There is no RationalWiki without you. We are a small non-profit with no staff – we are hundreds of volunteers who document pseudoscience and crankery around the world every day. We will never allow ads because we must remain independent. We cannot rely on big donors with corresponding big agendas. We are not the largest website around, but we believe we play an important role in defending truth and objectivity.
If everyone who saw this today donated $5, we would meet our goal for 2021.
| Fighting pseudoscience isn't free.|
We are 100% user-supported! Help and donate $5, $20 or whatever you can today with !
| Fiction over fact|
|How it didn't happen|
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 cannot 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.
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 claims.
Pseudohistory is often born out of a desire to achieve a particular, predetermined result—often to justify some present-day action or agenda. Holocaust denial specifically aids in the defense of Neo-Nazism, while more generally nationalist pseudohistory uses alternative chronologies to make a country or nation more prominent or powerful in history or to accentuate victimhood to promote a nationalist cause.
In conjunction with other pseudo-disciplines
Pseudohistory often joins forces with pseudoarchaeology - as coupled either 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 occurred 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 combines 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, and in the early days of German National Socialism, various Nazis were either members or invited to meeting of the Thule Society (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 (published 1830) 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. Biblical literalists, confusing myth and legend with verifiable historical events, tend to use collections of ancient tales and prophecies as an alleged primary-source key to calibrating historical timelines and to inventing historical/theological periodizations.
- Alternate historical chronology
- Ancient Aliens
- Conspiracy theory
- Flat Earth
- Historical revisionism
- Holocaust denial
- Holy Blood, Holy Grail
- "Irish slaves"
- National mysticism
- Nationalism in history textbooks
- Nationalist pseudohistory
- Phantom island
- Pre-Columbian contact
- The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion
- Rapa Nui
- Ben Shapiro
- Venetic theory
- Young earth creationism