Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Classic Revisionist History problem on Yahoo Answers again

Who is Thomas Edison...?

I could answer this question but didn't, and the reason why not is clear when you read the other answers and all the thumbs down votes each got.  People who swear that Edison invented stuff he didn't will thumbs-down people who know that he didn't.

People who read biographies and complimentary books on this man can be expected to be misled; those of us who have read his actual patents will know better; been there, done that, and perennially get into trouble for having read the documents instead of the books.

I can still vote, though.  Everybody who claimed that Edison invented the phonograph got a thumbs down from me.  Actual patent documents show that Emile Berliner invented the phonograph.

A couple of days ago, a similar question arose: who invented the first radio?  I can answer that question depending on what a person considers to be "radio" I didn't answer that one either, although I could have.

Technically, the first radio invented was the experimental spark gap gizmo that induced a coincidental spark on another spark gap gizmo placed at a different location--but most of the time you'll find this event recorded as the discovery of inductance, despite the fact that it is essentially the first radiotelegraph before Morse came up with his code.

One could say that this experimental equipment didn't become radio until it was redesigned and then used for the purpose of wireless communication...or it could be said that radio didn't happen until the U.S. government recognized electromagnetic transmission officially as "radio" with the Radio Act of 1927, even though there were similar acts in place as early as 1910.  Those, however, were Wireless Communications acts, and radio wasn't really radio until the invention of the triode took place and people were thereby enabled to broadcast voice instead of dots and dashes.

Both of the answers posted to that question at this time are good answers, but the complete information consists of both of them put together.  There is no "best answer" here--just two equally good ones.

Revisionist history issues have generated an international incident when a banner emblazoned with "A people who forget history have no future" was unfurled at the Japan/South Korea games played for the East Asian Cup.  C'est la vie, toujours.
Kids in school may think that the subject of history is dry and impertinent, but it's at the root of even today's national identity, personal ethnic roots, and whether or not we regard other human beings as friendly or hostile.  History is about real human beings being really human, and revisionist history is always about current appearances so that it can be used to either demonize or glorify a nationality or ethnicity beyond what is actually warranted, for social gain, political gain, or both.  It is always important, always.

And kids, remember this: you will not have died yet before you, too, become history.  It's what being a senior citizen is all about.  It's what being a has-been is all about, and those of you who think the entertainment industry and/or sports industry is all there is to life would do well to recognize that people in those industries become history quicker than everybody else.

The older you get, the more you realize just how important history is, and I know I can see your future from where I stand: you will invariably attempt to pass on the history you know, and your own history,  to the next generation and the next generation of youth will, by and large, think you're boring as hell...and in their later years, wished they had listened because when you're buried, your story as primary source will, by and large, get lost and either get revised or forgotten. And never moreso than when your progeny are fighting over your property.

AUGUST 1 ADDENDUM: Another question on Yahoo Answers cropped up, and it's a question about the Armenian Massacre committed by the Ottoman Empire, still subject to current debate given its recognition as a condition for Turkey to join the EU. Neither side has got it right because they're both too close to one side or another.  It's a case where history's primary sources fail and it's best to consult a disinterested third party observer for a more objective retrospective analysis on what happened.

How do Turk denialists of the Armenian Genocide typically argue against the evidence for it?

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