History 101

..Now class, who can tell me how WW3 started, and how long it lasted?  Yes, Matthew –

Please, ma’am, it was in 2013 when Israel bombed Iran.  “The war lasted for six weeks.  It resulted in the deaths of one million, seven hunded thousand people and ended due to mass protests which were accelerated by the internet and by mobile phones, lending a widespread impetus to the already considerable movement” – um, movement towards –

..very good reading, Matthew.  Try and put it in your own words next time; turn off the instaPad.  Now, second question: why was there so much cancer around the turn of the century?

Oh, me, me – was it when they sailed them ships and didn’t eat lemons?  And that man said it was lemons what cured scurfy but nobody knew ’cause they didn’t tell anyone ’cause they made money from quack medicines like chemotherapy which didn’t work and they called him a limey and –

Richard, Richard, no, no no – that was in the 1700’s, three hundred years before!  Dear me, you do need to do some studying – !  Sarah, can you tell us?

Yes ma’am, it was because everyone ate factory food and they’d polluted the planet, thinking it didn’t matter because it was dead anyway.  When they went back to natural foods, and when the planet was cleaned up after 2025, cancer eventually disappeared.

Historic “magazine” made with tree by-products. From the collection of Don Salmon Jr the 4th, reprinted by kind permission

That’s right, of course.  Ah but, why did people eat factory food, when they could have easily eaten natural food?  Did they know about natural food?

They thought factory food was good because they saw it on their televisions.  Everybody had to watch televisions.  It was the law.  Famous people said factory food was good so everyone bought it with their money.  Nobody ever thought about the causes of cancer, they had to buy different cures from drugs factories and the cures made lots of money.

They had one called chemo which made cancer worse even killed people but in those days people believed whatever a scientist said, especially if they put him in a television.

What happened to people treated with chemotherapy?

Mostly they died straightaway, some lived a little longer and then died.  Usually they died because the therapy destroyed their immune systems.  People didn’t know about immune systems in those days.  They thought everything was just good and bad luck.

20th century television. Preserved by “Mars Will Send No More” Entertainment Museum, Arizona. Device last used in 2052

Did people believe everything they were told by scientists, or everything they saw on their televisions?

Yes, always.

That’s the right answer, they did indeed.  Now as we know, it was against the law to be a scientist or politician after 2025 unless your brain had been empathy scored, and of course you can see why.  Now, the last questions will be on the human mind.  So, let’s see: George, what was the scientific belief in the genetic causes of genius?  Think carefully.

The scientists said it was good luck.

Yes, one point for that – and what about the genetic causes of psychopaths and violent criminals ? (criminals were people who did bad things)

They scientists said it was just bad luck.

What did they do to try and cure the criminal people?

They locked them in big buildings called prisons, where they had to sit in tiny boxes, and they weren’t allowed to get out for years.  In 2019 in America there were 170 million people in prisons, and that was more than were out of prison!

Did they know about psychic powers, telepathy, precognition?

No, the scientists said it was all imaginary.

Inside of a prison, assumed late 20th century. (c) ICR trust 2071, by kind permission of Ben Pond III Jr

The epeople then were more primitive than now, but do you think they had precog dreams, psi phenomena, or intuitive flashes?

Yes, they did, but the scientists told them it was just luck, or that they were imagining it.  One scientist who believed in it, Rupert Sheldrake, conducted lots of tests which proved it wasn’t imaginary and he sent them to another scientist, Richard Dawkins, so they could discuss it.  But Dawkins believed only in good and bad luck, so he threw it all away without reading it! Sheldrake got very cross.

Good research, Johanne! Do you think people in those days knew about planetary responses through bacteria, viral machinery, genetic re-engineering?

No, the scientists said it was all bad luck.  Or that people were imagining it.

Did they know about racial genetics – obstructed evolution causing revolutionaries, or degeneration, group births, hive minds, or the evolution of mass consciousness?

