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MASS DELUSIONS, prominent cases over the last 5 centuries
Police Psychics
The Great Pyramid--Martin Gardner
Over 50 top scientists go public over Bush's abuse of science
Atlantis & similar tales
ATLANTIS MYTH: CSICOP + Michael Shermer's articles
The making of myth, an anthropologist's aboriginal experience

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A Book by Its First Page:  Stolen Legacy


      It is a terrible start when every major assertion on the first page of the introduction are wrong. For example, "The term Greek philosophy, to begin with is a misnomer, for there is no such philosophy in existence.  The ancient Egyptians had developed very complex religious system, called the Mysteries, which was the fist system of salvation."  First two lines are fundamentally wrong.  What was the works of Plato, Aristotle, Democratus, and Epicurus?  Do we not call Plato's works examples of philosophy even if he learnt it from Socrates?  Thus, even if the Greeks learnt philosophy from the Egyptians (which they didn't), there still would be Greek philosophy.  The works of Plato et al are recognized as philosophy and are taught by philosophy departments in universities.  James second error is that he fails to distinguish philosophy from religion.  Philosophy explains the nature of things without the recourse to gods.  Sentence two (quoted above), which I presume was to shed light upon the first sentence, states that the "Egyptians had developed a very complex religious system."  But religious systems are not philosophy, just as much as chemistry is not physics, though in spots they overlap.  What the Egyptians developed does not resemble Greek philosophy.  The Greek philosophers didn't rely on the gods to explain the nature of things.  None but the supporters of the religious-like glorification of Africans would make such a claim.  

      Paragraph two is fine, except it violates the principles for being a paragraph, unity and topic sentence.  But paragraph 3 changes accepted historically dates.  First Egypt as a nation didn't begin until about 3,500 BC; thus there could not be "five thousand years of prohibition against the Greeks."  Second James states that Greeks were permitted to enter Egypt following the Persian conquest in 525 BC.  Greek philosophy started about 600 BC with Thales, who it is recorded to have learnt astronomy from the Persians.  By 525 there were a number of Greek philosopher, fragments of their works have survived.  Most of the first philosophers resided in Miletus, the center of learning before Athens.  He continues in his error of not distinguishing philosophy from religion by saying that Egyptian priest taught visiting Greek students philosophy.  James is telling a story about Greek philosophy, one that ignores history.

The third paragraph also has many minor errors.  "From the sixth century B.C. therefore to the death of Aristotle (322 B.C.)  the Greeks made the best of their chance to learn all they could about Egyptian culture; most students received instructions directly from the Egyptian Priests, . . ."   However, the Greek student when to schools set up in Greek lands, and this is widely recorded.  Nowhere in his book does James produce references to support the exodus of Greek students.  The remainder of that sentence is equally in error:  but after the invasion by Alexander the Great, the Royal temples and libraries were plundered and pillaged, and Aristotle’s school converted the library at Alexandria into a research centre.  First, there is no record of their libraries being plundered.  Second Alexander’s school was in Athens.  Third, the library at Alexandria was not built until long after Aristotle’s death ("The Alexandrian museum and library were founded and maintained by the long succession of the Ptolemys in Egypt from the beginning of the 3rd century BC."--Encyclopedia Britannica).  And finally there was no Alexandria until Alexander built it, thus there was no pre-existing Egyptian library in that city.  The final sentence is wrong.  It states that Aristotle could not produce the number of books ascribed to him.  The source is Diogenes Laertius, who ascribes a similar number to nearly 2-dozen other philosophers--usually about 100-150 books.  First, the books were scrolls, thus much smaller than a modern book.  Modern writes have done more.  Isaac Asimov, who besides science fiction, wrote books on at least 20 other topic, and his total production was just shy of 400.  Mover what we have of Aristotle is not his works (they were all lost thanks to the Christians), but rather the student notes and possible lecture notes which probably his successors who headed Alexander’s school in Athens edited.  The third paragraph is sufficient for me to put down the book.

