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Have We Run Out Of History?


Shyone
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History would seem to be something like science in that there are facts that are generally agreed upon and the data are verifiable. There is a reason that the Bible is not in the History section of the library. The History Channel seems to have gone totally over the edge. Today they are talking about exorcism, and stories of exorcisms of demons are being treated as factual. "The only way to exorcise demons is through the power of Jesus Christ."

 

The series "Mysteries of the Bible" and many other similar series don't have anything closely resembling a "nonreligious" perspective. Texts that belie the Bible are not mentioned, or if they are it is such a tangential mention that it is suggests that the Bible is correct and the ancient texts are wrong.

 

I have heard of token atheists who were interviewed for shows on the History Channel whose statements were so edited that their final version seems to support the mythology as fact.

 

The same applies for shows about UFOs or any other phenomena that are way out there. Here's another atheists observation:

 

While scanning the evening offerings on the boob tube I noticed that the History channel is running another program to advance America’s historical literacy. The program? –The Holy Grail in America. The program will examine “evidence” that the Knights Templar came to America in 1362 and hid the Holy Grail.

Unfortunately, I elected to watch something with a bit more intellectual depth – Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader.This isn’t history; it is wild eyed speculation of the stupid kind and it is an insult to legitimate historiography. One might overlook the occasional departure into the world of stupid notions but it seems there is a plethora of this type of bull shit – The Seven Deadly Sins, The Naked Archeologist, UFO’s of the Bible (WTF), Nostradomus, Mayan prophesies and more.

IMO, this type of programming seriously damages the legitimacy of the History channel as an honest broker of historical information– the History International channel suffers the same affliction.

 

That isn't to say they don't have some programs that are "historical", but who could trust their work when they present such gullible witnesses as theologists as "authoritative"?

 

Even that which should be considered "historical" sometimes has a religious twist that is, to say the least, offensive to atheists. They had a series describing the Middle Ages as “600 Years of Degenerate, Godless, Inhuman Behavior.”

 

Give me a fuckin' break!

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I guess this kind of thing sells better. I was going to say that real history is boring, but it's really not. They're just not trying to make interesting. So you end up with the crazy stuff because more people watch it.

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History would seem to be something like science in that there are facts that are generally agreed upon and the data are verifiable.

They're not. This is why it is a humanity and not a science. ;)

 

The History Channel seems to have gone totally over the edge. Today they are talking about exorcism, and stories of exorcisms of demons are being treated as factual. "The only way to exorcise demons is through the power of Jesus Christ."

Yeah, these shows are crap. But in their "defense" it IS October and every channel is showing ghosts and goblins related nonsense. What I dread is the upcoming xmas "jesus" stroke-fest marathon. Personally, I don't care for all the supernatural junk but as a holiday I've landed on Halloween as probably my favorite. It's got the least xian taint on it. People actually seem to have *fun* (yeah, there are some holdouts but overall it's not about being a patriot or a good xian ass kisser but just letting go and having a little fun). New Year's Eve is close but that's generally just getting liquored up which is a bit different. :)

 

I have heard of token atheists who were interviewed for shows on the History Channel whose statements were so edited that their final version seems to support the mythology as fact.

There's a mailing list I've hung out on that has actual Ph.D types on it. Guys that go out in the field and do various types of work (not just archaeology) and they pretty much refuse to go on any of these shows. The ones that have now demand a raw, uncut, copy of the interview so they can refute the final cut if need be and, since that's just a hassle, they just won't do it. There's really nothing in it for them. They have their career already. They're only helping the other people's careers and the end result isn't bringing anything worthwhile to the general public, as they hoped, so it's best to not do it.

 

They stopped doing the shows because even if the person making the actual show tries to guaranty it won't be changed there are too many people between them and what gets on the air for that to be the case. And channels like the History Channel will edit to suit their target audience (and in North America that is skewed xian). Every so often I'm surprised to see a "name brand" scholar on these shows (oh, and they do hate Mr. Naked Archaeologist if that makes you feel better...they're pleased that the whole Talpiot Tomb thing seems to have blown over).

 

And I know you don't care for theologians but people like Dr. Jim West are very intelligent and very level headed. He has a blog (jimwestblog? Google for it) and it's very good.

 

mwc

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Well a lot of history is just guess work and supposition. They have been doing a lot of biblical crap lately though.

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The History Channel sucks!It has lost all creditability with me.And not just because of

all the Bible-believe-it-or-not type of programs.They seemed to be obsessed with trivial

kinds of useless info shows about the creation of the Twinkie or how Taco Bell got

started or other nonsense.That with the pimping of the latest movies,disguised as some

form of asinine documentary really has turned me off to it. PBS is the only station that

has any real history programming it seems.

