Ten Questions to Ask Your History Teacher

One of my objectives in self-improvement is to stop correcting people who misuse the phrase “begs the question.”
As has been said about teaching a pig to sing, it wastes your time and annoys the pig.
But even if we feel awkward telling people “that’s not what ‘begging the question’ means”, we still need an example of what it does mean.

Luckily, the Discovery Institute has supplied a valuable teaching tool in the form of a list of ten questions, each one more question-begging than the last, for students to ask their biology teachers.

Now, some people would recommend that anyone who starts a sentence with “Why don’t textbooks discuss the ‘Cambrian explosion’,” be smacked with a rolled-up newspaper until he stops peeing on people’s brains.

But not me!

I think what we need is a lot more question-begging, willfully ignorant, smug, supercilious hooey posing as innocent requests for fairness and balance!

I feel so strongly about this that I’ve even generated a starter kit for those who want to bring this noble crusade to the rest of the academic disciplines.

So — kids, the next time your history teacher starts trying to force-feed you Revolutionary “theory” as if it were “fact”, you know what to do!

Ten Questions to Ask Your History Teacher

Q: ORIGIN OF GOVERNMENTS: Why do history textbooks claim that the modern British monarchy originated with the “Norman conquest”, in “1066”, when nobody has ever seen a calendar for that year, and there has never been an English king named “Norman”?

Q: WASHINGTON’S BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT: Why don’t textbooks discuss the “Civil War,” or the fact that all US governmental bodies appear together at that time, instead of branching from a Constitution — thus contradicting revolutionary theory?

Q: THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE: Why do history textbooks claim that the “Revolutionary War” started with a “Declaration of Independence” and quote its words, then claim that a suspiciously old-looking document in Washington D.C is the same document because it contains the same words, — a circular argument masquerading as historical evidence?

Q: GEORGE WASHINGTON. It is well known that the infamous “cherry tree” story was faked, and that “George Washington” never said “I cannot tell a lie” — that is, if he ever existed. Why do textbooks use drawings or “artist’s conceptions” of “George Washington” as evidence that he existed? Why does no single history textbook anywhere point out that there are no photographs – zero! – of “George Washington” in existence?

Q: ALEXANDER HAMILTON. Why do some history textbooks give Alexander Hamilton’s year of birth as 1755, and others as 1757? Why do historians refuse to discuss, or even acknowledge, the controversy? Why do many textbooks even claim that this (probably imaginary) figure was killed in a duel with “Aaron Burr”? Take out a $10 bill and see whose picture is on it. Do you think this duel actually occurred, and that the US then decided to put the loser’s picture on its currency?

Q: WASHINGTON CROSSING THE DELAWARE. Why do history textbooks all use the same picture of “Washington Crossing the Delaware” — when historians have been aware for years that the picture was staged? Any idiot knows that you can’t get ten guys in a canoe without capsizing, and “Washington” is standing up? Get real.

Q: SILLY HATS. Why do textbooks claim that Revolutionary Fashion can explain the use of Tricorner Hats by the colonists — even though these hats were not used in the French Revolution, and there are no such silly hats anywhere else in history?

Q: REVOLUTIONARY WAR. Why do textbooks represent the Revolutionary War as having been won through a series of “small victories” when, every time you look at an actual battle the colonists fought against the British, as likely as not they got their asses handed to them? Do you think a nation as magnificently complex as the United States could come about through a random, undirected sequence of military engagements?

Q: GOVERNMENTAL ORIGINS. Why are artists’ drawings of a bunch of middle-aged guys in poofy wigs used to justify Revolutionary claims that we are all descended from a parcel of ninnies who didn’t have the sense to be at the beach in July — when historians cannot even agree on who they were or what their actual hair looked like?

Q: THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION A FACT? Why are we told that the American Revolution is an historical fact — even though many Revolutionary claims are based on misrepresentations of the facts?

And remember — when some liberal revolutionist starts spouting off about imaginary events supposed to have taken place in 1776, all you have to do is look him in the eye and ask “Were you there?”

25 Responses to “Ten Questions to Ask Your History Teacher”

  1. The Panda's Thumb Says:

    Ten Questions to Ask Your History Teacher about Revolutionism

    Those darn dirty Revolutionists…

  2. SweettP2063 Says:

    Funny stuff!!

  3. jeffery keown Says:

    rEVILutionists! Those bastards!

  4. sciguy Says:

    Teach the controvesy. Students need to know that there are these questions that historians have about history.

  5. Patrick Taylor Says:

    The problem with the Revolutionists is they think that macro-revolutions (as opposed to the normal and accepted micro-revolutions) can randomly turn one country into another, but you don’t ever see Denmark turning into Singapore, do you? And if Canada and the US descended from the United Kingdom, how come the British Isles still exist? Huh? How come??

    Obviously, it’s all the work of an Intelligent Geographer!

  6. Kadin Says:

    @Patrick: Oh my fucking god. I do not think it is possible to give a better response than that. I bow down to the power of your funny glands.

  7. havoc Says:

    Is this a response to http://www.arn.org/docs/wells/jw_10questions.htm ?

