Talk:Pseudoscientific metrology

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Skewed angle?[edit]

I came across this article after looking for some more information on the idea of the 'megalithic yard'. I have an open mind on whether such a thing exists or not, but whoever entitled this 'Pseudoscientific metrology' clearly didn't! Surely the title is concluding the argument before it's even started? I agree with others that the title needs to be changed to something more neutral. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Lahgbr (talkcontribs) 11:17, 9 May 2010 (UTC)


I quite agree that the angle of this article is indeed rather skewed.

The very title of the section belittling Livio Stecchini's ideas ("The Grand Scheme") is positively brimming with pointless snottiness. The opening statement "By the time measurements of Mesopotamia were discovered, by doing various exercises of mathematics on the definitions of the major ancient measurement systems, various people (Jean-Adolphe Decourdemanche in 1909, August Oxé in 1942) came to the conclusion that the relationship between them was well planned," is quite problematic.

First, the statement "by doing various exercises of mathematics" is clearly intended to be pejorative. The rather strong implication is that "exercises of mathematics" are both somehow pointless and irrelevant to the subject at hand. Obviously, for one to be able to make such a strong implication, that is to describe such research as merely "exercises of mathematics," one would need to provide evidence of said "exercises" in quotes from the authors herein cited as examples, and also somehow reasonably absolutely prove their irrelevance to the study of metrology. However, in doing so, unless the quotes were themselves very clearly, nearly absolutely, totally obvious evidence of frivolity or trivialness of thought on the part of Decourdemanche and Oxé, all this would serve to do is underline the bias on the part of the author, since I cannot imagine that his or her definition of 'irrelevance' (or whatever negative category is intended to be implied by "exercises of mathematics") is an actual objective qualification in the first place.

What, for instance, is the expertise of the author on the subject of metrology? By what criterion are these authors being judged? I don't believe that the author of this Wikipedia article even CAN dismiss Oxé as he or she has. Is Oxé's work even in print? Is any of it translated into English at present? Does the author of this Wiki article positively state that he or she has actually read his original work in German? If not, how can it be that he or she is capable of determining the scientific or non-scientific value of Oxé's work? And by what objective criteria?

The term "psuedoscientific" is very, very obviously also intended to be pejorative. The implication that the author is casting aspersions upon work they have not read is therefore rather deeply disturbing. If you claim to have easy access to Oxé's work, why is it that searching for his work does not lead me to finding a translated copy of it, since I am actually interested in the subject of ancient metrology? Can you post quotes from his work on this discussion page that demonstrate your point?

Beyond that, why is the list of metrologists who, as you have said, came to the conclusion that the "relationship between [ancient units] was well planned," so truncated? If you are going to pillory these three authors, why stop there? Only a little research would provide you with a great many other targets. Since virtually every author on the subject of ratios in ancient metrology accepts at least the ratio of 24:25, then I assume all authors on ancient metrology are therefore to be considered "pseudoscientific?" Where, not incidentally, is the positive evidence that there were not ratios between measures, especially in the light of a physical object such as the Salamis metrological relief, which contains a rule of about 327mm and an anthropomorphic foot of about 307mm, to name but two of the related measures contained within it?

(For those interested, you should seek out AJA vol. 104 no. 1 and the article by Mark Wilson Jones "Doric Measure and Architectural Design 1: The Evidence of the Relief from Salamis." I presuppose that Wilson Jones' article would be rejected in the same fashion as the respectable work smeared by this Wiki article's author along with the disreputable, and if so, I certainly feel that I can say that such rejection is groundless. Of course, the author might accept Wilson Jones, but his work surely must be tainted, since it includes ratios, and is built upon the work of authors who have accepted that there are ratios, which appears to be the crime of all three authors dismissed in this section. If, of course, this article IS accepted as non-"pseudoscientific" by the author of the Wikipedia article, then by what standard is Oxé or Stecchini being totally dismissed?)

There is very little point to debating with a strongly biased person the facts of what any author actually wrote or believed. The very fact that Oxé and Stecchini are included on this page purely for believing in ratios between units of length, weight and volume speaks quite plainly to the bias of the author of the Wiki article.

It is also always fascinating to consider quotes such as the following on whether ancient people could have accurately estimated the size of the Earth:

"No consideration seems to be made to the question of, on purely technical and procedural grounds, how the early Egyptians, in defining their cubit, could have achieved a degree of accuracy that to our current knowledge can only be achieved with very sophisticated equipment and techniques."

Of course, the 18th century French inventors of the metric system determined the arc of the meridian in the age preceding the discovery of longitude. Further, they did so without electricity, without airplanes, without electronic calculators and quite accurately. Hence the meter. Or did the author know of this pre-nineteenth century invention, the nearly totally accurate ten-millionth part of the arc of the meridian?

Later 19th century and early 20th century figures for the size of the Earth are readily available, so available that I need not labor their details here. Suffice it to say, once again, the level of accuracy achieved without recourse the the precious "very sophisticated equipment and techniques" (by which it must be assumed it is meant 'stuff they didn't have way back then') is virtually identical to the level of accuracy achieved with the use of our modern sophisticated equipment and techniques, thus demolishing the implied objection to a reasonable approximation of the size of the Earth in ancient times. If the French could achieve essentially our level of accuracy at the end of the 18th century, then it quite reasonably follows that such a feat could have been accomplished at any time of relative cultural sophistication. It should go without saying that such is not proof that anyone has ever done so, but since the insulting label of "pseudoscientific" is flung about by the author of this Wikipedia page with great abandon, I fear I must repeatedly state the obvious, in this case that to believe that something is potentially possible is not to demand that it is so.

I think Sir Fred Hoyle has demonstrated quite plainly the reasonableness of Eratosthenes' estimation on page 84 of "Astronomy," (Crescent, 1962, Library of Congress Catalog number 62-1408). If the author wishes to demolish the very idea that Eratosthenes can be taken seriously at all (which certainly seems implied by the absolute rejection that the Egyptians or anyone else could have known an estimate of the size of the Earth) as seems to be the case, then I suggest he or she will label Hoyle's opinion as "pseudoscientific" as well, or do I judge too harshly? Yes, it would be interesting to know what the qualifications of the author are to make such sweeping statements as to the scientific value of work in the field of metrology as presented in his or her article, and it would be very interesting to hear why Hoyle should be rejected, which I must assume would be the pre-determined outcome, based on the logic demonstrated by the Wikipedia article itself.

