Friday, August 5, 2016

History LBC 08/05/2016

Today's topic  - History - was suggested by Ramana.

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it  — George Santayana. Sounds reasonable, logical - so it must be true. But is it? I think we can agree that history is the the study of past events. 

One thing about history - it is written by the winners.  That guarantees a particular slant or bias toward the "losers". What? You think that is not accurate? I suggest you look at commentary on the presidency of Barrack Obama - from the perspective of democrats and then republicans. The democrats paint a glowing picture of success in the face  of republican obstructionism, the republicans paint a gloomy portrait of a country in disarray, a foreign policy of abject failure. But which is accurate?

The simple answer is both views are somewhat accurate. Both sides spin the statistics to support their position. Ya gotta love statistics. IMHO any "science" that includes three different options/definitions for average is suspect (mean, median and mode). That's just too much room for spin for my liking.  But it is caveat emptor for the reader/student. The truth is out there, and although it takes a lot of effort to find it, the search for the truth can be a hell of a lot of fun.

Texas has been in the news for quite some time over ideological issues regarding their text books. It is a fascinating tale of political interference oin education. If you are interested, simply look here.  

Interesting - is a text book supposed to be fair and balanced or simply accurate?   Can  a book be accurate and not fair and  balanced? Is fair and balanced really just for news? Today's news is tomorrow's history. How that history is reflected in text books goes a long way toward shaping the opinions of generations of students.

Anyone keeping up with current events has heard that our White House  was built in part by slaves. But Bill O'Reilly says "Slaves that worked there were well fed and had decent lodgings provided by the government" Lucky them. BTW - O'Reilly spent some time as a history teacher and majored in History as an undergrad. Wonder if his views would be different had his textbooks been different?  

Those of us who enjoy history and research don't really mind that history is not necessarily black and white - that there are many sources to consider for important historical events. The research is the fun of it frankly. Paul Simon nailed it - everything looks worse in black and white.

And what about Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it  — George Santayana?  It is more important now than ever methinks.

That's it for this weeks post - check out Ramana's take here. 


  1. Hmmm, sorta like the movie with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore "Fifty First Dates" where she had an injury or an illness that she forgot each day, the next day was a new beginning, she couldn't remember yesterday. I like history, but more to do with my ancestors and why they chose their direction, rather than looking at history as how it affects the world. Very interesting post.

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