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I liked it better when it was the Nazi Channel. They should change the name now to Woo Tv.

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I second what mwc said. History contains facts, but said facts are not agreed upon and historical data are not verifiable in the way that science data generally are. Good historians will review and revise their thinking on a given historical event if and when new information comes to light, but history is not a science and never will be.

 

As far as the History Channel goes, I wouldn't trust it as anything other than shallow entertainment by now. I've always felt it was over-heavy on war history anyway, and while there has been the occasional nugget of good stuff in there (the Life After People series was pretty cool, for instance), it's hard to filter through the foofy stuff to find it. If I really want to know about some historical event, I'll go and read primary sources about it, and if I can't find those, I'll read secondary sources with solid academic credibility behind them.

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I second what mwc said. History contains facts, but said facts are not agreed upon and historical data are not verifiable in the way that science data generally are. Good historians will review and revise their thinking on a given historical event if and when new information comes to light, but history is not a science and never will be.

I wrote that history was like science. I suppose that I am suggesting that there is a difference between history and mythology, not that history is exacting or even as accurate as science by any stretch of the imagination.

 

I also think that many of the same strategies that are used in science are used in history, but the criteria will vary and the types of "data" are clearly different.

 

History, IMO, should at least correspond to reality.

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Doesn't the History Channel air that UFO hunters show? I watched it once On Demand and I couldn't believe how ridiculous it was. This one guy was claiming to have proven the existence of UFOs that time traveled into the ancient past of America and this other nutcase was claiming aliens were coming to Earth to steal gold to power their UFOs or something. Although I did enjoy The Clash Of The Gods series on Greek mythology.

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Yeah, we got rid of our cable a while back, but I don't miss the History Channel at all. Dad would sit there watching these things spouting off Bible stories as fact, but I found them just a smidgen offensive. The whole channel seems to be Christian propaganda and thinly-veiled movie ads these days. It's kind of a shame; there were some programs I really liked for a while there (a few episodes of Lost Worlds and Cities of the Underworld, and the occasional movie I liked on Fact vs Film), but even those got boring after I'd seen what I'm pretty sure was every episode of either one.

 

Oh, and skimming the website, it looks like they are doing some Halloween stuff soon.

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Doesn't the History Channel air that UFO hunters show? I watched it once On Demand and I couldn't believe how ridiculous it was. This one guy was claiming to have proven the existence of UFOs that time traveled into the ancient past of America and this other nutcase was claiming aliens were coming to Earth to steal gold to power their UFOs or something. Although I did enjoy The Clash Of The Gods series on Greek mythology.

I'm afraid it was the History Channel. They seriusly consider alien abduction without even a smile.

 

Other shows are good, but they seem to be getting harder to find. It's like they are going for broke for one segment of their viewing population. You'll notice that the religious channels don't have any evolution programs. Their market has been circumscribed by their content, and their content is being circumscribed by their market.

 

It's sad.

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Yeah, we got rid of our cable a while back, but I don't miss the History Channel at all. Dad would sit there watching these things spouting off Bible stories as fact, but I found them just a smidgen offensive. The whole channel seems to be Christian propaganda and thinly-veiled movie ads these days.

 

Even in The Clash Of The Gods series, in the episode on Hades, for some reason they felt the need to have a part where they talked about how Jesus was the first person to escape from Hades when Jesus had absolutely nothing at all to do with the rest of it.
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Jesus? If memory serves, there's at least one figure in Greek mythology that came back from there...but I only vaguely remember that class; I could be wrong.

 

EDIT: Oh, and, while the UFO stuff is bullshit, I have to admit I enjoy all that alien and Bigfoot and conspiracy nutball stuff. XD

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I tried watching the “Naked Archeologist” a couple of times but could never stomach it more than 15 minutes each time. I swear that man could pick up any rock in Israel and claim authoritatively some biblical reference to it. It was painful to watch.

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I tried watching the “Naked Archeologist” a couple of times but could never stomach it more than 15 minutes each time. I swear that man could pick up any rock in Israel and claim authoritatively some biblical reference to it. It was painful to watch.

As has been said about Simcha, he's neither naked nor an archaeologist.

 

The thing about him is he does manage to wiggle his way into places that others have not and so just press "mute" and watch all the places he manages to go that "normal" people general don't go into. I want to know how he managed to convince James Cameron to back that horrific Exodus Decoded? I wonder if there was any sort of "naked archaeology" involved? ;)

 

That's one reason I'll watch many of these shows. I like to see all the off-access places. I'll sit for two hours just to see that 10 second snippet that you can't normally see.

