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Reading multiple accounts of the same topic | Reading

Because of our different backgrounds, beliefs, and experiences, everyone brings a different perspective to an event. We read multiple accounts of the same topic so we can bring all those perspectives together, and in so doing,  get a better handle on the truth.

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Video transcript

- [Instructor] Hello readers. There's a famous Japanese movie from 1950 called Roshomon, which is about different perspectives on a horrible crime scene. This is a film for adults. Definitely, consult your parent or guardian. But in the film, you witness four distinct accounts from four separate people. And each person remembers what happened very differently. The stories contradict each other. And by the end of the film, it's still not completely clear who did what to whom. Now, this raises an interesting philosophical question. What is the truth? How does a person's perspective their point of view, their background, and their beliefs change the way they interpret events or ideas? As readers, it's our job to engage with that question by reading and synthesizing multiple accounts of events. When we read multiple accounts, we grow closer to understanding a fuller picture of what happened. Now, we've talked before about the distinction between firsthand and secondhand accounts. So in 1912, the Titanic sank. Someone was aboard and survived to tell their story has a firsthand account. A historian who writes an account of the Titanic has a secondhand account and can incorporate multiple perspectives. But even among the firsthand accounts, you can have wildly different stories. Compare someone who was working in the ship's boiler room to a rich passenger in a fancy suite. They would've had very different experiences of surviving or, ugh, not surviving, a shipwreck. And it's important to get in a range of perspectives in order to get that full picture. If you ever watched any kind of sports game, you've probably seen an argument like this. That's a baseball player arguing with an umpire. Umpires and referees have one perspective on a sports game, "You were out!" And the players have another, "I was safe!" They both saw the same event, the same play, but they see it differently because their perspectives are so different. Now, we can take this understanding to the texts that we read. Who's the author of a text? What's their perspective? And what informs that perspective? The baseball player wants to be declared safe, the umpire wants to adhere to the rules as strictly as possible, but maybe there also an umpire that likes to call players out because they like having that power over people. Let's go back to the example of the crime scene from the beginning of the video. Imagine there's been a car crash. Now, below are two different accounts of the same crash. From the driver's perspective, "I was driving along, hands on the wheel, "eyes on the road, when suddenly, "out of nowhere, this kid on a bike "comes racing out in front of me! "I swerve to avoid them "and ran my car into this tree. "It's the biker's fault my car is wrecked!" Now, here's the cyclist's perspective. "I was biking along, in the bike lane, "when I look over and this driver is texting, "not looking where they're going. "They were weaving into the bike lane, "so I moved out into the road "to keep from being hit. "They must have panicked because they crashed "their car right into a tree. "I'm lucky the driver didn't hit me! "They should pay attention when they drive" Same situation, very different perspectives. Now, if we only had an additional eye witness to tell us what they saw. That might clear things up. The more accounts you have, the more confident you can feel in the accuracy of the facts. So ask yourself who's writing the text. Are they a fancy passenger on a cruise ship or are they shoveling coal in the boiler room? Are they a baseball player or a baseball umpire? It is only by comparing multiple accounts that we'll get to the bottom of things. You can learn anything, David out.