Previously we talked about how personal short comings with academics can impact interpretation of history and historical evidence, especially in regard to archaeology and anthropology, in uncovering our past. Today lets look at how simple words can be used to either support erroneous fact or facts that are ignored because of the words that describe them. There are several factors that can lead to words being ignored or used to support incomplete or even wrong facts. The least of which is modern experts own contextual basis, to incomplete or wrong interpretation of the ancient source. The incomplete or wrong interpretation is usually due to the fact that today’s experts tend to blindly accept previous findings as fact without truly following the logic and standard of scrutiny that is supposed to be employed to validate one’s hypothesis to ensure the most accurate theories that facts can support are presented to the academic world and then to the public. At this point, I do want to point out that I am not initiating an across the board slamming of the experts. In some cases, the conclusions that were drawn, at certain times in the past, were logical and rational considering the information that was present at that time and the knowledge of the individual student; however, the more we study and the more we progress in the area of science and research and knowledge it is very clear that old theories need to re-examined with the addition of new information and new techniques and tests. The fact that most academics do not want to re-evaluate old ‘fact’ in the light of new ideas, technology and information is cowardly and ignorant. The pursuit of knowledge and truth have no room for ego, bias and arrogance; unfortunately, it is those very traits that seem to dominate in the world of academics.
Focusing on our specific topic for today, lets look at how words can affect the focus and conclusion of studies made. One of the primary words that instantly causes most experts to discount a story or label it as myth, lore, legend, or fiction is for Gods to be named. I think it would be much more prudent and certainly much more open minded to exchange the word ‘God(s)’ in our academic vocabulary to ‘extraordinary being’. Once a story of a culture names Gods then it is reduced to merely myth and only looked at as a fanciful story or religious dogma, instead of given its due measure as history. There are grand accounts in many cultures that recite the histories from the time of Gods to the time of ‘historically accepted’ man. Ironically, the experts in the same breath discount the parts of the story that speak of the Gods and accept as fact the parts of the story that are about their ‘historically accepted’ men. This is where being over literal can close your mind to nuggets of knowledge laid right before you if you only look with open minds.
There are stories found in many different cultures that speak of persons or peoples that the experts discount as being fiction. Instead having the openness of “I can believe in anything, until I have proof it doesn’t exist” most academics believe in nothing until you prove it exists. This seems naturally counter intuitive to human nature and counter productive to academic pursuit. Most academics would say in order to have a scientific mind one has to be skeptical. There is a huge difference between being skeptical and being a brick wall with no doors or windows. It is very possible to use and achieve scientific procedure while having an open mind. Having an open mind does not influence observation or conclusion as much as having a closed mind does. Matter of fact, an open mind is actually much more conducive to the scientific process than a closed one. If your mind is open then you are much more willing to accept whatever conclusion the facts suggest, whereas if you have a closed mind you have already limited yourself to the conclusions that you are capable of accepting.
Here is an example of how having an open mind can be beneficial in using ‘fiction’ to help find history. Homer’s Iliad tells a tale of war over love with all the great ingredients of the epic tale, including Gods and heroes and demi-gods and monsters and beasts. All the ‘experts’ said there are no such things as Gods and demi-gods and monsters and beasts and even heroes the likes of Homer’s imagination, thus it is all fiction. Yet, Mr. Schliemann went against the mainstream, he studied the details that Homer gave in his epic poem and in 1873 he was rewarded with the find of a lifetime, by most accounts, the “fictional city” of Troy, in real life stone and dirt. See Mr. Schliemann chose to look past the words and find the heart of the story and gave us another lovely and wonderful piece of our past.
The experts discount stories of dragons and giants and dwarfs and elves and little people. Those things don’t exist. Why? Cause dragons and giants have not beaten the experts on the head and why should they? Why should anyone whom is considered less that equal beat another over the head merely to prove they exist? It is not the “fictional” creature that is missing out, it is the absolute doubter. I think that the ‘experts’ should take a step back and be logical and rational about the stories that our ancestors gifted us with and treat them as the gifts that they are. Just because something was either never written down or only written down after many hundreds of years does not mean that it is not valuable or that it cannot teach us more than morals. Don’t get so hung up on words, think about this….if you are 5 foot tall then a person that is 7 foot tall is a giant to you and you are a dwarf or little person to them. We have persons of both heights living today, will the ‘experts’ of the future for sure find the remains of both to prove our giants and little people real? We cannot say yes, you can say, we have our history of words and pictures to ‘prove’ it. Really? Did not our ancestors leave us pictures and words that today as ‘experts’ you call them fiction? So what is to say that tomorrow’s experts will not call your histories and pictures ‘fiction’ as well?
Maybe instead of judging our past by your standard you should judge it based on how you want to be judged by our future.