Next rule of history beware pseudohistory. Much like pseudoscience, a pseudohistory is a form of pseudo scholarship that attempts to distort or misrepresent the historical record, often using methods resembling legitimate historical research. Some of its characteristics are as follows:
Pseudohistory is UNFALSIFIABLE or can't be proven wrong. It makes vague or unobservable claims. A classic example is "Christopher Columbus discovered America."
Pseudohistory relies heavily on ANECDOTES, personal experiences, and testimonials. One great example is Clara Davis, circa 1937, waxing nostalgic about her days of bondage in Alabama. While she may miss her time as a slave, her experience is not representative of others.
Pseudohistory CHERRY PICKS confirming evidence while ignoring/minimizing disconfirming evidence. Yahoo recently faced some backlash for publishing an article titled, "Chris Pratt criticized for 'white supremacist' T-shirt" after the actor was spotted wearing a shirt portraying a version of the Gadsden flag. Yahoo pinpointed some comments on social media that linked this symbol to far-right groups and white supremacy ideologies and noted that the Gadsden flag, created by American Revolutionary war general, Christopher Gadsden, portrays a racially charged message. However, while some social media posts did criticize Chris Pratt for wearing this shirt, many recognized that the flag originated in a non-racial context and therefore did not accuse Pratt of being racist. Yahoo later changed the article's name after being called out for cherry-picking some online commenters and turning their opinions into a click-bait headline.
Pseudohistory uses obfuscation: Words that sound scientific but don't make sense. It consists of buzzwords, esoteric language, specialized technical terms, or technical slang that is impossible to understand for the average listener. For example, some historians will throw out some big words and fancy sentences to confuse people about what they mean.
Pseudohistory lacks PLAUSIBLE MECHANISM: No way to explain it based on existing knowledge. For example, A public prosecutor says in an interview that there is "anarchy" in the land. While expressing his disappointment, this remark is made by him that he cannot prosecute someone in the imported system which has murdered another. This is because the matter has now been settled traditionally in the village by the two opposing clans. Anarchy is a relative term and hard to measure.
Pseudohistory is UNCHANGING: Doesn't self-correct or progress. If we don't ever reevaluate, the dinosaurs would still drag their tails, or the Japanese internment camps of the 1940s would still be measured as a success.
Pseudohistory makes EXTRAORDINARY/EXAGGERATED CLAIMS with insufficient evidence. A great example of this is the claim of Irish slavery. The claim that colonists enslaved Irish people in the British American Colonies stems from a misrepresentation of the idea of "indentured servitude." Indentured servants were people required to complete unpaid labor for a contracted period.
Pseudohistory Professes CERTAINTY: Talks of "proof." with great confidence—the determination of whether a witness testified to a specific fact based on particular knowledge. A couple of examples: Caesar knew about the warriors of Gaul as he had first-hand knowledge, but does this mean he knew the various aspects of the whole tribe? Another would be: Aiden believes God spoke to him. Did God speak to him?
Pseudohistory commits LOGICAL FALLACIES: arguments contain errors in reasoning. A well-known argument that Japan's surprise attack on Pearl Harbor should have been predictable in the United States because of the many indications that an attack was imminent. This argument overlooks that there were innumerable conflicting signs that suggested possibilities other than an attack on Pearl Harbor. Only in retrospect do the warning signs seem obvious; signs which pointed in different directions tend to be forgotten.
Pseudohistory Lacks PEER REVIEW and goes directly to the public, avoiding scientific scrutiny. Not to say that these sources don't include the truth. You should use them, but be wary. Examples are There are some kinds of publications that should be avoided when searching for peer-reviewed material. They are: Newspapers, Magazines, Ads or Other Sponsored Material, Editorials or Opinion Pieces, and Book Reviews
Pseudohistory Claims there's a CONSPIRACY to suppress their ideas. These include Ancient aliens, ethnocentric revisionism, and historical revisionism.
More on these later. This should help you avoid pitfalls in the meantime.
6:12 Eli Whitney
13:00 American Cookery
19:47 Alien and Sedition Acts
27:07 The First Bank Heist
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