Leifr Eiriksson is not amused!

As you may or may not be aware, early August witnessed a curious incident – to briefly summarize, Andrew Schlafly stumbled across an obscure article that mentioned there was no evidence that the Vikings who reached North America in the early 10th century had ever sailed as far south as New England – a fairly uncontroversial statement. However, in Mr Schlafly’s mind – and in Conservapedia’s News column – this got turned into the more unusual claim that the Vikings had never been to North America at all. Instead, the whole story about Leifr Eiriksson and his intrepid crew who landed in Vinland is merely a liberal myth intended to downplay the “Christian achievement” of Christopher Columbus.

As might be expected, certain CP editors, including your author, took a careful exception to this interpretation, pointing out particularly that there is ample historical and archaeological evidence for a brief Viking presence in North America, that Leifr Eiriksson was just as much a Christian as Columbus, making the whole discussion somewhat pointless, and that the freaking article didn’t even say what he claimed it said. As might be expected, Mr Schlafly refused to budge an inch, even going so far as to claim that the Viking artifacts excavated at L’Anse aux Meadows was planted there by the archaeologists who discovered the site. For interesting parts of the discussion, see especially Talk:Main Page and Talk:Leif Erikson.

Now, it is well-known to regular readers – to the extent that a blog on de facto hiatus can have regular readers at all – that the CP Column has never been known to mince its words, so I will be unapologetically frank here. While perhaps the question of Vikings in North America may seem less immediately important by comparison, I believe that what we have witnessed in this situation is in essence of the same species as Holocaust denial – the gross distortion, or even attempted falsification of history to serve a political agenda.

For that reason, following these events, I have decided that I will waste no further of my limited and precious time on that piece of group delusion. You just don’t mess with Leifr Eiriksson. There has to be a limit somewhere.

Besides, RationalWiki‘s What is Going on at Conservapedia now does a usually excellent job at documenting and discussing the various inanities that happen at CP, so this blog has really outlived its usefulness. We thus consign it to history.

In other news, you might or might not be interested in my other, newly-launched blog, Vox in Deserto, which will feature all sorts of interesting commentary about medieval subjects and other things. For instance, the very first post contains a quote by the Venerable Bede. For those who might be in doubt, I can inform you that this fact in se shows that this blog will be not just great – this is practically a given thing – but truly sublime.

As for Conservapedia, I may mention them at Vox from time to time. In the meantime, I wish those poor souls a good night and good luck.

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6 Responses to “Leifr Eiriksson is not amused!”


  1. 1 Sid August 24, 2008 at 2:47 am

    The comparison with Holocaust denial initially appears to be VERY bold, but I can definitely see where you’re coming from because, as you said, it’s the same mechanism: Rewriting history to fuel a political agenda. And unlike most Holocaust deniers, he then teaches his whitewashed version of history to young kids who are more likely to believe him than adults. So while the scale isn’t quite the same (he doesn’t publish books about this… I HOPE) , he is still more influential than the Time Cube Guy (unfortunately).

    And: While it’s true that WIGO is a pretty good CP news ticker, your quasi-essays here offer good insights and (unlike the day-to-day WIGO) manage to put an issue (or a series of issues) into the larger context, much like Ames’ blog did with the Lenski Affair and the Andy Debate issue. So I’d still love to see the occasional Column when/if you get around to it 🙂

  2. 2 lanfranc August 26, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    Thanks, Sid. I did debate back and forth quite a bit on whether the Holocaust denial connection was too strong, but decided to go with it in the end. I’m glad that you understand where I’m coming from on it.

    Unfortunately, providing those insights and contexts requires that I keep up with CP on a reasonably regular basis, and I simply don’t have either the time or inclination to do that these days. I’ll probably still comment on CP from time to time, but it’ll be over at Vox.

    (I believe this is what is called a “rebranding” in marketing-speak. 😉 )

  3. 3 Ames August 27, 2008 at 4:54 am

    OMG you’re back! I’m so glad.

  4. 4 Tmtoulouse January 6, 2009 at 10:08 pm

    Hopefully Akj will make a new thread for us when he gets on. Till then I am here so if there are any questions, comments, concerns or bitching to do let at it. Others will likely be checking here too so CP updates can be posted.

  5. 6 lanfranc January 6, 2009 at 11:57 pm

    Yes, that’s what I said, Leif. Now get back to the 10th century.


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