Mark Twain once wrote “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”
Yet despite Twain’s warning, so much of what we think we know about history is made up, misrepresented or just plain wrong.
Whether it be tales of Canute holding back the tide, the enduring myth of wartime ‘Blitz spirit’, the witticisms of Winston Churchill, or the life and crimes of Mongol warlord Genghis Khan – millions of us continue to believe false narratives about the past.
As we advance into the 21st century many people in Britain and indeed the rest of the world continue to buy into weaponised history, promulgated by bad-faith actors to bolster nationalist tropes for their own political ends. And that poses a threat to us all.
Otto/Andrew comes to TEDxManchester to document the enduring phenomena of fake history, asks who benefits and how we can break free.
A Whistleblower on Fake History
Otto English is the pen name of Essex born journalist and author Andrew Scott. Scott studied Drama and English at the University of Kent before completing an MA in playwriting at the University of Birmingham. Initially a writer for theatre and TV, he went on to work as a teacher before becoming a journalist, writing for Politico, the Independent, New Statesman and Byline Times among others. Scott is known for his work in challenging false narratives in history and politics.
His best-selling book, Fake History was published in 2021 and Fake Heroes followed in 2023.