The blog of Dr Glenn Andrew Peoples on Theology, Philosophy, and Social Issues

Victoria University’s advertising team are a bunch of lying liars!


I saw something a few minutes ago on nationwide television that nobody should ever have to see.

It was an advertisement, promoting the University of Victoria in Wellington New Zealand. There’s nothing exceptional about that, of course, but what the advert said broke the irony meter. This is a University – an institute of higher learning. A place where knowledge and scholarly integrity flourish. Right?

The ad began, and this is nearly verbatim: “In the 14th century most people were sure that the earth was flat.” This was accompanied by a witty animation of a ship falling off the edge of the earth. Ha Ha, what a bunch of idiots they were in those days, huh? Then came the sales pitch: “What are you sure of?” Then a list of subjects appeared on-screen: philosophy, science, history etc. You can come to Victoria University and let them educate you in those subjects!

Science? History? Philosophy? You’re kidding right? You want to encourage people to come and study these things while you peddle this absolutely absurd caricature that compeltely ignores the scientific and philosophical acumen of the middle ages and displays a mythical view of history that no respectable scholar of history would take seriously?

Do just a tiny bit of reading before embarrassing yourself by releasing promotional material like this. If it’s too much effort to actually open the cover of a book, pick up the phone and call someone at your University who teaches on these subjects for goodness’ sake! Heck, even Google could have saved your hide here.

When Prentice-Hall published a book that fell prey to such silly myths about the ignorance of dark age dummies, they were torn to shreds. For example, Lawrence S. Lerner, professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at California State University, Long Beach, tore strips off them in an article entitled “nonsense in schoolbooks.” It includes such gems as the label “ignorant fakery” for what Prentice-Hall did by presenting the book at all.

This attrocious misrepresentation of history is debunked at Wikipedia as well.

Jeffrey Burton Russell of the American Scientific Affiliation is on the money, in my ever so humble opinion, when he says that “Contortions that are common today, if not widely recognized, are produced by the incessant attacks on Christianity and religion in general by secular writers during the past century and a half, attacks that are largely responsible for the academic and journalistic sneers at Christianity today.” But “contortions” they clearly are, and that Victoria University propagate them is beyond explanation. As Burton goes on to substantiate, the contortion is itself a recent one, only arising after the trend to attack Christianity as unscientific. “No one before the 1830s believed that medieval people thought that the earth was flat.”

My two cents: Write to the University. Complain. No responsible educational institute should need to let their standards drop in this way. Secondly, study at the University of Otago instead. At least they won’t peddle fairy tales as history. Well, not this one, at least.


Penn Jillette: Magician. Comedian. Nitwit.


Lies, lies, and Lebanese lies. The Camera does lie.


  1. Joey

    But Glenn, didn’t Christians destroy science and academia throughout history?

    Remember in Germany in the 1400’s when a cure for AIDS was discovered? Wasn’t it Christians who burned the inventer at the stake and destroyed all copies of the formula because they believed AIDS was God’s vengeance on sinners? They even wrote Gott ist groß (God is great) all over the walls, using the blood of several people who had been cured (since it was really “God’s will” that they die).

    *Note: That whole story was made up as a satirical reflection on percieved “history” of Christianity on society 😉

  2. Joey I just caught stupid by reading that. Thanks a lot.

  3. Matt has written a version of this The Flat-Earth Myth. His blog post was published in Investigate Magazine this month.

  4. Joey

    And yet I bet at least 30% of college students would believe it…

  5. Unfortunately you’re not wrong Joey. Shortly after I first wrote this one back in 2006, I made reference to it in passing at an online forum, and was practically ridiculed, as though I was obviously out of my depth and the stories told about Columbus and the flat earth were obvious and indisputably true. The exact same rhetoric appeared as when one proposes something like intelligent design, or when one questions global warming, and the ridicule came from the same people, for that matter.

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