Flat Earth: The History of an Infamous Idea ePUB Þ

Flat Earth: The History of an Infamous Idea Contrary to popular belief fostered in countless school classrooms the world over, Christopher Columbus did not discover that the earth was round The idea of a spherical world had been widely accepted in educated circles from as early as the fourth century bc Yet, bizarrely, it was not until the supposedly rational nineteenth century that the notion of a flat earth really took hold Even bizarrely, it persists to this day, despite Apollo missions and widely publicized pictures of the decidedly spherical Earth from space Based on a range of original sources, Garwood s history of flat Earth beliefs from the Babylonians to the present day raises issues central to the history and philosophy of science, its relationship to religion and the making of human knowledge about the natural world Flat Earth is the first definitive study of one of history s most notorious and persistent ideas, and it evokes all the intellectual, philosophical, and spiritual turmoil of the modern age Ranging from ancient Greece, through Victorian England, to modern day America, this is a story that encompasses religion, science, and pseudoscience, as well as a spectacular array of people and places Where else could eccentric aristocrats, fundamentalist preachers, and conspiracy theorists appear alongside Copernicus, Newton, and NASA, except in an account of such a legendary misconception Thoroughly enjoyable and illuminating, Flat Earth is social and intellectual history at its best Garwood shares detailed stories of key people throughout the relatively short history of Flat Earth noise making She makes pertinent points throughout, and at the end of the day presents an eye opening read that makes these believers, who are so maligned by society, feel like actual, relatable human beings though definitely eccentric ones.Although well researched, it was sometimes my impression that the author didn t read many of her own chapters, which was evidenced by the repetition of fact Garwood shares detailed stories of key people throughout the relatively short history of Flat Earth noise making She makes pertinent points throughout, and at the end of the day presents an eye opening read that makes these believers, who are so maligned by society, feel like actual, relatable human beings though definitely eccentric ones.Although well researched, it was sometimes my impression that the author didn t read many of her own chapters, which was evidenced by the repetition of facts as if each time they were new information, as well as the seeming inclusion of every detail she must have come across It was often a slog, and that is the reason for the three stars.That said, Chapters 8, 9 and the epilogue are my favorites Chapter 8 was such a refreshing departure from the rest of the book, focusing on the Flat Earth Society in Canada that was founded for very different reasons than the others It was fun to read after dragging myself through a couple hundred years worth of stories in which all of this was taken very seriously perhaps an indication that it felt like a slog in part because of my feelings about the subject.Chapter 9 continued by following acontemporary believer in a Flat Earth whom the author succeeded in portraying as sympathetic, in my reading of it.And the epilogue, as they tend to, brought everything full circle, but also drew parallels between Flat Earth believers and the muchterrifyingly effective Creationists, as well as questioning our blind acceptance of facts as presented by experts and authorities, and inducing some terror via public opinion polls and what they say about where society is headed.It s a fascinating topic and the author has done a great job locating all the pieces of the narrative, at least from a Western perspective no reference to similar ideas being propagated elsewhere A future release would benefit from major trims, though How do you know the Earth is round No, really Because you saw a picture Because you own a globe What evidence could you throw up right now to prove the globularity of the ground you stand on Looking through some of the other reviews, it seems like people focus on the proponents of the Flat Earth model with pity and scorn At times you want to find the people it talks about and slap some sense into them, at others you just feel sorry for them Seeing the deliberate ignorance people impose on How do you know the Earth is round No, really Because you saw a picture Because you own a globe What evidence could you throw up right now to prove the globularity of the ground you stand on Looking through some of the other reviews, it seems like people focus on the proponents of the Flat Earth model with pity and scorn At times you want to find the people it talks about and slap some sense into them, at others you just feel sorry for them Seeing the deliberate ignorance people impose on themselves is both amusing, and terribly frightening Or It is finishes with an assessment of this belief across the years, comparing with initially entwined Creationist movement but remarking that a Flat Earth is simply too easy to disprove and therefore has been abandoned by almost the staunchest of Christian fundamentalists But this book is really about so much , and the epilogue demonstrates that It s not about proving the Earth is round It s about knowledge and what you believe in It s about the development of a society that has