Newspapers used to distinguish very strictly between “Fact”and “Opinion”. What was reported as “News” was strictly “Fact” and all “Opinion” was edited out. Opinion was reserved for the relatively small promotion of the total news print in each issue as the “Editorial”.There are newspapers which still make the distinction. However in the Twenty-first century this is it not the general rule. Newspapers are littered with opinion accompanied by little or no attempt to identify the facts which might or might not support that opinion.
Worse still politicians have formed an unholy alliance with some commercially minded scientists to promote causes or to oppose other causes where there is no attempt to justify the argument in rational terms only to quote consensus, widely held opinion.
Although my main objective was initially to write a romantic novel about Ximene Trencavel , my search for all the events and beliefs which might have helped formulate her beliefs, attitudes and ambitions, has led me into a succession of areas where I can hardly believe the unjustifiable prejudice which surrounds many issues I want to investigate.
Just as I was writing this piece, one of the local newspapers. part of the Murdoch empire made two simultaneous ( news?) announcements. One was that the web version of their newspapers would be subscription only and secondly there would be a radical revamp of content and presentation.
So in the Melbourne Herald Sun we now have content which used to be scattered indiscriminately though the paper gathered together and identified, not as news, but as opinion. I wait with baited breath to discover wether the news pages no longer contain opinion dressed up as news.
Also worthy of monitoring the fact that there are regular contributors to the Opinion section. The objectives and underlying beliefs of some of these contributors is often patently clear, but in other cases less so. The use of regular contributors raises the question of how were they selected and wether they have been given editorial instructions to represent a particular point of view.
What caused this outburst? I was researching yet another aspect of Ximene. As part of building her relationship with John Stanley, Ximene expresses her interest in the Celts. At first I thought she was only making conversation but then I realised that to be true to her character Ximene would have to be really interested. She wanted to know all about the Celts, who they were, what they believed and how they apparently became relegated to second class citizens by the Romans, then the Saxons and finally by the Nomans. For her it becomes a parallel with fate of Occitan and she strives to lean more, searching to learn valuable lessons from history.
If I was to be able to write this effectively, I decided I must have a better understanding for myself . Unwittingly I stepped into an area of great controversy. The Celts are supposed to be Indo-Europeans like most of the other races in Western Europe. There is notable exeception to this general rule, the Basques.
The Ayrian Race
Recent historical belief is that the predecessers of Indo Euopeans spread eastward from their homeland to eventually conquer India, in the process giving Indians the Sandskrit language. The Indo Europeans then, from that base, re- emigrated to the west. All this could be related to the end of the Ice Age.
Many Indian thinkers today, believe that this is blatant, racially inspired nonsense, to avoid the concept of Indian superiority. The alternative they propose is that the origins of civilisation were in India and from there civilisation spread to the rest of the world.
The Hitler theory
The Celts could have course have been part of this pattern or they could have been part of something completely different.
It is all complicated by the fact that Hitler wanted to have the Celts as part of his super-race and instituted “Celtic Studies” at German Universities, but the research revealed an absence of a Celtic presence in all but the very west and south of Germany. Not that this has deterred white supremacists who still use the supposed integrity of Celtic blood lines to support their arguments in North America.
Just as I gritted my teeth and waded into all this, came the news that the Egyptian Pharaoh Tutenkarmen is a Celt! At least I think that is what has been discovered but many commentators seem to be very anxious to hedge their bets. Tutenkarmen’s patrilineal DNA apparently has a very strong correlation with Celtic peoples.Around 98 % per cent of the men in Northern Island and Western Scotland share the same patralinieal haplagroup!
no images were found
The current occupants of Eqypt and North Africa do not share this Haplagroup.
This piece of information apparently caused Afro Americans to demonstrate in the streets that the Pharohs were black and that this latest study was an attempt to steal their heritage.
Truth or consensus
Now comes an important question. Is what I have just discussed, fact or opinion?
Interestingly not every report on the DNA testing of Tutenkamen reveals the Celtic connection, many concentrate on the revelations about his immediate family and the fact that Neterferti was not his mother. Those who do mention the Celtic connection come to the general conclusion that there must have been a common ancestor of both the Pharaohs and the Celts somewhere in the Caucusus.
Of course this neatly sidesteps the blindingly obvious, that Tutenkarmen, his immediate family and possibly many other rulers of Egypt were “Celts”, quite a separate race from the people they governed. I must admit that view is certainly opinion.
The Basque Anomoly
I was inclined to dismiss all this sidestepped when I read that the “Tutankhamun” gene is found in greatest concentrations in Northern Ireland but also in Northern Spain, the Basque country, Aquitaine , Gascony and Languedoc Rousillion. This area includes Occitan the nation Ximene is fighting to save. No wonder she empathises with John Stanley so quickly , they share the same Genes!
What is history
The topics in this line of thinking are currently neither History or Pseudo history. As with the results of Tutenkarmen’ s DNA tests, they are simply facts or opinion. Opinion is the interpretation of facts when the facts themselves are not totally conclusive. Of course depending which version is adopted by Historians and Politicians, over time opinion ultimately may become accepted history.
The point is that the shaping of responsible opinion should always be based on analysis of and extrapolation from facts. Responsible opinion never should be in contradiction with known facts. Consensus taken from the beliefs of the whole population or even from a segment of those with an interest in the topic in hand should never be given preference over hard evidence, or lack of it.
I have used the Tutankhmun episode to expose the difficulty of controlling the formation of responsible opinion.
As a side issue I enclose the contents of a complete Paper by Micheal Critchton the second time I have quoted him entitled “How Aliens Caused Global Warming”
Finally a give some astonishing information about the way the Iran celebrated “two thousand years of the peacock throne”. It is all fact. I would not dare to have an opinion.