Sunday, January 24, 2016

New Chronology And Mythicism

Recently I came across the New Chronology of Anatoly Fomenko and others. I had heard of this stuff before -- claims that conventional chronologies of ancient and Medieval history were drastically mistaken, and that most of what we think of as ancient history actually happened after AD 1000 -- but this is the first time I've taken a closer look at it.

I haven't yet (knowingly) discussed historical topics with proponents of this New Chronology, but for some reason I can vividly imagine how I would react to them, and it's strikingly similar to the way that Biblical scholars react to mythicists, people, including me, who think that it's possible that Jesus is a legendary character and was never an historical figure.

I've complained many times on this blog about the way that Biblical scholars react to mythicists: they dismiss us contemptuously.

I would have difficulty reacting to someone talking to me and advancing Fomenko's ideas about history in any way other than contemptuously dismissing them. Some propositions are simply beyond the pale: that God or Santa Claus exists, that Muslims in general are pro-rape, or, as Fomenko asserts, that Suleiman the Magnificent (16th century AD) is the actual Biblical Solomon (10th century BC) and built the Hagia Sophia (in Instanbul, built by the Emperor Justinian in the 6th century AD, originally a church, for a long time a mosque and now a museum), which is the actual Biblical Temple of Solomon.

Or, as Fomenko asserts, that Aeneas found Rome in Italy in the 14th century AD. Or that the events described in the Old Testament occurred from the 14th to 16th centuries AD in Europe and Byzantium, centuries later than the events of the New Testament, which occurred in AD 1152-1185. Or that the histories of ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome as we know them today were invented during the Renaissance by scholars who based these histories for the most part on documents which they themselves forged.

I would have a very difficult time remaining polite if someone were to confront me with assertions like these. Very much the way that Biblical scholars often seem to find it difficult to remain polite when one of us mentions that he's not convinced that Jesus existed. If I replied at all to Fomenko or one of his fans (who include former chess world champion Garry Kasparov), I would say that the amount of things someone needs to be ignorant of in order to accept such cockamamie nonsense is staggeringly huge. The number of people who would have had to have been in on the conspiracy of historical falsification is ridiculously huge. The amount of science which would have to be completely faulty in order for the New Chronology to hold up would be huge and would include things like carbon-14 dating. Millions or billions of artifacts would have to have been mis-dated by hundreds or thousands of years by people dating them for a living, using many methods, of which carbon-14 dating is just one. These mistakes would have to have been committed by people presenting their finding publicly for peer review for several centuries now.

Biblical scholars sometimes compare us mythicists (just to be perfectly clear: I'm not at all sure whether Jesus existed or not. I could absolutely eventually be convinced that he did or that he did not) to people who believe in nutty stuff like this New Chronology.

And in some case, mythicists actually are as crazy and ignorant as that.

But I'm not. But why should you believe me? Well, as far as I'm concerned you don't have to take anybody's word for anything. More research is needed -- everywhere, all the time, about everything. By all means, research everything further. I'm completely for that. Research me if you feel the need to, by all means. Read Fomenko if you want to, if you're not yet convinced that he is, in fact, crazier and more ignorant than I am. Think for yourselves. Please. If you come to the conclusion that Fomenko is right and that academic historians are wrong and/or lying for some reason, well, okay then. But in that case be prepared for the fact that I'll probably consider you to be a little slow.

Yes, I'm saying that I consider Garry Kasparov to be a little slow -- when it comes to history. The only place I've seen geniuses who were smart about everything is in fictional characters in TV shows and movies. In real life I've never encountered anyone with no serious weak points mentally. Kasparov is a genius at chess and a bit slow in the study of history. I'm good at language acquisition and quite bad at sarcasm detection. I'm sure I have other mental weak spots of which I'm unaware, because one reason why people have these weak spots is because they're unaware of them, and remain stubbornly unaware of them somehow even when other people repeatedly point them out, and I see no reason to assume I'm unique in this department.

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