Mythicist Language is Designed to Make Lies Sound Truthful

Neil Godfrey's latest rant includes a quote from George Orwell, and describes the fact that I will be addressing mythicism and religious freedom in a conference paper as “Orwellian.”

And once again, there is no evidence of awareness of Poe's Law, as a mythicist writes things that seem like a ridiculous parody, something that no one could really believe, and yet it is real and not satire.

Click through, read the post, see what is going on. Look carefully at what is being done. Look at how, despite my acknowledgment that I may have run characteristics of Brodie's student work and his attempts at publication together (since they were mentioned in the same part of the book, and if such students publish anything, it tends to be work produced in the course of their studies), Godfrey continues to focus on such minor details in order to distract from the main point, which is that Brodie's methods are problematic. They allow any conclusion one wishes to be drawn, as long as one has sufficient creativity to make connections between texts.

There is nothing inherently Orwellian about academia, in the sense that Godfrey used the term. I followed the appropriate procedures and had a conference paper accepted. If mythicists follow the same rules they can do the same. But they almost never do, making it clear why mythicism is not found persuasive in the academy: it is not due to inappropriate censorship, but mythicists not following the rules of scholarly inquiry.

But of course, no good conspiracy theorist worth their salt will buy that simple explanation, when a more convoluted one that makes them look better can be concocted.

But there most definitely is something Orwellian about mythicism. Have a read of the source of the Orwell quote, in which Orwell focuses particular attention on the use of language to defend the indefensible, and talks about how that is accomplished. And then see if what Orwell wrote about political language reminds you of the sort of language you have encountered on a mythicist blog you may have read.

And then see if you can reread Godfrey's words about psychological projection without laughing out loud.


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  • Joe Wallack


    Is Neil Godfree a “mythicist”? What is your definition of “mythicist” and what is your evidence that Neil Godfree fits this definition? As near as I can tell you claim to be the foremost authority the world has ever known on what Neil Godfree has said and means. Even more so than him. How do you distinguish whether he is AG (Agnostic Jesus) or MJ?


    • Jonathan Burke

      Godfrey (not ‘Godfree’, though that’s strangely appropriate), is ‘not a mythicist’ in the same way that David Irving is ‘not a Holocaust denier’.

      • Joe Wallack

        “Godfree”, not “Godwins”. And now James McGrath has the additional power to shape control shift into Jonathan Burke (obviously influenced by The True Blood).

        • James F. McGrath

          Is this a joke? I don’t get it.

          • Jonathan Burke

            We are in Mythicist territory, where exhibitions of atypical cognitive behavior must be expected. Ignore the troll.

          • Joe Wallack

            “Is Neil Godfree a “mythicist”? What is your definition of “mythicist”
            and what is your evidence that Neil Godfree fits this definition?”

            Sorry, I can’t think of any way to make this question any clearer.

            • Jonathan Burke

              See my previous comment. When you understand why Irving meets the definition of ‘Holocaust denier’, you will understand why Godfrey meets the definition of ‘Mythicist’. If you’re not familiar with the term ‘Mythicist’, or with the content of Godfrey’s posts, I suggest his own site is a good place to start.

  • Toto

    Here’s part of what Neil wrote about projection:

    “Now let me be quick to add that I acknowledge that “projection” is
    not always or necessarily an entirely bad thing. It’s part of our human
    package and baggage connected with our ability to empathize and even
    sympathize with our fellow mammals.

    ==Obviously (it should be obvious, yes?) projection must always be
    tested. And that is where McGrath’s criticism fails. He stops with
    projection and ignores the specific and detailed evidence that
    contradicts his assumptions. Or I should say he doesn’t quite “ignore”
    Brodie’s words, but he does make an effort (no doubt sincerely — in
    sincere belief that his own experience and wisdom is the measure of
    others) to deflect readers’ minds away from that evidence and to
    reinterpret the evidence as Brodie’s delusions.”

    This sounds quite fair and nuanced to me, unlike the strange caricature that I see in your posts.

    • Jonathan Burke

      “This sounds quite fair and nuanced to me, unlike the strange caricature that I see in your posts.”

      When Godfrey says McGrath attempts ‘to deflect readers’ minds away from that evidence and to reinterpret the evidence as Brodie’s delusions’, that sounds ‘quite fair and nuanced’ to you? Godfrey’s entire post is ludicrous. McGrath points out that “Brodie drew a conclusion about whether Jesus was a historical figure even before learning how to do scholarship in the appropriate manner” (Godfrey denies this, but doesn’t address any of the facts), and says that before he was academically qualified he also had lots of ideas he thought were great and worth publishing; “I can tell you that I myself had all sorts of ideas that I thought were brilliant, publication-worthy insights as an undergraduate. Few withstood the testing to which I subjected them in my ongoing studies”

      Godfrey takes these statements of McGrath, and manipulates them almost beyond recognition, so that he has McGrath projecting his own youthful follies onto Brodie. He reads McGrath as meaning ‘I drew various false conclusions even before learning how to do scholarship in the appropriate manner, so that’s what Brodie has done too’. But McGrath didn’t say anything like this, and as McGrath has pointed out, Godfrey is carefully avoiding addressing anything McGrath says about the flaws in Brodie’s actual method.

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