Whether we want to admit it or not, public historians compete with pseudohistory online. Fantasies about the past have always been with us, but now they proliferate as never before. Sometimes harmless, sometimes deeply hateful, how can historians help our audiences develop the historical thinking skills to differentiate real history from the bogus? That will be our topic this week.
To begin, have a look through the OWL folder for readings from Ronald Fritz and Garret Fagan on defining and diagnosing pseudohistory and pseudo-archaeology. Then consider Culloty and Suiter on the explosion of disinformation online.
Here is just one example of the sort false history that proliferates online and through social media. Older historical distortions such as the Clean Wehrmacht myth and the Black Confederates have found a new life online as well. Have a look at the new OWL folder for more on these topics.
Some adjacent topics:
- Errol Morris from 2008 on Photoshop and history: “Photography as a Weapon”
- Maryanne Garry and Matthew Gerrie, “When Photographs Create False Memories”
- What happens when history students deliberately make up history?
What sorts of fake, manipulated, or pseudohistory have you encountered? Why do people want to believe some of these things? What do (or can) we as public historians do about it?