Episode 28: Historiography – The Ever-Changing Past

In this episode, we welcome Mr. Beat, a Youtuber who focuses on American history and politics. We discuss Historiography – the study of how we understand history and how it’s an ever-evolving process.

Our Guest

Matt Beat is a high school social studies teacher, video producer, podcaster, and musician based out of Kansas. He has taught various subjects in the classroom from grades 7-12. His YouTube channels, Mr. Beat and The Beat Goes On, have accumulated around 400,000 subscribers and 80 million views, helping expand his “classroom” to around the world. Beat’s specialty is American history, but he also has a big passion for geography and economics. He has a band called Electric Needle Room, which is most known for original indie-pop songs about all of the American Presidents. Matt also co-hosts an iHeartMedia podcast called Jobsolete.

This episode was edited by ajp_productions.


  • Mr Beat – Youtube Channel
  • Historiography – the study of the methods of historians in developing history as an academic discipline, and by extension is any body of historical work on a particular subject. The historiography of a specific topic covers how historians have studied that topic using particular sources, techniques, and theoretical approaches.
  • Epistemology –  the branch of philosophy concerned with knowledge. Epistemologists study the nature, origin, and scope of knowledge, epistemic justification, the rationality of belief, and various related issues.
  • Pejorative (noun) – a word expressing contempt or disapproval.
  • Historical Revisionism –  identifies the re-interpretation of a historical account. It usually involves challenging the orthodox (established, accepted or traditional) views held by professional scholars about a historical event or time-span or phenomenon, introducing contrary evidence, or reinterpreting the motivations and decisions of the people involved.
  • Episode 14 – Meta
  • Pseudohistory – a form of pseudoscholarship that attempts to distort or misrepresent the historical record, often by employing methods resembling those used in scholarly historical research. The related term cryptohistory is applied to pseudohistory derived from the superstitions intrinsic to occultism. Pseudohistory is related to pseudoscience and pseudoarchaeology, and usage of the terms may occasionally overlap.
  • Reddit.com/r/badhistory/ – Badhistory is your one-stop shop for casual dissertations on the historicity of everything from bestselling books to zero-budget adult films!
  • Null Hypothesis – an alternative explanation for an experiment which assumes that the proposed explanation is false. Similar to the presumption of innocence, we need sufficient evidence to reject the null hypothesis (and accept the proposed explanation/hypothesis).
  • Conspiracy – Ryan Holiday
  • Gawker being taken down by Hulk Hogan lawsuit, bank rolled by Peter Thiel
  • Parsimony / Occam’s Razor – the problem-solving principle that “entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity”, sometimes inaccurately paraphrased as “the simplest explanation is usually the best one.”
  • Episode 27 – Naive Realism
  • Standing on the Shoulders of Giants (wiki) –  “Using the understanding gained by major thinkers who have gone before in order to make intellectual progress”
  • Mr Beat’s Video of PragerU (not linking to that cesspool directly)
  • Nationalism – Nationalism holds that each nation should govern itself, free from outside interference, that a nation is a natural and ideal basis for a polity and that the nation is the only rightful source of political power. It further aims to build and maintain a single national identity, based on shared social characteristics of culture, ethnicity, geographic location, language, politics (or the government), religion, traditions and belief in a shared singular history, and to promote national unity or solidarity. 
  • Gravel Institute (Left-wing version of PragerU) – a youtube channel that is openly left-influenced and attempts to country the far-right PragerU channel.
  • The Terracotta Warriors and why they aren’t continuing to excavate (source)
  • Primary Sources – a primary source (also called an original source) is an artifact, document, diary, manuscript, autobiography, recording, or any other source of information that was created at the time under study.
  • Corroborating Evidence – Corroborating evidence tends to support a proposition that is already supported by some initial evidence, therefore confirming the proposition. 
  • Geni Family Tree
  • Caste Systems – a form of social stratification characterised by endogamy, hereditary transmission of a style of life which often includes an occupation, ritual status in a hierarchy, and customary social interaction and exclusion based on cultural notions of purity and pollution.
  • Phrenology – a pseudoscience which involves the measurement of bumps on the skull to predict mental traits.
