The Trend to Fake Islamic Science

Feb 2011
6,379
#21
Sorry, I'm just a victim of Poe's Law. It's really hard to tell who's joking these days on the net considering it's the harbor for extremist opinion that you don't typically encounter in everyday life.
 
Mar 2017
869
Colorado
#22
I ploughed through the original article, skimmed over some of it. The instructor's contention seems to be that not only are the plethora of forgeries dreadful, their ready acceptance into museums is bending the portrayal of history. Fair enough. However, this is entirely the fault of the museums. Many, many, many museums have displayed frauds/forgeries in the past ... and continue to do so. That's what "provenance" is all about. If you stroll over to the Louvre and say "I just found this Raphael in my granny's attic" ... looking like a Raphael is not good enough. It's authenticity has to be established. If a museum cuts corners and displays something found in a bazaar, you have to question ALL their collections. "Is that REALLY hair from the mane of Caligula's horse?"

There was a short lived art channel on cable. One week, they ran nothing but stories on forgers. They were low budget documentaries that just interviewed people. For instance, there were three generations of forgers that worked out of a farmhouse in the middle of England. They were WONDERFUL artists ... that produced, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Renaissance, Celtic, ... upto post modern I think. They claimed that they mostly sold to private collectors, but that some museums displayed their art. They were clever and forged provenance documents as well. They still got caught from time to time: penalties weren't that bad.

You can walk into a souk in Cairo today and buy a cat mummy. It looks pretty old, with wrappings and everything. There might even be a cat skeleton inside. I used to collect fossils & still go to major shows: at some, there are more forgeries than authentic items.

There have been forgeries as long as there have been originals. The instructor is correct to make notice of it ... to publicly point it out, but I think he goes over the top with it's effect on society.
 
Jan 2014
999
Rus
#23
Wait, let me get this right. You expect that the first evidence for Chinese invention of gunpowder and compass, to be not Chinese evidence? Think about that for a second.
I expect that Europeans which arrived to China would see compass (or wouldnt see compass). If they didnt see then chinese didnt invented compass with probability 95%. Because chinese chronicles about their compass could be written after they saw european compass.
 
Feb 2011
6,379
#24
I expect that Europeans which arrived to China would see compass (or wouldnt see compass). If they didnt see then chinese didnt invented compass with probability 95%. Because chinese chronicles about their compass could be written after they saw european compass.
Your statement can be summarized by one sentence: "Europeans are trustworthy, Chinese are not".

Turning your logic around, if a Chinese person in Europe didn't write about European inventions.... it means Europe didn't invent it? Anyway, you are giving an impossible scenario. The earliest form of Chinese compass was in the Han dynasty. How many Europeans at the time "which had arrived to China" wrote a book about China which passed down to present day? Can you name even one? Thought not. The first European who both visited China and left a detailed account of the place was Marco Polo (compass was invented well before Marco Polo). He didn't mention the compass, but he also didn't mention the Great Wall, nor chopsticks, nor foot binding, nor a bunch of other things. Guess they're all made up: it's not true until a white guy confirms it.

On the other hand, you say "Chinese chronicles about their compass could be written after they saw European compass", never mind the different design of the earliest Chinese compass. I'm curious how you arrived from "COULD be written after they saw European compass", into "probability 95%" that they WERE written after European compass." Why not turn this logic around and direct it at Europe then? Plenty of European inventions would have "probability 95%" of being a forgery when using the same logic.
 