This is not to say that there are not any non-scientific beliefs plaguing the field of metrology. There are definitely problems with anachronisms (such as the introduction of the pendulum having been used pre-Galileo by two otherwise apparently quite logical authors) and stubborn emphasis on pet theories, to name but two intractable issues. This does not, however in any way excuse the fact that someone like Thom is listed on this page, now corrected or not. He may have been wrong, or he may have been right, but he was certainly NOT a "psuedoscientist." His work may very well have been abused by less scientific (or even totally "pseudoscientific") authors, but his inclusion here is perfectly insulting. I presume the insult "pseudoscientific" is quite plainly intended, and that it is intended to be applicable to anyone who disagrees with the evidently narrow and somewhat underinformed opinions expressed by the author of the Wiki article as well. Or do I presume wrongly? If so, perhaps it is because he or she has utterly failed to express something reasonable based on facts in their writing. Of course, the labeling of any person's work as "pseudoscientific" is bound to irritate someone, as it has me. This is to be expected. But I do not think that there is anything like solid facts backing the assertion of "pseudoscience" in most cases in this article.

In my opinion, the overreaching, pedantic tone of the author of this Wikipedia article and the accompanying mindset (one apparently nearly completely unaided or encumbered by facts) strongly implied are fit for something on the order of a personal blog page, not an informal encyclopedia. It has not been demonstrated what are the criteria for determining the scientific value of any metrologist's work. In fact, from the tenor of the discussion, virtually ALL writing on the subject must needs be included as "pseudoscience," which is emphatically too broad of a brush stroke to have any meaning whatsoever.

In conclusion, I have no positive suggestions for the improvement of the article, save that it be eliminated as both irrelevant and based on pure personal bias. It is not unreasonable to point out the often-ludicrous notions authors such as Piazzi Smyth have brought forth. But this must be balanced by a willingness to give credit where credit is due when such an author appears to be in the right on some other idea. Blanket dismissal is a highly toxic weapon not to be used lightly, don't you think?

When Greaves is considered the origin of "pseudoscientific metrology," and clearly viewed pejoratively by the author for supposedly being "deprived of his Gresham professorship for having neglected his duties" by measuring Egyptian monuments (with no citations or justification of the opinion), I suspect that the brush strokes being used are much too broad to have any value whatsoever. Kindly, pull this article down. It is simply not up to any reasonable standard of reportorial communication. And if my pointing this out offends the author, I suggest that the very tone of the article itself was calculated to offend in the first place. But there is no way that repairs can be effected to the totally flawed state of the article, and I am not remotely interested in replacing it with something actually reasonable on the narrow subject of "pseudoscientific metrology" since of course the current author will disagree, pull it down and replace it with the original, forcing me to attempt to do the same, etc etc etc. That would be even more pointless than the article itself (or having taken it seriously enough to critique it).

Dave Mortenson```` — Preceding unsigned comment added by Dave mortenson (talkcontribs) 10:14, 30 January 2011 (UTC)

Phaistos Disc[edit]

Quote from the page: "The Phasistos Disc is a computing aid that uses 366 glyphs to calculate Venus's orbital period." Huh? There's no agreement whatsoever on what the Phaistos Disc is. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 216.239.44.65 (talk) 21:28, 23 January 2010 (UTC)

Candidate (needs to be verified)[edit]

Charles Piazzi Smyth, in his book Our Inheritance in the Great Pyramid (1864), claimed that the measurements he obtained from the Great Pyramid of Giza indicated a unit of length, the pyramid inch, equivalent to 1.001 British inches, that could have been the standard of measurement by the pyramid's architects. From this he extrapolated a number of other measurements, including the pyramid pint, the sacred cubit, and the pyramid scale of temperature.
The pyramid inch is then equated to a fraction of the polar axis, there being 500 millions of inches on the axis. The cubit of 25 such inches, and the acre-side of 2500 such inches. The pound is rated as 5 cubic inches of mean earth, taken as a specific gravity of 5.7, (against the modern estimate of 5.52). Capacities is derived as water-weights, and the temperature is simply 5 times celcius. All in all, it's pretty much earth-based measures.
In this way, it's pretty much a derivitive of the decimal metric system, which, in turn is derived by applying Bessel's size of the earth to a decimalised version of Casini's geographic system (nautical mile = 6000 feet). --Wendy.krieger (talk) 06:28, 14 June 2011 (UTC)

Development of the accuracy of measurement of the circumference of the Earth[edit]

See: http://www.algonet.se/~sirius/eaae/aol/market/collabor/erathost/ -- Egil 15:22, 8 August 2005 (UTC)

The meter is the Devil himself[edit]

This quote is really marvellous, although not suitable for the article proper:

The metric system is indeed based on the Sumerian cubit, because like many other weapons in the Devil's arsenal, it originated with Semiramis and Nimrod. Consult Alexander Hislop's The Two Babylons if you would know more.

This should be enough reason to abandon the meter once and for all! It was made by Smerdis of Tlön, taken from Wikipedia:Votes for deletion/Standards of measure in the Near Eastern Bronze Age.

