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A Wikipedia page modified during March 2011 has this to say about "Jasmine Revolution" ...
"Jasmine Revolution may refer to:
* the rise to the presidency of Tunisia by Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 1987
* the Tunisian Revolution in which President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was forced out of the presidency by popular protests in late 2010/early 2011, called "the Jasmine Revolution" by many media organisations, and which was the impetus of the 2010–2011 Middle East and North Africa protests.
* the 2011 protest movement in the People's Republic of China that was inspired by the 2011 Tunisian Revolution and called a "Jasmine revolution" by some of the organisers
Really? In 1987 a Jasmine Revolution installs a president of Tunisia? And in 2011, a Jasmine Revolution undertakes to de-install him? Is this convincing?
No, it isn't, and we need to know much more about "Jasmine Revolution" in 2011. What we need to know is how and why this Tunisian president hung around - uninterrupted? - between 1987-2011! For 24 years! For that would seem to be the problem, not a "Jasmine Revolution" or lack of a Jasmine Revolution. Today, how on earth, in any country, can any individual political leader hang around, getting stale, getting older and less imaginative, less responsive to new or creative trends in a population, for as long as 24 years?
Doesn't being in government, wielding power, get boring, tiring, taxing, as a man grows older, as the years roll by? The behaviour of the said "leaders" would seem to indicate, they think not. (While we, the citizens, think differently.)
Could it be that the individual named as such a "leader" becomes merely the figurehead for a regime, a regime which hooks its claws deeply into the wealth and meaning of a country for its own ends, and acts as though it answers to nobody? And reacts as badly to being criticised or challenged as the leader of any ordinary teenage gang might?
Actually, around 25 years could well be taken as an average timespan for the rule of a great many names in history, from around 1000AD in Europe at least, for barons, counts, earls, viscounts, marquis might go, as far as European nobility is concerned. In human affairs, around 25 years in power would seem to be somewhat of a constancy for rulers in many different countries. It's long enough for one generation to produce its succeeding generation, which, as a biological proposition, might have a good deal to do with currently perceived problems? The problem of outdated ways? Out with the old, in with the new? And that the people behind objectionable regimes, haven't learned this yet?
How long did Mubarak last in Egypt? Some 29 years? Mubarak has been rated No. 20 on a list of World's Worst Dictators. The now-hated Mubarak was an air force pilot who became air chief marshal and vice-president to third president of Egypt, Anwar Sadat. (So the Egyptian mistake might have been to allow a military man to become vice-president in the first place?) Sadat was assassinated and Mubarak became fourth president. He remained installed in power from 1981 to 2011. A Wikipedia page on Sadat is currently littered with requests for verification and clarification. But then, Mubarak has been deposed.
Syria has long been troubled, especially from 1973 to the present. Since World War One, Syrians had struggled to get rid of French influence. A secularist (non-Islamist) Baath Party arose (Baath meaning "renaissance") which presumably would have sidelined religionist partisans, and so it seems that internal religious conflict would remain a political factor. Syria has been anti-French (or post-colonialist) since 1936 or so, and an independence movement arose which lasted to to the late 1960s, when it stalled, the Baath Party. The Baath Party taking power with a 1966 coup. Installed to power was Hafiz-al-Assad (1973 or so) who was succeeded by his son, Hafiz al-Assad. The al-Assad regime has long ruled using "emergency powers", which presumably speaks for itself - the country now has no easy way out of its declared emergency because its progress stalled in 1973, co-incidentally the Year of the Oil Shock. Syria was frozen in political ice.
Bahrain? Lately there have been plans afoot in Bahrain to ban two opposition political parties. Bahrain since 1971 has had a Sunni monarch (Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa) ruling allegedly at the expense of Shi-ites in the population. Bahrain has been a monarchy since 1971. But it is not a Constitutional Monarchy, and one finds it hard to believe that Shi-ites, if allowed to vote, would continue to allow a Sunni monarch to reign. In any case, this website finds that a quite short and presumably-factual Wikipedia page on Kings of Bahrain has not lately been updated or annotated by protestors from anywhere in the world for any reason. Middel-eastern protestors are Internet savvy? We don't quite think so.
Westerners might well need to ask ... Is Turkey the only Islamic country where, across decades, secularistic views on politics and government have not succumbed unduly to pressures from religionists? More so, from religionists driven by ethnically-concerned politicos? The converse of which is: we have no proof that if currently-protesting populations were freed from objectionable regimes in ways that they or westerners might approve, they would espouse secularist and not religionist politics in the future. In this sense with theories of government, the separation of Church and State, so valued in the West, is not at all guaranteed in Middle Eastern countries and cultures.
We don't at this point need to ask further about the situation in Tunisia. On TV we have seen political-protest situations arise in Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, and probably Syria. What we notice is that parts of the population of these countries are protesting their national regimes, their national leaderships, and demanding change. This is seen in Libya as a civil war that has been aided by NATO/UN forces which have decided to command the skies of Libya but not the ground, aiding the rebels against Gaddafi's regime, meaning, the objectionable President Gaddafi ("The Leader") continues his rule of Libya at the time of writing this (April 20). At which point, we point this article in the direction of - the consideration of objectionable regimes.
Reading media reports of the kind we have all been reading on protest movements in Middle Eastern countries, this website has become increasingly sceptical about reports on situations that emphasise a desire for democracy in the countries named. Presumably, mention of a pro-democracy spirit working within the protest movements involved suits the diplomats of western countries who talk to international journalists, but this website feels the remarks ring hollow. It's got to do with "democracy", actually.
There does seem to be a factor present in today's Middle Eastern scenarios that is being insufficiently commented. It is the extent to which members of varying ethnic groups, and/or adherents to the Shi-ite or Sunni divide in Islam, could freely move about in the time of the Ottoman Empire, unhindered by any influences from the West, subject only to internal politico-social forces. At the time, Europeans in Europe could not move about so freely across wide swathes of territory. With the end of World War One, and the end of the Ottoman Empire, those groups were part-frozen where they were at the time, now subject to nationalistic definitions of their identities - which might not suit them today. One might say, it has taken this long for such groups to seriously object to their treatment. No one seems to be noticing questions - or the longer-term implications - of such long-ago demographic shifts.
What is noticeable with so many objectionable regimes is the way rulers have ambitions to turn their power over to sons or other relatives, to cronies, to militarists of their country who agree with their regime. This is all truly objectionable, it's an absurd hangover of very old views on government, and such views have long reached their use-by date. There is nothing so modern, however, as a recently-made mobile phone, or a recently-made bullet - and there lies the nature of the conflict, the urge-to-communication versus naked force.
Perhaps we can remind readers that the American Revolution (1776-1783) was partly-devoted to the idea that those in power would rule only with the consent of the governed (Democracy). Consent to be ruled is bestowed only by those eligible to vote in such matters. One might say that the government becomes the servant of the people voting them into power, where power is only to be held as long as the servant retains the favour of the people (voters). One might also say that there are still many parts of the world where this idea has not yet taken root.
This website is of the opinion that the evident fact that people in a particular territory (a nation with its borders drawn on a map) might well be enraged with their rulers, or government, is no guarantee of anything especially useful. Their protests by no means are an indication that they recommend that what governs a government is the consent of the governed, and that that consent can be withdrawn. That this consent is given only in circumstances in which a party political system is necessary, and in circumstances where bloodshed does not occur when power is exchanged between the parties due to voters having temporarily changed their voting patterns. Oh yes, the voters who run democracy can be fickle. Which is something that democrats perhaps forget too often!
With "democracy" there is also the supposition that there will be a respected tradition in a country (or a nation or territory) of the country paying for the privilege of having an opposition to an incumbent government. An opposition being able to constantly, if it wishes, criticise a government and in the light of that, ask for the increased favour of the governed (the voters). This tradition of government having to continually put up with a carping opposition is entirely absent in currently-protesting Middle Eastern countries and there is no indication that the protestors are necessarily any more fond of the idea of an opposition being continually active than their objectionable governments have been or are. There is no sense then that the current Middle-Eastern waves of protests are pro-democracy.
Perhaps, these protests are merely anti-authority, or anti-authoritarian. Or perhaps, the protestors wish to begin some kind of de-institutionalisation of unreasonableness?
And after all, there has been an international UN-based campaign since 1945, the end of World War Two, to de-institutionalise racism. It would be understandable if today, people wished to see the de-institutionalisation of unreasonableness in government. This is by no means necessarily, of itself, a recommendation of democracy as democracy is understood in Australia, Great Britain, USA, Canada, Ireland, Scotland, Scandinavia, France, Germany, Spain and other EU countries - The Western World.
This website read something relevant a few years ago about countries in Africa. The claim arose that when more than 40 per cent of a population have mobile phones, any objectionable regime is likely to be in trouble. We hope so, but why would this be? Would it be merely that ordinary people are now in touch, where they were not before? And they can now make comparisons more easily? Does this mean they they are any more educated in various forms of democracy? We think not? No, it merely means they can use a mobile phone and talk, and share criticisms. Or they are literate and can use a computer and the Internet.
No, these protests are not necessarily pro-democracy. They are most likely a by-product of modern communication technology, an unintended consequence. For what modern technology enables everyone to do today, is to make comparisons more easily. And so the point would be, that objectionable regimes do not want their people making comparisons and uttering criticisms. It matters not that such objectionable regimes have their days numbered.
There is nothing automatic about democracy, it is a highly-deliberated outcome resulting from a great many co-ordinated sub-processes. Democracy does not arise merely because ordinary people find it easier to make comparisons and express criticism. Generally, politically, criticisms need to be re-channelled, much discussed, re-formulated by a political party, turned into new visions of public policy. Whereas in the Middle East lately, we are seeing little more than people sounding off. One set of problems we notice, as in Egypt and Libya, is that regimes have educated their young people but not employed them. The young people would have to be insane, not to object and protest. But why would this necessarily be pro-democratic? No, the young people, and more power to them, are merely protesting the politics of unreasonableness. Of pointlessness. Of lack of future.
Notes on long-reigning monarchs, tyrants and "leaders" around the world. In the times of the Assyrian Kings, 1550BC to 606BC, the average length of rulership was about 16 years. From 1066 to the present, English kings and queens have ruled about 22 years each on average. The Ancient British kings ruled about 14 years each. Ivan IV ("The Terrible") was Tsar of Russia for 37 years. One of the longest reigns of a European monarch was of 72 years, being Louis XIV King France, 1643-1715, 72 years. George III of Great Britain, 1760-1820, 60 years. Edward III King England, 1327-1377, 50 years. Stalin, General-Secretary of Soviet Union, 1922-1953. Hitler, Chancellor of Germany, 1933-1945. Pinochet in Chile, 1973-1990. Robert Menzies, held office twice, Australia's longest-serving prime minister, a total of 18 years, 5 months and 12 days. List of the Top Ten Worst Dictators (Still-Living). Kim Jong Il in North Korea 1994-2011, and his son. Than Shwe, General in Burma, 1992-2011. Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, 1980-2011. Crown Prince Abdullah in Saudi Arabia, and his sons, 1995-2011. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea, 1979-2011. Saparmurat Niyazov of Turkmenistan 1990-2011. Fidel Castro of Cuba 1959-2011, followed by his brother Raoul. The point of democracy is that "rulers" remain in power for short periods, not long periods.
International: From 12/13 October 2005
Re: Gavin Menzies, 1421: The Year China Discovered the World. London, Bantam Books, 2002. Billed as follows in promotional literature: “The book that's rewriting history! - The Chinese were the first to discover America, 70 years before Columbus - The Chinese discovered Australia, 350 years before Captain Cook - The Chinese reached the so-called Magellan Straits 60 years before Magellan was even born. The Chinese discovered the vital secret of Longitude 300 years before Harrison did in England.”
For the 1421 website, go to: http://www.1421.tv/
Comparative size of an “exploring” Chinese
NB: In September 2005 is published a new book by a technology writer: Anatole Andro, The 1421 Heresy: An Investigation into the Ming Maritime Survey of the World. Authorhouse, September 2005. English language, ISBN 140873490. Check website: www.1421heresy.com/
LOST WORLDS has lately (mid-October 2005) been receiving much e-mail critical of Menzies' book, 1421. So much, that the time has come to ask: should 1421 be consigned to the fiction shelves? If so, who should be doing the re-consigning? Readers? Librarians? Webmasters in cyberspace? Makers of TV documentaries? Or, the publishers of 1421?
For a variety of anti-Menzies information, visit a website for scholars, being the H-Asia We Homepage, a Net-list set-up, at: http://h-net.msu.edu/~asia/
An overview of the controversy about 1421 is available at: http://hnn.us/articles/18698.html
See also for critique of the controversy: http://hnn.us/roundup/archives/11/2005/01/
On riddle of a lost Chinese city on the American Atlantic Coast (dated 24 Feb 2005) see (now defunct): http://www.asianpacificpost.com/news/article/332.html
If you value the information
Preamble: To whom it may concern: I have
just submitted the following complaint against Transworld
The complaint derives from Transworld publishing and advertising 1421 as a history book, which I believe is a violation of the British Trade Descriptions Act of 1968.
I [Geoff Wade] have purchased a copy
of Gavin Menzies' book, 1421: The Year China Discovered the
World, published by Transworld on the basis that it was
classified as "History" in their catalogue. A detailed reading of
the text revealed that the work is a fairytale and fiction of the
worst kind. I detail some of the outrageous fiction perpetrated
within the volume:
Claims by Mr. Menzies followed by facts...
1. Claim: Four eunuch admirals - Hong Bao, Zhou Man, Zhou Wen and Yang Qing - led fleets to the Americas, Australia, Greenland and the Antarctic during voyages between 1421 and 1423.
Fact: There are no Chinese or other texts which suggest in any way that these four eunuchs, or any other Ming commanders, traveled anywhere at all beyond Asia, the Middle East and the East coast of Africa. All other voyages derive solely from Mr. Menzies' imagination. Further, the currents, winds and dates Menzies cites in support would not have carried the ships anywhere near where he claims. In short, there is no archaeological, textual or archival material to support the Menzies thesis as set down in 1421. In this book Menzies intentionally distorts known materials and deliberately alters known facts in order to support his thesis.
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2. Claim: Sailors and concubines from these fleets settled in the Americas, Australia, New Zealand and islands across the Pacific. In evidence, he cites studies of "recent" inflow of "Chinese genes" and "East Asian DNA" into the Americas.
Fact: There is no evidence of Ming settlement sites in, or even Ming knowledge, of these places until the arrival of the Jesuits in China in the 16th century. The genetic evidence on which Menzies relies is provided by a company whose genetic tests have been labelled a "scam" by Stephen O'Brien, the US National Cancer Institute's laboratory chief.
3. Claim: There exists a range of wrecks of the ships from these voyages spread around the world, and these are proof of the voyages claimed by Menzies.
Fact: Not one wreck which can be linked with the eunuch voyages in the first 30 years of the 15th century (or indeed any Chinese wreck) has been identified outside of the Asian region.
4. Claim: The Ming voyagers built celestial observation platforms at 24 places across the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Menzies names and provides coordinates for these platforms. (1421, p. 416/17, 457)
Fact: There is no textual or archaeological evidence to even begin to suggest that the Ming voyagers built observation platforms anywhere in the world. Again, their existence derives only from the fertile imagination of Mr. Menzies.
5. Claim: The Ming armadas left a range of other built structures around the world, particularly in Australasia and the Americas, including the Newport Round Tower, the Gympie pyramid and other structures and mines. They also left a ship's slipway made of stones on the Bimini islands in the Caribbean.
Fact: Not one of the structures Mr. Menzies cites has been shown to have any links with China. The Bimini "slipway", which is in any case parallel to the shore, has been shown to be a completely natural formation.
6. Claim: The Chinese "were aware that the earth was a globe and had divided it into 365 and a quarter degrees (the number of days in the year) of latitude and longitude." (1421, p. 449)
Fact: There is no evidence that during the early Ming [period], the Chinese had any knowledge of the earth as a globe and certainly none that they were aware of latitude and longitude.
7. Claim: The Ming voyagers surveyed South America, Antarctica, North America and the Atlantic as well as Australasia. "The whole world was accurately charted by 1428." (1421, p. 411)
Fact: There is no text or other evidence which suggests that the Ming voyagers went anywhere near these places and no Chinese maps which indicate any surveying of these places. Further, there are no contemporary Ming artifacts found in any of these regions.
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8. Claim: A range of European maps show anomalies which can only be explained by accepting the Chinese voyages proposed by Mr. Menzies as having taken place.
Fact: The cartographic anomalies which Mr. Menzies points to, real or imagined, can be explained through many avenues, the most likely being that Arab navigators, who had been traveling these waters for 600 years before the Chinese, had produced maps of areas they traveled to.
9. Claim: Mr. Menzies noted that the Venetian Niccolo da Conti was the crucial and only link between Chinese and European cartographers. Menzies claims that he participated in the voyages over several years and carried Chinese maps back to Europe. He notes that Da Conti "had spent years aboard a junk of the treasure fleet" and that "Chinese maps passed from Da Conti to Fra Mauro, and from him to Dom Pedro of Portugal and Prince Henry the Navigator". (1421, pp. 369, 84-87, 92-93).
