Author: wchao37

Debunking Columbus and Da Vinci -- Gavin Menzies   [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2008-8-4 02:54:54 |Display all floors

A digest so far -- should we even feel proud?

I'm excited and glad to see that the Beijing Olympics preparations are going smoothly and the Opening Ceremony is at hand in less than a week.  

The discussions here, together with those on the Games, offer the best proof that China is truly the center of attention these days on topics new and old alike.

As usual, several detractors are here foolishly trying to prevent the wheel of world history from turning.

Their efforts are like those of a toddler trying to rein in an unshackled thoroughbred horse, or a mantis trying to stop a cart from rolling -- "bu zi lian li" or overestimating themselves.

Still, we shouldn't let the nation's present and past glories blind us to the gravity of the situation and the immensity of the tasks ahead of us after the Olympics --

As part of the lyrics of an old English song says:

Old boys new boys winning glory
We ourselves must write the story
Keep this challenge still before ye
Glory to our school (nation)

Most of the detractors here are trying to downplay the significance of Menzies' 1434 book without giving any evidence that they have studied the material.

That this is far from being a scientific approach to resolving disputes is self-evident.

In any event, one of the relevant questions at this time is this:

If Menzies is correct -- as the preponderance of evidence hitherto seems to indicate -- do you think China should even feel proud to have had Western Europe as the student or recipient of her largesse, namely the priceless trove of knowledge which sparked the European Renaissance in view of what this recipient subsequently did with that knowledge?

It really depends on what one means by true civilization.  If it means "river crabs" -- a play on the term "he xie" or harmony in Chinese -- then it has been a disastrous failure in terms of human suffering in the last 500 years.  

At this point, it should be noted that the so-called "Age of Discovery" was a misnomer -- it had followed the Renaissance period and directly led to the Eurocentric view of world history -- because strictly speaking Chinese seafarers in their pioneering cartographic work had already made the major discoveries or laid the necessary foundations for them, and should have been credited for having started the "Age of Discovery" ahead of West European seafarers such as Columbus, Magellan, and Vasco da Gama, if a non-Eurocentric view of world history is eventually adopted.

However, there are always two sides to the same coin.

The major negative aspect was that the predatory nature of a resource-deficient Western Europe activated by the Renaissance led to the longest period of human suffering outside of Western Europe characterized by the rise and fall of several nation-states that colonized foreign lands instead of trading with them equitably like the Chinese did in 1434.

And the major positive one was that it opened up vistas of structured scientific experimentation which led to great improvements in Mankind's material civilization, and these achievements led to the self-confidence of the broods of adventurous and restless Europeans that fanned out from Western Europe to the Americas, Asia and Africa.

To destroy this Eurocentric view of world history by unveiling the myths surrounding the origin of the Renaissance is therefore pure anathema to some Westerners -- just like they'd never admit to the FACT that the overwhelming majority of the Tbetans are now living a much better life as a result of the largesse of the Beijing government.  

Their unreasonableness in their approaches on the issues of both Tbet and Menzies is due to their intrinsic need to continue to feel culturally and morally superior even as their social fabric is disintegrating and their economic indicators are nosediving, by flatly denying the mountain of contrariwise evidence about the origin of the Renaissance amassed before them.

In the case of Menzies, there is actually absolutely no need for these detractors to downplay the significance of his superior work if they could in fact afford to be less self-diffident.  None of the arguments fielded so far here or elsewhere has negated any major aspect of his thesis.

I'm certain that in the foreseeable future, as deep-sea sonar and other oceanographic technologies improve further afield, some of the Chinese ships that had circumnavigated the globe and ended in the Americas will be recovered, helping to resolve some of the intriguing mysteries.

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Post time 2008-8-4 03:56:23 |Display all floors
There isn't any evidence that Menzies is correct, especially in the latest book. Historians of the Renaissance have long known where it started and how it developed and it did so well in advance of 1434. You can even see the direction of the art very clearly in the 14th century and engineering technologies had become highly advanced in the 13th throughout Europe.
"Justice prevails... evil justice."

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Post time 2008-8-4 10:53:21 |Display all floors

Sore spots...

Hmmmm, seems like Mr Menzies has touched a sore spot or two among certain posters. Verrrry revealing and... interesting...

Is it really because he is wrong? Or is it because he might be right and thereby challenges Eurocentric notions? Judging from the responses, their frequency and testiness, I'd say it's the latter...

