Episode 93

Exploring Lightbulb Moments in Human History with Author Scott Williams

🎙

You can buy Lightbulb Moments here

In this engaging episode of 'Talk With History', hosts Scott and Jenn welcome Scott Williams, author of 'Lightbulb Moments in Human History from Cave to Coliseum'. 💡

They dive into the essential moments and ideas that shaped humanity's progression, discussing everything from the origins of writing to the importance of beer in ancient civilizations. 🍺

Scott Williams emphasizes the need for a balanced understanding of our past, acknowledging both the greatness and the flaws of historical figures. He also highlights the importance of history in sparking conversations, facilitating understanding, and promoting progress.

The discussion also previews Scott's future books which will chronologically explore significant historical 'lightbulb' moments.💡

0:00 92 Lightbulb Moments in Human History author Scott Williams

00:31 Introduction and Welcome

00:49 Introducing the Guest and His Book

01:47 Discussion on Scott Williams' Background and Inspiration

05:32 Exploring the Concept of 'Lightbulb Moments'

06:08 The Impact of Historical Innovations and Discoveries

10:31 The Role of History in Shaping Society

16:02 The Process of Writing 'Lightbulb Moments in Human History'

18:13 Favorite 'Lightbulb Moments' from the Book

22:43 The Importance of Understanding and Appreciating History

23:19 Negative Lightbulb moments

24:27 Lightbulb Moments Volume 2

33:53 Preview of Upcoming Books

35:31 Conclusion and Final Thoughts

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Transcript
Scott Williams:

There were some really interesting parts and all the interesting

Scott Williams:

parts were the parts about sort of the ideas that people had and and those things

Scott Williams:

that changed, people's perspectives and after about a year of struggling with

Scott Williams:

this , I realized where the story was, and I realized what I needed to write.

Scott Williams:

And the thing was, it had been there all along.

Scott:

Welcome to Talk With History.

Scott:

I'm your host, Scott, here with my wife and historian, Jen.

Scott:

Hello.

Scott:

On this podcast, we give you insights to our history inspired world travels,

Scott:

YouTube channel journey, and examine history through deeper conversations

Scott:

with the curious, the explorers, and the history lovers out there.

Scott:

Now, today, we are joined by Scott Williams, the author of Lightbulb Moments

Scott:

in Human History from Cave to Coliseum.

Scott:

Welcome, Scott.

Scott Williams:

Hey Scott, how are you doing?

Scott:

Now, before we get into chatting with Scott about his book, I want to

Scott:

remind our listeners that you can find Scott's book on Amazon in various But if

Scott:

you can't remember the exact title after you're done listening to today's episode,

Scott:

as we say in our past episodes, you can always find links to light bulb moments

Scott:

over at our website, talkwithhistory.

Scott:

com.

Scott:

So just go to talkwithhistory.

Scott:

com, search for light bulb moments.

Scott:

That's talkwithhistory.

Scott:

com and search for light bulb moments and you'll be able to find

Scott:

links directly to Scott's book.

Scott Williams:

Fantastic.

Scott:

We try to share history as much as we can.

Scott:

now, as I mentioned earlier, we're joined today by Scott Williams,

Scott:

the author of Lightbulb Moments in Human History from Cave to Coliseum.

Scott:

Now, Scott is a self described optimistic smartass, writer,

Scott:

humorist, and history nerd.

Scott:

His fascination with humanity's lightbulb moments began as a child

Scott:

while watching the first moon landing.

Scott:

I appreciated your opening in the book.

Scott:

He also has his own podcast that he hosts with his friend

Scott:

CJ called What's My Age Again.

Scott:

Now, thank you again for joining us tonight, Scott.

Scott:

I, I really do appreciate it.

Scott Williams:

thank you for having me.

Scott Williams:

And just, just back on the moon landing, I don't know if you can see over the

Scott Williams:

back of me, obviously the listeners can't see this, but I've got a, a signed

Scott Williams:

Neil Armstrong photo up there, as so I'm Definitely a history in space nerd.

Scott:

Yeah, no, I, I actually really appreciated the, the opening.

Scott:

I didn't get to read the whole book.

Scott:

I poked around a little bit.

Scott:

But you sharing that kind of drew me right in to, to your perspective

Scott:

and why you wrote this book.

Scott:

So maybe we can jump right into that.

Scott:

So was that moon landing, was that really something that kind of sparked

Scott:

the flame of your interest in history and these kind of large historical moments?

Scott Williams:

Oh, absolutely.

Scott Williams:

I mean if you're six years old I mean I used to get up obviously in Australia

Scott Williams:

the the the launches and landings were totally different times for what it was

Scott Williams:

for you guys and Often I'd get up in the morning at like in the morning with my

Scott Williams:

dad and we'd sit there watching launches.

Scott Williams:

We actually saw the moon landing at school because we were actually at school

Scott Williams:

and they rolled out the TV set and we watched the moon landing at school.

Scott Williams:

And I mean, those kinds of things really stick with you.

Scott Williams:

I, I fully understood the import of it.

Scott Williams:

I knew it was a, a moment in history that was possibly, may never be, never

Scott Williams:

be surpassed the way we're going.

Scott Williams:

But it's, it's it was incredible.

