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Wrong! Deconstructing 5 Famous History Stories

Friday, June 20, 2014 - 10:00 AM

Here are five stories we tell ourselves — five famous history stories that you have heard all your life — that aren't true. Not only are they not true, but historians have known they aren't true, said they aren't true, insisted they aren't true, and the stories don't change. We like them the way they are.

Then along comes CGP Grey. He is an essayist with his own YouTube channel and a curious talent for truth telling; he can take a charming lie and, with even more charm, rip it apart. It is very, very hard, as any teacher will tell you, to unlearn something that makes you comfortable and makes you feel smart, but Mr. Grey has the knack. He takes a pretty tale, unwraps it, deconstructs it and turns it into something even prettier — but this time, it's true.

So here are five historical misconceptions that will misconceive no more ...

Mr. Grey can't stop. He has produced a 10 Misconceptions Rundown of academic and science-ish fibs, another called 8 Animal Misconceptions, and one day, while shopping for towels ...

... he found a wall full of soft, downy lies. That is why Mr. Grey will always be busy. If you can't trust a fluffy towel to be fluffy — you can't trust anything.

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Comments [7]

Alex from yes

How about substituting the idea that Manifest Destiny doesn't play as well in the history books as rising up against a tyrannical aristocracy trying to tax us w/o asking first. From sea to shining sea, oh the majesty of it.

Jul. 09 2014 07:03 AM
Brian from Seattle

Nice work. Something that stood out to me was the graphic in the Godiva story, which included the very succinct heading "Taxes Buy Civilization."

This is of course the opposite of a Historical Misconception- the Historical Misconception here is that taxes are bothersome and unnecessary things that we should always oppose.

It caught my eye because for a short while I was trying to propagate the similar meme "Taxes Fund Civilization."

Funny how we have been convinced to forget that- while enjoying our freeways, aircraft carriers, police protection, and other fruits of public investments made in the past.... like the code developed at public universities, running on Apollo-funded microprocessors, here on the DARPAnet.

Jul. 07 2014 02:33 AM
Alan Abel from Southbury,CT

S.I.N.A. Society for Indecency to Naked Animals is conspicuous by its absence. This worldwide satire on censorship ran from 1959-1963 without disclosure until TIME MAGAZINE revealed the grand hoax at play. PARAMOUNT optioned a movie to be produced by Martin Ritt ("Hud") with Carl Reiner directing and starring Jack Lemmon. Unfortunately, the project never went forward after Ritt passed away. Too bad!

Jun. 30 2014 10:58 PM
Linnea from North Carolina

Go to Full Screen and you'll see CC for closed captions and use those. Worked for me, the captions were very good, the best I've ever used. I can't hear very well and these might help you if the narration is too fast.

Jun. 30 2014 08:36 PM
Scribble,scribble,scribble from Novum Eboracum

Hilarious stuff.
Lots more on YouTube.
Narration runs at a terrific clip, which forces you to pay attention. Andthatisgood!

Jun. 30 2014 08:56 AM
Millie from NYC

Please redo the sound . Too fast!!!!! and run again.

Jun. 30 2014 08:44 AM
Stan

Could not listen. Found the voice of the narrator, and the pacing, annoying in the extreme. Couldn't stand this weird voice of someone talking too fast, though the content seemed interesting and worthwhile.

Jun. 29 2014 08:18 AM

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