Bryan Caplan  

Will Eisner's The Plot

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I've repeatedly heard that the infamous Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a forgery.  But it was only in reading Will Eisner's The Plot that I came to understand the kind of forgery it is.   Protocols was proven to be a forgery by showing that it was plagiarized from a book written decades earlier to impugn not the Jews, but French Emperor Napoleon III.  Eisner puts many passages from the two books side by side so you can see the plagiarism for yourself.

Eisner dwells on the Protocols' zombie-like ability to survive despite repeated conclusive disproof.  To me, of course, that's not surprising at all.  Countless religious and political texts remain sacred to true believers despite conclusive proof of their historical inaccuracies.  What really makes Protocols' sales record surprising is its leaden, academic writing.  Apparently Protocols is to anti-Semitism what Hawking's A Brief History of Time is to popular science: Bought by millions but actually read only by a tiny minority of the buyers.

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COMMENTS (2 to date)
Daniel Elmore writes:

I double-dog dare you to name the (major) religious texts that have been proved historically wrong and how.

Besides the Book of Mormon.

(I'll admit to not having read your book. so if your link to it was meant to answer this point...)

Hyena writes:

Mr. Elmore,

Much of the Old Testament account in Exodus has been proven false simply because there is no possible way for the timelines to match up with the archaeology. Worse still, the Jews don't seem to have invaded Canaan but are just a branch of the same group.

The New Testament suffers from a lack of textual, archaeological or epigraphic evidence to affirm it and the most solid position is that it is mostly or entirely mythic.

That puts three religious groups out in the cold.

Religious texts are much more rarely and more recently debunked because the history of religious archaeology as a science rather than apologia is short.

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