The surprisingly close connection between Roman theories about elephants’ knees and today’s climate change warriors
I got a hysterical message in today’s email from the DNC. It shrilled that Donald Trump is a terrible threat, in significant part because he thinks climate change is a hoax. As you know, I too think that the notion of apocalyptic anthropogenic climate change is a hoax, based upon some very specific reasons. These are the top three:
(1) All of the major climate change predictions have proven false, with the most recent failed prediction being the one about the shrinking Arctic ice cap — which is growing.
(2) In order to keep the narrative going, climate “scientists” have had to falsify data, with everything from false hockey stick charts to falsified NOAA information.
(3) Al Gore is worth $300 million, $299 million of which he made in the last 15 years shilling for climate change, shouting his doom and gloom prophecies with all the fervor of a televangelist robbing old ladies of their life savings.
Al Gore, of course, isn’t the only one who’s made it rich thanks to the Climate Change gospel. In true “follow the money” fashion, it’s apparent that America taxpayer money is keeping afloat a vast infrastructure of so-called academics and all-too-real politicians, all of whom spend the majority of their time shuttling this money back and forth between each other, while issuing strident demands that the taxpayers cough up ever greater amounts.
What fascinates me, of course, is the way in which the falsified data and the failed predictions have no effect whatsoever on the true believers, a vast majority of whom populate my real-me Facebook page. No matter how many times you put before them hard science about failed predictions and falsified data, they just plow relentlessly forward shrieking like harpies that climate change will soon end the world unless the United States continues to enrich con men and dictators.
It turns out that this willful blindness in the face of hard evidence is nothing new. I’m reading a delightful book by Terry Jones and Alan Ereira called Terry Jones’ Barbarians: An Alternative Roman History. Their contention is that the Roman Empire wasn’t so great. It was a rapacious monster that, unlike all other civilizations at the time, had a standing army that was dedicated to conquest, and that it was this army that portended its success.
Once the Romans conquered a territory, they completely eradicated the indigenous culture, after having expropriated as their own any advancements that the culture had made. From that time forward, the Romans busily libeled the conquered culture, ensuring its complete demise. (Honestly, reading what I wrote, it makes the Roman Empire sound precisely like some sort of Islamic horde, with a shared model of perpetual conquest and complete destruction of the conquered culture.)
If you’re wondering why I suddenly threw the Jones and Ereira book into a discussion about Progressives’ relentless blindness to the evidence before their eyes, it’s because the books’ discusses the ancient world’s completely wrong ideas about elephants — and how those ideas continued to inform (or un-inform) people’s minds even as the truth was right before their eyes. It all starts with Julius Caesar and the elk:
Of course, it was thoughtless of the Celts not to leave us anything much in the way of written records – they should have known that the lack of books putting forward their own propaganda would weight the evidence firmly in favour of the Romans. But even so, we shouldn’t believe everything the Romans tell us. Here, for example, is Julius Caesar’s considered opinion about elks. Elks, the great statesman and general informs us,
are destitute of horns, and have legs without joints and ligatures; nor do they lie down for the purpose of rest, nor, if they have been thrown down by any accident, can they raise or lift themselves up. Trees serve as beds to them; they lean themselves against them, and thus reclining only slightly, they take their rest; when the huntsmen have discovered from the footsteps of these animals whither they are accustomed to betake themselves, they either undermine all the trees at the roots, or cut into them so far that the upper part of the trees may appear to be left standing. When they [the elks] have leant upon them, according to their habit, they knock down by their weight the unsupported trees, and fall down themselves along with them. [fn omitted.]
This interesting piece of zoological observation was solemnly repeated by the Greek geographer Strabo [fn omitted] and the encyclopedist Pliny the Elder. [fn omitted.] It seems to be a confusion with an identical story about elephants told by Aristotle, and which, having also been repeated by Strabo, became part of the ‘standard truth’ about elephants right into the late seventeenth century, when Sir Thomas Browne complained that, even when people could see the animals perfectly clearly, and watch them kneel and stand, the determination to cling to the security of classical authorities made them deny what was in front of their own eyes. [fn omitted.]
(Barbarians (pp. 10-11), Ebury Publishing, Kindle Edition, emphasis added.)
The way in which late 17th century Englishmen stared directly at a kneeling elephant and denying its knees, is the perfect analogy for the climate change true believers who cannot be dissuaded, no matter the evidence before their eyes. Indeed, the only real difference between those knee-less elephants with knees and a baking earth that’s not actually baking is that the former was a harmless, although irritating, delusion, while the latter has the potential to destroy the American economy permanently and to move us uncomfortably close to a pre-industrial era. Even worse, having weakened ourselves in that way, it’s entirely possibly that our de-industrialized new world will , be ruled over by the Islamists, who will be our generations’ Roman destroyers.