Scott Williams:

And certainly it sparked a love of those kind of big moments, big historical

Scott Williams:

moments and big breakthroughs that I follow through now, obviously.

Scott:

Yeah.

Scott:

So, so for, I mean, that, that was obviously when you were younger, was

Scott:

there something else and you as you went through school, I mean, I know you

Scott:

joked in that opening okay, now I got to start training to be an astronaut, but I

Scott:

mean, that's, that's a little different.

Scott:

Track , it's more of a, , go fly and learn engineering and all that stuff.

Scott:

Then, then end up writing about history.

Scott:

What kind of led you down the path of, eventually writing a book?

Scott Williams:

Look, I think it's just one of those things that

Scott Williams:

I've been fascinated with history.

Scott Williams:

I only really wrote, started writing in my late fifties, so I wanted to write

Scott Williams:

but I could never work out an angle.

Scott Williams:

And finally the angle was the hardest thing for me.

Scott Williams:

And it turned out that the angle was there all along.

Scott Williams:

I just had to recognise that this, these big moments were the things

Scott Williams:

that fascinated me, and the things that made me realise that the

Scott Williams:

world continues to get better.

Scott Williams:

I think, I hear a lot of people being very negative.

Scott Williams:

And I know that the world, there are lots of problems in the world at the

Scott Williams:

moment, obviously we can see in Ukraine, and in the Middle East and everything.

Scott Williams:

But, in the end, if you, if you sort of went to any other time in

Scott Williams:

history, things were still worse.

Scott Williams:

And think where we've continued to iteratively get better and

Scott Williams:

better by building on all the developments of people before us.

Scott Williams:

And I think people have lost track of that.

Scott Williams:

And I really wanted to to sort of bring that back for people to see

Scott Williams:

that, hey, things aren't that bad.

Scott Williams:

And I think my experience of things I've read over the years and my

Scott Williams:

fascinations with all these things just made me realize that this is

Scott Williams:

a lens to look at that through.

Jenn:

You're very optimistic and I appreciate that because I think that's

Jenn:

where we have to be with history And I'm I'm very much I don't like that

Jenn:

term history repeats itself because I'm like You're never gonna be in the

Jenn:

exact same place exact same time for history to actually repeat itself It

Jenn:

can echo in some ways, but it will never actually repeat itself What would you

Jenn:

define a lightbulb moment as like how big of a aha moment does it have to be?

Jenn:

What what is?

Jenn:

When you're writing a book like what did what do you

Jenn:

constitute a lightbulb moment as?

Scott Williams:

Okay, they can be, they, they don't have to be massive,

Scott Williams:

but they have to be things that are unprecedented and eventually lead

Scott Williams:

to something like the first caveman who chipped the first stone tool.

Scott Williams:

Hitting two rocks together is not a big deal.

Scott Williams:

But that iteratively led to machines, to all sorts of things.

Scott Williams:

Just it took.

Scott Williams:

Millions of years, but the, so it doesn't have to be a big thing, but one of the

Scott Williams:

reasons why it seemed for so long humans in our current form have been around

Scott Williams:

for hundreds of thousands of years, yet it's only in the last, probably

Scott Williams:

two or three hundred years that things have really started to change big time.

Scott Williams:

And that's because it took so long to get all the little building blocks in place.

Scott Williams:

I mean like, they had to, cavemen had to learn how to communicate with each other.

Scott Williams:

They had to make tools, they had to do all these things that, that took a long time.

Scott Williams:

These things didn't happen overnight.

Scott Williams:

And once things started to, to build, once we started to get these

Scott Williams:

little sort of sparks of ingenuity.

Scott Williams:

Building one upon the other, then things start to speed up to the point where

Scott Williams:

we're now sort of, can't keep up with it.

Scott Williams:

There's no one person could be Leonardo da Vinci now because there's just

Scott Williams:

no one could keep all the different strands of knowledge in their head.

Scott Williams:

a Lightbulb moment is just something that sparks.

Scott Williams:

Some kind of paradigm shift.

Scott Williams:

Yeah,

Jenn:

remember in a grad school learning about what constitutes

Jenn:

a civilization, right?

Jenn:

When do anthropologists give the The term civilization to a group of people

Jenn:

and it's when they can find proof that there have a bone that is healed So if

Jenn:

there was a broken bone and it has healed they prove civilization because there's

Jenn:

a group of people that can Set a bone.

Jenn:

They're taking care of someone.

Jenn:

They're helping someone to mend So they're they're doing all of those things

Jenn:

you said it's like the result of the lightbulb moments It's the result of

Jenn:

the communications result of learning about medicine it's the result of

Jenn:

learning and being together as a group that the bone heals and they can see

Jenn:

that on a skeleton and that's when they can tell that that was a civilization.

Jenn:

So I can see what you're saying.

Scott Williams:

Yeah, it's like collective learning.

Scott Williams:

I mean, once we start to get a body of knowledge, we have to somehow pass it on.

Scott Williams:

Now, for thousands and thousands of years, there was no writing.

Scott Williams:

So the only way they could pass it on was by speech.

