May 9th, 2007


Stratigraphy of History

From Jamestown at 400: Caught Between a Rock and a Slippery Slope, an article critiquing accounts of the 400th Anniversary of Jamestown (mostly sloppy).

Stratigraphy of History

Era of Anniversary Marketing

  • Rock music revelry is preferred over rock solid pedagogy
  • Museums prosper while most schools are left behind
  • Visual displays are more "fun" than reading books

Era of Apology and Political Correctness

  • Official rhetoric of remorse merges PC with PR
  • "Commemoration" is preferable to "Celebration"
  • Victimology perpetuates ethnic bias in reverse
  • Conflicts between knowledge and belief

Period of Proliferating Mis-Information

  • History scandals of plagiarism, fraud, and lies
  • History Channel "video games" play with accuracy
  • World Wide Web disseminates endless errors
  • Wikipedia Syndrome privileges amateurs over academics
  • Harry Potter Syndrome equates profits with "greatness"
  • Mega-publishers more prefer marketing over fact-checking

Period of Educational Decline

  • Only journalists and amateur historians can engage the public
  • The Academy and the Society engage in cyclical dumbing down
  • Each generation demands less knowledge of the next one
  • Grade inflation favors self-esteem over criticism

Age of Mythical Romanticism: Lies Feel Good

  • Great White Fathers rule, now as then
  • Triumphalism is our Manifest Destiny
  • Delusional propaganda is patriotic