Which of these stories would you be most likely to believe?
- In 313 the Roman emperor Constantine saw a cross above the sun and dreamed that Jesus told him to use it to defeat his enemies. The next day his soldiers, with crosses inscribed on their shields, won a great victory over the emperor’s brother Maxentius, who drowned during the battle. Constantine thereupon converted to Christianity.
- By the autumn of 1940 Finland, Denmark, Norway, Belgium and France had all surrendered to Hitler, and Italy had invaded Africa and Egypt. When Mussolini demanded his forces be allowed to enter Greece, however, the Greeks refused and, with a vastly smaller army, pushed the Italians back into Albania.
- In 1943 the U.S. Navy, testing an aspect of Einstein’s unified field theory, bent great beams of light around the USS Eldridge at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. The ship became nearly invisible, covered with a sort of green fog.
Well, who knows what really happened in 313, but thanks to Constantine Christianity is now the world’s largest religion. Number two is true, and marked the first Allied victory of the war. Number three, scientific and quixotic at the same time, is probably apocryphal – but if the CIA can study psychics for 20 years, I suppose the Navy could well have made ships disappear.