Suggested rename[edit]

The term Stecchini uses for his flavor of historic metrology is comparative metrology [1], and I've seen it used by others too. I suggest a rename accordingly, which hopefully would make the title less provocative to some. It seems like it would also fit the megalithic yard and its followers that relate it to Life, the Universe and Everything, because that MY is obtained from Stonehenge et al in somewhat the same way the old Smyth-gang measured the Kheops pyramid and extracted measures from it. Nay-sayers can express their opinion below. -- Egil 11:35, 2 September 2005 (UTC)

Perhaps it would be a good idea but it is less descriptive maybe even misleading. Jimp
It seems that under the VfD for this article, questions were raised wrt. the NPOV of the title of the article. Additionally, it would also seem that in earlier times, like for instance alchemy, these ideas were at least somewhat more accepted then they are now. -- Egil 06:45, 16 September 2005 (UTC)
Comparative metrology and pseudoscientific metrology are two completely different subjects. By way of analogy, comparative historical linguistics (Wikipedia redirects to Historical linguistics) is a legitimate subject. That field has also been plagued by pseudoscience, in which case the pseudoscience should be a separate subject. Not that there is always a bright line to distinguish the two, but that's just how science works.Zyxwv99 (talk) 15:40, 19 November 2011 (UTC)

Historical measures as seen by pseudoscience[edit]

I've just stumbled on this page. Is there a reason that we've got two so similar articles? Should they be merged? Jimp 14Sep05

Good question. I once created that article as a way of dealing with a previous attack from a believer in both the Megalithic Yard and indeed its connectedness to everything. Then I forgot about it [which was sort of the idea, anyhow ;-) ]. In many ways, it is the same thing as we are seeing now, except that the starting point is Stonehenge instead of Egypt. It would still fit the comparative metrology label, I would think. Btw, it does sems this branch was more or less bona fide untill around 1900. -- Egil 08:40, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

Discussion?[edit]

In his edit, User:rktect replaced the entire article with something that was meant as a discussion. Since it for the most part replaced the existing article, I am assuming it was put into the article by error, and I am thus pasting his contribution below, and restoring the original content of the article. The article needs more work, and it seems obvious that User:rktect has studied comparative metrology very carefully. The main problem is that it can be very difficult to differentiate what are the claims by Taylor, Smyth, Stecchini et al, and what are the good rktects original ideas. Unlike the ideas of Taylor, Smyth and Stecchini, I'm afraid that I believe the ideas of rktect himself are not of sufficient notability to be included in Wikipedia. Even under the psudoscientific label. -- Egil 06:34, 16 September 2005 (UTC)

I will make an attempt to incorporate some of this material in the article, but it will take a very long time, because the frequency of factual errors and speculation is so extraordinarily high. -- Egil 07:27, 16 September 2005 (UTC)
User Egil seems to feel that, contrary to the stated principles of Wikipedia, an historical review of what has been written about a topic constitutes original research. Egil claims that even discussing the facts of a matter that he has rightly or wrongly labled pseudo science, constitutes pseudo science.
Rather than being a mistake, the intent of the version below is to demonstate that even an article with as flagrantly POV a title as "Pseudoscientific Metrology" could be written from NPOV. Changing the title of the article to "Comparative Metrology" may be a step in the right direction. If an NPOV approach could be taken it might be allowed that readers would then form their own conclusions based on the cited facts rather than the speculations of the writers.
Wikipedia generally takes the encyclopedic position that an historical listing of research can be done without drawing conclusions, letting the content of the ideas stand or fall without commentary. What we write here proceeds from the premise that it is unwarranted speculation that goes beyond an historical review of what has been written about a topic that constitutes original research. Removing the amount of personal POV from any encyclopedic writing might be a good start toward reducing the number of factual errors and speculations in Wikipedia. Rktect 10:33, 16 September 2005 (UTC)
If only you could stick to straight totally undisputed facts, and at least get them right. In the first passage I looked at, you claim that John Greaves was a professor at Baliol College, Oxford, and that he worked with a person called Tito Livo Burritani. As usual, when I probe your claims, everything gives. The college you mentioned is where Greaves was educated, not where he was a professor, and the spelling of the Italian gentlemans name is totally in the woods. Sorry, it is simply not good enough to be useful. -- Egil 11:54, 16 September 2005 (UTC)

Thank you for the correction. The corect spelling is Tito Livo Burattini. John Greaves graduated from Balliol college in 1621 learned in oriental languages, Ancient Greek and Arabian and studied in Persian writers on astronomy. In 1630, John was chosen Professor of Geometry in Gresham College in London. In 1640 he was chosen Savilian Professor of Astronomy at Oxford University having been replaced at Gresham College due to his Royalist politics. In 1646, he published Pyramidosgraphia, or a Discourse of the Pyramids in Egypt. In 1647, he published, A Discourse of the Roman Foot and Denarius. He retired to London and got married and died on October 8, 1652 in London. Rktect 16:31, 16 September 2005 (UTC)

Contribution by User:rktect[edit]

Claims of Pseudoscientific metrology originated with the revival of interest in the Great Pyramid of Giza, during the Renaissance. Claims about the Great Pyramid and its incorporation of mathematical proportions such as Pi and Phi led to a long procession of scientists to Egypt to determine by measurement the truth of the claims.

The first reports had been from Greeks such as Herodotus, Thales, Solon, Plato, Pytagorus and Agatharchides of Cnidus and were relatively straightforward eyewitness accounts. These were followed up by more reports from Arabs such as Abdullah al Mamun. Tito Livo Burritani made several trips to the Great Pyramid c 1639 and took measurements with John Greaves who was a professor in geometry at Baliol College, Oxford. Sir Isaac Newton attempted to incorporate Greaves work in his theory of gravitation.

The next wave of exploraton began during the Napoleonic wars when a number of French savants who were interested in establishing the metric system visited the Great Pyramid and made more interesting discoveries regarding its orientation and geographic position. Napoleons surveyors found that the pyramid was accurately oriented to the four cardinal points of the compass and therefore used the meridian running through its apex as the base line of their measurements. Having mapped lower Egypt they were suprised to find that this meridian neatly cut the delta region in two and that the diagonals drawn through the pyramid at right angles completely enclosed the entire delta. Jomard found that not only had the apothem or slant side of the pyramid been commented upon classically as being a stadia of 185 m, which was taken as 1/600 of a geographical degree but his own measurements confirmed this.

Upon Napoleons defeat the British took over the job. Working off the measurements of Howard Vyse who had cleared the base and been able to measure the casing stones John Taylor discovered that if he divided the perimeter of the pyramid by twice its height he got a ratio of about 3 1/7. Taylor concluded that perhaps the perimeter had been intended to represent the great circle of the earth and said "That it was to make a record of the measure of the earth that it was built". At this time Sir John Herschel an eminent British astronomer was arguing that British measures were more nearly geo-commensurate than the French metric system. Herschel discovered that the maps of the British Ordinance survey which had been done at a scale of 1:2500, while they bore no relation to the English mile of 5280 feet, agreed well with both the side of the English acre and the Egyptian cubit. At about this same time discoveries of standards of measurement in Mesopotamia offered support of Taylor and Herschels beliefs.

