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January 13, 2005


Rich Puchalsky

The "lights in the sky" quote really did happen, but it was one student rather than many (and of course it's possible that she was putting me on for some unexplained reason). There is more generalized ignorance about Copernicism, however; I'd guess that more people know vaguely that the Sun is a great big ball of fire and that the Moon is made out of rock than know that the Earth goes around the Sun and the Moon goes around the Earth.

Try an experiment! Add as a un-prepared for quiz question to your largest intro philosophy course, if you teach such a thing, something like "What do you think the Moon and Sun are, and what is a very basic description of how they move?" See what you get. I think that most people underestimate the extent of what I call "radical ignorance". It affects relatively few people in our society -- Kevin Drum recently quoted 12% as the percentage who think that Joan of Arc was Noah's wife -- but those who it affects, it affects deeply.

Bill Tozier

The Steam Man is referred to in a number of articles in our local newspaper here in Ann Arbor, such as this one my wife transcribed. Here's another I posted at my blog before Odd Ends was online.

And which I linked to the hoax site.

Though mine aren't hoaxes.

Interesting, eh?

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