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Weirder Than The Trumpening?

Even stranger than the Trumpening! (Refat/Shutterstock [1]

This is a fun game. Can you think of more historically implausible events? It’s pretty amazing that a tiny Palestinian Jewish cult based on the claim that a man murdered by the state rose from the dead, and was God, had, within three centuries, displaced ancient cults that had the support of the all-powerful Empire. Even accounting for three hundred years of ferment, that’s still pretty amazing. Then again, it’s also phenomenal that a tribal religion of the Arabian desert founded by a man who claimed he had a divine vision had, within only a hundred years of his death, conquered all of the Near East, North Africa, the Iberian peninsula, and part of France before being stopped. Still, I recognize that the timeline might make it less amazing than Napoleon’s ascent.

What do you think? Put on your thinking caps.

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76 Comments To "Weirder Than The Trumpening?"

#1 Comment By dominic1955 On January 20, 2017 @ 6:08 pm

I dunno but this Gibson chap sounds like a hysterical teenage girls.

#2 Comment By March_hare On January 20, 2017 @ 7:26 pm

Well, there’s always the 1969 New York Mets (and I say that as a long time Orioles fan, on the losing side of that one).

Of course I was on he losing side of this one, too.

And I think you may understate the rise of Islam. Dial the time scale back to 100 years after the death of Muhammad and that still gives you Persia, all of North Africa, most of Asia Minor.

#3 Comment By MH – Secular Misanthropist On January 20, 2017 @ 9:02 pm

I’d say it is a toss up. Either the delayed choice quantum eraser and the possibility of retrocausality, or the relativistic train tunnel paradox. Both make the Trumpening seem pretty normal by comparison.

#4 Comment By Darwin’s S-list On January 20, 2017 @ 9:11 pm

Another: within 60 years of the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk, Yuri Gagarin orbits the Earth.

#5 Comment By ceemac On January 20, 2017 @ 9:20 pm

Jethro Tull wins heavy metal/hard rock Grammy.

#6 Comment By Sands On January 20, 2017 @ 9:24 pm

Our half naked, ragtag army’s defeat of the greatest military in the world and the ratification of the constitution less than a decade later was pretty implausible.

Luthers’s 95 Theses sparking the Reformation.

#7 Comment By BaronHarkonnen On January 20, 2017 @ 11:08 pm

Three separate but similar stories. The most astonishing sequence of events in history is…

1) The ducal heir of House Atreides becomes the messianic leader of the Fremen and overthrows the emperor.

2) A young mositure farmer on a backwater desert planet brings down the Empire and becomes a religious savior.

3) The son of a Saudi billionaire creates a self-propagating religiously driven freedom fighter organization which frightens and exhausts the empires of the world.

#8 Comment By Jonathan M Scinto On January 20, 2017 @ 11:17 pm

I dunno but this Gibson chap sounds like a hysterical teenage girls.

I take it you’re not a fan of Neuromancer.

#9 Comment By Shameless Woman On January 21, 2017 @ 12:38 am

Something ate my post–this may be a duplicate.
That the by some lights illegitimate daughter of an upstart usurper of the throne of England became one of the greatest monarchs in the history of England. Good Queen Bess–Elizabeth I. It was an amazing accident of history that she escaped being beheaded or married off to some European despot and shipped overseas.

#10 Comment By Gromaticus On January 21, 2017 @ 8:32 am

Meh…

Silvio Berlusconi + Brexit = Trump. I mean sure he was a long shot to be elected when the campaign started, but “in all human history”

#11 Comment By JonF On January 21, 2017 @ 8:33 am

Re: The Christian monarchies of the west would unite to destroy and conquer the Christian heir to the same classical civilization, Rome, they mutually descended from, despite that country spending 7 centuries acting as a bulwark against their common foe.

If you are talking about the Crusader sack of Byzantium in 1204 that’s not what happened. The only Western nation (as opposed the Western men under arms) that had any actual involvement in the business was Venice, and even their part was small. There was no deliberate plan concocted to sack Constantinople, it was just one of those ghastly things that happened out of the blue when the Crusaders found that the guy they had put on the throne as Emperor (and who has hired them to do the job) couldn’t pay them because the guy they had booted off the throne had absconded taking the treasury with him.

#12 Comment By VikingLS On January 21, 2017 @ 9:07 am

“From 18th Century Russia. Sophie from a small German duchy bordering on Denmark marries Peter III of Russia. Who is this?”

True, but I’ll go one better. A Polish/Lithuanian peasant ends her life as the Empress of Russia. Who is this? Catherine I

#13 Comment By VikingLS On January 21, 2017 @ 9:09 am

“3) The son of a Saudi billionaire creates a self-propagating religiously driven freedom fighter organization which frightens and exhausts the empires of the world.”

Actually his father was Yemeni, which makes the story even more unlikely.

#14 Comment By VikingLS On January 21, 2017 @ 9:17 am

Relatively weak lately evolved primate species ends up dominating the Earth.

#15 Comment By JonF On January 21, 2017 @ 9:22 am

Re: It was an amazing accident of history that she [Elizabeth] escaped being beheaded or married off to some European despot and shipped overseas.

