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Old 01 September 2007, 07:21 PM
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snopes snopes is offline
Join Date: 18 February 2000
Location: California
Posts: 109,655
Reading History: Fiction or Science?

Thorough research shows that there is literally no reliably datable information about events before the 8th century, and that there is only very scarce information originating from the 8th to the 10th century. As a matter of fact, most events of “Ancient” History took place from the 11th to the 16th century, were replicated on paper in 1400-1600 AD, and positioned under different labels in an imaginary past.
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Old 01 September 2007, 08:05 PM
Mycroft Mycroft is offline
Join Date: 29 January 2006
Location: Portsmouth, UK
Posts: 1,309

Well the Norman conquest was in 1066, and there are continuous governmental records for about 100 years before that in the UK; there may not be exact records for most localities but the general history is known and from other european records (notably papal) the dating can by directly linked to Roman and Greek chronologies (of course Rome didn't use our dating, but they had records dating back hundreds of years). Exact datings in the UK between around 400AD and 900AD are imprecise at best, and rely on corroboration with 'missionary' records, but just because the original manuscripts have not survived does not mean the copies are not reliable.
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Old 01 September 2007, 09:09 PM
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Silas Sparkhammer Silas Sparkhammer is offline
Join Date: 22 September 2000
Location: San Diego, CA
Posts: 26,843

As with so many principles, the "weak" form is of great interest...and the "strong" form is just plain stupid.

The weak indictment of "history" is valid on a lot of grounds. The bias of the observers (seen in some histories of ancient Rome, and in many histories of, say, Vietnam) is a key one. The "victor effect" is an empowered version of this: ain't no Carthaginians left to write their side of the Punic Wars, eh? There is the "second hand" effect, where news gets garbled in the re-telling. There are lots and lots of obstacles to "objective" history. And, worst of all, we have to cope with deliberate fraud, such as the Hitler Diaries.

However, the extremist view that "it's all just fiction" is so repugnant, so asinine, and so effing insulting that it deserves more than a rebuttal: it deserves a rebuttal with raspberries.

Silas (and I have an poem by Ossian that backs me up!)
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Old 01 September 2007, 11:07 PM
Mycroft Mycroft is offline
Join Date: 29 January 2006
Location: Portsmouth, UK
Posts: 1,309

Unfortunately you can claim just about anything, as most records of the time only list what is important to them (try writing all your posts in long hand with a quill pen and you'll soon start leaving stuff out).

For example locally for the Black Death the only records we have for the general population is the Diocesan Pipe Rolls, which basically only list church income. One source for income is a tax paid each time a house was inherited, unfortunaely they only give the number of houses inherited, not which house or by whom, so we know that in one year the number of houses inherited was the same as the number of houses in the village, but we don't know whether each house had one owner die, or if some changed hands more than once (and of course we don't know how many how many people died or what proportion of the population.)
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