Thursday, February 3, 2011

Cathars and Tarot

Argument from Ignorance

Flying Spaghetti Monster

Russell's Teapot

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.

The Cathar Secret of the Tarot
Cathars My Ass!
History Versus Pseudo-History
Tarot as a Complex Allegory
The Secret of the Tarot
Sponsa and Sponsus

February 4, 2011 postscript:

Ross commented with a quote from this excellent video.

For more "Teach the Controversy" graphics, visit

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


  1. Hi Michael,

    Thanks for pointing out that it's still be talked about on AT.

    Some smart person on HuffPo quoted a certain Ken Miller on the issues of "fairness" for creationism in schools -

    "The proponents of intelligen­t design -- or, creationis­m-- who say it's only fair to consider their ideas have a very curious idea of what fairness is, because they're not interested in developing evidence. They're not interested in engaging in this process of peer review, of publishing your work, of going to scientific meetings and trying to win a scientific consensus. In effect, what they want to do is to do an end run around the entire scientific process by appealing to boards of education or legislatur­es to insert their ideas into the classroom, even though they haven't won a scientific consensus. So you have to ask yourself: What's fair about that? That every other idea in science has to fight its way through the criticism and analysis of the scientific process, but these ideas claim that they want to be exempt from that process in the name of fairness. In reality, what they're asking people to do is to cheat on the process of science and give them a shortcut that will get into classroom and textbook. That would be very bad science policy, and be even worse in terms of educationa­l policy." - Ken Miller

  2. Dear Michael, I would like to contact you on your studies about the book "Laberynth" by Andrea Ghisi. Where can I find your email address? Many thanks in advance.