Fact: Da Conti, who left us detailed accounts of his travels, recounts neither meeting any Ming envoy in Calicut, nor traveling on any Chinese ship for even a day, nor seeing or receiving any Chinese maps showing a new world. The utter and complete contempt for truth with which Menzies depicts these events is disheartening.
10. Claim: Mr. Menzies claims that a number of mylodons (a type of giant sloth) had been taken from South America to New Zealand and China by the Ming ships.
Fact: All available evidence suggests that the Mylodon has been extinct for several thousand years, which militates somewhat against the likely veracity of Mr. Menzies claims in this respect. But such sloppy research is found throughout the volume. He notes, for example, rubber trees in Malacca 450 years before they had been introduced from South America by the British etc etc, ad nauseum.
In short, representing this work as history is a flagrant violation of the [UK] Trade Descriptions Act of 1968 which makes it an offence both to apply a false description to any goods and to supply or offer to supply any goods which have a false trade description applied.
To be an offence the Act notes that the indication must be false to a material degree. To represent fiction as history does indeed meet this criterion.
The role of the Local Trading Standards authorities is to enforce the provisions of this Act and they are able to take whatever steps they consider necessary to prevent others from being deceived. I trust that appropriate action will be taken in this case.
If you require further information, please do not hesitate to contact me [Geoff Wade in Singapore].
With best wishes,
Comparative size of an “exploring” Chinese
See also: Dennis De Witt, 'Cheng Ho and the Ming Treasure Fleets', Dutch Courier, February 2003., page 20 and 29. (The author is from Malacca, of Dutch descent, and maintains interest in the Dutch influence in Malaysia. Check a Dutch Descendants website: http://www.geocities.com/dutchdescendants/ (For a non-detailed debunking of Menzies' 1421 by an Australian, see article, '1421: The Year China Didn't Discover Terribly Much', by Peter Barrett, (vice-president of Canberra Skeptics), The Skeptic, Vol. 25, No. 3, Spring 2005., pp. 48-51. - An Australian magazine) For wider information on the history of the use of the Indian Ocean more so by Islamic mariners in the periods treated in 1421, see the lavishly-illustrated cyber-magazine presentation from Saudi-Aramco World (issue in print July-August 2005) at: http://www.saudiaramcoworld.com/
The Note below is from the Editor of Lost Worlds The Website, Dan Byrnes, who in another life has long-term interests in the maritime history of the British Empire, generally, and more especially, regarding Australia.
Of course, it can't be proved, but when I first read Gavin Menzies' book, 1421, I put it down thinking, “What a marvellous sci-fi tale, and what an unusual setting, early Ming dynasty!” Whatever, I found it an enjoyable, stimulating read, quite imaginative, and thought it would make a marvellous movie, perhaps of the ilk of Dune, by Frank Herbert, which is a marvellous sci-fi novel, but a horrible dog of a movie. But is 1421 proper history? I really didn't think so! Slowly, a decision gells...
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This website, Lost Worlds, maintains an editorial policy as follows - "Lost Worlds has the ambition of enhancing the influence of the New Age Movement through an appreciation of historical accuracy." At times, my associates and I pursue this policy with tongues firmly in cheeks. In fact, we are sceptics with a due sense of mystery-about-the-universe and about life-in-general. We try to report in a disinterested way. We do, however, happen to take science and historical accuracy very seriously, versus wishful thinking, magical thinking and blind faith, more so due to the fascinating scenarios and arguments which can arise when historical accuracy finds itself markedly improved – which happens from time to time. The issues arising can be quite absorbing. (That is, and very often, and just for fun, we are sceptical about scepticism... and we admit that we happen to find the maths of fractals rather fascinating. We also find that human history is replete with moral, intellectual and psychological fractals, though we don't pretend to understand this well, either.)
But in reporting this fracas re 1421, this website now puts aside its usual disinterested attitudes about issues, our attitude current since 1998, and we become involved. This is because we take these particular issues seriously – what in history is fact versus what is fiction?
After I first read 1421, I carefully went through it again and made notes which soon appeared on timeline pages of this website by way of advertising what I thought one day might become an entertaining debate. Before upload, I edited these notes severely, due to respect for Menzies' ordinary rights in terms of ordinary copyright law.
About chronology: The notes from 1421 I did NOT put on the Net concerned the following: the activities of naval fleets can be illuminated well, and easily enough, if historians go through the ships' logs and compare and contrast the experience of each ship. This could be done, but has still not been done, with the case of the First Fleet to Australia, 1786-1789. As far as I know, for any report on just when the First Fleet ships arrived home to British ports, Australians had to wait till around 1989 for the noted Australian researcher on the First Fleet, Mollie Gillen, to report on such matters. This question had interested me – when did the First Fleet ships arrive home? - and I wrote to Gillen on such matters. So my views on such research matters here in maritime history comes from real-and-recent experience on a relatively recent historical scenario. If interested, see: http://www.danbyrnes.com.au/blackheath/)
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It is rare for historians to compile a holistic view of a fleet's activity, even a wartime fleet, in order to find out anything. (If you doubt this, try to find a useful report, in English, translated from Spanish historians, of the English repulse of what the English usually regard as the problem of The Spanish Armada!)
There are no Chinese ships' logs for Gavin Menzies to consult, as far as we are aware. Menzies with 1421 I feel has stepped unwittingly here into a historian's trap – what is the best methodology for treating the experience of an entire fleet? As far as I know, the activities of Nelson's war fleet which won the Battle of Trafalgar was not compiled from the various ship's logs till about 1922 – which means, that despite British patriotism for decades about winning the Battle of Trafalgar, no Britisher actually knew just how the French lost, or how Nelson won, in terms of maritime battle tactics. Conclusion? Across the Twentieth Century, even experienced university historians can remain inexperienced at overviewing the activities of entire fleets of ships!
I also happen to know, as a maritime historian, that British historians have still not written an acceptable history of Britain's Russia fleet, which used in the heydays of sailing ships, say 1800 or so, to be about 120 ships per year. (That by 2000 or so, Britain's Russia fleet still remains unexamined by British historians is, on reflection, quite remarkable! Quite remiss, too! Where did I gain this impression? By visiting the archives of the Port of London Authority in mid-1989! But that is quite another story!)
So it seems here that despite his “naval experience” as a British submariner, this had not crossed Menzies' mind as he wrote 1421, about the methodological problems of the historical logging of naval (full-fleet) activity. Curious here, I re-chronologised Menzies' claims about his Chinese mariners' progress by way of re-chronologising his comparative information on where the ships of each Chinese squadron would be, by date, at any one time. That is, if one squadron is busy coasting parts of Antarctica, where, day-by-day, is his Chinese squadron which rounded Africa and allegedly went into the Atlantic? Where is his Chinese squadron which is allegedly criss-crossing or current-hopping the Pacific? In fact, I never got back to this set of notes, but I shall go through them again soon to see what I made of Menzies' information at that time. (If any netsurfer reads this and is interested in the exercise, I'll do this even more quickly). Suffice to say, this re-chronologising exercise, which became rather detailed, made me even more sceptical about Menzies' book. I distracted myself by reading Louise Levathes' worthwhile book on the Chinese voyages about the 1420s.
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Time went on and I happened in early 2005 to be asked by New Dawn magazine in Australia to write an article on Menzies' claim in 1421 vis-a-vis the mystery of The Mahogany Ship at Warrnambool, Victoria, Australia. (In October 2005 I find that this article has been lifted in entirety from New Dawn's website, and with proper attribution, though with no contact with myself as writer, by an African news digest-type website which appears, on examination, to actually emanate from Germany! If not England (?). See: http://www.mathaba.net/0_index.shtml?x=243516)
Menzies feels the Mahogany Ship is a Chinese junk, circa 1421-1422, but Menzies did not show at the September 2005 symposium held in Warrnambool on this very mystery, claiming ill-health. Generally, Menzies via his website seems to feel that, long-term, Australians have confronted his claims in 1421 with “a screen of silence”. (Read: Australians simply don't believe it. I happen to know that New Zealanders view Menzies' claims about “Chinese in NZ” in a very livid way, they are much more negative to Menzies' book than Australians are.)
I am entirely unconvinced that The Mahogany Ship of Warrnambool might have been be a Chinese junk. If there is no Chinese connection at Warrnambool, what happens to other aspects of Menzies theory?
Comparative size of an “exploring” Chinese
Researching for this article, I e-mailed Menzies' website, and got a screen of silence as response. Delving deeper, I began to wonder especially about Menzies' claims that Chinese mariners had circumnavigated Papua-New Guinea, as one of his maps indicates. My 500 words on this were edited out of the article which appeared in New Dawn, as too complex for the average reader, so I have already put that version of the article on the Net on another website. I find no reason at all to believe, as Menzies suggests, that Chinese mariners ever circumnavigated New Guinea! If they did, the information never came to the attention of any European navigator at all. Since most people regard New Guinea as a trifling geographic prize, it might become very ironic, if Menzies' claims about Chinese interest in New Guinea/Australia may one day lead to the downfall of Menzies' theory (?). Which is all it is; a theory, yet unproven.
In the meantime, I became familiar with the Web material from Menzies' critics on the Net, particularly Hartz and Da Silva, who as North Americans try to comprehensively debunk Menzies' claims concerning North America – viz: Menzies' claims re the achievements or otherwise of Columbus.
My own view is that of an Australasian. As I've worked on Lost Worlds website since 1997 - eight years now - I've grown very annoyed about Northern Hemispherean writers considering their Northern Hemispherean readership, dreaming up scenarios for some theory they have, and invoking non-factual views on Australasian historical scenarios. All these writers are doing is exploiting the ignorance of their readerships. The case has arisen in the USA of a silly-minded woman writing New Age nonsense about the beliefs of Australian Aboriginals of pre-contact and post-contact times. Publicity on this ludicrous situation ended somewhat after official bodies for Australian Aboriginals made official complaints (to the USA, as best they could) about the absurd ideas publicized via this book.
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(In one major case, a New York writer went to the trouble of mailing me his latest book on matters global to Lost Worlds for review, whereupon I critted the book negatively for its views on Australasia, and this website has never heard from that writer since. An added problem, I felt, was that this writer had made remarks I thought unwise about the religion, Islam. Guess whose city was later slammed? 9/11! To quote here from an ancient-but-polite old Chinese curse, we nowadays live “in interesting times”.)
The fact of the matter is that book publishers with large budgets in the Northern Hemisphere have often been regarding Australasian situations as a last and little-known cultural frontier, a free resource, a kind of whoopee-doo tabula rasa, to be mucked-about with, misconstrued, distorted by their writers, for whatever set of reasons. It is now high time that this trend was stopped dead in its tracks. In which case, in the contexts of post-colonial history(s), a variety of South-East Asian people(s) might inevitably become meat in the sandwich of any in-fight between Hemispheres north and south, about history(?) South-East Asia was moderately well-known to navigators long before Cook discovered eastern Australia. As Louise Levathes indicates in her book, When China Ruled The Seas, The Treasure Fleet of the Dragon Throne, 1405-1433, (New York, Oxford University Press, 1994), Chinese mariners were comfortably knowledgeable about South-East Asia.
This misuse of Australasian scenarios is why Lost Worlds The Website decides to become involved in the 1421 debate!
Forget the 1421 publicity machine and “North America and Columbus”, if you can. I feel, that Gavin Menzies has been trading on the ignorance of the world not just about Chinese maritime history, and about maritime history in general, world-wide - but ignorance about Australasian history and prehistory as well. It's sad, though, that this might disappoint any chauvinists who are keen on promoting any histories of a more activist Chinese world curiosity – as it pits region against region and people against people. But who is to blame here for such underlying subtleties as seen across centuries - the critic of Menzies? Or Menzies for promoting fiction? (By the way, why does Menzies' website come out of Tuvalu [domain name suffix, tv], in the Pacific? Why, domain-name-wise, does a well-bankrolled UK writer come out into cyberspace from a group of British-influenced islands in the Pacific? Cheapness? What? Why is Menzies' website not suffixed – uk/?)
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Lost Worlds The Website, then, which is quite proudly suffixed, .com.au/, feels that extra controversy about 1421 might well put publishers around the world on notice in a useful way – stop screwing around with Australasian history!! Stop exploiting it for mere financial advantage. Cease ignoring Australasia and realise – make your writers and their readers realise – what kind of a world it is that includes Australasia in the general schemes of history. The pathways to a usefully holistic view of world history are not, I think, as outlined by Gavin Menzies.
In short, behind its visible cyber-scenes, Lost Worlds The Website has considerable information resources already compiled, so far not called on, which could quickly be brought to bear on behalf of all who find Menzies' book, 1421, somewhat unconvincing. Given Menzies' public persona created so far, debate on the issues should be enjoined by Gavin Menzies in the usual ways enjoined by historians, in journal articles, and/or on the Web. As a historian of any kind, myself, I find it objectionable that Menzies has been quoted – words to effect - “There's not one chance in a million that I'm wrong” about his theory on Chinese mariners.
In fact, no proper historian would ever put his or her case in such words; this is simply how historians do NOT think about issues, or express themselves. Historians are far more cautious, because they have to methodically, patiently, compare/contrast sets of evidence about individuals of achievement, or eras of note; they compare sets of evidence from various countries in a disinterested way. Proper historians do not aspire to be absolutely correct, they merely aspire to see their views and findings becoming serviceable for the researchers and thinkers of the future. Gavin Menzies and his publishers simply do not have the humility that historians normally have. By his own words, Menzies indicates that he is NOT in fact a useful historian.
And as a webmaster myself, I personally find that I have to say that as a vehicle which can allegedly handle the issues which arise from the publication of 1421, Gavin Menzies' website is a pretence, a bad joke' intellectually the website is an entire disgrace, technically and informationally (I rechecked it on 16-10-2005.) Menzies' website is, quite frankly, a fabric of cyber-fakery and a protracted, well-deliberated exercise in sustained avoidance of the more substantive issues. As a webmaster, I would even say that in terms of the arcane technicals of website production, the technology hardly exists yet, which would easily/conveniently allow the kind of “academic” back-and-forth of discussion, which would allow Menzies' website to properly assist any of his proper [academic] defence of his claims. So if the information technology for the proper conduct of the argument doesn't exist yet, or is still primitive, ergo, Menzies' website has to be - web fakery of a kind. Q.E.D. (And I do hope that serious computer programmers interested in the technicals of IT vis-a-vis website enhancement will read this viewpoint and suggest some useful improvements for the technical situations complained of! It's about time something more useful was done!)
If Menzies and his publishers, and their amazing budgets, might prove untrustworthy on such issues, this is why this website, Lost Worlds, is stepping outside its usual editorial policy of being disinterested, and is taking the side of Geoff Wade and other critics of 1421, as above. As an issue, this is the first time in eight years on the Net, and quite entertaining years they have been, that this website, which deliberately/thoughtfully canvasses controversial issues, has decided publicly to take a side. We do so on behalf of Australasia and the integrity of its histories since the dawn of time! We do so out of a suitable respect for world history. In the interests also, in terms of our long-stated editorial policy, of emphasizing historical accuracy.
- Dan Byrnes – 16/17 October 2005
(But I still have to say, I'd love to see a movie on Zheng He and “1421”!)
Further on 1421...
In terms of literary criticism, the situation has already become alarmingly complicated. Menzies' critics by now have been reading all available editions/versions of 1421, which has deliberately been titled and marketed in the USA [ie, differently to titles seen in other countries including Australia] to capitalise on “a major challenge” to the reputation of Columbus. As a result, there is already little point in citing which remark of Menzies, on which page of which edition of which book, is being challenged by which critic from which Hemisphere of the globe – it's complicated!!
This problem will become even worse if the critics happen to contradict each other for any reasons at all – which could happen very easily. So this page is forced to deal in generalities, not pedantic and scholarly specifics. Normal courtesy to Gavin Menzies does not oblige anyone, we think, to go to the trouble to re-edit the now vast amount of material which could be reproduced, critting 1421 in the negative.
But already, it seems clear that after adventurously (and single-handedly) issuing a major challenge to world scholarship on matters of the history and historiography of world exploration, Menzies, even on his website, is unwilling to debate his critics on points of argument arising. It seems to this website that this is an untenable and inherently unreasonable position. It is also a position which leaves the critics free to natter amongst this themselves, which is exactly what our e-mail indicates is happening, from South East Asia and Australia to Florida and elsewhere in the USA.
Oddly, very oddly, people in Europe seem to be ultra-relaxed that Menzies indicates that his Chinese mariners entirely ignored Europe!
Meanwhile, I as an Australian cannot believe that Chinese mariners made their way to Antarctica, then sailing north, and with amazing luck, island-hopped the awesome expanses of the Southern Ocean to arrive about Western Australia. Nor can I believe that several large, lumbering Chinese junks actually made their way east-west through Torres Strait without grave mishap. It only makes it worse here to ask, given the Torres Strait wind patterns, at which time of year?
