Signs That You Aren’t Actually “Studying” History

This is the first time I have made a post in this exact format, but I hope you enjoy it and become more aware of how to spot unscholarly bias and agendas in sources and your own research into history. I got the idea to create a list from this science blog “Respectful Insolence” which debunks pseudoscience in medicine! Some of the points listed in the original post are quite humorously worded! (Respectful Insolence Original Blog Post ) I hope I do almost as well. I tried my best to mix the silly and the serious :)

You Aren’t Studying History If…

  1. You use a historical event in the distant past that is in no way related to a contemporary situation to push your own political/nationalistic agenda
  2. You in addition to the above, use your own cherry picked conclusions to oppress and persecute people, or conversely, idolize and glorify a group of people
  3. You comb through history and cherry pick events to suit your own propaganda purposes
  4. This would include spinning a romanticized narrative about a country, group of people, religion, political party, etc…
  5. You claim some ancient peoples are your descendants with no historical evidence of any genetic or especially cultural connection to you in order to claim rights to certain places
  6. This also includes whole civilizations!
  7. You spin a historical event and romanticize it to further your social justice campaign without actually researching if the event in question is even relevant to today’s problems
  8. You use past events of discrimination as an excuse to further your special interest group’s agendas that have no relation to the problems faced by your group in the present day
  9. You blatantly lie and create a hoax!
  10. You create fake artifacts to fool museums for profit, which is also an example of #9
  11. You would downplay the prominence of a historical figure who is quote “privileged” in race, gender, sexuality, religion etc… yet play up the contributions of one who is in a minority group who in historical reality, did not have as big a contribution as the more “privileged” one. This includes substituting a woman for a man even if the man did play a bigger role in history as one example, or a person of a minority race, sexuality, religion etc… who did not genuinely match the contributions of a more “privileged” person in history.
  12. You cherry pick which historical tragedies such as wars, genocides, acts of violence, etc… are more important and overlook others because they do not affect your own special interest group applying a double standard without historical basis for one event being more far reaching than the other.
  13. You cherry pick said events because they do or don’t involve your politics
  14. You overlook the bad in historical people to glorify them and your cause or conversely, overlook the good in them to vilify them for your cause
  15. You censor history that you find undesirable and inconvenient to your agenda
  16. You only teach one side of the story but not let others know how the other side felt and why to influence the next generation of scholars to go with your agenda
  17. You “discover” (i.e. plant)  artifacts to use as “evidence” of your fabricated version of history
  18. You discard actual scholarly research in favor of some sensational pop culture explanation ignoring the true significance and complexity of your discovery
  19. You research genuine history, but ascribe value judgments based on your own contemporary cultural values  instead of looking at it through their circumstances and cultural matrix. (We can always make some personal conclusions in our personal opinions based on facts, but it is our personal opinions, not our historical analysis.)
  20. This also includes criticizing how they handled their problems based on the outcome we now know happened through studying history, but they could have not known until after the fact! (After all, even we can’t see our own future, we can only guess in the end and do our best to create the outcome we want…)
  21. You create simplistic stereotypes, good or bad, of historical groups of people to create a romantic image or vilify them because it makes you feel good about yourself or them. (This is similar to # 14 and 15, but applies to more than one individual person).
  22. You think “Ancient Aliens” created every great historical structure :)
  23. You believe every fringe conspiracy theory hook line and sinker! (Including #22 :)
  24. You disregard the great accomplishments of a historical figure due to views you find offensive and outdated to you personally but had no influence on what they achieved for the good of humanity
  25. You use events in the distant past as an excuse for a war and/or an eternal grudge!
  26. You claim “victim hood” because of a historical event that happened generations before you were even born!
  27. In addition, you demand reparations for wrongdoings decades, or even centuries in the past after the conflict has been long concluded and resolved, kind of an “ex post facto”…
  28. Lastly, you do any of the above and claim to study history in a scholarly manner while fully knowing you’re not ;)

Here’s one final challenge: I did my best to keep it general and not allude too much to any specific example, but make general rules. The challenge is, can YOU find one or more real-world examples of each??? Also on one last note, everyone has some bias, even me :) No one will ever be the “perfect scholar” as no one is perfect! The best we can do as historians is to humbly admit when we do have bias, and seek to be more self aware of it. Which brings me to the extra credit part of the challenge: Which rules have you broke yourself?…

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About persnicketythecat

I like ancient and medieval history!
This entry was posted in Archaeology and Anthropology, Helping Make History More Interesting, Humor, Opinion Piece, Satire. Bookmark the permalink.

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