Velly, velly, velly intellesting, indeed...!!!! History bites back, dudes!

Dab some Tiger Balm on the sore spots, rela x and enjoy China rising once again...

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Post time 2008-8-4 12:50:30 |Display all floors
Nobody is being testy except the person with the ‘velly lame’ Peter Lorre impersonation.

Skepticism is needed when confronted with sensational assertions and the smart posters in this thread are rightfully skeptical; Menzie’s first work, “1421”, contains many cause/effect assumptions that range from dubious to deceit.  He has failed to make a case that stands against analysis and all indications are that his new work is no different.  

Lack of evidence, dubious connections, poor credibility, and a history of pursuing book tours and presentations for the sole purpose of drumming up press (advertising) means that the burden of proof lies in Menzie’s hands; when he points to his bookshelves and says he has stacks of evidence, why has he failed (again) to present them?

Someone asked in this thread “should we even feel proud;” well yes, China should be proud already and need not the grandiose and verbose rhetoric of charlatans and demagogues.

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Post time 2008-8-4 13:56:37 |Display all floors
I found Menzies's earlier book very thought-provoking and while I don't how accurate his specific claims I think one shouldn't get so caught up in holding to a certain version of history, especially one that's long been disproved. We already know the Vikings got to the Americas centuries before Columbus and there's evidence the Celt, Carthaginians/Phoenicians, maybe Romans, and possibly even Bantu peoples had gotten to the Americas long before Portugal and Spain even existed. China had gone to many parts of Africa so the idea of them getting to the Americas isn't very unrealistic, considering it's a somewhat shorter distance with less intervening islands. Australia isn't too far either and the Chinese certainly were all over Indonesia, which is so close to Australia it's hard to imagine China not finding it.

As for the Renaissance again China is already known to be responsible for many European inventions and it's also historical fact that the Renaissance was partly, whether it was a large part or not, instigated by foreign influence from the Middle East and North Africa. Since the Mongols had dominated China for many centuries and traded frequently with Europe the idea that Chinese inventions flooded into Europe is more of a statement of the obvious.

Of course, again the issue would probably be the specific narrative provided by Menzies. While he provides thought-provoking information it does not mean things played out as he says.

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Post time 2008-8-4 14:21:53 |Display all floors

The reason the Chinese never found Australia or anything else others they knew didn't already know about is rather simple: the Chinese didn't really do voyages of discovery. It just wasn't worth it from the perspective of the government. To them it meant a high risk of losing face versus an insignificant bonus to China's economy. Remember, we're talking about a very large empire with already extensive trade routes and a government with little need to build wealth through speculative expeditions. Thus most of what China discovered was first discovered by Chinese merchants who followed the supply lines of various commodities to their sources.

The Portuguese did much the same, in fact. The difference with Portugal is simple, however: Portugal was a small state, even though their expeditions were poorly financed (anecdote: one flotilla arrived in SE Asia with nothing to trade after stocking on food), the commodities they brought back dramatically enhanced Portugal's wealth and prestige, encouraging ever riskier ventures for Portugal and everyone else. Portugal also tried to control that trade by taking over strategic centers like the Malacca Strait, Hormuz Strait and supply points in Africa. This, of course, led Spain to famously fund a dark horse navigator who was very wrong about the size of the world in the hope that maybe, just maybe, they wouldn't have to pay Portuguese tolls.....
"Justice prevails... evil justice."

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Post time 2008-8-4 14:33:58 |Display all floors

Wooooo, more velly, velly, velly, intellesting sore spots...

Not only has Menzies touched many sore spots on brobostigon, it seems that I also have! Woooo! The poor fellow denies being testy but he uses such hyperbole, all nasty and negative about Mr Menzies eg. "sensational assertions, dubious connections, poor credibility, charlatan, demagouges!" Why is it "sensational, dubious and poor in credibility"? Menzies is now a charlatan and a demagogue? Woooooo! That is one massive sore spot, dude!!!!

Poster kodama is correct when he says that it's thought provoking. On the other hand brobostigon is so dismissive. As are others. Which raises the velly, velly, velly intellesting question, Why? Wooooo! Whasssa matter?

Is a curiousity...!!!

Dab some Tiger Balm on the sore spots, dude, relax and enjoy China rising once again...

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