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How Much Can We Really Know about the Past?

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posted on Jul, 3 2014 @ 10:56 PM
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Howdy,
As someone who has had to extrapolate a story from observed evidence, (which there is often never enough to tell a story, and not archaeology, to be fair) I can tell you it isn't always easy, that's for sure. Surely, even if I had the evidence, my story might still be a misinterpretation of the data... But let's be fair and remember that scientists are people who are persuaded by evidence. They can be wrong, and it is the job of future scientists to weed out these errors and present better models of reality.
However, there are issues with communication, I think... I'd like to remind you all that reading a news article summarizing a find is different from reading an actual paper published and peer-reviewed by the scientists. It's easy for a journalist to report conclusions, but how many people want to read all of the reasoning for the interpretation? A scientific paper has an abstract, introduction, methods section, results section, discussion section, and conclusion... Journalists summarize this, often removing the real meat of the issue, the results/data and a proper understanding of the methods. I don't mean to insult, but if you're ever curious about how confident scientists can reasonably be in their claims, I'd suggest taking a peak at the actual scientific paper.




posted on Jul, 4 2014 @ 02:20 AM
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a reply to: helius


They are all desperately trying to uncover things (and only those things) that backs and match their own scientific faulty theories and thus they totally ignores other possibilities and what other people claim and speculate in.

For the third time, this is not what we are discussing on the thread. Please stay on topic or I shall have to report you.



posted on Jul, 4 2014 @ 04:13 AM
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a reply to: Astyanax

We are overwhelmed by information through the internet. So we are in a position where we can read all meanings from people all over the world about the past. A situation never happened before as far as people can remember.

I’m reading a book about the French revolution (Hilary Mantel) and the author apologizes himself in a foreword saying he didn’t had access to the internet in 1972. He had to do an incredible job in research. ‘With internet it would have been so much easier’ he says .

But every medal has two sides. You will have to find your own truth between the many 'truths' that cover the internet. Finding the truth is a dynamic process. Don't think you will find the one and only truth. And accept the fact you can fail. And be humble to admit failure if # happens.

Some scholars stick to their findings even if there are many indications that point to the opposite of their conclusions because of their ego, the money they are earning, their position etc. and the fact they have worked all their lives to find the (wrong) truth. So history will be rewritten very slowly. It can take generations for example before we will accept the fact that there once was a civilization on earth that was further evolved than ours now.

I wrote www.evawaseerst.be... (some chapters are translated in English). I believe there are many things that are hidden from us. I keep in mind that human history is at a point where all books about our origins will have to be rewritten. Although I accept the possibility that the conclusion that is written in the site above is fault, I remain convinced that MANY things are hidden from us by hidden powers. So at that point at least we disagree.



posted on Jul, 4 2014 @ 06:17 AM
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a reply to: kunlun

I'm starting to lose hope that anyone is really interested in discussing the thread topic.

People keep talking about news stories and the internet and conspiracies to suppress information.

This thread is about how accurately we can know what happened in the past based on the evidence we actually have. Archaeological and documentary evidence, that is. Stuff that is real, that physically exists. Stuff you can argue over, but can't argue with.

Perhaps the concept is a bit too sophisticated for Above Top Secret. Perhaps ATSers' minds can only run along the well-scored grooves formed by thread after thread on the same boring subjects, expressing the same old views time after time. Because what I want to talk about is something new. I want to discuss whether the quality of evidence is doubtful enough to actually permit the kind of confabulation the alternate-history believers like to accuse the academic community of perpetrating. I'm asking if it is possible.

But all people seem to want to do is come along and say the same old things they always say. Which gets us nowhere.


edit on 4/7/14 by Astyanax because: I'm getting a bit desperate here.



posted on Jul, 4 2014 @ 09:30 AM
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a reply to: Astyanax

I am not entirely sure it is possible with our current cultural story (direct reference to Ishmael
).

We are not even capable of understanding each other within the same culture. Putting ourselves in others shoes is not something that many of us practice. We perceive our own perspective as the Absolute Truth, when it is more of a single patch in a very, very large quilt.

Even if you feel I am not able to give satisfactory input in this thread, I understand the frustration. The threads I have made were meant to be collaborative efforts, or basically, a foundation for teamwork. But, it just ended up with maybe one or two people actually giving their input. The truth was, I needed help because my health is failing.

