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Is there a name for this historical fallacy?

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Bobster
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Is there a name for this historical fallacy?

Post by Bobster » October 27th, 2018, 3:46 pm

I watched Dr Who recently and was surprised by the fact that a time travelling bad guy thought racial integration would be severely set back by stopping Rosa Parks protesting on the Montgomery bus when she did. The Dr and her companions went all out to make sure it happened as it did.

I’m reminded of a friend who once said, ‘If it wasn’t for the Beatles we’d all still be listening to Jazz.’ 

I’m inclined to believe that in these situations that change is on it’s way or overdue, and that if there was no Rosa Parks or Beatles someone else would soon appear and fill their shoes or catalyze change.

So what I’m wanting to know is, is there an everyday name for this type of historical fallacy?

No Tim Berners-Lee – no internet? No Alexander Graham-Bell and we still have to send telegrams to each other. I think not!

For now I will have to call it the If It Wasn’t For The Beatles We’d All Still Be Listening To Jazz Fallacy.

Thanks for your consideration.

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LuckyR
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Re: Is there a name for this historical fallacy?

Post by LuckyR » October 28th, 2018, 3:56 am

Ypu bring up a good point. Life is a race with winner getting all of the accolades. However, as you point out, like any race, if in Life the winner is disqualified, the (previously unknown) second place finisher will get the prize.
"As usual... it depends."

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Burning ghost
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Re: Is there a name for this historical fallacy?

Post by Burning ghost » October 28th, 2018, 4:52 am

Maybe her not protesting would’ve helped racial integration at the time and up to the present day. We are in no position to say whether or not our choices are the ‘best’ ones. It does seem unlikely that the actions hindered the progress yet I am sure there are many historical figures praised for one progression when they in truth did more to hinder.
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Re: Is there a name for this historical fallacy?

Post by Georgeanna » October 28th, 2018, 7:20 am

Bobster wrote:
October 27th, 2018, 3:46 pm
I watched Dr Who recently and was surprised by the fact that a time travelling bad guy thought racial integration would be severely set back by stopping Rosa Parks protesting on the Montgomery bus when she did. The Dr and her companions went all out to make sure it happened as it did.

I’m reminded of a friend who once said, ‘If it wasn’t for the Beatles we’d all still be listening to Jazz.’ 

I’m inclined to believe that in these situations that change is on it’s way or overdue, and that if there was no Rosa Parks or Beatles someone else would soon appear and fill their shoes or catalyze change.

So what I’m wanting to know is, is there an everyday name for this type of historical fallacy?

No Tim Berners-Lee – no internet? No Alexander Graham-Bell and we still have to send telegrams to each other. I think not!

For now I will have to call it the If It Wasn’t For The Beatles We’d All Still Be Listening To Jazz Fallacy.

Thanks for your consideration.
LuckyR wrote:
October 28th, 2018, 3:56 am
Ypu bring up a good point. Life is a race with winner getting all of the accolades. However, as you point out, like any race, if in Life the winner is disqualified, the (previously unknown) second place finisher will get the prize.
So our life on Earth is basically a story line within a time line. It will continue until the end. Or a new beginning. Dr Who knows.

Does it matter if our story might have been different if a situation might have been handled differently or if someone hadn't been born ?
How would we even know.
It's like looking back on our own lives - and all the 'What if...? questions.
We can imagine a parallel universe - like in the film 'Sliding Doors'.

This kind of thinking can sometimes lead to fear of making decisions. Progress can be stopped in its tracks. We don't want change because what if it makes things worse ?

Ah, the human condition. Don't ya just love it...
Let it be. It is what it is.

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Re: Is there a name for this historical fallacy?

Post by Georgeanna » October 28th, 2018, 8:00 am

Oh, and I don't know that it is an historical fallacy, more a speculative fantasy.

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Re: Is there a name for this historical fallacy?