One wonders, what happens after 1421 loses most of the Southern Hemisphere to disbelievers? Can the remaining material in 1421 keep the Northern Hemisphere safe for – or safe from? - Menzies' book?
1421: Item: Following is part of a review of Gavin Menzies' book 1421 by Jeffrey Mellefont, a researcher at Australian National Maritime Museum in a magazine, Signals...nd. "Menzies writes well, bringing vividly to life the Ming court with all its intrigues, and what's known of actual Chinese voyaging. It's a shame that he didn't present his theory as fiction. It would have made a great tale, of airport novel size. But presenting his ideas as scholarship requires that they be judged accordingly and too often, by these standards, they fail. One is left wondering, too, at the integrity of the publisher who leaped into print with a work that is supported widely by neither Western nor Chinese scholars, yet has been promoted as though it were."
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Readers be warned – this page is going to become very extensive. By 19 October, this webpage has either read material from, or had e-mail from, or otherwise seen material originally supplied by, the following critics of 1421 (given here in no particular order):
a variety of New Zealanders, a person associated with the Mahogany Ship Committee in Warrnambool, Victoria, Australia. Bill Hartz in the US and his associate, Dr. da Silva (medical). Edward Dreyer in Florida, from the University of Miami. Geoff Wade, an Australian academic in Singapore. It is also easy to find chatroom flame-sessions about 1421 coming from a location such as Hong Kong.
Also, Captain Malhao Pereira, Portuguese Navy officer (ret.) After 38 years of duty in the Navy). Teacher of Navigation on the Portuguese Naval Academy for 7 Years. Captain of the three-masts bark Sagres, a Portuguese sail training ship, for 4 years, sailing in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Captain of the Portuguese Naval Academy's 65 ft sloop Vega (a sail training ship) for four years, cruising and racing in the Atlantic Ocean. Port Captain of Inhambane and Mozambique for four years. Masters degree on “History of Portuguese Expansion and Navigation”. Has published extensively on historical navigational matters. Lectured extensively in Portugal and abroad.
Also, Captain Philip. J. Rivers, Master Mariner and naval reservist who sailed as master and mate in the seas of south-east Asia (1954-59) and was a lecturer, School of Nautical Studies, Singapore Polytechnic (1960-66). Relevant publications: '1421' voyages: Fact & Fantasy for the Perak Academy and 'Monsoon Rhythms and Trade Patterns: Ancient Times East of Suez', Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, December 2004. Lately resident in Malaysia and often visiting Singapore.
Lost Worlds has also had e-mail (not necessarily related to 1421 issues) from an activist from the north of South America who talks, but not specifically enough, about alleged “pre-Columbus maps”.
See also: Dennis De Witt, 'Cheng Ho and the Ming Treasure Fleets', Dutch Courier, February 2003., pp. 20-29. (The author is from Malacca, of Dutch descent, and maintains interest in the Dutch influence in Malaysia. Check a Dutch Descendants website: http://www.geocities.com/dutchdescendants/ (For a non-detailed debunking of Menzies' 1421 by an Australian, see article, '1421: The Year China Didn't Discover Terribly Much', by Peter Barrett, (vice-president of Canberra Skeptics), The Skeptic, Vol. 25, No. 3, Spring 2005., pp. 48-51. - An Australian magazine)
Other critics of Menzies include: Prof. Su Ming-Yang (a Taiwanese living in the US in Torrance, California, and an associate of Wade), Prof Jin Guo-Ping (a Chinese scholar living in Portugal, Maria Cristina Marques Pedroso Malhao Pereira (who has written a report dated 29 January 2005 on interchanges between her husband and Menzies entitled, The Book by Menzies is a Grotesque Fraud). Also, Dr. Cheng Zeng-Hong of Taiwan.
Louise Levathes has confined herself to saying that Menzies has “found nothing new”. She evidently meant, nothing new that is real. It is notable that as a scholar, Levathes can read Chinese, Menzies cannot.
Also contra Menzies, see website: http://hnn.us/articles/1308.html which is from History News Network. An article by academic Timothy Furnish, "Is Gavin Menzies Right or Wrong?", dated 3 October 2003.
More detailed information on what Menzies' critics are discussing is given in a section below.
Suffice to say, the codes that maritime historians have developed across centuries for discussing their topics, and it often amounts to world-history, seem not to suit the author of 1421 at all. Meanwhile, the histories of world exploration are not exactly hot topics that become well-known and rivet the general public. (For example, I recently read, when researching on Torres of Torres Strait, that a man named Torres had sailed earlier with Columbus. So does this indicate a century-long interest in world exploration by the Torres family? It would seem unwise to jump to any quick conclusion! But it is tantalising, no?)
I feel that Menzies has been cheerfully exploiting this widespread, worldwide ignorance. But what to do about that? To be reasonable, and obvious about it as well, anyone who imagines that they have found something new in world maritime history naturally puts themselves under the obligation of trying to abide by the conventions of such discussions. An article or two in some journal usually read by maritime historians cannot go astray – while today, a website would be handy. Menzies of course, has a website, but the problem is that it's a useless website, given the directions that discussions of 1421 are lately taking.
Also obviously, world travel/exploration is international, so if several peoples, around the world, cannot well remember visits from a particular people (in this case, the Chinese), maybe those visits never occurred? Unless seriously-convincing evidence can be advanced, of course. We have by the way just been amazed, around the world, by the supposed discovery on the Indonesian island of Flores, of evidence of “hobbits”, some new kind of species of humanity. If there can be controversy about this, why not about 1421? But it remains a problem with some publishers, that “controversy” is not part of a search for truth, it is merely a marketing tool!
If Menzies does not wish to observe the usual courtesies, there is also no reason why he should be treated with excessive-courtesy-from-a-distance. So this webpage is going to be harsh if necessary. For example, it seems to this webpage that from world history, after1600, both the Mogul Empire of India, and the Chinese government, made the grave mistake of taking Europeans so unseriously, they never bothered to express curiosity, to send diplomats to European nations, or to develop suitable defensive navies. As it happened, both India and China were later influenced excessively by Europeans, to say the least! Given this painful experience, it is hard to believe that the Chinese from 1421 once explored the entire world, but ignored Europe – and then made a similar mistake a few centuries later? Ignoring Europe? The Europe which had so long been legendarily aware of China/Cathay due to the Silk Road connection!
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These days of our new millennium, popular history is at risk of becoming a debased medium, promoted by cynical publishers. There are other books and matters of so-called "popular history" which are all-too-objectionable from the points of serious historians and other researchers. Among them are books by: von Daniken; Immanual Velikovsky (though Velikovsky might have helped to reposition the role of catastrophe in the consideration of geology?); David Irving, the professional Holocaust-denier; the story of the exposing of Margaret Mead, “anthropologist”, in her own youth gulled about free love by a humourous group of Pacific Island women who saw her coming; (See Derek Freeman, The Fateful Hoaxing of Margaret Mead. Westview Press, 1999., 279pp.)
... the embarrassing Helen Demidenko case in Australia, about a fabricated set of “truths” re Balkans matters during and after World War II; the Hitler Diariess, an hilarious hoax which embarrassed News Limited worldwide, subject of a morbidly-funny movie which happens to star two world-famous comedians, including the Australian Barry Humphries (Dame Edna Everage).
The author of 1421 is often accused by his critics of – wishful thinking. True, the wishful historical thinker will generally not get far with the usual kinds of tough-minded writers/researchers who manage journals which publish formal articles on topics in history. But since 2002, Gavin Menzies, manfully, lone and single-handedly, and very adventurously, like Don Quixote tilting at windmills, has taken on just about every scholar in the world, past and present, who has ever considered the entire maritime history, and/or the entire economic history of the trade patterns of China! And he wishes to succeed... ? Really? Well yes, this is actually what Gavin Menzies has done!!
It is now time to begin to examine the basic chronologies Menzies uses in 1421. And why chronologies? Because of simplicity – textual/contextual analyses will be too-complicated a design for a webpage. Major attention will be given to the years of the claimed voyages – 1421-1423. The chronology to be presented soon on this website will be derived from many sources including Menzies' own 1421. ///Re global sea levels and the beginning of a so-called Mini-Ice-Age (often dated at about 1420-1450AD)... NB: Lost Worlds is now developing a new page to handles this information – Go to: more to come ////
From Singapore, some of Dr. Geoff Wade's views are given below.
Capt. Philip Rivers has produced a monograph contra to Menzies: “1421” Voyages: Fact and Fantasy. [monograph No 11.] 2004. Malaysia, first edition. ISBN 9834 055641. Rebutting Menzies on three fronts: re documents, nautical and geographical aspects, and general lacks of evidence.
Dr. Wade and Dr. Su Ming-Yang have issued a joint criticism of 1421, first drafted 11 March 2005, and dated 16 May 2005. Part of it is given below (heavily edited for this webpage for legal reasons).
(Situation: US Library of Congress for 16 May 2005 had arranged to help present Gavin Menzies' views of his “discoveries”. Various concerned scholars organised a protest to Library of Congress about this. First draft on 11 March, 2005, see below for final draft from concerned scholars of 8 April 2005)
A joint criticism on Gavin Menzies' new claims about the Zheng He Voyages
Issued: 16 May, 2005
On 15 March, 2002, in the lecture hall of the Royal Geographical Society in London, Mr. Gavin Menzies (hereafter GM for brevity) made several fantastic new claims about how the fleets of the Chinese admiral, Zheng He, circumnavigated the globe during 1421 to 1423. Not so obvious was the fact that GM had rented the hall at his own expense, without the sponsorship of the RGS. He later issued the book, 1421: The Year China Discovered the World, in November, 2002. Ever since then, his book has met with extensive expert criticism and he has had to continually change the so-called “evidence” in support of his claims.
Despite his numerous claims and the hundreds of pieces of evidence he has collected from all over the world, all have been definitely and entirely discredited by historians, maritime experts and oceanographers from China, the US and Europe. Not a single shred of extant documents and artifacts has been found to support his new claims on these early Ming naval expeditions. GM has discovered that he is now no longer welcome in China, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and Portugal, as his outright fabrications about Zheng He’s 6th voyage going far beyond the African east coast are totally contradictory to Chinese scholars' understanding of their own history.
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Now, GM has switched his targets to Singapore and Malaysia, as can be seen in a recent article, “Riddle of a lost Chinese city on the Atlantic coast,” in Asian Pacific Post, dated 24 February, 2005. In this article, GM makes newer claims that a Canadian architect (no name given) has discovered a lost Chinese naval base about 2/3 the size of the Forbidden City in Beijing on the Atlantic coast (again no exact location given), and that he will make a public disclosure of it in a scheduled Zheng He meeting at the US Library of Congress (Asia Department) on 16 May, 2005 and that GM hopes to raise funds for research about this lost city.
Now, GM’s release of some tantalizing claims to whet newspaper readers’ curiosity and promising more disclosures three months later at the world renowned Library of Congress meeting clearly reminds us of his similar ploy in London three years ago. He hopes many world newspaper reporters will go to the LC meeting and gather lots of publicity for his next edition of 1421. What a clever publicity scheme for GM in replacing the Royal Geographical Society in London with the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. for promoting his new edition of 1421 re his inventions at the expense of China’s Ming history!
In the above article, GM further claimed that he had found that Kublai Khan (1260-1294), Emperor of the Yuan dynasty, had charted almost all of the world, including the Americas, and that Zheng He owed a huge amount to Kublai Khan. According to GM’s new claims, it was Kublai Khan, rather than Zheng He, that had discovered/charted the Americas. GM then went even further to say that he had found ancient Chinese maps of the Americas predating even Kublai Khan. So, after all, it is not Kublai Khan, but some other un-named Chinese that had charted the Americas. Who knows what Chinese dynasty and what deeds GM will give them credit for?
GM called these maps the “Kublai Kahn world maps” at a Lisbon meeting last November (2004). GM flashed them without any explanation as to their sources and other details. Two of the undersigned (Dr. Jin and Captain Pereira ) were at that meeting and their impressions were that these maps looked too precisely-drawn to have been done in the Yuan dynasty. In fact, many copies of the world maps made during the Yuan dynasty exist in China today. None of these maps have any inkling of the presence of the Americas. No official document from that dynasty ever alluded to the knowledge of the Americas either.
We wish to refresh readers’ memories that GM is playing his usual tactics... by giving a few examples:
1. At the March, 2002 Royal Geographical Society meeting, GM claimed most confidently that he had located the wrecks of nine huge Zheng He treasure ships (about 440 feet long and 180 feet wide) in the Caribbean Sea, but that he could not disclose their exact locations till his book was published (about nine months later). These wrecks turned out to be nothing more than sand mounts about several hundred feet long near the beach of Bimini Island, without one single piece of old rotten wood from the ancient wrecks.
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2. In his book, GM claims that only Zheng He’s great fleets with their advanced knowledge of determining longitude could complete a survey of the entire African coastline. His evidence is a copy ( c.1470) of the Kangnido world map, the original of which was made in 1402 by Korea, based on Chinese sources. GM shows only a portion of the map covering Africa and Arabia. The shape of Africa is indeed triangular as it should be. Readers could readily accept GM’s cartographical map as an excellent proof of his claim.
Why did he not then show the entire map if it was such an impressive piece of evidence? The simple truth is that the size of China in the Kangnido world map is about ten times larger than that of the African continent, whereas in reality Africa is twice the size of China. Had GM shown the whole map, who would have believed that Zheng He’s fleets possessed an advanced method for determining longitude, several hundred years prior to its commonly accepted availability, and were able to complete a survey of the entire African coasts? This case casts doubt on the methodology of GM’s handling of his so-called evidence. In fact, there exists an original 1389, Chinese-made “Great Ming World Map” at a Peijing national archive, very similar to the Kangnido Map. Both of these world maps had been made definitely prior to the Zheng He seven voyages ( 1405 -1433 ) and [were] surely available to Zheng He. So why did the Zheng He fleets have anything to do with the survey of the African coastline in 1421 to 1423, as claimed in GM's book?
3. About one year ago, GM lauded what he said were large docking sites, building foundations and large ship wrecks of Zheng He’s fleets that could be found along South Island of New Zealand. These so-called great discoveries, proving Zheng He had reached New Zealand, were first reported by Mr. Cedric Bell and listed on GM’s 1421.TV website. So far, the only solid artifacts supporting these claims are several dozen huge round boulders scattered on the beach near Moeraki (the largest about 1.3 m in diameter). These are the well-known Moeraki boulders ( see Figure 3), which GM suggested were blasts from the huge Zheng He ship wrecks. Some of these boulders weigh more than two tons each. There were never such heavy blasts employed in any of Chinese ancient sailing ships. In fact, these boulders are formed naturally through known geological process.
4. Mr. Zhu Chang-Qieu, Chinese Naval Survey Bureau; Captain Philip Rivers, retired Canadian Navy officer; and Captain Malhao Pereira, Portuguese Navy officer each have considerable expertise on nautical subjects of the world’s oceans. They have found many cases of impossibilities in the sailing routes of Zheng He’s fleets, as proposed in GM’s book. In the words of Mr. Zhu, all of the global sailing expeditions beyond the African east coast described in 1421 are fictitious at best.
There are many more examples we could provide to illustrate the [misunderstandings...] in 1421, but we haven’t the space to present them in this short article...
Being serious educators, researchers on Chinese history, and experts on nautical techniques and oceanography, we feel a strong obligation to speak out publicly about the mistakes we have found regarding the early Ming naval expeditions in Gavin Menzies’ 1421. We are deeply concerned about his making further errors at the Library of Congress on 16 May .
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The numerous claims on early Ming maritime history presented by GM have seriously compromised many readers' understanding[s] about Chinese history, worldwide. This misuse of world history has to be stopped as soon as possible.
We sincerely plead with the international community of historians, nautical experts and media to join us in this worthy effort to spare millions of honest readers from further misinformation.
Prepared jointly and signed by the following ( names are arranged in the alphabetical order ) :
Dr. Jin Guo-Ping, a senior researcher at the Sino-Portugal Cultural Research Center, Lisbon.
Captain Malhao Pereira, Portuguese Navy officer.
Captain Philip J. Rivers, a retired Canadian Navy officer [and author of titles as noted above]
Dr. Su Ming-Yang, Senior Research Oceanographer (retired) at US Naval Research Laboratory (1976–2001); visiting professor at two Taiwan national universities (2001-2003); editor of Zheng He Research Newsletter (in Chinese) (2001 – 2003) in Taiwan; and author of: Seven Epic Voyages of Zheng He in Ming China: Fact, Fiction and Fabrication ( in English ), May, 2005
Dr. Geoff Wade, Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore
Point of contact: Please send all responses to this joint criticism to Dr. Su Ming-Yang and Dr. Geoff Wade, simultaneously, at the following e-mail addresses (here deleted - Ed):
(Issued on 16 May, 2005)
Later-drafted version of 8 April 2005 of protest of scholars to US Library of Congress: - and heavily re-edited by the present webmaster/Lost Worlds
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16. The author states that the accuracy of Piri Reis map is due to the Chinese observations, but when they sailed along the east coast of South America they still could not calculate the latitude, since Canopus was not yet located. Besides only Hong Baoâ's fleet located the Canopus, and Zhou Man's fleet , which later on sailed the whole Pacific Ocean, was not qualified to determine latitudes in the southern hemisphere!