I have never read such an inaccurate first page on any topic, and considering that I have read thousands of non-fiction books, that says a lot.  Even Von Daniken's Chariot of the Gods compares favorable.  His main flaw is not factual howlers, but for the inferences.  James' Stolen Legacy is an example of religious-type reasoning.  It has flawed inference, and from this inference false factual foundations are built that supports the inference.  In particular, James starts with the conclusions, that Egypt was controlled by Negroes who developed an advanced civilization (but there is a lack of Negroid skeletons).  Not satisfied with the glories of Egypt, James creates a new achievement, philosophy.  The Greeks following the Persian conquest of Egypt stole Philosophy from Egypt.  And following the Greek conquest, there was a second theft of philosophy by Aristotle.  This theft is at the heart of the myth of cultural dependence.  As one who has studied extensively Greek philosophy, literature, and history, I can with a very high degree of confidence conclude that it is not the Greeks who stole the Egyptian-Negroid heritage, but rather a few uppity Negroes who are stealing the Greek-Caucasian heritage.

It is particular upsetting that this poppycock has found its ways into the classrooms of universities.  While crap may be published under Freedom of the Press, there is no like right to the minds of the under informed through the classrooms, though Creationists and believers in Afrocentrism think they have such a right.  And the proponents of the first accuse their critics as being atheists and the later group accuses their critics as being racists.   There are replies to creationism such as in Scientific American Magazine and to Afrocentrism in a wonderfully thorough and well-argued Not Out of Africa:  How Afrocentrism Became an Excuse to Teach myth as History, by Mary Lefkowitz (BasicBooks, HarperCollins, NY, 1996).  What of our Greek heritage?  Every myth has it price. 

Religion and religious-like faith does not belong in the classrooms of secular schools.  The stolen legacy myth goes back at least to Elijah Mohammed and the Nation of Islamand there were predicessors.  He proposed that the Negroes had obtained a high civilization, and that the white devils (all caucasions do the work of Satin, and God will shortly restore to the Negroes world domination) have concertedly worked at denying this heritage.  As an article of faith, many black Moselisms maintain that the Negroes once obtained a high civilization, and now they can teach this myth in some universities.     


WHY I Panned the Theory

Of course I would pan the book.  Why?  Fully 10% of what I have read over a lifetime of studies has been of the Greco-Roman world.  Moreover, in my studies of philosophy, I found the mainstream Greek thought closest to my own.  The upshot if one was to label my understanding of this world, I come closest to Aristotle, and Democratus:  I think like a graduate of their schools.  There is nothing in my long travels in the ancient Greek world that would cause me to take serious the claim that they are indebted to the Egyptians, though there was a myth of such indebtedness stated by some Greek writers.  But these writers didn't refer to the Egyptians as being Negroid.  First the myth was not widely accepted.  Secondly, there is a paucity of evidence in support their Egyptian myth.  Third in the writings of the playwrights and philosophers, there are no serious hints of this.  Finally, I had read Mary Lofkowitz, Not Out of Africa and I agreed with it.  And she, a classicist, found the two principles theories (Egyptians were Negroid and the Greeks learnt philosophy from the Egyptians) wrong.

Mary wrote a remarkable book.  This book makes me think of her as a dog walking on 2 legs:  she wrote with a logical clarity of thought, development of topics, and quality of research that few men obtain.  Her opinion of James' book:

But courses that are designed to conceal a considerable body of evidence, or that are intended to instill resentment and distrust in place of open discussion, have no place in curriculum.  We do not need a course on "The Hebraic Laws of Plato", even if someone wants to teach such a course and some students are willing and even eager to take it. . . .  Academic freedom and tenure are not intended to protect the expression of uninformed or frivolous opinions. . . .We will not be serving our students well if we insist on teaching them what is factually incorrect, . . .  (at 164-65).


And she started out in that section by placing Stolen Legacy with Mein Kampf, the Nation of Islams Secret Relationship between Blacks and Jews; and it belongs there.