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1 Jayleia  May 23, 2014 2:31:49pm
It is how Fox TV managed to convince a significant percentage of Americans that the Moon landings never happened.

Wait what? They did WHAT?!

I don’t think I want to see evidence

*searches*

Image: giphy.gif

2 Shiplord Kirel  May 23, 2014 4:35:08pm

re: #1 Jayleia

Wait what? They did WHAT?!

I don’t think I want to see evidence

*searches*

Image: giphy.gif

The whole grisly story, with rebuttal by Phil Plait:
Fox TV and the Apollo Moon Hoax

3 freetoken  May 24, 2014 2:28:09am

An important point but I think the author is too selective in his examples.

Even when he brings this up:

For educational malfeasance this year, look to the assignment given eighth graders in the Rialto, Calif., school district. Students were asked to consider whether the Holocaust was created for political gain or didn’t happen at all — a bit of homework the Simon Wiesenthal Center called “grotesque.”

I still don’t see why it is “educational malfeasance”. Making students dissect an assertion is a very important pedagogical goal.

There is a bigger issue here too - what is “history”? The author makes it sound like some objective quantity that we can measure, such as the mass of the Moon. But history is no such thing.

4 Jayleia  May 24, 2014 5:13:46am

re: #3 freetoken

I do, for some students, they’ll go looking for evidence for or against…and while the holocaust hoax is laughably stupid, eighth graders are at an age where they are more easily convinced of laughably stupid things. And the hoaxmongers can be very convincing, mainly by being more unreasonable than the rational people.

And while much of history is very subjective, much of it is as objective as math or physics.

5 Ding-an-sich Wannabe  May 24, 2014 5:25:18am

re: #3 freetoken

I still don’t see why it is “educational malfeasance”. Making students dissect an assertion is a very important pedagogical goal

Why do you think they would all be dissecting the “Holocaust is a hoax”, rather than (some of them) finding arguments for it? Some denier arguments can be hard to dissect even for adult non-specialists, much less kids not trained in interpretation of historical evidence or scientific-sounding gobbledygook. This may be a task for uni history students, but not for kids unless the parameters are very clearly set (“take this denier claim, compare it to this piece of evidence”).

6 team_fukit  May 24, 2014 7:05:35am

The study of history is an art of interpretation but still uses tried methods, peer review, and a logical rendering of available evidence to produce conclusions that can explain causality and change over time. It’s not like physics but that doesn’t mean it’s lesser, subjective, or unscientific.

7 team_fukit  May 24, 2014 7:41:04am

I agree with the general sentiment in this article, but the author should have noted that history is most often rendered by the American laity as a “usable past” that serves political agendas. That’s what “history” has always been to the American public. Since the 1960s, though, professional historians have tried to turn away from the political to get more at understanding everyday life in the past and the structure of social/cultural complexes. Around the same time, most historians-in-training turned politically to the New Left. These changes in focus, method and alignment by historians - who were already perceived as ivory tower elites - further separated them and their knowledge from the public (when was the last time a professional historian was actually “famous” in the US? Hofstadter?).

In addition, it’s not politically expedient for the powers that be for historians to teach about topics like US labor history or the history of civil rights. So high school teachers (many of whom only have an undergraduate degree in history or education) are taught not to be controversial, paying lip service while diminishing the historical need for those events. Conservative school boards in places like Texas also gut the history books so you know all about Martin Luther King’s and Rosa Parks’ hagiography but are left with no knowledge of people like Bayard Rustin, A. Phillip Randolph, or even Emmet Till.

One of my jobs now is to teach history to college freshmen at a very small university that specializes in fashion design (I’m finishing my Ph.D. in US history next year and hopefully moving on to teach at a better spot). It’s true that hardly any of them find “civics” exciting, but you can get some of them (maybe 20%) interested by taking a revisionist “everything you learned in high school was crap” approach, the rest only seem to care what happened on reality TV last night… sad state all around for US history education.

sorry for rant.


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