No, the scientists said whatever happened was just coincidence and that wars and revolutions were just bad luck and would never change.  In those days they thought the planet was dead, so it didn’t matter what anyone did to it.  And if everything was good and bad luck, it meant nobody was allowed to research it.  If they tried, they were accused of believing in fairies!

Very good.   Can you tell me why they believed the planet was dead, if it gave life to them, and produced all their living food and air and water?

Oh, oh, um – they said it was, um, imaginary.  No, wait, they said it was good luck or coincidence..?  Oh, I don’t know!  I’d say, imaginary, and good luck.

Well, I’d accept those answers I think, yes, that shows you’ve done your homework.  What did they think about evolution?

Presumed turn of the century artwork, found in Molina Province, West Coast, Wyoming

They thought they were the highest of evolution, because of good luck.  The world was divided into countries and you could never leave your country without permission.  If you were in a country with lots of money it was good luck and they would spend all their money on rockets and inventions and let the other countries starve and say it was just bad luck for them.

Class, class, shush – concentrate until we’re finished – did they know about higher states of consciousness?

They said it was all imaginary.

Did they know about other planetary civilisations?

They said it was all imaginary.  Scientists said there couldn’t be visits from aliens because it was too far to travel!  They said they couldn’t live in other dimensions because scientists believed if something could not be seen, it could not exist.  Some scientists said that only Earth, in the whole Universe, had life, and that man would never evolve any more than what he was in the old days!

Class!  If you insist on laughing you’ll all stay in afterwards – now, did they know about, hmm, the different elements which made up minds?

They said there wasn’t any mind.  It was just atoms and stuff, and it was all random.  Just good and bad luck.  And anything else was imaginary.

What did they think of their own minds, then?  What about near death experiences, out of body experiences, mystical experiences, flashes of genius?

No, they said it was all imaginary.  And just good luck sometimes!

Class, shush – calm down – why did they study laws of physics, if everything was random?  …Anyone…?  Come on, think now: why would they study laws, searching for order, if everything was random?  Well, perhaps that is a little advanced for this term..  let’s leave that for now.

One final thing, there may be an essay question on the dispute between science and religion around the turn of the century.  Who knows anything about that?  Yes, Simon –

Well, ma’am, my great-great-grandfather used to write a blog – that was a “web log”, that people would write their ideas on and everything like that, and people would see it on their televisions and write things.  And his was on science and religion, and when my dad was little he said people would write in saying evolution just happened by chance, and stuff like that.  And he’d get angry with them, and.. and well, stuff like that.

In those days people believed only in good and bad luck. A planet having air and water and food was good luck, wars were bad luck. If you evolved, it was through good luck, but if people degenerated, that was bad luck.

Class, I’m sure Simon didn’t mean that to be funny – I hope you’ll all take tomorrow’s test a little more seriously.  Simon, can you also tell us why people believed everything was random?

Well, a man named Charles Dawkins, no, wait, Darkin!  No, sorry, Charles Darwins, he travelled to some islands on a ship he nearly wasn’t allowed on because the captain thought he had a wrong sort of nose, and wouldn’t work hard but he did go in the end, and saw some tortoises and birds, and, well, he thought everything just happened by itself.  He said everything was, random, sort of.  And everything just turned into other things over lots of time. 

They thought since there couldn’t be an old man on a hill, they thought, well, better to have everything random.  So they tried to make religion illegal and nobody could learn about it in school.  They had big meetings and wrote lots of books.  I think that was communism or something.  And they would dress in white and burn crosses and sing KumBaYah which was Greek for “coincidence”, I think.  there was a big wall and you couldn’t escape or you’d be killed.  Then someone knocked it down by hitting it with a hammer and bands played music on it and people waved their scarves.

Ancient chart showing creatures which were designed by good luck. Collection of King Brock Haussamen III memorial trust, Los Angeles Province of Afghanistan; reprint (c) 2037

Thank you, Peter, you’re getting much better at expressing your ideas.  Keep up the good work.   Did they think a daffodil, for example, could turn into a giraffe?