17. The author says that the ships of Yang Quing calculated longitudes using a total eclipse of the Moon, but during the [their] stay in the Indian Ocean the only [only-seen] eclipse of the Moon was not visible in the area. Besides, it looks very odd that only one fleet, which left China before the others, had [a] capacity of determining longitudes. It seems that the secret would only be justified if the latter fleets belonged to other countries.
Follows some edited versions of e-mail received by this website from 2 November 2005, a somewhat scumbled gathering of international e-mail various of recent origin. The rendition here of the e-mail may or may not have been heavily edited by this website editor – the reader may well have to make a protracted netsearch search for the interconnections being discussed here - Ed
Subject: FW: [Maphist] Menzies Date: Wed, 2 Nov 2005 18:44:23 +0800 Message-ID: X-MS-Has-Attach: X-MS-TNEF-Correlator: Thread-Topic: [Maphist] Menzies thread-index: - &c
Original Message - From: firstname.lastname@example.org
On Behalf Of Dorothy F Prescott Sent: Wednesday, November 02, 2005 6:43 PM To: Discussion group for map history Cc: Discussion group for map history Subject: RE: [Maphist] Menzies:
Thanks, Francis for the additional reference sources for Bill's article I am sure they will be useful to others. Dorothy, As I was in Edinburgh from Friday last I have only this morning caught up with some interesting exchanges on the above subject. To enlarge - Dorothy's mention of Bill Richardson's latest published (and continuing) fine detective work - chiefly on place-name corruption in cartographic items - I subjoin the two different publications in which this work is available; these are in my previous traditional 'Imago Mundi' Bibliography style (i.e. with notes added to help explain the contents):-'Gavin Menzies' cartographic fiction : the case of the Chinese 'discovery' of Australia' / W.A.R. (Bill) Richardson. - In: Journal of the Australian Map Circle (Melbourne), 2004, 56, 1-11 : ill. - c.20, refs & notes.
Refutes erroneous interpretations and selective data used by G. Menzies as arguments in his book 1421 : the year China discovered the world. (London, Transworld Publishers, 2002) and 1421 : the year China discovered America. (New York : W. Morrow, 2003). As reprinted in Journal of the International Map Collectors' Society, Autumn 2004, 98, 23-32 + 'Correction' note in Winter 2004, 99, 3. - ISSN 0311-3930 Cf., Gavin Menzies' cartographic fiction : the case of the Chinese 'discovery' of Australia / W.A.R. (Bill) Richardson. - In: Journal of the International Map Collectors' Society (Oakhanger, Crewe : c/o S. Gole), Autumn 2004, 98, 23-32 : ill. (some col.) + 'Correction' note in Winter 2004, 99, 3. - c.20 refs & notes. - "Reproduced from The Globe (Journal of the Australian Map Circle)' 56 (2004) with kind permission". &c- Refutes erroneous interpretations and selective data used by G. Menzies as arguments in his book 1421 : the year China discovered the world. (London: Transworld Publishers, 2002) Issues of the 'Imago Mundi Bibliography' from vol. 40 (1988) onwards will enable interested readers to excavate other examples of Bill's objective - and non-commercial - research work from, to my knowledge at least, 1986: ... Cf., 'Jave-la-Grande: the interpretation of evidence' in (significantly) The Globe: Journal of the Australian Map Circle, 1986, 26, 42-57: ill., maps, c.35 refs & notes, ISSN 0311-3930 Francis Herbert - email@example.com http://www.rgs.org [see 'Collections' (including some online catalogues, e.g., many maps up to ca 1940)]] http://images.rgs.org [including maps]
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Original Message - From: H-Net list for Asian History and Culture on behalf of Ryan Dunch Sent: Sat 22/10/2005 03:13 To: H-ASIA@H-NET.MSU.EDU Cc: Subject: H-ASIA: Popular History and Bunkum -- on *1421, The Year China Discovered America* H-ASIA October 21, 2005 Popular History and Bunkum -- on 1421, The Year China Discovered America.
From: Geoff Wade <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Dear H-Asia members, I have just submitted the following complaint against Transworld Publishers of Britain to the Consumer Complaints body of the United Kingdom http://www.consumercomplaints.org.uk/index.asp The complaint derives from Transworld publishing and advertising "1421: The Year China Discovered the World" , authored by Gavin Menzies, as a work of history, which I believe is a violation of the British Trade Descriptions Act of 1968 Best wishes, Geoff Wade ######### Copy of complaint submitted: I purchased a copy of Gavin Menzies' "1421: The Year China Discovered the World," published by Transworld, on the basis that it was classified as "History" in their catalogue. A detailed reading of the text revealed that the work is a fairytale and fiction of the worst kind. I detail some of the outrageous fiction perpetrated within the volume: Claims by Mr. Menzies followed by facts 1. Claim: Four eunuch admirals?-Hong Bao, Zhou Man, Zhou Wen and Yang Qing --led fleets to the Americas, Australia, Greenland and the Antarctic during voyages between 1421 and 1423.
Fact: There are no Chinese or other texts which suggest in any way that these four eunuchs, or any other Ming commanders, traveled anywhere at all beyond Asia, the Middle East and the East coast of Africa. All other voyages derive solely from Mr. Menzies' imagination. Further, the currents, winds and dates Menzies cites in support would not have carried the ships anywhere near where he claims. In short, there is no archaeological, textual or archival material to support the Menzies thesis as set down in *1421*. In this book Menzies intentionally distorts known materials and deliberately alters known facts in order to support his thesis. 2. Claim: Sailors and concubines from these fleets settled in the Americas, Australia, New Zealand and islands across the Pacific.
In evidence, he cites studies of "recent" inflow of "Chinese genes" and "East Asian DNA" into the Americas. Fact: There is no evidence of Ming settlement sites in, or even Ming knowledge, of these places until the arrival of the Jesuits in China in the 16th century. The genetic evidence on which Menzies relies is provided by a company whose genetic tests have been labelled a "scam" by Stephen O'Brien, the US National Cancer Institute's laboratory chief.
3. Claim: There exists a range of wrecks of the ships from these voyages spread around the world, and these are proof of the voyages claimed by Menzies. Fact: Not one wreck which can be linked with the eunuch voyages in the first 30 years of the 15th century (or indeed any Chinese wreck) has been identified outside of the Asian region.
4. Claim: The Ming voyagers built celestial observation platforms at 24 places across the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Menzies names and provides coordinates for these platforms. (*1421*, pp. 416/17, 457) Fact: There is no textual or archaeological evidence to even begin to suggest that the Ming voyagers built observation platforms anywhere in the world. Again, their existence derives only from the fertile imagination of Mr. Menzies. 5. Claim: The Ming armadas left a range of other built structures around the world, particularly in Australasia and the Americas, including the Newport Round Tower, the Gympie pyramid and other structures and mines. They also left a ship's slipway made of stones on the Bimini islands in the Caribbean. Fact: Not one of the structures Mr. Menzies cites has been shown to have any links with China. The Bimini "slipway," which is in any case parallel to the shore, has been shown to be a completely natural formation. 6. Claim: The Chinese "were aware that the earth was a globe and had divided it into 365 and a quarter degrees (the number of days in the year) of latitude and longitude." (*1421*, p. 449) Fact: There is no evidence that during the early Ming, the Chinese had any knowledge of the earth as a globe and certainly none that they were aware of latitude and longitude. 7. Claim: The Ming voyagers surveyed South America, Antarctica, North America and the Atlantic as well as Australasia. "The whole world was accurately charted by 1428." (*1421* p. 411) Fact: There is no text or other evidence which suggests that the Ming voyagers went anywhere near these places and no Chinese maps which indicate any surveying of these places.
Further, there are no contemporary Ming artifacts found in any of these regions. 8. Claim: A range of European maps show anomalies which can only be explained by accepting the Chinese voyages proposed by Mr. Menzies as having taken place Fact: The cartographic anomalies which Mr. Menzies points to, real or imagined, can be explained through many avenues, the most likely being that Arab navigators, who had been traveling these waters for 600 years before the Chinese, had produced maps of areas they traveled to. 9.
Claim: Mr. Menzies noted that the Venetian Niccolo da Conti was
the crucial and only link between Chinese and European
cartographers. Menzies claims that he participated in the voyages
over several years and carried Chinese maps back to Europe. He
notes that Da Conti "had spent years aboard a junk of the treasure
fleet" and that "Chinese maps passed from Da Conti to Fra Mauro,
and from him to Dom Pedro of Portugal and Prince Henry the
Navigator." (*1421*, pp. 369, 84-87, 92-93) Fact: Da Conti, who
left us detailed accounts of his travels, recounts neither meeting
any Ming envoy in Calicut, nor traveling on any Chinese ship for
even a day, nor seeing or receiving any Chinese maps showing a new
world. The utter and complete contempt for truth with which Menzies
depicts these events is disheartening.
10. Claim: Mr. Menzies claims that a number of mylodons (a type of giant sloth) had been taken from South America to New Zealand and China by the Ming ships. Fact: All available evidence suggests that the Mylodon has been extinct for several thousand years, which militates somewhat against the likely veracity of Mr. Menzies' claims in this respect. But such sloppy research is found throughout the volume. He notes, for example, rubber trees in Malacca 450 years before they had been introduced from South America by the British, etc., etc. ad nauseam.
##### In short, all major claims within the work are fictional. Representing this work as history is a flagrant violation of the Trade Descriptions Act of 1968 which makes it an offence both to apply a false description to any goods and to supply or offer to supply any goods which have a false trade description applied. To be an offence the Act notes that the indication must be false to a material degree. To represent fiction as history does indeed meet this criterion. The role of the Local Trading Standards authorities is to enforce the provisions of this Act and they are able to take whatever steps they consider necessary to prevent others from being deceived. I trust that appropriate action will be taken in this case. If you require further information, please do not hesitate to contact me.
I do not know if similar legislation to the British Trade Descriptions Act exists within the United States, but William Morrow, the publishers of the US edition of the book "1421: the Year China Discovered America", and an imprint of Harper Collins, lists the book under Non-fiction/History/World: http://www.harpercollins.com/global_scripts/product_catalog/book_xml.asp?isbn=0060537639 With best wishes, Geoff Wade National University of Singapore
-----Original Message----- From: Dorothy Prescott [mailto:email@example.com] Sent: 29 October 2005 04:31 To: Discussion group for map history Subject: RE: [Maphist] Menzies Here is some further reading on Menzies claims that the Chinese visited Australia. This article is by W. A. R. Richardson otherwise known as Bill. 'Gavin Menzies' cartographic fiction: the case of the Chinese 'discovery' of Australia' appearing in The Globe (Journal of the Australian Map Circle), no. 56, 2004, pp 1-11. Bill Richardson is a Spanish and Portuguese linguist from Flinders University in South Australia. He has many works to his credit and has written on this subject for several years taking on such 'notoriously unreliable, speculative works of Kenneth McIntyre [an Australian – Ed/LW], Eric Whitehouse, Rex Gilroy [an Australian – Ed/LW] and Wei Chuh-Hsien' (his quotes). For Australians, Menzies is just another in the growing list of fictions published on the cartographic knowledge of this [Australian] continent. The subject has appeared regularly for the last three centuries. The danger as I see it, is when such nonsense gets into the school curricula as it has in the case of McIntyre's work with not even a counter argument presented for [high school] students to study. It is important therefore that refutations such as [written by] Rivers and Richardson are written and should be publicized for all to read:
Dorothy Prescott At 03:39 AM 28/10/2005 -0700, you wrote: I have found the reaction to my comments about Gavin Menzies very interesting. I look forward to reading Capt. Rivers' book. As I said in my original note, I am not against constructive criticism and probing debate, and recognise the place of peer review in protecting standards in science and elsewhere. However, Gavin Menzies has probably done more to increase the general public's awareness of, and interest in, early Chinese navigation than any other single person, and that is surely a good thing. I have met Gavin a couple of times, initially in the British Library Map Room, and know that he put considerable effort into his research. This led him to formulate a hypothesis that the Chinese navigations were even more widespread than had already been established, and to try to explain some of the knowledge that seemed to be implied in European maps that predated known exploration of those areas. Several of the conclusions that he came to were not individually supportable by the evidence currently available, but in joining up so many dots, he managed to produce an overall picture that addressed lots of interesting areas. For example, how did Magellan know that there was a strait in the area that he eventually found it, and how did the Waldseemueller map show the unexplored areas of the Pacific coasts so well?
It is always a problem to decide when to end the research and publish. I have spent twenty five years researching the early European exploration of the American west coast, and have reached conclusions that I have not published because of insufficient evidence, even though I think they are soundly based. In researching one of my areas of interest, Hernan Cortes, I came across the case of Dr. Franz Scholes, a professor at the University of New Mexico, who was probably the greatest recent authority on Cortes, and who spent something like twenty years amassing what may be the best collection of Cortes material with the intention of writing a book. He died before doing so because he felt that he had not, even then, reached the very high standards of scholarship he set himself for publishing something. In contrast, Gavin Menzies published his book without proving every aspect of his conclusions, but as a result has had many thousands of e-mails and letters from around the world bringing to light possible evidence of early Chinese contact. I am away from home, so do not have access to my notes, but there seems plenty of emerging evidence to support his views on Chinese contact with Australia, for example, and I am looking forward to hearing details of the Chinese junk that has apparently been found up the Sacramento River, inland of San Francisco. I do not think that Gavin Menzies would claim to have produced the definitive work on early Chinese voyages, but I, for one, am glad that he published 1421, and wish that Dr. Scholes had written his book on Cortes without waiting for that final piece of confirmatory evidence. Bob Ward - --Original message----- From: Dorothy Prescott firstname.lastname@example.org Date: Thu, 27 Oct 2005 19:04:32 -0700 To: Discussion group for map history - email@example.com -
Subject: RE: [Maphist] Menzies - I suggest the debate would be enhanced if those taking part read P. J. Rivers, which I mentioned the other day. The Foreword to this work by Dr. Geoff Wade of the National University of Singapore concludes with these two sentences :"With these few words I must congratulate Phil Rivers for producing an excellent volume, one which will help people both now and in the future to assess the value or otherwise of 1421. May it see wide distribution and readership and encourage more people to engage in grounded and factual investigation of the East Asian maritime traditions." Dorothy Prescott. At 12:37 PM 27/10/2005 -0500, you wrote: I would find this much more interesting if the supporters of Menzies would defend him by supporting his (Menzies') evidence instead of attacking the skeptics. - Allen Hjelmfelt ______________
From: Gala Argent <firstname.lastname@example.org> > > With
reference to the October 31 posting from Dr. Geoff Wade: > >
Dear H-Asia members, > > Regarding the request for
complainants with the FTC over the > non-fiction status of the
book 1421: the Year China Discovered > America, Mr. Wade notes
that "freedom of the press is of course an > essential element
in any democracy." I would simply ask how the > filing of such a
complaint furthers this goal? > > The validity of Menzies'
theory is irrelevant.
More on point is that > the academic community suffers a grave public relations problem with > the general public, in that we are -- for the most part -- perceived > as intellectually conservative, immutable, and so driven by internal > politics that dissent is quickly stifled. This type of complaint only > furthers, in the worst way possible, those notions. > > Give the reading public the credit they deserve.
People reading > Menzies' book certainly do not fall into the demographic of > bon-bon-eating romance novel readers. They have the ability to > ascertain strength of argument, theory versus fact, and the academic > credentials (or lack thereof) of the author. Rather than complain, we > should be glad that Menzies book, like The Da Vinci Code, has > fostered interest in other times and places, and driven curious > readers to look further -- to sources perhaps more academically > credible -- in order to come up with their own conclusions. That is > the purpose of freedom of the press. The "autocracy" Mr. Wade fears > is promoted precisely by the type of legal or regulatory squabble he > is promoting, which boils down to having the public's reading > material, or classification thereof, monitored by an academic elite. > Shall we now set up a censorship committee to hand down such > judgments?
Finally, I would encourage Mr. Wade and his several colleagues to > avail themselves of freedom of the press by taking their concerns > with the scholarship and credibility of the book to the people he > thinks are incapable of understanding theory versus fact, by > countering Menzies with an intellectually accessible book targeted to > that audience.
Intellectual discontent should be wrangled thus, not > through legal, regulatory or governmental oversight. That is the > point of freedom of the press. > > Gala Argent, Ph.D. candidate > School of Archaeology and Ancient History > University of Leicester > > >
MapHist: E-mail discussion group on the history of cartography hosted by the Faculty of Geosciences, University of Utrecht. The statements and opinions expressed in this message are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the University of Utrecht. The University of Utrecht does not take any responsibility for the views of the author. List Information: http://www.maphist.info Maphist mailing list - Maphist@geo.uu.nl - http://mailman.geo.uu.nl/mailman/listinfo/maphist/
Original Message From: Geoff Wade Sent: Mon 07/11/2005 10:36 –
Subject:: another 1421 critique book: Dorothy Prescott at
@unimelb.edu.au – Sent Mon 07/11/2005 10:31 - To: Geoff Wade -
Geoff, Are you aware of this work? Just posted by Brendan White the
Title: "The 1421 Heresy: An Investigation Into the Ming Chinese Maritime Survey o the World", by Anatole Andro. Hardcover: 404 pages. Publisher: Authorhouse (September, 2005). Language: English. ISBN: 1420873490. US$31.
