Category archives for History

An archaeologist watches the History Channel

And deeply regrets it. It’s very sad. I remember when cable TV was new, and had such promise — there would be channels dedicated to specialty disciplines, that would pursue a niche doggedly for a slice of the audience. The History Channel would be about history, not von Daniken and Nazi UFOs; Discovery would be…

Creationism evolves by jerks

I think one thing Razib says is exactly right: One of the most interesting things to me is the nature of Creationism as an idea which evolves in a rather protean fashion in reaction to the broader cultural selection pressures. Creationism has evolved significantly, but it’s not exactly protean: it’s punctuated equilibrium. If we had…

Invasion of the Viking women!

The cartoon version of my Scandinavian ancestors has swarms of fiercely bearded men charging off of their longships into monasteries, where they lopped the heads off priests and plundered the gold and silver from the altars. While I admit that I find that imagery quite romantic and appealing, the truth was more complicated: they were…

Happy 189th Birthday, Gregor!

It’s really a shame he didn’t live to be even 78 or so, so Gregor Mendel could have lived to see his work recognized. I also wonder what he would have thought to know that even godless atheists centuries after his life would know his name and his scientific work so well… Also, via Google…

Weird ideas can flourish if enough people share a false preconception, and here’s a marvelous article on the history and philosophy of widely held certainty that other planets were inhabited by people. Not just any people, either: good Christian people. By the 1700s, there could no longer be any doubt. Earth was just one of…

Sometimes, we make progress

It takes decades, though. When did you last hear anyone seriously advocate a flat earth? How many Republican presidential candidates would raise their hands if asked if they believed the earth was flat? Sure, you can find a few far out fringe cranks who babble about it, just as there are a few geocentrists around,…

Islamic embryology debunked

Launching from my discussion with Muslim wackjobs in Dublin, this video takes my casual conversation and fleshes it out with details and references. Hey, looks like I was right!

This is a video produced in the 1960s to illustrate life in the 1990s. Nerds will find hilarity in the computer interfaces, women will rage at the gender stereotypes.

Why do we have fire drills?

You may not want to know. Only read this heartrending article about the Collinwood School Fire in 1908 if you can handle a tragic tale — but if you do, you won’t complain about those annoying fire drills ever again.

Awesome. Italian police caught someone trying to smuggle away an ancient piece of Roman statuary, and traced him back to find…The Lost Tomb of Caligula. That should have been the title of the last Indiana Jones movie — at least it would have promised a little more excitement.