Errors in Studying History

WhatsApp Image 2019-02-25 at 13.16.14There are many things to keep in mind when one is a student of history. The most important feature that one needs is an open mind. Unfortunately, that seems to be the least common attribute that any academic has this day and age. The prevalent misconception is that either you are open minded and thus naive, or you are skeptical and thus intelligent and knowledgeable. This is a flawed sentiment, for having an open mind allows you to, without bias, observe and analyze an idea, thought, theory solely on its merit, and you can do this logically and rationally and critically. In academic circles, where skepticism is a requirement, it is both the PC label for close minded and the scholarly equivalent of double-dog dare daring them to not only prove their idea, but to prove it beyond your own personal biases and dogmas, usually an impossible feat indeed.

neanderthal nikola solicOur ancestors have left us with a plethora of clues about themselves that we need only unravel. However, in order to accurately and successfully accomplish re-constructing our past we have to stop using our measures to judge. In keeping with the thought that Neanderthals have been completely given the total short end of the stick and made out in our history and science books to be big dumb brutes I want to point out how such misconceptions are so easily made and propagated.

UN Delegate CollageEgocentric eyes need to be refocused into wondering and curious eyes that are open to ALL possibilities. Man today is not better and more advanced, man today is different from man of other times. The whole world is different therefore everything about our worlds differs. One need only look at all the differences among all the peoples that live in our time to see this for themselves. One of the most despicable and deplorable things that an academic can do is to judge their area of study against themselves or their standards. Just because you drive a sports car and live in a high-rise and some other person walks and lives on a covered platform with open walls does not make you advanced and them barbaric or savage.

Double Headed from ColumbiaThe same can be applied to history, just because a culture didn’t have the wheel does not mean they were mentally inferior, that they were not ‘smart enough’ to invent it, it simply means in most cases, they had not developed a reason for using it. As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of all invention; another words if you do not have need of the wheel you will not invent it. For example, the South American cultures, of which the Inca are the most famous, did not have the wheel, however, their gold smelting and smithing quality was better than what our so advanced societies accomplish today with all our technologies. And academics still consider the Inca’s to be a less advanced society, our less advanced selves 500 years ago labeled them as savages and deemed them not much better than slaves and forced labor sources.

Gilgamesh-tablet-flood via englishare netAnother egocentric method that we use in demeaning our ancestors is to judge those that had written documents based on our own perceptions of reality and fact and fiction. We read their stories and history and at best only accept those things that our narrow view of life can understand, the rest we call myths and tales and fiction. So inept are academics at having open minds in this area that the same piece of writing can be used to support our “facts and truths” while also proving what “fiction” writers the people were. And if a culture didn’t have a writing system especially one understood today then they are considered even more uncivilized.

Moving further back in time when ‘judged’ by today’s experts, those peoples that look different from us, well they are not even human, or at best they were sub-human predecessors to our totally modern human selves of today. The attitude that we are the perfection of the animal world and of the long line of peoples that have lived on this wonderful planet is the most arrogant and ignorant point of view that blocks our ability to fully understand our past and marvel in the amazement of our ancestors.

consequences-of-evolution-631Neanderthal should not be considered brutish cause of their physical features, just as they should not be considered stupid cause to the best of our knowledge they lived in existing caves. And they should not be considered uncivilized because they did not, to our knowledge have language, oral or written.

If we could teach the next generation of academics to study out of love of curiosity with open minds and child like enthusiasm, we will be amazed at how wonderful and rich our pre-history past was and will have to rewrite much grander tomes on our journey through time on the 3rd rock from the Sun.

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