Scott Williams:

But if someone got old and they died, they lost their information, and

Scott Williams:

they were, like you were saying, when they can look after somebody who is

Scott Williams:

unwell, that means they're beginning to appreciate what they bring to the group

Scott Williams:

in knowledge, and that, that appreciation from knowledge then sort of, they then

Scott Williams:

get a chance to pass that knowledge on.

Scott Williams:

It just, it just shows, like you say, it's civilization building.

Jenn:

Like you said, we're at this point now where AI, it's so fast.

Jenn:

No one person can do it.

Jenn:

It has to be like these collective, like now you can, maybe, maybe

Jenn:

you can specialize in your one.

Jenn:

area, your one field of study and have something great happen

Jenn:

and you put the face of it.

Jenn:

But if there's nobody who's going to be like a Thomas Edison today, like

Jenn:

you just don't have the capacity to do it to people moving so fast as

Jenn:

2000 Thomas Edison's living right now that are working really fast.

Scott Williams:

I totally agree.

Scott Williams:

And in fact, I see a problem with the fact that that one person can't

Scott Williams:

monitor everything because I think a lot of the big ideas that I write

Scott Williams:

about are things that are different strands of knowledge brought together

Scott Williams:

by people who understood that this could be relevant to something else.

Scott Williams:

But if you've got people who are so focused in their field, they don't

Scott Williams:

know about another field, they can't see the connection, they can't see the

Scott Williams:

relevance, you're not going to have.

Scott Williams:

Transcribed Some of those big lightbulb moments, unless there's someone who

Scott Williams:

is like a polymath who can just look at everything and say, Hey, hold

Scott Williams:

on, that that's pertinent to that.

Scott Williams:

So it's, it's difficult.

Jenn:

Yes.

Jenn:

And you, you've taken your light bulb moments and you've categorized them.

Jenn:

You've put them into four groups.

Scott Williams:

yeah, that's.

Scott Williams:

That was I mean, it's, it's, it's, it's legit but I'm not a, I'm not

Scott Williams:

a historian as such, and I'm not, it's not an intellectual book.

Scott Williams:

I wanted to try and have something, a framework to hang it off, and I

Scott Williams:

did characterize them into different groups, but that was more for anyone

Scott Williams:

who was reading it who wanted to have something to, to sort of, just

Scott Williams:

to look at and see what See how it, things related, but also my editor had

Scott Williams:

said to me, you should do something a little bit more intellectual here.

Scott Williams:

So that wasn't a part of the original book.

Scott Williams:

And I, I chafed at that a bit because it made it seem like I was more

Scott Williams:

of a theorist than I really am.

Scott Williams:

So.

Jenn:

I appreciate it.

Scott:

I appreciated that.

Scott:

I mean, I, so I appreciated, again, that was kind of in the, in the early part

Scott:

of your book, you say, okay, here's the categories, but you do caveat listen,

Scott:

I'm not a huge fan of these cats.

Scott:

You poke, you poke fun at yourself right away.

Scott:

And so I appreciate the humor, the humor right up front.

Scott:

And I'm actually looking forward to digging deep, dig digging deeper into

Scott:

the, into the book, because I feel like your book is one of those ones

Scott:

that I could, someone could pick up at any given time and just flip to

Scott:

a chapter or flip to a certain spot.

Scott:

They can either read it all the way through, or they could just say, Hey,

Scott:

this is an interesting, this caught my.

Scott:

Caught my eye on TV.

Scott:

Oh, yeah, that's one of the chapters in this book.

Scott:

I mean, is that kind of how you intended this was to, to be easy

Scott:

to read, either front to back or pick it up whenever you, you could.

Scott Williams:

I tend to be one of those people who pick, pick things

Scott Williams:

out of books and, and read what I can.

Scott Williams:

So, but I didn't, I wouldn't say I intended that to happen.

Scott Williams:

What I intended was to have, I mean, like we were talking before about an

Scott Williams:

overarching view of like technology and things that I wanted to have an

Scott Williams:

overarching view of history, which I mean there's, there's actually a kind

Scott Williams:

of history called big history and it's basically just pulling back from all

Scott Williams:

the minutiae and, and, and looking at trends and looking at things like that.

Scott Williams:

I didn't want to get quite that far away, but I wanted to be able to pull back

Scott Williams:

enough that you could see the patterns.

Scott Williams:

I know, I know that there's not.

Scott Williams:

History doesn't repeat itself.

Scott Williams:

I I agree totally with what you said there, but there are patterns that

Scott Williams:

recur, that are dealt with in different ways by different civilizations.

Scott Williams:

And the, the, when you do that, when you pull back and do what I've, I've

Scott Williams:

done, even for me, I didn't realize until I started to write what I was

Scott Williams:

looking at here, where there was a lot of patterns and a lot of things that,

Scott Williams:

that echoed in even present day stuff.

Scott:

And that's, and that's where I could see your, the categorization.

Scott:

that you, we, we joke about earlier, that would probably help you from a writing

Scott:

perspective, at least for me, right?

Scott:

That's the way my brain works, is I gotta outline something, I gotta have some

Scott:

categories, and then, okay, I can pick and choose, okay, if, if it's a religion,

Scott:

okay, this is when this religion came to the forefront, or that religion came to

Scott:

the forefront, or that concept came out.

