The Fathers of Astronomy

I searched Google Ngram Viewer for “Father of Astronomy”, 1500-2019, English (2019), Case-Insensitive.

Fathers of Astronomy:
1635 – Hipparchus of Bithynia (C2nd BCE)
1754 – Claudius Ptolemy (C2nd CE)
1803 – Nicholas Copernicus (1473-1543 CE)
1833 – The Biblical Enoch
1838 – Thales of Miletus (c. 620 B.C.E.—c. 546 B.C.E.)

“Hipparchus of Bithynia, an astronomer of the second century B.C. “The true father of astronomy.””
– Meric Casaubon (1635)[1, p.225]

“We look up to Ptolemy as the father of astronomy. He mentions his predecessor Hipparchus with the same level of reverence; and Hipparchus … speaks of Thales with the same degree of reverence.”
– John Hill (1754)[2, WAIN]

Nicholas Copernicus, a native of Thorn in Prussia, and a canon of Worms, is the father of astronomy among the moderns…”
– The Massachusetts Register and United States Calendar (1803)[3, p.8]

“…Hipparchus, the prince and father of astronomy, who flourished about 142 B.C….”
– Abraham Rees (1810)[4, p.5]

“HIPPARCHUS, the father of Astronomy, lived between 160 and 125 years before our era, and was born at Nice in Bithynia.”
– Samuel Vince (1814)[5, p.256]

“But surely a mere Jewish tradition, that Enoch was the father of astronomy, in which he had been instructed by the angels…”
– Richard Laurence (1833)[7, p.xxxiv]

“…Thales, the great father of Astronomy…”
-The New-Yorker: Volume 6 (1838)[6, p.56]

“ENOCH; the son of Jared, and father of Methuselah. … An ancient author affirms, that he was the father of astronomy; and Eusebius hence infers, that he is the same with the Atlas of the Grecian mythology.”
Bela Bates Edwards (1851)[8, p.504]

“The Egyptians advanced one step in the right direction, when they determined the path of the sun; and Thales, who, like Moses, was learned in all the science of that Pharaonic people, introduced what he had gleaned into his own land, and became the father of astronomy.”
– Elias Lyman Magoon (1856)[9, p.75]

“But by far the greatest of the Greek astronomers was Hipparchus (c.161-126 B.C.), a native of Bithynia, who has been justly called the Father of Astronomy.”
– The New International Encyclopædia: Volume 2 (1917)[11, p.292]

“The father of astronomy is Ptolemy…”
 – Sir Harold Alfred MacMichael (1922)[10, p.187]

“Indeed, some claim to hold Abraham of the Hebrews, and Moses, as the father of astronomy.”
– Journal of the History of Ideas: Volume 67 (2006)[12, p.51]

“…Galileo Galilei … the Father of Astronomy…”
– Rashidul Bari (2011)[13, p.189]

References:

[1] – Meric Casaubon. “The Golden Book of Marcus Aurelius” (1635). https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Golden_Book_of_Marcus_Aurelius/1_rkeh__SrgC?hl=en&gbpv=0. Accessed 20 Feb. 2021.

[2] – John Hill. “Urania: Or, a Compleat View of the Heavens; Containing the Ancient and Modern Astronomy, in Form of a Dictionary: Illustrated with a Great Number of Figures … A Work Intended for General Use, Intelligible to All Capacities, and Calculated for Entertainment as Well as Instruction” (1754). https://www.google.com/books/edition/Urania/lzigAAAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0. Accessed 20 Feb. 2021.

[3] – “The Massachusetts Register and United States Calendar” (1803). https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Massachusetts_Register_and_United_St/gZ4SAAAAYAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0. Accessed 20 Feb. 2021.

[4] – Abraham Rees. “The Cyclopaedia: Or, Universal Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and Literature · Volume 23” (1810). https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Cyclopaedia/YP4RQ9Gj5CUC?hl=en&gbpv=0. Accessed 20 Feb. 2021.

[5] – Samuel Vince. “A Complete System of Astronomy: Volume 2” (1814). https://www.google.com/books/edition/A_Complete_System_of_Astronomy/n6WjAQ9kIJcC?hl=en&gbpv=0. Accessed 20 Feb. 2021.

[6] – “The New-Yorker: Volume 6” (1838). https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_New_Yorker/46TQAAAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0. Accessed 20 Feb. 2021.

[7] – Richard Laurence. “The Book of Enoch” (1833). https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Book_of_Enoch/63BAAQAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0. Accessed 20 Feb. 2021.

[8] – Bela Bates Edwards. “Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge: Or, Dictionary of the Bible, Theology, Religious Biography, All Religions, Ecclesiastical History, and Missions. To which is Added a Missionary Gazetteer, Containing Descriptions of the Various Missionary Stations Throughout the Globe” (1851). https://www.google.com/books/edition/Encyclopedia_of_Religious_Knowledge/gLRWAAAAYAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0. Accessed 20 Feb. 2021.

[9] – Elias Lyman Magoon. “Westward Empire: Or, The Great Drama of Human Progress” (1856). https://www.google.com/books/edition/Westward_Empire/pY5HAAAAIAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0. Accessed 20 Feb. 2021.

[10] –  Sir Harold Alfred MacMichael. “A History of the Arabs in the Sudan and Some Account of the People who Preceded Them and of the Tribes Inhabiting Dárfūr: Volume 2” (1922). https://www.google.com/books/edition/A_History_of_the_Arabs_in_the_Sudan_and/LtIDAAAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0. Accessed 20 Feb. 2021.

[11] – “The New International Encyclopædia: Volume 2” (1917). https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_New_International_Encyclop%C3%A6dia/0hFJAQAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0. Accessed 20 Feb. 2021.

[12] – “Journal of the History of Ideas: Volume 67” (2006). https://www.google.com/books/edition/Journal_of_the_History_of_Ideas/jHW6AAAAIAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0. Accessed 20 Feb. 2021.

[13] – Rashidul Bari. “Grameen Social Business Model: A Manifesto for Proletariat Revolution” (2011). https://www.google.com/books/edition/Grameen_Social_Business_Model/ZvtDeyRd5UgC?hl=en&gbpv=0. Accessed 20 Feb. 2021.

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How To Conduct “Title” Of “Subject” Research

This guide details how you can conduct “Title” of “Subject” research. This type of research is something that I spearheaded last year and it traces the trends of giving a person a title for a subject. For example, the Father of History or the Father of Chronology. Two more examples are the Father of Geography and the Father of Astronomy.

This research is important for developing the field of intellectual history. It shows who was held in a position of authority (or importance) and when and where they were held as such. To my knowledge, this type of research was never done before I started doing it in 2020.

Here are some titles and subjects that can be used in future studies:
Titles:
1 – “Father of”
2 – “Mother of”
3 – “Founder of”
Subjects:
1 – “Philosophy”
2 – “Logic”
3 – “Epistemology”
4 – “Ontology”

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Instructions

Here are the steps on how to conduct this research:

Step 1:

Open a new document in Google Docs (or a similar program such as Microsoft Word).

Step 2:

In a new tab, open the Google Ngram Viewer. Here is the link to that: https://books.google.com/ngrams.

