Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Discovery suffers from hard heads

"The greatest obstacle to discovering the shape of the earth, the continents, and the oceans was not ignorance, but rather the illusion of knowledge."
- Daniel Borsten, author of The Discoverist

Throughout human history men have always claimed to have answers when, in fact, they didn't know the questions or didn't understand them.

Borsten refers to the discovery of the shape of the earth and so on by Europeans. It was only in Europe that anyone believed the earth was flat, for example., or that there was nothing but oceans between western Europe and eastern Asia.

Educated and knowledgeable people elsewhere in the world knew about these things long before Europeans did. And even offered to tell Europeans about them. Documentation supports these facts.

But the Europeans always had all the answers they needed. In their heads.

Remember Alexander the Great, who "conquered the world?" When his troops got into India, they panicked and had to turn back because it was too different from *their* world. Their world was theirs only within their own minds.

Whe Borsten says the "illusion of knowledge" was the greatest obstacle to discovery, he meant the belief people had that they knew everything they needed to know. He meant that they didn't believe they needed to know any more.

The only reason that Europe became so powerful after "discovering" so many other parts of the world was that they had weapons, defences and ships that were more powerful than those of the people they conquered.

History is crafted and rewritten by conquerers, not by the defeated. Conquerers always believe they are right, no matter how ignorant they might have been.

When you are the most powerful, you get to say that you are always right. And you act that way.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to shine a light on those who use history as an exercise in creative writing.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

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