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Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
#26
It is a fact that they invented gunpowder to the compass. And they made continuous use of the technology before and after European arrival. There are some false claims that people say about China, but these are not two of them.
The Chinese made many great inventions and discoveries, but there is a definite trend to greatly exaggerate their achievements. Menzies Gavin's claims are merely the most eAnd Chinese failures, such as not figuring out the size and shape.of the earth 2000 years after others, are glossed over. While.the Chinese were the first to use printing, it is seldom mentioned that the Chinese didn't get metal type printing to work until about a half century after Gutenberg, and centuries after the Koreans. Even the compass you mentioned the actual evidence indicates that it was independently reinvented, and the magnetic compass we use today isn't dependent on the Chinese invention.
It is a fact that they invented gunpowder to the compass. And they made continuous use of the technology before and after European arrival. There are some false claims that people say about China, but these are not two of them.
But there is a tendency in current to times to exaggerate Chinese achievements. Gavin Menzies' claims might be the most extreme, and obviously false, but there are other claims out there that are not so easily spotted. For example the often made claimed of how the Chinese invented pound canal locks isn't actually supported by archaeological evidence, and, surprise, surprise, these pound canal locks all seemed to have vanished when outside observers arrived in China, leading one source I have read to question the interpretations of the text supporting the claim. The famous Sung Clock tower is another Chinese achievement that vanished without a trace. The famous Needham was forced to acknowledge that Ming texts had references to reading glasses that did not exist in the earlier versions of the same text (Science and Civlivization Vol 4.1 pg 118-119) making it seem reading glasses were older in China than they were. And it is seldom mentioned that the Chinese didn't manage to get metal type printing working until around a half century after Gutenberg, and a couple centuries after the Koreans. Even the compass you mentioned appears from all the evidence to have been reinvented independently Europe, and it was the European invention that made the compass a primary navigation instrument.


The problem with such fakes like the Islamic miniatures is that they distorted history, as do exhibits such as the 1001 Islamic inventions. Many are motivated by a sincere desire to correct the under reporting of such achievements in the past, and might exaggerate a little in trying to set the record straight. Since the actual evidence they desire is hard to come by, they don't see it as wrong to create these fake images.

Unfortunately, this can cause the truly genuine achievements to be rejected or viewed with skepticism.
 
Likes: MagnusStultus
Feb 2011
6,379
#27
There are many issues I have with the above post.

1 ) Gavin Menzie's claims are clickbait and cannot represent the views of Chinese academia, in fact he's criticized by much of Chinese academia. There are clickbait history in all of history. For example, the claims of Greek sculptors making the Chinese TerraCotta warriors is clickbait. It put the words of a Chinese historian completely out of context. But I don't see anybody using this example to paint the the entirety of Western academia or Western achievements in general.

Here is the proof:
In a BBC article, archaeologist Li Xiuzhen said that the many sculptures found in and around the tomb – including the Terracotta Army, but also sculptures of musicians, dancers and acrobats – were “inspired by ancient Greek sculptures and art.”

The alleged “Greekness” of the Terracotta Army went viral, but archaeologists in China (and around the world) were skeptical and dismissive. Two weeks after the story broke, Zhang Weixing, head of the Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s Mausoleum Site Museum, told the AFP that there is “no substantial evidence at all” for contact between ancient Greeks and those responsible for the Qin tombs.

Li Xiuzhen even backtracked, protesting to Xinhua News Agency, China’s largest official state press agency, that her words had been taken out of context. “The terracotta warriors,” she clarified, “may be inspired by Western culture, but were uniquely made by the Chinese.” She also told Xinhua that her ideas had been misrepresented after being placed alongside those of art historian Luckas Nickel, who had speculated that “a Greek sculptor may have been at the site to train the locals.”

Why were Xiuzhen’s comments so controversial?

For centuries, archaeologists and art historians have been eager to see the imprint of the Greeks in works of art and architecture throughout the world. But this view rests on a Eurocentric logic which has long assumed other civilizations were fundamentally incapable of creating highly technical, impressive and aesthetically pleasing works of art.
-Why there's so much backlash to the theory that Greek art inspired China's Terracotta Army


2 ) Metal moveable type did work in China before Guntenburg, the claim that it "didn't work until half a centry after Gutenburg" would be debunked by the following picture of a early 13th century copperplate:



Second of all, your statement implies that we need to give just as much weight to what Chinese didn't invent, what Chinese didn't improve on, for each statement we make about what Chinese invented. Well that's ridiculous. Nomatter how much anyone invents, the amount of things he didn't invent would be astronomically greater. I don't see such standard being practiced on Europe (ie. though it's true Germany invented X, it's glossed over that they didn't invent Y).

That would be ridiculous. I can easily make a list longer than I have time to finish writing them, for each country of things they didn't invent, and say that these supposed failings are "glossed over", as you would put it.

3 ) The statement that Needham was "forced" to acknowledge that a Ming text made it "seem reading glasses were older in China than they were": This had been repeatedly been debunked for the last three years repeatedly. I don't know why you keep making this fallacious remark. The first time I debunked this false attack could be seen here: Overrated events in Ancient History?

