Friday, November 10, 2023


In the Arthurian cycles there appears a Muslim knight called Palomides. He seems to be what in modern parlance goes as a “good bloke”. Certainly more appealing than Christian fanatic Percival or all-round reprobate Lancelot, even placeholder for spin-off series Tristan, though the latter often gets the better of Palomides in the joust. 

Let’s suppose, hypothetically, for I am sure this never happened, there was an elite squadron of Palomideses operating within the Knights Templar in Jerusalem. Would this have made a significant difference to the history of the Crusades, or would it simply be some sort of fun fact that popular historians would feel enormously pleased to flag up in their coverage of the period? 
Outliers. I think it is best to keep them out of arguments. There’s plenty to get angry or annoyed about on X these days, but a pet peeve of mine at the moment is the use of outliers as a rhetorical device. 
You know the kind of thing: “Look, I’ve found some Jews just smug enough to march in the wake of a murderous turd from Hamas/Jeremy Corbyn” OR “Look, here’s an Arab Israeli soldier super keen to kill as many terrorists - and whoever else foolishly gets in his way - as possible", and so on. 
It’s all a bit African Americans for Trump isn’t it? (Or White Lives Matter...for that matter.) 
I wonder why people do it, because in c90% of cases across history outliers are utterly irrelevant, a bogus distraction. 
Not all cases perhaps. One of the keenest Jew-haters in history, Gran Iquisitor Torquemada was himself a converso. And going back again to the Middle Ages, it was very often the turncoats or recent converts that caused the most trouble. (So maybe not proper outliers after all.) 
But the curves on the graph do matter. Earlier on I posted a piece which suggested that there is one global-level culture that consistently responds in a certain way to a given kind of familiar historical circumstance. It was not intended as an open invitation for people to send me examples of bloodthirsty Buddhists, but it may well have the same effect. 
I used the word “consistently” very deliberately, but there are many who choose to be selectively word blind when it comes to debate online.

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