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Pseudohistory

 
 
Seizan
 
Reply Mon 27 Jan, 2020 07:28 pm
What is a pseudohistory called when it becomes accepted as a true history? When a lie or deception becomes truth, and obvious provable and easily-available facts become ignored, what is the term one applies to the resultant "history" (besides "lie, falsehood, deception", etc.)?

There must be some term historians use to describe this. For example, false histories that have been indisputably disproved.

This is not about the Holocaust, Christianity, etc., but in general.
 
edgarblythe
 
  2  
Reply Mon 27 Jan, 2020 07:30 pm
Perhaps it can be found in Orwell's 1984.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  3  
Reply Mon 27 Jan, 2020 07:48 pm
The only word that comes to mind for me is "lies." Historiography is the study of writing history, and how it changes. The records, however, upon which history was based when it was originally written, are highly unlikely to have been altered (one could tell), although they might be destroyed. The greatest danger has come relatively recently, in the latter half of the twentieth century, when formerly marginalizes groups have actively altered historical narratives to suit their political agendas. These can be identified, but the "defense" of historical narrative becomes politically dangerous. For example, after AIM, the American Indian Movement, was founded in 1968, a new pseudo-historical narrative was created (not necessarily by the sounders of AIM) which told a silly fairy tale of all "Indians" (North American aboriginals) lived in brotherhood and harmony with nature, until the white man came. This ignores the plummet in species diversity after humans arrived in the Americas, as has been the case everywhere. It also ignores the wars among aboriginal groups for various reasons that had nothing to do with Europeans. This sort of thing is unfortunate, but one can only endure it.

There is not a shred of historical evidence for the existence of "King Arthur," until many centuries after he supposedly lived and flourished, and even then, the "documentary evidence" is suspect. It had become a lucrative process for monasteries to write stories about Arthur and his knights, or to copy those that others had made. People still believe in "King Arthur" and likely always will. It is well past the time when that matters, though. If all of our documents are preserved, and a thousand years pass away, there still will be no contemporary records of "King Arthur," and very likely, people will still believe in him. The only real answer is that this, too, shall pass away.
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Jan, 2020 07:57 pm
@Seizan,
I doubt there is any such thing as "true history". Our understanding of history is very much shaded by the narrative of our own society and our image of who we are as a culture. History isn't science, it depends on interpretations that are far from objective.

I recently heard an interesting take on Christopher Columbus from Neil DeGrasse Tyson. He points out that humanity had been split, and that the Americas represented a lost branch of humanity until Christopher Columbus reunited the species.

That is not a narrative that I have heard anyone tell before, and yet it is as factually "true" as any other narrative.
0 Replies
 
PUNKEY
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Jan, 2020 09:00 pm
I asked this same question some time ago. Suggestions were:

Inculcation
Apocryphal
Spurious

0 Replies
 
Seizan
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Jan, 2020 10:34 pm
Thanks all. I guess the term "pseudohistory" will have to do. I thought there might be a term describing the social phenomenon of "popular belief in a falsified history, regardless of the facts presented". Like "brainwashed" or something...

;-)
Glennn
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Jan, 2020 10:47 pm
@Seizan,
How about "fools history," or "designer history"? Or "programmed History"?
0 Replies
 
glitterbag
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Jan, 2020 01:10 am
@Seizan,
I think the most appropriate designation would be "utter bullshit".
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Jan, 2020 06:38 am
@Seizan,
I suggest to you that the term pseudo-history is appropriate in those cases in which those who forward a narrative are willfully lying in order to promote an agenda, usually a political agenda. I provided the remarks about the so-called "King Arthur" because there is absolutely no evidence which is contemporary to the period in which such an individual would have flourished. Those who make claims about a putative "King Arthur," however, cannot be said to forward an agenda--they have nothing to gain, except, of course, for selling their silly books. There are many examples of historical myths which are outright lies, which can easily be demonstrated to be outright lies, which have nonetheless been promoted vigorously. The "Lost Cause" myth about the American civil war is an excellent example. That myth claims that the war was not about slavery, and that the American south was the victim of the American north. It is called "The War of Northern Aggression." The hotheads in the south started that war, however, but the promulgators of the myth have succeeded in convincing a lot of people that they were innocent victims. The myth has a concomitant claim that southern military leaders were superior to those of the United States Army. There are many other silly claims--and all of these claims can easily be disproved.