Available from: Amazon as http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1420873490/102-1857606-4326545?v=glance&n=283155&n=507846&s=books&v=glance
From: Dr Brendan Whyte, Assistant Map Curator, ERC Library, University of Melbourne, Vic 3010 AUSTRALIA at: @unimelb.edu.au – From Andros' 1421heresy site ...
Blurb follows: “For two and a half years Mr. Andro searched for such evidence, examining each piece of suspected artifact and following up on every lead. Not only was he able to uncover such evidence he found the evidence to be widespread. Further, scholars had examined such evidence and either discarded, ignored, or obscured it. To top it off, Mr. Andro finds the evidence overwhelmingly suggests that not only had the Chinese circumnavigated the world, they reached its extremities perhaps even before the Ming. Columbus and his fellow explorers sailed on Chinese navigational directions, and Renaissance European cartographers created their new maps of the world based on new geographical data of Chinese origin.”
Follows a copy of email from Menzies' 1421 team of about 7 November 2005 per Geoff Wade: Mon 07/11/2005 23:51 To: Geoff Wade
Cc: Subject: 1421 November message Greetings and welcome to the
1421 November mailout. We have had a few very busy months, and are
sorry that the mailouts have not been as forthcoming as they have
been previously. As well as some (well earned!) summer holidays for
Gavin and the team, there has been a lot going on recently. The
Singapore Zheng He celebrations went ahead as scheduled. Gavin and
Cedric Bell went out to deliver a series of talks and tours around
the 1421 exhibition, down at the bustling Marina promenade.
The exhibition was one of the largest of its kind that Singapore has held, sprawling an incidental 1421 sq metres, a stand-alone structure built from scratch and made to last over 3 months from June to September 2005. The exhibition has now moved to Malacca, and is situated in the Zheng He Cultural Museum, kindly hosted by Dr. Tan Ta Sen. It is hoped the exhibition will remain in Malacca for six months, and from there travel to China, the Middle East and beyond! Gavin has been busy as always, with further trips to Hong Kong, Shanghai, Italy and Spain. He has delivered keynote speeches at several high profile events, as well as carrying on his research during several trips to Europe. He travels to Shenzen, Hong Kong and Beijing in the third week of November for continued efforts in raising funds for further research, several book signings, and to give a presentation at the Hong Kong International Computer Conference 2005.
We are pleased to announce the publication of the Finnish and Estonian editions of the book, published by Gennimap Corp. in October 2005. Furthermore, the literary rights to the French edition of 1421 have now been acquired by 'Editions Intervalles', who aim to publish in spring 2006. As a result, 1421 will thence be available in over 100 countries and 20 languages! New additions to look for on the website are the new "Links" section, and the option to download the short documentary film made by members of the 1421 team at the Singapore exhibition here:
As always we look forward to hearing any comments and suggestions you may care to share with us about the 1421 project. All the best, The 1421 team”
Original Message - From: H-Net list for Asian History and
Culture on behalf of Frank Conlon
Sent: Tue 08/11/2005 05:12 To: H-ASIA@H-NET.MSU.EDU Cc: Subject: H-ASIA: Publisher/Library responsibility in Classification of Fiction/Non-Fiction Works (was *1421*) H-ASIA November 7, 2005 Issues of the responsibility of publishers and libraries in the classification of works of non-fiction/fiction (extension of the discussion off Menzies', Menzies's 1421: The Year China Discovered the World_
From: Geoff Wade <email@example.com> Dear H-Asia members, At the risk of boring my H-Asia colleagues and being seen to be perhaps as off-the-planet as my bete-noirs, I would like to bring your attention to a real problem which is emerging in the publishing of fiction books masquerading as history. Those of you who have been following the Menzies 1421 fairytale thread and my ongoing attempts to hold the publishers to account through the respective fair trading and fair description statutes, might be interested to know that the problem runs even deeper than first observed. That is to say, it is not just the authors and publishers who are major elements in such deception of the public, but also public institutions in their acceptance of the publishers' descriptions of their works.
An excellent example has come to light in the last few days. Random House Canada (which comes under the umbrella of media giant Bertelsmann AG, as do the publishers of the U.K. and U.S. editions of "1421") is planning to publish a book by Paul Chiasson, entitled "Island of Seven Cities: the discovery of a lost Chinese settlement in the Americas."
See here for details: <http://www.randomhouse.ca/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780679314554> This is a spin-off of the 1421 myth and, having seen the "evidence" offered for the "Chinese settlement" on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, I can affirm that it has even less credence than most of Menzies' claims. That is, this is again fiction masquerading as history. And the publishers have the audacity to be marketing this work under the twin categories of "History - Canada - Pre-Confederation (To 1867); and History - China".
This leaves the publishers open to charges under Section 74.01 of the Canadian Competition Act, whereby "A person engages in reviewable conduct who, for the purpose of promoting, directly or indirectly, the supply or use of a product or for the purpose of promoting, directly or indirectly, any business interest, by any means whatever, (a) makes a representation to the public that is false or misleading in a material respect; etc" The travesty does not end there, however.
Even before the book is published, the august institution of Library and Archives Canada has already assigned (or accepted) a description of the work (under "History") as follows: Chiasson, Paul. The island of seven cities : the discovery of a lost Chinese settlement in the Americas / Paul Chiasson. -- Toronto : Random House Canada, 2006. Includes index. ISBN 0-679-31455-5 : $34.95 1. Cape Breton Island (N.S.)--Discovery and exploration--Chinese 2. Chinese--Nova Scotia--Cape Breton Island--Antiquities 3. Cape Breton Island (N.S.)--Antiquities
This LAC listing can be found here: <http://www.collectionscanada.ca/newbooks/g4-900-e.html>
I [Geoff Wade]have sent the following letter to Library and Archives Canada to try and achieve some reclassification of the volume. Those interested in veracity of description and prevention of deception in the publishing industry and library systems are urged to follow suit. Any comments on related trends and issues in terms of publishing and library description would be appreciated.
Thanks, Geoff Wade National University of Singapore
Dear LAC, I note with grave sadness that you have catalogued the
upcoming book by Mr Paul Chiasson as follows: Chiasson, Paul. The
island of seven cities : the discovery of a lost Chinese settlement
in the Americas / Paul Chiasson. -- Toronto : Random House Canada,
2006. Icludes index. ISBN 0-679-31455-5 : $34.95 1. Cape Breton
Island (N.S.)--Discovery and exploration--Chinese 2. Chinese--Nova
Scotia--Cape Breton Island--Antiquities 3. Cape Breton Island
This assigns it a respectability of which it is completely undeserving. That is to say, you are describing this as a work of history when the explorations of historians and archaeologists reveal it to be nothing but fiction.
How can you have a category for "Cape Breton Island (N.S.)--Discovery and exploration--Chinese" when no such thing ever took place? Was this category created simply to meet the needs of Random House? This is indeed a sad day when Canadian government agencies are tools in a publisher's plans to deceive the public. Please further ascertain the nature of this work and reclassify the work accordingly as fiction. Thanks , Geoff Wade National University of Singapore ----------- <>
Ed. note: I was curious about other publications whose factual content has been challenged by historians; the _Journal of Historical Review_--a publication dedicated to the work of Holocaust denial appears in the United States Library of Congress catalogue under a D (history) classification. D is also the classification at the University of Minnesota Library for Ignatius P. Donnelly's _Atlantis: The Antediluvian World_ (originally published 1882). I believe that cataloguers may be bound to follow the information provided by publishers, but perhaps one of our librarian members who is familiar with library cataloging protocols may be able to clarify this issue. FFC -
To post to H-ASIA simply send your message H-ASIA November 9,
2005 Observations on some publishing and on library classifications
From: Frances Wood <Frances.Wood@bl.uk> <mailto:Frances.Wood@bl.uk> The publication of rubbish as history is very depressing and reveals quite clearly how irresponsible many publishers have become.
David Selbourne's _The City of Light_ was condemned as riddled with errors by several Arabists, a handful of Sinologists, a couple of Hebraists and an historian of Medieval Italy, all eminent and highly respected scholars- I remember it well as I wrote a long piece on its critical reception in the UK for publication in Shanghai to clarify the situation for Chinese colleagues.
Despite this, I received a query only about a year ago asking if this (travesty) was suitable for use by undergraduates? From this perspective, Geoff Wade's campaign is very important and deserves general support unless we want to spend the rest of our lives explaining patiently why 1421 or whatever it is is not just a waste of time but seriously misleading.
I am happy to say that I've never met the author but I understand from colleagues who, to their mortification, are mentioned in his preface that they are invariably misquoted.
The question of subject indexing is, to me, slightly less important. Cataloguers, who are not always subject specialists, take subject cataloguing far too seriously. These days title-word searches will suffice for most purposes and many of us would do well to avoid subject indexing and classification which in specialist areas can get pretty fraught. As a cataloguer of Chinese books, I've never been able to take the Dewey Decimal system seriously since I discovered that it had a special number for elastic-sided boots but nothing for eunuchs. In my youth, I used to consider it harmless fun to classify obvious works of exaggerated political propaganda as 'fiction' but my colleagues now tell me that this is very bad indeed, the librarian is supposed to be a mere filter for the classification proposed by publishers- which if they continue to publish such rubbish seems a position of almost equally irresponsible passivity. Frances Wood (I've probably gone too far!)
Ed. note: Well, I don't think so! Dr Frances Wood is Head of Chinese, Manchu & Mongolian Collections at the British Library. A major figure in East Asian Librarianship, she is also author of a number of important books including:
_The Silk Road: two thousand years in the heart of Asia_ (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002) ISBN 0520237862 (orig. published London: Folio Society, 2002) _Did Marco Polo go to China?_ (London: Secker & Warburg, 1995) ISBN 0436201666 [and Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1996) ISBN 0813389984; 0813389992 (pbk.) _No dogs and not many Chinese: treaty port life in China 1843-1943_ (London: John Murray, 1998) ISBN 0719557585 _Oriental gardens_ (with Norah Titley) (London: British Library, 1991) ISBN 0712302395 _Chinese illustration_ (London: British Library, c1985)ISBN 0712300538 (and San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1992) ISBN 0811801322 FFC H-ASIA November 11, 2005 Publisher/Library responsibility in Classification of Books (was *1421*) LONG ******
November 10, 2005 Further comment re:
complaining to the FTC about *1421* ****
**** From: Geoff Wade <firstname.lastname@example.org> Dear List, Professor Goldin's response to my earlier postings is encouraging in that it suggests that people are thinking about the propositions and possible methods for dealing with some of the problems faced. However, there seems to be some misunderstanding between us on key aspects of this issue. I was certainly not advocating approaches to the FTC over every history book that offers a different take on an issue to that which one holds.
There is no need to tell H-Asia readers about the diversity of opinions which exist in respect of historical events, the breadth of explanation possible for phenomena of the past, and the need for there to be healthy debate among the persons who hold such views. That is all taken as given. But with Menzies' *1421* and the upcoming *The Island of Seven Cities*, we are speaking of a very different phenomenon.
We can illustrate this by taking Professor Goldin's example of the history proffered by Charles and Mary Beard in *The Rise of American Civilization*. In this work, the authors proceeded from recognised historical phenomena (that there were people known as "Founding Fathers", that there was a system of slavery in place, that there was a Civil War, etc.) and interpreted these things in a way which differed from the mainstream.
Most historians will accept this as a valid manifestation of the diversity of historical explanation (surely, one of the great beauties of the discipline). But with *1421* and *The Island of Seven Cities*, we are addressing accounts which are completely fictitious. Objections to these volumes do not lie in differences in "interpreting historical evidence" or an "author's interpretations of historical evidence," suggested by Professor Goldin.
There were, by universal academic
recognition, no such 15th-century Chinese voyages in the Atlantic,
Arctic, Antarctic or Pacific Oceans, no such celestial observation
posts established, no global mapping, and no Chinese settlement on
Cape Breton Island. The claims are all fabricated, and the books
were created with intent to make money by deceiving the public. I
do hope that the majority of H-Asia members will recognise a quite
marked qualitative difference between the two examples. I initially
considered such works to be simply the products of charlatans who
had convinced publishers of the commercial merit of their
fabrications. However, the complicity of the publishers has become
increasingly apparent. Those who know the publication process of
*1421* affirm that the original text offered to the publishers was
nothing like the published work. It was half the size and had a
very different focus. Menzies himself admits that the publishers
rewrote it for him, obviously to suit their marketing needs.
In the *1421* acknowledgements, Menzies cites 12 Transworld staff members and "their teams" who had been instrumental in bringing the book the market. The deception and responsibility for it is thus very much joint. What we have therefore is not a person proposing a new thesis, or "interpreting historical evidence". It is a corporation manipulating a manuscript, in itself already false, and then classifying it as history, in order to improve marketing and maximize profits. As such, it is a false product, deceitfully labelled and it is thereby subject to the various statues which guide the advertising and sale of products within our respective societies.
It is thus that I took my complaints to the Consumer Complaints body in the UK and the FTC in the United States. If Professor Goldin considers this to amount to my opposition to the right of historians to "interpret historical evidence", so be it. The three books I have cited (*1421* in its British and US versions and *The Island of Seven Cities*) are all published by corporations subordinate to the Bertelsmann media group and undoubtedly these works form parts of an integrated global marketing strategy. Whether other publishers are intending to catch the same wave is moot, but the trend is worrying.
Why worrying, some may ask. The classification of fiction as history is already an obvious problem, and the chauvinism which Menzies' book has induced in East Asia on the basis that *1421* is "history" is powerful evidence of this. But more importantly (and the significance of this has only begun to sink in this week as I have learned more about library systems, classifications and cataloguing), is that publishers can basically create their own library categories for the books they publish. Thus, the repositories of public knowledge reflect not what their personnel determine a book might be, but what the publisher says that it is.
If a publisher calls their book
"history", it appears that generally a library will accept this and
catalogue it accordingly. This may have been an effective and
desirable system in times of yore, when publishers' reputations
were high, when everyone had the public interest at heart and when
the academic world was somewhat smaller.
Today, when the cynical manipulation of the book-buying public is an essential element in many publishers' profit-maximizing arsenals, is the system still feasible or does public interest demand its overhaul? In the case of these three books, I have advocated a triple-prong approach:
1) Direct approach to the publishers, noting the disquiet among the academic community about these books and their classification;
2) Formal complaints to the government bodies which implement fair trading policies and monitor infractions
Approaches to libraries or library
associations to try and ensure some veracity in the eventual
classification of the works. I do hope that H-Asia members will
join in the campaign in at least one of those areas. These are but
stop-gap measures. I think that the issues raised by the
publication and classification of these books are extremely
important, not only for historians, but also, as Ryan has noted,
for how our societies classify knowledge.
I thank Professor Goldin (and Dr Wood) for their responses and hope that other members of H-Asia will also go public in their thoughts on these matters.
With best wishes, Geoff Wade Asia Research Institute National University of Singapore H-ASIA November 9, 2005 Complaining to the FTC about Gavin Menzies?
From: Geoff Wade <email@example.com>
<mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org> Dear List, Following Gala Argent's
post of 10 November [posted by Frank Conlon under the subject head
Popular History and Bunkum -- on *1421*
(comment) -- RD], I have been chewing the cud, and would like now to respond to her suggestions that:
1) A complaint to the FTC offends against the principle of freedom the press.
2) Such a complaint only furthers the notion of the "academic
community" as being closed and intellectually conservative.
3) That the action I have taken and urged others to take "boils
down to having the public's reading material, or classification
thereof, monitored by an academic elite." She urges "countering
Menzies with an intellectually accessible book targeted to that
audience." The appeal solely to the marketplace of ideas may indeed
be suitable for perfect worlds, but ours aren't quite perfect
The suggestions ignore the basis of the problem, the amount of
money involved, the global reach of the publishers, and the social
effects, particularly in East Asia, detailed in earlier posts.
1) The complaints to the FTC and the equivalent body in the UK are not aimed at suppressing any publication or authorial opinion. They are simply intended to ensure that the purchasing public are not duped by the description of the product offered by the publisher. Let the publishers continue publishing *1421* marked as *fiction* forever. 2) Such complaints and the responses thereto reflect, I would suggest, not a closed and conservative academic community, but precisely the opposite ?- a vibrant academic community, with people assuming critical stances and social responsibilities, as members of any social body are obligated to do. 3) The suggestion that I am trying to have the public's reading material monitored by an academic elite is disingenuous and not worthy of response.