For the next century and a half claims about the amazing properties of the pyramid grew more and more extreme as explorer after explorer cleared and measured the inside and outside of the Pyramid and the heyday of Pyramidiocy merged theories of Biblical revelation such as those of Piazzi Smyth with the Ocult culminating in Peter Tompkins book "Secrets of the Great Pyramid" which included chapters that not merely described the historical interest but went so far as to mention all of the bizarre theories of secret chambers, ufo's initiated wisdom and Biblical prophecy.

Although the speculation that there is some direct connection between pseudoscientific ideas, metrology and the anti metric movement needs to be better researched, it is fair to say that those who speculate are often wrong. Those who claim that historical metrology is pseudoscientific miss the point that measurements are scientific, it is unwarrented conclusions drawn from opinion and speculation that cause the problem.

Archeological finds and historical documents support the basic premise that the Great Pyramid is very accurately aligned and constructed. Huge collections of artifacts like the size of fields, Nilometers, rulers, architecture, boats and even various sizes of building stone and inscription grids are referenced in the literature make that much clear. Many statements are not easily determined as true or false by consensus of opinion.

John Taylor, in his 1859 book "The Great Pyramid: Why Was It Built? & Who Built It?", claimed that the Great Pyramid wasbuilt to make a record of the measure of the Earth.

A person such as Taylor who has studied miles and stadia might say they have been intended to be unit divisions of a degree of the Earth's great circle circumference since they were first defined as standards of measure by the rope stretchers of Mesopotamia and Egypt without invoking much outrage. If a counterposition is taken that it was not until the 17th century that the circumference of the Earth was measured with sufficient accuracy that it could be used as basis for a measure of length then Taylor or Jomard might argue that evidence is widely available that in classical antiquity 75 Roman miles were taken as a degree. They might point out that the concept of a degree as a unit for angle measurement was known by the ancient Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilizations, and that there were many ancient maps where degrees of latitude and longitude were indicated.

If it is argued that it was Taylor or Vyse who inspired Charles Piazzi Smyth to go to Egypt, and subsequently publish his book Our Inheritance in the Great Pyramid (1864), where he claimed that the measurements he obtained from the Great Pyramid of Giza indicated a unit of length, the pyramid inch, equivalent to 1.001 British inches, that could have been the standard of measurement by the pyramid's architects this probably would not be too far fetched.

If it is argued that Taylor is responsible for the fact that from this Smyth extrapolated a number of other measurements, including the pyramid pint, the sacred cubit, and the pyramid scale of temperature, that would be a stretch but not entirely wrong as the ideas of both men are more computational than mensurational. Taylor might have agreed with Smyth on these points but he never expressed such a sentiment.

If it is argued that as Smyth claimed, and presumably believed, the inch was a god-given measure handed down through the centuries from the time of Israel, and that the architects of the pyramid could only have have been directed by the hand of God we enter a different realm which is to some degree the product of the religious fundamentalism of 19th century England.

Smyth supported Taylors idea in that in measuring the pyramid, he found the perimeter of the base to equal the number of days in a year in inches, but Smyth went beyond Taylor when he claimed to have found a numeric relationship between the height of the pyramid in inches to the distance from Earth to the Sun, measured in statute miles. Both men used their findings to argue against the introduction of the metre in Britain.

Some say the first known descrition and practical use of a seconds pendulum was by Galileo Galilei but Flinders Petrie, the well respected father of modern Egyptology was of another opinion. Writing in an article in Nature, 1933Petrie said, "If we take the natural standard of one day divided by 105, the pendulum would be 29.157 inches at lat 30 degrees. Now this is exactly the basis of Egyptian land measures, most precisely known through the diagonal of that squared, being the Egyptian double cubit. The value for this cubit is 20.617 inches, while the best examples in stone are 20.620±0.005inches." Petrie is acknowledged to be right about the value of the royal cubit but others (Stecchini) have argued it was improbable that the Egyptians had any such device.[2]

Though IES Smith in his book "The Pyramids of Egypt" has pointed out that amongst the tools of the Egyptian builders have been found many plumets and devices for measuring verticle angles this does not prove that the Egyptians used them as seconds pendulums. Despite that a common plumet is a pendulum and one with which any builder is well familiar, the length of the second pendulum, at close to a meter, would not have been an Egyptian standard of measure but rather a Mesopotamian standard.

During the Napoleonic expedition to Egypt members of the French Académie des Sciences researching ancient linear measures had found many references to their being derived directly from the circumference of the Earth in classical writings and as others have continued to review their work over the last couple of centuries the body of scientific support for this position has grown.

As some of the standards of measure of Mesopotamia were discovered, various people (Jean-Adolphe Decourdemanche in 1909, August Oxé in 1942) came to the conclusion that the relationship between them was well planned. Livio C. Stecchinidiscusses some of the results in his A History of Measures'The relation among the units of length can be explained by the ratio 15:16:17:18 among the four fundamental feet and cubits. Before I arrived at this discovery, Decourdemanche and Oxé discovered that the cubes of those units are related according to the conventional specific gravities of oil, water, wheat and barley. [3]

Stecchini shows that the Egyptian measures of length, originating from at least the 3rd millennium BC, were directly derived from the circumference of the earth [4]).

Stecchini also shows that Eratosthenes in 240 BC could not have himself measured the circumference of the Earth as is claimed because his numbers simply don't bear scrutiny. He clearly depends on a standard of measure no longer in use in his time.

The question of how the early Egyptians, in defining their cubit, could have achieved a degree of accuracy that can only be achieved with either very careful measurement or very sophisticated equipment and techniques would suggest they made careful measurement.

