Alternative History / Belief

belief is the death of intelligence

Robert Anton Wilson, visionary, loon, whatever you will,  famously said the words above, going on to add “as soon as one believes a doctrine of any sort, or assumes certitude, one stops thinking about that aspect of existence”.   Quid Sapio agrees with this.  And thinks thinking should be encourage wherever possible. So this isn’t a blog for people who have certitudes about things – any things.  Fairies, capitalism,  chocolate, Loch Ness Monsters,  Creationism, Evolution, spontaneous human combustion, the Pope, pasta – anything.

If you’re sure about anything, go away, this place will just make you mad. You’ve been warned.

Ok, just to kickoff, how about the  Lindbergh Kidnapping?

Well, how about it?

If you don’t already know the background, here’s good place to start.  The almost universally held opinion at the time, and maybe even now, is that Bruno Hauptmann, an impoverished German immigrant, did the dirty, and kidnapped and murdered aviator and all-American hero Charles Lindbergh’s baby son.  Hauptmann was eventually executed for the crime.

The tragic Lindbergh baby

But was he guilty? Well, as ever there is no shortage of certitude on either side.  Some people are sure he was guilty, others are sure he was innocent.  Some people  are sure BH was partially involved but didn’t actually do the kidnapping. Others are sure there was  a ‘gang’  (there’s almost always a ‘gang’ somewhere isn’t there).

But  then  a few years ago, two brave men, Gregory Ahlgren and Stephen Monier,  entered the fray with the suggestion that Charles Lindbergh himself might have dunnit.  In a nutshell they suggested CL might have pretended to kidnap his own kid, as a joke on his wife, accidentally dropped and  killed him and then forged the ransom note to cover himself.

I  say brave, because  Lindbergh was a national hero, after flying his plane across the Atlantic  and all that, so it followed in a large portion of the popular mind that he couldn’t possibly do anything bad  and anyone who suggested otherwise was evil, twisted  and should be lynched.  So, their book got a mauling, and their theory tends to be confined to the kind of websites that don’t use margins and fill their text with multi-colored highlights, which is not  so much  an endorsement as a  DSM diagnostic criteria.  Very few people, therefore, have ever given it much thought or space.

But we might just want to remember a couple of crucial things.

First thing obviously is that in  the real, messy old world even heroes do weird shit sometimes, so that’s no reason for dismissing it out of hand.  

Second thing is, the seemingly nuts theory about CL kidnapping his own child  to scare his wife does have one surprising thing in its favor – Lindbergh had apparently done that very thing a few months earlier:

“Two months earlier Lindbergh pretended the child had been kidnapped and allowed the panic – stricken household to search for half an hour before revealing his prank!

He had hidden his child, age 18 months at that time, in the trash closet! As a joke”

Hmmm… This site carries more about the theory. Try to get beyond those scary multi-colored highlights, because there is  some interesting stuff.

I hope they’re wrong, because it’s a horrible idea. But the real point is – there are always more possibilities than you think.

Which is why certitude is always  wrong.



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