How Much of What We Believe About Ancient History is Really True? Thinking Critically about Myths and Legends
A legend is a tale regarded as historical even though it has not been proven, and the term “myth” can refer to common yet false ideas. Many myths and legends describe our history, but they are often treated skeptically. This is because many of them, while explaining a phenomenon, involve divine or supernatural beings. However, despite the fact that many disbelieve such stories, they do not disappear; they are passed down to future generations. Some parents tell their children that the stories are true. Others explain that they are likely untrue but important. And for human beings, they are significant.
Needing to Know
Psychologically, humans despise ignorance, even though they do not know much about planetary history. Nevertheless, due to this psychological need, historical accounts (which function in the same manner as myths) are filled with what the top minds (at the time) believe are the most logical course of events, and then their suppositions are treated as facts and taught to children. This leads to children believing that certain hypotheses are facts, and if a teacher who can think critically questions those facts, the students often have a psychological aversion to the topic. They need to “know” what occurred. If history textbooks contained empty sections in which the author stated, “We are not certain what occurred during this time,” students would likely be insecure because “knowing” what happened provides security. Myths and legends fill in knowledge gaps. People want to know what they do not know, and myths thereby provide comfort. They are happier on a calm sea than an agitated one. However, people’s reliance on myths have distorted their historical views, and such myths are so much a part of their psychological makeups that questioning them is threatening; they will lash out and do anything they can to stop their beliefs from shattering.
The caravan of Marco Polo traveling towards the Indies. Illustration c. 1375 (Public Domain)
Mention that an individual named Marco Polo who went to China in the 1200s likely did not exist and people will get angry. They will lie and use deceit to try to prove he existed, even though outside of one book written by the fiction author Rustichello da Pisa, there is no evidence of his existence. What is it about people that makes his existence important? It is the desire to “know” history, and because of this need, willful blindness appears.
Similarly, evidence exists that suggests human beings are millions of years old, but since this is not the history most people learned in school, they are generally opposed to it. Because of such opposition, views of history are distorted, likely untrue, and ethnocentric. How could Christopher Columbus have discovered the Americas if there were already millions of people there? Most students don’t even know what he was called (Colón), despite the fact that some countries’ money is named after him (colónes).
- Is Marco Polo a Fictional Character? Challenging the Historical Tale of the Merchant Traveler
- The Life and Adventures of Marco Polo
Landing of Columbus (12 October 1492) (Public Domain)
Similarly, students will learn some basic information about Chinggis or Genghis Khan but never learn his name (Temujin). These are just some basic examples of a much more widespread problem: history is misleading and, quite literally, chosen for inclusion in history books. Facts that do not support the widespread view of historical events on this planet are discarded and even ridiculed. Some archaeologists have even publicly stated that if the evidence does not fit the established theory, it must be discarded.
The Truth of History
As a result, the majority of citizens are stuck in a rut, and they find it difficult to consider alternative historical possibilities. The only way to fix this problem is for people to assume that many historical events are distorted, even unknown, and then try to see things anew. The great Dao De Jing informs us that when great people perceive the truth (or Way), they will study it and never stop. Mediocre people will pursue it for a bit and then forget it, while inferior people, upon hearing about the truth, will laugh aloud, and if they did not laugh, it would not be the truth.
Astounding Ancient Engineering in Egypt
The following historical accounts should be seriously reconsidered to establish a more accurate view of planetary history: Numerous megalithic sites defy mainstream explanations. Human beings created such structures, and today, even with our modern technological advances we cannot duplicate their achievements. Such structures include the Great Pyramid in Egypt, insofar as its creation and precision.