Step 3:

Once you have the Google Ngram Viewer open, type into the search bar the title and subject that you want to research. For example, type “father of history”.

This is what the search bar will look like if you search for father of history:

Fig. 1

Step 4:

Make sure that before you hit enter to search, you have:
1 – the year range set to 1500-2019,
2 – the most recent language setting for the language you’re using in your search,
3 – Case-Insensitive selected. Case-Insensitive makes it so that the search will show results for “Father of History”, “father of history”, “father of History”, etc… all by searching for just one of those variations.

Step 5:

Pay little to no mind to the graph and scroll to the bottom of the page to find the “Search in Google Books” section. It will look something like this:

Fig. 2

Step 6:

Work your way through each of those sections starting with the earliest dates possible. Using the screenshot above as an example for these instructions, click 1500-1771 to be brought to where you need to be for the next step.

Step 7:

You will be on a new page with a list of books. Select “Sorted by date” to organize them from newest to oldest.

Fig. 3

Step 8:

This step is only applicable if your page has more than one page of results. Scroll to the bottom of the page you are on (it should be page 1). Then navigate to the highest number page, which is as far right as possible. The example I’m using only had two pages and so to complete this step, I’ll need to be on page 2.

Fig. 4

Step 9:

Review the results and recording your finds in the document you opened in Step 1. What you are looking for is people who have been titled the father of history (or whatever subject you chose). To record your finds:
1 – Type out the full sentence (if possible) that contains someone being called the father of history and put quotes around it.
2 – Copy and paste the link into the document directly under your quote.
3 – Include what day, month, and year you accessed the link directly after the link. See my studies linked above for what this looks like if you’re unsure.
4 – (Optional), include the author of the work and year of publication directly after the quote and directly before the link.

Repeat Step 9 until you have reviewed all of the results for all the pages in the time section you’re in. Then repeat step 9 for the rest of the time sections. In this example, you’d go from 1500-1771 to 1772-1820 to 1821-1830 and so on and so forth.

Step 10:

Let me know that you’ve complete your study. I’ll incorporate the information into my website and give you credit for your help in the article for your help. If you follow the instructions above, I’ll be able to use the information you collect to create a more easily digestible report of your findings.

Closing Notes

One thing to be aware of is that not all the books listed will allow you to view their pages for free. Occasionally a link will flash for a split second the section of the page that contains the information you want. You can’t read that with the naked eye but if you use your camera to take a video, you might be able to pause the playback and read it that way. Most of the time I’ve done this it has worked.

Another thing to keep in mind is that while it would be interesting to compile the information from each and every result, I limit my studies to the earliest references and then one or two per century. I’ve done this to save time and also to set down the earliest mentions in order to establish the earliest known usage. I make note of this here because if anyone wanted to do a more in depth study, it’d be done easily, it would just take more time.

As for the names of people, include as many unique names as possible, even if some come later than others. I say this to clarify not limiting your study to the earliest known use, but the earliest known use for each person.

If you have any questions, please comment on this article or send me an email at chronologytruth@gmail.com.

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Ch. 1.3.1, Vol. 4, History: Fiction or Science?, Exam

This article contains my analysis of Fomenko’s History: Fiction or Science?, Volume 4, Chapter 1, Part 3.1. Chapter 1 is titled “Russian chronicles and the Millerian-Romanovian version of Russian history”, part 3 is titled “THE RADZIVILOVSKAYA CHRONICLE FROM KÖNIGSBERG AS THE PRIMARY SOURCE OF THE POVEST VREMENNYH LET”, and part 3.1 is titled “The origins of the chronicle’s most important copies”.

I established 17 claims for a total of 17 points. Out of the 17 points, I have determined 14 (82.35%) to be supported or contradicted. Out of the 14 points, I have determined 14 (100%) to be supported and none (0%) to be contradicted.

As of right now, Fomenko’s grade on this part is 100% (14/14), which is an A+.[13]

Fomenko’s overall grade is shown on the overview article: Examining Fomenko’s New Chronology.

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Fomenko’s Citations

Fomenko uses two citations in this bit, namely:

# [715] “Radziwill Chronicle. Text. Research. Description of miniatures”. Facsimile edition. – St. Petersburg, publishing house “Glagol”, Moscow, publishing house “Art”, 1994.

# [716] “The Radziwill Chronicle”. – Complete collection of Russian chronicles, v. 38. L., publishing house Science, Leningrad branch, 1989.

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The Examination

Claim 1

“The modern version of the ancient Russian history was initially based on a single chronicle – the Radzivilovskaya Letopis.”[1, p.26]

The Radzivilovskaya Letopis is another name for the Radziwiłł Chronicle (aka Königsberg Chronicle, or as the Radziwiłł or Königsberg codex).[2], [3, p.29]

Claim 1 is undetermined.

Claim 2

“This is what historians themselves are telling us in a very straightforward manner, calling this copy the oldest Russian chronicle ([716], page 3).”[1, p.26]

Claim 2 is supported.[8, p.3]

Claim 3

“Let us turn to the fundamental multi-volume edition entitled The Complete Collection of Russian Chronicles published by the USSR Academy of Sciences. In the foreword to its 38th volume the historian Y. S. Lourie informs us of the fact that “the Radzivilovskaya Letopis is the oldest chronicle to have reached our time” ([716], page 3).”[1, p.26]

Claim 3 is supported.[8, p.3]

Claim 4

“We must instantly note that this chronicle looks like a standard handwritten book, with pages made of paper and a XVIII century binding, qv in [716] and [715], as well as fig. 1.2.”[1, p.26]

Claim 4 is supported. I think his source makes note of the binding of the codex being from the 18th century.[8, p.3] I think the pages being made of paper was mentioned mentioned too.[8, p.4] Please correct me if I’m basing this on a faulty translation.

Claim 5

“This isn’t an archaic scroll of parchment like the ones that artists frequently portray the Russian chroniclers with.”[1, p.26]

Claim 5 is undetermined. I’m not sure what artists and works he referring to here.

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Claim 6

I skipped over two sentences because they repeated information which had already been stated. Claim 6-16 are allegedly based on Fomenko’s citation [716] pages 3-4.

“It dates from the alleged XV century.”[1, p.26]

Claim 6 is supported. It has been dated to the 15th century, specifically the 1490s.[3, p.29]

Claim 7

“It is presumed that the chronicle describes historical events that took place in Russia from the earliest days and up until the alleged year 1206, which is where it ends abruptly.”[1, p.26]

Claim 7 is supported. The chronicle reportedly does contain events up until 1206.[5] I will mention that I have not read the chronicle myself but there is apparently a full facsimile edition provided on Fomenko’s website.[6]

Claim 8

“It is the very Radzivilovskaya chronicle that the entire modern concept of the history of Kiev Russia is based upon.”[1, p.26]

Claim 8 is undetermined.