And that her brother Edward VI, took down with TB and died young, begetting no heirs.

#16 Comment By Giuseppe Scalas On January 21, 2017 @ 11:01 am

Imagine telling someone in 1980 that he or she will be able to access almost all the world’s information directly on a screen on the phone. And that the phone will be completely wireless, and it can be done while going for a stroll.

Well, all of those things had been imagined in SF writings. It looks like there’s something as technology determinism. That’s why the SF I like most is the psi streak: it fancies truly impossible technologies such as…

#17 Comment By JonF On January 21, 2017 @ 2:37 pm

ELizabeth I is mentioned above. Add to that the ascent of the Tudor dynasty which depended on some improbable events:
– A widowed queen falling in love with and marrying a servant
– A 13 year old girl, already a widow, and her baby barely surviving a grueling childbirth.
– A boy with a price on his head surviving the War of the Roses. At one point he was almost executed by Lancastrian partisans who thought he was someone else.
– The dwindling of the male lines of the once fecund Houses of Lancaster and York.
– The Battle of Bosworth decided by Lord Stanley, who choose to help his step-son even though his real son was held hostage by Richard III under threat of death (whether from concerns of justice or prudence Richard’s henchmen refused to carry out the murder order against the younger Stanley)
– And a princess whom many saw as the rightful heir to her father’s throne falling in love with her miserly, suspicious husband and siding with him come what may when she could have made great trouble instead.

#18 Comment By Chris 1 On January 21, 2017 @ 3:27 pm

I’m with Andrew re: WWI.

If you’d said in 1910 that within 10 years the crowned heads of Europe would all be dethroned and the Ottoman Empire would be divided between France and Britain you’d be a laughingstock.

#19 Comment By Joys-R-Us On January 21, 2017 @ 4:18 pm

I think people are missing the criteria of Gibson’s tweet, particularly the “bizarre and tragically ridiculous” part. There’s plenty of examples of unknown people rising up from obscurity to power, such as Napoleon, Genghis Khan, Mohammed, etc. But none of these people were ridiculous figures like Trump. They were highly intelligent, capable people who through sheer merit and ambition and inspiration rose to prominence and left a mark on the world. I have a very hard time coming up with someone who is so intrinsically absurd a figure as Trump. Of course, we didn’t have reality-TV stars until recently, so maybe it’s unfair, but that’s merely a reflection of the absurdity of our time and culture. Still, I know of no popular entertainer/entrpreneur with such an absurdist reputation achieving this sort of power. Of course, the story isn’t over yet, so we don’t know what he will make of it, or what history will make of him, but for now it certainly ranks near the top of any list of ridiculous story-lines.

#20 Comment By David J. White On January 21, 2017 @ 5:19 pm

Another: within 60 years of the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk, Yuri Gagarin orbits the Earth.

Heck, you can push that a bit further: within 66 years of the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk — a single human lifespan — Neil Armstrong walked on the Moon.

***

Our half naked, ragtag army’s defeat of the greatest military in the world and the ratification of the constitution less than a decade later was pretty implausible.

Our “half naked, ragtag army” had some significant help from France, as well as from the fact that they were fighting in their own country. It can also be argued that the Continentals didn’t so much defeat Britain militarily as succeed in making the cost of prosecuting the war higher than Britain was willing to pay (cf. the US experience in Vietnam).

#21 Comment By Tom S On January 21, 2017 @ 11:04 pm

A man who had failed at just about everything in his life went from being a clerk in his father’s hardware store to commanding all the armies in the United States in three years, and became President in eight years.

#22 Comment By Josh K On January 23, 2017 @ 11:23 am

The Mongol invasion of Europe wasn’t so unlikely if you look back at the history. A lot of people argue migrations of steppe peoples brought down the Roman Empire (one major factor anyway). And that was without a true military genius like Genghis Khan.

#23 Comment By Giuseppe Scalas On January 23, 2017 @ 4:49 pm

Let’s see.
A black slave becomes one of the Emperor’s favorite, is made a general, a governor and a noble and the grand-grandfather of one of a great writer.

#24 Comment By Giuseppe Scalas On January 23, 2017 @ 4:50 pm

minus “of one” 🙂

#25 Comment By David J. White On January 23, 2017 @ 6:49 pm

If you’d said in 1910 that within 10 years the crowned heads of Europe would all be dethroned and the Ottoman Empire would be divided between France and Britain you’d be a laughingstock.

So too if you said in, say, 1984 that within ten years the Berlin Wall would be down, Germany reunited, the Cold War ended with a victory for the West, and the Soviet Union gone.

I remember when the movie “2010” came out in 1984. It was a sequel to “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Of all the things people found unrealistic about the film, no one found it at all unbelievable that in 2010 both the Soviet Union and the Cold War would be very much going concerns, as depicted in the film.

#26 Comment By Thrice A Viking On January 23, 2017 @ 7:36 pm

I’d go with Pizarro’s conquest of the Incas. Cortez had considerable help from Native American allies who hated the Aztecs for their human sacrifices of their people. But Pizarro, as I understand it, just had his small Spanish army.