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PHIL233?A5: Columbus Assignment
A misconception persists that Christopher Columbus couldn?t initially get funding for his voyage to the
new world because potential investors believed the earth was flat. In fact, he couldn?t get funding
because he was a bad geometer. His estimation of the earth?s circumference was far smaller than it had
been known for centuries to be. Some blame the historical misconception (not Columbus?s
miscalculation) on Washington Irving?s biography of Columbus.
Do some investigation on Washington Irving?s biography on Christopher Columbus and comment both on
the adequacy of (1) Irving?s sources for his book project and on the adequacy of (2) Irving?s book as a
source on Columbus. Propose a reason for any difference you find between the adequacy of (1) and (2).
Read Chapter V in Book I of Volume I of Irving?s A History of the Life and Voyages of Christopher
Columbus. The chapter, titled ?Grounds on which Columbus founded??, begins on page 52 of the book
which is freely available as a Google ebook: http://books.google.com/books?id=uIADAAAAQAAJ. Also,
look up confirmation bias. Say what it is and say whether Irving has established in that chapter that
Columbus committed that mistake in reasoning. Justify your position.
Finally, comment on the adequacy of your sources for this project. A suitable source of information
should be (1) disinterested and should be (2) an expert. You needn?t comment again on Irving?s book
but you should consider your sources of information about Irving?s book. Also consider the quality of
your sources on confirmation bias.
Type your paper and organize it well. Clearly mark the three parts of the paper. Write grammatically,
spell correctly and cite your sources in your favorite style. I will grade your assignment on mechanics,
organization (and clarity), your understanding of the material, and your reasoning (how well you defend
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