Claim 9

“This concept was born in the XVIII century.”[1, p.26]

Claim 9 is supported. Ideas on the origins of Kievan Rus were first generated in the 18th century.[9, p.23]

Claim 10

“The Radzivilovskaya chronicle becomes known and introduced into scientific circulation in the early XVIII century.”[1, p.26]

Claim 10 is supported. It appears to me that scientific analysis really picked up after Tsar Peter had his copy produced.[3, p.30] Fomenko’s source also appears to me to claim that scientific analysis did not begin until the 18th century.[8, p.3] Please let me know if you have evidence of pre-18th century scientific analysis.

Note

On page 26 there is a quote allegedly from page 4 of Fomenko’s citation [716] but the quote does not have the ending quotation mark, only the beginning quotation mark. Due to this, I’m not sure where the quote ends and where Fomenko’s narration starts again.

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Claim 11

“We find the following passage in [716], page 4: “In 1713 Peter ordered a copy of the Radzivilovskaya chronicle as he was passing through Königsberg, complete with miniatures.”[1, p.26]

I’m granting Claim 11 as supported. Fomenko’s source does say that it was ordered in 1713.[8, p.4] A different source does say that the copy was produced in 1713 but apparently it was ordered to be created two years prior, in 1711.[3, p.30]

Another different source appears to me to claim that it wasn’t until 1715 that Peter I became familiar with it.[7, p.6] This date is in the same decade though and so it might be safe to say that Peter became familiar with it in the second decade of the 18th century. I will mention that the author of [7] mentions the same source that Fomenko heavily relied on, “Complete collection of Russian chronicles, v. 38”.[7, p.7]

Claim 12

“This was the copy used by V. N. Tatishchev when he started his research of Russian chronicles, likewise M. V. Lomonosov.”[1, pp.26-27]

Claim 12 is supported. M. V. Lomonosov and V. N. Tatishchev both used Peter’s copy for their own works.[8, p.4]

Claim 13

“The actual original was brought to St. Petersburg after the Russian army had taken Königsberg after seven years of warfare, and given to the library of the Academy of Sciences in 1761 ([716], page 4).”[1, p.27]

Claim 13 is supported. The location, the year, and the event were all correct.[3, p.30]

Claim 14

“Just one of the chronicle’s copies is dated to the XV century – this is the actual Radzivilovskaya Letopis as it is known to us today.”[1, p.27]

Claim 14 is supported. There is only one other record with the same information that dates to the 15th century. It is called the Moscow-Academic Chronicle. I don’t think Fomenko names this copy by name which I found somewhat odd as his source did name the copy.[8, p.4]

Claim 15

“There are other copies of the same chronicle in existence – however, they all date from the XVIII century, thus being substantially more recent in their origins.”[1, p.27]

Claim 15 is supported. The other copies have been dated to the 18th century.[8, p.4]

Claim 16

“Historians presume them to be copies of the XV-century Radzivilovskaya Letopis.”[1, p.27]

Claim 16 is supported.[8, p.4]

Claim 17

“We must note right away that the intermediate copies of the Radzivilovskaya chronicle didn’t reach us for some reason – where are the copies made in the XVI-XVII century?”[1, p.27]

Claim 17 is supported. I did not find any mention of any copies from the 16th-17th century. Fomenko’s comment is somewhat sarcastic in that he’s claiming there are no 16th-17th century copies. In light of this, I think his question is rhetorical, but maybe he does want the answer.

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References:

[1] – http://chronologia.org/en/seven/4N01-EN.pdf. Accessed 15 Feb. 2021.

[2] – https://referenceworks.brillonline.com/entries/encyclopedia-of-the-medieval-chronicle/radziwill-chronicle-SIM_02133. Accessed 15 Feb. 2021.

[3] – Oleksij Tolochko. “Notes on the Radziwiłł Codex” (2013). https://www.readcube.com/articles/10.13128%2Fstudi_slavis-14133?fbclid=IwAR3iGs1HUzvyhm4cSNX_KCy3gDbVxAPoCgqVxeiAbGBk-6X6L1W8sfdEIS8. Accessed 15 Feb. 2021.

[4] – https://www.amazon.com/COMPLETE-COLLECTION-CHRONICLES-radziwill-chronicle/dp/5519550425. Accessed 15 Feb. 2021.

[5] – Ivan Matfeevich Rezansky (John Beebe). “The Radziwiłł Chronicle” (28 Nov. 2018). https://rezansky.com/the-radziwill-chronicle/. Accessed 15 Feb. 2021.

[6] – http://chronologia.org/en/old_books/radzivil.html. Accessed 15 Feb. 2021.

[7] – B. M. Kloss. http://litopys.org.ua/lavrlet/lavrdod01.htm. Accessed 15 Feb. 2021.

[8] – “The Radziwill Chronicle”. – Complete collection of Russian chronicles, v. 38. L., publishing house Science, Leningrad branch, 1989. https://colovrat.at.ua/bibliotheca/psrl38.html. Accessed 15 Feb. 2021.

[9] – Nicholas V. Riasanovsky. “A History of Russia” (1993). Accessed 16 Feb. 2021.

[10] – https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=Kievan+Rus&year_start=1500&year_end=2019&case_insensitive=on&corpus=26&smoothing=3&direct_url=t1%3B%2CKievan%20Rus%3B%2Cc0. Accessed 15 Feb. 2021.

[13] – https://achs.edu/grading-scale. Accessed 15 Feb. 2021.

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Notes On “Myths And Reality In History”

I took some time to look at the Russian wiki page for Fomenko’s New Chronology today. The first citation of theirs was to new.chronologia.org and the second one was a download in Russian that I was not able to use the page translate feature on. Their third citation was online and it was a transcript of the Bureau of the History Department of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ meeting that took place on April 22, 1998. I’m aware that there are issues with the page translate feature and so if I make any comments based on poor translation, wrong please let me know.[1]

The focus of the discussion was A.T. Fomenko’s works. Overall it was negative. Different speakers voiced different reasons for why Fomenko’s works were not scientific. I did not find any of the critiques substantial, impressive, or professional.

The first critic, I.N. Danilevsky, pointed out that radiocarbon and dendrochronology are reliable methods for dating but the critic did not address any of Fomenko’s critiques of those methods which had been made at least as early as 1994, some 4 years before the meeting ever took place.[2, p.133-136] Danilevsky ended his comment by saying Fomenko’s New Chronology (FNC) had no scientific value. Did Danilevsky publish an expanded critique somewhere else? I’m interested in reviewing that if so.

Yu. L. Bokarev commented that the “IRI” was planning on publishing criticisms of FNC. Does anyone know if they happened? If so, where can I find those?

V.P. Kozlov threw FNC into the realm of clairvoyant parapsychologists, which I’ve never seen any of that in FNC. It seems to me like a way to falsely equivocate it with something it isn’t to try and make it seem more ridiculous than it really is. Kozlov did go on to mention reading chapters of FNC that dealt with Russian history, specifically he commented on how much FNC got wrong about the Radziwiłł Chronicle.

“…I managed to read first of all the chapters directly related to Russian history. I will dwell only on one of them, dedicated to the Radziwill Chronicle. In this chapter, there is practically not a single reliably and accurately stated fact, except maybe the only one – the fact of the existence of the Radziwill Chronicle itself.”
– Kozlov

Kozlov’s above statement is a blatant lie and is the only part of his critique that comes anywhere close to being an attempt to address the content of Fomenko’s books. I examined a section of Fomenko’s works that deal with the Radziwill chronicle: https://ctruth.today/2021/02/16/ch-1-3-1-vol-4-history-fiction-or-science-exam/. Every claim I was able to determine to be supported or contradicted was supported. What did Kozlov read? He did not specify. Why did Kozlov lie? Maybe he can explain.

