Wednesday, March 17, 2004

vindicated, once again

From a story on
For decades, the Chinese propagated the myth that their most famous creation was visible from space. Elementary-school textbooks in the world's most populous nation still proclaim that the structure can be seen by the naked eye of an orbiting cosmonaut.
Despite the suggestion of this article that this myth only exists in China and only because of its being nurtured by the Chinese, I was taught this in an American junior high school, and I have heard it repeated in homegrown sources a few zillion times since. I wondered aloud about it when I first heard it, and I've been perplexed about it ever since. I mean, why would something whose remarkable virtue was its length, as opposed to its height or localized bulk, be visible from outer space? I presumed that there was something I wasn't getting. Hmph.

The accumulated number of later-shown-to-be-wrong things I learned in the rural cesspool school I attended continues to astonish me and fuel suspicions that I would have been educationally (and, who knows, perhaps socially) better off had I just been shoved into a closet with a bunch of books and PBS at age five. Double, triple hmph.

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