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Digital Subscriptions > Skeptic > 24.4 > Nationalistic Pseudohistory in the Balkans

Nationalistic Pseudohistory in the Balkans

MANY DIFFERENT TYPES OF PSEUDOHISTORY EXIST. One of the most famous is the Ancient Aliens hypothesis put forward by Erich von Däniken in his 1968 book Chariots of the Gods?, which claims that in the past extraterrestrials visited many different civilizations. There are religious pseudohistories, such as the idea that Jesus survived the crucifixion, married Mary Magdalene, and had children with her, popularized by Dan Brown in his 2003 novel The Da Vinci Code. Historical negationism like Holocaust denial (denying the genocide of Jews in the Second World War) is yet another type of pseudohistory, debunked by Deborah Lipstadt in her 1993 book Denying the Holocaust and by Michael Shermer and Alex Grobman in their 2000 book Denying History. There are also pseudohistories that mix in conspiracy theories, claim various coverups and promote alternative events, from the idea that moon landing was a hoax to the suggestion that 9/11 was an inside job. Then there are the silly ones like Heribert Illig’s hypothesis that the years between 614 and 911 CE never happened.

Every pseudoscience is dangerous because those who believe in it put aside reason, and in some cases act on their beliefs, often violently. However, when it comes to pseudohistory, there is one type that is potentially even more dangerous than the above. It was summarized by George Orwell in 1984 as: “Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.”1 The problem is that history and archaeology can be linked to politics, and then used and abused somewhat more often than other disciplines. This is why many leaders have tried to control the past by pushing their own narratives, which is especially evident when looking at the history of archaeology and historiography during the 19th and early 20th centuries.2, 3

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UNDERSTANDING FLAT EARTHERS WHO SAYS THE EARTH IS FLAT, AND WHY? COLUMNS The SkepDoc: Water Fluoridation: Public Health, Not Poison, by Harriet Hall, M.D. • The Gadfly: Are You in the 43 Percent?, by Carol Tavris DEBATE Does God Exist? A Rebuttal of Theologian Brian Huffling • God is Not a Moral Being: A Response to Gary Whittenberger on the Problem of Evil ARTICLES Understanding Flat Earthers • Shroud of Turin Update • The Girl Who Smelled Blue: The Colorful Case of Willetta Huggins • How to Navigate Contentious Conversations • How Much Longer Will Cancer Screening Myths Survive? • Nationalistic Pseudohistory in the Balkans • “Prove that I am Wrong!” What QAnon, Descartes, and Brains in Vats Have in Common REVIEWS Reviews of Mind Fixers: Psychiatry’s Troubled Search for the Biology of Mental Illness • The Human Swarm: How Tolerance of Strangers Creates Society • Darwin’s Apostles: The Men Who Fought to Have Evolution Accepted, Their Times, and How the Battle Continues • Forensic Science Reform: Protecting the Innocent • The Psychology and Sociology of Wrongful Convictions: Forensic Science Reform • Blinding as a Solution to Bias: Strengthening Biomedical Science, Forensic Science, and Law JUNIOR SKEPTIC Victorian England’s Jurassic Park, by Daniel Loxton