General Question

ibstubro's avatar

Can history be changed?

Asked by ibstubro (18804points) June 1st, 2014
21 responses
“Great Question” (2points)

Reference this.

Can history be changed by pretending that it didn’t exist?

If we have systemic propaganda long enough, does it change our history?

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jca's avatar

I don’t think the reality can be changed, but if the players die off and there’s no written record, then the results can be forgotten or altered in the retelling.

jca (36059points)“Great Answer” (3points)
Mimishu1995's avatar

Yes, artificially.

China has managed to do it, in many ways.

zenvelo's avatar

History gets rewritten all the time.

Seek's avatar


This is a serious “perception is reality” issue. Our history is only what we believe it to be, because we have no way of perceiving it first-hand.

Because of constant spreading of bad information, people think Napoleon was a dwarf, Ireland was ruled by Druids, and Christopher Colombus discovered America.

And that’s just lies we know about.

BeenThereSaidThat's avatar

so much of what is in the History Books that are in our schools are revised history by writers with an agenda. Even in my own life time I have seen (what I have lived through) in my own years on earth twisted. I remember what REALLY happened. I am not a young kid by any means, I’ve lived through a lot of “so called” history.

El_Cadejo's avatar

No, what happened, happened. People spreading propaganda can change our memories of the events or how we perceive them, but at the end of the day, X event still happened on Y day.

josie's avatar

Changed no
Forgotten, ignored or denied yes

bolwerk's avatar

History is all interpretation. It’s about interpretation. It’s not even meant to be taken literally. Recorded events may be factual (e.g., a certain battle on a certain date), but history is a narrative.

Pachy's avatar

Politicians and Fox News do it every day.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

@Pachy You beat me to it.

It’s called revisionism.

Winston Smith, the protagonist in Eric Blair’s book, 1984, was employed at the Ministry of Truth as a professional revisionist, a minor functionary working in the national biblioteque archives. It was his job to change history to show consistency with whatever lies were being told to the citizens of the present government. He get a list of new changes every morning and set to work expunging and rewriting. He was a very, very busy little bureaucrat. But then he got a conscience…

Darth_Algar's avatar

He who controls the present controls the past. He who controls the past controls the future.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Perception is everything. If you can arrive at a population the majority of which knows little or nothing about History, you’re free to distort or ignore whichever facts you choose. The wars in both Iraq and Vietnam would have been politically impossible if one person in 1000 in this country had even a vague knowledge of either place prior to the conflicts we initiated.

zainety's avatar

No it can’t be what happened in the past led to what we have today. Which is where the saying ” history will repeat itself” comes from

antimatter's avatar

History belongs to the victor…In South Africa almost half of the history from the past was now rewritten and in some schools old South African history had been removed.

zainety's avatar

@antimatter, yes the past does belong to the victor which is exactly why we have the country that we know today

ibstubro's avatar

I think “History belongs to the victor” is a quote worthy of Churchill.

Bravo, @antimatter.

stanleybmanly's avatar

I think the exact quote is “History is written by the victors”

LostInParadise's avatar

History, at both the personal and collective level, is altered all the time. For example, eyewitnesses of a crime, having the best of intentions, will give different accounts. Without intending to, we alter our personal histories to make them more dramatic, to align with our prejudices and to cover up our weaknesses.

At the collective level, which historical events are worth considering and how they are interpreted is always filtered by our present views.

ibstubro's avatar

Well spoken, @LostInParadise.

Strauss's avatar

If you want one nice, “one size fits all” historiographic model that is a good starting point to examine the individual writer’s bias, it is that history is not written by winners, but by writers. For most of history the writers came from a distinct social class, not necessarily at the economic and political top, but far from the bottom. They were also highly educated and thus concerned with the preoccupations of the highly educated in that particular society.

That being said, I have experienced something similar to what @BeenThereSaidThat has posted. I have seen “historical events” cited that do not reflect my memory of that particular event. I have also seen history as I learned it, being revised.

For example: What happened at The Alamo in 1836, and why? When I was in grammar school, I learned it was a group of citizens of the Republic of Texas defending themselves against an incursion by the Mexican army. Another version would have one believe it was Mexico trying to prevent American settlers from forming a break-away government in a Mexican territory.

Darth_Algar's avatar


Another example is that the Alamo is often painted as a brave, heroic last stand. In reality the men there threw their lives away by foolishly taking on superior force from an indefensible position over a strategically insignificant strip of land.

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