Scott:

With that, I mean, when you're researching a book like this, there's, there's

Scott:

no kind of One single source aside, if you just say the internet for all

Scott:

of history, if we interviewed someone who is, who is, writing on John Quincy

Scott:

Adams the other day, and he had a very specific source and one place he could

Scott:

go to for some personal journals.

Scott:

But for you, what were you using for your, for your research for this book?

Scott Williams:

Oh, look, it was, it was, I say the internet, but

Scott Williams:

I would also, I would look at the internet and then I'd go, okay, I

Scott Williams:

would, I would pick something up.

Scott Williams:

I wanted to look for big ideas.

Scott Williams:

But I wanted odd angles on big ideas too.

Scott Williams:

I wanted, I wanted there to be stories involved.

Scott Williams:

So I would look to see if there were stories involved with something.

Scott Williams:

And I would, I would even look at Wikipedia.

Scott Williams:

And then I would, once I saw that, then I'd go, okay, deep dive

Scott Williams:

on their sources then on other sources to see the veracity of it.

Scott Williams:

That's why I don't regard myself at any stretch, by any stretch of

Scott Williams:

the imagination as a historian.

Scott Williams:

I am not a historian because I don't do the proper groundwork

Scott Williams:

a historian would do.

Scott:

Yeah.

Scott Williams:

I, I mean, I, I, and I would I would be loath to, people

Scott Williams:

sometimes say, oh, you're a historian.

Scott Williams:

No, I'm not.

Scott Williams:

And that's not because I, I respect historians too much to

Scott Williams:

equate myself with a historian.

Scott Williams:

But I also, I respect history and I don't write stuff that's not true or that isn't

Scott Williams:

any that hasn't been reported as true.

Scott Williams:

If any history I've written is debated, I will then put a caveat

Scott Williams:

on that and say, hey this is a great story, but it's debatable.

Scott Williams:

But I will go with the great story, if there's one there,

Scott Williams:

purely for entertainment's sake.

Scott Williams:

It's an entertainment book.

Scott Williams:

It's not, it's not, it is informative, but it's meant to be entertaining.

Scott Williams:

, Jenn: see it as inspiring.

Scott Williams:

It's one of those inspiring books, right?

Scott Williams:

It's one of those If this person could do that, maybe I could do that.

Scott Williams:

If that person was in this situation, I'd like to think I

Scott Williams:

would do that in that situation.

Scott Williams:

I think that's what history, we want to hear these, these history makers that

Scott Williams:

made these hard decisions and did things that we can look at and be like, wow, I,

Scott Williams:

I'm inspired to do something like that.

Scott Williams:

Like Neil Armstrong.

Scott Williams:

Right?

Scott Williams:

I'm inspired to reach for the moon and then have a really

Scott Williams:

great line once I hit the moon.

Scott Williams:

Yeah, yeah.

Scott Williams:

Absolutely.

Scott Williams:

A glitch in the recording.

Scott:

exactly.

Jenn:

So how long did it take you to write the book?

Scott Williams:

When I started, I started writing it as a history of education.

Scott Williams:

That was, that, it began as that.

Scott Williams:

And I spent probably about a year putting together as a history of education.

Scott Williams:

And then I started to go There were some really interesting parts and

Scott Williams:

all the interesting parts were the parts about sort of the ideas that

Scott Williams:

people had and and those things that changed, people's perspectives and

Scott Williams:

I'm a, I'm a teacher by, by trade.

Scott Williams:

I, I, and so that was why I thought education was good.

Scott Williams:

I was looking for an angle, education was the angle I was going for.

Scott Williams:

Then I realized that A, not many people would be super interested and

Scott Williams:

B, there was a better story there, or there was a better book there.

Scott Williams:

And so.

Scott Williams:

After about a year of struggling with this history of education, I

Scott Williams:

realized where the story was, and I realized what I needed to write.

Scott Williams:

And the thing was, it had been there all along.

Scott Williams:

Ever since, like I say in the book, I don't know if you got that far, but my dad

Scott Williams:

would read to me at night, and I wanted to be read non fiction books, so he'd

Scott Williams:

read to me about ancient Egypt, he'd read to me about all these history things.

Scott Williams:

And it started all back then.

Scott Williams:

And then over the years I've just always touched base with, with

Scott Williams:

history things, and even my my love of science fiction, to me science

Scott Williams:

fiction is the history of the future.

Scott Williams:

The history I'll never get to see.

Scott Williams:

So I, I love science fiction because obviously I'll be dead, but that gives

Scott Williams:

me a bit of an idea as to what history might be like, so it's, it, everything

Scott Williams:

for me is about Historical moments.

Scott:

SO what, what are some of your.

Scott:

If I'm gonna tell a friend about this book, and, and even just the quick reading

Scott:

that I did of the first, 20 or 30 pages I, I actually really started getting into it.

Scott:

And then my kids, yelled at me about something and I had to go warm

Scott:

up a hot dog or whatever it was.

Scott:

But so what are some of your favorites that, as you were writing this or

Scott:

that kind of stood out to you the most in this, particular book?

Scott Williams:

Okay, some of the things that, I mean, not all of

Scott Williams:

them are life changing moments.

