“The common curse of mankind, folly and ignorance, be thine in great revenue!”William Shakespeare (Troilus and Cressida)
Sometimes someone makes such a bizarrely awful argument that you hope it’s a joke so you don’t have to go through the trouble of refuting it—until he presses the point so adamantly that you become convinced he’s serious and, because of the argument’s extreme inanity, must be engaged. Richard Hanania, the controversial opinion writer, made such an argument last weekend.
The sordid story begins, as so many do, on X/Twitter, where someone shared former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried’s speculation that, based on a back-of-the-envelope statistical analysis, William Shakespeare isn’t as good as everyone thinks. “What are the odds that the greatest writer would have been born in 1564?” he asked. As the Earl of Salisbury said in Henry V, “’tis a fearful odds.”
The musings of America’s favorite alleged fraud earned plenty of righteous ridicule, but Hanania offered his humble support: