Some months ago, I debated JoC over the notion that the scientific method is the only known method for discovering objective truths. A large portion of his counterpoints revolved around the claim that historical documentation is indeed another method. Flawed as that may be, I am here to offer a scenario that highlights the degree to which historical documentation is unreliable.
Imagine that civilization as we know it is wiped out, rendering the whole world to be much the same as the Minoans or the Roanoke colony. However, evidence of us still exists, as well as most of our popular culture such as books, movies, and even digitally recorded music.
With that in mind, imagine that a team of researchers far in the future finds a shit ton of recordings of Christmas carols, publications of Christmas books, and copies of Christmas movies. Using these documents, the team would surmise that Santa Clause was a historical figure who used alien science known colloquially as magic to deliver presents to nice children once a year. They would also find that he lives in the Arctic with a bunch of reindeer as pets and elves as workers. The team would assume that the elves were long since extinct, and Santa's methods forever lost.
Now imagine that this team is us, with any other well known historical figure that predates cameras. Maybe Hannibal didn't, in fact, war against Rome and march elephants over the Alps, but he was just a fictional character associated with Carthage by Cato and other Romans to boost morale, just like Jerry for the Americans during WWII. We know Santa doesn't exist, but this is so obvious that we don't document that fact. Perhaps the Romans thought the same way about Hannibal.
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