Lovely post by the inimitable Mike Flynn discussing, among other things, a canard that’s annoyed me for years: the assumption that in the Old Days, people were stupid, unlike us smart guys now days. For example, in the old days, those pathetic morons had to amuse themselves making stuff like this:
And make do with art like this:
But we, who have invented reality TV and People magazine – we’re the smart ones. Riiight.
Another annoying bit Mr. Flynn covers: how people in the old days were stupid because they 1) failed to make the same mindless assumptions we make today; and 2) failed to invent all the cool toys we have today. Therefore, those old guys were idiots for not seeing that Galileo was right because a.) *we* know he’s right; and b.) he and his contemporaries had culpably failed to invent rocket ships and Foucault’s pendulums and the laws of motion and goodness knows what else they’d need to have invented by means of which it is now *obvious* that the world is whizzing about the sun at ridiculous speeds while at the same time spinning like a top. Instead of, say, sitting perfectly still, which is what it sure seems to be doing.
I’d bet not one in a hundred Science! fans could tell you in any level of convincing detail how it is that we know that 1) the earth is in fact whipping through space and 2) appears completely still. If they are a little bit smart, they’ll drop words like ‘gravity’ and ‘inertia’ and maybe talk about prevailing wind patterns. But the actual coherent explanation is pretty fancy stuff, when you get right down to it.