I like this article. It’s fun, but it also has an important, if somewhat overlooked, message.
‘When humans finally got to the moon in the 1960s, it was on staged rockets much more sophisticated than Cyrano’s firework-propelled lunar vehicle imagined over 300 years earlier. By this time, we already knew that the moon had no atmosphere. The birds of Earth would have been unable to fly. ‘
What’s the different between Cyrano’s account and NASA’s? Framing.
Cyrano’s account is presented as fiction, and NASA’s account is presented as fact. And at the heart of both, whether agree or disagree, is belief.
Once upon a time, most people believed that praying and sacrificing to gods and elementals would appease the volcano, the seas, the rivers, and the very weather – because authority figures told them so.
Once upon a time, most people believed in demons – because authority figures told them demons existed.
Once upon a time, most people believed that the world was made 6000 odd years ago – because authority figures told them so.
In the late 1800s, many people (particularly in London) believed Sherlock Holmes was real because the stories were so convincing and set in familiar places.
And in 1938, a great many Americans believed that they were being invaded by aliens because Orson Welles read War of the Worlds like a news flash over the radio.
Providing authority figures (or people who speak/write with authority) present people with something that looks or sounds convincing in any given time, most people will believe it. And those who don’t because other authority figures disagree are no better.
The principles of empirical science is about what we, as individuals, can observe and prove. Everything else is belief.