The comment on classification does deserve comment. If the choice we face is having the public's reading material classified by individual publishers (who may just occasionally be influenced by their pecuniary interests) or by an "academic elite" (including librarians), I would certainly opt for the latter, as I think would most thinking people. But the most interesting suggestion is that someone should write an "intellectually accessible book targeted to that audience." I don't know if Ms Argent has ever tried writing a popular book, intellectually accessible or otherwise, which tries to dismiss a thesis about something which never happened.
I may be a closed-minded bigot bent on censoring the world's publications, but I do have enough nous to know that such a book is not going to get far in the popular market place. Likely effect: nil!
There already exist excellent reviews and dismissals of the Menzies thesis:
1. Robert Finlay http://www.historycooperative.org/journals/jwh/15.2/finlay.html
2. Bill Hartz http://www.hallofmaat.com/1421.html
3. Phil Rivers http://www.selectbooks.com.sg/titles/36572.htm
4. Tim Barrett _The Independent_, November 16, 2002 And, in Chinese, all of the news about Menzies' claims and rebuttals is detailed in the Newsletters issued by the National Cheng-kung University:
However, these are mainly read by those with sufficient knowledge to know that the book was a fraud to begin with. The converted need no more converting.
On the other hand, we have these global publishers funding the 1421 website, assigning staff to promotional work, sending Menzies off on global tours, funding exhibitions and book launches, and promoting television programs, appealing even to people who will never read the book, but think the idea is great, and as it is"history" must by definition be true! Taxi drivers throughout East Asia today regale their customers with the new history of world discovery a la Menzies. Even Hu Jintao, the Chinese president, spoke to the Australian parliament in October 2003 and noted how links between China and Australia dated back to the eunuch voyages of the 1420s!
Contra Ms Argent, this will not all be resolved by a decent academic debate and an intellectually accessible rebuttal. I think that we can affirm that we do have a problem. And with *The Island of the Seven Cities* just around the corner, that problem is just going to grow. As noted previously, the nature of these works (and particularly the _modus operandi_ of their publishers) demands a broader social response than the usual academic reaction to new works. There is, I have suggested, a need to call into play national legislations and public institutions to counter the very calculated manipulation and attempted deception of societies globally (the rights to a French edition have just been sold) by the various publishers under Bertelsmann. I stand firmly by my appeal to colleagues to pursue these options. Best wishes, Geoff Wade National University of Singapore.
:Dear people, A few more 1421 related postings geoff ----- H-ASIA November 15, 2005 Popular History and Bunkum -- TV documentary on *1421* *
From: Geoff Wade <email@example.com>
<mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org> Dear all, There is only one
two-part _1421_ series out there at present, that made by Paladin
Invision of Britain, which is a joint operation between William
Cran of Invision Productions and Clive Syddall of Paladin Pictures.
Even before 1421 was published, Pearson Broadband had acquired the
rights to the book (which again underlines that this is no ordinary
academic discussion). They then subcontracted Paladin Invision to
make the series, but for PBS in the United States. That is the
version now doing the rounds of national television stations,
Paladin Invision's site is/was here: http://www.pitv.com/ The
PBS press release is here:
http://www.pbs.org/aboutpbs/news/20030110_china.html Those who wish
to know more about the production of the two-part series can
contact the producer, Ms Lucy Van Beek: Lucy van Beek Producer
Paladin Invision 8 Barb Mews London W6 7PA Tel: +44 (0) 207 348
1958 Fax: +44 (0) 207 371 2160 Email: email@example.com
Best wishes, Geoff Wade National University of Singapore
H-ASIA November 15, 2005 Popular History and Bunkum -- on *1421* and appropriate responses to it *****
H-ASIA November 15, 2005 Popular
History and Bunkum -- on *1421* and appropriate responses to it
From: Ryan Dunch <firstname.lastname@example.org> <mailto:email@example.com> Jumping in on my own account again: I am moderately encouraged to see that of the top eight Google hits today for "Menzies 1421," four are for sites critical of the book. One is actually a blog re-posting of Geoff Wade's H-ASIA post that kicked off this thread on October 21, by H-ASIA member Michael Turton -- suitably credited (thanks Michael -- see http://michaelturton.blogspot.com/2005/10/gavin-menzies-and-ming-voyages.html).
Also I see that a good proportion of the 170-plus reviews on Amazon.com are critical of the book, though it still gets a cumulative reader rating of over 3 stars out of 5. The top one, by "Smallchief," begins "If you believe that little green men from outer space built Stonehenge or the Nazca lines in Peru, this is the book you want to read.
Don't get me wrong. I like books that
shake and rattle the academic establishment -- but you gotta be at
least moderately credible and get most of your facts right. Menzies
fails on both counts ..."
(see http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/006054094X/002-1425814-3984046?v=glance). Moreover, since I mentioned the History News Network as a venue in my post of November 11, I am glad to see that it ran a critical review of Menzies' book by Timothy Furnish way back in March of 2003 (see http://hnn.us/articles/1308.html).
Also worth noting is the Wikipedia entry under "1421 hypothesis" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1421_hypothesis). This thread has overlapped with an interesting thread on H-World about Wikipedia, mostly lamenting student reliance on it, but some posts have also noted the potential that exists for people with academic credentials to contribute to it (for those who are not familiar with it, Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia with a text which any reader can modify).
I mention these examples because I imagine that the set of people who have bought the Menzies book will overlap considerably with the set of people who will do web searches or read the Wiki entry or Amazon reviews on its subject matter. And employing the worldwide web to reach an audience with a reasoned critique of the book is more likely to be feasible for academics than producing our own TV documentary or publishing a refutation that will have a hope of reaching a mass audience. Amazon reviews and Wikipedia entries are particularly worth considering.
As a case in point, one of the top few Amazon reviews cites Robert Finlay's very thorough review essay in the Journal of World History, which Geoff Wade's post today also mentioned (http://www.historycooperative.org/journals/jwh/15.2/finlay.html). So much for the hopeful side.
More salutary is the reader response to Furnish's History News Network piece (linked from the article at http://hnn.us/articles/1308.html). The good news is that people read his critique who would never open an academic history journal. The bad news is that he got flamed, repeatedly: accused of being "a debunker with an agenda," "unprofessional," "condescending," to quote a few.
Anyway, I have more than enough with H-ASIA to keep me busy(!), but the potential for academics to reach new audiences on "hot issues" like this through avenues already existing on the web certainly exists, with promise and attendant pitfalls. Ryan Dunch University of Alberta
From: Ryan Dunch <firstname.lastname@example.org> A couple more
issues occur to me out of our discussion of _1421_, particularly
the points raised by Dr. Goldin in response to Geoff Wade. We all
know that the claims of the discipline to provide reliable
knowledge about the past have been seriously contested on
philosophical/literary grounds since at least the 1970s. For
instance, recently Keith Jenkins in "Refiguring History" has argued
that histories do not have reference to a thing called "the past"
or "history" that exists outside the text, and they should never
have been thought to have done so. History's implicit or explicit
claim to provide "knowledge" about "the past" is spurious, he
argues, and so therefore are the standards of "appropriate"
argument and use of evidence sustained by the collectivity of
professional historians. For Jenkins, these are nothing more than
tools of self-validation that historians employ to restrict access
to their "guild" (p. 31).
In my view, Jenkins overstates his case massively (I am drawing
above from my review of his book, which spells out my criticism
more fully ? citation below). He is partly right, though, in
observing that historians collectively maintain the parameters of
the discipline (however imperfectly) through the institutions of
manuscript refereeing and peer review of publications, and that we
do so with reference to implicitly shared but seldom articulated
standards about what constitutes historical evidence and
appropriate argument based on evidence.
However, as _1421_ illustrates, there is a broader public
discourse about "history" with popular, even mass, appeal that
falls outside the oversight structures of professional historians.
The books of Simon Winchester are one example ? biographies written
with journalistic verve that are (in his case) academically sound
and very popular (my father is a dedicated reader of popular
history of this sort, and probably many of us know similar people).
Few professional historians write effectively for this readership,
or aspire to, since such work does not rank high within the reward
structures of academe. Of another type is _1421_, which through
marketing and the sheer audacity of its claims has done an end run
around the historical discipline to a mass market.
More marginal, but still illustrating the limits of professional
oversight of the invocation of "history" are the Russian
mathematicians who argue based on mathematical correlations in
ancient records that the accepted dating for historical events is
wrong and the "recorded history of mankind started not earlier than
the year 900 AD" (see
Jenkins goes on to argue that rejecting all the suppositions upon
which the discipline of history has rested is not only logically
necessary but also liberating, for loosing the shackles which bind
historical accounts to their supposed "pasts" opens up space for
completely new imaginings, and indeed for "radical, open-ended
democracy" (p. 5). I don't know how he would react to _1421_, but
for most practising historians it probably exemplifies the danger
in taking the postmodern argument to the conclusion Jenkins
Dr. Wade's suggestions involve trying to expand the scope of
disciplinary oversight of the label "history" through approaches to
cataloguers and through using consumer watch legislation to try to
influence publishers. Vincent Pollard suggests trying to "fight
fire with fire" through the popular media, and Gala Argent suggests
that historians' need to counter Menzies "with an intellectually
accessible book targeted to [the same] audience." All these
approaches have merit, clearly, if one can invest the time and
energy needed. On a more limited scale, perhaps H-ASIA can play a
role through posting summary statements about historically
problematic works on the website, or by publishing a formal book
review of _1421_ that will then a) get cross-posted and b) be
preserved and accessible through the H-Reviews website. Another
suggestion is to write an op-ed piece for the History News Network
Most of its stories are US-focused, but it has established a record of success in getting accessible informed pieces by real historians into the mass print media. For what it's worth ? Ryan Dunch University of Alberta Works cited: Keith Jenkins, *Refiguring History: New Thoughts on an Old Discipline*, (London and New York: Routledge, 2003). Ryan Dunch, review of Jenkins, *Refiguring History*, in *Canadian Journal of History* 40:1 (Apr 2005), 190-191. Simon Winchester, *The Map that Changed the World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology* (New York: HarperCollins, 2001). Idem., *The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary* (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003)
SET H-ASIA MAIL H-ASIA WEB HOMEPAGE URL: http://h-net.msu.edu/~asia/ H-ASIA > November 10, 2005 > > Comment on discussion re: Popular History and Bunkum > ****** > Mail List's Ed. note: This item was received Nov. 1, but was one of the posts that > got stalled in our editorial mills. Apologies for the delay. FFC > ------
To post to H-ASIA simply send your message to: <H-ASIA@h-net.msu.edu> For holidays or short absences send post to: <email@example.com> with message: SET H-ASIA NOMAIL Upon return, send post with message SET H-ASIA MAIL H-ASIA WEB HOMEPAGE URL: http://h-net.msu.edu/~asia/
This is the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, not the US ABC.
geoff -----Original Message----- From: Geoff Wade Sent: Wed
16/11/2005 15:16 To: 'firstname.lastname@example.org';
'email@example.com' Cc: 'Kevin.Rudd.MP@aph.gov.au';
'firstname.lastname@example.org' Subject: Violation of TRADE PRACTICES ACT
by ABC: *1421: the Year China Discovered the World*
Dear ABC, I note that you have for sale in the ABC shop, the book *1421: the Year China Discovered the World* by Gavin Menzies, classified under the category History. I would like to bring to your notice that all major claims within the work are fictitious (as detailed below) and as such the work does not qualify to be classified as History, which requires that the account be based on historical sources. *1421* fails in this respect.
Stating that something relates to the past does not qualify it as History. As such, you are in obvious violation of the TRADE PRACTICES ACT 1974 - SECT 53, which states that: False or misleading representations A corporation
<http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/tpa1974149/s4.html#corporation> shall not, in trade or commerce <http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/tpa1974149/s4.html#trade_or_commerce> , in connexion with the supply
<http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/tpa1974149/s75at.html#supply> or possible supply <http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/tpa1974149/s75at.html#supply> of goods <http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/tpa1974149/s4.html#goods> or services
<http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/tpa1974149/s4.html#services> or in connexion with the promotion by any means of the supply <http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/tpa1974149/s75at.html#supply> or use of goods
<http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/tpa1974149/s4.html#goods> or services
<http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/tpa1974149/s4.html#services> : (a) falsely represent that goods
are of a particular standard, quality, value, grade, composition, style or model or have had a particular history or particular previous use; (aa) falsely represent that services <http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/tpa1974149/s4.html#services> are of a particular standard, quality, value or grade; Your attention is also drawn to SECT 65AN of the same Act, which notes that the onus is on you to prove your description of the product. Proceedings relating to false, misleading or deceptive conduct or representations...
(a) proceedings are brought against a person <http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/tpa1974149/s152ac.html#person> in respect of section 52, paragraph 53(a) or (eb) or paragraph 75AZC(1)(a) or (i); and (b) the person <http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/tpa1974149/s152ac.html#person> seeks to rely on a provision <http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/tpa1974149/s4.html#provision> of this Division, or of a regulation made under this Division, in the proceedings; the person <http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/tpa1974149/s152ac.html#person> bears an evidential burden <http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/tpa1974149/s65an.html#evidential_burden> in relation to the matters set out in the provision <http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/tpa1974149/s4.html#provision> on which the person <http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/tpa1974149/s152ac.html#person> seeks to rely.
(2) In this section: "evidential burden", in relation to a matter, means the burden of adducing or pointing to evidence that suggests a reasonable possibility that the matter exists or does not exist
This is the work Chinese President Hu
Jintao was citing when he claimed in the Australian parliament in
October 2003 that the Chinese had visited Australia in the early
http://parlinfoweb.aph.gov.au/piweb/Repository/Chamber/Hansardr/Linked/2966-4.PDF Its contribution to misinformation and dangerous chauvinism is thus demonstrated, and its classification as History can only exacerbate this problem. I urge you to reclassify the work in your bookshops clearly as fiction Thanking you, Geoff Wade National University of Singapore
To post to H-ASIA simply send your message to:
<H-ASIA@h-net.msu.edu> For holidays or short absences send
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Original Message - From: H-Net list for Asian History and Culture on behalf of Ryan Dunch Sent: Sun 20/11/2005 03:52 To: H-ASIA@H-NET.MSU.EDU Cc: Subject: H-ASIA: Classification of books (subset of *1421*) H-ASIA November 19, 2005 Classification of books (subset of *1421*)
From: Geoff Wade <firstname.lastname@example.org> Dear List, A few
persons have responded off-list on issues related to those we have
been discussing in terms of publisher classification and eventual
library classification of books. I have obtained the permission of
the following, who are all engaged in some aspect of the
classification process, to distribute their comments to the List.
Best, Geoff Wade National University of Singapore **
1. From: David Murrell-Wright, Manager, Monograph Cataloguing, Library and Archives Canada Subject: "Island of the seven cities" Geoff Wade: Thank you for the information you sent to us on the proposed Random House publication, "Island of the seven cities". The record you have seen in the Library and Archives Canada website is a pre-publicaton "Cataloguing in Publication" record based on information from the publisher. With the information you have sent to us we will be in a better position to assign appropriate subject headings to the book when it arrives next year.
2. From Peter Davison of Cambridge University Press As part of the production process we pass either a substantial pack of stuff (prelims, TOC, sample chapter) or a whole e-file both to the LOC and to the BL. Their cataloguers evaluate this and prepare a draft catalogue record (=CIP) for printing in the book, which contains their class numbers, author-authority, Dewey etc. Entirely up to them; we give them no guidance or lead. LOC does it themselves; BL has privatised this bit to BDS in Dundee, who provide a joint service for BL and Nielsen BookData. Both libraries issue their CIP in digital form very widely. When the final book in hand reaches the library, they recatalogue (adding page extent, making any corrections etc.) and they then issue a final accession record. This can be months/years after we publish. Squillions of other national libraries process books in exactly the same way.
It's certainly not unusual for a book to have several <different> Deweys (ours, LOC, BL, OCLC, Blackwell); several different BIC codes (ours, NBD's, Waterstones); several different BISAC codes (ours, Barnes/Noble, Amazon, Borders). Many of them hopeless Of course, everyone is right. 1421 is clearly not creative fiction as traditionally defined. It's in a strong tradition (Kon Tiki, Ra Expedition, and any UFO book ever). 3. From: Dr Annabel Gallop, British Library Good on yer!
I am enjoying your diatribes - and I really do appreciate your *detailed* rebuttal of specific points; I have heard a lot of general comments about these books, but very few point to specific problems. But ... let me just reach for my horn-rimmed Librarian's glasses in an attempt to impart sufficient po-faced sternness to my defence of my Canadian colleagues, or, indeed, librarians anywhere ...
The publisher's blurb is one thing. But in classifying a book as history, where would librarians draw the line between 'genuine' history and somebody's crackpot ideas? There is a very grey area in between, which, at its murkiest, could simply encompass an area of disagreement between two historians; in less grey areas, there might be radical theories not accepted at the time of writing which are later proved correct; in others, there are certainly skewed or distorted (for nationalistic or other reasons) writings which nonetheless have enough of a germ of history to be called such.
