The PR BlogMedia & PsychologyBehavioural PsychologyNapoleon the Sun God (and Why Most Conspiracies are Bullshit)

Napoleon the Sun God (and Why Most Conspiracies are Bullshit)

Bullshit is a natural human expression — mind your step.

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer

Meet Napoleon, the Sun God.

Did you think that Napoleon Bonaparte was an actu­al his­tor­ic­al figure?


Consider this:

1. Napoleon is just a vari­ation of Apoleon or Apollo, and as God of the Sun, he was named Bonaparte, which means “the good part of the day” (when the sun shines).

2. Just as Apollo was born on the Mediterranean island of Delos, Napoleon was born on the Mediterranean island of Corsica.

3. Napoleon’s moth­er, Letitia, can be iden­ti­fied as Leto, Apollo’s moth­er. Both names mean joy and hap­pi­ness, sig­nalling the sun keep­ing the night at bay.

4. Letitia had three daugh­ters — as did Leto, Apollo’s moth­er.

5. Napoleon’s four broth­ers rep­res­ent the four sea­sons. Three broth­ers became kings, except for one broth­er who became Prince of Canino (derived from ‘cani,’ white, winter, age­ing).

6. Napoleon was driv­en out of France by Northern armies, as Appolo, the Sun God, was driv­en away by the North Wind.

7. Napoleon had two wives, as did Apollo. They rep­res­ent the Earth and the Moon. Apollo nev­er had any chil­dren with the Moon, but the Earth gave him a son, rep­res­ent­ing the fer­til­iz­a­tion of all green plants on Earth. Napoleon’s son was allegedly born on the 21st of March, the equi­nox in which the plane of Earth’s equat­or passes through the Sun’s centre (the Summer Solstice).

8. Apollo saved Greece from the dragon Python, and Napoleon saved France from the hor­rors of revolu­tion (derived from ‘revolvo,’ some­thing that crawls).

9. Napoleon’s twelve gen­er­als are sym­bols for the twelve creatures of the zodi­ac, and his four gen­er­als rep­res­ent North, West, South, and East.

10. Napoleon, the Sun Myth, always conquered the South but was always defeated by the cold winds of the North. Like the Sun, Napoleon rose in the East — he was born in Corsica) — and dawned in the West — he died on St. Helena.”

Is there a ser­i­ous case for “Napoleon the Sun God?”

Above is how the British writer Rupert Furneaux demon­strates how to cast doubt on the exist­ence of Napoleon Bonaparte, one of the most fam­ous char­ac­ters in history.

Studies have shown that we are sus­cept­ible to inform­a­tion presen­ted in frag­ments that seem to sup­port one spe­cif­ic pos­i­tion while at the same time leav­ing out con­tra­dict­ory evid­ence. It’s cherry-pick­ing.

In oth­er words: Napoleon the Sun God is bullshit.

Napoleon as Sun God, historic portrait, highly detailed - Napoleon the Sun God
A guy with a com­plex (art cre­ated by AI).

But Napoleon the Sun God shows how easy it is to cast doubt over the exist­ence of one of history’s most well-doc­u­mented fig­ures. It’s pos­sible to make people believe that Napoleon wasn’t real, that he was a Sun god, a myth.

We shouldn’t be sur­prised. We live in a time where a grow­ing num­ber of con­spir­acy the­or­ists are act­ively con­vin­cing them­selves that the Earth is flat. That’s how low the bar is set.

Read also: 58 Logical Fallacies and Cognitive Biases

Don’t get me wrong. I love a juicy con­spir­acy the­ory. And some turn out to be accur­ate, too. That’s not the point.

The point is that we seem to have an end­less capa­city for belief in the absence of evid­ence. It doesn’t mat­ter if it’s the media, gov­ern­ments, reli­gion, interest groups, or two friends in a bar.

Bullshit is a nat­ur­al human expres­sion.
Try not to step into it.

Please sup­port my blog by shar­ing it with oth­er PR- and com­mu­nic­a­tion pro­fes­sion­als. For ques­tions or PR sup­port, con­tact me via jerry@​spinfactory.​com.

Additional Resources

The Hostile Media Effect

Do you think that the news media is biased against your beliefs? Well, they might be. And they might also not be.

Researchers have found that indi­vidu­als tend to see the news media as biased against them — even when it’s not:

The hos­tile media effect […] is a per­cep­tu­al the­ory of mass com­mu­nic­a­tion that refers to the tend­ency for indi­vidu­als with a strong preex­ist­ing atti­tude on an issue to per­ceive media cov­er­age as biased against their side and in favour of their ant­ag­on­ists’ point of view.”
— Wikipedia 1Hostile media effect. (2022, October 25). In Wikipedia. https://​en​.wiki​pe​dia​.org/​w​i​k​i​/​H​o​s​t​i​l​e​_​m​e​d​i​a​_​e​f​f​ect

Are we para­noid? Do we see bias in the news media that isn’t there? In short: Yes.

The hos­tile media effect does­n’t imply that the media is nev­er biased. Still, sci­ence shows that oppos­ing groups often regard the same art­icles as against them and favour their opponents.

The exist­ence of the hos­tile media effect is sci­en­tific­ally well-estab­lished, but we still don’t know pre­cisely why it persists:

The hos­tile media per­cep­tion, the tend­ency for par­tis­ans to judge mass media cov­er­age as unfa­vor­able to their own point of view, has been vividly demon­strated but not well explained. This con­trast bias is intriguing because it appears to con­tra­dict a robust lit­er­at­ure on assim­il­a­tion biases — the tend­ency to find inform­a­tion more sup­port­ive, rather than more opposed, to one’s own pos­i­tion. […] con­tent eval­u­ations based on per­ceived influ­ence on one­self vs influ­ence on a broad­er audi­ence sug­ges­ted that the hos­tile media per­cep­tion may be explained by per­ceived reach of the inform­a­tion source.”
Source: Journal of Communication 2Gunther, A.C. and Schmitt, K. (2004), Mapping Boundaries of the Hostile Media Effect. Journal of Communication, 54: 55 – 70.

Research sug­gests that the primary driver could be fear of oppon­ents gain­ing in strength, and the hos­tile media effect could there­fore be seen as a psy­cho­lo­gic­al defence mechanism.

Read also: The Hostile Media Effect: How We Demonise the News Media

1 Hostile media effect. (2022, October 25). In Wikipedia. https://​en​.wiki​pe​dia​.org/​w​i​k​i​/​H​o​s​t​i​l​e​_​m​e​d​i​a​_​e​f​f​ect
2 Gunther, A.C. and Schmitt, K. (2004), Mapping Boundaries of the Hostile Media Effect. Journal of Communication, 54: 55 – 70.
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at KIX Index and Spin Factory. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

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