The Most Overrate Events of the 20th Century

Decade-by-Decade Rankings and Analysis

Obviously the voting was heavily weighted toward current events rather than historical ones. The trauma from last week's media frenzy is much more vivid than one from a stale old frenzy in the half-forgotten past. For example, here it is, less than a year later, and already the impeachment of the president seems less like a momentous historic landmark, and more like a vague nightmare that's quickly fading in the face of new day-to-day realities.

To try to overcome this bias toward fresh memories, I've rearranged the results into decade-by-decade rankings. Even this is not a perfect solution because declaring an event "overrated" is a two-part process. First, people have to go on and on about something; then you have to decide that it's not worth going on and on about. Therefore, if an event fades completely from our collective memory, it won't show up on our list. Likewise, if an event remains in our memory because we think that it's pretty gosh-darn important, then it won't appear in our list either. The events listed here are those which have been remembered, but -- in the minds of many -- could easily be forgotten (or de-emphacized) without any great loss to our heritage.

Least Overrated Events of the Decades:

As I mentioned earlier, there are basically two ways for an event to fail to become overrated:

  1. If no one's heard of it.
  2. If everyone's heard of it, but they still think it's mighty important.

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Last updated February 1999

Copyright © 1999 Matthew White