Image by Jackie Ramirez from Pixabay

If there's one thing we can rely on history for it's that it never changes.

At least that's what we'd like to say. History has a funny way of being understood one way for some while being misunderstood for others. You'd think it be so easy to just write down what happen as fact, and then it never changes for all time. Somewhere in the retelling of historical facts can get changed, meanings can get shifted, and before you know it, you have people who think America won the Vietnam War. Reddit user, u/Ok-Lingonberry-2079, wanted to know what's often misunderstood about history when they asked:
What historical inaccuracies are still taught?

Let's get the basics out of the way, the things we were most likely taught in school by teachers who perhaps didn't have access to a real history book.

Not Short At All

"That Napoleon was very short."

"He was slightly taller than an average Frenchman of his time. Around 168-170 cm."

"It was English propaganda. He was also often surrounded by his Imperial Guard who used to be a lot taller.

"Still, alot shorter than average Europeans these days."


Count 'Em

"My mother and all her siblings were taught at a Catholic school that [men] have one less rib than [women] and that's to origin of the Adam and Eve story. Completely untrue. Men and women have the same number of ribs."


Did He Even Sail The Ocean Blue?! These Are The Questions.

"I don't know if it's still taught, but I know that a commonly held belief is that the whole world thought that the Earth was flat except for Columbus. In actuality it was well known that the Earth was round as early as the 6th century BC."


"Yep. Columbus's actual big innovation was that he believed the circumference of the Earth was smaller than was generally believed at the time."

"It turned out that he was absolutely wrong about that, but luckily for him he ran into a whole unexpected continent that was sitting right in the middle of his route, because otherwise his miscalculation would have meant he was super screwed."


Sometimes, history changes because we don't want to know the truth. The story behind the fact is a lot more fascinating to hear and easier to swallow.

They All Knew

"There's definitely this thought process that normal Germans (and Poles, Austrians, Hungarians, etc) didn't know about the camps at all during the holocaust that gets pushed as fact in schools, which is bullsh*t. The concept of the goings-on at a KZ was absolutely something people knew. When my grandfather was growing up it was normal to 'hire' people from Dachau satellite camps to build fences or work in fields or whatever. T

he industrialization process and scale of it was news to them, for sure, but if something happened to you and you were sent to a KZ, everyone knew it was a death sentence, and you were going to be forced into labor until you died. By the time 1944 rolled around they were pretty aware of the gas chambers too, though most people didn't believe it."


Losing The Most

"In New Zealand, they sometimes seem to be taught that they had the highest casualty rate in both World Wars. I worked with a New Zealander who got genuinely angry when I said that it wasn't even close to being true. I put it down to him being misinformed, but then I saw another NZer making the same claim on the Guardian website."


"They got confused.. They had the highest rate of deaths per 1 million people in the commonwealth (not the world)"

"Post-war calculations indicated that New Zealand's ratio of killed per million of population (at 6684) was the highest in the Commonwealth (with Britain at 5123 and Australia, 3232).


He Was A Regular Einstein

"Albert Einstein didnt fail his classes.. He succeeded very well."


"Sometimes it's repeated by adults trying to uplift younger kids who struggle in school. 3rd grader having trouble with long division and is crying because he thinks he's stupid? "Aw, don't worry, even Einstein failed math. Math is hard. You're smart you just need to keep at it." The "keep at it" part being the point (because in this legend, Einstein eventually stopped being bad at math)."

"But yes, that is something that older kids take and run with to argue that their crap grades are in fact evidence that they are brilliant geniuses, and it's the school's fault for not challenging their genius."


If there's one thing Americans know, it's their own history.


Exploiting A Workforce? America? Really?!

"No so much inaccurate but heavily downplayed. The American labor movement from 1880 - 1920's was so bloody that my Anthropology professor referred to it as the second civil war."


"The Battle of Blair Mountain, over 1,000,000 rounds were fired in a battle with workers who'd been fed up with 14 hour days in coal mines and living in tents and being brutalized by "private investigators," thugs hired the Capitalists."

"lots of good music came from it too. The IWW, communist Party, socialist party, and so on feature heavily here."

"The National Guard was called in by the Capitalists, who shot or imprisoned anyone who didn't immediately get back in the mines."


America Failed Longer Than We Thought

"The Vietnam War started in the mid-sixties when it started in the fifties."


"And lasted into the 70s. Good God, that was a disaster."


"Some misinformed people still teach that the USA did not lose the war (by using the red herring of a slow withdrawal) when in reality North Vietnam succeeded in their goal of kicking out the occupying foreigners and reunifying Vietnam."


Maybe The People Shooting Off Fireworks Early Have A Point

"The Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776. No, it was signed on July 2, it wasn't announced until July 4 but regardless even Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, and others, wrote that they expected July 2 would be the date that would be celebrated with great festivities."

"That got lost to history."


The Wild West Is A Lie

"I don't think it's taught but the general American seem to believe that cowboys were mostly White people. When in actuality it was Mexicans and even Black people after they were freed. It was considered a lowly position in the Wild West. If a cowboy was White, he was a very poor White."

"White people were on the frontier farming and such. Asians (the Chinese) did laundry and were cooks. That's where a lot of Chinese-American foods originated from."

"People also seem to forget that this time period, which was maybe only 30-50 years, had three pinnacle events unfold in US history—the Transcontinental Railroad was completed, The Chinese Exclusion Act went into law, and slavery was abolished. I may be wrong but I believe in that order too."


Double check your sources. Use more than one resource. Try to look for the bias in writing. There's lots of ways to learn about history. Don't always accept the first story being told because it's easier to accept.

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