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Old September 17th, 2010, 08:26 AM   #11

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Re: Is history really accurate?


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Originally Posted by kahn View Post
I think history is more often forgotten than it is inaccurate. So many events happened that we probably will never know of.

I think history from the last thousand plus years is accurate. Obviously the further back in time you go, the more chance there is for error.

History was passed down by word of mouth for so long. It would have been very easy to misunderstand someone and change the story
Good post. And I agree.
I often wonder about wars, kingdoms and cultures that we may never even know of. And I think there are some.

What was going on in America at the time of Alexander? Our knowledge of that is imperfect. But the possibilities are tantalizing to ponder.
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Old September 17th, 2010, 08:32 AM   #12
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Re: Is history really accurate?


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Good post. And I agree.
I often wonder about wars, kingdoms and cultures that we may never even know of. And I think there are some.

What was going on in America at the time of Alexander? Our knowledge of that is imperfect. But the possibilities are tantalizing to ponder.
i think we probably know of the big ones,i think the big ones are really the history gems,with all the history buffs out there i dont think all the stones have been turned,and i still expect more to be found
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Old September 17th, 2010, 08:52 AM   #13
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Re: Is history really accurate?


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plus all those "historians" who have used a particular witness' account and changed its significance, basically "spun it", to follow their own agendas or pet theories. It's the job of a historian to pick through all the haystack to find the needles of fact.
Although the very existence of agendas and spin forms an important part of the historical picture itself. Part of the fun is finding out where two accounts clash, or when someone seems to be writing against their own interests or giving away information unintentionally. Roman Emperors would get their propagandists to twist horrendous losses (in Persia for example) into victorious treaties or "mutual settlements" - the loser trying to write history as the winner, so as not to annoy the taxpayers funding the war effort!
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Old September 17th, 2010, 08:58 AM   #14
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Re: Is history really accurate?


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Although the very existence of agendas and spin forms an important part of the historical picture itself. Part of the fun is finding out where two accounts clash, or when someone seems to be writing against their own interests or giving away information unintentionally. Roman Emperors would get their propagandists to twist horrendous losses (in Persia for example) into victorious treaties or "mutual settlements" - the loser trying to write history as the winner, so as not to annoy the taxpayers funding the war effort!
how do you know this,it was so long ago,i think that from then to now it has been twisted more times than a wet towel
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Old September 17th, 2010, 09:22 AM   #15
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Re: Is history really accurate?


Well, we know a campaign against the Persians in 363 ended in an urgent retreat - and that the brand new emperor (Jovian) had, in this context nevertheless, to look good. So he minted coinage proclaiming the failure as a "Persian peace" and had an orator attempt brush aside concerns by saying the Persians had practically elected Jovian as leader themselves and all was well! Jovian then died in 364, the same orator (Themistius) thereafter had new loyalties, and so he admitted the whole affair as evidence that Jovian never had a Divine Mandate after all. This sort of thing probably happened all the time!
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Old September 17th, 2010, 11:08 AM   #16
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Re: Is history really accurate?


There's something called the Rashomon effect, from Kurosawa's film (1950); a story (a crime) depicted in four significantly different ways by the four relevant witnesses; all the accounts were ultimately incompatible, but all of them were plausible too, and none of them was entirely false either; there was a grain of truth in each one of them.
Click the image to open in full size.
The famous Indian fable of the elephant and the six blind men, successively describing the former as a hose, a spear, a hand fan, a pillar, a wall & a rope, is an excellent illustration of the Rashomon effect.

Please remember too the allegory of Plato's Cave (from The Republic).
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Old September 17th, 2010, 11:13 AM   #17

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Re: Is history really accurate?


At least ancient history is forthright about assassination plots and conspiracies and the like -- normal stuff at the pinnacles of empires. In that respect it is more accurate than contemporary history, where leaders are always killed by "lone nuts" and conspiracy is a dirty word.
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Old September 17th, 2010, 11:23 AM   #18
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Re: Is history really accurate?


Is history accurate? That is a very good question. History is as accurate as the person or persons writing the history.

To better illustrate this, let us look at a crime scene. In any given crime scene, you will have different observations from different witnesses. Are the witnesses lying? In most cases, the answer is no. This is the nature of observation. People will have different observations due to what caught their attention, what was more important in their minds, and how they perceived these events. These and more are factors contributing to the bias observations or opinions.

Investigators will conclude from these eye-witness accounts by examining each account and compare it to the rest of the other accounts. With more eye-witness accounts and the more they have in similarity, investigators will be able to draw better conclusions as to what happened.

But as you can see, what is being concluded from the investigators will not be entirely accurate.

Now, take this a step further: History, prior to the 1900's, was usually written much later compared to the actual date of events and it was usually written by one side(one eye-witness account). Compare this to that of an eye-witness account in a crime scene whereby the witness gave his or her statement hours after the crime has happened, whereas history was written much later by a single historian.

Do you see the potential room for error here?
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Old November 10th, 2012, 06:49 PM   #19

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Not only forgotten, but lost. Imagine how much more knowledge we would have if the Great Library had not been burned.
+1. A great loss. But this is the biggest one known. Alexander the Great burned a huge library in Central Asia, which contained priceless manuscripts. Too much is lost.
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Old November 10th, 2012, 08:05 PM   #20
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History is and always will be written by the victor, in whatever way they choose to convey the story. So, the only way really to prove the most difficult questions is to check multiple sources to see if they say the same or at least similar thing.
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