  • Eugenics – a set of beliefs and practices that aim to improve the genetic quality of a human population, historically by excluding people and groups judged to be inferior or promoting those judged to be superior.
  • Sir Francis Galton – an English Victorian era polymath: a statistician, sociologist, psychologist, anthropologist, tropical explorer, geographer, inventor, meteorologist, proto-geneticist, psychometrician and a proponent of social Darwinism, eugenics and scientific racism.
  • Dave Rubin (Right-wing Pundit) – an American political commentator, YouTube personality, talk show host, and author.
  • Red Pill – Often used as a metaphor for seeing the truth or waking up from a delusional state. A reference to the Matrix, today it seems to most often be used by far-right or alt-right groups.
  • Ad Hominem (logical fallacy) – an argument against a person in an attempt to invalidate their argument. It can be fallacious, but some forms are not. Fallacious example: saying someone is ugly, so their point on taxation policy is invalid. Valid example: a tobacco company representative arguing that cigarettes are not addictive and don’t cause cancer. Even in the more valid form, further evidence needs to be provided, but it’s a good starting point to begin investigation.
  • Ben Shapiro (Right-wing pundit) – an American conservative political commentator, media host, and political debater.
  • Mr Beat’s civil war video
  • George Soros (Mr Beat’s video on him) – a Hungarian-born American[b] billionaire investor and philanthropist.
  • Canadian Limits on Political Contributions 
  • Bill O’Reilly (Right-wing Pundit; Former Fox Host) – Disgraced former Fox News big wig who was taken down for his sexual misconduct.
  • Grover Cleveland – an American lawyer and politician who served as the 22nd and 24th president of the United States from 1885 to 1889 and from 1893 to 1897. Cleveland is the only president in American history to serve two nonconsecutive terms in office.
  • Decoding the Gurus (Podcast) – Psychologist and anthropologist who dig into the people they consider “gurus”
  • Propublica (Wiki) – a nonprofit organization based in New York City. It is a newsroom that aims to produce investigative journalism in the public interest.
  • Jonathan Haidt – When it confirms your belief, can I believe this? When it defies your belief, must I believe this? Best Book: The Righteous Mind
  • 3 Great Untruths (From The Coddling of the American Mind):
    • What doesn’t kill you makes you weaker
    • Always trust your feelings
    • Life is a battle between good people and evil people
  • The Dictator’s Handbook
  • Suggested Reading: Stephen Ambrose – an American historian and biographer of U.S. Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon.
  • The Enlightenment – an intellectual and philosophical movement that dominated the world of ideas in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries.
  • Noam Chomsky – an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, historian,[b][c] social critic, and political activist.
  • Direct Democracy – a form of democracy in which the electorate decides on policy initiatives without legislative representatives as proxies. 
  • Representative Democracy – a type of democracy where elected persons represent a group of people, in contrast to direct democracy.
  • Democracy Index – an index compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), the research division of the Economist Group, a UK-based private company which publishes the weekly newspaper The Economist.
  • The Forward Party – a new American political party headed by Andrew Yang.
  • Ranked Choice Voting – Like all ranked ballot voting systems, instead of indicating support for only one candidate, voters in IRV elections can rank the candidates in order of preference. Ballots are initially counted for each voter’s top choice. If a candidate has more than half of the vote based on first-choices, that candidate wins. If not, then the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. The voters who selected the defeated candidate as a first choice then have their votes added to the totals of their next choice. This process continues until a candidate has more than half of the votes. When the field is reduced to two, it has become an “instant runoff” that allows a comparison of the top two candidates head-to-head.
  • Spoiler Effect (Politics; a kind of Vote Splitting) –  a popular candidate loses an election by a small margin because a less-popular similar candidate attracts votes away from the popular candidate, allowing a dissimilar candidate to win. As a result, the notion of vote splitting is controversial because it can discourage third-party candidates.
  • Universal Basic Income (UBI) – a sociopolitical financial transfer concept in which all citizens of a given population regularly receive a legally stipulated and equal financial grant paid by the government without a means test.

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