The Earth Has Been Round Longer Than You Think

The Earth Has Been Round Longer Than You Think December 14, 2017

Just doing a little fact-checking of the New Atheist History Channel.

Round Earth

I just saw a comment on one of my posts here on Patheos from a fellow atheist who said: If we had given up on exploring in the 15th century because some ninny had insisted the earth was flat, we would still be wondering what might be out there. It appears this poster thinks that most people in the Middle Ages believed that the Earth is flat. It turns out this misconception is widespread among anti-theists, and though the attempt to disabuse these skeptics of that notion should be as easy as presenting evidence of historians and essayists discussing the basis of the misconception, my correspondent resisted correction.

The Shape of Things to Come

When, last year, rapper BoB declared that the Earth is flat, Neil deGrasse Tyson joined the publicity pig-pile by tweeting, “Being five centuries regressed in your reasoning doesn’t mean we all can’t still like your music.” This must have been meant to imply that people five hundred years ago still believed that the Earth is flat, a claim only slightly less mistaken than that the Earth is flat.

There’s no evidence that people in the Middle Ages thought the Earth was flat. We could wonder why science educators like Tyson, whose careers involve spreading the understanding of the development of scientific knowledge, keep the myth alive that medieval people didn’t know the world is round. But, ironically, the reason is that the urban legend is central to the mythology of Enlightenment science bringing humanity out of the darkness of religion and superstition.

It’s not like the phenomena that point to a round Earth were exclusive knowledge reserved only for the elite or anything. Sailors realized they see different constellations in the night sky in the Southern Hemisphere. Scandinavians realized that their days were endless in the summer and nonexistent in the winter, unlike their neighbors in Europe. The shadow of the Earth during lunar eclipses was invariably round. Europeans who traversed the Alps probably could even perceive the curvature of the Earth from high altitudes. It’s not like you had to know ancient Greek to understand what the ancients knew.

The Hoax that Changed History

Stephen Jay Gould, in his essay “The Late Birth of a Flat Earth,” describes how nineteenth-century educators like Andrew Dickson White created the conspiracy theory that religion is so inimical to knowledge and science that the medieval Church suppressed the truth of the round Earth —which even Aristotle knew— for centuries. White was establishing a secular university called Cornell, and understandably wanted to discourage church interference. So he created the secular Promethean hero-myth that the Enlightenment thinkers restored the light of Truth to humanity despite the tyranny of the forces of darkness.

Writes Gould:

Virtually all major medieval scholars affirmed the earth’s roundness. I introduced this essay with the eighth-century view of the Venerable Bede. The twelfth-century translations into Latin of many Greek and Arabic works greatly expanded general appreciation of natural sciences, particularly astronomy, among scholars—and convictions about the earth’s sphericity both spread and strengthened. Roger Bacon (1220-1292) and Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) affirmed roundness via Aristotle and his Arabic commentators, as did the greatest scientists of later medieval times, including John Buriden (130(1-1358) and Nicholas Oresme (1320-1382).

So who, then, was arguing for a flat earth, if all the chief honchos believed in roundness? Villains must be found for any malfeasance, and Russell shows that the great English philosopher of science William Whewell first identified major culprits in his History o f the Inductive Sciences, published in 1837—two minimally significant characters named Lactantius (245-325) and Cosmas Indicopleustes, who wrote his “Christian Topography” in 547-549. Russell comments: “Whewell pointed to the culprits … as evidence of a medieval belief in a flat earth, and virtually every subsequent historian imitated him—they could find few other examples.”

This mythology flatters our sense of superiority to our not-so-distant ancestors and panders to our modern ideas about progress. But, as with all stories that are too good to be true, it should make our skeptic alarms go off long and loud.

What do you think? Is the belief in our ancestors’ ignorance more wishful thinking than reality?

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  • Grimlock

    You mention a few groups who had the available evidence to conclude that the earth is round. And the educated people certainly knew that the earth was round. But what about the average person? Do we have any information that tells us what they believed?

  • Why would you think “the average person” wouldn’t know things that are common knowledge to sailors, Scandinavians, or mountaineers? Are you saying the educated people were somehow hiding this knowledge from the average folk?

  • Grimlock

    I’m trying not to assume either thing. Nor am I assuming that it was necessarily common knowledge among those groups that the earth was round. It might have been, and they had access to the necessary information.