A more insidious example can be found in Germany after the Great War. There is the Stab in the Back myth--this holds that the Germans were not defeated in the field, but that politicians pulled the carpet out from under their army by asking the Allies for an armistice. There is, in fact, documentary evidence that Ludendorff contemplated as early as September 29, 1918, requesting an armistice. German "intelligence" was never very good, in that war or the subsequent war. But by late September, 1918, they had verified that 200,000 to 250,000 American troops were arriving in France every month. Ludendorff understood that the German army would soon be overwhelmed by such numbers. This was an important distortion because it lead Germans to believe that they had a superior military establishment which had been robbed of its opportunity. Not only was that not true then, it was not true in the Second World War. A direct link can be made between that myth, and the unrealistic confidence which Hitler was able to instill in German military superiority. Hitler exploited many other distortions, although not of such pseudo-history.

I think it would help you to make a distinction between pseudo-history, willful lying about history, and simple, wishful stories such as the "King Arthur" myth.
0 Replies
 
tsarstepan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Jan, 2020 08:06 am
@Seizan,
Seizan wrote:

What is a pseudohistory called when it becomes accepted as a true history? When a lie or deception becomes truth, and obvious provable and easily-available facts become ignored, what is the term one applies to the resultant "history" (besides "lie, falsehood, deception", etc.)?

There must be some term historians use to describe this. For example, false histories that have been indisputably disproved.

You're making this a bit unnecessarily complicated. What's wrong with pseudohistory?
Quote:
Pseudohistory is a form of pseudoscholarship that attempts to distort or misrepresent the historical record, often using methods resembling those used in legitimate historical research. The related term cryptohistory is applied to a pseudohistory based upon or derived from the superstitions inherent to occultism. Pseudohistory is related to pseudoscience and pseudoarchaeology and usage of the terms may occasionally overlap. Although pseudohistory comes in many forms, scholars have identified many features that tend to be common in pseudohistorical works. One such feature is that pseudohistory is nearly always motivated by a contemporary political, religious, or personal agenda. Pseudohistory also frequently presents a big lie or sensational claims about historical facts which would require the radical revision (re-writing) of the historical record.
0 Replies
 
McGentrix
 
  2  
Reply Tue 28 Jan, 2020 10:56 am
History is written by the winners. Very rarely do we hear the tales of the defeated from long ago. So, in that regard, historical perspective can lead to "pseudo-history".
RABEL222
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Jan, 2020 11:08 am
@McGentrix,
Where would George Washington cutting down the cherry tree fall in this narrative?
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Jan, 2020 12:51 pm
@RABEL222,
Utter pseudo-history, Parson Weems was peddling willful lies.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Jan, 2020 01:03 pm
@McGentrix,
History being written by the victors is another one of Napoleon's pronouncements about history. He is a wonderful example of how this is not true. For the English of his time, he was a monster on the scale of Hitler for their descendants. Nevertheless, he enjoys an historical reputation (somewhat undeserved) which is much more sympathetic than how he was viewed in his own lifetime. The French of his day were not fooled. He would issue bulletins after his battles: an expression long used by the French was "lies like a bulletin," meaning something no one should believe. He also said that history was "a set of lies agreed upon." He understood the deceit of pseudo-history, as well as its uses. He studied at Brienne before he went on to l'Ecole militaire in Paris, and mathematics and history were his two best subjects. When he was exiled on St. Helena, he wrote to those taking care of the King of Rome (his son) to make sure he was well educated in history.

History is a complex study, and historiography even more so.
0 Replies
 
tsarstepan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Jan, 2020 01:41 pm
@glitterbag,
glitterbag wrote:

I think the most appropriate designation would be "utter bullshit".

Would herstory be "udder bullshit"?
https://media.giphy.com/media/i6TQUuiT5hjSU/giphy.gif
0 Replies
 
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Wed 29 Jan, 2020 06:40 am
One can apply to history words used in other sciences, such as "disproven theory", "hoax", "myth" or "legend".
livinglava
 
  1  
Reply Wed 29 Jan, 2020 05:24 pm
@Olivier5,
Olivier5 wrote:

One can apply to history words used in other sciences, such as "disproven theory", "hoax", "myth" or "legend".

Or a more neutral term can be used, e.g. "historical misconception"
Olivier5
 
  2  
Reply Thu 30 Jan, 2020 04:05 am
@livinglava,
I like "myth" the most. Myths are very strange cultural objects: not written by any single one author but the result of a collective creation, they are factually false (no real Zeus lives on mount Olympus) but symbolically useful for society.
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Thu 30 Jan, 2020 07:12 am
@Olivier5,
There is a very fine line between history and myth. They are both narratives that a society constructs collectively to explain their identity and place in the world.
Olivier5
 
  2  
Reply Thu 30 Jan, 2020 09:53 am
@maxdancona,
True history doesn't get written collectively, it's the product of largely individual research, still. What you are talking about is not the scientific practice of history but the manner in which nations mythologize their own historiography for feel good effect. In French it's increasingly called "le roman national" (the national novel) as a way to highlight its nature of collective fiction.
 

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