Post by Karpel Tunnel » October 28th, 2018, 8:34 am

Bobster wrote:
October 27th, 2018, 3:46 pm
I’m inclined to believe that in these situations that change is on it’s way or overdue, and that if there was no Rosa Parks or Beatles someone else would soon appear and fill their shoes or catalyze change.
I am not sure Hilter was replacable. The combination of utterly certain charismatic everyman...I am not sure who else, at least amongst the Nazi leaders, could possibly have rallied the nation in the particular way he did. The guy spent untold hours figuring out what gestures and tones of voice would most rile up a crowd. He was not out of the leader classes and this had very particular effects on how he was perceived.

I do think any certainty is misplaced about these what ifs, and I think you are likely correct around Rosa Parks - that other figures would have come (and did come) and would have pushed through cultural changes. This is purely intuition on my part, but it's my guess. But as a general rule I think sometimes the particular individual might make a big difference.

Even old Trump, I am not sure we can say 'change is on it's way or overdue and if there had been no Trump someone else would have' filled his shoes.

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Re: Is there a name for this historical fallacy?

Post by Belindi » October 28th, 2018, 10:12 am

Bobster, I think that the term you seek is 'heroic narrative'. The selection of Rosa Parks as heroic figurehead is not down to the producer or writer of Dr Who, as Rosa Parks was celebrated before that episode of Dr Who.

I think that you have to set the hero in historiography within the matrix of the worldview in which that specific narrative is popular.

Trumpism and the general lurch to the extreme right in South America and Europe cause interest in heroes such as Rosa Parks to be celebrated afresh and taught to children as rightful heroes, within the current polarisation of extreme right and left.

On historiography in general, the heroic narrative is one form of interpretation. Historiography is never devoid of interpretation , and it's quite easy to find examples of right and left wing historians on any given topic. Empirical rigour is the other entirely necessary component of good historiography .

As for that episode of Dr Who, I am persuaded that for teaching history to children of school age and adults historical fiction is a worthy medium, if the empirical facts are respected which was the case in that episode of Dr Who.

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Re: Is there a name for this historical fallacy?

Post by Belindi » October 28th, 2018, 10:24 am

Georgeanna wrote:
October 28th, 2018, 8:00 am
Oh, and I don't know that it is an historical fallacy, more a speculative fantasy.
Exactly!

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Re: Is there a name for this historical fallacy?

Post by Burning ghost » October 28th, 2018, 10:30 am

Shoulders of giants and all that. People inspire people, anything we’re recognised for is due to the work of others before us.

Just think of Darwin too. If he hadn’t brought the scientific theory of evolution to the fore there were others right in his tail.
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Re: Is there a name for this historical fallacy?

Post by Georgeanna » October 28th, 2018, 1:08 pm

Belindi wrote:
October 28th, 2018, 10:24 am
Georgeanna wrote:
October 28th, 2018, 8:00 am
Oh, and I don't know that it is an historical fallacy, more a speculative fantasy.
Exactly!
Oh, that was a lovely surprise. Thanks Belinda.

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Re: Is there a name for this historical fallacy?

Post by Karpel Tunnel » October 29th, 2018, 2:26 am

Burning ghost wrote:
October 28th, 2018, 10:30 am
Shoulders of giants and all that. People inspire people, anything we’re recognised for is due to the work of others before us.

Just think of Darwin too. If he hadn’t brought the scientific theory of evolution to the fore there were others right in his tail.
There's a differences between knowledge and historical changes. I think some specific people make a difference in ways that are much harder in knowledge contexts: Napoleon, Hitler as a couple of examples where the idiosyncracies of background and personality coupled with the times in very specfic ways. I do wonder if Einstein made a personal difference also, since his approach knowledge was quite different. IN the Rosa Parks case, as I said in an earlier post, I tend to agree. Someone else would have taken the same role. If there was no MLK, however, I think the results might have been quite different. That such an extremely religious man, who placed everything in religious contexts, and who also was a follower of Ghandi's approach became the central figure is a combination of factors that might have made for a very different civil rights movment.

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Re: Is there a name for this historical fallacy?

