic devil's advocate here, because it's actually my position when I really think about it*.

I dont think we are better off with the factual inaccuracies, because depending on what they are, they can cause people to draw conclusions about current events etc based on false information, as happened with the JFK movie for example.

I'd argue this is more the exception than the rule, and I'd argue many of these people that jumped to the conspiracy would have likely done so with or without the Stone movie, at least the ones that were vocal enough to have an impact on our day to day lives.

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Theres also the characterisation of historical characters which comes with inevitable and really terrible editorial bias, because they have to make a decision about the few things this character will represent.
This can then serve to make us more or less sympathetic to a position and detracts from the facts speaking for themselves. Sure, it can be used for things we deem positive, but it does so at the expense of the reputations or memory of real people and can equally and just as often be used for things we may not agree with.

So what? What does my exemplar Joe Blow the bank teller knowing about a specific historical event matter? If someone is genuinely interested in history and in a position to do something beneficial to the world they'll end up studying it in school, getting as accurate a representation as is possible, and using that information to further their work in academia. Joe will rant to his buddies who will probably not really care one way or the other.

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I guess its good that people like Hawking and Turing and Dorothy Vaugn (who I had to google, to my shame) get the recognition they deserve.

So what? The people you mention are dead. I guess it's nice for their families that they get recognized but what's the ultimate benefit beyond that?

Historical stuff is (for 99.99% of us) of no more use than any other form of pop culture that isn't based on fact other than that it makes us feel smart and cultured in conversation. That's my argument. I would argue there is an insignificant number of individuals who were inspired by historical tv/movies into their career paths and that any inaccuracies found in the inspirational media are ultimately irrelevant.

*If I wasn't thinking about it deeply I'd rather everyone knew about important historical events and knew them as accurately as possible.

Online Rai

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It depends. Some inaccuracies are harmless, like the over-emphasis of civilian vessels in Dunkirk or the kilts in Braveheart.

On the other hand, there are some which are deeply harmful, especially the tendency to erase non-white people from European history (Dunkirk is a big offender, but so is every movie set in the Middle Ages, ancient Rome, etc which features no POC). Or how hardly any media set in the ancient world presents society without a strong, false heteronormative bias. This creates an ideal breeding ground for far-right fake histories.

Offline Harry Black

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I think inaccurate portrayals of history can have unintended consequences, because people do try to draw lessons from things that have happened in the past.
Conspiracy theories and racist propaganda are so often rooted in one lie or another that persists in popular consciousness.
I think its similar to 'harmless' medical woo.
I definitely think there are times when its not worth it in the greater good to stop the momentum of a movement to correct pedantic inaccuracies,but I really dont like people making a conscious decision about what truth is worth sharing about a topic and what truth doesnt matter in the context of a story they want to tell.

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Worst on ever (at least in the US) - The Civil War was fought over state's rights.
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Offline Tassie Dave

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Worst on ever (at least in the US) - The Civil War was fought over state's rights.

Wasn't it? ??? I know by the start of the war, it was a war to stop the south seceding, but wasn't state rights, (primarily the north wanting an end to slavery), the catalyst for the secession.

Offline Harry Black

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It was about states rights to own people.

Offline CarbShark

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Worst on ever (at least in the US) - The Civil War was fought over state's rights.

Wasn't it? ??? I know by the start of the war, it was a war to stop the south seceding, but wasn't state rights, (primarily the north wanting an end to slavery), the catalyst for the secession.

It was slavery

The south wanted to secede because of slavery

The south wanted states rights to ensure the perpetuation of slavery

Positing any other reason for the war is giving the south too much credit.



and Donald Trump is President of the United States.

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Offline seamas

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Worst on ever (at least in the US) - The Civil War was fought over state's rights.

Wasn't it? ??? I know by the start of the war, it was a war to stop the south seceding, but wasn't state rights, (primarily the north wanting an end to slavery), the catalyst for the secession.

It was slavery

The south wanted to secede because of slavery

The south wanted states rights to ensure the perpetuation of slavery

Positing any other reason for the war is giving the south too much credit.

The south was also 100% dedicated to spreading slavery to new territory, outlawing manumission, and demanding free states return fugitive slaves.
There's no such thing as denial.

Offline PANTS!

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Worst on ever (at least in the US) - The Civil War was fought over state's rights.

Wasn't it? ??? I know by the start of the war, it was a war to stop the south seceding, but wasn't state rights, (primarily the north wanting an end to slavery), the catalyst for the secession.

If it were about State's Rights then the South would have opposed the Fugitive Slave Laws tooth and nail.  They are clearly an overreach of Federal power, giving sovereignty and jurisdiction of the South's slavery laws in non-slave states.  And yet the South pushed hard for them to be enacted.
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Offline CarbShark

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Worst on ever (at least in the US) - The Civil War was fought over state's rights.

Wasn't it? ??? I know by the start of the war, it was a war to stop the south seceding, but wasn't state rights, (primarily the north wanting an end to slavery), the catalyst for the secession.

It was slavery

The south wanted to secede because of slavery

The south wanted states rights to ensure the perpetuation of slavery

Positing any other reason for the war is giving the south too much credit.

The south was also 100% dedicated to spreading slavery to new territory, outlawing manumission, and demanding free states return fugitive slaves.

This is true. The purpose of the Mexican American war was to extend the Mason Dixon line across the continent. New Mexico, Arizona and parts of Nevada and Southern California were going to be Slave states. (Southern California was to have been split further, to make it two slave states)

Polk was out maneuvered and the treaty ending the war specifically forbade slavery in any of the newly acquired Mexican territories. 
and Donald Trump is President of the United States.

I'm not a doctor, I'm just someone who has done a ton of research into diet and nutrition.

 

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