    There’s also a significant difference between hiding knowledge and being indifferent about sharing it. The earth being flat also had some intuitive support in many situations.

    Do what I want to know is if we have any direct information about what the average person believed. Not inferences and speculations.

  • Unfortunately, the average person in the Middle Ages didn’t leave voluminous correspondence.

    As Gould maintains in his essay, ignorance of the Earth’s shape has long been a way to characterize one’s foes as hopelessly ignorant. If anti-clerics like Voltaire and Swift didn’t excoriate their hated rivals as flat-Earthers, it’s a good bet that the rabble were pretty savvy about the shape of our planet. The White-Draper hoaxes appear to have done the trick, pandering to the superiority complexes of sophisticated moderns by telling them how ignorant their not-so-distant ancestors were.

  • Grimlock

    Heh, true enough. Hence speculation and inference might be the best we can do, and I think we should then acknowledge some uncertainty.

    The explanation feels a bit ad hoc to me. While I can’t claim much knowledge of the subject, it seems plausible to me there are also a lot of insults that Voltaire and Swift didn’t make, yet could also have been made. Presumably they didn’t exhaust the list of common insults? (If they did, I need to read me some Voltaire!)

  • Hence speculation and inference might be the best we can do, and I think we should then acknowledge some uncertainty.

    Right. Where did we get the idea that people in the Middle Ages didn’t know the Earth was round, and why are we so resistant to the notion that we’re wrong about it?

  • Otto T. Goat
  • kraut2

    Virtually all major medieval scholars affirmed the earth’s roundness.
    The Earth Has Been Round Longer Than You Think
    Those idiotic statements make me cringe and loose the bit of sanity I have left after having read some of shem’s posts. . Even a flat earth is considered being round. Unless you consider a circle being a square. OK, Gould is not a physicist, but why the fuck cannot he and you say the fucking earth is a fucking GLOBE…or at least resembles a globe withing a margin of error?

  • Jon-Michael Ivey

    Lactantius, a Christian writer who was a close adviser to Emperor Constantine, believed that the Earth was flat. We know this because almost all other contemporary Christian writers made fun of him for this belief.

  • My reference to the Earth being “round longer than you think” was a pun. Sorry for the attempt at wit.

  • Martin Thomas

    Robert Hooke wrote in 1674:

    To one who has been conversant only with illiterate persons, or such as understand not the principles of Astronomy and Geometry, and have no notion of the vastness of the universe . . . who can scarce imagine the Earth is globous, but rather, like some of old, imagine it to be a round plain covered with the Sky as with a Hemisphere . . . They wonder why the Sun, Moon and Stars do not fa’l down like hailstones; and they will be martyr’d rather than grant that there may be Antipodes,believing it to be absolutely impossible since they must necessarily fall down into the Abys below them: For how can they go with their feet towards ours, and their heads downwards, without making their brains addle.

    Hooke, Robert, An attempt to prove the motion of the earth from observations, 1674
    He went on to say that it is very hard to get them to change their minds. This suggests that a lot of people assumed that the world was flat.

  • al kimeea

    So, the rabble were literate and schooled in the latest scholarly notions?

  • Who said they were? All I’m saying is that if sailors and mountaineers were privy to this super-secret wisdom, and the tyrannical Church was pushing the ideas of thinkers like Aristotle and Aquinas who affirmed that Earth was a globe, what sort of weird conspiracy was afoot to suppress this knowledge?

  • al kimeea

    With a mostly illiterate and ignorant populous, what conspiracy is required?

  • I’m not disputing that they were largely illiterate. But your assumption that they were ignorant, particularly about the shape of our planet, seems to derive more from the work of nineteenth-century hoaxers like Draper and White who pandered to our prejudices about human progress than from a real understanding of the way our ancestors thought. I don’t know why I should believe that the average European in the Middle Ages didn’t have the same anecdotal amateur understanding of the Earth’s shape as we do about the Big Bang.

  • al kimeea

    I’ve not heard of those two guys. I’ve been to many xian events including Sunday School and have yet to hear the name Aquinas or Aristotle, just lines from the BuyBull or chat about said lines or a ritual derived from them. I doubt Willie from the Outer Hebrides heard anything different in his kirk back in the day.

