Thread: Life This Day in History
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Old 02-05-2009, 04:34 PM   #156
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Originally Posted by Jenson71 View Post
Since this is a history thread, I have a histoiography question for everyone:

Is it possible to rank historical events as to their significance?

On one hand, it seems like because everything builds off from the past, it would only be deduced that the most significant thing would be the very first event in human history. There's no WWII without WWI, and no WWI without the half of a dozen or so factors that directly influenced it, and those factors had beginnings and so on. I asked a professor of history this, and she said she wouldn't do rankings, as a historian herself.

On the other hand, it seems obvious that some events are more important than others. Princip shooting the Archduke is a more significant and influential event than say, Babe Ruth being traded to the Yankees, for an extreme example. And this thinking is definitely seeing in this thread, where we list the "more important" events for one particular day in history.

A while back, I got a Times book that I loved and still do today. It ranked the most significant events, in their view, from the past 1000 years. Their top choice was Gutenburg printing the Bible. Is this ranking, and other rankings like it, legitimate?
I might propose that "importance" be measured in terms of the amount that the event itself bent the arc of history. Certainly everything builds off the past so you have a pyramiding effect, but I could argue that the birth of Julius Caesar was not in and of itself an important event. It was a baby being born. Big deal. Travis Henry creates babies twice a year. The big event was Julius Caesar crossing the Rubicon, because that event bent the arc of history pretty strongly.

I think that's a better look, because otherwise everything traces back to lightning striking a protoplasm or some giant spider eating the last giant scorpion or God deciding that Eve would look great with big mammary glands.
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