Thursday, April 19, 2012

What we really know

My favourite YouTube explainer, CGPGrey, is back with another video, above. This one debunks five common misconceptions about history. I’m big fan of debunking assumed facts, whether contemporary or historic, so I like this video.

This is also related to my ABC Wednesday post yesterday, in which I talked about going back to original source material to uncover real facts. While the context of that was news, I also do it with historic events and facts.

Like a lot of people, there have been many things I thought I “knew”, but that turned out not to be true at all. Fortunately, most of them are minor—as, arguably, many of the things in the video above are. Still, this reality has led me to a sort of mantra I try to remember: Assume nothing.

That’s why I try to verify things in the news and, often, historic facts that I “know”. I do this not just because I want to be correct, and I do, but also because I feel an obligation to not lead anyone astray, or to reinforce faulty information.

I’m glad there are others with the same attitude. They help ensure that we really know what we think we know.


Roger Owen Green said...

This past weekend, David Muir, on ABC News, said that Jackie Robinson was the first African-American to play major league baseball, WHICH IS NOT TRUE, as I've noted. It HAD been decades, and it's no less significant for that.

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

I actually saw that, Roger, and you know what went through my mind? "That's not true—I read it on Roger's blog!" Actually, I may have said that out loud; I sometimes do that when I'm home alone. The dogs are used to it, fortunatelyy.

ChrisJ said...

Oh I so agree with you on this one. Let's get back to the facts and do thorough research! I believe next to nothing that I hear on news networks who are experts at manipulating news. My kids say I have a suspicious mind, but I want the TRUTH not someone's version of the truth.I knew the other info but not the vomitorium. But you know what happens next is: where did HE get HIS truth from?? It's like Snopes. Someone did a 'snopes' on Snopes.

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

I think having a suspicious mind is a good thing, Chris. Politicians and commentators on TV—whatever their ideology—have an agenda to promote. We might still agree with it, but at least we should know what the game is.

I thought the same thing about his sources! I even almost checked them out, but I've learned from past experience that he is scrupulous about accuracy. He also lists his sources, often in the description on YouTube or on his site, so it gives me confidence knowing that I can double-check any time. If only others were so forthcoming!