Among many social scientists today, it is not altogether fashionable to speak of “truth.” Academic reviews and popular media may pay homage to the philosophical doubts as to the status of reality, but in their practices, and especially in their arguments about quality, the premise of knowable truth persists. The truth to life of the television series Roots is of mythological quality. When memory work takes on an oppositional thrust, such as when the past is recovered or revised against the established canons, that work’s very raison d’etre lies in its claims to a better, more complete or more honest truth. Despite the long tradition of debates within historiography, and the considerable evidence to the contrary from sociologists of science, ordinary people in democratic societies do not ordinarily question the historian’s authority to proclaim truth.