Things We Think We Know

Posted on December 13, 2010


Pearl Harbor

A day that lives in infamy, right? Except that it wasn’t supposed to. The ambassador from Imperial Japan was on his way to the White House with a declaration of war when he got stuck in traffic. He was stuck so long that the attack happened before war was formally declared. In fact, both the US and the Japanese deserve a bad rap for is using POWs as slave labor after World War II ended to rebuild Japanese heavy industry.

The Soviets are Bad Engineers

The Soyuz space station gives the Soviets a bad reputation for engineering, but the truth is that Stalin’s periodic purges of aerospace engineers (he was afraid to fly, by the way) actually produced some phenomenal aircraft. Check out how many aerospace world records are held by Russian aircraft. They are brilliant.

The Business of America

“The business of America is business, and business is good,” right? Republicans like to trot that one out every election. Except they get the quote wrong.

The real statement comes from a speech by Calvin Coolidge called “The Press Under a Free Government” which was given before the American Society of Newspaper Editors in Washington, D.C. on January 17, 1925. The quote is really: “After all, the chief business of the American people is business.

Note the key difference here – Calvin Coolidge attributes business to the American people, not to the American government, and he implies that business is not the sole occupation of the American people.

So it’s worth reconsidering our assumptions regularly. We should think more, and know less.