Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Wednesday Brain Teaser 7-3-13

Not a true brain teaser, but I figure people may be away for the looooong weekend.

I saw an article today complaining about how much new research gets left out of books about the Revolutionary War.  I'm not a history buff, but in my skimming of the article it seems his primary complaint is that books tend to go for narrative over ambiguous but accurate portrayals of events.  No kidding.

This got me thinking though, of a question for this week:

What historical fallacy, commonly taught in schools or repeated in the press, is most annoying to you?

Feel free to define "historical fallacy" as you see fit...I have no agenda here...I'm just genuinely curious.  

Happy 4th of July everyone!


  1. Chief Seattle is the first that comes to mind.

    Both Chris and John-Adrian were taught this at Goffstown Area High School. Kyle was not in his Am Hist this year, which is good.

    There's more, of course. The actual stories behind the 2 most famous of the Vietnam photos, the obscuring of Lee Harvey Oswald's politics - but those are now standard. They may never get out in the open.

    Witch-hunting. The 4 or 5-sidedness of the Crusades. The huge population of Native Americans and their death by disease (90-95%). Ignoring Nanking and Chunking. Rigoberta Menchu. The deaths in the Gulag and the Great Leap Forward.

  2. The claim that Christopher Columbus discovered the world was round.

  3. The assertion that the Founding Fathers were all atheists.

  4. Do "Arabic" numerals count?

    The symbols were first used in portions of what are now India, by people who did not speak Arabic. The Arab-speaking peoples adopted them, and their use spread to Europe sometime afterwards.

    1. How about other things from Europe, during the years 500-1500?

      The Eastern Roman Empire lasted during most of that time. Though the literary evidence is really thin on the ground, and trade networks shrunk, those times aren't the Dark Ages that they are usually described as.

  5. After reading Dante's "Divine Comedy", I would have to say the idea that people believed the world was flat until Columbus's voyage in 1492 irks me the most. The myth was created by a fellow who wanted to diss the church, Protestant or Catholic. People have known that world was round as far back as Ptolemy.