I think Kozlov goes on to say that FNC itself is a forgery and a means to pull the wool over people’s eyes. Kozlov also mentions that thousands of “errors, strains, etc.” were found in the books. Is the 2000+ list of these things published anywhere? If so, I’m interested in seeing that too.

Kozlov continued his criticism but then did offer three ways to deal with FNC that I thought were good.
“1 – public discussion of all his works;
2 – for this purpose the creation of a joint working group with mathematicians;
3 – organize a public discussion in the presence and with the participation of the ATF itself.”

I would add to step two bringing in experts on C-14 and dendrochronological dating too. I think that would make it more educational all around. A public discussion with Fomenko involved is also something I’d like to see.

G.M. Bongard-Levin echoed an earlier sentiment that FNC harms public consciousness. Aside from that he mainly sided with Kozlov and said that FNC can be handled privately, there’s no need for public handling.

I fully agreed with everything N.A. Makarov said:

“Historical science itself contributed to the advent of ATF. There is a loss of taste among historians for the study of chronology. The radiocarbon method, luminescence method, and calibration are not used sufficiently. There is a great deal of mistrust in scientific dating methods. What is needed is not a noisy discussion, but a program for the study of chronology.”
– Makarov

V. I. Ukolova criticized Fomenko without any specifics (which I don’t support) but did advocate for making advancements in historical and chronological publications (which I do support).

I don’t think D. E. Kharitonovich’s criticism was good because I think it was a strawman. I don’t think a fundamental principle of FNC is that “All history consists of chronicles and only of chronicles”. Please point me to a page number in one of his books if you do know a place where he says this.

In the final closing summary point, this statement was made:

“It is pointless to enter into a direct discussion with ATF, because it is pointless.”
– Fursenko

That is textbook circular reasoning (if the translation is accurate). I don’t know if everyone speaking there had already published expanded critiques elsewhere but nothing substantial was said here about Fomenko’s methods and studies. If you know if they did publish those please let me know where to find them.

References:

[1] – Myths And Reality In History. https://web.archive.org/web/20180207213128/http://hbar.phys.msu.su/gorm/fomenko/protocol.htm. Accessed 15 Feb. 2021.

[2] – http://chronologia.org/en/kw1.pdf. Accessed 15 Feb. 2021.

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Notes On Will Storr’s The Unpersuadables: Adventures With The Enemies Of Science

Overall I enjoyed Storr’s book. I didn’t know if I was going to finish it at first because I really didn’t care much for chapter 1 but as I continued on I began to enjoy Storr’s writing style. The chapters are all quite short and they are all based on his own life experiences.

My one main complaint is that he has notes at the end of the book about things he mentioned throughout the book. While I think the notes are a good addition, I found them difficult to navigate because there are no numbers attached to them to help with locating them. This meant that if there was a note about something I had read, I had no way of knowing there was a note about it until I read through the notes one by one and spent time determining exactly where the identifying number would have been placed if it had been placed.

Chapter One focused on Creationism and the author’s experiences with that. I found Chapter Two more captivating. It focused on UFO’s and the author’s experiences investigating the people who believed in them. An interesting story was brought up about Harvard University’s Professor John E. Mack. Mack published a book in 1990 that ended up putting his job on the line for about 14 months. Reportedly, the college was embarrassed by Mack’s publication and launched an investigation to determine whether or not he would be allowed to keep his tenure. It got to the point where Harvard was misrepresenting Mack’s work before they finally dropped their inquisition.

Maybe the reason Mack’s story stuck out to me so much was because of my interest in Anatoly Fomenko. Fomenko has published a series of works collectively known as Fomenko’s New Chronology and he has received quite a bit of heat for it. I don’t think he teaches any of that in the classes he gets tenure for but I have heard a lot of people express their wish that he would lose his professorship because of his independent academic studies and publications. For similar reasons to Mack, I think Fomenko and anyone else who is a professor should be able to study whatever they want in their free-time.

Aside from the Fomenko stuff, another thing I found interesting in Chapter Two was the way Storr changed his mind over time after interacting with these people who he believed were not being rational. Originally he thought them all to be stupid but as time went on and as he learned more about them he began looking for other, more reasonable explanations as to why people would accept some of the beliefs in question.

I found Chapter Three to be interesting too. Storr shared his time at what sounded to me like a yoga retreat. While there, he noticed some contradictions between the message being shared and the actions being practiced. He also had the chance to meet the leader of the event and ask him some questions. The leader got upset by the questions and banned Storr for asking questions he shouldn’t have. This makes me reflect on how “authorities” of history might react when confronted by questions that I ask. Storr’s weren’t loaded with any fallacies. They were simple and direct. The swami just didn’t like them. I haven’t been banned from any retreats or institutions for asking questions but based on Storr’s experience, I don’t think it’s entirely outside of the realm of possibility that it could happen to me.

Chapter Four focused on a tale about Storr’s visit to a Past-life Regression Therapist. Something I found interesting from this chapter was the report of there being studies done to show that therapy might be nothing but a placebo. Apparently multiple studies show that patients visiting trained and untrained individuals had about the same amount of improvement, meaning training wasn’t necessary for therapy.

Chapter Five centered on Storr’s experience at a 10-day Vipassana Buddhist retreat which sounded like an incredibly unpleasant experience. The end briefly covered some psychological studies on authority and peer pressure.

Chapter Six begins by giving an account of the history of man that I think aligns with the theory of evolution; the world formed approximately 4.5 billion years ago, humankind was born around 200,000 years ago, humans the populating of the earth grew out of Africa about 60,000 years ago, and some 40,000 years ago humans became more creative, artistic, and innovative. The chapter focuses on the brain and how it operates. It talks about the deceptions it causes for people and the way in which cultural expectations influence it. It covers a lot of what I remember from when I was doing Think Well to be commonly discussed topics in the realm of cognitive biases and errors.

Towards the end of the chapter it gets into how people with good intentions can do serious harm. It reminded me of the old saying that I think goes like “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”. In the medical field, I could see it being easier to determine the results of good intentions. For example a surgeon who has to amputate an arm in order to save someone’s life. You can only go up from that position. But in the case of an historian who is attempting to piece together the fragments of the past to provide a history of a people, it is much more difficult to gage if what you’ve done is correct, much less what harm it will cause. This is something that I think about occasionally given the ways history has been used to justify atrocities such as slavery or genocide. If their conception of history is wrong, then the horrible acts were committed based on fantasy. But is an historian responsible for how others use the histories written? I don’t think so, unless the historian wrote it with the purpose of justifying the atrocities. I think as long as the historian is doing their best to write an accurate representation of past events without any other reason than to want to accurately represent the past then I don’t think serious harm can be done. I’m open to discussing this more if anyone wants to comment or contact me about it, I’m open to hearing what other people have to think about what harm an historian can do.

