History

Pharyngula

Category archives for History

Our grisly history

History isn’t often pretty. Archaeologists have been excavating a site called Towton, where a major battle was fought in the Wars of the Roses in 1461, and in which 28,000 people died and were buried in mass graves scattered about the battleground. It’s a fascinating story of the soldiers involved in the battle, and they…

How authoritarians treat art

Somebody needs to grab Bill Donohue by the ear and drag him to the Neues Musem in Berlin — all the way to the airport, during the long transatlantic flight, and on the taxi ride to the museum. Pinch hard, too, and make him squeal all the way. While digging a subway tunnel in Berlin,…

The myth of a Christian nation

Smithsonian has a fine article on the real history behind America’s status as a “Christian nation”: it just isn’t so. Religion is a poison our European ancestors brought to these shores, and it’s been a source of trouble and stupidity since the beginning. From the earliest arrival of Europeans on America’s shores, religion has often…

(I thought this was a perfect time to repost this list.) Douglas Theobald passed along an interesting collection of quotes from that atheist evolutionist, Adolf Hitler. It’s particularly interesting that he outlawed atheist and freethought groups in 1933. It’s a long list of quotes, so I’ll tuck it below the fold.

A reader, Sam, sent some fascinating excerpts from a court decision in 1824, Updegraph v. Commonwealth. It was a small case that prompted the judge to write a seventeen page furious rant, and reading it will make you realize what Glenn Beck’s America would like to return to — no, thanks, I wouldn’t like it.…

6 August 1945

History is not going to judge us kindly for this crime against humanity. Never again. In the following waves [after the initial blast] people’s bodies were terribly squeezed, then their internal organs ruptured. Then the blast blew the broken bodies at 500 to 1,000 miles per hour through the flaming, rubble-filled air. Practically everybody within…

Victorian squid

There really were savage battles between man and giant squid in the 19th century. They all come off as a little bit one sided, though: some poor sick squid floundering on the surface is encountered by a passing ship, harpoons and gaff hooks are thrown, and if the dying beast manages to fling a tentacle…

For the microbiologists out there

At last, you’ll learn how to pronounce “Leeuwenhoek”! (via Make)

I’d known for a long time that the term “scientist” had been coined in the early 19th century, but I just ran across a first-hand account of the event by the fellow who came up with it, William Whewell. The context is this: many in the science establishment of the day had been chafing at…

Amazing gibberish

Renew America, the bizarrely, deeply, weirdly conservative web site founded by Alan Keyes, really had to struggle to find someone crazier than Pastor Grant Swank and Fred Hutchison and Bryan Fischer and Wes Vernon (let alone Alan Keyes himself), but they have succeeded. They have Linda Kimball writing for them. She has written the strangest…