"Ben, I've got one word for you, just one: Relativism." - The Graduated
Let me start with a long, boring story:
Once, I was on a train headed to the airport when a guy approached my compartment and asked if he could sit. I said yes, he sat down and we began to talk. He asked where I was from, what I had been doing in the area, etc. Eventually we began discussing religion and he told me a story I had never heard before about how God had split the moon in half as a showcase to the unconverted that His people were speaking the truth. He went on to say that scientists had actually discovered evidence that the moon was at one point split in half in the form of molten fault lines of some kind (at least I think, he was speaking very quickly and my grasp on the language was a bit shaky). I recalled theories that the moon had been formed as the result of a mars-sized object colliding with Earth, and I asked if he was referring to that. He told me no and proceeded with his commentary on the day's religious issues. The question there seems similar to the question here, how do I respond?
1) I'm pretty sure this is untrue so, I challenge him further on it. Neither of us had a magic google-box on us, so looking it up was unlikely. Even if I had looked it up and found nothing, he could claim it was from a more difficult to find source. Ultimately, neither of us can fly to the moon and look for these sealed fissures, so the debate is unlikely to be settled in this manner.
2) I'm pretty sure he believes this is true. I accept that he believes it and go on with the conversation, making a note to check whether this story is a widely shared one among members of his religious community.
Those were the two that occurred to me, I'm sure others could think of other things to do. The point is that people frequently mis-cite historical events and it's often very difficult to prove it has happened. Even if we had looked it up and discovered the moon had been split in half, it wouldn't have settled the question of when it had happened and whether it had been the result of an act of God. In the same manner, it's difficult to prove past RP events have happened the way people claim they have in much the same way it's difficult to prove RL past events have happened in precisely the way some people claim they have.
At least part of the issue here seems to be that no one wants to be on the wrong side: no one wants to be the crazy person claiming aliens really did discover cheez-its before the pilgrims. Consider, instead, that humans (and I can only assume the rest of the Warcraft races) are not perfect recorders of history. This doesn't make them any more wrong than the next person, as that next person is just as flawed a recorder of history.
I have a buddy who used to work as a cop, and one of his least favorite parts of the job was collecting witness statements. This wasn't because people lie (although they do) but because even two honest people can miss details and, in their effort to build a functioning picture of the event, fill those details in with things from their own imagination without realizing what they've done.
I have a clear image in my head of the story I told at the beginning, and I'm guessing that most people who read it created one, too. One could claim that the fact that we can create elaborate pseudo-memories from listening to another's recollection, demonstrates the nearness of imagination and memory.
How does Jal deal with someone claiming they've destroyed a pumpkin patch that he sees still standing there? Unless someone contacts his player beforehand, with disbelief. What about storylines his player finds uninteresting but which call for his attention? He downplays their importance: "Yes, I'm sure it seems very important to them
, but really its just a petty _______." If someone continues to insist on shaping the world with their story, in their way, they go from being someone with whom Jal is having a polite disagreement to being a belligerent, misunderstanding what has happened or is happening. If you've never experienced this, go to Thanksgiving this year
. In a way he's living in an alternate universe, in the same way his player is living in an alternate universe from someone who feels E! is groundbreaking news or that the study of language is unimportant.