Building on Taylor, Smyth, and Stecchini John F. Neal, in his book All Done With Mirrors (in 2000), came to the conclusion that the foot was the grand unit, and that the common system of the ancient cultures was that the definition of their respective foot is 1/360,000th part of the longitudinal meridian degree of their respective latitudes. [5]

The odometer described by Vitruvius [6]. is one example of some of the evidence that might be summoned in support of this position. The conclusion of Neals book is:The English foot is the [vestigal] root, or number one, from which all other measures are extrapolated.

The Wikipedia definition for pseudoscience appears to be defined by whatever happens to be current consensus opinion (of whom is rarely stated) and that what doesn't correspond with consensus opinion is hence unscientific or bogus. Pseudoscience is a loaded term and, as such, it is in my view rather meaningless. Today's pseudoscience may prove scientific/historical fact in the future and, alternatively, what is scientific/historical fact today may someday prove pseudoscience. With few exceptions, science and history are built upon a body of data that usually aggregates and changes over time. A less objectionable, less smug, and perhaps more acccurate label might be unsubstantiated or unproven idea(s) or belief(s)...such labels may be somewhat more cumbersome but they are less pejorative and since described data are in a state of flux, they may ultimately prove more precise. Having worked in the fields of archaeology and history for more than 30 years, the use of pseudoscience to describe anything in these fields seems unfounded in almost all cases. —Preceding unsigned comment added by RogerHWerner (talkcontribs) 03:53, 3 May 2010 (UTC)

I give up[edit]

The question of how the early Egyptians, in defining their cubit, could have achieved a degree of accuracy that can only be achieved with either very careful measurement or very sophisticated equipment and techniques would suggest they made careful measurement.

Careful measurement, indeed. Untill conditions are such that it is possible to do sensible work here, I give up - time is simply too precious a commodity to waste on this nonsense. -- Egil 18:24, 16 September 2005 (UTC)

Egil might profit by researching the concept of living the life in ma'3t. The fact is the the Egyptians are legendary for the pains they took with their measures to make things well proportioned, plumb, level, square and straight. They made very careful measurements.Rktect 01:41, 24 September 2005 (UTC)

Indeed. Consider the likelihood that, by pure chance, the length of the base of the Cheops pyramid is *very* close to 1/8 of a minute of arc given the Earth's known circumference ... and the stones often fit within 0.5 mm ... etc. It's not *pseudoscience* to look at the accuracy they achieve everywhere, then conclude that other measures are pure coincidence. There remains, after all, considerable chance that we 'moderns' don't know everything and aren't gods either. Twang (talk) 07:16, 8 November 2009 (UTC)
"the stones often fit within 0.5 mm "
Uh, doesn't that just mean they are very close together? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 69.171.176.39 (talk) 22:39, 20 June 2010 (UTC)

Pendulum section[edit]

The problem I have with that section is the lack of an appropriate source. The Nature article itself would be OK, but the section as it stands is sourced only to a chatty piece by a science teacher when he mentions it more-or-less off-hand, plus the section goes further than the source does. I also think that this whole article is problematic in that it is discussing only the pseudoscientific side of a set of ideas, when in fact there was a development of thinking in which ideas on a continuum between hard science and loopy speculation interplayed and were counterposed. I would feel happier about this article if I were sure which field of enquiry it is supposed to sit in. Is it an article about history of ideas? Or what?Itsmejudith (talk) 15:15, 31 March 2008 (UTC)

The Egyptian day was indeed 10 hours, but extra hours count for the twilights, and the rising of 12 decans at night. This makes all together 24 hours. The greeks took these and made them regular, with a sixty-wise division. I really can't see how the decimal day as proposed would fit the 24-hour day. --Wendy.krieger (talk) 10:48, 22 January 2012 (UTC)

Alexander Thom[edit]

I have just amended this article to distance Thom from accusations of pseudoscientific delusion and remove the pejorative commentary on his research. The author of that commentary had evidently not read Thom's initial paper in the Royal Statistical Society Journal or his later publications. Thom's survey data and statistical analysis are not in question, irrespective of what speculations may later have been built upon that work.

Akhen3sir (talk) 15:50, 24 June 2008 (UTC)

Stumbling across this article, I have to say that the description of Alexander Thom's work does not make it sound self-evidently pseudo-scientific--it's one thing to say that an ancient civilization used a unit of measurement based on cosmic calculations that are the basis of all measurements everywhere, and quite another to say that an ancient civilization used a unit of measurement, and we can speculate on what it might have been by looking at things they built. If Thom made claims in the former category, that should be noted; if his claims were more the latter, he probably shouldn't be in this article. Nareek (talk) 02:15, 27 February 2011 (UTC)

One should understand that Thom's deduction of the megalithic yard and its associated inch is a statistical analysis of many different circles, on the basic assumption that the ellipses found there are based on small numbers. Thom never advanced that it was any more than a local measure. Thom's division of the yard (MY) into 40 inches or 100 hMY, is entirely different to the divisions of it by other metrologists.
Experience with the Enfield Inch, and the metre of 39.382 inches (Encyclopedia Britanica, 1911, etc), should give the sorts of thermal expansions of metrological standards. --Wendy.krieger (talk) 08:26, 6 September 2011 (UTC)

I just deleted the Alexander Thom section. This is what I deleted:

==Alexander Thom==
Oxford engineering professor Alexander Thom, doing statistical analysis of survey data taken from over 250 stone circles in England and Scotland, came to the conclusion that there must have been a common unit of measure which he called a megalithic yard. This research was published in the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society (Series A (General), 1955, Vol 118 Part III p275-295) as a paper entitled A Statistical Examination of the Megalithic Sites in Britain.