    Educated people in the 1400s thought 4 humours was the wasp’s nipples of nedicine and that everything circled our ball of dirt. Highly educated people. Educated people made up a small percentage of the total population. Knowing the shape of the planet hardly dents their ignorance.

  • Kevin K

    The reason there were people who opposed Columbus’ voyage wasn’t because they thought he’d fall off the edge of the earth. Instead, they knew his numbers were wrong. Columbus seriously under-estimated the length of the voyage, and the trip would have been doomed to failure had the unknown continent not intervened. Columbus — The Great Navigator™ — stumbled and bumbled his way into the history books.

  • StevoR

    Maybe in part at least because of the myth that Columbus was the first European to think Earth was round – one of many myths around that utterly evil man.

    https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/history/events/8-myths-and-atrocities-about-christopher-columbus-and-columbus-day/

    Not exactly sure and it may be that this myth came later but still.

  • StevoR

    Yep. Eratosthenes got the numbers much more accurate back in the ancient Greek era.

  • Kevin K

    And everyone knew it, except Columbus, who convinced Isabella (not so much Ferdinand).

  • I really wish you’d show more respect for a skilled navigator who just so happened to be sailing around the Yucatan looking for the mouth of the Ganges.

  • Jim Jones

    “Flat earth” is shorthand. Most people never moved more than a few miles from birth to death and a flat earth was a working assumption.

    However even the ancient scholars knew the earth was round. They even had good estimates of the diameter.

    And let us not forget that the dullest minds of today insist that the earth is flat.

  • E.A. Blair

    I am really tired of seeing that illustrration at the top of this post. If I had a thousand arms, there srtill wouldn’t be enough fingers to count the number of times I’ve seen it since I was about six years old.

  • Deryl Fisher

    What happened with the nut Iast week who was going tofIy a cardboard and duct tape rocket to prove the earth is fIat?

  • DakotaMark

    We celebrate Columbus Day although we don’t mention that it’s the day that Columbus was discovered by the people who already lived here.

  • Judy Thompson

    My apologies, I should have delved deeper into my history books. It has been awhile, obviously. Proof that some schooling did stick, even if it was the wrong parts. We also learned about Washington and the silver dollar, too. (But I got over that one).

  • Ruth1940

    That myth did not originate with atheists. I heard it as a child in our one-room country school. I suspect it somehow got conflated with truthful Xn idea that the earth was the center of the universe. I was married for more than 16 years to an astronomer at the USNO (definitely NOT a theist), who used to point out that the ancient Egyptians knew the earth was not flat. That does not detract from the fact that the Church had Galileo under house arrest for telling the truth about what he saw with his telescope and the ramifications of it. What Galileo saw definitely conflicted with the picture of the universe painted in the bible. https://biologos.org/files/modules/cosmos-enns-post.jpg

  • Contractions of Fate

    I think a lot of medieval peasants thought the Earth was flat. Scholars may have known it was a globe, true, but most people could not read, even 500 years ago. But it is a fact that Biblical Literalism and a Flat Earth had a massive resurgence among the ignorant in the last hundred years or so due to the Seventh Day Adventists and their “Prophetess”. Kent Hovind would have been turning in his cell if he realised, as he’s always calling them “not real Christians” and does not even seem to understand that it is their retro view of scripture that he is pushing.

    >:8o

  • Michael Bean

    Not only did ancient people know that the Earth is a globe, the size of the Earth was also known over 2000 years ago.

    https://stardate.org/astro-guide/faqs/how-was-size-earth-first-measured

  • Androw Bennett

    Thanks for that. It’s a quotation I shall cherish and use to the many white supremacists I know in my native Cymru/Wales (a little, but older, nation still oppressed by our Eastern neighbours in England).

  • Ruth1940

    Never forget that some dissenters were killed, for example Bruno. Surely the scientists who valued their lives would act accordingly. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_executed_in_the_Papal_States

  • You mean ‘lose’ the bit of sanity I have left? Tbh, substituting ‘loose’ the opposite of ‘tight’ for ‘lose’ the opposite of ‘win’ doesn’t do my mood any good either. Bit like cracking up about ’round’ puns.

  • Andrea Fitzgerald

    You need to improve your grammar. After only a few sentences, I could not decipher your script.