Chapter Seven was mainly about skeptics vs homeopaths. One thing that stuck out to me was that Storr noted how many of the skeptics were not familiar with the scientific literature on which they placed their confidence. The closing bit also stuck out to me. Storr was having a conversation with someone who recovered from cancer and she attributed it to homeopathy. Storr asked if she would believe God if she had died and went to heaven and God told her that homeopathy was fake to which she responded “no”. Can God lie? Let me know what you think.

Chapter Eight focused on something called Morgellons. I’ve heard of this before but it was interesting to read Storr account of it. One thing that I found sad was that people were suffering from something that they had physical evidence for and they would get labelled mentally ill by other people. Some tests were conducted and I think most of the samples were dismissed as common, known things such as cotton. I don’t know what to make of it. It is an odd case that I would be interested in reading more about if anyone reading this can point me in the right direction to some good literature on the topic.

The main topic of Chapter Nine was mental illness. It opened talking mostly about people who hear voices. Professor Marius Romme suggested that hearing voices was not solely a symptom of mental illness and that people could hear them and still live happy lives. His superiors reacted to him in a similar fashion to the way John Mack’s superiors reacted, where they resorted to lying and distortion to try and get rid of him instead of trying to rationally address what he was saying. There was also a mention in this chapter that 20-30% of a person’s memories are false.

Chapter Ten opened with a story about a family who lost a member named Carole. Apparently when this woman had spoken with clinical psychiatrists she lied to them and they never questioned it. She had told lies I think unwittingly because the stories she shared were developed by RMT (recovered-memory therapy).

About halfway through the chapter is turned to focusing on memory and the issues with memory. There was quite a bit in this section that discussed implanting fake memories and just how easy it is to do such a thing to someone, as well as how the targeted individual will construct even more elaborate details about the fake event. I wonder how this plays into ancient and medieval historical narratives.

Chapter Eleven honed in on how mental models are created, whereas previously the book had largely hovered over how mental models are defended. One word which kept popping up was “confabulation”, which is when the mind unwittingly distorts a memory.

“What Gazzaniga’s experiments revealed was the profoundly disturbing fact that our own explanations for our own actions and beliefs can have no basis in truth – and yet we believe them utterly.”
– Will Storr[p.192]

This isn’t to say that all our own explanations have no basis in truth but that they potentially they can. How do we determine if an explanation has a basis in truth? I would attempt to verify the explanation. Please let me know what you would try.

Chapter Twelve was mostly about climate change, political power, and the fight between progress and tradition.

In Chapter Thirteen, Storr shared his experience with a famous Holocaust-denier, David Irving. The thing I found most interesting was the claim that people with higher IQs had shown they could make up more reasons for why they are right compared to people with lower IQs. However, both groups were about equal when it came to making up reasons for why they were wrong.

The opening to Chapter Fourteen piggy-backed off of Chapter Thirteen by recalling the behavior of Irving, who ignored information which went against his fundamental belief and accepted information which supported that belief. It then proceeded to discuss psychic ability and Storr’s experience with Rupert Sheldrake and then Richard Wiseman.

“…I’m a supporter of people proposing wacky ideas because every single major advance started off as a wacky idea. We’re at a very young period in our science right now.”
– Prof. David Eagleman as quoted by Storr[pp.268-269]

James Randi was the focus of Chapter Fifteen. The chapter was captivating but I disagree with its closing sentence that “stories are never true”. Maybe I’d change my mind depending on how the author defined stories, but to my understanding a story can be any account of past events. If I said, “I took notes while I read through Storr’s book”, it is not fiction, it is true. I could add more elements to the story, “before I read Storr’s book I had not yet read it, and after I read it I had read it”. I could go on and on with examples of how stories can be true but I think the brief ones I’ve provided suffice for making my point. Stories can be true. On second thought, is the final sentence for Chapter Fifteen an admission that Storr invented all the stories in his book using nothing but his imagination? I think that’d be an interesting ending to a chapter all about trying to determine if Randi was a liar because the whole book would be nothing but lies. I doubt this is the case and think there are numerous explanations for that final sentence. Maybe I’ll get around to contacting Storr about this.

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Notes On Alina Tugend’s Better By Mistake

Alina Tugend. “Better By Mistake: The Unexpected Benefits of Being Wrong” (2011).

About 285 pages. 8 chapters with an introduction and conclusion. There are 27 pages of notes and a 13 page bibliography.

This book was appealing to me because of the cover page and my quick scan of the table of contents. Mistakes are made every day by people from all walks of life. The applicability of this book to historical studies was also appealing. Historians are not immune to making mistakes. What mistakes have been made? What are the ways that we can go about addressing these? These are questions that I’m seeking the answers to.

The introduction contained a brief summary of why Tugend wrote the book and what the reader can expect to find within. The book is packed full of interesting stories about studies which have been done related to accidents and mistakes. I think it provides a solid introduction into the world of mistake-making and how we can handle mistakes.

I’m glad I read the book. It draws upon numerous studies that I found to be interesting and thought-provoking. One thing that I’m going to be putting into practice is getting better and better at making lists. Lists apparently are a good way to avoid making mistakes. I’ve kind of known this for awhile but after reading this book I want to see just how beneficial the lists I create can get.

Chapter 1

Pages 9-40

Chapter 1 began with a discussion about the differing definitions attributed to the word “mistake”. She reported on the difficulties in her attempts to define mistake but ultimate stated that she would be using the word throughout the book in a way that was synonymous with “error” or “blunder”, among other words.

She mentioned James Reason and discussed in some detail his now classic book “Human Error” (1990). While in this discussion, she brought up two categories of errors, active and latent. I haven’t checked the accuracy of her quoting yet, but she provided a quote allegedly from Reason about the two types:

“…active failures are like mosquitoes. They can be swatted one by one, but they still keep coming. The best remedies are to create more effective defenses and to drain the swamps in which they breed. The swamps … are the ever present latent conditions.”
– James Reason as quoted by Alina Tugend[p.14]

Deeper in the chapter she mentioned hindsight bias. She brought up a metaphor about a tunnel and how the tunnel may look clear and easy from the outside, those inside the tunnel don’t have the perspective to avoid errors. She used a personal example to further illustrate this metaphor. Her example was about her father who was a Jew and lived in Berlin, Germany until 1939, which is about 6 years after Hitler had risen to power. The way she tied the metaphor in was that Germany was the tunnel and those outside could see how terrible things had gotten but seeing that from inside the tunnel was more difficult.

She proceeded to cover some ground on the neurological aspects of error, bringing up studies on humans and others on monkeys. This portion went over the ways the brain reacts when it makes mistakes and what it does to avoid those in the future.

“Lehrer points out that the best way to become an expert in your field is to focus on your mistakes, “to consciously consider the errors being internalized by your dopamine neurons.””
Alina Tugend[p.25]

The above quote was in a paragraph that went on to talk about how a grand master in chess would go over all the moves in his games even if he won them to review them for errors and to identify what he could have done better. I can relate to this pertaining to some talks that I’ve had with people especially when I first started recording conversations for YouTube. It is interesting to me to see how this analytical behavior carries across fields, from chess to public speaking and beyond.