In short, the actual statement showed that the "Ming text" is actually an encyclopedia called "Clarification of Strange Things", and this encyclopedia freely admitted that the glasses came from the West.
Your statement implies that the Chinese deliberately edited their old texts to claim an invention that they didn't actually invent, and Needham was grudging in admitting to this. However
1. All they did was update an encyclopedia on the new strange items they encountered. We still update encyclopedias today, do we not? There's no sin in that.
2. Said Chinese encyclopedia freely admitted that the reading glasses it described came from outside of China. So your example shows the opposite of what you are using it for.
3. Needham was not "forced to admit" this, he was the one who pointed out that the reading glasses was a later addition to the encyclopedia. He didn't have to, he chose to.

4 ) You say Su Song's waterclock was a one-off invention that couldn't be reproduced by his successors, I don't see any serious historians disputing this. So how could you use this as an example for how Chinese claims are "exaggerated?". There's plenty of inventions inside and outside of China which are like that. At least Su Song's waterclock made it off the drawing board. For example, I can't say the same for the works of Philo, yet all the machinery in his text are considered inventions anyway despite that there's no proof how many of them made it off the drawing board. So I don't know why Chinese inventions should somehow get less leeway.

I can even say that it was only after Needham pointed out Su Song's waterclock was using the world's first escapement mechanism, in which historians started saying Philo's washstand uses an escapement mechanism. Nobody before Needham ever said Philo's washstand uses an escapement mechanism. It wasn't as if Philo's washstand came from some lost Greek text that was discovered after Needham, people had it available all along and nobody prior to Needham ever saw the machine as having an escapement mechanism. And you realllllyyyy need to stretch (more like break) the definition of escapement in order for Philo's washstand to qualify. Unlike Su Song's waterclock, Philo's washstand isn't a clock and more importantly it didn't even have toothed wheels, which is kind of an important part of the definition for an escapement mechanism.


Su Song's waterclock (tooth of the wheel is obvious):


Philo's washstand (no toothed wheel anywhere to be found):


Relevant definition from Merriam Webster Dictionary for "Escapement": a device in a timepiece which controls the motion of the train of wheelwork and through which the energy of the power source is delivered to the pendulum or balance by means of impulses that permit a tooth to escape from a pallet at regular intervals

5 ) The Chinese invention of the pound lock is attested in the History of the Song. You say it's "not supported by archaeological evidence", which implies that archaeological evidence disprove the History of the Song, but that's not exactly it, is it? There are plenty of non-Chinese inventions that are not supported by archaeology. The Roman onager is not supported by archaeology. No serious historian doubts it. Achaeminid scythed chariots is not supported by archaeology, no serious historian doubts it.

Your claim "these pound canal locks all seemed to have vanished when outside observers arrived in China"
I can't help but believe that you must have read Needham to arrive at that claim, for Needham said that pound locks were invented in Song China due to the size of the large ships in its canals, but as canal ships got smaller, pound locks were dropped in favor of other forms of gates. In which case your statement would have twisted what Needham said into a different tone entirely. If you didn't get it from Needham, then please share where you got it from.

The flood-gates in the canals of China are preferable to English locks in every situation where the canal is nearly level, and are constructed at a quarter of the expense. The inclined plane down which the boats are launched and up which they are drawn is a mode superior to our practice, for besides their being cheaper they are much more expeditious.... The time employed in one instance observed was two minutes and a half, and in another about three.‘ -Dr. Dinwiddie

By the same logic, this is "proof" that the earliest repeating crossbows of China dates back to the Chu:



Unlike the above crossbow, no archaeological evidence exists for the Roman polybolos or the Greek gastraphetes, but I don't see any serious historian doubting them either. So the same standard of evidence should be given for Chinese inventions. Same goes for the Roman odometer, the treadwheel crane, or the more complicated clocks. I want to give more examples but there's a word limit.
 
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Jun 2018
23
Earth
#28
I expect that Europeans which arrived to China would see compass (or wouldnt see compass). If they didnt see then chinese didnt invented compass with probability 95%. Because chinese chronicles about their compass could be written after they saw european compass.
The earliest definitive Chinese mention of a compass or compass-like tool used for land navigation is dated to a Song dynasty book written around 1040-44. The first definitive Chinese mention of a compass used for maritime navigation is dated to a book written by Zhu Yu around 1111-1117.