Scott Williams:

One of the ones I really like is the beer, beer before bread hypothesis,

Scott Williams:

which is a hypothesis that humanity didn't band together in cities and,

Scott Williams:

and farm and everything to, to, to grow food and to make bread.

Scott Williams:

They, they needed to make beer.

Scott Williams:

And so one of the reasons that they they sort of develop farming was to create a a

Scott Williams:

reliable source of grain for making beer.

Scott:

Grain for making beer.

Scott Williams:

and that's, that's actually a, a bona fide theory.

Scott Williams:

That's not someone off the internet.

Scott Williams:

That's actually, there's a scientific paper that, that, that, it's only a

Scott Williams:

theory, but it's still an interesting one.

Scott Williams:

And it certainly,

Scott:

fun one, yeah.

Scott Williams:

it's a fun one.

Scott Williams:

And when you see how important beer was to early civilizations,

Scott Williams:

the Mesopotamians loved beer.

Scott Williams:

Although the beer they drank wasn't exactly like what

Scott Williams:

we would drink, apparently.

Scott Williams:

It was more like porridge and they had to drink it with a straw because of all

Scott Williams:

the bits and pieces that were in it.

Scott:

Oh my gosh.

Scott Williams:

the,

Scott:

Hardy

Scott Williams:

yeah, the Egyptians loved beer.

Scott Williams:

The Chinese love beer.

Scott Williams:

So it was a, it was one of those things that, it's universal.

Scott Williams:

And it's conceivable that, that, that beer before bread

Scott Williams:

hypothesis was true, was true.

Scott Williams:

The fact that writing was pretty much invented by accountants.

Scott Williams:

So even though we see writing now as literary, literary sort

Scott Williams:

of pursuits and all that kind of stuff, it was the accountants of

Scott Williams:

Mesopotamia that that really started to sort of put things down on.

Scott Williams:

Not paper, obviously on clay, but they start to make marks in clay.

Scott Williams:

Those marks became more important, more complex and then a bit length,

Scott Williams:

a written language came out of that.

Scott Williams:

That was interesting.

Scott:

I mean, that, that makes sense.

Scott:

That it, it's, it's useful for money.

Scott:

Useful for money.

Scott:

That's right.

Scott:

Right.

Scott:

Yeah.

Scott:

Leave it, to leave it to the accountants and, the IRS types,

Scott:

here, at least here in the States.

Scott:

Mm-Hmm.

Scott:

, that, to, to invent the system that would that would track all

Scott:

the taxes that, that I gotta

Scott Williams:

Oh, yeah.

Scott Williams:

Yeah.

Scott Williams:

I mean, what, and that's, that's definitely a lightbulb moment.

Scott Williams:

Some of them, there's a story in there about Sun Tzu, the,

Scott Williams:

the famous Chinese general.

Scott Williams:

And I wouldn't say it's a lightbulb moment other than the fact that he codified some

Scott Williams:

of the, sort of the ideas to do with war.

Scott Williams:

But there was a story in the, in the book about how his emperor had challenged

Scott Williams:

him to get a a group of, like female I think concubines to, to act like an army.

Scott Williams:

So he he divided them into two groups and he made one of the king's, of

Scott Williams:

the emperor's concubines, the leader of each group, and then basically

Scott Williams:

taught them some manoeuvres.

Scott Williams:

And when he brought the king out, or the emperor out to watch, they

Scott Williams:

mucked it all up, they fell about laughing, and thought it was hilarious.

Scott Williams:

And so, he executed both of the concubines who were the leaders, and

Scott Williams:

then retrained the ones that were left, and they performed perfectly after that.

Scott:

Absolutely.

Scott:

It's motivation.

Scott:

Yeah, that, that, that, that'll teach you to learn the art

Scott:

of war very, very quickly.

Scott:

Oh, my goodness.

Scott Williams:

So yeah, there's loads of stuff like that.

Scott Williams:

A lot of, a lot of the stories to do with mythology and ancient

Scott Williams:

Egypt and Rome and Greece.

Scott Williams:

I mean, I, I won't give away, there's, there's a lot in there and obviously

Scott Williams:

and this one could be a little bit controversial in the States, but there's

Scott Williams:

some interesting stuff about Christianity too, but we might not go there right now.

Scott:

Yeah I mean, there's lots of things.

Scott:

I mean, and that's a great point.

Scott:

And that's why I appreciated you setting the stage of hey, there are categories.

Scott:

If you, the reader, wants to think of things in a certain category,

Scott:

you're giving us the tools.

Scott:

And then you say, hey, you don't have to use them because

Scott:

I don't even like using them.

Scott:

But to your point, religion, politics, the idea of government

Scott:

and all that, that kind of stuff.

Scott:

I mean, I'm sure a lot of those things are those, those light bulb moments.

Jenn:

And I think that it's important to know your, the history.

Jenn:

No matter if you like it or not, or if it sits well with you, you need

Jenn:

to, you should know it because if you're going to have a conversation,

Jenn:

a critical thinking conversation about something, then you need to know what's

Jenn:

the other side and what's the evidence and let's have a conversation about it.

Jenn:

So I think that's good that you put that in there.

Jenn:

Don't shy away from that.

Scott Williams:

Oh, absolutely.

