Stories People Tell About the Past: Historical Myths vs. Historical Facts; Minsoo Kang, PhD

Most of what the vast majority of people believe about the historical past are actually historical myths. On such questions as the beliefs and motivations of America’s founding fathers, the causes of the Civil War, and the fall of the Roman Empire, the public generally hold ideas that have little or no basis in actual evidence. Those ideas are nevertheless adopted and spread by those who find certain ideological value in them, and they are repeated in the public realm until they solidify in people’s minds as facts. Academic historians have not done a good job of tackling them as they have generally dismissed them as falsehoods that they do not need to waste time discussing in class. Given the enormous social and political impact historical myths can have in society, it is important not only to establish what in fact are historical myths versus historical facts, but also to understand how they spread, why people accept them so readily, and how they function within belief systems.

Dr. Kang has lived in Korea, Austria, New Zealand, Iran, Brunei, Germany and other countries. He served in the army of the Republic of Korea and earned his Ph.D. in European History at UCLA. He is the author of several books and currently professor of European History at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.