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Recently I came about this answer which, in my opinion, is completely based on pseudoscientific books. This is not like math.se, or physics.se where good and bad answers can easily be discerned, so what should be done? Where do we draw the line between accepted and not accepted sources?

Here are, in order of appearance, the links to the amazon pages of said books. A glimpse at them should reveal immediately their speculative nature:

http://www.amazon.com/Land-Fallen-Star-Gods-Celestial/dp/1591431646 http://www.amazon.com/Pyramid-Quest-Secrets-Great-Civilization/dp/1585424056 http://www.amazon.com/Breaking-Mirror-Heaven-Conspiracy-Suppress/dp/1591431565 http://www.amazon.com/The-Sacred-Geometry-Great-Pyramid/dp/1450704441

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  • $\begingroup$ I'll apologize for my initial comment on that answer ("Awesome references; can you summarize in more detail what you found in them? "). I was trying to encourage the user to add in more sources; I should been more careful, and I have edited my comment. Getting back on-topic, I completely agree with you. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Apr 14 '15 at 22:27
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    $\begingroup$ A whole lot of science up to even recent times, including work done by respected scientists, has been 'pseudo' science. It always something that we must keep in mind. $\endgroup$ – ouflak Apr 28 '15 at 14:58
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I agree with you that the references this answer cites are not mainstream views in the history of science. I'm not sure the problem here is "pseudoscience" so much as "pseudohistory", but either way, the answer is decidedly bad. Given what is commonly accepted among historians and scientists alike about ancient Egypt, in the context of this site, the answer is simply wrong; our goal here isn't to present absolutely correct answers (which is impossible for any serious history question) but just to answer questions about the history of science based on the mainstream viewpoints of modern historians and scientists, and a cursory look at the sources reveals them immediately to be far from the mainstream. Labels like "pseudoscience" and "pseudohistory" are just ways of classifying wrong answers, but ultimately, the main problem is that the answer is wrong.

Wrong answers exist on all SE sites, and there's a standard way to deal with them. If the answer is incorrect, the advised course of action is to downvote (and, if you choose, leave a comment explaining the issue). The thought is that people will come to the site, see the answer which is downvoted, and know that this answer is something a majority of users here who voted disagreed with.

Typically, though, the wrong answer is not supposed to be deleted. In particular, if you flag the post for moderator attention, we probably won't do anything about it. Moderators delete posts which have problems with style. If something which doesn't attempt to answer the question or isn't even readable gets posted as an answer, we'll delete it. But the default SE policy is that moderators don't judge the substance of the post when taking such actions. In the first place, we can't be expected to make such judgements at a very high level, since we aren't experts on most things which are on-topic here. If 4k rep users vote to delete it, we probably wouldn't undelete the answer without good reason (but this is not currently an option since we only have 2 users at that level and deletion requires 3 votes), but we're expected to be conservative when using unilateral powers and to act based on the consensus of the community.

In practice, this works pretty well if most answers coming in are correct and the community has enough knowledgeable people downvoting posts. But our particular subject does seem to attract more than its fair share of bizarrely wrong answers. I haven't seen too many here yet, but it's always been something I've worried about. If there's a strong consensus that downvoting is not enough, and such answers need to be removed, we could potentially work out some policy. But it would only cover egregious cases, and we'd need to be able to determine the validity without any specialized knowledge. I suspect things would get complicated rather quickly, and personally I'd rather avoid having to make the decisions about whether or not to delete these kinds of answers. We wouldn't be completely without precedent in creating such a policy—sites like Skeptics and Physics have similar rules—but none of the existing policies are perfect, and they'd be worse here.

So, for now, my suggestion is that users here continue to be skeptical and critical of all claims, and to vote liberally, both down for questionable or erroneous claims and up for well-written and well-referenced answers. Since voting works on an individual basis, we don't need to decide what is/isn't acceptable; each user is free to make their own decisions. That alone may be enough to deal with such posts. If you think this is insufficient, and that removal is necessary, write up an explanation of your opinions and proposal, and we'll act on whatever consensus we see among the community here.

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  • $\begingroup$ What was wrong about the answer? The question was primarily mathematical, and the mathematical answer was correct. Is it good scientific practice to ignore the evidence like hjhjhj57 has done? $\endgroup$ – Michael A. Sherbon May 28 '16 at 15:34
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I agree that these are highly speculative books and that some would share your opinion. Though the many good reviews and endorsements would not agree with you. Strictly in regards to the question asked by HDE, for the evidence the Egyptians knew about the spherical earth, it is like math and physics. The mathematical calculations of the ancients on "earth measures" are very accurate and require space satellites to match them today. Are you refusing to acknowledge the mathematics and the physical reasoning behind it?

The speculative references make for challenging, controversial and interesting reading; on the leading edge of discovery and that's why they were posted. They also include the answer to HDE's question and more traditional references to the controversial nature of this question. Would it be fair to exclude controversial references in responding to a controversial question, especially when they seem to have the most accurate answers?

More conservative references show the "Pythagoreans were the first ... to say the earth is round." - George Sarton (noted founder of the academic discipline of the History of Science) Ancient Science Through the Golden Age of Greece. Pythagoras was an Egyptian initiate and some of his knowledge was directly attributed to the Egyptians. Both Kepler and Newton were also privy to some of the secret oral tradition. Kepler acknowledged his debt to the Egyptians. Newton went to great lengths in a paper trying to figure out the Sacred Cubit.

