Tag: Wishart

Red Bed Green Dead

I promised you… a golden ring? No, thesis material and I am the first to admit that I have not given unto you.

It’s all my fault; editing the current chapter has been a bit of a chore and I’m not sure what to give out and what to bury with the rest of my philosophical corpses.

But no matter; Ian Wishart has written a book ((Which has received good reviews from Vincent Gray and Bob Carter, which must mean something to someone.)) and someone has taken time out to read it. Not me; I wasted too much time on ‘Eve’s Bite’ to want to devote another afternoon to a Wishart ‘thriller’. But the fine people over at Hot Topic have done the job for me.

Still, I’m going to have to read at least a section of it if this section of the review is to be believed:

Having disposed of the science, he moves on to consider why this great propaganda coup has been undertaken. Turns out it’s all the fault of an evil cabal of child-eating greens, supported by mega-rich capitalists (George Soros gets a chapter to himself) who are intent on imposing socialism on the world through the UN. So all the world’s climate scientists, save a brave few supported by the downtrodden fossil fuel companies of the world, are complicit in a global conspiracy to impose socialism and world government.

Right, back to work. I promise to give you stuff to read soon. Gods above and below, I’m beginning to treat you people like my supervisors.

The Real History Behind Pseudohistories

Poneke’s review of ‘Absolute Power’ (which I’ve already linked to) has got me thinking (additionally; my normal state is thinking, it’s just that I’m thinking more [if that makes any sense whatsoever]). I’m currently updating my coursebook for the forthcoming Conspiracy Theories course and this week’s reading of choice is Sharan Newman’s ‘The Real History Behind the Templars.’ One of the appendices is entitled ‘How to Tell if You Are Reading Pseudohistory’ and it struck me that if biographies are a kind of historical text, and that some of them will be bogus, then some purported biographies will be pseudohistories.

(Indeed, pseudohistories-cum-patently false biographies will be interesting beasts. Some will be largely bunk, others will be based upon a thick slate of truths with just a few, select lies put in, et al. The most interesting ones will be those that stick with the ‘facts of the matter’ but introduce new and novel interpretations on those acts, such as, say, the future Prime Minister of Aotearoa drowning kittens as a child not because that is what a person does when they grow up on a farm but because it made them happy…)

Newman provides three hints that suggest you are reading a Pseudohistory:

1. The author uses terms such as ‘Everyone agrees that…’ or ‘All historians know…’ This is just a mark of sloppy research where the author hasn’t bothered to provide arguments and reasons for their position. The kinds of things historians all agree upon are trivial issues such as ‘The pyramids are examples of astounding engineering skill’ and ‘The Battle of Hastings was in ACE1066.’

2. The author insists that crucial evidence for their theory isn’t freely available because there is a cover-up, or that they have a secret source.

3. The author makes supposition after supposition, assumes they are all true and then uses them to prove other suppositions.

(Newman, Sharan ‘The Real History Behind the Templars,’ Berkley Books, New York, 2007, p. 412-3)

Now, as I continue to state (like a MP3 on repeat) I have not read ‘Absolute Power.’ I have read an awful lot of commentary on the book which hasn’t convinced that I need to buy it, but for those of you who have read it, two questions:

1. How much does it, it at all, resemble a pseudohistory (qua Newman’s definition), and

2. What would you add to the list of suspect qualities to such texts? (I have a few ideas myself which, if I get comments, I’ll collate together with your own)

Answers on a comments thread.

In which Wishart responds…

Not on this blog, but on Poneke’s. I’m currently addicted to the comments accruing on Poneke’s review of ‘Absolute Power’ (which I still would like a copy of to read and review myself – hint hint). Not only do we get Ian Wishart responding to criticisms against his book in trademark style, but Keri Hulme, Book[er; silly me with my dropped suffixes…] Prize winner, has joined in. Allegations of a feminist conspiracy theory with links to Soviet Russia abound; indeed, Trevor Loudon, whose Soviet Conspiracy Theories I have already touched upon (here and here) has already been cited.

Exciting stuff. I find myself wishing there was a RSS feed for this post so I didn’t have to keep hitting the site to find out which new version of events Wishart was switching to next.