One of the reasons I study history is to try and correct all the ridiculous misconceptions people have about various things, and it can be a wholly frustrating task. Not only do I have to deal with outright ignorance ("The Earl of Sandwich? That's not a person, you're a liar"), and terrible mistakes made by the education system ("Christopher Columbus set out to prove the world was round because everyone else thought it was flat"), but now I also have to contend with immoral and unscrupulous authors who intentionally manipulate the historical evidence for the purposes of propaganda (yes Hitchens and Dawkins, I'm talking about you two).
Sometimes I get the urge to go crazy on people...I just CANNOT tolerate willful stupidity, nor should I, or any other sane person, be expected to. Here is a conversation I had with a man at work the other day. I found him in the Religion section, and he started talking about how much he loved "The God Delusion", and "God is not Great", two of the most a-historical books ever published (after "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" of course).
Guy: Those books were great, they really opened my mind to new things. Now I don't just
accept what people tell me.
Me: Yeah, I hear they're good. My only problem with them is that neither of the authors are
good historians (Dawkins is a scientist and Hitchens is a philosopher I believe), and they get
a bunch of their facts wrong.
Guy: Like what?
Me: Well, for example, the Inquisition. Opponents of religion tend to claim that the Inquisition
killed all sorts of people, but that just wasn't the case.
Guy: Well, it was.
Me: No, it wasn't. The Holy Office of the Inquisition has executed less that 150 people since its
inception in the 1200s. Conversely, independent Protestant "Inquisitors" in Northern
Europe killed close to 80,000 people (though that estimate is considered low by most
experts), and the Spanish Inquisition was a state run organization, not a church run one.
Guy: See, this is what you religious people do, you delude yourselves about things.
Me: No, I did the research. I am trained to do proper research, and that's what I did.
Guy: No, you're deluded.
Me: Wait...didn't you tell me you don't just believe things people tell you any more?
Um...maybe you shouldn't just believe what Dawkins and Hitchens say about subjects they
have no experience in.
Guy: Sorry man, but you're just wrong. You religious people are just wrong.
Ok, so tell me why the state won't allow violence when one has been unbearably provoked? Please people, PLEASE, don't talk knowingly about something you don't know, and then deny actual facts discovered through real research. These atheists are getting worse than the Creationists...So please, the next time you meet a poor historian who is just trying to help society by giving it a clear picture of it's past, don't argue with him (it may be politically correct for me to add "or her", but I'm actually referring only to myself here), listen, because maybe you just might learn something. Please attack stupidity wherever you find it. Ciao.