Pseudohistory

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Fiction over fact

Pseudohistory

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Pseudohistory covers a variety of theories that do not agree with the view of history that is commonly accepted by mainstream historians, which are often not properly researched, peer-reviewed, or supported by the usual historiographical methods. One of the primary examples of pseudohistory is Holocaust denial, but many types of conspiracy theories are also properly classed as pseudohistory.

One of the characteristics distinguishing pseudohistory from history is shared with other forms of pseudo-scholarship: the choice of medium. Normal scholarly debate, including legitimate historical revisionism, is conducted in specialized publications such as journals. Many pseudohistorians jump that step and directly publish their claims in a popular format, in books and articles aimed at the non-specialist general public that can not effectively evaluate their plausibility.

Though "real" history has many gaps and plausible assumptions are sometimes necessary, the historians behind it seek the truth and honest mistakes can be made. Pseudohistory is the work of intentional revisionism or deluded attempts to desperately prop up beliefs. This isn't to say different presumptions of history are unreasonable given ambiguous findings, but reasonable historians don't try to shoehorn their agenda into the past. Honest historical research tries to find the blanks that need to be filled in. Pseudohistory treats past events like Mad Libs.

[edit] Challenge to mainstream history

Pseudohistory presents many of the same challenges to mainstream academic history as pseudoscience does to science, but with certain significant differences. The most important difference is that history is an academic discipline, rather than a scientific one. This means that mainstream history is very dependent on a set of shared ethical academic standards and methods, and on peer review.

However, supporters of pseudohistorical theories often specifically deny the validity of these mainstream standards and methods, and denounce the peer review process as prejudiced towards the academic establishment, attempting instead to gain popular appeal. This lack of common ground can often make it difficult for mainstream historians to refute the pseudohistorical theories.

Pseudohistory is often born out of a desire to achieve a particular, predetermined result—often to justify some present day action. Holocaust denial specifically aids in the defense of Neo-Nazism while alternative chronologies almost invariably are used to make a country or nation more prominent or powerful in history.

[edit] In conjunction with other pseudo-disciplines

Pseudohistory is often combined with pseudoarchaeology, as coupled with belief in alleged ancient civilizations such as Atlantis, or with the teachings of New Age sources such as Ramtha or the Urantia Book, claiming historical events and timelines which did not actually happen. "Ramtha", for example, is a channelled being who claims to have led a conquering army over 2/3 of the earth 35,000 years ago. National mysticism is the combination of pseudohistory and pseudoarchaeology with an alleged history of a particular racial or national group, claiming an ancient and sometimes supernatural origin of a modern people (perhaps linked with claims to a modern homeland) unsupportable by genuine history. Some esoteric Hitler admirers hold to such beliefs claiming an ancient Atlantean origin of the "Aryan" people. Some of the actual Nazis dabbled in such beliefs as well, as seen with the SS Cult of Thule (Thule being a land in Nordic myth with similarity to Atlantis). Another example of the conflation of pseudohistory with mysticism is the historical claims in the Book of Mormon that the Native Americans are descended from a family of Israelites who migrated to the Americas during Old Testament times. Some Baptists, mostly Independent Baptists, hold to a pseudohistorical myth of Baptist successionism claiming a direct line of Baptists back to the first century Christian church.

[edit] See also

Articles on RationalWiki related to pseudo-studies
Pseudoarchaeology - Pseudohistory - Pseudolaw - Pseudolinguistics - Pseudomathematics - Pseudoscience - Pseudopsychology - Pseudoscience list - Pseudoscience in advertising - Pseudoskepticism - Pseudovitamin
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