More proof that movies have more influence than historians, even when the movie is mostly myth!
Based on several studies the psychologist Jeffery M. Zacks concludes that “if you watch a film — even one concerning historical events about which you are informed — your beliefs may be reshaped by ‘facts’ that are not factual.” This is not good news! And it gets even worse. In one of the studies they asked the viewers to watch the movies for inaccuracies, but instead of changing their views it made them more likely to accept the incorrect facts! Is there any hope? They did find that “[h]aving the misinformation explicitly pointed out and corrected at the time it was encountered substantially reduced its influence.” The only problem with this technique, as Zacks points out, “could be a challenge.” Based on this information, it is even more critical that we call out those in the movie industry who irresponsibly misrepresent historical events in ways that go beyond artistic license. Some misrepresentations are probably of no consequence (Queen Elizabeth’s “affair” with Sir Walter Raleigh in Elizabeth: The Golden Age) but others can have profound consequences (JFK).