The reason I deleted it is because it contains only one reference, to Thom's own work. To qualify for inclusion in an article about pseudoscience, it should have at least one reference to a competent authority where the work cited calls it pseudoscience. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Zyxwv99 (talkcontribs) 22:18, 18 November 2011 (UTC)

Zyxwv99 (talk) 22:19, 18 November 2011 (UTC)

Megalithic System[edit]

This section was added as a result of a merge tag in article Civilization One hope that won't upset anyone--Gurdjieff (talk) 04:21, 15 August 2008 (UTC)

Just a quick note...I agree completely that before anyone dismisses Thom's work they owe it to themselves to read it first. Some of his earlier work is out of print and is hard to find especially in the United States but it is well worth the time and effort. —Preceding unsigned comment added by RogerHWerner (talkcontribs) 03:27, 3 May 2010 (UTC)

Circumference of Earth[edit]

I believe it was Eratosthenes who first made a statement about the circumference of the earth, not Aristotle. But I could be mistaken. See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eratosthenes#Eratosthenes.27_measurement_of_the_Earth.27s_circumference —Preceding unsigned comment added by 99.185.124.62 (talk) 00:05, 24 April 2009 (UTC)

It is true Eratosthenes did the measurement. It is also true that Aristotle talked about the findings of Eratosthenes. The statement does not claim he did the experiment, just that he gave his support to the idea. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 174.6.74.99 (talk) 19:35, 10 April 2010 (UTC)

I have deleted the following paragraph:

Ronald Zupko claims that since Gunter suggested the concept of division of the earth's arc into length in the seventeen century, Cassini in 1720 suggested dividing the earth's circle to 360 degrees, of 60 miles of 1000 fathoms of 6 feet, which again was the inspiration of the metric system, it is not all that unreasonable to suggest that this could have not happened in an earlier time. Indeed, he claims that the error in the Greek foot lies wholy in the range of the geographic measures (since the earth is not spherical), and that the multiples of it follow the sexagesimal division of the earth. Zupko, however, provides no evidence how the Greek would have actually measured the Earth's actual circumference, if it was the basis of their units of measurement.[1]

I could find nothing on page 548 of Zupko's Revolution In Measurement remotely relating what the writer was talking about. Next, everyone knows about Eratosthenes. Third, scholars are entitled to be wrong from time to time. Zupko is a brilliant and solid scholar. If he made a mistake, fine. Pseudoscience, on the hand, is a very serious accusation.Zyxwv99 (talk) 14:44, 18 November 2011 (UTC)

Just thought of another reason why the paragraph needed to be deleted. The only reference was to Zupko's own writings. Then paragraph then argued against it. That's "original research." If you're going to call something pseudoscience, you should, at the very least, cite a competent authority that calls it pseudoscience.Zyxwv99 (talk) 03:23, 19 November 2011 (UTC)

I just deleted what remained of the Circumference of the Earth section. Here is what I deleted:

==The circumference of the Earth==
From the 18th century, inspired by the statement of Aristotle that the circumference of the Earth was calculated as 400,000 stadia, it became a belief among members of the French Académie des Sciences that ancient linear measures were all derived directly from the circumference of the Earth. Archaeologist Jean Antoine Letronne, in 1822, tried to show the connection to a supposed pre-Greek measurement of the Earth.

Reason: at this point we are dealing with a scientist from 1822 who subscribed to a scientific viewpoint that, by the standards of the day, would not have been considered pseudoscience. Also, there is no source from a competent authority saying that Jean Antoine Letronne's work is pseudoscience. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Zyxwv99 (talkcontribs) 03:27, 19 November 2011 (UTC)

New Age Metrology, etc[edit]

Simple number crunching is not 'science', pseudo or otherwise. On the other hand, applications of gratuitous commentary suggesting some theory or other gives rise to unfounded science, or at worst, pseudoscience. However, the sort of commentary that runs with Amateur Metrology ranges from fairly valid scientific observations to wildly unfounded suggestions of a master race or something.

The idea of the 'New Age' is one that a destroyed past age will return to the world, is a recurring common theme in religions and other beliefs. These come to the front typically before the change of a millennium or a zodiac age (Age of Aquarius). Parts of the propositions of the various metrologies is to suggest the past age was much more advanced than say, intervening ages or even the present. The modus operandi is to show that an earth-based measure is left in ancient buildings for the future to see.

The other posit of the New-Age metrology is to show that the author's current race is no doubt inheritance to this fabled society or some other respectable people. It is much like saying that the English are the lost tribes of the Hebrew, or that individual french settlements are the true Trojans, whence the neighbouring villages are nasty 'France-mans'. (see eg "The Discovery of France" by Graham Robb).

Amateur metrology is then simply a means of discovering evidence, like amateur etymology, etc. The author shows a large interesting arrangement of numbers, and then posits some commentary that may or may not be entirely scientific.

Some might observe numbers, and can't help but make certain comments on it. One might read the introduction to Arthur Berriman's "Historical Metrology" for a clue on this. Berriman is rather scan on outrageous commentry, but still suggests that things like the Russian foot (at 14.14 in), is somehow 10-sqrt(2).

John Michell wrote a series of books over several years, like "The View over Atlantis", and "City of Revelations" which deals with metrology to show that the various units in the repitoire is somehow vehicles for numbers to be presented, and it is these numbers that are important. It's the same sort of thing that the Bible posits.

One should also note that Captain Clarke notes in the report of the lengths of major European measures of 1860, spends some page or so discussing the precise lengths of the Common and Royal cubits, as derived from the Pyramid measures. No commentary is given to the significance of these lengths. Clarke went on to produce a geodesic ellipsoid that is only just being displaced.

Gunter's equation of the degree of arc with a length unit, in order to simplify calculations, gives us the Nautical mile. Cassini extends this by dividing this mile in the traditions of Northern Europe, to 6000 feet, giving a foot so scarsely different to the measured value of the Greek foot, and with pretty much the same sorts of multiples, that one is hard pressed to suppose that this ancient foot is a left-over of a previous system.

The metric metre then borrows on Gunter's and Cassini's work, but uses a different division of the circle (400 degrees of 100 minutes), and a different idiom for the mile (km divided into 1000 yard-like units). Since this is entirely different to the traditions inherited from the Romans and ancient germanics, are we to suppose that the Metric system is Pseudo-scientific?

