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The Parable of Pil-Mer the Prankster

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Sir Jim R Wallaby (Not a recent photograph)

the Skeptic, Spring 2001 - Page 7

Gather around, O gentlefolk of the community of Reasoned Doubters and the scion of the House of Wallaby shall relate to you a curious narrative.

Once upon a time, long, long ago in the fair land of Oz, there dwelt a learned scholar whom we shall designate Pil-Mer. Pil-Mer was highly regarded for his knowledge of rocks and minerals; of folds and intrusions; of schists and karsts and of all manner of recondite matters geological.

His peers afforded Pil-Mer abundant veneration for his accomplishments and he should have been contented.

But Pil-Mer was not a happy man, for he found his world of scholarship being subverted by the actions of certain purveyors of untruths and ignorance, who styled themselves the Creative Mythology Institution.

Now in those days, as today, people were devotees of divers mythologies of impeccably archaic lineage, and it was considered to be everyone's prerogative to subscribe to whichever mythology he so chose.

But this was not sufficient for the adherents of the CMI, so they took unto themselves the obligation of elevating their own concocted illusion above all others; furthermore they made believe that myriad scholars and savants had blessed their mythology as being truthful.

This sorely perplexed Pil-Mer, for he was one that esteemed learning and knowledge above all else, and he recognised that enlightenment was being corrupted by these shadowy purveyors of nescience. However, as he was not averse to a prank, he accordingly set about their conceits with many a merry jape, such as the "paper" that existed in a rock, thus exposing the paucity of their comprehension of geological truths. Then, as time passed, he began to suspect that one in his confidence was a clandestine disciple of creative mythology, said individual conveying his plans to the forces of obscurantism. He thereupon devised an ingenious stratagem to frustrate this person's devious designs.

Pil-Mer forthwith concocted a communication containing harsh remarks pertaining to a champion of creativists, which he made to appear as though it were a Public Manifesto, and this manuscript he caused to fall into the hands of the one he suspected of treachery. Presently his misgivings were demonstrated to be well-founded, for with the passage of a little time the functionaries of the CMI revealed that they possessed the document.

Sounds of rending garments, tearing hair and gnashing teeth emanated from the encampment of the unlearned. High was the level of mock-virtuous indignation; shrill was the denunciation of the savant in the organs of indoctrination; loudly lamented was the public denigration of their icon by the infidel scholar. Strident were their demands that the community of scholars and Reasoned Doubters should dissociate themselves from the impious geologist who had dared to publish abroad such a calumny. Further, thundered the self-righteous creativists, they would nevermore engage in popular discourse with Reasoned Doubters unless the demanded dissociation was acceded to.

But all was not what it seemed – yet again Pil-Mer had engaged in a jolly jest. For the document in question was not a Public Manifesto, merely a facsimile thereof, and it had not been promulgated by the learned sage – rather it had been bestowed solely upon the suspected betrayer, thereby making it a Private Epistle.

The culpability for its publication rested (and rests to this day) exclusively with the acolytes of the CMI and its propaganda agencies.

This all happened a very long time ago, but those who engage in creative mythology are celebrated neither for their quickness of wit nor acuity of perception, and the drollery of this stratagem entirely passed them by.

They persevere in their fiction that Pil-Mer and his friends among Reasoned Doubters have perpetrated a calumny upon them, though the truth is otherwise (as is commonly the case with anything that creativists profess).

And that, gentle reader, is why to this very day, the Creative Mythology Institution refuses to engage in any public debate with the Society of Reasoned Doubters. For its part the latter group is content with this arrangement, holding that debating with a Creative Mythologist is akin to having a serious discussion with a telegraph pole.

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