History is a convenient fiction

The most interesting thing about writing the book is that doing in-depth historical research often leads me to conclude that people who write history are lazy and inaccurate. It’s turning me off non-fiction a little, honestly.

There’s an amusing anecdote I wanted to include in the book. The problem is that it’s claimed by many different people as being something they did, probably because it’s a funny story.

There are things that did not happen and are reported as casual facts. Someone will toss off a column that claims that some incident happened and be largely right (a pitcher got ejected) but then make numerous errors on what specifically occurred.

Errors in fact can often be traced back. When I find a particularly interesting thread, I often go through three, four sources as I go back in time to find the original’s an exaggeration or even a joke, turned into fact because it seems right and then gets repeated over and over. For a non-book related example, you can find out that a lot of the funny Rickey Henderson stories are jokes someone told once, or entirely made up.

Anyway, back to the book.

One thought on “History is a convenient fiction

  1. Antediluvian

    Something that contributes to history as fiction is the fickleness of memory. Quite often, three people trying to recall an event from the past come up with significant differences…even though they all experienced the same event. Part of it can be attributed to how we experiences events (personal filters), but also the recall of that event changes over time.

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