Two categories of perfectionists were named; adaptive and maladaptive. Adaptive perfectionists strive to be the best they can but also are fine with being just okay or even bad at some things. Maladaptive perfectionists want to be the best at everything and they think any mistake they make means they have become utter failures and that their friends and acquaintances will think so too. One thing mentioned that causes maladaptive perfectionists to fail is that they set their goals too high. Because they can’t possibly achieve the goals that they set, they are bound for failure and when that failure hits, it hits them hard. The existence of these categories is debatable and so this paragraph isn’t the end all of the discussion on perfectionism. Pages 32-35 contain a scale for gaging perfectionism called the “Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale”.

Chapter 2

Pages 41-72

Chapter two is titled “It Starts Early” and it starts out by commenting on an article titled “How Not To Talk To Your Kids: The Inverse Power of Praise” (2007). I short, kids who are praised for their intelligence are less willing to take risks and make mistakes compared to the kids who are praised for their efforts (regardless of the outcome).

“…we tell them that this is the name of the game: Look smart, don’t risk making mistakes.”
– Carol Dweck as quoted by Tugend[p.42]

Dweck identified two types of mindsets: fixed and growth. Fixed mindsets are those which believe they cannot change. Growth mindsets are those which believe they can. The fixed mindset typically doesn’t seem any room for improvement while the growth mindset does. I think these categorizations were based on the results of a study on 400 NYC 5th graders which was briefly discussed on pages 43 through 46. The main impact on the perception of the children appears to me to be the way in which the adult talks to them, either praising them for being smart or praising them for working hard. I found the way the narratives were reportedly internalized to be interesting. I’ll also note that it was stated that people can hold both of these mindsets simultaneously depending on what subject is being discussed.

The chapter continued on to talk about the various ways in which parents react to the mistakes of their kids and then the way in which teachers react to the mistakes of their students. Both of these sections drew upon real life examples and the gist that I took away from it is that the best way to react to mistakes is complicated. On one hand you want to help correct the mistake but on the other you want to help the child or student understand how to correct the mistake themselves and how to avoid making it again in the future. There are more complexities than just that one dichotomy. Another thing to be aware of is the words which are used when addressing mistakes. Are they hostile or compassionate? Word choice can have serious impacts on learning.

Perceptions of others in light of fixed/growth mindsets are discussed too. A study is mentioned where American students and Chinese students were asked to give their opinion on a talk given by a person who had done better in an area than themselves. The results showed that the majority of the Americans believed the speaker was boasting and showing off but that the majority of the Chinese believed the speaker was making an attempt to help those who did worse to do better. I haven’t read the original study, but based on Tugend’s retelling I don’t think the speaker was necessarily doing one or the other. The speaker was just recalling their own experience. If correct, this is kind of an interesting study to me into how personal beliefs can get projected onto others whether intentionally or not.

Chapter 3

Pages 73-106

Chapter 3 is titled “Fail Often, Fast, and Cheap”, a saying from the company Procter & Gamble.[p.89] It opens with a tale about the economic collapse of 2008/9 and how it was a result of a string of mistakes. She name dropped Chris Argyris who reportedly is a fundamental theorist for organizational learning. She brought him up while talking about “single-loop” and “double-loop” learning, the latter of which is much more difficult than the prior. I want to learn more about these two learning styles.

It goes on to mention two types of theories; “a theory in use and an espoused theory”.[p.78] The first one is the governing model that people live by and the second one is the governing model that people claim to live by. These two can either be the same, where someone espouses the truth about their model, or not (where someone fails to accurately report their model). I think if there is a difference it is often unintentional, but I can see there being protentional to intentionally lie about that.

“…mindless self-justification, like quicksand, can draw us deeper into disaster. It blocks our ability to even see our errors, let alone correct them.”
Aronson & Tavris as quoted by Tugend[p.79]

An interesting exercise that was mention involved sharing a mistake you made with a group of people but not justifying it at all or providing any information about how you reacted to it. Apparently this was a difficult task for a seminar full of high-ranking business people.

Another interesting story was about “blame-culture”. It didn’t mention priming, but priming was in effect in an experiment with two groups of people listening to Arnold Schwarzenegger comment on mistakes he had made. One group listened to a clip where Arnold took responsibility for his mistakes while the other group listened to him blame others for his mistakes. The members of the two groups then wrote about mistakes they themselves had made and the results showed correlation between the responses, where the group that listened to Arnold take responsibility ended up taking more responsibility for their mistakes while the group that listened to Arnold blame others ended up blaming others more. I don’t know the validity of this study but it would be interesting to repeat on two groups that have never heard about any of this before to see if similar results would be produced. There are a lot of factors but I think a repeated study like this would be fascinating.

One benefit of making mistakes is that you can see what not to do in the future. This helps you fast-track your way to success. Something that I’ve seen many times over the past couple of years working on this website and talking to other people with similar sites is that a lot of people are lax with their citations. My site what sometimes feels like an overwhelming amount of citations, but I am as thorough as I am so I can avoid ever being caught in a situation where I have no clue where the information originated. Is it a mistake not to cite your source at all? I think that depends on the situation, but for historical studies, I’d generally say yes. Does thorough citing help with memory? I’d say absolutely. I’m not using any material in this article from outside of the book but I have cited page numbers that will help me locate the exact page I found a bit of information on. Out of all my recent articles, I think this one might just be the least thoroughly cited. Is this a mistake? I think the answer to that question will vary depending on who answers it. I say no, it’s not a mistake.

Chapter 4

Pages 107-141

Chapter 4 is about mistakes in the medical industry which can be deadly. Two approaches to handling mistakes are detailed, namely the “person” and “systems” approaches. The person approach blames a person or group of persons while the systems approach blames the system in which a person is working. The latter approach addresses the root of the issue.

One major way to prevent errors is to create a checklist with “simple and exact” wording.[p.124] Apparently there are numerous studies indicating that groups with members who know each other’s names work better than groups with members who don’t.

“So the idea, again, is to look at the problem, not the person, and ask these three key questions: What happened? Why did it happen? What do we do to prevent it from happening in the future?”
– Alina Tugend[p.132]

The chapter ends by putting emphasis on how developing strong communication can help prevent mistakes.

Chapter 5

Pages 143-158

Chapter 5 is about mistakes in the field of aviation. This chapter reminded me of the legend of the three brothers where one treats illnesses after they have developed, one treats them while they are developing, and the final one treats them before they develop. It’s been 5+ years since I’ve heard the story but I think I got that right based on memory.

This chapter goes to further highlight the importance of making lists, recording and studying mistakes, and clear, effective communication.

“Learn from the mistakes of others, because you can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson as quoted by Tugend[p.158]

Chapter 6

Pages 159-187

Chapter 6 focused on the similarities and differences in how males and females responded to mistakes and criticisms.

Chapter 7

Pages 189-213

Chapter 7 focused on reactions to mistakes made across different cultures. One large different between Japanese and American cultures is that Japanese cultures are founded more on group achievement where as American cultures are focused on the achievements made by a single person, and these difference play into how mistakes are handled in each culture.