  • Steve Neubeck

    The Phoenecians being great mariners , obviously sailed through the straits of Gibraltar , and even mapped the east coast of what is now referred to as south America.they obviously would have to trade for supplies on the return voyage.

  • safetynet2razorwire

    To suggest the average inhabitant of pre-renaissance Christendom knew the earth beneath their feet to be a giant globe is, well, laughable.
    Did some scholars explore, experiment regarding, and insist the earth is round? Of course. Archimedes, for one, did just that 2300 yrs. ago.
    Eratosthenes went so far as to calculate the earth’s circumference around the same time. A century later Posidonius calculated the distance
    to the sun (in earth radii). There were scholars advancing our geographic wisdom well into the Roman era (including a old personal favourite
    Strabo – fastidious in his research both in geography and demography). In both Middle Ages Christendom and Islam acceptance we live on
    an orb was widely accepted in academic circles.

    But the whole ‘issue’ of roundness versus flatness is a bit of a red herring – distracting away from the nonsense that was, in fact, believed by
    and taught by the religious authorities. That belief was the one insistent on the cosmos being geocentric

  • No one’s disputing that the tyrannical Church suppressed heliocentrism. But considering that its classical authority Aristotle, and its greatest medieval thinker Aquinas, both affirmed the globe-shaped Earth, the Church would have had no reason to push the idea of a flat Earth.

  • Enrique Tullett

    Es muy difícil hacer una estadística de algunas creencias y de donde devienen en el medioevo. En rigor a la verdad y por más que unos cuantos conspicuos (conspicuos fundamentalmente para nosotros) de la época hayan reafirmado su idea “redonda” poco y nada sabemos de la mayoría de la población que como sabemos era muy ignorante, supersticiosa y crédula. La nota no convence a nadie.

  • safetynet2razorwire

    [Note: the original comment has been corrected to resolve formatting issues.]

    It was not my intent to dispute that intellectuals of Middle Ages Christendom recognised the earth is an orb. I wanted to point out that at the same time the mass of the population – pretty much everyone except the few monks who were, at the time, the majority of the literate – let alone ‘well read’ – weren’t sure (nor apt to give much thought to it). And church authorities, from all appearances, weren’t inclined to encourage they give such subjects a long hard think.

    As for clerical pushing (or refraining from doing so)of the idea of a flat earth? The Church was politically smarter than that. They didn’t push anything but a belief in the holy trinity and the bible as the inspired inerrant word of their god. Something the overwhelming majority of Christendom’s rank and file took on faith since – even if literate in their local language – so very few were literate in Latin.Virtually all who ‘knew’ what the inerrant word of their god was ‘knew’ because their priests told them when they sinned – when thoughts or actions deviated from their god’s gospel truth.

    The Church stuck to pushing what Leo X called ‘The Myth of The Christ’ as a all or nothing package deal. Push the big picture and defend the details by the threat of honorific violence made the church a huge success story – even after knock-offs began to spring up too fast to successfully suppress.

    The Church, indeed, had no reason to push the flat earth – nor an interest in dispelling the ubiquitous ignorance that made the biblical myth an easy sell. Re: the nature of the world the people delegated and deferred to the priests.

    The absolute intolerance of The Church with regards to what it deemed any least bit heretical is an historical given. The Church pushed orthodoxy – an uncompromised acceptance of the truth of the biblical myth in every detail – including the nature of the cosmos. A flat earth is an element of their myth.

    Politically savvy,the church’s clergy refrained from getting into the nitty-gritty that the myth is aggregated from – unless a heretical view became well known (as in the case of Galileo and his disproof of biblically declared geocentricity)

    All Christendom pushed was the biblical myth – of which a flat earth was part.

  • I wanted to point out that at the same time the mass of the population – pretty much everyone except the few monks who were, at the time, the majority of the literate – let alone ‘well read’ – weren’t sure (nor apt to give much thought to it). And church authorities, from all appearances, weren’t inclined to encourage they give such subjects a long hard think.

    This caricature of history is pure conspiraloon fantasy. I’m not saying every mud farmer in the medieval world knew the shape of the Earth. But even sailors, mountaineers, and traders would have had an informed understanding that the Earth was a globe and they weren’t going to fall off the edge of the Earth somewhere; so not only did the Church push the lie of a flat Earth for no particular reason, but even sailors were in on the conspiracy? The myth of the medieval belief in the flat Earth panders to our prejudices about progress and superiority, that’s all.