One should not suppose that this is left to ancient measures only. The sorts of commented number-games one sees in things like Michell and others, one also sees in Barrow "The Anthromorphic Principle", a book of deep physics that suggests that the universe is somehow "just right" for life, man, etc. --Wendy.krieger (talk) 07:54, 14 June 2011 (UTC)

Comments on what I see as some original research that was placed in the article & put back after I removed it[edit]

Here's the current version: "The division of the earth's arc into length is quite old. Gunter suggested it in the seventeen century. Many systems were suggested, including Cassini's (1720) dividing the earth's circle to 360 degrees, of 60 miles of 1000 fathoms of 6 feet. This is the inspiration of the metric system (circle of 400 degrees of 100 km of 1000 metres), the actual measures based on Bessel's circle. It is not all that unreasonable to suggest that this could have not happened in an earlier time. It should be noted that the error in the greek foot lies wholy in the range of the geographic measures (since the earth is not spherical), and that the multiples of it follow the sexagesimal division of the earth. It's a better fit than the known history of the metric metre from the same source. Zupko, Ronald (1990). Revolution In Measurement. 548: American Philosophical Society. ISBN 0-87-169-186-8. </ref>"

Ok. First, what is Zupko being used to reference? The bit about inspiration (maybe, a search for inspiration turns up p.43 at [7])? The bit about it's being a better fit (I doubt it, can't find it searching for fit or better fit)? The bit about the Greek foot (again, can't find mention of this). This is why we want page numbers for books. And 'quite old'? And a link ti Edmund Gunter so the reader has some sort of clue as to who Gunter is belong here in any case. But this section is about ancient linear measures, some pre-Greek, and I'm at a lost why this has been added here as it doesn't seem to relate to the section or maybe even to the article at all. We also should not use phrases such as "It should be noted" -- see specific guidance on this phrase at WP:EDITORIAL. And Wikipedia should not be stating 'It's a better fit' in Wikipedia's voice. It's fine to attribute it to a named author of course. Basically this still seems original research and not only that, irrelevant to this article which is about pseudoscientific metrology. The source does not refer to pseudoscientific metrology, another reason why I class this as WP:OR. Dougweller (talk) 08:45, 6 September 2011 (UTC)

The division of the geographic mile into feet is attributed by Zupko to Cassini (page 133). Wendy.krieger (talk) 11:08, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
That's a minor issue however. And doesn't seem to have anything to do with the topic of the article or the specific issues I've mentioned. Dougweller (talk) 11:32, 6 September 2011 (UTC)

Please see my above comments under "Circumference of the earth". I just deleted the Zupko paragraph.Zyxwv99 (talk) 14:56, 18 November 2011 (UTC)

Suggestions for Improving this Article[edit]

This article needs more references, and a more objective voice instead of just the author arguing with the subject.

The following individuals are named in this article as perpetrators of pseudoscientific metrology: John Greaves, Charles Piazzi Smyth, Robin Heath, Christopher Knight, Alan Butler.

So I went to the online archives of Skeptic Magazine, Skeptical Inquirer, and Scientific American. After typing all of the above names into the search box on all three websites, I got one hit:

Skeptic Magazine, Volume 11 Number 3 Connecting the Dots to Nowhere - A review of Civilization One: The World is not As You Thought it Was by Christopher Knight and Alan Butler reviewed by Jason Colavito

A Google search on "Charles Piazzi Smyth" AND pseudoscience produced the following hit: "The Skeptic encyclopedia of pseudoscience, Volume 2" By Michael Shermer p. 406.

As you can see, this kind of research is a lot of work. (Ideally it should have been done by the original author.)

Zyxwv99 (talk) 16:11, 19 November 2011 (UTC)

Original research on this talk page[edit]

Just asking editors not to take everything they read above without a grain of salt. One of the editors, for instance, was indefinitely blocked for continuing to add original research - see WP:NOR to understand what that means. More specifically, despite claims on various websites, there is no reason to think that Agatharchides of Cnidus ever mentioned the dimensions of the Great Pyramid, see [8]. The origin of this story seems to be the appendix by Stecchini in Peter Tomkins book. Dougweller (talk) 18:30, 25 August 2013 (UTC)

Stecchini who was a professor teaching metrology at Harvard and MIT would have been familiar with the reference work of his profession. The contributions of Agatharchides of Cnidus as reported by Polybios gave the dimensions of Egypt in stades. Herodotus provided the information that the schoenus was an Egyptian measure used by the Greeks and Persians. Giving some of the sources which confirm the known values is not original research.

Cartography Unchained was a paper whose end notes included some of the reference material which would have been consulted by Stecchini, who would thus have been aware that different authors using different lengths for their stadia and different numbers of stadia to a degree would have been saying the same thing about the length of a degree being related to a grid of the Earths known circumference with 360 divisions.
75 Roman miles (milliarei or mille passus) of 1000 passus (paces) of five pes (feet)of 296mm were 111 km to a degree
60 Greek aroura or thousands of land of 1000 orquia (paces)of six pous (feet) of 308.4 mm were 111 km to a degree schoenus Herodotus
700 Persian stadia of 157.5m or 300 Egyptian royal cubits (one minute of march) used by Eratosthenes
600 stadia of 600 stadions (6 Greek plethrons of 100 pous)were 111 km to a degree
500 stadia of 222m composed of 600 remen of 370mm used by Marinus and Ptolomy
6) The stadion. Engels, D. (1985), ‘The length of Eratosthenes ’stade’, American Journal of Philology, 106: 298-311.

Pothecary, S. (1995), ‘Strabo, Polybios, and the stade’, Pheonix, 49 (1): 49-67 7) Diller, Aubrey. (1948), “The ancient measurement of the Earth”, ISIS, volume XL pp 6-9.. In 1948, Aubrey Diller answered a question posited by Professor Sarton regarding, “a convenient summary of what was known about ancient measurements of the Earth.” The paper duly published in ISIS describes the people involved and the measurements attributed to the great circle. However, there is one telling para graph which must be quoted in full: “The only direct evidence of the length of Eratosthenes’ stade is a solitary, but apparently reliable statement in PLINY XII 53; “schoenus patet Eratosthenis’ ratione Stadia XL”. This transfers the problem from the stade to the schoenus, which was an Egyptian measure of 12,000 cubits. Now Egyptologists, on the basis of measurements of the pyramids and other archaeological evidence, have long maintained that the Egyptian Cubit was about 0.525 of a metre. On this showing the schoenus would be 6300 metres, and Eratosthenes’circumference would be 6300 schoeni or 39690 Kilometres. The result is very near the truth but the stade involved is unknown and irrational (157.5 metres, c9.45 to a Roman Mile). This is at present one of two acceptable conversions of Eratosthenes’ measurement of the earth.” There are as Aubrey Diller makes plain several schoeni;

20,000 royal cubits = 1 schoene = 6.5245 miles or 10.50 Km (Gardiner's value) This measure is of course also the ITRW or ITERU previously discussed. (In Egypt's septenary system 21,000 Royal cubits is 11.025 km, 1/10 of 110.25 km for a degree)
1 schoene = 2 parasang = 60 Greek stadia or 6.71 miles/ 10.8 Km.
1 schoene = 1 parasang = 30 Greek stadia
12,000 royal cubits = 1 schoene = 3.9148 miles or 6.3 Km.

