v 7.00.00
23 Jan 2024
updated 23 Jan 2024

Goat’s Ears

Objective truth is now under threat on the one hand from such pathetic individuals as Prince Harry who believes his subjective recollections are just as valid as verifiable truth, and the other hand from such individuals as President Putin who neither know nor care about any distinction between truth and falsehood.

I’m always happy to be sent emails that extend, or sometimes correct, what’s currently written on the website. In such cases I’m able to update the website with full attribution to the contributor.

But sometimes the contributor doesn’t want their name to be revealed. And sometimes they don’t even want the information to be revealed on the website ‘for fear it would be upsetting to other people still living.’

In the lattermost case, what’s the point of telling me? I have a healthy respect for objective truth - am I to connive at suppressio veri et suggestio falsi on behalf of these informants? What use am I expected to make of their information? And the secret is bound to be discovered anyway in the course of time...

An old Serbian folktale recounts that the emperor Trojan had goat's ears, but kept this fact a secret from the populace. Every day, he had a new barber whom he would ask if he noticed anything strange; when the man answered that Trojan had goat's ears, he was put to death. One day, an apprentice went, and said that he saw nothing strange, so he remained as the emperor's barber. The apprentice found his secret troubling him. His master advised him to tell him, the master, or his pastor, or to whisper it into a hole in the ground.

The apprentice dug a hole, whispered into it that the emperor had goat's ears, and filled it up again. An elder tree grew there, someone cut a branch and made a flute, but the only thing the flute would play was "The Emperor Trojan has goat's ears."

The news spread, and the emperor discovered it and wormed the secret out of the apprentice. He had the last branch cut and found the flute made from it was the same. He spared the apprentice's life but did not keep him on as his barber.