The Animistic Fallacy

July 13, 2013 — 4 Comments

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)


Ryan Holiday

I'm a strategist for bestselling authors and billion dollar brands like American Apparel, Tucker Max and Robert Greene. My work has been used as case studies by Twitter, YouTube and Google and has been written about in AdAge, the New York Times, Gawker and Fast Company.

4 responses to The Animistic Fallacy

  1. Your new posts don’t show up on the front page only in the “recent” tab. The last thing on there is “Updates and RSS”.

  2. The Hellespont isn’t a river.

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  1. Great Lessons From Bad People — Learning From History’s Most Hated | Thought Catalog - July 16, 2013

    […] From Xerxes, the Persian King who tried to destroy Greece…the dangers of–and the foolishness–of the animistic fallacy. […]