Scott Williams:

And I think one thing we have done recently, and I, I suppose we're

Scott Williams:

looking at the dumbing down of society the people don't tend to quick think

Scott Williams:

critically, and they don't look at the past, they don't look at science

Scott Williams:

and so many of these things that we really need to move forward.

Scott Williams:

And I mean, I've, I've hear my saying that I think the world keeps getting better.

Scott Williams:

But.

Scott Williams:

We're in a bit of a downturn now.

Scott Williams:

I'd say if, if, if I always say that it's like the stock market.

Scott Williams:

We're on a steady uptick, but there are corrections along the way.

Scott Williams:

And right now I think we're in a correction.

Scott:

Is there anything when you were studying kind of these

Scott:

lightbulb moments, and I think you alluded to it, like even writing,

Scott:

it depends on what's done with it.

Scott:

Writing could have been positive, like the Bible, or it could have been negative

Scott Williams:

Mein Kampf.

Scott Williams:

Yeah.

Scott:

That's what you wrote in the book.

Scott:

I mean, was there other things like that, in, in your book for lightbulb

Scott:

moments that were could have, that were both, I guess, positive and negative?

Scott Williams:

Oh look, tools can be used for multiple, multiple things.

Scott Williams:

You can use a knife to, to sort of butter bread.

Scott Williams:

You can also stab someone with a knife.

Scott Williams:

There's lots of, there's lots of alternate uses for seemingly good things.

Scott Williams:

Free speech is a great thing, but free speech can be abused.

Scott Williams:

And I think I'm, no one's calling for the, for free speech to be curtailed, but.

Scott Williams:

You do wonder why people can get away with saying blatant untruths and, and

Scott Williams:

changing Like basically changing people's outlook on history based on untruths.

Scott Williams:

That, that to me is, is wrong and shouldn't be allowed.

Scott Williams:

But then how do you police that when free speech is so important?

Scott:

Now, I think I saw when I was poking around on Amazon,

Scott:

that do you have another another, like a volume two coming out here

Scott Williams:

I do, I do have volume two coming out.

Scott Williams:

There's, there we go.

Scott Williams:

There's volume one, volume two.

Scott:

Oh, there you

Jenn:

go.

Jenn:

There you go.

Jenn:

There was just so many that you found that you had another book.

Scott Williams:

well, basically what I'm doing is I'm, I'm, I'm

Scott Williams:

just moving through history.

Scott Williams:

The first book goes from the first humans up to the end of the Roman Empire.

Scott Williams:

And then I'm picking up from, yeah, from the middle ages up

Scott Williams:

to the scientific revolution.

Scott Williams:

Right now I'm working on book three.

Scott Williams:

which is the Enlightenment.

Scott Williams:

In fact, it's that the working title at the moment is Revolution to

Scott Williams:

Evolution, which is going to pick up on the the French Revolution, American

Scott Williams:

Revolution, and then up to Darwin.

Scott Williams:

And then I'm going to keep on going basically.

Scott Williams:

But the idea is to, is to, to do it chronologically.

Scott Williams:

So you can iteratively, iteratively build.

Scott Williams:

And the fact that the first book.

Scott Williams:

Covers probably two million years of history.

Scott Williams:

The second book covers a thousand years.

Scott Williams:

The third book is going to cover 200 years maybe.

Scott Williams:

And, and that

Scott Williams:

how fast things are growing.

Scott Williams:

Yeah.

Scott Williams:

So in fact, the original idea was to do three books.

Scott Williams:

It's probably going to end up being five.

Scott:

Wow.

Scott:

That's

Scott Williams:

I'm, I'm, I'm sort of, making it, stretching

Scott Williams:

it out to try to do whatever.

Scott Williams:

I'm basically, I'm struggling to fit it all in.

Scott Williams:

And in fact, I'm sure any, I'm sure anyone could look at the first book and go, why

Scott Williams:

didn't you put this, this, this, or this?

Scott Williams:

And the further I go along.

Scott Williams:

The more there's going to be.

Scott Williams:

So I think if you've read in the introduction I'm putting in

Scott Williams:

ones that I think are important.

Scott Williams:

They're not the only important lightbulb moments.

Scott Williams:

I think I can't possibly do it It's just a way of me sort of showing this

Scott Williams:

iterative building and how how the world is getting better and how we

Scott Williams:

need to appreciate that our lives are You know, immensely better than the

Scott Williams:

lives of people even 200 years ago.

Scott Williams:

So I think sometimes we just don't appreciate what we've got.

Jenn:

I like that

Scott:

gratitude.

Scott:

Yeah.

Scott:

And, and that's one thing.

Scott:

And if you've been listening, if you have been listening to podcasts and you,

Scott:

you would know that, that I tell people all the time, I'm not the history nerd,

Scott:

but I've learned a lot doing all this stuff with Jen and learning about the

Scott:

lens that we look at things through.

Scott:

And you even mentioned that in the very beginning, right?

Scott:

As long as, as you can.

Scott:

Be curious and be open enough to know that you are looking at something

Scott:

through a lens and you can be willing enough to be open to that conversation.

Scott:

You can be grateful and studying history and even knowing just a little bit

Scott:

about history, whether it's watching one of our videos or reading your book

Scott:

about those big light bulb moments that will give you that perspective

Scott:

and help you understand like, Hey, I really don't have it that bad.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

And I like it's that Scott like this is your book.

