The Strange Truth of the Plague
Posted June 01, 2021
Six centuries ago, a plague ripped through Europe, killing roughly one-third of the population.
Conventional wisdom says that the so-called “Black Death” was caused by fleas riding the backs of rats.
This narrative has created a lot of fantastic stories. Who hasn’t heard the one where Pope Gregory ordered all cats destroyed because they were spawned from Satan… only to be later bombarded by bubonic-infested rats.
(A great example of unintended consequences, if it were true. But blogger Alex Johnson makes a convincing case that it’s probably “Fake Mews.”)
The past 150 years have seen increasing questioning of this conventional wisdom about the apparent third wave of the bubonic plague.
For starters, in the 19th century, the German historian J.F.C. Hecker provided a list of bizarre happenings in the Eastern world just before the “Black Death.”
In the 26 years following 1333, according to Hecker, a great upheaval shook the earth. The air was affected by this upheaval, and, in his own words: “This disease was a consequence of violent commotions in the earth’s organism -- if any disease of cosmical origin can be so considered.”
He added that, “Great and extraordinary meteors appeared in many places.” He chronicled all of the ensuing reports of earthquakes, lasting for days, violent torrents of rain, tsunamis, and apparent tectonic shifts.
Hecker wasn’t trying to be a contrarian, he was only following the trail. A century later, another scientist, with far more sophisticated tools at his disposal, discovered the same trail after studying tree rings and ice core samples of that time.
In his book, New Light on the Black Death, Mike Baillie, a pioneering dendrochronologist (one who studies tree rings) and paleocologist (one who studies historic interactions between organisms and their environment), shares a strange (but compelling) theory that flies in the face of everything we thought we knew about the Black Death.
In the run-up to the Black Death, Baillie reveals:
→ There were indeed references to things falling from the sky and a corrupted atmosphere
→ There were reports of major earthquakes, tsunamis, and comet sightings (such as Comet Negra in 1347)
→ Ice core samples revealed a heightened amount of ammonia in the atmosphere around 1348
→ We now know that comets are “dirty space snowballs” made up of gases like ammonia and methane, coated with dark organic material, littering their contents wherever they go
→ Tree-ring data in Europe suggests a rapid change in climate during this time
→ The bubonic plague requires relatively warm temps to spread, but most northern Europeans died in the winter
In short, Baillie believes that the Black Death might’ve actually been caused by meteor strikes, causing climate havoc and polluting the environment.
Though controversial, Baillie’s book reveals that the conventional wisdom surrounding the Black Death leaves many questions unanswered.
If true, however, good luck going mainstream.
History is War
History is a war of narratives. The pursuit of truth, as evidenced by Mike Baillie’s low book sales, is a fringe activity. Once a narrative is embedded into the popular consciousness, it becomes heinously difficult to wrench it loose.
In our times, another example sticks out:
In his latest (and wildly popular) book, The Premonition, Michael Lewis propagates the narrative that the public health officials who pushed for lockdowns were courageous heroes who saved countless lives.
Jeffrey Tucker, however, an ardent anti-lockdowner, says Lewis jumped the gun. This narrative, however popular it might be, has some plotholes.
“This book,” Tucker wrote in his review, “has a preordained conclusion that has no evidence to back it up, namely that the lockdowns were a glorious triumph of public-health success, never mind the despair spread throughout the US and the world, the lost year of schooling, the economic catastrophe, the missed cancer screenings, the bankrupted industries, and the dearth of evidence to support the contention that lockdowns performed better than old-fashioned therapeutics.
“Lockdown,” says Tucker, “is a god that failed. This book, tragically, does its level best to sustain a dangerous myth.”
In 500 years, will The Premonition represent the prominent narrative, just like the flea-bitten rats of the plague?
It’s a top-seller on Amazon and has overwhelmingly positive reviews. But for those skeptical of this narrative, it’s hardly set in stone. Unlike in the 1400s, information is easy to come by… and conflicting evidence is abundant.
Nuance still has a chance.
In his latest article, Tucker offers a full a rundown of Michael Lewis’ book… and why the narrative in The Premonition is falling apart at the seams.
No matter where you sit on this argument, Tucker, like Baillie, does a good job of filling in conventional wisdom’s many blanks.
Managing editor, Laissez Faire Today