 

mwc

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I don't watch the History Channel much as all that has been on lately are shows about the history of organized crime. Last week it was the history of the Aryan Nation, and the week before it was either the Hell's Angels or Mexican mafia. Why would anyone give a shit about learning about the history of some crime conglomerate?

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Yeah, we got rid of our cable a while back, but I don't miss the History Channel at all. Dad would sit there watching these things spouting off Bible stories as fact, but I found them just a smidgen offensive. The whole channel seems to be Christian propaganda and thinly-veiled movie ads these days.

 

Even in The Clash Of The Gods series, in the episode on Hades, for some reason they felt the need to have a part where they talked about how Jesus was the first person to escape from Hades when Jesus had absolutely nothing at all to do with the rest of it.

 

I watched a few episodes of Clash of the Gods and couldn't really stand that the supposed clash is with one particular mythical god against the Christian god (Hades-Yahweh, Medusa-Yahweh, Zeus-Yahweh, etc.).

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I started a similar thread after visiting the US last year. The International History channel actually covers real history. The "History" channel, which most US cable users get unless they pay a premium, shows soap operas about truckers who drive on ice.

 

The conspiracy devil on my shoulder whispers this is all part of an organized effort to dumb down the nation. The rational angel on my other shoulder tells me I don't have enough evidence here to make the claim.

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I'll only care about the 'history' of 'Aryan Nation' when the final chapter can be written.

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I don't watch the History Channel much as all that has been on lately are shows about the history of organized crime. Last week it was the history of the Aryan Nation, and the week before it was either the Hell's Angels or Mexican mafia. Why would anyone give a shit about learning about the history of some crime conglomerate?

 

Because it's interesting as hell, and because myself and other people I grew up with have relatives (distant and/or near) who were involved in some of those groups. Mexican Mafia and various outlaw biker clubs, I mean.

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The conspiracy devil on my shoulder whispers this is all part of an organized effort to dumb down the nation. The rational angel on my other shoulder tells me I don't have enough evidence here to make the claim.

 

And then somewhere in between the two there's the 'common sense' devil, in the form of H.L. Mencken: "nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public."

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I've given up on the History Channel. When it's not showing yet another "Secret somethingorothers of WWII" it's showing craptastic pseudo-documentaries with one hook they tease you with until the last 30 seconds of an hour-long show. Was the holy grail in America? We'll spend 43 minutes dicking you around before we say, "probably not." Fuck you, History Channel.

 

But sadly this is what passes for history to most viewers, and they want more go-faster stripes and spooky music to keep them entertained.

 

The thing is, history isn't boring, but it does take some intellectual work to follow along with something that doesn't have an immediate "OMG" hook. But a good documentary can be entertaining, informative and break new ground. For example, on Knowledge Network I saw an excellent show last year about Michelangelo's tomb of Pope Julius, which, like a mystery show, carefully showed how the tomb was full of secret symbols and coded messages put there by Michelangelo because he was secretly part of a reformation movement which pre-dated the Reformation sparked by Martin Luther. It was excellent, and the evidence backed up the show's premise. But it didn't have any heavy metal music or reality show backstabbing, or fast cuts and slow-mo 300-style "historical re-enactments," so few history show fans have probably even seen it because I don't think it's been aired since.

 

Some of the stuff used to make history shows more sexy is fine, but it's overwhelming the actual historical content of the shows. I think we're caught in a cycle of dumbing-down, with these shows getting stupider because that's what producers think people want and people wanting more of these stupid shows because that's all they think there is.

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I used to like the Learning Channel- it was awesome when I was in high school. But over the past decade or so, it has slowly evolved into the Home Improvement Channel. Looks like the History Channel is undergoing 'mission creep', too. Yeah, I used to get bored with one WWII documentary after another- but that would be an improvement over what they play lately.

 

Though I will admit that I kinda like the Bigfoot shows.

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I've found the best way to watch the History Channel is to simply ignore it's name and think of it like any other cable/satellite network. If you can do that, it actually has quite a few fairly entertaining shows (ala the above-mentioned Bigfoot specials). None of which have anything really to do with history, natch, but what can ya' do.

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I've found the best way to watch the History Channel is to simply ignore it's name and think of it like any other cable/satellite network. If you can do that, it actually has quite a few fairly entertaining shows (ala the above-mentioned Bigfoot specials). None of which have anything really to do with history, natch, but what can ya' do.

Like how the Sci-Fi Channel doesn't air any actual sci-fi but you might get lucky with an episode of the occasional Battlestar Galactica and Stargate?
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