Jenn:

So you're going to choose the light bulb moments, right?

Jenn:

If someone else has other ones, and they can go write their book.

Scott:

No,

Scott Williams:

I saw something and went, Oh my God, why

Scott Williams:

didn't I put that in the book?

Scott Williams:

Then I just, I just stopped being hard on myself and going, I did the

Scott Williams:

best I could, and there's loads of things I could have put in that I

Scott Williams:

haven't put in, and I know that.

Scott Williams:

But yeah, I'm, I'm really happy with how it's come out.

Scott Williams:

I'm happy with The feel.

Scott Williams:

I think the, the feedback I've got is, it meant I'm trying to make

Scott Williams:

history appealing, interesting.

Scott Williams:

A bit funny 'cause there are funny parts in history.

Scott Williams:

I wanna, I want to tease those things out so people get to see the

Scott Williams:

interesting, fun parts of history.

Scott Williams:

It isn't all just dates and things like that.

Scott Williams:

It's, it's a living thing that, that these people were alive.

Scott Williams:

I mean, they, they had lives like you and I, they.

Scott Williams:

were, they lived, they died, they had problems, and to see them as real people

Scott Williams:

who were stupid and did dumb things and, but also did amazing things, it's

Scott Williams:

and that people like say Churchill, who was incredible, but also had a really

Scott Williams:

bad side to him, and I think you can acknowledge that You could acknowledge

Scott Williams:

the greatness and still say, hey, this person wasn't, he was a bit of a

Scott Williams:

racist and he was a bit of this and a bit of that, but he also was inspiring

Scott Williams:

and did all these amazing things.

Scott Williams:

I have a real problem with people trying to revise history in a way which

Scott Williams:

takes away the, that greatness factor and say George Washington's our own

Scott Williams:

slaves, therefore he was a bad person.

Scott Williams:

And and not looking at The way things were at the time.

Scott Williams:

You can't judge people by today's standards.

Scott Williams:

That's not how history works.

Scott:

not at all.

Scott:

And I think we were just talking about that

Jenn:

earlier.

Jenn:

I think that's the whole point, I was they just took down that

Jenn:

they removed the Thomas Jefferson statue from the New York city hall.

Jenn:

It's been up there for a hundred and it's been in there for 187 years.

Jenn:

And I say, we're not doing our jobs as historians.

Jenn:

If that stuff is happening, because if people can, can dumb people down

Jenn:

to one thing about them and it's a bad thing and then remove everything

Jenn:

else that they've influenced and done and created and changed.

Jenn:

Then we're not doing job as historians to provide context.

Jenn:

And that is what historians do because nothing is happening today.

Jenn:

That is 200 years ago that we live off of today.

Jenn:

And so I, I totally agree with you.

Jenn:

I find it very, It's fascinating that people want to just take all the past

Jenn:

and judge it today and then put it on a side and I really dislike the former

Jenn:

President Obama had used this right and wrong side of history and I really

Jenn:

dislike those terms because there is no right and wrong side of history.

Jenn:

It's all the accurate side of history.

Jenn:

It's all the truth side of history.

Jenn:

If you're looking for a right side, it's the side that's the truth.

Jenn:

That's the right side.

Jenn:

The wrong side is.

Jenn:

changing it or saying something different or, or making something else more

Jenn:

important than what it is for an agenda.

Jenn:

That's the wrong side of history.

Jenn:

So I have a hard time with this, this trying to judge history and

Jenn:

and, and clean it out from what.

Jenn:

People had to have done in the past because nobody was perfect.

Scott Williams:

No, it doesn't mean you can't look at history through different

Scott Williams:

lenses and say like I, I use the example of my grandmother who was born in 1895.

Scott Williams:

She was born when Australia or before Australia even was a country, but she

Scott Williams:

grew up during what was called the time of the white Australia policy where

Scott Williams:

basically, no one who wasn't white and Anglo Saxon could come into the country.

Scott Williams:

She was a terrible racist.

Scott Williams:

But, she was a lovely person, but she was a terrible racist because of the era she

Scott Williams:

grew up in, and everyone was racist then.

Scott Williams:

I mean, Australia wasn't that far away from South Africa, in many respects.

Scott Williams:

So, you gotta look at it in that respect.

Scott Williams:

And, she, she grew up through the World War I, Great Depression, World War II.

Scott Williams:

She ended up, she saw the moon landing.

Scott Williams:

I mean, society changed so much in that time.

Scott Williams:

And I'm sure some of her attitudes change, but there's a certain point

Scott Williams:

where when you're a person of a certain age, there's only so far you can change.

Scott Williams:

And I think, I look at her, I remember the good person she was, but I acknowledge

Scott Williams:

that There were problems, but I also know why those problems happened.

Scott Williams:

And I don't, I don't, I don't sort of say she's not my grandmother anymore because

Scott Williams:

she said mean things about black people.

Scott Williams:

I mean, she did, she was awful.

Scott Williams:

I, I was actually quite shocked at some of the things she said, even as a child.

Scott Williams:

So that was, it was a wake up call.

Scott Williams:

There's no doubt about that, but she was also a good person in other respects,

Scott Williams:

but she came from a time when the default position was everyone was a racist.

