We live in a wonderful age, where information on nearly every subject is immediately at our fingertips. We need not go to a library, nor search dank, dusty bookstores in remote cities to do our research. It is all right on our computer screen for us to peruse and present in our writings. It seems like every book ever written is now available in one electronic format or another, and the information we receive simply must be true! After all, why would someone go through the bother of transforming ancient texts into electronic format just to change the content into something it never was?
Unfortunately, unless you have first hand experience, there is literally no way of proving or disproving anything in print. Every written word, every documented fact, every picture is subject to manipulation by those who wish to present a differing view of history. Even personal memories of events in the past can be changed by subliminal manipulation. Any police officer can tell you of the difficulties of getting factual information from witnesses of a crime.
There is one way of getting close to the truth of what happened in an event that happened long ago. That way is by having a mountainous list of sources of information on each item presented. If a book has a very large bibliography, it can be assumed that the information contained in the book is factual, except, — It would be very easy to take points of information out of context, or to eliminate important factual information that might actually disprove a point made in the book. Besides this, the larger the bibliography, the less likely will be that the reader will spend the time researching each note in the related source.
There is one other point to be made about fact. Each and every word ever written has been written in the past, and is therefore susceptible to modification, corruption (due to natural forces) or outright elimination. Many of the most complete and historically important libraries have been totally destroyed. This information, which could shed valuable information on our ancestors, is no longer available to us. The library of Alexandria had information about tools and inventions by geniuses long dead that is hidden from us. The Germans publicly burned many thousands of books they deemed subversive or of no particular use to the Reich. How much has been lost?
George Orwell wrote a book titled “1984”, which told of a futuristic society that was controlled by a government which actively rewrote history. They even invented new words to be spoken and banned other words. “Newspeak” was the catchword for their rewriting of the dictionary. Incidentally, we can see evidence of this same habit today. Many words spoken today meant entirely different things just a few short decades ago.
Fact or Fiction? Who knows? Flip a coin and decide for yourself. Every lie you hear could be the truth, and every true statement could be a lie. Everything is subjective. Who knows for sure, and on what source do you place your opinion?
Follow retired Navy Veteran, @Quiet_John_47 on Twitter.