Monday, March 13, 2006

Laurel resting and revisionism

I found this on Slashdot and it piqued my interest since I just got finished reading this book this weekend.

The Slashdot post tells of a website that shows 1001 Inventions of Islam and a news article that picks out the top 20. The comments on the Slashdot post are very informative. Below is an excerpt:

From TFA: By the 9th century, many Muslim scholars took it for granted that the Earth was a sphere. The proof, said astronomer Ibn Hazm, "is that the Sun is always vertical to a particular spot on Earth". It was 500 years before that realisation dawned on Galileo.

The fact that the Earth was round (contrary to popular belief) was not big news in the 9th century. The ancient Greeks knew very well that the Earth was a sphere, and they too had calculated the circumference with surprising accuracy several centuries B.C. (not to mention before Mohammed). Also Galileo wasn't controversial because he claimed the Earth was round - it was because he claimed that the Earth revolved around the sun, and not vice versa. Sigh.

Another comment includes a link to an interesting letter written in response to a speech given by Carly Fiorina, CEO of Hewlett Packard Corporation, on September 26, 2001.

Makes me think the 1001 Inventions is more about PRopaganda and historical revisionism than anything else. The problem is that many who look at the site and read the news article will take it at face value and not be concerned at all about it's lack of historical accuracy. That's another recurring theme I've seen lately and makes me more motivated to catch up on what I don't know about history.

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