I will not employ any euphemisms in this post. I want it to be perfectly understood that mankind’s trusted “common body of knowledge” is both a sick joke and a barely-there thing of an overwhelmingly ephemeral nature. As I see it, the damned thing is a dismal, incomplete collection of dim remembrances, half-truths, and folklore-turned-fact that becomes inserted into the collective American consciousness through repetition. And when I say repetition, I mean the kind like the “Columbus set sail to America prove the world was round” kind of repeated misinformation. He was looking for a new route to India, not looking to discover some "new world". In truth, the Vikings and Asians already found what would later be called "the Americas" long before the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria went sailing around the Caribbean. Only recently has the above correction begun to creep into the popular consciousness, thus showing how in retelling that which is incorrect again and again, fable becomes fact while fact becomes corrupted or forgotten.
Speaking of fact, it is an unquestionable that the general population tends to know of the extremes of a given type of incident or element of an event, but few are aware of other events that, while not quite as spectacular, devastating, or salacious as the better-known events, are nonetheless possessed of their own elements of courage, sadness, triumph, and bitter tragedy. This is the critical point where truth pivots toward lesser things. It is not only the exact point where the failures of the common body of knowledge become apparent, it is where our own desire and ability to be informed fails us as well, and where true knowledge should not only begin, it is where common knowledge should end. Unfortunately for us all, it does not.
There are many instances which illustrate the fallacy that is common knowledge. Let us consider the common knowledge about troubled painter Vincent Van Gogh (1853 - 1890). According to popular lore he cut off his entire right ear, but in reality, Van Gogh cut off his right ear lobe, not his entire ear. However, common knowledge demands the depiction of Van Gogh in the mass media with a large bandage on his head, presumably to cover his presumedly severed ear.
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