Fool's Errand, n., a foolish undertaking, especially one that is pointless, ill-considered, nonsensical, or certain to fail; a waste of time, the devotion of time to a useless activity.
Syn. wild goose chase, lost cause, wasted effort, blind leading the blind, red herring, snipe hunt, spinning your wheels, going in circles, way worse than worthless.
The Fool's Errand thread on the Historical Research forum concerns a recent book of New Age pseudo-history. The author originally had one single fact underlying his entire house of cards. That supposed fact turned out to be a blunder on his part. Without that foundation, his entire work is a completely unfounded fantasy about religious zealots, deeply ascetic iconoclasts who rejected even the most spiritual of images, using a card game with pictures to promote their beliefs. As such, his only supporting arguments are 1) that no competing explanation of Tarot can be absolutely proven (an argument from ignorance) and 2) his own fanciful account can't be disproven, i.e., "you can't prove a negative". That is also an argument from ignorance. This worthless thread has been going on for months, and there are well over 300 posts in it. A handful of them are mine, from a few weeks ago. Here are the links, including today's post.
February 4, 2011 postscript:
Ross commented with a quote from this excellent video.
For more "Teach the Controversy" graphics, visit http://controversy.wearscience.com/
February 9, 2011 postscript:
A common assumption is that a female figure with papal attributes must be heretical. This blunder was repeatedly expressed in the thread about Cathars, and answered in my post Sponsa and Sponsus. The heretical-popess myth is based on gross ignorance, personal bias, and blinding arrogance which simply rejects historical evidence. Not surprisingly, this bit of naive guesswork is the exact opposite of the truth, as is so much New Age folklore about Tarot. The example below, for instance, includes a popess (representing the Roman Catholic Church itself, as is typical) and a group of heretics, both in the same composition. She is triumphant at the top of the image while they are drowning at the bottom. They are unwilling to board the ship, which is another symbol of the Church: the Barque of St. Peter. (I've highlighted the key figures for the benefit of the morbidly obtuse.)
|Triumph of the Virgin|
Print by Jacques Callot, 1625