The late, great car manufacturer Henry Ford was reputed to have said: ‘History is bunk!’ Thankfully, Americans today are more appreciative of the past, but how much do we really know? And does our knowledge come from paying attention in class? Online soap opera news site, SoapHub.com, decided to find out and surveyed 3,000 of us….

The first rather startling discovery is that almost one-quarter (23%) of Marylanders (compared to a national average of 27%) confessed to learning about history primarily through films and shows on streaming services such as Netflix! Broken down by state, those in Nebraska seem to rely mostly on TV for history learning with 52% of people saying this is the case here. In comparison, those in Idaho and Montana equally say they learn the least from streaming services, with only 11% in agreement. 

See how the country compares with this infographic

Hopefully no-one thought that the events in Game of Thrones actually happened, but there is still cause for slight concern as even Prince Harry admitted recently – during <that> Oprah interview – that The Crown, the drama about his own family, is a work of fiction, and not everything portrayed in it actually happened. The clue here, people, is in the word ‘drama’…

Speaking of which, a (slim) majority of 51% surveyed say they are pro-Harry and Meghan in the Royal saga!

Even worse, 46% of us admit to never reading history books. What, not even at school?! It is quite important, after all, to know about what happened in the years, decades and centuries before we were born, and how what happened before affects the present and future. But it’s true that many history books can be quite, shall we say, dry – mainly sticking to the facts, without bulking up the sights and sounds of the era, which doesn’t really help us to picture what things were really like.

Perhaps that’s why 49% of those polled say historical shows make them more interested in learning about history. Even if they’re not strictly 100% accurate – like the recent Elle Fanning series about Catherine the Great, called, handily, The Great – the atmosphere conjured up by the characters, the costumes and the dialogue can help bring a certain time period, or an important event, to life.

55% of respondents do think that historically based dramas such as The Crown should be clearly advertised as fictional, however – which is fair enough, as, of course, it’s not a documentary. And finally and quite refreshingly, 89% of people agree that learning about history enables us to develop better understanding of the world in which we live.


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