December 2002


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Science for the People Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
John Landon <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 1 Dec 2002 10:12:30 EST
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In a message dated 12/1/2002 10:01:49 AM Eastern Standard Time,
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> NY Times, Dec. 1, 2002
> 'Lost Discoveries': The Non-Western Roots of Science
> The Ancient Roots of Modern Science -- From the Babylonians to the Maya.
> By Dick Teresi.
> 453 pp. New York: Simon &Schuster. $27.
> In the early 1990's Dick Teresi went to Portland, Ore., where the county
> school board had started a politically correct and ill-starred program
> dedicated to ''multicultural science.'' Among the curriculum tools it
> devised, he notes in ''Lost Discoveries,'' was a series of essays
> explaining how the ancient Egyptians used sophisticated gliders for travel
> and recreation, how the Incas floated above the Nasca plain in hot-air
> balloons and how the Egyptians had also mastered advanced skills in
> precognition and psychokinesis. Teresi was promptly dispatched by a
> magazine to debunk these claims, which he did with relish. As he writes in
> his book, ''One can only wonder why this ancient civilization, with
> airplanes and telekinesis at its disposal, bothered with swords and spears
> to fight its battles.''
> It was wise of Teresi, a science writer and former editor of Omni magazine,
> to establish his bona fides as a skeptic at the outset. He calls ''Lost
> Discoveries'' a book of ''unkempt historical details,'' but in surveying
> the non-Western roots of science he has created a very neat chronicle --
> and a timely reminder -- of how much of the foundation of modern scientific
> thought and technological development was built by the mostly overlooked
> contributions of Arabs, Indians, Chinese, Polynesians and Mesoamericans.
> How timely? A dozen pages into the text, I found myself wondering how many
> publishers would have been courageous enough, after Sept. 11, 2001, to take
> on a book that documents, among other things, the superiority of Arab
> intellect and Muslim science in ancient and medieval times.
> The ''standard model'' of the history of science locates its birth around
> 600 B.C. in ancient Greece, where the dramatis personae typically include
> Pythagoras, Empedocles, Democritus, Aristotle and other sages, who laid the
> modern foundation for math and the sciences. It was this foundation, buried
> during the Middle Ages, that was rediscovered during the Renaissance. What
> were the peoples of India, Egypt, Mesopotamia, sub-Saharan Africa, China
> and the Americas doing all this time? ''They discovered fire, then called
> it quits,'' Teresi observes sarcastically. He admits starting this exercise
> ''with the purpose of showing that the pursuit of evidence of nonwhite
> science is a fruitless endeavor. . . . Six years later, I was still finding
> examples of ancient and medieval non-Western science that equaled and often
> surpassed ancient Greek learning.''
> full:
> first chapter:
> Louis Proyect, Marxism mailing list:

It is almost impossible to sort out the confusions of the history of science,
here the 'standard model' versus a critique of Eurocentric perspectives, with
looking at the overlay of two processes, as in the eonic model. The idea of
the 'west' forever brands the discussion, when the reality is the 'eonic
mainline' in relation to a greater field.
It is hopeless to start arguing over the relative merits of Islamic, etc,...
versus 'western' science. It will only disappoint in the end, and become more
In the meantime this fascinating work has a host of important insights, no
problem there.

Since everyone has blocking software and prefers to remain confused, that's
enough for today.

John Landon
Website on the eonic effect
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