    If you’d read Chaucer or Boccaccio’s stories about common folk back in the day, you’d realize that people in the Middle Ages had a much more sophisticated mindset than the caveman ignorance you ascribe to them. If you prefer to learn history from Hitchens’ infoganda, you end up with the wisdom you deserve.

  • David Cromie

    Verdad!

  • David Cromie

    But it did, and remembering that Europe was a theocracy for hundreds of years, whose edicts on the matter of the earth’s form and place in the universe do you suppose held sway, as communicated to the masses? Aristotle was used by the Scholastics merely as a model for logical argument (apologetics, really), but not his beliefs, on the whole.

  • Where did the Church ever push the idea of a flat Earth? As Gould’s essay points out, anti-clerical wags like Voltaire and Swift would have had a field day parodying ecclesiastical pronouncements about a flat Earth, if that had indeed been what the Church taught. But it wasn’t until Draper and White published their hoaxes in the 1800s that the myth of the medieval belief in the flat Earth even took hold.

    Once again, you’re mixing up its opposition to heliocentrism with its denial of a spherical Earth.

  • David Cromie

    He finally admitted that it was a publicity stunt, and a hoax.

  • Androw Bennett

    Ha Ha Ha!

  • John Cochran

    While many if not most of the medieval scholars knew the earth to be round, I’m far from convinced that ignorance of this fact wasn’t pervasive in the general population.

  • What about sailors, who would be traveling so far they’d see whole sets of different constellations and have seasons opposite to those in Europe? How about mountaineers who could perceive the curvature of the Earth from high in the Alps?

    It doesn’t seem to me like people in the Middle Ages would have had to be educated in ancient Greek scholarship to be in on the spherical Earth thing.

  • There’s no evidence that people in the Middle Ages thought the Earth was flat.

    The default assumption (that is, the observations of a person without external input) would be that the earth is flat. It certainly looks flat. You make a good case that the educated people in Europe in 1500 knew the earth was a sphere, but most people weren’t educated.

  • How goes it, Bob?

    I wasn’t trying to say everyone in Medieval Europe was educated. It’s not like people would have only been able to learn about the Earth’s shape by reading Aristotle, though. If sailors, traders, and mountaineers were privy to this info through the experience of everyday phenomena that suggest a round Earth (LINK), it pretty much constitutes common knowledge, doesn’t it?

  • Small world!

    I’m thinking about the typical person who didn’t traveled far from his birth village in his entire life and was poorly educated. Sure, there are common things that they could’ve experienced–approaching ships are seen sails-first, the lunar eclipse shows the black disk of the earth, and so on–but that strikes me as being rather cerebral. It’s like everyday physics–why do tea leaves go to the center of the cup when you stir when centrifugal force should throw them out? what causes a rainbow or sun dog? why are there different shapes of crystals?–that people today could puzzle over and maybe answer … but don’t.

  • Sure. Once again, I’m not claiming that every medieval mud farmer knew the shape of the Earth. But we’re talking about people in the middle ages, not cavemen. To judge by the stories of common folk written by Chaucer and Boccaccio, our not-so-distant ancestors were a lot more sophisticated than your back-of-the-envelope assessment would imply.

    As Gould’s article explains, Draper and White’s hoaxing played on a lot of prejudices that still seem common today. We have a pretty high opinion of ourselves, and the idea that our recent forebears were so credulous and ignorant that they even thought the Earth is flat tells us exactly what we want to hear about superiority and progress.

  • AbortRetry Fail?

    For what it’s worth, I thought the article was about age, when I saw the title in my email. Assumed it was just “folksy” haha….

  • If you think irony is a cruel mistress, try being married to her.

  • AbortRetry Fail?

    “…the ancient Egyptians knew the earth was not flat.”
    Yeah, this little tidbit was rattling around my noggin somewhere as well, not sure where I read it, but I definitely recall reading it.

  • Myles

    How many victims of christianity expressed ideas that rebuked the bible and endured torture or death because of it? Blasphemy extended especially to science and research as well as everything else under the Sun.
    Remember that the Earth was based on pillars and all four corners were visible.

