GETTING THE FACTS
important aspect of human cognitive processing is the tendency to
perceive events from a subjective point-of-view, or else, to
misunderstand, or misinterpret them so that, for a variety of reasons,
many of the things that are passed down, and which we accept as factual
are, to some degree, unreliable. Here we examine a number of such
examples in an attempt to establish the facts.
"Just the facts ma'am." Joe Friday, Dragnet
(Investigator 197, 2021 March)
COLOSSUS OF RHODES:
The statue straddled the harbour entry.
Begun in 292 and completed in 280 BCE, one of the seven wonders of the
world, the Colossus of Rhodes was a huge statue of the Greek sun-god
Helios. Located at the entry to Rhodes harbour, it was said to be 70
cubits, (33 metres) high, and the tallest statue in the ancient world.
Various illustrations depict it standing astride the narrow harbour
entrance with ships sailing directly beneath its legs; however such
portrayals are most likely artistic fantasy. Given the standard of
engineering at that time, such a structure would have been extremely
difficult to construct, but even if it had been possible it would have
required the entry to what was a busy harbour to be blocked for a
considerable period of time, (12 years according to some estimates).
Given these facts, it is more likely the statue was erected on a single
pylon at one side of the harbour entry. The erroneous concept appears
to have originated amongst medieval scholars, who appear to have
mistakenly assumed that the text of a poem, dedicated to the statue,
which read, "Not only over the seas but also on land …" meant the
statue straddled the harbour entry.
Cremation reduces bodies to ashes.
Cremation does not reduce the entire body to ash. When incinerated, (at
some 760 to 1150 degrees Celsius), the body, including the organs and
other soft tissue, are vaporized. The gases generated are discharged
through an exhaust system, leaving fragments of bone. Since bones are
difficult to burn, they are removed from the oven and crushed, either
by hand, or in a machine called a Cremulator, (essentially a high-speed
blender), reducing the bone to a fine, sand-like composition, the
Most members of the Local Defence Volunteers were aged pensioners.
The Local Defence Volunteers, (the British Home Guard of WWII),
actually consisted of males who were either too young, or too old, for
normal military service, (which was 18-41 years of age), or individuals
in reserved occupations. Overall, the average age of Home Guard members
was 35 years.
DESTRUCTION OF POMPEII:
Vesuvius erupted so quickly the inhabitants of Pompeii had no opportunity to escape.
The devastating events of 79 AD actually took place over a period of
about 18 hours, and, while some 1,150 inhabitants died, many had
adequate time to escape. From the town of Stabiae, some 4.5 kilometres
southwest of Pompeii, across the Bay of Naples, Pliny the Elder, saw
the eruption and had enough time to sail to Pompeii in an attempt to
rescue a friend and his family; unfortunately, he appears to have been
unable to escape.
and modern vulcanological evidence, suggests Vesuvius first erupted
around 1.00 p.m. on 24th August. Spewing out a huge cloud of fine ash
and pumice which rose high into the sky, it completely darkened a large
area, including Pompeii, and although this ash and pumice fell on
Pompeii for some 18 hours, many individuals had time to escape from the
continued to eject various types of ash and pumice, but then, at around
7.00 a.m. the following morning, it released a pyroclastic flow. This
huge mass of molten rock and a vast cloud of ash and dense hot gases at
a temperature of some 1,000 degrees Celsius, rolled down the mountain
and across the coastal plateau at around 100 kph, delivering the final
blow to Pompeii some 8 kilometres away, leaving no survivors.
EMERGENCY OXYGEN ON PASSENGER AIRCRAFT:
Modern aircraft emergency oxygen systems deliver gas from oxygen cylinders.
In fact when the oxygen masks drop down, a chemical oxygen generating
system, a mixture of sodium chloride and iron powder, is ignited. This
supplies about 15 minutes of oxygen, considered adequate time for the
aircraft to descend to an altitude where passengers can breathe without
the emergency system. One downside to the system is that the generator
can become quite hot and may produce a burning smell, which can create
a sense of panic amongst some passengers.
The Flat Earth concept persisted throughout Europe until the Middle Ages.