By contrast, the first definitive European mention of a navigational compass is made by Alexander Neckham in two texts written between 1187 and 1202.
 
Jan 2016
583
United States, MO
#29
[QUOTE="Bart Dale, post: 3045671,


But there is a tendency in current to times to exaggerate Chinese achievements. Gavin Menzies' claims might be the most extreme, and obviously false, but there are other claims out there that are not so easily spotted. For example the often made claimed of how the Chinese invented pound canal locks isn't actually supported by archaeological evidence, and, surprise, surprise, these pound canal locks all seemed to have vanished when outside observers arrived in China, leading one source I have read to question the interpretations of the text supporting the claim. The famous Sung Clock tower is another Chinese achievement that vanished without a trace. The famous Needham was forced to acknowledge that Ming texts had references to reading glasses that did not exist in the earlier versions of the same text (Science and Civlivization Vol 4.1 pg 118-119) making it seem reading glasses were older in China than they were. And it is seldom mentioned that the Chinese didn't manage to get metal type printing working until around a half century after Gutenberg, and a couple centuries after the Koreans. Even the compass you mentioned appears from all the evidence to have been reinvented independently Europe, and it was the European invention that made the compass a primary navigation instrument.

QUOTE]

Yes, some people exaggerate Chinese scientific achievements. But is this exclusive to China? Medieval Europe is often treated decently just because there is the renaissance narrative of a dark age which still has some hold over people. But fanboys like to exaggerate what they like and this is true of everywhere. I have heard someone say that the Vikings were unstoppable despite the fact that this is blatantly false? Is this any worse than someone claiming that the ancient Chinese invented the wheel or something ridiculous like that?

Your example of pound locks may be a good point, but I do not know for sure because I haven't looked into it as much. However, the clock tower is extremely well documented. We have the actual text and pictures created by the actual inventor which were subsequently printed and circulated across the empire. Should we throw out such strong evidence because we lack an actual tower.

The invention of the compass in China was gradual and occurred in steps over time. I didn't claim that our modern compass was the chinse compass. But if someone asks, who invented the compass, then the response usually goes to the first inventor. Not the person who perfected the design. And if it was reinvented, then it was a number of centuries after the device was known in China.

China also used metal type print fairly early, but it did not become widespread until later. This could be due to many of factors. We shouldn't assume that it is simply because they were incapable.

Needham was not perfect, but much of his work was good and necessary. Before Needham, no one really knew where gunpowder came from unless you were crazy like Nietzsche who was sure it was the Germans. Needham dared to ask questions and did into the sources and sometimes his pro-china bias shows but all in all his work was invaluable because no one else at the time even tried to explore premodern Chinese science.

If you wanted to find evidence for fake claims of Chinese technological mastery you only needed to go to something like chromium plating.

Also, my original quote did not have any spurious claims. And I was arguing against someone who denied simple facts.
 
Jun 2014
1,221
VA
#30
The problem with such fakes like the Islamic miniatures is that they distorted history, as do exhibits such as the 1001 Islamic inventions. Many are motivated by a sincere desire to correct the under reporting of such achievements in the past, and might exaggerate a little in trying to set the record straight. Since the actual evidence they desire is hard to come by, they don't see it as wrong to create these fake images.

Unfortunately, this can cause the truly genuine achievements to be rejected or viewed with skepticism.
I think this is one of the worst and most harmful aspects of these types of fakes.

To elaborate just a little bit on The 1001 inventions example.

http://exhibits.hsl.virginia.edu/hist-images/romansurgical/abdominalForceps_e.jpg

http://www.crystalinks.com/romedoctor.jpg

That is in fact Roman.

However 1001 inventions states

"He also reportedly performed the first caesarean operation and created the first pair of forceps." Muslim inventions that shaped the modern world - CNN.com

Either the Roman Forceps were made for the sole purpose of disputing modern political rewriting of history or 1001 inventions is garbage. I mean did he time travel?

What 1001 inventions does is it will either push fake history or if someone does the research to learn exactly how fraudalent it is will correctly erode trust in institutions promoting it.
 

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