  • Was anybody sacrificed because he or she believed the Earth is a sphere?

  • Myles

    Christians tend to hide anything that might make their religion look sick and immoral. Access to any records would not be forthcoming.

  • So what’s asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence, unless it’s what I already believe? You’re a true skeptic.

  • Myles

    Has the Papal authority given anybody permission to peruse their records?
    Was the term genocide created to expose christian massacres?
    The creation of Hell, to torture people already dead, indicates something. Perhaps they escaped while living.

  • Um, I was asking whether people had ever been sacrificed because they believed the Earth is spherical. Is there any evidence that the Church persecuted people for belief in a round Earth?

  • David Cromie

    They certainly were credulous enough to believe in witches, the wee folk, unicorns, faeries, magic, etc., and, later, that the guy in the pulpit knew what he was talking about, yet still persisted in accepting that their own superstitions were reality.

  • mobathome

    This mythology flatters …

    I see what you did there, you invertebrate punster!

  • I see what you did there, you invertebrate punster!

    I may have a weakness for bad puns, but I’m not spineless!

  • al kimeea

    Giordano Bruno – denied the “merciful courtesy” of strangulation and burned alive because he espoused a cosmology where the universe didn’t revolve around the planet full of special snowfalkes as ordained by the nipple headed old men in funny dresses from VatiCorp.

    But not before the nipple-headed old man in charge had this done to him because Bruno questioned their “sacred space”:

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/829f3d72d0699bcea154eb630cf923d9c5acf1a161b54f4b793b1ab287a9911d.jpg

    Yep, the holey men of the ever lovin Yahweh/Jebus/Allah/God drove an iron spike through Bruno’s cheeks and tongue to prevent anyone else from hearing his heretical cosmology and falling prey to it – a cosmology quite similar to what we’ve since discovered. And then they burned him.

    Plenty of others too and millions of women burned or drowned because “them bitches be witches” – according to that same gaggle of nipple headed old men.

    IIRC, the guy who ordered this done to Bruno is now a saint…

  • al kimeea

    You’d think so. There’s a flat-earther or a very good poe at another joint. Your link is meaningless to that person. They have the math proving the sun is only 2000-3000 miles away from the flat earth.

    Of course, when pressed on where the edge is – SQUIRREL!!

    Apologies, didn’t think that would embed.

  • al kimeea

    ya, and the person whose whole life has been tending to sheep in the Outer Hebrides in 1215 was made aware of this how?

  • al kimeea

    ya Bruno, but you see, he wasn’t banging on about a round earth…

  • al kimeea

    really, quelle surprise

  • al kimeea

    one of whom made it though higher education and into pro sports

  • Giordano Bruno

    Swing and a miss, Al. I wasn’t asking whether the Church brutally suppressed heresy, or whether it was a bad thing that they put Bruno to death. Neither of those points are in dispute.

    I asked whether the Church had ever persecuted anyone for saying the Earth is round.

  • al kimeea

    ya, picking at nits – man still dead for xian pseudoscientific numbnuttery because he disagreed with the ignorance of the authorities.

    that’s the issue, not some single data point

  • It’s not nit-picking at all, it’s discussing the core claim of the OP: people in the Middle Ages didn’t think the Earth is flat. Whether Bruno was persecuted or whether the Church was despotic is neither here nor there. If Bruno was executed for believing the Earth is round, you’d have a point. But he wasn’t. And you don’t.

  • Jim Jones

    No problem there!

  • sabelmouse

    they had a monopoly to protect, he threatened that. pharma does the same with anybody who even mildly questions vaccines, just with different methods.
    ditto some women, though of course extreme misogyny comes into that.

  • al kimeea

    you know big pharma cured a niece of cancer 18 years ago and she just had her 2nd child. Cured me for free AND the thing they used to cure me will not come to market – a competitor made something far, far better for the patient with a very good chance of outcome.

  • sabelmouse

    leaving aside that they may have caused the cancer, and whatever you had, you /she got lucky.
    they rarely cure anybody, often create other problems while ”curing”. often kill people.

  • al kimeea

    what caused cancer 2500 years ago when the Greeks and Egyptians were writing about it?

    Rarely cure anyone? Really? Got any numbers?

