Item: Some among us apparently are not aware that the story of the Titanic was a real, honest-to-goodness, true-life historical event as opposed to a James Cameron “King of the World” extravaganza. (The evidence: a string of Twitter posts from users expressing surprise that the Titanic existed outside movies. The list appears to be real. Checking the accounts of some of the Twitter users who appear there, some seem to concede that they were ignorant of the Titanic’s existence (though some say they were in doubt about the reality of the love story depicted in the Cameron film). In fact, most of the people on the list have gotten pounded with responses pointing out how dumb they are.
But let us not be harsh. Let us say “credulous” or “unaware,” not “dumb.” Well, there’s unaware, and then there’s unaware. After all, we are the nation where:
- Fewer than half of poll respondents were certain their current president was born in the United States–two and a half years after he took office.
- Two in five poll respondents say God (yes–The God) created humans in their present form and one in six say we’re the product of evolution.
- A 2006 survey of younger Americans (ages 18-24) found that seven out of eight couldn’t find Afghanistan on a map of Asia. (On the other hand, we do have some certified geography whizzes among us.)
- A survey found “more than 50 percent … wrongly attributed the quote ‘From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs’ to George Washington, Thomas Paine, or President Barack Obama, when it is in fact a quote from Karl Marx.”
As a service, we’re offering a brief lists of people and events that have appeared in movies, both recent and classic, that historians say are real (as well as a few that are in fact apparently fictional):
- George W. Bush
- Nelson Mandela
- Bill Clinton
- Frost and Nixon
- Vietnam and Vietnam War
- World War II
- Seabiscuit and Phar Lap
- World War I
- Wild West, Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp
- Custer, Indians, Little Bighorn
- The Civil War
- George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams
- George III, Henry V
- Pope Gregory–the calendar guy
- Rome, gladiators, Claudius, Caligula
- Egypt, Cleopatra
- Ancient Greece, Alexander the Great
Jury still out on: Various religious figures, burning bushes, parting seas, Helen, Trojan War, Natty Bumppo, Ishmael, David Copperfield, Pip, Cyrano de Bergerac, The Man in the Iron Mask, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Man With No Name, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (and Liberty Valance), The Man in the White Suit, Sherlock Holmes, Elmer Gantry, Tom Swift, Tom Joad, Dr. Strangelove, Dr. Quinn (Medicine Woman), Smiley, Miss Piggy, E.T., Tatooine, Endor, Luke Skywalker, Undercover Brother, Jason Bourne.