Yes, because everything was random.  Everything could change into everything else if it had more babies and when people said show us how this happens, the scientists said it happened so slowly you couldn’t see it.  When they couldn’t find any fossils, they just said, well, it was bad luck I suppose.

That’s quite well explained – can you tell us what they thought about, for example, all the error-correction machinery in the living cell?  Did theyknow about it back then?

Oh, I know!  Yes, they knew all about it but they said it was errors in the system which made it better because they could have more babies.  And the better system, with error correction machinery – which was made by errors – well, it somehow still made more errors, which they thought the error corrections didn’t correct because of an error – I don’t understand it exactly but well, anyway, the errors made it better, so they had more babies, until all the errors made a perfect system, but then it still made errors that improved it.. I think that was it.

Class!  Class!  Of course it seems funny now, but they really did believe that.  Not everyone, but most people did.   Some thought it was silly but they were too busy working to worry about it.  They had to work to get money or they could be homeless.  If you were homeless you couldn’t work and be in their civilisation anymore.

How scientists appeared, late 20th century.  Decorative cloths looped around the neck signified commitment to study and remained attached until death or “sacking”.  Status was shown by the colour, and number, of dots.  Tying the knot was a skill requiring years to master, and married the scientist to his work forever.  Recreating them is no longer possible as the last KnotMeister, Rev. P. Chambers IV, passed away in 2063.  The scientist on the right is blessing his student, to bring him luck.  By law, a peer (centre) had to be present to review such ceremonies.  Note the icons placed level with the heart, and small defensive weapons attached to “pochets”. Fights were always preceded by the greatest possible insult: “you are not a rocket scientist”

They couldn’t even measure the mind until 2014.  They had to just guess about it, so they thought everything must be good and bad luck.  Remember we saw how they would cut the brain into pieces and see if they could understand it better?  Well, it sounds silly now, but that’s why we save this period of history for the last day of term: nobody takes it seriously.  But it really did happen, as Simon has told us.  Any other questions?

Ma’am, in those days, were they real professors?  I mean, them what believed that everything just happened by itself?  Didn’t people make fun of them?

Well, Thomas, yes, people did make fun of them but many of those who believed in “the nothing” were in charge of Universities and wrote lots of books, so people thought they were clever.  Remember it was the scientists’ job to think, and then tell other people what they had to believe.  Other people were forbidden from over-ruling a scientist, so revolutionaries had to organise things in secret.  You remember when we discussed the American Civil War – but can you tell me the date..?

Yes, ma’am, 2013 – 2014 and the outcome was a more equitable society in which war was made illegal and the government was abandoned, and it was then that research began into genetic deterioration –

Good but next time, can you please not memorise it – learn the meaning!

It’s nearly time to go – remember to get a good night’s sleep for the test tomorrow, and then you can all go on your holidays; in a few days it will be 2075.   I’ll only say this one more time: anyone who wants to go on this year’s Mars day trip will have to get their forms signed and back to me to-mor-row!  And – wait, wait… the bell didn’t go just yet – sit down, Usain, sit down – remember to bring fruit and anyone with a teleportation season ticket must have the return part renewed before Friday.. you all remember what happened last year and why Mr Faircloth is no longer with the school.

There’s the bell – 1:00 pm – see you all tomorrow, 11:00 sharp!

Russian schoolchildren, by 20th century artist Norman Rockwell. Original now maintained in New New Mexico, West Coast, United States of Arabia.

About iain carstairs

I have a great interest in both scientific advances and the beauty of religion, and created www.scienceandreligion.com about 15 years ago with the aim of finding common ground between the scientist and the believer, and to encourage debate between the two sides.
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7 Responses to History 101

  1. Apologies to readers for a bug in WordPress which sometimes publishes a fully-written, fully illustrated draft as a blank page – the copy is lost along with revisions for the preceding hour at least, meaning it has to be rewritten in a hurry. As was the case here!

