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View Diary: An Asian's Take on Republican "Self-examination" (65 comments)

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  •  correction regarding Columbus (1+ / 0-)
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    SilentBrook
    We want schools that encourage our kids to think, to weigh the evidence.  Come to think of it, if folks like Columbus hadn’t challenged what everyone “knew”, ie., that the earth was flat, the good ol’ USA wouldn’t be here.
    Good diary! So I hesitate a little to correct you regarding Columbus. But sometimes, as you note, it's good to challenge what 'everyone' knows. And what you are repeating about Columbus falls into that category.

    The disagreement Columbus had with the learned folks advising Isabella wasn't over whether the earth was flat. The fact the earth was round was reasonably well-known about the learned folks of the time. The disagreement was over whether the earth was large.

    The learned folks believed the earth was large, and that therefore Columbus wouldn't be able to reach the east by sailing west -- the distance was too great. Columbus believed the earth was considerably smaller than their calculations led them to believe.

    It turns out they were right and he was wrong. But his mistake enabled him to discover a land mass between Europe and Asia which neither he nor the learned folks had known about.

    •  Yes, I was aware of that... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SilentBrook

      Which is why I said "folks like Columbus", not Columbus himself.  Trying to recap the intellectual history of the time would have been a distraction in this context.    Magellan, among others, and some of the Ming Dynasty Chinese explorers as well, deserve far more credit for establishing the thesis, but a large part of the intended audience probably haven't heard of either...!

      thanks anyway!

      The Wanderer, from somewhere over the Pacific...

      by Wanderer1961 on Mon Mar 04, 2013 at 11:38:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not intended as factual? ;) (1+ / 0-)
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        Nova Land

        /snark

        "Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level, and beat you with experience every time." --Unknown

        by Subwoofer of the House on Mon Mar 04, 2013 at 01:25:11 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  that's a bit disingenuous (0+ / 0-)
        Which is why I said "folks like Columbus", not Columbus himself.
        Yes, I realize you you said folks like Columbus rather than folks such as Columbus. But the clear implication of what you wrote is that a widespread belief in a flat earth was challenged by Columbus. That's not true. But it's a commonly held misbelief -- and the way you wrote that section of your diary helps perpetuate that misbelief.

        Wikipedia has a good summary about this, which I've quoted below. But in case you don't want to read the entire passage that I've quoted, here's the essential part: The misconception that educated Europeans at the time of Columbus believed in a flat Earth, and that his voyages refuted that belief, has been referred to as the Myth of the Flat Earth. In 1945, it was listed by the Historical Association (of Britain) as the second of 20 in a pamphlet on common errors in history.

        The Flat Earth model is an archaic belief that the Earth's shape is a plane or disk. Many ancient cultures have had conceptions of a flat Earth, including Greece until the classical period, the Bronze Age and Iron Age civilizations of the Near East until the Hellenistic period, India until the Gupta period (early centuries AD) and China until the 17th century. It was also typically held in the aboriginal cultures of the Americas, and a flat Earth domed by the firmament in the shape of an inverted bowl is common in pre-scientific societies. The Jewish conception of a flat earth is found in biblical and post biblical times.

        The paradigm of a spherical Earth was developed in Greek astronomy, beginning with Pythagoras (6th century BC), although most Pre-Socratics retained the flat Earth model. Aristotle accepted the spherical shape of the Earth on empirical grounds around 330 BC, and knowledge of the spherical Earth gradually began to spread beyond the Hellenistic world from then on. The misconception that educated Europeans at the time of Columbus believed in a flat Earth, and that his voyages refuted that belief, has been referred to as the Myth of the Flat Earth. In 1945, it was listed by the Historical Association (of Britain) as the second of 20 in a pamphlet on common errors in history.

        Couldn't you find a different example to illustrate your point and edit that into the diary in place of the incorrect one you provided? If we don't like seeing Republicans distorting history in support of points they're making, perhaps it would be good if we set a better example.
        •  Ok, fair enough (1+ / 0-)
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          Nova Land

          It is also true, however, that there was a lot of interest in empirical confirmation of a "round" earth, which was one of Magellan's objectives, though he didn't survive the trip.  The Greek (and also Arab) understanding of the world had largely been erased from European consciousness by the time of the Enlightenment and was just re-emerging.

          The rhetorical point is that explorers in general would not have done any of what they did had they accepted the canon without question, and that is really the major problem we have with conservatism today.  I think we agree...?

          The Wanderer, from somewhere over the Pacific...

          by Wanderer1961 on Mon Mar 04, 2013 at 04:43:29 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

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