One book that comes to mind is Muhammad Yamin's '6000 tahun sang merah putih', tracing [sic!] through 6000 years the significance of red-white to the Indonesian people. But I do see it as the task of historians - i.e. you - to take the lead in debunking specific works, rather than librarians, who could, however, later reflect a scholarly consensus on the status of such works when classifying them.
Trouble is, I don't know if the Library of Congress Subject Headings has a category for 'spoof' or spurious histories. 4. From: Dr Frances Wood, British Library Dear Geoff Wade, Congratulations- what you are doing is very important indeed. It's frightening how irresponsible publishers have become. A similar case was David Selbourne's City of Light, an entire fiction, based on nothing and full of errors. These were pointed out by sinologists, Hebraists, historians of Italy, North African taxation systems etc etc etc. I put my tinier oar in where I could. About a year ago an American academic wrote and asked me whether the book was suitable for undergraduate use - so it has retained a completely undeserved respectability. Some say that Menzies is very litigious although the threatened law-suits have never actually materialised.
When I was in SOAS library in the Chinese section I used to amuse myself by doing the opposite of the Canadians and classifying particularly mad works of Chinese propaganda (both mainland and Taiwanese) as 'fiction'. with very best wishes, Frances Wood, Chinese section
Menzies and 1421 continued ... From: Geoff Wade
<email@example.com> Dear H-ASIA For those interested, it can
be reported that the Menzies 1421 bandwagon is now in Shenzhen,
China (a city just over the border from Hong Kong). Thanks to the
good offices of Dr Jin Guo-ping in Portugal, I obtained a copy of
today's Shenzhen Economic Daily which provides us with all the
details no-one wanted to know about Mr Menzies, his claims and his
I have done a quick translation to illustrate some of the usual snake-oil seller tricks at which Mr Menzies has become so adept. The modus operandi ("I have this great discovery but you can't know about it until x months in the future"), the obvious speciousness of the claim, the use of "tamed" reporters (some even claim that reporters of illustrious British news organisations were so tamed), the citing of the involvement of illustrious people or institutions, and the attempt to drum up support for future events and publications, are all now so familiar that they are becoming a tad boring. However, this is provided for those who have not had the pleasure of reading how the man operates or observed his "mode de duperie"
Best wishes, Geoff Wade National University of Singapore
From: Shenzhen Economic Daily_ 19 November 2005 (original here:
http://www.sznews.com/szsb/20051119/ca1994120.htm) "He has obtained
the 'Zheng He global map' (Headline) "By Li Ning [translation by
Geoff Wade] "On this, his fifth visit to Shenzhen, Gavin Menzies,
the author of *1421, the Year China Discovered the World*, has
revealed his newest startling evidence: He has obtained the *Zheng
He global map*. "Drawn in 1418, it is the earliest and most
complete world map discovered to date. "On 17 November, I visited
Menzies in his hotel. Mr Gavin Menzies , who is a former British
naval commander and author of *1421, the Year China Discovered the
World* has come to Shenzhen to participate in the Reading Forum
during Shenzhen's Reading Month.
On 28 May this year, Menzies came to Shenzhen's Material Life Book Bar to promote his book and his newest discoveries, and I interviewed him then. The Shenzhen Economic Daily produced a large report in the *Forward Position* column of its *Cultural Square* page on 29 May. When I visited him on this occasion, I discovered that he was even more confident and lively. The interview, which was scheduled for only half and hour extended to more than two hours. Menzies is scheduled to make a presentation on his new discoveries on the afternoon of 19 November in the Shenzhen Cultural Building as a guest of the Shenzhen Reading Forum. "After we had exchanged a few words of greeting, I pulled out a copy of the *Cultural Square* page of the Shenzhen Economic Daily of 29 May.
When Menzies saw his face figuring prominently on the page, he
was extremely pleased and happily signed the piece, dedicating it
to the Shenzhen Economic Daily readers. "He obtained the Zheng He
map just two weeks ago (subhead) "The most stunning material which
Menzies brought to Shenzhen on this occasion was a map. Mr Menzies
gingerly showed a photocopy of it to me, and repeatedly warned us
not to photograph it. He said that this "Zheng he Global Map" was
drawn in 1418.
I observed on it that in one corner there were the characters
"Tian-xia quan-yu zong-tu" (Overall map of all territories under
Heaven) and also the five characters Cai-hui-zhai shou-cang
(Collection of the Cai-hui Studio). On the map the five major
continents and the major oceans were fully depicted and the major
rivers and mountain ranges were very clearly depicted. However, the
outlines of the continents were not very accurate.
The small designs on the map were done in much the same manner
as the ancient fresco technique, and there were few characters.
Menzies said, that seen from the map, we can observe that at that
time the North Pole region was passable and we can thus state that
at that time the global weather was warmer than it is at present.
The Atlantic Coast of North America is drawn very accurately.
Menzies noted that this shows that the people who drew the map had
been to the Americas at this time and carried out a careful
investigation. "The Earliest and Most Complete World Map (subhead)
"Menzies has collected over world 60 maps of all sorts predating
But, he notes that these maps which he has collected are all
incomplete. In 1990, Menzies came to Beijing to celebrate his
silver anniversary and visited the Forbidden City. His guide told
him of the history of the Yongle emperor and the navigator Zheng
He, and thus he began to gather materials to prove Zheng He's
discovery of the American continent. In the 15 years since then, he
has visited 120 countries and examined materials in over 900
museums, libraries and archives.
This year (2005), Menzies has gone abroad 15 times and come to
Shenzhen four times. This year he has also started his 1421 website
at www.1421.tv, and 13,000 supporters have provided him with all
sorts of evidence through the website, which now runs to 2,000
pages. He also has a contingent of volunteers, numbering more than
10, and some have been with him for 2 to 3 years.
Menzies said that up till now the map which the Beijing lawyer
showed him is the most complete map which he has seen, and has
greatly excited him "Showing Australia and New Zealand for the
First Time (subhead) "Menzies said that the map which the Beijing
lawyer had given him is the first to clearly show Australia and New
Zealand. This further shows that the Chinese were the first to
reach Oceania and also shows that that the aboriginal and Maori
people of Oceania have Chinese blood. "A Copy of the Map Appeared
in Europe in 1419 (subhead) "In order to prove the veracity of this
map, Menzies conducted verification from three angles. He said that
the first proof was that a world map appeared in Europe in 1419,
within two years after the "Zheng He Global Map" was completed.
Thus, the European map was a copy of the Zheng He map. The
European map has already been acknowledged as being genuine.
Another proof is that an ancient map drawn in Venice in 1428 has,
like the "Zheng He Global Map", an island in the Bering Straits.
This island actually does not exist. This shows that the Venice map
copied the Zheng He map. Further, the mountains and rivers found on
this map can all be found on the Zheng He map. The third proof is
that at that time, there was no map as complete as the "Zheng He
They were all partial. It has to be said that the "Zheng He
Global Map" is the consummate expression of all these maps. From
this, Menzies infers that the fleets of Zheng He met up with the
Italian Toscanelli and gave the map to him. This Italian later gave
the map to Columbus. Historical documents show that Columbus
himself conceded that he had obtained maps from others. "The
Beijing Lawyer Bought the Map Four Years Ago in Beijing (subhead)
"How then did Menzies obtain this "Zheng He Global Map"? Initially
Menzies would not reveal the details. However, after repeated
probing by this reporter, Menzies said that a Beijing lawyer
surnamed Liu had shown it to him two weeks ago. The lawyer Mr Liu
had contacted Mr Menzies through email and advised that he had a
very valuable map in his hands. Menzies said that initially he was
not particularly excited, as he had all sorts of maps himself. The
lawyer was also astonished to know that Menzies had over 60 ancient
The lawyer still urged Menzies to have a look at his map before passing comment. In the end, Menzies decided to have a look. Menzies repeatedly asked me not to photograph this map, as it would be made public along with the results of the study being made of it in January next year. Menzies said that the Mr Liu the lawyer would be publishing an article on the map in a magazine on 28 November. Mr Liu bought the map in Beijing four years ago. "The Map is Awaiting Isotopic Dating (subhead) "Menzies noted that this map is awaiting isotopic dating by Cambridge University in England and Waikato University in New Zealand, and that the results would be made public on 17 January. I asked him: "Given the growing proofs being discovered, I expect you are increasingly confident." On hearing this, Menzies gave me a very self-assured smile. I continued: "If the results of the testing are not what you expect, will you feel regret about the last 15 years you have spent on your research?"
Menzies seriously responded: "I am convinced that it is genuine.
The Europeans had a copy. How could they have made a fake then?
However, I am going to wait for the results of the testing. If it
truly is a fake, it will not negate the 15 years of hard work and
will not negate what I have said in the past. Even if this is a
fake, I have a large number of other maps which can be verified."
"He is also going to Canada to the Zheng He Naval Base (subhead)
"Menzies also noted his trip in May this year to the Zheng He naval
base in Canada--located on a peninsula on Cape Breton Island in
Nova Scotia, eastern Canada. Menzies notes that next year in May,
when the snows melt he will be going to the island again to conduct
a 3-month investigation. Last time they went they experienced many
twists and turns, because the island is so closed and it is very
difficult to get there. They took a helicopter to Sydney (Canada)
and then took a car which bumped its way across to the island. They
arranged food and tents to allow them to stay there for two weeks.
Now they are raising funds for the next investigation. Chiasson,
the Canadian who discovered this site, is an architect, and
specialises in the study of East Asia architecture Soon, he will be
publishing his book "Island of Seven Cities" In this book he claims
that the platforms on the island are arranged in a way which
characterises Asian Buddhist layouts.
He also says in the book that according to the local Indian folklore, a long time ago large ships came here and built a base. The local Micmac people say that these "foreigners" taught them how to write. Their writing is similar to the script of the Yi people of Yunnan, and their clothing is also similar to the Yi people, with the top garment hung with pearls. The Micmac people and the Yi people both believe that there is a rabbit in the moon. "Gavin Menzies' most startling evidence is: "1. The "Zheng He Global Map" was drawn in 1418. "2. It is the first map to show Australia and New Zealand "3. Two years later, Europe also had such a world map" (end)
Re: Menzies and 1421 continued -
From: Geoff Wade <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Dear H-Asia members,For those who missed yesterday's gripping
account of the Menzies publicity machine (a.k.a. Gavin) as it
rolled into Southern China, herewith the report on his Shenzhen
talk yesterday, with even more unfounded claims being made (graves
with Chinese characters indeed!). Mercifully it is short. Again it
is from the Shenzhen Economic Daily and again thanks to Jin
Guo-ping for providing it. The translation is mine.
Am I alone in sensing a little Menzies-Bertelsmann publicity collaboration in the lead-up to the launch of Chiasson's "Island of Seven Cities"?Best,Geoff WadeNational University of Singapore**
Shenzhen Economic Daily 20 November 2005
Menzies: *Zheng He Discovered the American Continent* (Headline) Menzies, the author of *1421: the Year China Discovered the World* astonishes all with his brilliant thesis
*Zheng He Discovered the American Continent* (subhead)
Our reporter Li Ke-xin reports:
*It was not Columbus but Zheng He who discovered the American
continent!* Yesterday afternoon, at the Shenzhen Reading Month
forum, the British writer Gavin Menzies, author of *1421: the Year
China Discovered the World*, again put forward to the Shenzhen
audience his earth-shaking views.
Menzies also showed the audience his newest evidence: a world map he has just obtained and which is considered to have been drawn by Zheng He!First part of evidence: Columbus obtained Zheng He's navigational map at yesterday's forum, Menzies claimed that through 14 years of research, he has discovered that the Chinese person Zheng He discovered the American continent 70 years prior to Columbus, and reached the Magellan Straits many years before Magellan.
Further Zheng He also travelled to North and South America, the Antarctic, the North Pole and so on. Menzies revealed that during the course of his investigations, he discovered that an Italian had had contact with Zheng He's fleet, and had taken the navigation map from China and passed it on to Columbus.
Several later navigators had also relied on this navigation map which Zheng He had drawn to find the so-called *New World*.Second part of evidence: Carefully ascertaining that the ancient map was drawn by Zheng He.Menzies also showed to the Shenzhen audience his newest evidence - a world map considered to have been drawn by Zheng He.
When he showed the map, I saw that it extended from north to
south, from Ecuador down to the peninsula in the Antarctic. In
appearance it was not hugely different from modern maps. Menzies
said that the drawing of such a map could only have been achieved
by a huge fleet, and at that time, the only country in the world
with such a fleet was China. Further, the navigation map which
Zheng He left us also has such a statement on it. He is thus firmly
convinced that this map was drawn by Zheng He.Third part of
There is a Zheng He naval base in Canada.Menzies also revealed that on a peninsula on the northern Atlantic coast of Canada, they had discovered a naval base where Zheng He's fleet was once stationed. The ancient architecture and the Chinese characters on the remnant graves show that 600 years ago Chinese persons had come to this place. Menzies held that these Chinese people were from Zheng He's fleets and that they had come here in order to make this a base for the global voyages.
Date: 20 November 2005 from Ian Welch at anu.ed.au to H-Asia List, “Ok already! This is becoming very personal. Menzies has the same freedom of speech and publication as any other capitalist entrepreneur. Who cares? Brown is doing exactly the same thing with the Da Vinci Code, and we are not seeing endless notes about that.. Let's move on to other things. I am much more concerned, frankly, that a young Australian is to be hung in Singapore shortly. The issue of capital punishment in Singapore seems a much more significant issue”. ---------
Captain Phil Rivers in November 2005 conveys:
“Nothing about 1421, but some of Menzies' past here: -
Error 4040 - not found - http://www.ussendurance.org/Rorqurl incident.htm - Menzies commanded Rorqual at this time. [There are] a lot more classified documents now on the site, giving further background to the accident”
On a recent Menzies' visit to China, and prior to yet more revelation, see (November 2005), http://email@example.com
From: Ryan Dunch <@ualberta.ca>
A couple more issues occur to me out of our discussion of _1421_, particularly the points raised by Dr. Goldin in response to Geoff Wade. We all know that the claims of the discipline to provide reliable knowledge about the past have been seriously contested on philosophical/literary grounds since at least the 1970s. For instance, recently Keith Jenkins in "Refiguring History" has argued that histories do not have reference to a thing called "the past" or "history" that exists outside the text, and they should never have been thought to have done so. History's implicit or explicit claim to provide "knowledge" about "the past" is spurious, he argues, and so therefore are the standards of "appropriate" argument and use of evidence sustained by the collectivity of professional historians. For Jenkins, these are nothing more than tools of self-validation that historians employ to restrict access to their "guild" (p. 31). In my view Jenkins overstates his case massively (I am drawing above from my review of his book, which spells out my criticism more fully ? citation below).
He is partly right, though, in observing that historians collectively maintain the parameters of the discipline (however imperfectly) through the institutions of manuscript refereeing and peer review of publications, and that we do so with reference to implicitly shared but seldom articulated standards about what constitutes historical evidence and appropriate argument based on evidence. However, as _1421_ illustrates, there is a broader public discourse about "history" with popular, even mass, appeal that falls outside the oversight structures of professional historians.
The books of Simon Winchester are one example ? biographies written with journalistic verve that are (in his case) academically sound and very popular (my father is a dedicated reader of popular history of this sort, and probably many of us know similar people). Few professional historians write effectively for this readership, or aspire to, since such work does not rank high within the reward structures of academe. Of another type is _1421_, which through marketing and the sheer audacity of its claims has done an end run around the historical discipline to a mass market.
More marginal, but still illustrating the limits of professional
oversight of the invocation of "history" are the Russian
mathematicians who argue based on mathematical correlations in
ancient records that the accepted dating for historical events is
wrong and the "recorded history of mankind started not earlier than
the year 900 AD"
Jenkins goes on to argue that rejecting all the suppositions upon which the discipline of history has rested is not only logically necessary but also liberating, for loosing the shackles which bind historical accounts to their supposed "pasts" opens up space for completely new imaginings, and indeed for "radical, open-ended democracy" (p. 5). I don't know how he would react to _1421_, but for most practising historians it probably exemplifies the danger in taking the postmodern argument to the conclusion Jenkins articulates.
Dr. Wade's suggestions involve trying to expand the scope of
disciplinary oversight of the label "history" through approaches to
cataloguers and through using consumer watch legislation to try to
influence publishers. Vincent Pollard suggests trying to "fight
fire with fire" through the popular media, and Gala Argent suggests
that historians need to counter Menzies "with an intellectually
accessible book targeted to [the same] audience."
All these approaches have merit, clearly, if one can invest the time and energy needed. On a more limited scale, perhaps H-ASIA can play a role through posting summary statements about historically problematic works on the website, or by publishing a formal book review of _1421_ that will then a) get cross-posted and b) be preserved and accessible through the H-Reviews website. Another suggestion is to write an op-ed piece for the History News Network (<http://www.historynewsnetwork.org/
Most of its stories are US-focused, but it has established a
record of success in getting accessible informed pieces by real
historians into the mass print media.
For what it's worth ? Ryan Dunch University of Alberta Works
Keith Jenkins, *Refiguring History: New Thoughts on an Old Discipline*, (London and New York: Routledge, 2003).