  2. Ms. Grundy says:

    Gosh, sounds like you’ve been sitting in my class for way too long…although my favourite lesson is actually the ‘discovery of america.’ Not much different, in many ways, in terms of imagination and randomness and how the story of it is constructed.

    • Truthfully I can’t sit in a class and listen, because of course classes are methodical and carefully worked out, as they should be. I would be utterly useless as teacher or student.. luckily life seems to have space for those of us who jump from idea to idea, as long as we have enough discipline to get one thing done almost to completion before losing interest. I guess nature doesn’t make anything without a purpose, if we at least can learn to work!

      I did read that da Vinci at one point lost interest in his Last Supper: someone commented that for a while he would arrive mid afternoon, make a single half-hearted brushstroke, then leave for the day. And michelangelo at one point during the Sistine wrote to his father that work was at a standstill and that he didn’t care. The Pope had stiffed him for some interim payment, ridden off to war or something, and M was happy to laze about designing statues that would never be built.

      But at another time, he was so into it that when the Pope once again rushed off to battle without paying him, M jumped on a horse the next day and went after him, securing a written promise which he then took back to the Vatican to get his dosh!

      These great masters were filled with something big but also just like us – if only we hadn’t thrown 100m of us onto giant bonfires in the last 100 years; there must have been some fantastic sculptors, artists, writers, scientists and ingenious thinkers in there.

  3. Don Salmon says:

    Uh oh, has america been discovered? That means the a lot of people around the world have figured out why their economies and environment are in such bad shape. We here in america better look out; because there’s a lot of people around the world who have a right to be quite upset at what america has done. but wait – what if we let the south secede – the rest of us aren’t responsible for bush, and without the south, you won’t get romney….. hmmm, but the rest of us chose obama, and he’s been doing some not so nice stuff to you all also;

    but maybe you aren’t like us – maybe you won’t retaliate by sending drones our way; maybe you feel badly for us, and want to help us (like Mr. Carstairs is doing here) by patiently educating us, and helping us to understand that life is not meaningless, that the universe is alive, that consciousness doesn’t just pop up as part of what the American materialist Daniel Dennett calls “a random shuffle through chaos”.

    And maybe there is hope – since even Richard Dawkins has said he actually hopes he’s wrong, that there is some purpose to the universe and maybe evolution is not all that meaningless as he thought.

    hmmm, maybe this site is having some effect:>))))

    • Wait, even RD has said that? I can see I’m out of touch! You see, the hunger for meaning is a fundamental part of life. As I said on twitter last week, for want of anything else to say, the question “why” is much more important than “how” – because every process in the universe, large or small, was caused by something in a previous process – therefore as soon as you add the dimension of time, which we’re truly stuck with, you need a “why” to start any process!

      Therefore, ipso fatso..

      Did you know that every early civilisation developed limestone fresco for themselves, without any contact with other civilisations? This shows the intuitive nature of knowledge – it comes from within at a certain point in man’s evolution, as a guarantee that he will have certain tools and processes to master, to build his society.

      Neolithic man, I gather, was found with traces of herbal plants in his teeth – not tasty ones, but ones used for medicinal purposes. So there you have again, some genius making headway through intuition, independent of books and external education. And as we all know, the talent which you have – the Scipionism of Scipio for example – is precisely that part that could never be taught!

  4. Roy says:

    Oh wow…., simply wow. Beautiful content, and I love how you responded up here…, “…because of course classes are methodical and carefully worked out, as they should be. I would be utterly useless as teacher or student.. luckily life seems to have space for those of us who jump from idea to idea…” So damn true, and I must say, there are quite few individuals who think in between the lines of the content you’ve posted. Very, very nice.

    • At first I was trying to figure out if this was a spam comment, because there are some really clever spam generators about which take quotes and surround them with generalised comments. But usually the email addresses give them away, and yours sounds genuine – so, many thanks!

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