April 24, 2004
BLOG: Not Alone In Our Ignorance
Turns out that Americans aren't the only ones who are woefully ignorant about history. From a recent survey of more than 2,000 people in Britain:
*11% think Hitler was a fictional character; 9% think the same of Winston Churchill. Score one here for American use of our historical figures on money and commemorations of their birth for holidays; I doubt that 10% of Americans would think Washington or Lincoln was a fictional character. The rest of the results are also appalling, although the last group suggests that some of the respondents were either (i) high or (ii) pulling the survey takers' legs. Also, the 32% who believe the Cold War never happened may include a number of people who thought the same thing while it was still in progress.
The rest of the list:
Real people that some believe never existed
Ethelred the Unready King of England 978 to 1016 - 63 per cent
William Wallace 13th-century Scottish hero - 42 per cent
Benjamin Disraeli Prime minister and founder of the modern Tory party - 40 per cent
Genghis Khan, Mongol conqueror - 38 per cent
Benito Mussolini, Fascist dictator, 33 per cent
Adolf Hitler - 11 per cent
Winston Churchill - 9 per cent
Real events some people believe never took place
Battle of the Bulge 52 per cent
Battle of Little Big Horn Scene of Custerís last stand - 48 per cent
Hundred Yearsí War 44 per cent
Cold War - 32 per cent
Battle of Hastings, 15 per cent
Fictional characters who we believe were real
King Arthur , mythical monarch of the Round Table - 57 per cent
Robin Hood - 27 per cent
Conan the Barbarian - 5 per cent
Richard Sharpe , fictional cad and warrior - 3 per cent
Edmund Blackadder - 1 per cent
Xena Warrior Princess - 1 per cent
Fictional events that we believe did take place
War of the Worlds , Martian invasion - 6 per cent
Battle of Helms Deep , Rings Trilogy - The Two Towers - 3 per cent
Battle of Endor , The Return of the Jedi - 2 per cent
Planet of the Apes , the apes rule Earth - 1 per cent
Battlestar Galactica , the defeat of humanity by cyborgs - 1 per cent
Okay, maybe now I'll sound ignorant-but isn't the question of whether King Arthur was an actual historical figure unsettled? Certainly if you're a Kennedy (and loved "Camelot") you believe he was real!
Actually, I had the same reaction to that one - I always thought Arthur was at least possibly loosely based on a real historical figure. Maybe the author of the article doesn't know history that well either!
Please forgive an aspiring historian for this, but I need my "stress release kit"
Are you suggesting that Washington to Americans is a fair comparison for Hitler to Brits? Maybe you are the one who doesn't know history. Well maybe Washington is a fair comparison, I'm a Canadian so what do I know?
Um, no. Churchill compares to Washington and Lincoln.
the mets should be good cause of pedro and beltran