I think our best bet would be to re-write our cultural story consciously, which is something I am not sure has been done in the history of mankind. However, at that point, we would still have to deal with the differences that arise from being immersed in a totally different culture from the point of birth. I am not sure we can ever get past that part. Even if I were to immerse myself in, say, Inuit culture right here and now.. I will never understand what it is like to have been immersed in that culture from birth. The closest we can get is to speak with those who have. Obviously, in the case of older societies, this is not feasible. The closest we can get is to read what they wrote, and perceive it through our own culture. Its not exactly an interactive exchange, where the author can "correct" us when we have misconceptions.



posted on Jul, 4 2014 @ 09:54 AM
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a reply to: Serdgiam

Actually I quite appreciated your earlier contributions. Oddly enough, I'm a bit of a cultural nomad myself.

You're talking, I think, about the difficulty of putting ourselves into the shoes of people from other cultures — especially cultures that are long extinct — and of ridding ourselves of the baggage of our own cultural preconceptions when we go to investigate or reconstruct the narratives of these other cultures. I imagine you're right; it does seem like a great difficulty. Yet perhaps we can take comfort in the knowledge that, beneath the cultural variations, we share a much deeper and broader common humanity, and though the details may vary, the forms of culture are widely shared. The tale of Romeo & Juliet works as well in Japanese or Tamil as it does in English. So we have that to go on, at least.


I think our best bet would be to re-write our cultural story consciously, which is something I am not sure has been done in the history of mankind.

I'm not sure I understand. Isn't our story the history of mankind? Are you suggesting we fictionalize it?


Even if I were to immerse myself in, say, Inuit culture right here and now.. I will never understand what it is like to have been immersed in that culture from birth.

Indeed, you would probably not live long if you weren't used to living under those weather conditions.



posted on Jul, 4 2014 @ 10:14 AM
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originally posted by: Astyanax
You're talking, I think, about the difficulty of putting ourselves into the shoes of people from other cultures — especially cultures that are long extinct — and of ridding ourselves of the baggage of our own cultural preconceptions when we go to investigate or reconstruct the narratives of these other cultures. I imagine you're right; it does seem like a great difficulty. Yet perhaps we can take comfort in the knowledge that, beneath the cultural variations, we share a much deeper and broader common humanity, and though the details may vary, the forms of culture are widely shared. The tale of Romeo & Juliet works as well in Japanese or Tamil as it does in English. So we have that to go on, at least.


Yes, we certainly have core commonalities! And, I do think that is innately a central focus.

However, there is also a cultural component that I think is very, very difficult to recognize. Especially in a globalized society. Its this barely noticeable part of our perception that can drive our very functions and perceptions without us even knowing it. A background hum that exists from the moment we are born.

Id love to go into more detail, but I would suggest the book Ishmael by Daniel Quinn, as it explains it significantly better than I could. It used to be easy to find, even on scribd.com but is now becoming more and more difficult to locate..


I'm not sure I understand. Isn't our story the history of mankind? Are you suggesting we fictionalize it?


Its not about fiction or fact, in the case of a cultural story. And no, I would not consider our cultural story to be the history of mankind. Its essentially an expansion on the "nurture" side of the nature/nurture component of shaping our perceptions of the world around us. Not as an argumentative form of "nature versus nurture," but as an understanding that both play a part. It goes a bit beyond that though, in that the nurture aspect can be a consciously driven "meme." We do not currently live this way. Whether or not our cultural story is consciously driven, at all, is likely the discussion for another thread which will probably never exist.


FWIW, I would consider the strategy of "Divide and Conquer" to be a consciously driven cultural story. It is especially effective if one can have it constantly "humming" in the background for generations. Hopefully, that is a clear example of the type of thing I am trying to communicate.


Indeed, you would probably not live long if you weren't used to living under those weather conditions.


Its ironic you would state that issue explicitly, given that I am more at home in temps in the below freezing range (and colder) than any other.
But, that would be speaking to the nature side of things, which can have an impact on the nurture, but in my view, they manifest differently.
edit on 4-7-2014 by Serdgiam because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 4 2014 @ 11:59 AM
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a reply to: Astyanax

Relativity: A state of dependence in which the existence or significance of one entity is solely dependent on that of another.