Another "source": Ancient Wisdom Discovery that the Earth is spherical -

The first (official) measurement of the radius of the earth was made by Erasthenes (b. 275 B.C.), who was the head of the great library of Alexandria. He was born in Cyrene, now Libya. It seems likely that the ancient Egyptians, much before Egypt's conquest by Alexander the great, had already grasped the idea of a spherical Earth, and it was from them that this doctrine was adopted by Pythagoras, who, as we know, spent many years of study in Egypt.

Another conservative reference, authoritative, with additional considerations: Corinna Rossi, Architecture and Mathematics in Ancient Egypt, Cambridge University Press, 2004.

OK ... a little math :-) ... The approximate diameter of the earth in miles: 7920 = 8 x 9 x 10 x 11. These numbers are encoded in the geometry of the Cosmological Circle. Michael Schneider, Constructing the Cosmological Circle:

The Cosmological Circle is a geometric diagram that has appeared in the arts, crafts, architecture, religion and literature of cultures around the world, and is associated with their golden ages. Because it's the visual representation of the harmony naturally inherent in the structure of the numbers 1 through 12, it encodes the ideal patterns and proportions toward which nature's forms strive. ... Its dimensions are described as the Heavenly City described in The Book of Revelation, seen in the plan of the Buddhist Brobodur temple, Stonehenge, Glastonbury, and described as Plato's ideal city Magnesia.

Also, 7920 = 55 x 144. Notice the Fibonacci numbers and that 144/55 is approximately equal to the Golden Number squared. Half the value of the the Golden Number squared is equal to the midradius of the dodecahedron. Schneider says the geometry is just a mask for the Number Canon. Now, the question is how did they discover the Number Canon?

The Number Canon removes the geometric mask and looks into the numbers at the heart of the Cosmological Circle. The way the twelve numbers combine and organize into an all-encompassing whole was the model for most of the ancient world as a microcosmic representation of the harmonious universe. It was used as a standard for defining relationships among weights, measures, music and the proportions of sacred art and architecture.

According to WolframAlpha, ... this answer requested by AnubhaV ... is mathematically correct.

Supporting references -- Thoth: Architect of the Universe, by Ralph Ellis, in a review by Elliot Malach he says:

The author ties the measurements and mathematics of the pyramids, Stonehenge and Avebury with the myth of Thoth, who educated mankind in math and the mysteries of the heavens, leaving repositories of knowledge throughout the Earth. Those repositories may not be "inside" these megalithic structures, but instead the fundamental mathematics encoded in the architecture of these structures themselves.

From Wikipedia Thoth:

The Egyptians credited him as the author of all works of science, religion, philosophy, and magic. The Greeks further declared him the inventor of astronomy, astrology, the science of numbers, mathematics, geometry, land surveying, medicine, botany, theology, civilized government, the alphabet, reading, writing, and oratory. They further claimed he was the true author of every work of every branch of knowledge, human and divine.

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  • $\begingroup$ Book recommendations for Javier: ... Why Science Is Wrong...About Almost Everything by Alex Tsakiris ... and ... Forbidden Archeology: The Hidden History of the Human Race by Michael A. Cremo and Richard L. Thompson $\endgroup$ – Michael A. Sherbon Apr 19 '15 at 15:35
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    $\begingroup$ Please don't add your answer to the main question to this answer on meta. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Apr 19 '15 at 17:47
  • $\begingroup$ The addition was pertinent to the invitation from Javier to defend my position. Are you disallowing additional defense? $\endgroup$ – Michael A. Sherbon Apr 19 '15 at 17:56
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    $\begingroup$ I'm trying to save you the work of typing out (or copying-and-pasting) the same stuff in two separate places. You can roll back my edit, if you want. Click on the revision history and send it back to whatever version you want (#3, I think). $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Apr 19 '15 at 17:58
  • $\begingroup$ Ok thanks! No problem with the double posting. $\endgroup$ – Michael A. Sherbon Apr 19 '15 at 18:08
  • $\begingroup$ YouTube recommendation for Javier: "Secrets of the Egyptian Pyramids." The best Egyptian pyramid documentary. Also known as "The Revelation of the Pyramids." youtube.com/watch?v=rcKahraBiBY ... 798,689 views ... $\endgroup$ – Michael A. Sherbon Apr 20 '15 at 17:58
  • $\begingroup$ Javier, are you still refusing to acknowledge the mathematics? $\endgroup$ – Michael A. Sherbon Apr 21 '15 at 16:57
  • $\begingroup$ Another helpful reference for Javier, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "Historiography is the study of the history and methodology of the discipline of history." Your question is also an academic debate using different terms. $\endgroup$ – Michael A. Sherbon Apr 22 '15 at 14:06
  • $\begingroup$ Michael, unfortunately I haven't had time to read your post thoroughly enough (and I haven't received the notifications from your comments, are you using the @ symbol?). I'll have time for it probably on monday. I'll let you know my opinion as soon as I go through your (as far as I can see) very complete answer! $\endgroup$ – hjhjhj57 Apr 25 '15 at 1:31
  • $\begingroup$ Michael, I've read your answer and believe this kind of things aren't appropriate for this site, just as answering a question about evolution with the Genesis as source isn't. As it's pointed out in the other answer, it's the community which will decide which answers are upvoted and downvoted. I don't wish to continue discussing about this topic, since I have my mind completely made about it, but I appreciate your openness to debate. $\endgroup$ – hjhjhj57 Apr 28 '15 at 18:56

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