“for Americans, errors tend to be interpreted as an indication of failure in learning the lesson. For Chinese and Japanese, they are an index of what still needs to be learned.”
– James Stigler as quoted by Tugend[p.192]

The chapter ends by emphasizing the importance of understanding each others backgrounds and how teamwork can reduce mistakes.

Chapter 8

Pages 215-245

Chapter 8 focuses on how to apologize when a mistake has been made. One thing that stuck out to me was the portion of this chapter that discussed appropriately timing an apology and how it’s important to know when the right time to apologize is.

“A proper apology has three elements: an acknowledgement of the fault or offense, regret for it, and responsibility for it – and, if possible, a way to fix the problem.”
– Alina Tugend[p.217]

When done right, apologies appear to do more good than harm.

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A Message To The Ctruth Website Visitors and Supporters

Hello,

I’ve had this website for a little while over 2 years now and I’ve covered a lot of informational ground. I have around 870 posts on the website and have plans to increase this number. The reason why I’m writing this article is to inform you that I will be slowing down the amount of publications per month at least for February and March 2021.

The reason for this slowing down is to allow myself to enhance older articles while also studying and writing new articles. I don’t want to post articles that I have a vision for but that also fall incredibly short of that vision. I don’t know how true this saying is, but “the best food takes the longest to cook”. This motto is a significant motivator in my choice to slow down posting as much. Production will remain consistent, quality will increase, but posting will be lessened.

As mentioned above, there are around 870 posts on the website already. If you’ve gone through all of those I’ll be impressed and would love to chat with you about it. If you haven’t, please review the Start Here article (and the articles linked there) so as to get more familiar with how to navigate the website and how to help with improving the quality.

Here’s the full link to the Start Here page: https://ctruth.today/2020/10/30/start-here/

Another reason is that I got a month of the Adobe Creative Cloud and I’m spending time learning how to use some of those apps for creating content. I’m planning on getting it through March too and so I’ll be somewhat busy figuring all that out.

Sincerely yours,
Stephen Sorensen

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Steve & Steve: A Summary of Interactions Between Cominski & Sorensen

Stephen Cominski is the creator Baked & Awake. I’m Stephen Sorensen and I’m the creator of Ctruth. Him and I have had a number of conversations since our first one in 2019. This article provides a brief history of our interactions from the first one until today, February 1st, 2021. I wrote this article because prior to writing it, I was uncertain about the details of our interactions.

I think we are planning on recording some audio together this weekend and I’m excited about that. I think we’ll be discussing our perspectives on the past two years and we’ll be getting to know each other more. I’ll update this article again after him and I record.

Timeline

February 10th, 2019: This was almost exactly a month after I created Ctruth. Cominski reached out to me through Facebook messenger by messaging the Ctruth Facebook page. Apparently I had laugh reacted a post of his where he endorsed the work of one of our contemporaries. Given that it’s been about two years since then, I don’t remember what the post was but looking at our messages, it does sound like something I would have laugh reacted back then.

Nowadays I’m much more polite and respectful than when I first began Ctruth. There are things I see now that I wouldn’t laugh react now but would have back then. Additionally, I was more aggressive with my approach back then compared to now. Regardless of my tactlessness, I think Cominski was polite with his messages given the controversial nature of our chat. We did have some poor communication in those messages but I don’t think either of us were ever hostile towards each other.

February 19th-23rd, 2020: It was on this day that I joined Cominski’s Discord server. This was a little bit over a year after our first interaction and I had completely forgotten about the messages from February 10th, 2019. The reason why I joined was because I saw a video where him and the person that inspired our first chat had done a video together (on Cominski’s Baked and Awake YouTube channel) where that inspirational person was sharing more information which I thought and still think was false and lacked any solid basis.

Him and I had a back and forth in his server over the course of a few days and I think in the end our conversation was beneficial. Last I checked, the chat is still there for anyone who wants to view it. With that being said, I’ve been in the server ever since and Cominski has always been really chill from what I’ve seen.

October 10th, 2020: On this day, him and I shared our first private messages on Discord. They were about doing a collaboration video together which means by this point him and I had become friendly, if not friends.

October, 2020-February 1st, 2021: I had been watching his videos and he had been watching mine. He happened to catch the livestream of my Ctruth Update 36 video on YouTube and we chatted in the live chat together. He’d been commenting on my videos for months and from my point of view seems to really enjoy the content I’m producing.

All of that basically summarizes our interactions up to this point. What will the future bring? Stay tuned to find out.

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Critical Discovery: 60+ Early Medieval Graves Found Beneath Cambridge University Buildings

It was announced today that “one of the most exciting finds of Anglo-Saxon archaeology since the 19th century” had been unearthed. Found at Cambridge University’s King’s College, the archeological site was discovered during renovations for new student halls. Archeologists have dated approximately 200 items recovered from more than 60 graves to the c.5th to mid-7th centuries. However, monuments dated even earlier (iron age & Roman age) are among the collection.

The find was a surprise because of the accounts from the foundational work in Western history, Bede’s 8th century Ecclesiastical History said in the 5th century, numerous Roman settlements were abandoned, Cambridge included. This cemetery opens a door into the otherwise lost past about what really happened during and after the 5th century exile. While this site is just beginning to be explored, the information extracted from it is already fascinating.

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Bead necklaces, bronze brooches, glass flasks, pottery, short blades, swords, and other unnamed objects have so far been retrieved from the cemetery. Due to the excellent condition in which the human remains were found, and to the advances in modern scientific techniques, the archeologists will be able to extract a wealth of information from the bodies. As of right now, the evidence appears to indicate that these people had diverted from Roman agricultural, dietary, and fashion customs.

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“It would be great to say very clearly – and we’re going to need an ample suite of carbon-14 dates to do this – that we’ve got people using this site from the fifth until the seventh century.”
Dr. Caroline Goodson (2021)[1]

The number of cemeteries like this one that have had the chance to use modern methods of scientific excavation and explanation are incredibly low in number.

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One point of interest is prominent for the current issue of Covid-19. This cemetery might contain information about the Justinian plague of 540 CE and in turn would help further establish the history of pandemics.

For all the reasons listed above, this massive find might just be the most important discovery of the year for Anglo-Saxon history, if not all of Western history. It is only the first month of 2021, so I’m eager to see what will be discovered next.

Photographer: Albion Archeology. This is a photo of one of the skeletons found in the graveyard.
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Given the magnitude of the news here, I wanted to share to share the story which I thought was the most interesting from this time last year. A year ago from next week, Eliseo Gil was facing prison over accusations of hoaxing the earliest known image of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion. In June last year, the verdict had been made. I think it is crucial to be aware that some people can and do tamper with evidence. Regardless of that, I hope responsible individuals will be in charge of this excavation and I’ll be keeping an eye out for more news on this medieval graveyard.

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References:

[1] – https://www.theguardian.com/science/2021/jan/30/find-of-the-century-medieval-hoard-of-treasures-unearthed-in-cambridge. Accessed 30 Jan. 2021.

