Deciphering the Fallacies of History

Most people love stories. Epic stories of Odysseus, cruel stories of King Henry XIII, and heroic stories of Paul Revere all capture our imagination. Fascinated with stories from the past, history professor Carl Trueman has released his book Histories and Fallacies to explore the writing of history and the common perils that befall it.

There is an old adage among historians that no event in history is so certain that, sooner or later, someone won't come along and deny that it happened. Deniers of the Holocaust or the death of Elvis Presley are prime examples of this. False histories like these, along with less outrageous ones, inspired Trueman to examine the penning of history and the common foibles that go into it. Issues that plague the writing of history include:

  • Objectivity: personal and cultural influences result in different historical conclusions (e.g., Holocaust denial)

  • Interpretive Frameworks: philosophical or ideological influences (e.g., a Marxist worldview)

  • Anachronism: imposing modern issues and ideas on events of the past

  • Fallacies: unintentional mistakes made by historians

Frustrated by the plethora of historical theory and lack of actual writing of history on the part of historians, Trueman strives to make readers aware of the role they themselves play in the writing of history and the common mistakes to avoid.

Learn more about Histories and Fallacies.

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