Our ability to instantly recall key dates in history is all but dead – because we’d rather ‘Google-It’, it has been shown. The worrying trend was revealed following research which found a large percentage of us are clueless about the dates of world-changing historical events.
The research carried out among 2,000 adults found fewer than half could name the year that Princess Diana tragically passed away.
Less than one third knew the year in which the Berlin Wall fell, and just HALF were aware of when man first walked on the moon.
Remarkably, four in ten didn’t know the year in which the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center took place.
As many as 87% of those who took part said a ‘heavy reliance’ on the internet meant they made less of an effort to remember things ‘because we can look them up’.
The research, commissioned by Grant’s Whisky, examined the modern Brit’s knowledge of famous historical events and the years in which they took place.
The study launches Grant’s ‘Read All About It’ campaign which will offer purchasers of every special bottle a free newspaper front page reprint from any date in history since 1903.
Unsurprisingly, the most common date known was the Battle of Hastings in 1066, while the dates of the two World Wars and England’s World Cup win were also ingrained on the nation’s memory.
A spokesman for Grant’s Whisky commented: ”Certain dates are impressed upon us a lot at school and tend to stick but clearly the art for remembering dates fades and it seems we are now retaining less.
”Particularly in terms of recent events, for example people were four times more likely to know when The Battle of Hastings occurred than they were to know when the invasion of Iraq took place.
”The internet is an incredible resource which enriches and adds much to the quality of modern life, but it could be changing the traditional way we remember and process things – certainly compared to older generations.
”Perhaps the ability to know the exact dates of things isn’t so crucial, but it’s important the human stories behind those events don’t get lost and we never stop appreciating what’s happened before.”
It also emerged a concerned eight in ten feel younger people today are less bothered with history, while the same number feels today’s youth are raised to be more self-involved and less appreciative of what’s gone before.
In fact, 56% thought that with 24/7 news and continuous updates on what’s happening, there is less focus on past events nowadays.
Despite this, an overwhelming 88% felt that learning and teaching history was still relevant even in an age where knowledge is just a mouse click away.
A regretful 70% of the study had an older relative they felt they didn’t make the most of and appreciate before they passed away, and two thirds said they wished they’d heard more of an older relative’s stories about what they went through and things they saw in their time.
According to 63% of the study, the younger generation are incapable of fully appreciating some of the massive events this country has experienced while nearly half of respondents felt strongly that the older generations are not appreciated anywhere near enough in modern Britain.
The Grant’s Whisky spokesman added: ”Key moments in history have made us who we are and offer great learnings.
”There is nothing more powerful than hearing about a key historical event from the horse’s mouth but we are clearly not doing enough of it.
”The retelling of stories is not only a powerful way to educate the younger generation, but also a wonderful way of bringing generations together to spend quality time and nurturing a wonderful bond between them.”
Key dates in history – and the percentage who got them right
The Battle of Hastings (1066) – 89%
Gun Powder plot on the House of Lords (1605) – 25%
Great fire of London (1666) – 48%
Titanic sinks (1912) – 51%
First World War dates (1914-1918) – 83%
Battle of Britain (1940) – 34%
Second World War dates (1939-1945) – 87%
VE DAY (1945) – 72%
America drops the atom bomb (1945) – 50%
President John F Kennedy assassinated (1963) – 43%
England wins the World Cup (1966) – 83%
Martin Luther King Junior assassinated (1968) – 25%
Man first walks on the moon (1969) – 49%
The death of Elvis (1977) – 37%
John Lennon assassinated (1980) – 35%
Argentina invades the Falklands (1982) – 37%
The Berlin Wall falls (1989) – 31%
Diana dies (1997) – 44%
World Trade Center terrorist attack (2001) – 61%
Start of the Iraq War (2003) – 26%
7/7 London bombings (2005) – 37%
Saddam Hussein executed (2006) – 18%
Britain goes smoke free (2007) – 21%