Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

A “True” Story (?)

Originally posted on April 4, 2011

A friend today sent me one of those touching stories about whatever—there are a number of them floating around in cyberspace. The email said: “(This is a true story.)”  Oh, well, then, it must be so—I mean, if it weren’t so, why would someone say that? Sincerely, now, I really mean this. To be utterly frank, would I kid you? Of course not. We all know liars are more evasive, slippery. They never say out front “Others might lie to you, but I’ll tell you the real truth.” or “Now this is the low down.”  Or something. But. Big But.

And of course, there’s my doubt. Aw, man, that’s just too good to be true. Too far-fetched. Well, my doubt can’t be trusted, because it indicates a lack of faith! What am I, some sort of cynic? No way! I am an optimist! I believe people are good! Didn’t Anne Frank say that? So it must be true. Thus we have the problem of epistemology—how do we know what we know. What is truth, anyway?

Well, and this is most definitely not true, but it makes for an interesting story: I have a friend who’s an extra-terrestrial, flying-saucer type—you know, little green man with big dark almond eyes—you know the type. Anyway, he’s a pal of mine, just because I pulled his flying-saucer-ette out of the mud one time. Anyway, he said that his friend has a friend who has access to something like the Akashic record, something that picks up all that happens on this planet, the real dope. Don’t ask how they can do this—they’re a thousand times more clever and advanced than humanity. Anyway, Zordak says to me:

“It turns out that 37% of what you call history are legends that are largely confabulated. They never actually happened. Another 24% happened a bit, but at least 60% of the content of those stories have elaborated on what they were about. Like King David? Your own research has shown that he was a small-time regional chieftain. "King" is inflated, as are many of the numbers of people involved in battles, slaughters, and other mass events mentioned in the Bible.

“Another 34% are about 60% true but 40% of the story is subject to propaganda, exaggeration, suppression of balancing factors, a mixture of hagiography (just talking about how great certain figures were, and how bad their enemies were), and so forth.

“This same general mish-mosh proportion happens for 54% of more contemporary history, so you have a lot of revisionist history that is in turn suppressed by loyalists of the right or the left.

“I didn’t even mention the 8% of bold lying—no self-deception, no sincere distortion because of bias: Lying.”

Well, thinks I, whew! First of all, I don’t trust those statistics. For one thing, they don’t add up to 100%; and then, also, sometimes I think my pal Zordak is full of “balarney”—which is a portmanteau word that mixes baloney and blarney. But on the other hand, what if he was even half-right? I mean, the more I read history, the more his numbers seem in the ballpark.

(Oh, I just thought of another category: There are certain bits of history that are preserved as absolutely true, through millennia of translations and re-translations, copying and re-copying. These are divine scriptures, or so they are believed and known to be, and divine guidance has kept the scriptures pristine in their meaning, resisting all theological bias or political influence. It is a test of our faith that we must believe these, as it is not in the practice of the God of a hundred billion galaxies to re-visit our planet and either reaffirm or update His word.)

Moreover, this doubt process then opens a whole channel of questions: So who’s going to check it out ?  Who can? History tends to be written by the victors, or the people who are influenced and subsidized by the rich and powerful. Or by survivors, including the weak who were able to get their act together after the mighty have fallen and rewrote history to fit their agendas.

Or, what if, as Henry Ford suggested, “history is bunk….” ?

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