    A man in NZ, diabetic, cut the sole of his foot. That’s dangerous because the disease exacerbates infection. Minor cut, but it became infected. So he went, and kept going to his trusted homeopath.

    Why trust the homeopath Because people think this – “they rarely cure anybody, often create other problems while ”curing”. often kill people.” – is an airtight argument. The people who use that argument are usually selling you “something better and more effective” (quackmeisters – the origins of the argument), or those that have been sold on the idea.

    Let’s leave aside the fact that nobody gets out alive.

    So, the guy’s foot is already infected and the homeopath treats it with Manuka Honey because it is anti-bacterial.

    Worng.

    Honey is a poor growth medium for bacteria because there are no free water molecules in it. They’re all bound up with other elements. That’s why honey seems to never go bad.

    Not because honey kills bacteria, it doesn’t allow bacteria to spread. See the subtle distinction?

    If the man had put honey on a clean cut, with no tetanus or whatever already spreading in the wound, sure he probably would have been OK.

    So he keeps seeing his trusted homeopath as the infection worsens and spreads. Keep applying the honey says the trusted homeopath “these things always get worse before they get better” – another “truism” of quackademia.

    The man finally ends up in Emerg where he dies with a gangrenous leg/sepsis. The attending vascular surgeon commented, “if he had come in, even a few hours earlier, we ould have saved him.” But not his leg.

    AFAIR, that homeopath suffered no consequences…

  • sabelmouse

    very rare, and certainly not lab verified.
    you’re mixing up a lot of things so good luck with those vaccines and modern medicine.

  • David Cromie

    Yes, iatrogenic disease is often a possibility, and so is the placebo effect.

  • Ruth1940

    The guys in the pulpit who’d had a formal education knew it, as the bible scholars knew, but many ministers just felt the calling and preached what they felt!

  • Ruth1940

    Doesn’t everyone know that rainbows are reminders to God of his promise not to destroy all humans again? Genesis 9 That was the beginning of refraction of light through droplet of water!

  • Ruth1940

    But the bible refers multiple times to the four corners of the earth, definitely not round!

  • Stick to the topic, Ms. Timely.

  • Ruth1940
  • From the article:

    There never was a flat earth dogma.

    That’s what I’ve been saying.

  • And I thought it was God’s sign that he loves the gays!

  • al kimeea

    well, you just said we were lucky with the things you sneer at that were pretty much guaranteed to save a man’s life – if his trusted homeopath hadn’t promised to cure him with honey.

    You were talking of worse problems and death and just hand-waved away an example of just that, where “those” vaccines and modern medicine would of at least allowed him to enjoy the funky moon at the end of the month.

    These things are behind germ-theory, we can see virii and bacteria with electron microscopes

    I know I was lucky, I was told what the odds were and what to expect, given all the other tests on other mammals. I was asked to report any symptoms not already recorded, because life varies.

    My niece, young and in very good health otherwise, missed no university and didn’t lose her hair, because life varies.

    Two pre-teen native girls died, because they chose to follow advice like yours. Charmingly told to them by a snake-oil salesperson – Big Pharma rarely cures and mostly kills – they intone sweetly. Trust me.

    So, they abandoned a treatment for the same cancer as my niece. A treatment they knew had, as did my niece going in, an 85% probability of success.

    Versus cold laser therapy and whole foods at a snake-oil farm.

    D.E.A.D.

    Did snake-oil disappear? No such thing as medical quackery?

  • sabelmouse

    you garble insensibly.

  • Raging Bee

    Fuck off to bed, moron, you clearly have no clue what you’re talking about.

  • sabelmouse

    you certainly sound intelligent and well informed.

  • Raging Bee

    You certainly don’t.

  • sabelmouse

    yes dear.

  • David Cromie

    So, this supposed ‘god’ of yours has a bad memory?

  • al kimeea

    again nothing to say about people dying stupidly, just insults and sneering

    typical

    I could take the advice of people that save lives, including mine or

    I could listen to some disembodied opinion from someone with a degree from Google U

  • sabelmouse

    you ramble incoherently.

  • E.A. Blair

    millions? Your numbers are off by quite a bit. More reasoned and scholarly estimates put the numbers of witchcraft executions at about 200,000 or so, and the most common mwthod of execution was hanging, not burning.