I listen to podcasts all the time. The latest Ted Radio Hour introduced a word to me that sounded familiar, but used in a negative connotation: revisionism.

If you describe a person or their views as revisionist, you mean that they reject traditionally held beliefs about a particular historical event or events.

In the following Ted Radio Hour (Truth and Lies), Deborah Lipstadt calls Holocaust Deniers revisionists. Pay close attention at 1:55 when Guy Raz refers to Holocaust Deniers appear to look legitimate by publishing a journal and using footnotes. Lipstadt worked upstream to expose them, but it backfired.

Her fight against revisionism turned into a movie called Denial. Here is a review on The New York Times. A columnist for The Sunday Times in the United Kingdom used the word revisionist in a headline describing White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s statement that Hitler didn’t use chemical weapons.

Courtesy of The Sunday Times

The podcast and the article would not have peaked my interest without reading Web Literacy For Student-Fact Checkers by Mike Caulfield. His work shows that we are all vulnerable to fake news, but there are strategies out there to help us explore the facts. One method is using fact-checking websites.

Google the word revisionism and it mostly gives results about World War II, the Cold War and Marxism. To me, the word rings negative connotation. A positive connotation of the word involves the podcast Revisionist History by Malcolm Gladwell.

Why does Gladwell’s revisionist podcast give out a positive tone? Perhaps it’s because I’ve read his books and listened to him on NPR. I trust his opinion. I don’t trust someone who says the Holocaust didn’t happen. I’m excited to listen to Season 2 of Revisionist History. If you haven’t listened to Season 1, the topics he explores are quite fascinating.

I end this post with a thought from my wife. I spoke to her about the word revisionist and she immediately thought of A People’s History of the United States. Google “A People’s History of the United States” and “revisionist” and 10,000 hits will appear. I’ve never read the book and I do not fully understand why author Howard Zinn is a revisionist. Perhaps I should read it this summer. Will it be positive or negative?

Also, here is a link to the entire Ted Radio Hour Podcast: Truth and Lies (a must listen).

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