Ryan Dunch, review of Jenkins, 'Refiguring History', in Canadian Journal of History, 40:1 (Apr 2005), 190-191.
Simon Winchester, *The Map that Changed the World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology* (New York: HarperCollins, 2001).
Idem., *The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary* (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003).
From: Paul R. Goldin <firstname.lastname@example.org> Dear List, I've
been re-reading the whole discussion about Gavin Menzies' book,
1421: The Year China Discovered the World [ed. note: see the
logs under the thread "Popular History and Bunkum" -- RD], because
the posts appeared over a couple of weeks and I was out of town for
part of that time--so I apologize if this comment seems
Although I am no fan of Menzies, I hope I am also not the only person who is disturbed by the idea of lodging a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission because his publisher classifies the book as "history" instead of "fiction" (as Dr. Wade claims to have done). Historiography necessarily involves interpreting historical evidence, and there is no single statement about history that everyone in the world will accept.
If someone who happens to disagree with an author's interpretations of historical evidence can freely bring a complaint against a publisher for classifying that book as "history," it would no longer be possible to have open debates about history in this country. (Just imagine the way this process could be abused by a malign corporation or political agency.) In the case of an execrable book like 1421, few people may be inclined to defend the defendant; but it's a slippery slope, and if Menzies' publisher is forced by the FTC to market the book as "fiction" instead of "history," it won't be very long before someone brings action forcing publishers of, say, the Beards' Rise of American Civilization to market such books as "fiction" as well.
Paul R. Goldin University of Pennsylvania **
NB: * Dr. Goldin's reference is to Charles A. Beard and Mary R. Beard, The Rise of American Civilization, originally published by Macmillan in four volumes from 1927. A one-volume reprint of the 1933 edition is listed on Amazon from Reprint Services Corp., ISBN 0781248485. The publisher's description from that listing explains: "One of the most influential American historians of his time, Beard is most remembered for his studies into the motives of the Founding Fathers. He was also blacklisted during the Red Scare of 1919 and was unable to secure an academic position after that and was forced to live off of his writings.
Mary Beard, an American historian and feminist, shared her husband Charles's economic view of history and collaborated with him on The Rise of American Civilization, in which they characterized the Civil War as the second American Revolution, perpetrated by Northern capitalists over Southern plantation owners for economic gain." RD
From: H-Net list for Asian History and Culture on behalf of Ryan Dunch Sent: Tue 22/11/2005 01:32
To: H-ASIA@H-NET.MSU.EDU Cc: Subject: H-ASIA: Menzies and 1421 continued - H-ASIA November 21, 2005
Menzies and 1421 continued
From: Wolfgang Hoeschele <email@example.com> From Geoff
Wade's post [on Nov 20 of a translation from the Shenzhen Economic
Daily], it seems that Menzies must be in trouble without knowing
it: a 1418 map is supposed to show the Americas, which Zheng He's
fleet supposedly discovered only three years later.
So who were the people who did the detailed surveying (while
simultaneously establishing a speed record across the seven seas)
for that map? Isn't there a wide open field here?
Where's the great Indian or Arab or (God forbid) the European or perhaps the North African mariner with his astrolabe who constructed this map? Or should we bring in a great woman for a change to debunk the male chauvinism of history?
Or perhaps somebody got started from Australia or America to discover the world, and then passed on the secret information to Zheng He? Now where's the creative history writer for this? Anybody from H-Asia ready to make a contribution? Wolfgang Hoeschele Associate Professor of Geography Truman State University Kirksville, Missouri, USA
Original Message----- From: H-Net list for Asian History and Culture on behalf of Ryan Dunch Sent: Tue 22/11/2005 00:45 To: H-ASIA@H-NET.MSU.EDU Cc: Subject: H-ASIA: Menzies and 1421 continued H-ASIA November 21, 2005 Menzies and 1421 continued
From: Geoff Wade <firstname.lastname@example.org> Dear List, Dr Welch
in his recent post [Nov 20 -- ed.] makes several points,
suggesting: 1. That the subject of Menzies and 1421 is past its
2. That the criticisms of Menzies have become *very personal*
3. That the 1421 phenomenon is *exactly the same thing* as that of the Da Vinci code
4. We should be more engaged with the question of capital punishment in Singapore While appreciating Dr Welch's reply, perhaps the following points might be made in response:
1. As I intended to show by my posts, the Menzies phenomenon is in the ascendant, is increasingly influential and increasingly involves global publishers trying to deceive the public. I still consider it a very topical issue, particularly for historians.
Given that, there is then the question of how one should respond to this -- or as Bertolt Brecht rhetorically asked at the end of his poem The Doubter, "Above all: How does one act". To this, one can of course respond loudly with another rhetorical question "Who cares?", or else one can care.
2. item deleted - Ed.
3. The claim that *1421* and the *Da Vinci Code* are similar phenomena suggests that Dr Welch has not been reading the posts on this topic. The whole point of the issue is that these are opposite phenomena. Dan Brown has categorically stated that the *Da Vinci Code* is fiction and his publishers Doubleday have responsibly classified the work as such. Menzies and his publishers claim that *1421* and the upcoming *Island of Seven Cities* are History. A responsible classification of 1421 and Island of Seven Cities as fiction, by both the publishers and by public institutions, would obviate most of the problems.
4. Writing critically on Menzies does not preclude one from having thoughts about capital punishment in Singapore or elsewhere. There are, however, a huge number of lists and concern groups dedicated to the issue of capital punishment. There is but one H-Asia and it remains a valuable forum for discussing history-writing in and on Asia.
With best wishes, Geoff Wade, National University of Singapore
(Ends discussion of 1421 to-date, 28 November 2005 – Ed)
Nature or Nurture? Is a sense of fairness an evolutionary thing or not? Humanity expends vast numbers of words on claims that views on justice are a large part of civilization, and also reside near the seat of the human soul, does it not? These philosophical views are now being monkeyed around with by researchers in Baltimore, US, checking some behaviour from Brown Capuchin Monkeys, especially their females. The monkeys have been trained to exchange plastic tokens for treats of a slice of cucumber, but if another monkey got a better deal for a token, say a grape, they become rather peeved. Monkeys feeling shortchanged might even throw away their token, or their cucumber, rather devaluing things. The peeves of the cucumber-recipients increased as the experiment went on. "Now debate is raging over whether this sense of fairness is an evolutionary thing or an example of behaviour learned in captivity." (Lost Worlds rather idly wonders if it might be more useful to ask a child rather than an adult?) (Reported from a recent issue of journal Nature in Editor section, Weekend Australian, 20-21 September 2003)
Lost Worlds' new e-mail
Points to Ponder from a Lost Worlds e-mailer in the eastern USA on 2-10-2003
Be a good citizen and use your freedom to vote.
At about the time our original 13 states adopted their new constitution in 1787, a Scottish history professor by the name of Professor Alexander Tyler had this to say about "The Fall of the Athenian Republic" over 2,000 years previous to that date.
"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse (generous gifts) from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a dictatorship." "The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been two hundred years. These nations have progressed through this sequence. From bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance, from abundance to complacency; from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, from dependence back into bondage."
Professor Joseph Olson of Hamline University School of Law, St.Paul, Minnesota, wrote this about the 2000 election:
Population of counties won by Gore 127 million, won by Bush 143 million.
Sq.miles of country won by Gore 580,000, won by Bush 2,427,000.
States won by Gore 19, by Bush 29.
Murder per 100,000 residents in counties won by Gore 13.2, by Bush 2.1 (not a typo).
Professor Olson adds, "The map of the territory Bush won was (mostly) the land owned by the people of this great country. Not the citizens living in cities in tenements owned by the government and living off the government....
Professor Olson thinks the US is now between the apathy and complacency phase of democracy although he believes that 40 percent of the nation's population has already reached the dependency phase. (Both items above were verified by the sender through a Google Internet Search)
(Received 25 February 2002 at Lost Worlds)
IF we could shrink the earth's population to a village of precisely 100 people, with all the existing human ratios remaining the same, it would look something like the following:
There would be 57 Asians, 21 Europeans, 14 from the Western Hemisphere, both north and south, 8 Africans, 52 would be female, 48 would be male, 70 would be non-white, 30 would be white, 70 would be non-Christian, 30 would be Christian, 89 would be heterosexual,11 would be homosexual, 6 people would possess 59% of the entire world's wealth and all 6 would be from the United States.
Some 80 would live in substandard housing, 70 would be unable to read, 50 would suffer from malnutrition, 1 would be near death, 1 would be near birth, 1 (yes, only I) would have a university education, 1 would own a computer,
When you consider our world from such a compressed perspective, the need for acceptance, understanding and education becomes glaringly apparent. The following is also something to ponder... If you woke up this morning with more health than illness...you are more blessed than the million who will not survive this week. If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation ...you are ahead of 500 million people in the world. If you can attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death... you are more blessed than three billion people in the world. If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep... you are richer than 75% of this world.
If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace ... you are among the top 8% of the world's wealthy. If your parents are still alive and still married ... you are very rare. If you can read this message, you just received a double blessing in that someone was thinking of you, and furthermore, you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world that cannot read at all.
Someone once said, (other people have said it twice or more):
What goes around comes around. Work like you don't need the money. Love like you've never been hurt. Dance like no-one's watching. Sing like no-one's listening. Live like it's Heaven on Earth.
From Lost Worlds - 23 September, 2001:
REMARKS following the 11 September 2001 New York World Trade Centre bombing:
In the town in which Lost Worlds is produced lives an old man, who as an Australian soldier was stationed in Japan after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
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On day ten after the 9/11 attack, I asked him his reaction to the situation following the New York bombings. All he would say is this: "Terrorism is a weapon for poor people."
Coming from post-atomic Japan, this remark threw many things into a perspective. Especially, that a major factor in world affairs, too-little-mentioned in the world news coverage of the 11 September bombings, and related matters, is world poverty.
However, to mention local or regional poverty, or world poverty, or, in some countries, "poverty in an Islamic world", is also to refer to a great many other matters (where Islam or its critics are influential); including attitudes to various sorts of modernity, the institutions of liberal democracies, and tolerance in religious life - matters affecting all people involved including non-Moslems.
While any sort of war ensues, including any sort of jihad, or Holy War, comment and concern about world poverty is likely to be sidelined even further as a serious issue. This will be doubly unfortunate.
It also seems safe to say, that to speak too strongly about
alleviating world poverty will be counter-productive, as to speak
too strongly would disturb the balance of human virtues which need
to be applied to the relevant work, including suitable
(So there will be no strong words spoken here by this website, which is anyway mostly concerned with the human past.)
However, I have since 11 September received a great deal of e-mail which is equivocal, uncertain, possibly misleading, about the current world situation. Also, some e-mail which is highly sceptical or cynical about the financial machinations used, or not, by the planners of the New York attack, and the suicidal hijackers involved. None of that e-mail makes for comfortable thoughts about anything.
Deep within all religions abide timeless ideas about how to live a well-rounded human life that leaves a respectable mark when a person dies. These ideas can relate also to some alleviation of world poverty.
World-wide, these ideas need much closer attention from the world media, from economists and financiers, from governments and from religious leaders.
For one new reason: because as so many people after the New York attack, from around the world, remarked quite accurately; the world has changed.
So is there any connection - should there be any connection? - between the current aim of the US, the rooting out of terrorism, and the rooting out of world poverty?
If any such connections exist, matters need further exploration, particularly by the wealthy of the entire world.
This website carries various information about the bloody and unfortunate Crusades which preceded the Renaissance of Western Europe. Which information it is hoped will be of interest about any current risks faced by adherents of religion today.
The world does not need any new Crusades, or conflict between Islam and adherents of any other religions. What the world needs now, more than anger with damage to wealth or pride, is less poverty.
And so, the wealthy and the poor need to sit down, and talk, and to share.
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In fact, as an unpleasant truth, poverty is much more easily-shared-out than wealth. This may be an essential problem that the world is now asking itself to face more realistically.
If this is the case, what is now most important is to ask the right questions. The world seems to be in such a state that many of the better questions will be deflected.
One of Lost Worlds' conclusions from studying the world's first wave of Crusades is that the questions asked by those Crusades were not the best questions, nor the most realistic.
A second, Crusading visitation of non-realistic questions will be disastrous, and will not help alleviate problems in places of poverty. It will merely prolong our evident problems.
Meetings of financiers and the leaders of the world's religions - all religions - almost never happen. So they can never be reported in the world press.
In the interests of realism, we now need to ask: why is this so? Why do financiers and religious leaders have so many motives to avoid each other's company so continually?
It is about time some such meetings were scheduled, regularly, and media-reported, until some decent ideals about future human life can be spoken about seriously, and believably, in the world's media, and by ordinary people.
For if there was one word over-used in the world's media concerning the New York attack, it was the world "unbelievable". Did the over-use of that word speak for itself, or not?
Now, the challenge for the world media is to draw back enough curtains, so that the word "believable" can be used much more often, with much more confidence, by ordinary people, and especially by presently poorer people.
Otherwise, we may all oblige ourselves to continue to live with things "unbelievable". Which will remain painful.
New York World Trade Centre, 11 September, 2001: The chilling
picture below came to Lost Worlds via e-mail between
photolabs from New York to Australia. Unfortunately, the identity
and fate of the tourist shown are unknown. It is amazing that a
camera's film survived the drop to the streets below, where the
film was retrieved and developed.
Or, has the picture been digitally-enhanced, or faked? If so, what does this say about the capacity of the Internet for mischief-making?
(Below is a petition received by Lost Worlds in early March 2001)
We, the undersigned, plead for an immediate end to the Taliban edict to demolish Afghanistan's cultural heritage.
We further urge the Taliban spiritual leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, to enter into dialogue with the international community -including the Arab and Islamic governments that overwhelmingly have condemned these actions - in order to explore proposals to safeguard this irreplaceable cultural heritage from further, senseless destruction.
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The edict of the 26th of February 2001 to destroy pre-Islamic and Buddhist objects-including the world's largest standing Buddha statues at Bamiyan-runs counter to all the basic principles of respect, tolerance and the wisdom upon which Islam is based, and is a breach of the Taliban pledge made in 1999.
We plead with Taliban authorities to stop this irreversible assault on two millennia of Afghanistan's artistic and cultural achievements, treasured not only as the spiritual birthright of Buddhists everywhere but also as a universal cultural heritage for people of all faiths and nationalities.
-Please sign and also forward this e-mail to friends, family, news groups, mailing lists etc.
-To avoid ... please preferably cut & paste the entire petition and list of names into a new message prior to re-sending. -The 100th, 200th, 300th etc. name to sign is requested to also forward the updated list of signatures back to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization at...
November, 1999, Report on Z'ev Herzog, Israeli archaeologist, with major new findings tending to overturn orthodox views on Old Testament History. More to come when Lost Worlds researches the issues further.
A few facts...
The Nepalese calendar has been 57 years ahead of the Gregorian calendar and so had a new millennium by 1943. Julius Caesar fixed a solar year, not a lunar one, in 46BC. Gregorian calendar reforms took place in 1582. The AD system of reference (Anno Domini, The Year of Our Lord). was established in the 6th Century by Dionysius Exiguus (who was three years out in estimating the year Jesus was born). His system of dating was adopted by The Synod of Whitby in 664AD.
In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII saw that the calendar in use was 10 days in advance of the measured solar year, so putting out calculations for the fall of Easter. He restored New Year's Day as a holiday, but shaved the extra 10 days from October. These changes were not adopted by England until 1752 and Russia adopted them as late as 1918.
According to Jewish lore, the world began on 3761BC (BCE), a figure based on rumination about life spans of the earlier Biblical figures (whose life spans some say should be measured in terms of lunar months, not solar years). Meanwhile, the first year of the Islamic lunar calendar begins from 16 July, 622AD.
Some one billion people follow the Chinese calendar. Buddhists, Sikhs and Hindus all use their own calendars.
There are, of course, those who feel the real turn of the New Millennium occurs on January 1, 2001. In any case, Happy New Year!
Editors' Note : Between Lost Worlds' issues 3-5, (we are now "continual issue") we expanded our lists of historical dates for items of interest in antiquity. The results are seen with the present site renovation. From Issue Two we have considered that Lost Worlds can help with the media handling of archaeological stories...
Because of the slowness of archaeological work, newspapers generally handle archaeological research stories as one-offs. Journalistically, there is little hope of a quick follow-up, and quite properly, scholars of course will be slow to make decisive remarks about the significance of their discoveries.
The result for newspaper readers is that stories on major archaeological advances, such as the recent discovery of Cleopatra's ship in Alexandria's harbour, tend to become detached in mental space, at least until a book is published. TV, meanwhile, tends to take even longer to produce documentaries on recent archaeology, and the best productions tend to be accompanied with a book publication.
The result are gaps in information where Lost Worlds perhaps can step in, providing updates on discoveries, contexts and, maybe, extra information whih can be followed up on personnel and institutions involved in discoveries.
Our idea then, where possible, is to keep following up these storylines. Readers' reactions will be welcomed.
Now return to the Index
Stop Press: For late entries
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