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Newsweek admits, mediaeval world didn’t think Earth was flat

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Of course not. That would make Earth a dinner plate circled by globes.

Satan, as pictured in a mediaeval poem, encased in ice at the centre of the Earth – deciding that the only solution is to stop reading Uncommon Descent

From Newsweek:

Columbus and the Spaniards knew the Earth was round—Columbus’s plans to sail to Asia were questioned because the ocean was thought to be too vast to sail across, not because anyone thought the Earth was flat, Gould writes. Even the religious authorities of the 15th century knew better. So why on Earth have so many schoolchildren been taught otherwise?

The fault lies with 19th century writers such as Washington Irving, Jean Letronne and others. Letronne was “an academic of strong anti-religious prejudices… who cleverly drew upon both to misrepresent the church fathers and their medieval successors as believing in a flat earth, in his On the Cosmographical Ideas of the Church Fathers,” published in 1834, Russell writes.

Irving also penned a “history” of Christopher Columbus in 1828 that was treated as fact, but was largely fictional, and Russell credits him with inventing “the indelible picture of the young Columbus, a ‘simple mariner,’ appearing before a dark crowd of benighted inquisitors and hooded theologians at a council of Salamanca, all of whom believed, according to Irving, that the earth was flat like a plate.”

These falsehoods were picked up and amplified by historians such as John Draper and Andrew Dickson White, and “perpetrated in texts, encyclopedias, and even allegedly serious scholarship, down to the present day,” Russell notes.

Why bother perpetuating falsehoods? Russell and Gould suggest the flat-earth myth was used to demonize Christians and religion in general, and to lionize scientists. More.

So, after decades of accepted misrepresentation, why would Newsweek see the need for accuracy? Maybe they’re aiming at a smarter audience now?

Bit late out of the starting gate …

See also: Coffee! Flat Earth Award

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Note: Added and appended as Comment  3:

The main thing to see here is that Newsweek allowed all the damage that widely distributed lies can do to be done until after they ceased issuing a print edition and the Internet made it much harder to just conceal the truth.

When evaluating legacy media, never lose sight of that fact.

8 Replies to “Newsweek admits, mediaeval world didn’t think Earth was flat

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    News, Aristotle argued from the shadow earth casts on the moon in a Lunar Eclipse, that Earth is round as a ball, and Eratosthenes calculated the distance around by c 300 BC. In Almagest, it was reckoned that the stars were vastly distant. Columbus’ objectors argued that his figures that led him to think in terms of a sailing voyage were far too small — and they were right. But there was evidence of something out there and the three month voyage did find it, the Americas. Columbus’ real discovery was the trade wind system and how to sail out on the trade winds and back on the westerlies. That transformed the times and ushered in the globalised world. In the end it is sobering that education and media systems and even some scholars could so deeply entrench a modern myth that appealed to deep resentments but was utterly ill founded. What other myths have we swallowed? KF

  2. 2
    jimmontg says:

    Dollar short and a day late, as my grandmother used to say. I remember the Columbus story from school back in the 50’s, I also remember Moody Bible Institute movies show how impossible it would be for just the 200 bones in the human body to come together exactly how they did and what the odds were. That was seventh grade in California in 1962, but they also showed a movie about how evolution worked and how single celled microbes decided it would be better to get together and live in a group and animal life was off and running.

    I remember thinking about how the microbes figured it out without a brain. I didn’t really get much evolution than that until I went to college and Madelyn Murray O’Hare had won her case against school prayer, which was something we never did in CA. in the first place. I never did believe much in evolution on the main because it sounded like religion to me. Statements like Nature in Her wisdom evolved some duck’s feathers or something so water would run off it’s back. I never really thought very much about it other than what I had to in the biology course they made me take on my way to get a degree in engineering. Engineering is how I thought even as a kid with insomnia I would read about it and other subjects in our set of Funk and Wagnalls encyclopedias.

    I wasn’t raised in a religious home at all. I was raised by your standard American Pagans. You know, somebody who thinks God is some Old Man upstairs and His last name was damn. I went to live with my father in Newport Beach Ca. as my dad married a rich lady and they were cultural catholics and didn’t make any demands on me about it. I was seventeen years old before I found out what Easter was about. I thought it was about a bunny and egg hunts and I hated hard boiled eggs. You can imagine my surprised when they told me it was about the Lord Rising from the dead. I always wondered about the Cross and what it meant, but nobody told me much until I ran into a bunch of Jehovah Witnesses. It’s one of the reasons I am partial to the presuppositionalism of Cornelius Van Til. I didn’t know why. but I knew there was something wrong about the JWs and I didn’t believe them when they told me that Jesus was just a great man and the Archangel Michael. I ran into some real Christians and became one later myself.

  3. 3
    News says:

    The main thing to see here is that Newsweek allowed all the damage that widely distributed lies can do to be done until after they ceased issuing a print edition and the Internet made it much harder to just conceal the truth.

    When evaluating legacy media, never lose sight of that fact.

  4. 4
    awstar says:

    What other myths have we swallowed? KF

    How about the myth that man is getting smarter as the years go by?

    Ancient Babylonians used geometry to track Jupiter

    http://www.nature.com/news/bab.....er-1.19261

  5. 5
    PaV says:

    When you study what the Left claims as “facts,” it almost invariably turns out to be a myth.

    And, in typical fashion, they denounce religion as “myths,” once again ‘projecting’ onto their enemies their own misdeeds.

  6. 6
    Robert Byers says:

    Another point is how just one person stamped a idea on the small circles that reach large audience.
    It did’t matter who knew the truth because only a few can stamp.
    A few people in this world really do everything good or evil or right or wrong.
    Thats why evolutionism is not based on millions of scientists but very few paid people and very few would be able to reach audiences to correct.
    YEC always had great ideas in opposition but it was iD that , a few people, that reached the educated, very, classes on this subject of origins.
    Most paid evolutionists just followed a few whose books they red in school.
    They never questioned things after all.
    Thats why the few at UD can and will make a historic difference.
    its just a few and a few will bring the victory, intellectually, or a few will defeat this few intellectually. In our time.
    its an option evolutionism is a error just as the flat earth opinion of the old ones was wrongly claimed.

  7. 7
    velikovskys says:

    news:
    Of course not. That would make Earth a dinner plate circled by globes.

    assuming the conclusion that people knew the planets were globes

  8. 8
    kairosfocus says:

    VS, by the days of Aristotle and Eratosthenes, much less Ptolemy several centuries later, there was knowledge on the matter. Aristotle argued from the shadow earth consistently casts on the moon in a Lunar Eclipse, that Earth is round as a ball, and Eratosthenes calculated the distance around the globe. As comment 1 above points out, by c 300 BC. As the comment also highlights, Columbus’ CRITICS were right that the figures he tried to come up with for the circumference were far too low. Try a look here on: http://iose-gen.blogspot.com/2.....cosmointro and particularly note the illustration from the middle ages of walking around the world and meeting on the opposite side. KF

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