How many times do we hear it? “By [doing this+], [Joe Bloggs*] changed the course of history…”
+insert appropriate deed here
*insert appropriate name here
Learned experts with university degrees (even in subjects such as History and English) often say this on TV, but they are wrong – for two reasons.
1: When Joe Bloggs did whatever Joe Bloggs did, it only affected future events. E.G. John Doe is about to be inaugurated as president. However, Joe assassinates Doe, preventing him from being president. Thus Joe has affected the future, not history.
2: How can anyone alter the course of history? By definition, history has already occurred, thus it cannot be altered. It is possible to find evidence that alters our understanding of history, and that may lead to recorded history being updated with this evidence, but that is not the same as altering that which has already happened.
You can shape the course of history by carrying out an act that affects the future; you can update recorded history with the latest findings, but you cannot alter the course of history.
You just can’t.