Re: the arrogance of postmodern mumbo jumbo

Thomas L. Billings (
Tue, 01 Oct 1996 20:30:09 -0800

In article <52pa9n$>, (Philip
Deitiker) wrote:

> So you contend that his contemporaries believed the world was round
> but two big to circumnavigate? OK, but what lead them to belive that
> there were no other land masses. A good staistician would predict that
> there probablty were.


Statistics didn't get a good start until the 17th century, with Pascal and
Fermat making contributioons of note. Let's check the history a bit here,
hmm? either case they were wrong, who was
> more right (from a scientific point of view columbus was because he
> put his theory to test, whereas as his contemporaries played the
> conservative game (defending an untested null hypothseis)). Its
> difficult to be 100% accurate without information, thus without
> information one is lead to deviant speculations. OTOH, with data to
> support theories a certain amount of speculation gets erased, I think
> this is the original point.

Actually, a good reason that many non-educated people may have disbelieved
the learned academics (that the world was round) was that so many of their
theories in the universities were in fact still untested in the 15th
century. As late as 1600-1610 Galileo was (very carefully and politely!)
correcting the scholastic views of the Duc de Medici about bouyancy and
similar basic physics. This general unreliability of academic knowledge
about the physical world in 1492 does give some positive light to Columbus
and his skills of persuasion among the sailors and criminals that he had
on board.


Tom Billings

Institute for Teleoperated Space Development Billings)
ITSD's web site is at,