Tag Archives: bad history

The Dumbing Down of History; or, Historians be Damned

Stan March - History Expert

Let’s take history back from the historians. This is the message of History for All by Hashtag History.  Now, I’ve got nothing against popular culture history, so long as it bears some resemblance to actual history (which is why I can enjoy The Tudors but not Sleepy Hollow, for example).  What I do have a problem with is this mentality that intellectual approaches to history are somehow a bad thing, and Hashtag History is certainly not the first to express

Thou Dost Protest Too Much; or, Neopagan Backlash Again Time Magazine

Avertisement poster for Salem TV show

On October 28, 2014, Time magazine published Jennifer Latson’s “Why Witches on TV Spell Trouble in Real Life,” a look at why the witch has become so commonplace in pop culture, as well as the long-standing morality lesson taught by studies of the historical witch-trials, which gave us the phrase “witch-hunt” to mean a search for and persecution of a perceived enemy with little regard to guilt or innocence. Neopagans, particularly modern witches, come out in force protesting how the

Writing About Religion, Mine and Others

Multiple religious symbols

A few days ago, the following comment showed up on my being-retooled Wicca site: One thing I find very interesting to observe about your postings is that you’re very much a defender of Christianity. And I’m uncertain why that religion gets so much face-time on a site dedicated to Wicca. I get the impression that you’re trying to send a message to Christians of, “Hey Wiccans aren’t all haters of your religion. See I defended you here.” It’s just…kinda weird

Wars of Non-Religion; or, Religion is Not the Root of All Evil

The Great Miseries of War

I cross paths with fair amount of people very angry and jaded about religion, not merely non-religious but actively hostile toward it.  One of the very common arguments is if we’d get rid of religion we’d get rid of excuses to go to war. I’m calling anthropological bullshit. War is a product of civilization.  In cities, you have thousands of people from which to draw.  Pre-civilization cultures have far fewer people.  To lose a soldier is to lose a valuable

When History Goes Bad: Perverting Religious History

Fragment of Scripture

Studying both history and religion, I cross paths with a fair number of people angry and jaded about both specific religions and religion in general, and they support their position with history.  Rather than simply being non-religious, these individuals are actively against it, calling it manipulative, fraudulent, and/or violent. Sometimes specific examples get conflated into tremendous generalized accusations.  Other times, the information is just wrong. Christianity, being the majority religion in the U.S., bears the brunt of ill-informed objections. It’s

Why Do We Keep Teaching Mistakes?

Christopher Columbus and the New World

It’s amazing some of the things still taught in schools.  They’re just plain wrong, but we’re so familiar with the claims it never occurs to us to double-check the facts.  Today, less well-known but equally wrong stories are also constantly circulating through social media such as Facebook because people presume someone else has already verified the information. Columbus Was Radical in Thinking World is Round Every educated European in 1492 knew the world was round.  Dante’s Inferno, written 150 years

What Didn’t Happen in the Middle Ages

That awkward moment you realize most people's knowledge of the Middle Ages comes from Monty Python.

Medieval is a rather abused word, often being used to cover everything from the fall of the Roman Empire to…well, gosh only knows.  People commonly mash it at least with the Renaissance, which comes with it a healthy sense of irony as Renaissance thinkers very actively separated themselves from medieval culture.  The Renaissance was the rebirth of Greek and Roman culture after the long Dark Age (their term) or what we now call the Middle Ages, a.k.a. the Medieval period. Read

Inventing Celtic History, or My Continued Quarrel with “Cosmos”

Cosnos's idea of celtic art

The TV show Cosmos has managed to not offend me for several weeks, and this last episode certainly didn’t offend, it merely annoyed.  In its introduction to our understanding of the stars, host Neil deGrasse Tyson discusses a variety of myths surrounding constellations, particularly about the Pleiades. Among the ancient Celts and Druids of the British Isles, the Pleiades were thought to have a haunting significance.  On the day of the year that they reached the highest point in the

It’s Eostre Time Again, or a Parade of Logical Fallacies

19th Century illustration of Eostre

Back when I worked for About.com, I made a blog post debunking some of the common myths about Easter’s connection with pagan beliefs.  It gained, by far, the most comments of any post, and every year the post must show up in search engines, because I always got a new crop of complaints around this time of the year. After a couple of years, one commenter asked If I regretted writing the post, which I don’t.  I did regret continuing

Skewing Religious History, or Why I’m Quickly being Alienated by “Cosmos.”

Neil DeGrasse Tyson on "Cosmos"

I, like many of my friends, greatly anticipated the restart of Cosmos by Neil DeGrasse Tyson. I like many things Tyson has done in the past, and he has a reputation for explaining sound science in language average people can understand and enjoy learning about. But he’s no historian. His worst errors come in regard to historical religion and supernatural belief. If it’s not scientific, it’s foolish. He certainly has the right to believe that, but teaching it as fact

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