Post by Burning ghost » October 29th, 2018, 3:51 am

Exactly. And there is more than likely a figure behind MLK who died in complete obscurity whom no one even considered as a primary instigator of the whole movement for equal rights at the time.

People like Napolean, Hitler and Alexander were freaks of nature. Sometimes certain seemingly impossible happenings culminate from a admixture of unusual/atypical circumstances. The Trump business I see in much the same light. I am just shocked that it didn’t happen sooner given my impression of US culture and the event of the 80’s “yuppie culture” built from a materialistic view of “Happiness” and the “American dream.” I just see curretn situations as being somewhat overblown due to the information revolution we’re living in (yet partially blind to.) We’re in no real objective position to understand just what the hell is going on with the human race right now and th more aware we’re becoming of this the more it is antagonizing our myopic perspectives - historians will be having a field day in the future and fantasizing about living at the birth of thsi extraordinary era of humanity!

Personally having the above take on things helps me appreciate things a little more by imagining myself partly distanced from it all. I feel like a living time-machine of the kind which many would dream of having ... and then one day I’ll die :P
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Re: Is there a name for this historical fallacy?

Post by Karpel Tunnel » October 29th, 2018, 5:37 am

Burning ghost wrote:
October 29th, 2018, 3:51 am
Exactly. And there is more than likely a figure behind MLK who died in complete obscurity whom no one even considered as a primary instigator of the whole movement for equal rights at the time.
Possibly. More likely it would have been figures we have heard of, but who never got to such a central role. But there is a huge difference between an extremely religious pacifist and someone with a more secular and more open to violent focus. I am not saying that the civil rights movement would not have happened, but how it happened and the results of that were very much shaped by the specific personality of MLK. Of course it was complicted and he was not the only leader, but since he was a leader of a large faction, and white people got to see how an extremely inclusive - open to whites - very well educated, pacifist black leader and his followers were treated, their reactions were very different from how they might have been. Hell, it might have been much worse as first and then better now. Perhaps more of the underlying **** would have been aired if a more Malcolm Xish figure had come to the center. But it made an enormous difference.
People like Napolean, Hitler and Alexander were freaks of nature. Sometimes certain seemingly impossible happenings culminate from a admixture of unusual/atypical circumstances. The Trump business I see in much the same light. I am just shocked that it didn’t happen sooner given my impression of US culture and the event of the 80’s “yuppie culture” built from a materialistic view of “Happiness” and the “American dream.” I just see curretn situations as being somewhat overblown due to the information revolution we’re living in (yet partially blind to.) We’re in no real objective position to understand just what the hell is going on with the human race right now and th more aware we’re becoming of this the more it is antagonizing our myopic perspectives - historians will be having a field day in the future and fantasizing about living at the birth of thsi extraordinary era of humanity!
Agreed.
Personally having the above take on things helps me appreciate things a little more by imagining myself partly distanced from it all. I feel like a living time-machine of the kind which many would dream of having ... and then one day I’ll die :P
I am old enough to have noticed that we are all time travelers, here livng in the future.

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Re: Is there a name for this historical fallacy?

Post by Bobster » October 29th, 2018, 6:02 pm

Thanks for helpfully discussing this everyone. I’m thinking it must be the Fallacy of the Single Cause, or Key Agent, or possibly The Heroic Figure.

It may be that Evil Dictators are unique individuals, but who’s to say that several of their inner circle or thousands of their countrymen couldn’t have become intoxicated by power and ridden the wave to a similar conclusion. There’s many a psychotic gobshite.

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Re: Is there a name for this historical fallacy?

Post by Frewah » October 29th, 2018, 6:57 pm

”Fallacy of the Single Cause” sounds good to me. This is an interesting topic since I’m interested in logical fallacies. I was not aware of this fallacy. Someone made an analogy with balancing a pencil which can be used in this context. It’s really difficult and thre pencil will fall at some point. It doesn’t really make any difference where you made a false move.

I think one could claim that it wasn’t really the killing of Franz Ferdinand that caused ww1. Europe was ready for war. Worse things have happened without causing a new world war.

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