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Elias Joseph Bickerman

Elias Joseph Bickerman (1897-1981) was a secular Russian Jew and a leading scholar of antiquity during his lifetime. He had a strong desire to be known for his scholarship and so he made significant efforts to hide details about his personal life. This has made the construction of a biography all the more difficult. Substantial information has been brought into public light but copious amounts remain obscure.[1]

“The range of his friendships was no less amazing than that of his knowledge, for his kindness was no less amazing than his intelligence.”
Morton Smith (1983)[2, p.xviii]

As far as scholars who have taken it upon themselves to investigate and report on the life of E. J. Bickerman, I think Albert Baumgarten (who was one of Bickerman’s students) has invested the most time and effort. In 2010, after what appears to me to have been about 10 years of research on the topic, Baumgarten published a book with around 370 pages all entirely devoted to Bickerman’s life. This work of Baumgarten’s is by far the most exhaustive biography that I’m aware of for Bickerman.

Bickerman apparently had somewhat of an inferiority complex even into his old age.[1, p.28]

His Chronology of the Ancient World (1968/1980) serves as a fundamental work for the study of chronology and calendars.

“Bickerman was one of the very few scholars whose works are always worth reading, always stimulating, and always important.”
Shaye J. D. Cohen (1984)[3, p.3]

The English Wiki for Bickerman is severely lacking in content but the Swedish Wiki has a fair amount.

Biography

1897, Feb. 14th: He was born in Kishinev and was the firstborn son of Joseph Bikerman (27 Feb. 1867 – 4 Jan. 1942) and Sarah Margulis (27 Jul. 1861 – 2 Mar. 1931), a Jewish couple who married in 1896.[1, p.19] However, Smith (1983) claimed that Bickerman was born not on February 14th but on July 1st.[2, p.xv] A third birthdate of June 1st was given. The confusion comes from Bickerman himself who told some people he was born on June 1st and other people that he was born on July 1st.[1, p.34] I think it’s safe to say that Smith, one of Bickerman’s closest friends and collegues, was given the July 1st birthdate.

1905: At the age of 8, he moved to St. Petersburg, Russia from Odessa, Ukraine.[1, p.19], [3, p.2]

1915: He began attending the University of St. Petersburg and learned under Mikhail Rostovtzeff.[2, p.xv]

1917: He temporarily joined the Russian army.[1, p.19]

c.1918-20: It was sometime around these years that the Russian Civil War was occurring and he joined the Red Army for a short amount of time.[1, p.19]

1921: After enduring the first years of communism in Russia, he and his family were able to escape into Poland.[1, p.20] It was just before he left Russia that he finished his courses at the University of St. Petersburg.[2, p.xvi]

1922, April: He arrived in Weimar Berlin, Germany[1, p.20] and began attending a university there.[2, p.xvi]

1929-1933: He was Privat-Dozent at the university in Berlin.[2, p.xvi] His father and him took an active stance against Bolshevism.[2, p.xvii]

1933: On January 30th, Hitler was appointed führer of the Nazi Party. Due to this, Bickerman sought residency elsewhere. By November, he had established himself in Paris, France, where he lived until 1941.[1, pp.2-3] Shortly after his arrival, he became the Ecole des Hautes Etudes’ Charge de Cours.[2, p.xvii]

1936, July 28th: He married Anita Suzanne Bernstein (13 Apr. 1913 – 9 May 1998).[1, p.21]

1938: He was promoted to be the Ecole des Hautes Etudes’ Eleve diplome.[2, p.xvii]

1938-1942: He was appointed as the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique’s Charge de recherches.[2, p.xvii]

1940, Summer: He was in Paris during the German conquest[1, p.21] and this prompted him to leave for Marseilles. There are conflicting reports on when he left Marseilles. At the earliest he left in 1941, at the latest he left in 1943.[2, p.xvii] Given that I think it’s established he was in the USA by 1942, I don’t think it’s possible that he was still in Marseilles in 1943.

1941, Summer: He moved to Vichy France.[1, p.21]

1942, July 2nd-July 13th: He was travelling to the United States and temporarily resided in Casablanca.[1, p.33]

1942, July 29th: Bickerman moved to Baltimore, Maryland. His trip was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation so that he could come teach at the New School for Social Research, where he taught until 1945.[1, p.21]

1948, Spring: He was a part-time teacher at Columbia University.[1, p.21] It was also around this time that his wife and him became United States citizens.[1, p.22]

1949, Spring: He was a part-time teacher at Columbia University.[1, p.21]

1950: He received a Guggenheim fellowship.[2, p.xvii]

1950-1952: He lived in Los Angeles and was a teacher for The University of Judaism’s Jewish Theological Seminary.[1, p.22]

1952: He moved back to New York and was appointed as Columbia University’s Professor of Ancient History, a position which he held until 1967[1, p.22] when he retired and was appointed as Professor Emeritus.[2, p.xvii]

c.1956: He and his wife got divorced. The exact date for when this occurred is uncertain.[1, p.22] Apparently both parties made noteworthy efforts to eliminate all traces of the marriage.[1, p.23]

1959, January: This is the latest date possible for the start of his relationship with a woman named Maria Altman. They both made efforts to keep their relationship secret. They were together until Bickerman’s death in 1981.[1, p.23]

1967-1968: He was at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study.[1, p.22]

1970: He took a trip back to Russia.[1, p.38]

1977, May: Tubingen University awarded Bickerman the Dr. Leopold Lucas Prize.[1, p.20]

1977, Summer and Fall: He was in Jerusalem and positioned at Hebrew University’s Institute for Advanced Study.[1, p.22]

1981, August 31st: At the age of 84, on his 85th year, he died in Jerusalem, where he was buried.[1, p.2] Smith (1983) reported that Bickerman died at the age of 85.[2, p.xv] I calculated Bickerman’s age at the time of his death to be 84 years, by counting the years, months, and days since his birth. His first birthday was in 1898, his second in 1899 and so on and so forth. Additionally, 1981 minus 1897 equals 84.

Works

1937: The God of the Maccabees (Berlin). This work was originally published in German (as Der Gott der Makkabaer) but an English translation was published in 1979.

1938: Institutions des Seleucides (Paris)

1962: From Ezra to the Last of the Maccabees (New York)

1967: Four Strange Books of the Bible (New York)

1968: Chronology of the Ancient World (New York). In the Preface to his 1968 edition of this work, Bickerman reported that Eduard Norden (one of Bickerman’s teachers) was the person who had originally encouraged him to write it.

1976/1980: Studies in Jewish and Christian History I and II (New York)

1990: The Jews in the Greek Age (Cambridge)

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References:

[1] – Baumgarten, Albert. “Elias Bickerman as a Historian of the Jews: A Twentieth Century Tale” (2010). https://books.google.com/books?id=4KlQKyRnx8IC&source=gbs_navlinks_s. Accessed 29 Jan. 2021.

[2] – Smith, Morton. “Elias J. Bickerman.” Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research, vol. 50, 1983, pp. xv-xviii. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/3622685. Accessed 29 Jan. 2021.

[3] – Cohen, Shaye J. D. “Elias J Bickerman: An appreciation” (1 Jan. 1984). https://janes.scholasticahq.com/article/2316-elias-j-bickerman-an-appreciation. Accessed 29 Jan. 2021.

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