    I don’t get it. it seems like you could have made it funny based on the Well’s ’10 Questions,’ this is just…. poor slap stick.

  8. Bill Ware Says:

    Sugar Hotel! I haven’t laughed this long in weeks.

  9. site admin Says:

    Fair enough.

    For what it’s worth, I did try at first for a strict, one-for-one parodic refutation of the “Ten Questions.” When that exercise quickly slowed to an arduous, unfunny crawl, I asked

    “Why am I expending all these calories to refute an extended brain-fart by a Moonie? Wouldn’t poor slapstick be a lot easier?”

    And, you know what? It was!

  10. Ashley Says:

    It is fun but it’s not slapstick.

  11. StructuredThought Says:

    Ten Questions to Ask Your History Teacher

    As a wonderful parody on criticisms of evolutionary theory from creationists, Jim Easter (liked through PZ Myers) posts this list of “Ten Questions to Ask Your History Teacher.” These is the very same style of argument used by Intelligent Design…

  12. RYAN SHUTT Says:


  13. Ashley Says:

    This piece of yours helped inspire this: Intelligent Design proves Penn & Teller are God.

  14. Ashley Says:

    Given enough time, it grew legs:
    Ten Questions to Ask Your Pastor, Reverend, Minister, or Priest.

  15. Brian Says:

    Everything (by Rupert Holmes, from the 1976 Barbra Streisand movie and soundtrack CD A Star Is Born)
    I want to learn what life is for
    I don’t want much, I just want more
    Ask what I want and I will sing
    I want everything (everything)

    I’m frustrated. I share core beliefs with people whose agenda includes denying reality. Intelligent Design, as a phrase, is something I *could* get on board with. It can be used in concept to accept the world as it is, while still believing that it was created by God. In this view, natural selection is God’s design. Darwin’s Finches are an expression of it. It seems so obvious an argument to me – you show me evidence of natural selection, I respond that it’s all part of God’s design. Simple. No discussions of peppered moths, similarities in vertebrate embryos or the 1953 Miller-Urey experiment. You either shrug your shoulders, or you walk away fuming and muttering that I’ve got blinders on, but either way the discussion’s over. This approach allows a student to study in his/her 9th grade Science class without challenging the teacher and textbook, without turning class into a theological discussion or challenging evolutionary evidence out of a desire to defend religious beliefs.

    Intelligent Design, as used by anti-evolutionists such as Jonathan Wells, is an attack on facts, a denial of things we know to be true. Among other things, they take a literal reading of the bible, add up the generations and time periods described, and from that cook up the notion that the earth is only 6,000 to 10,000 years old. My brain hurts. If the earth is only 10,000 years old, God has gone to a lot of trouble to fake the evidence we find in the geologic record today.

    I’m frustrated. I share core beliefs with people I want nothing to do with. Evangelical Christians used to be annoying mainly because of their insistence on trying to convert everyone. Today they’ve gained political power, and that’s REALLY annoying, if not scary. What do they want? More. Everything. They’re flush with political success, and are becoming increasingly strident, intolerant, breast-beating, bible-thumping holier-than-thou wackos. I say that as a Christian. I feel as though my religion’s been hijacked by extremists.

    I’m frustrated by the need for distance from the religious right. There’s a line from the movie The Abyss that fits here. Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (playing Lindsey Brigman) is trying to convince her colleagues that she really saw aliens in the water. Suddenly a character named Hippie starts agreeing, saying something like “Oh yeah, Chariots of the Gods. The government has had proof of this at Area 51 for years and covered it up.” All of which sounded nuts and by association made her sound nuts. Mastrantonio stops him and says, “Hippie, do me a favor. Stay off my side.”

  16. potato Says:

    well i think this is a load of bullshit are you saying that George washington did not exsist because there are nop photos? Pothotos were not invented untill 1888 YOU ARE A COMPEAT JACKASS!!!!!!!!

  17. site admin Says:

    Truly, comments like this one make the whole exercise worthwhile.

    And don’t think I’m not on to you, Mr. “potato” — or, should I say, pothoto!

    [ominous crescendo]

  18. Ibadairon Says:

    Excellent post.

    Nice slam on Tater Tot. But why does “pothoto” strike me as a possible snack food name?

  19. Anonymous Says:

    Um, hello– of course there was never an English King named Norman!! The Normans were the group of people who invaded England, and they were from Normandy, France.

  20. Doodlegoat Says:


    Yorn desh born
    der ritt de gitt der gue
    Orn desh, dee born desh, de umn

  21. Anonymous Says:


  22. Ed Darrell Says:

    I believe the oldest known photograph comes from 1837. Photos were well known prior to 1860.

    But don’t you love it? You could run it in your advertisements for the blog: “COMPEAT JACKASS!”

  23. site admin Says:

    Now that you mention it, that would make a pretty good blurb.

  24. Bob Carroll Says:

    The first president to be photographed was Andrew Jackson. He died in 1845.

  25. You had to be there « Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub Says:

    […] His detailing of the “10 Questions to Ask Your History Teacher” is a parody of Jonathan Wells’ attempt to get kids to tell biology teachers that biology is hoakum. It’s worth a read again, since the issue heats up again at the Texas State Board of Education. […]