The concept of a Flat Earth had been generally dismissed by the ancient
Greeks some 2,000 years earlier. Pythagoras referred to a spherical
shaped Earth by the 6th century BCE, and although the idea was
cautiously received, it gradually gained wider acceptance throughout
the Hellenic world. Plato in the 4th century BCE referred to a
spherical shaped Earth, and when Aristotle provided empirical evidence
circa 350 BCE the concept became much more widely accepted. By the time
of Columbus most educated people accepted the Earth was somewhat
spherical in shape, although some, like Columbus, thought it was
pear-shaped. Circa 1490, in notes relating to measuring the distance
from the Earth to the Sun, Leonardo da Vinci referred to a spherical
Earth, and, in 1492, the German Martin Behaim produced a globe-shaped
model of the Earth; called Erdapfel, (potato), it showed the
known continents as much larger than they were, with the Atlantic Ocean
stretching from Europe to Asia.
primary question in the 15th century was about Earth's dimensions, not
its shape. Like many of his time Columbus greatly underestimated its
actual size, thus, in a map of the New World published in 1540 both
Japan and China are placed only a few miles to the west of North
America. Due to this erroneous perception of the size of the Earth,
when Columbus discovered San Salvador, he believed he had actually
reached an unknown part of Asia, and had discovered a new route to the
GREAT WALL OF CHINA:
The Great Wall of China can be seen unaided from space.
This erroneous belief appears to have originated from the fact that,
since the wall is so "large" (i.e. long), it must be able to be seen
from space. However, even though the many sections of the wall stretch
for more than 21,196 km, the wall itself is only around 6 metres wide
at its base, and 5 metres at the top, far too narrow to be seen from
space without a telescope.
HITLER AND THE AUTOBAHN:
Hitler was responsible for the construction of the autobahns.
Planning for the autobahns actually began in the mid 1920's under the
auspices of the Weimar Republic. However, due to lack of political
support, and difficult economic times, most of these projects never
progressed beyond the planning stage.
first to be constructed, (now known as the Bundesautobahn 555), ran
between Cologne and Bonn, and was constructed in 1932, before Hitler
came to power. Although designated as an Kraftfahrstrasse, (a
motor-vehicle road), it was effectively an autobahn. Lacking only a
central median strip, a feature of later autobahns, it had two lanes in
each direction, no intersections and pedestrians, bicycles and
animal-powered vehicles were not permitted to use it.
coming to power in 1933 Hitler backed the construction of the
autobahns, primarily as a public relations exercise to demonstrate to
the international community the high-level of German economic
development. By 1936 these projects were employing some 130,000
construction workers and a further 270,000 in supplying infrastructure.
Newton discovered gravity when an apple fell on his head.
The common claim that an apple fell on Isaac Newton's head appears to
be a complete myth. In his old age Newton did mention to several of his
colleagues that one day, many years earlier, he had been sitting in an
apple orchard when he saw an apple fall perpendicularly, and this
prompted him to begin thinking about the forces that could made the
apple fall straight down rather than at an angle to the earth. Despite
this, modern scientific historians are now more inclined to think his
actual discovery was prompted by his observations of the path of a
comet vanishing behind the Sun and reappearing.
ISRAELITES WERE ENSLAVED BY THE EGYPTIANS:
The Israelites settlers in Egypt were enslaved and forced to build supply-cities:
Although, according to Exodus 1:11, "… the Egyptians made the
Israelites their slaves …" and forced them to build the store-cities of
Pithom and Rameses, this claim appears to be completely false. While
many people from the Levant did migrate to Egypt in times of famine,
there is no evidence of any major Israelite settlement in Goshen, as
claimed in Genesis 45:9-10, and Exodus 1:7. Indeed, at the "claimed"
time of the Exodus, (most authorities place it between 1445 and 1290
BCE), Goshen” did not exist. This name, for an area in the Nile delta,
was first used during the 6th-5th centuries BCE by an Arabic group, who
dominated this area.
1888 a number of villages have been unearthed which housed the actual
builders of many of the various Egyptian cities and great structures.