shifted their faith from priests to physicists, and accepts what is told them Likely, this book serves as a litmus test If you rescientificly minded, you focus on the proponents of Flat Earth theory and marvel at how obtuse they are If you rephilosophically minded, you revel in the tale of Leo Ferrari and the question of how we accept things as facts Presumably, if you re flat earth minded, you thought the book was great unless it was too critical I do not think, however, that this book was very well written It was obnoxiously repetitive and unbearably dull Sometimes, definitions for the same concepts were given in each chapter, in case one presumes that the reader was too bored reading one chapter and skipped to the next In an effort to be comprehensive, it over covers the issues Reading through the first half is a never ending cycle of pamphlet printing and responding to criticism Over and over again, the reader is treated to the same actions with minor changes If I could do anything with this book, I d give it to Bill Bryson and have him rewrite it It would be a tenth of the length and ten timesinteresting and humorous It kills me to see the humor hiding beneath the surface of this book, so close to coming out but buried under the dull, academic style In short, this book was somewhat interesting, but really not interesting enough to pick up for fun.Quibbles I assume this topic was not limited to the Anglo world What about Flat Earth belief in other parts of the world This book glosses over them completely Also the author very rarely mentions how much influence the Flat Earth societies, especially the early ones, had in terms of members It felt like there were three people in all England for 50 years Excellent guide through the surprisingly complex idea of the flat earthThis is the first book I ve ever read on the Flat Earth idea and it s a winner engrossing, so readable, coherent, and enlightening It s critical in these days of conspiracy mongering and allegations of fake news real and imagined that we see the forest for the trees Otherwise, we re doomed I feel so muchwell informed on the subject as a student of science society Highly recommended Excellent guide through the surprisingly complex idea of the flat earthThis is the first book I ve ever read on the Flat Earth idea and it s a winner engrossing, so readable, coherent, and enlightening It s critical in these days of conspiracy mongering and allegations of fake news real and imagined that we see the forest for the trees Otherwise, we re doomed I feel so muchwell informed on the subject as a student of science society Highly recommended So, here s the first book conforming to my 2015 no books by white men resolution, Flat Earth by Christine Garwood It examines fairly recent beliefs in an actual flat Earth It s an amusing read, in places, but drags most of the time.It starts out with a couple chapters explaining why we as a culture thought folks back in Columbus time even thought that the world was flat Actually, I didn t think they thought that, nor I suspect do many people today Turns out it was evil secularists, tryi So, here s the first book conforming to my 2015 no books by white men resolution, Flat Earth by Christine Garwood It examines fairly recent beliefs in an actual flat Earth It s an amusing read, in places, but drags most of the time.It starts out with a couple chapters explaining why we as a culture thought folks back in Columbus time even thought that the world was flat Actually, I didn t think they thought that, nor I suspect do many people today Turns out it was evil secularists, trying to drive a wedge between religion and science No, really, that s what the first couple chapters are about It s awkward, as if she has an axe to grind, but just a wee axe, not deserving of a longer treatment.Then we get into some fairly modern day believers and their activities The characters are, at times, colorful Often, they re just misguided fools, spewing the same bad arguments over and over They re often lauded at the time for their debate skills, despite their lack of good arguments Obviously, there are parallels with creationists today These parallels are mentioned but not really analyzed in any way.Eventually, the book works its way through several people It ends with a summary that criticizes secularists a bit , while somewhat lauding the Flat Earth people for no apparent reason There s a mention of the parallels to creationism again, but no analysis, again.And therein lies the problem with the book It just doesn t know what it wants to be Reconciling science and religion is a juicy topic, but isn t treated in depth here, nor even handedly Parallels with creationism are ripe with possibilities, but the text never examines these other than to merely mention them They re no evolution of Flat Earth theories, just the same ones offered over and over.All that leaves is a book about wacky people who believe wacky things Frankly, that could be enough, given sufficient wackiness These folks lack that level of wackiness They re not boring, mind you Well, some are simply boring people They re just not interesting enough to carry the book by themselves.Overall, it s not a bad read, but nor is it really a good read It was good enough that I read it all the way through, yet I would be lying if I claimed I wasn t looking forward to the end just a bit I want to give it two and a half stars

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