8)Pliny; “Natural History”,(trans. H. Rackham), Loeb Classical Library, Harvard and London, 1938. 9) Ifrah, Georges. (1984), The Universal History of Numbers, The Harvill Press, London, 1998. Chapters 12 and 13. pp121- 161 Sumeria and Mesopotamia. 10) Arnaud, Pascal. (1993), De la durée á la distance: l’évaluation des distances maritimes dans le monde gréco-romain. Histoire & Mesure Vol. 8 no 3, 225- 247 Several conversion scales were in use for high-sea navigation, mainly;

700 stadia per solar day,
1000 stadia per 24 hour day,
500 stadia per solar day.
Distances taken along the coast were much more accurate (down to a one- stadion interval!) and segmented, but seem to belong to a far larger panel of scale-systems. In Section 3, Le probleme de la valeur du stade, is discussed. 13 Eratosthenes and his predecessors had plenty of nautical measurements: see for example Herodotus on the Black Sea (switching between fathoms, stades, and time measurements---days’ and nights’ sailing--- and measurements in stadia. Herodotus, The Histories, (trans), A. de Selincourt and revised by A.R. Burns, Penguin Books Ltd. In Book 4.34, Herodotus commences the section with the words, ’I cannot help laughing at the absurdity of all map-makers- there are plenty of them-‘, and proceeds to describe the known world. And

11) Gues, K. (2004), Measuring the Earthand the Oikoumene zones, meridians, sphragides and some other geographical terms used by Eratosthenes of Cyrene.In, Space in the Roman World, Its Perception and Presentation, R.J.A.Talbert and Kai Brodersen (Eds.) Lit Verlag, Münster, 11-26

12) Greek Stadion Doursther Horace,”Dictionnaire universel des poids et mesures anciens”, Brussels, M. Hayez, Imprimeur de L’Academie Royale, 1840. P504 This publication contains all of the ancient Aegyptian measures, such as the Remen, Cubit (common and Royal), Iteru, and many more. The Stadion is on page 504 and the Schoinos page 481.The measures used by The Bematistai, the Bême-aploun and Bême-diploun, are on page 53. Kravath Fred F. (1987) Christopher Columbus, Cosmographer, Rancho Cordova, California, quoted in, Christopher Columbus and the Age of Exploration, An Encyclopdia,(edit,) Silvio Bedini,Da Capo Press New York, 1998. P233. :Historiographic Stade/metres composition Interpretation length unit x number
Herodotus/Gossellin 99.75 200 assyrian cubits
Pliny/Macrobius 148.2 500 Pelasgic feet
Pliny/d’Anville 148.2 Schoenus/40300 assyrian cubits
Pliny/Hultsch 157.5 Schoenus/40
Pliny/Dreyer/Stahl 157.5 300 royal cubits
Lehman-Haupt 165 600 plinian feet 300 talmud cubits
Polybius (Pelasgic) 177.9 600 pelasgic feet
Strabo/Pliny, Olympic 185.2 600 olympic feet 625 roman pedes 500 egypt remen
Drabkin Philetarian 197.6 400 assyrian cubits Ptolemaic/Royal/
Hultsch 210400 royal cubits
Lehman-Haupt 296.4 600 assyrian cubits
Babylon/Assyrian Ush 355.68 720 assyrian cubits
Klein’s superstadion 1896 ???

13) Cleomedes; “De Motu Circulari Corporum Caelestrum Libri Duo”; (trans H.states later,’ As for Libya, we know that it is washed on all sides by the sea except where it joins Asia, as was first demonstrated, so far as our knowledge goes, by the Egyptian king Neco, who, after calling off the construction of the canal between the Nile and the Arabian gulf, sent out a fleet manned by a Phoenician crew with orders to sail round and return to Egypt by way of the Pillars of Heracles.Ziegler), Teubner, Leipzig, Germany, 1891. An English translation of Book 1, chapter 10, appears in Cortesao, (see 1) “History of Portuguese Cartography”, 1;141-43. 14) Egyptian World measures.Zeidler, J. (1997), Die Länge der Unterwelt nach ägyptischer Vorstellung. Gottinger Miszellen156, 1997, 101-112. General notes.The text at the beginning of the Amduat states, ’This god enters the western gate of the horizon. Seth stands along the shore. It is 120 iteru coming to this gate, before the bark reaches the 14 netherworld dwellers. One then continues to Urnes (i.e. once equated with Ouranos).’ An early division of the Duat is the Urnes, 309 iteru long. The other divisions are of equal length, and produce an overall length of 12 x 309 = 3708 iteru, to which must be added the distance for Egypt. The length of Egypt is stated as early as the Middle Kingdom as 106 iteru. Thus we have a total of 3814 iteru, or 3814 x 20000 x 0.525m = 40047Km. The Egyptian ITRW or Iteru is found in inscriptions called a ‘river unit’: an early source for this unit is the White Chapel of Sensuret 1 at Karnak. It

corresponds to 20000 cubits. The Greek term for this measure is Skhoinus. The New Kingdom, about 1550 to 1069 BCE, has written sources referring to asmaller unit, the ‘cord measure’ (Egyptian = xt n nwH), corresponding to 100 cubits. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 12.187.94.20 (talk) 15:06, 20 September 2013 (UTC)

  1. ^ Zupko, Ronald (1990). Revolution In Measurement. 548: American Philosophical Society. ISBN 0-87-169-186-8.