Archaeological evidence clearly indicates the inhabitants were
primarily Egyptians, with a few Nubians and Asians. One such village
was Set Maat, ("the place of truth," now Deir el-Medina) in western
Thebes; dating from the 18th Dynasty it was established to house
craftsmen who built and decorated a number of the royal tombs. Evidence
these workers were not Israelite slaves comes from the fact that
Amenhotep I, and his mother, Ahmose-Nefertari, were the patron-deities
of the village, and many of the worker's homes contained shrines
dedicated to them.
its own claim that the Israelites were slaves, Exodus 10:24 mentions
that the pharaoh requested of Moses, "… let your flocks and herds stay
here." In ancient times herds of sheep, goats and cattle were usually
owned by clans, or the wealthy; so one must ask, what type of slaves
would have owned such herds?
The Monkey Wrench is a modern invention.
The adjustable wrench, known as a Monkey* Wrench, was an American
development of an earlier English coach wrench. In the 1st century AD,
the Chinese developed a somewhat similar designed tool, the principal
difference being that it was adjusted using a sliding calliper gauge
rather than the screw mechanism of the later version.
* In the past, the term “monkey” originally referred to any piece of equipment designed to suit a specific purpose.
A Mule Skinner is a person who skins mules.
Many mistakenly believe the term refers to an abattoir
worker who skinned dead mules; however this is incorrect. Originally
the term "mule skinner" referred to brutal handlers who drive teams of
mules so savagely that their whips cut open the skin of the mules.
Later, the term came to be applied to experienced mule handlers, those
skilled enough to "skin" (to outsmart) teams of mules, which are noted
for their stubborn behaviour.
ORIGINS OF THE "00" CODE NUMBER:
The "00" code number originated with Ian Fleming's James Bond.
Although Ian Fleming used the "00" as a code number for agent James
Bond, it was not his creation. During WWI British naval intelligence
successfully cracked the German diplomatic code; one of the principal
documents they decoded was the Zimmermann telegraph, a secret
communication from the German Foreign Office to the Mexican Government
which proposed that, if the United States entered the war against
Germany, they would assist Mexico to recover territories in Texas, New
Mexico and Arizona which had been lost to the United States in past
centuries. The code number of this communiqué was 0075 and
subsequently the code number “00” was used by British Intelligence to
refer to highly classified material.
use of the "007" term appears to be even older; it was originally used
by Dr. John Dee, (1527 - 1608/1609), a learned scholar, Astrologer and
a principal adviser to Queen Elizabeth I, who signed confidential
correspondence to the queen with the symbol “007” meaning the material
was for the eyes of the queen only. Various alternative suggestions for
its use are that: -
For Dee, as the author of several books on optics, it was symbolic of a
pair of hand-held eyeglasses, the "00" representing the lenses, and the
"7" represented the single handle by which they were held, the
underlying symbolism being, as indicated above, that it was only to be
read by the queen;
The "00" represented the symbol for infinity, which, combined with the
number "7" represented for Dee, an Astrologer, an auspicious and
The Pentagon is located in Washington D.C.
The Pentagon, the headquarters of the United States Department of
Defense, along with the Arlington National Cemetery, is actually
located across the Potomac River in Arlington County, Virginia.
ROTARY MOTOR MOWER:
The rotary motor mower was invented in 1952 by M. V. Richardson:
Although widely believed that the Victa motor mower, "invented" in 1952
by Australian Mervyn Victor Richardson, was the first rotary mower ever
produced, in actual fact a number of rotary mowers had been developed
in the USA during the 1920's – 1930's; however, none were commercially
successful, and the hand-powered reel mower prevailed.
first petrol driven Australian rotary mower was actually the "Mowhall"
invented by Lawrence Hall in 1948. Powered by a 3 hp. two-stroke, water
cooled marine engine, with a plough disc as a base plate, it was heavy
and awkward to use, requiring two operators, one to push, and one to
1951, to earn extra money during his university vacations, Mervyn's son
Gary, mowed lawns using a large 14 inch reel type mower, made by his
father. Heavy, and difficult to transport, Mervyn decided to design a
smaller more mobile rotary type mower. In 1948 he had seen a
demonstration of the Mowhall at Hall's Five Dock, Sydney, workshop, and
set out to design a simpler, lighter, cheaper and more practical
machine of a similar design.
out of scrap metal, with a Villiers two-stroke and a lighter base plate
his first model, with a peach tin for the fuel tank, was named the
"Peach-Tin Prototype." So successful was the design that Richardson
began production with the first models going on sale on 20 September