The Animistic Fallacy

When Xerxes, King of Persia was crossing the Hellespont in the midst of the first Greco-Persian War, he built two bridges that were quickly destroyed. He personally blamed the water for attempting to spite him–thinking that it was acting against his efforts on purpose. In response he threw chains into it, gave it three hundred lashes and “branded it with red-hot irons.”

This is what happens when you are so self-absorbed that you think the world is out to get you. You start to see causality where there isn’t any. You fall prey to the Animistic Fallacy not because you are stupid but because of your ego.

(source of the anecdote: The Greco-Persian Wars by Peter Green)


Written by Ryan Holiday
Ryan Holiday is the bestselling author of Trust Me, I’m Lying, The Obstacle Is The Way, Ego Is The Enemy, and other books about marketing, culture, and the human condition. His work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared everywhere from the Columbia Journalism Review to Fast Company. His company, Brass Check, has advised companies such as Google, TASER, and Complex, as well as Grammy Award winning musicians and some of the biggest authors in the world. He lives in Austin, Texas.