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    Re: The flat earth notion
    From: Trevor Kenchington
    Date: 2003 Nov 2, 22:04 -0400

    Jim Thompson wrote:
    > The more I dig into the history of navigation, the more puzzled I am about
    > the origin of the notion that the earth was (is) flat.  Did anybody prior to
    > 1800 really believe that?  Is the notion a modern invention?  Clearly
    > scholars back to at least the Greeks in 600 BC believed that the earth was
    > spherical.
    I don't think that any educated person in the Western world has supposed
    that the world is flat for a very long time, though that might depend on
    the definition of "educated". Certainly, the old myth that Columbus'
    contemporaries believed in a flat Earth is pure garbage. [Those
    geographers who opposed his plans did so because they not only knew that
    the Earth is spherical but also knew, with considerable precision, just
    how big it is. Columbus had to fudge his numbers to bring China to the
    approximate position of Bermuda and to anyone with any real
    understanding, the fudging was obvious. Why Columbus was so convinced,
    and how he convinced Isabela, is a fascinating topic but doesn't detract
    from the correct knowledge of contemporary scholars.]
    But did "anybody" believe in a flat Earth? Sure they did. Many people
    still do, particularly those who live landlocked lives but even some who
    make their livings at sea (hopefully only as seamen, not navigators!).
    Until modern educational systems came along, you have to distinguish
    those few with specialist training and those very few willing to think
    for themselves, from the great mass of humanity.
    Trevor Kenchington
    Trevor J. Kenchington PhD                         Gadus@iStar.ca
    Gadus Associates,                                 Office(902) 889-9250
    R.R.#1, Musquodoboit Harbour,                     Fax   (902) 889-9251
    Nova Scotia  B0J 2L0, CANADA                      Home  (902) 889-3555
                         Science Serving the Fisheries

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