Perception: The ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses; A way of regarding, understanding, or interpreting something; a mental impression.

The act: A man stands at the bottom of a cliff. Another man stands at the top. The man standing on top of the cliff accidentally drops a ball off the cliff.

Perception A. The man standing on top of the cliff perceives the ball moving away. His theory is the ball has moved away from himself.

Perception B. The man standing at the bottom of the cliff perceives a ball coming towards. His theory is the ball has moved towards himself, or has fallen upon him.

If the man on the cliff were to record what happened he would say "I have dropped a ball off a cliff, this is what happened."

If the man at the bottom of the cliff were to record what happened he would say "A ball fell from the cliff, this is what happened."

Since both observers would record the act separately one would, without relative knowledge, perceive two individual stories. This knowledge would then be incomplete as both accounts are dependent upon the relativity of the ball being dropping away (perception a) and the ball falling towards (perception b).

The same can be noted about the past as we can only conclude our theories (perception b's) based on the remnants of the past act (perception a's). The necessary truth, or relativity, cannot be understood as none of the original observers stand present to give their accounts to tie in the fundamental relativity of the act itself. Therefore one may safely conclude that we can truly know nothing of the past, we may find hints to the act, but we may never know it's relative function or absolute truth.


History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon.

-Napoleon Bonaparte






edit on 4-7-2014 by Zadok because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 5 2014 @ 12:40 AM
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a reply to: Zadok

That's all very well, but scientific research attempts to eliminate cultural bias by sticking only to statements that can be falsified through observation and experiment. Historians, modest fellows that they are, do not claim to be scientists; but archaeology does make such a claim. My own feeling is that the claim is well justified; but on a Moh's scale of relative hardness, where, say, anthropology scores just above zero and high-energy physics just under 7, how much does archaeology score? Anyone care to suggest a number?


"History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon." — Napoleon Bonaparte

And since people have different, conflicting agendas, the version most people agree upon is likely to be the one closest to the truth, wouldn't you agree?



posted on Jul, 5 2014 @ 01:10 AM
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a reply to: Astyanax

I am only going to reply to the title, I hope you don't mind.

The title has to do with the potential possibilities for obtaining knowledge as 'selves', if I get it correctly.

As human beings, as holy entities in a divine Universe, as bright sparks that form the existence together with the Creator-Cosmos, essentially being one with said force, it's pretty difficult to define absolute limits to our latent potential.

An individual, level one being, a 'separate' consciousness that has typically most of its latent powers in a 'sleep mode', and its cosmic consciousness connection temporarily severed, and having only the unreliable and indirect, even abstract-oriented tools of rationality, deduction, intelligence and thought-forming at its disposal, usually can't truly -know- a lot about 'the past' (however you want to define this), as long as it exists confined in a physical body of some kind, having (temporarily) lost the memories of the Astral and higher planes, and his OWN past.

So, depending on your time-scale (decades, millennia, googolplex of millennia, eternity), the size and shape and depth of the perspective you are using (global, planetary, solar-systemial (?), galactic, universal) and the levels or planes you are willing to incorporate (physical, etheric, astral, mental, causal, ... , divine), the answer varies.

From the smaller perspective, used for a 'typical living humanoid incarnate on Terra', the answer is: "not really all that much" (you only have to listen to the crazy heights of verbal acrobacy the egyptologists usually remarkably stretch to when they desperately attempt to fit in their assumptions and ill-conceived ideas (without real understanding of the ancient culture) with the facts, and fail poorly at it. Usually the 'explanations' that the cognitive dissonance dictates is way more 'out there' than the worst UFO-nutcase can even dream, when the 'experts' explain things so they fit to the carefully constructed misinformation-based, nihilistic-materialistic worldview that we are all now supposed to maintain and express, to have and hold, to believe and accept, and so on).

However, when we are allowed to spiritually evolve, cultivate ourselves and open our chakras, express our latent talents, powers and gifts, and eventually join our Creator (more like ' end the illusion of separation'), there's nothing we couldn't know of the past, present or the future, or indeed any facet of existence.

In this sense, the answer is: "Everything."

