Current Reading

This blog is primarily for me to blog my responses to books that I'm reading. Sometimes I blog about other stuff too, though.

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Sunday, August 2, 2015

Two quick observations

1) I just read Inventing the Flat Earth by Jeffrey Burton Russell.  It's a fairly short book (about 70 pages) but it makes the interesting observation that educated people have known since ancient Greece that the earth is round, and certainly in Columbus's Day people knew that the earth is round.  That knowledge was never lost from the educated classes in the Western world, even in the Middle Ages.  Indeed, the entire system of Aristotelian and Ptolemaic astronomy was built upon concentric spheres, with the earth being the sphere at the center.  Russell claims that the myth that the Church and the educated classes used to believe in a flat earth comes from 19th century critics of religion, who invented the idea that the Medieval Church believed in a flat earth as a way of arguing that the Church was backwards.  (Considering all of the other things that one might use to make such a claim, it is strange that they would reach for fictional claims.)

2) This weekend I had occasion to be reminded of the excellence of my university's programs in business and related fields.  The purpose of these programs is to train people for management in a wide variety of settings and industries.  What is interesting is that my colleagues in business and management programs mostly do not seem to speak of some sort of moral imperative in getting students into their programs, even though their programs are a path to the managerial class.  On the other hand, my colleagues in science and engineering very much see it as a social and ethical mission to get students into science and engineering, even though claims of labor shortages (and hence abundant opportunities) are rather dubious.

1 comment:

Gene Callahan said...

"(Considering all of the other things that one might use to make such a claim, it is strange that they would reach for fictional claims.)"

Well, they "reached for fictional claims" because there WEREN'T a lot of other things upon which to base their claims!