Scott Williams:

. Scott: And that's why I always appreciate our conversations on talk

Scott Williams:

with history because, I think our guests, have that perspective of,

Scott Williams:

of learning about history and being willing to say yes, that that wasn't.

Scott Williams:

By today's lens those actions back then weren't right.

Scott Williams:

However, people have gotten better and we have to understand where they

Scott Williams:

came from And so again, that's what I appreciate about books like yours

Scott Williams:

that bring some humor into this and make it a little bit more accessible

Scott Williams:

for the non history nerds like myself.

Scott Williams:

And it, it's something that I, I can, I would mention to my friends at work

Scott Williams:

and say, Hey, if, if you want a good, kind of coffee table, history book, or

Scott Williams:

if you want to check out a history book, this one's super fun because it talks

Scott Williams:

about all these, these larger concepts that most people will, be familiar with,

Scott Williams:

but maybe not the details behind them.

Scott Williams:

And then you interjecting your humor.

Scott Williams:

Throughout the book, is, is great.

Scott Williams:

So for for those listening, Scott, what's the best place that you would

Scott Williams:

want them to come to you if you, they wanted to look for your, your current

Scott Williams:

book or your book that's coming out?

Scott Williams:

I think in the spring is what I saw.

Scott Williams:

Yeah, look, it's if you come to my website

Scott Williams:

lightbulbmomentshistory.

Scott Williams:

com, it's got links to all the places you can get it, but you can, the other thing

Scott Williams:

is I've just released a, an audio book of the first book that came out this month.

Scott Williams:

Okay.

Scott Williams:

So for, for listeners who don't like sitting down reading books,

Scott Williams:

but like to listen to things cause, Hey, I'm a podcast listener and

Scott Williams:

I'm an audio book listener too.

Scott Williams:

Like I, most of my reading is done.

Scott Williams:

while walking or doing housework.

Scott Williams:

And I don't get time to sit down and read as much as I'd like.

Scott Williams:

So that's there.

Scott Williams:

It's there now.

Scott Williams:

It's it's available.

Scott Williams:

It's not quite there and audible for some reason yet, but everywhere else, Spotify,

Scott Williams:

it's the audio books available out there.

Scott Williams:

I think it's quite accessible.

Scott Williams:

I'm not reading it.

Scott Williams:

So but I engaged a professional person to do that But as far as yeah everywhere else

Scott Williams:

The books are the first books available everywhere Amazon and everywhere else.

Scott Williams:

The second book will be available everywhere as well but certainly my

Scott Williams:

website's a good place to come and I can you can sign up for my mailing list.

Scott:

awesome.

Scott:

No, that's, that's great.

Scott:

And, and we will we're, we're actually planning on putting

Scott:

together like a little kind of holiday gift guide, we're going to.

Scott:

Put out maybe on our channel or something like that.

Scott:

So we're absolutely going to include your, your book in that.

Scott:

Cause I think it's a great one.

Scott:

It's fun.

Scott:

It's got, got a little bit of a different tone compared to some of the, some of

Scott:

the active academic book that Jen reads that I, I can't, I just can't pick up.

Scott:

It's just not my thing.

Scott:

It's okay.

Scott:

I

Jenn:

like the fun ones too.

Jenn:

I like, we learn in all

Scott:

different ways.

Scott:

Yeah.

Scott Williams:

my book has lots of pictures too,

Scott:

perfect for someone like me.

Scott:

It's perfect for someone like me.

Scott:

As Scott writes in his foreword quoting Sir Isaac Newton, if I have

Scott:

seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.

Scott:

If you want a book that will inspire you by learning about the light bulb

Scott:

moments of history, I highly encourage you to check out Scott's book,

Scott:

light bulb moments in human history.

Scott:

yOu can find Scott's book.

Scott:

book, Pretty Much Anywhere, and for those listening, thank you for

Scott:

listening to the Talk With History podcast, and please reach out to

Scott:

us at our website, TalkWithHistory.

Scott:

com.

Scott:

But more importantly, if you know someone else that might enjoy this

Scott:

podcast, especially if you think they'd be interested in this book,

Scott:

please share this episode with them.

Scott:

We rely on you, our community, to grow, and we appreciate you all every day.

Scott:

We'll talk to you next time.

Scott:

Thank you.

About the Podcast

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Talk With History
A Historian and Navy Veteran talk about traveling to historic locations

About your hosts

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Scott B

Host of the Talk With History podcast, Producer over at Walk with History on YouTube, Editor of HistoryNewsletter.com
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Jennifer B

Former Naval Aviator turned Historian and a loyal Penn Stater. (WE ARE!) I earned my Masters in American History and graduate certificate in Museum Studies, from the University of Memphis.

The Talk with History podcast gives Scott and me a chance to go deeper into the details of our Walk with History YouTube videos and gives you a behind-the-scenes look at our history-inspired adventures.

Join us as we talk about these real-world historic locations and learn about the events that continue to impact you today!

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Thank you to everyone who supports the show and keeps us up and running. Doing this with your support means that we can continue to share history and historic locations for years to come!
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Thank you for the great podcasts and for sharing your passion! Love hearing about the locations you visit.