What the 'official story' and 'scientists', governments, school books, and the 'official sources' TELL us about the past, is of course a different thing. And usually a very different story than what really happened.. fortunately, there are 'alternative sources' to knowledge, information and wisdom about history, and about certain phenomena and events.

But that's a topic for another post.



posted on Jul, 5 2014 @ 12:36 PM
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a reply to: Astyanax

What is closest to the truth is still not the truth and therefore is subject to inconsistencies and possibly even sabotage.

We can agree that a specific act or event seems a certain way but we can never know the absolute relativity of the act or event itself.



posted on Jul, 6 2014 @ 12:14 AM
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a reply to: Zadok and Shoujikina

I am not interested in arguing the nature of truth, which is far too large a philosophical question for my poor little brain and not actually relevant to the thread topic. I am interested in finding out what is the standard of reliability for statements derived from archaeological or historical evidence. Do either of you have any information on that?



posted on Jul, 6 2014 @ 12:24 AM
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a reply to: Astyanax

Everything has a microcosm and macrocosm.

The smallest particles act in similar nature as the largest of particles.

Therefore even the accepted basis of the scientific model is based on theorums, and theorums are always subject to change.

Such as when the accepted theorums of a flat Earth was the base model in the 13th century.

Science is always subject to change due to the always changing nature of matter/energy.

Thus even the accepted model will inevitably change, as well as the truths we derive from it.

Truth is we know nothing.



posted on Jul, 6 2014 @ 12:29 AM
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"History is written by the victors."

Winston Churchill

So most of it is probably bs.
imo



posted on Jul, 6 2014 @ 01:06 AM
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originally posted by: BABYBULL24
"History is written by the victors."

Winston Churchill

So most of it is probably bs.
imo



hmmm, there was no input from the losers in WWI, the Napoleonic wars and say the Crusades?

There was. the only time that might apply is where one side - or both are non literate societies then their side can tend to be lost or if they are completely wiped out, but that has not been the case for hundreds of years. You can certainly find materials from the Native Americans in the fight against the tide of European invaders. etc.



posted on Jul, 6 2014 @ 02:28 AM
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a reply to: Astyanax



All I am asking is: how well can we really know the things we claim to know?


We simply don't.


So most people just pretend.


For your book, you would ideally have the man's diary, or personal letters written by him and sent to him, to understand his mind.

I watch documentaries with historians speaking in an animated fashion about a historical figure or event, and wonder how accurate the picture they paint really is.



As far as archaeology they can answer the who, what, when, and where, but can they accurately answer Why?


I know that you aren't looking for this to be a conspiracy discussion, but I want to remind you of the term

Damnatio memoriae



posted on Jul, 6 2014 @ 09:43 AM
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Reply to: BABYBULL24

"History is written by the victors."

Winston Churchill

So most of it is probably bs.
imo

But did Churchill actually say that? There is no evidence that he ever did.

If people can make up things and pass them off as history, aren't we in urgent need of reliable documentation and evidence if we are to know anything at all about what happened in the past?



posted on Jul, 6 2014 @ 11:27 AM
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a reply to: Astyanax


"He that knows not,
and knows not that he knows not
is a fool.
Shun him

He that knows not,
and knows that he knows not
is a pupil.
Teach him.

He that knows,
and knows not that he knows
is asleep
Wake him.

He that knows,
and knows that he knows
is a teacher.
Follow him."

Arabic proverb



I think the questions you are asking in this thread are excellent ones, and thought provoking.

Even with evidence, do we accurately know certain details about the past?

Even with eyewitness accounts?




Abraham Lincoln.

Does "he belong to the ages"?

or does "he belong to the angels"?

There is a historical debate as to what Edwin Stanton, Lincoln’s Secretary of War, actually said at Lincoln's death.

The New Yorker - Angels and Ages








edit on 6-7-2014 by dusty1 because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 6 2014 @ 11:45 AM
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a reply to: dusty1

There is a great amount of wisdom in your post, thank you for sharing.



posted on Jul, 6 2014 @ 11:48 AM
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One 19th gentlemen who was considering how much was known about the lost Roman civilization and had decided by various calculations that we had 1% of their written material and 4% of the architecture. Stated:

We know the Roman's existed and they speak to us still but outside of Rome and their great men the rest of the Roman's are but shadows in a darken room.



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