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NASA to make Muslims feel good

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Guest idol_wild

So he's using NASA as a pretty handy tool to reach out and try to mend the Western World's relationship with the Muslim World? Sort of makes sense, really. That said, it's an extremely patronising method of doing so. But hey, it's the United States of America: of course they are patronising.

Doesn't the US Government own NASA's ass, anyway? I'm sort of assuming, as I know little about these things.

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I believe NASA is wholly funded by congress to the tune of around 15 billion dollars (10 billion pounds) a year.

"he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering"

I just think this is nonsense. Why do Muslim nations need NASA to make them feel good? It doesn't make any sense. What historic contribution is he referring to? It's all incredibly vague and sounds like a waste of time.

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"he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering"

I just think this is nonsense. Why do Muslim nations need NASA to make them feel good? It doesn't make any sense. What historic contribution is he referring to?

The Muslim WorldTM pretty much invented science, maths and engineering.

I'd far rather see NASA spending time and money advancing ideas (from everybody) on this planet rather than wasting billions on trying to get to other ones.

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Guest idol_wild
I just think this is nonsense. Why do Muslim nations need NASA to make them feel good? It doesn't make any sense. What historic contribution is he referring to? It's all incredibly vague and sounds like a waste of time.

It's not about making them feel good, though. It's purely political bridge building, I'd suggest. They've just used wording that is horrendously patronising.

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The Muslim WorldTM pretty much invented science, maths and engineering.

I'd love to know how you came to that conclusion.

I'd far rather see NASA spending time and money advancing ideas (from everybody) on this planet rather than wasting billions on trying to get to other ones.

I'd be very surprised if NASA didn't have people of different faiths, heritage and backgrounds working for them and I'm sure all of them work hard to advance science and knowledge in the field of space exploration. I don't see how a vague and misguided PR exercise 'advances ideas' in any way or why that would be a valuable use of billions of dollars.

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I suggest that this is a piece of poor journalism which has reworded a quote in the headline to make the story more interesting than it actually is.

Getting quotes from a few people, rewording them in the headline and making a story out of it isn't real journalism (although often passes for it these days).

Is it possible that Obama may be interested in sharing scientific information or involving other nations in their space programmes, such as has been done with Russia to some extent?

Not quite the same thing but reminds me a little bit of this story, which has been re-printed many times (including by the BBC), without any accurate details in it and at least one quote from someone who clearly knew nothing about the issue at all.

Tabloid Watch: Non-story about local pool forces journalism black out

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I suggest that this is a piece of poor journalism which has reworded a quote in the headline to make the story more interesting than it actually is.

Getting quotes from a few people, rewording them in the headline and making a story out of it isn't real journalism (although often passes for it these days).

Is it possible that Obama may be interested in sharing scientific information or involving other nations in their space programmes, such as has been done with Russia to some extent?

The quote was taken from one person, the head of NASA, Charles Bolden. You can see him say it on youtube. He said that Barack Obama told him his foremost priority was to engage with Muslim countries and make them feel good.

*shrug*

Foremost?

*scratch head*

Not quite the same thing...

I don't think the two situations are similar. The fevered article you present involves Muslims as active participants when this story does not; it can not. Muslims are only involved in this situation because they are the designated recipients of NASA's condescension.

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Frosty's "pretty much invented" comment is presumably a facetious exaggeration but the "Muslim World" was the most advanced civilisation on the planet throughout much of the middle ages probably has something to do with the "historic contribution" referred to. Still a bizarre piece of news.

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the "Muslim World" was the most advanced civilisation on the planet throughout much of the middle ages

I think there's a casual mainstream acceptance that what you're saying is true without any real thought, analysis or debate on the issue.

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I think there's a casual mainstream acceptance that what you're saying is true without any real thought, analysis or debate on the issue.

I would call it "mainstream historical opinion" or perhaps "common knowledge". At the risk of taking the thread off on a tangent, what are you saying exactly? You don't agree? Not claiming to be an expert in medieval and/or Islamic history but there's loads of discourse which takes this as a given, the debate being how long the "Golden Age" lasted and why Islamic civilisation declined.

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Still a bizarre piece of news.

I think it's a bizarre piece of news because it extrapolates a shocking headline (OH NO! MUSLIMS!) out of a piece of conjecture in a newspaper with a marked conservative stance. The retired astronaut qualifies the statement about The Muslim world by stating 'and perhaps foremost'.

Well? Is it foremost or are you saying that's it's PERHAPS foremost because the quote was sourced from an interview given to al-Jazeera? Put us out of our misery, astrodude, that 'perhaps' is a pretty big deal.

Also, holy shit, look at that picture they've found of Obama. I'm not the guy's biggest fan, but why not just Photoshop some fucking Devil horns on there, eh, Telegraph?

Here's a headline: NASA to encourage children's interest in Maths and Sciences.

Oh sorry, nothing to raise pitchforks about there, I guess...

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The retired astronaut qualifies the statement about The Muslim world by stating 'and perhaps foremost'.

Well? Is it foremost or are you saying that's it's PERHAPS foremost because the quote was sourced from an interview given to al-Jazeera? Put us out of our misery, astrodude, that 'perhaps' is a pretty big deal.

I agree, but it is worth reiterating that this guy isn't just a retired astronaut. He's the head of NASA.

Here's a headline: NASA to encourage children's interest in Maths and Sciences.

I understand your point about febrile reporting, but if you banish the bogey word "Muslim" from the story or replace it with some other term - or even another religious group you'll see that the most important difference between the story's focus and your example isn't Islamaphobia: It's the idea that the US space agency can be perverted to provide group therapy for the world.

Back to The Islam; I think Bolden's statement smacks of Orientalism and a lack of general understanding and I dislike the lumping of "the Muslim World" into some kind of one-size-fits-all container as well. It just doesn't work. I would suggest the best way to inspire children and everyone else is to focus upon exploring space and achieving things, not by fatuously praising people based on religion.

I would call it "mainstream historical opinion" or perhaps "common knowledge". At the risk of taking the thread off on a tangent, what are you saying exactly? You don't agree? Not claiming to be an expert in medieval and/or Islamic history but there's loads of discourse which takes this as a given, the debate being how long the "Golden Age" lasted and why Islamic civilisation declined.

The problem with common knowledge is its rarely the best on offer. ;) Just kidding.

Firstly, I don't subscribe to the opinion that everything which happened on the European continent between the fall of the Roman Empire and the start of the Modern Era some 10,000 years later can be easily compared to an area of Islamic influence undergoing its 'Golden Age' in order to conclude which was better. Even if we try to localise the debate to a specific point in time, I don't think it's possible to make a cogent argument affirming Islamic superiority in the Middle Ages, and yet, people regularly roll out the statement as fact.

The main issue for me is that many inventions and facets of life attributed to the 'Islamic Golden Age' pre-date the period entirely, cannot be accurately dated, are not supported by archaeological evidence and/or are inherited from other cultures such as the Assyrians, Bablyonians, Persians and even Hindus. I don't discount the idea of a 'Golden Age' outright but I feel it's importance has been greatly overstated and exaggerated. I also think to call it 'Islamic' or credit Muslims alone is more misleading than helpful when the non-Islamic cultures that lent so highly to it largely ceased invention and innovation when they 'came into contact' with Islam.

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Mainstream historical opinion does tend to be the most reliable available. I don't see how any of the points you make disprove a statement such as "the Islamic civilisation was the most advanced in the world throughout much of the middle ages", a statement which is on the contrary to what you say supported by plenty of evidence. Whether or not any particular piece of technology was invented by a Muslim or taken from elsewhere won't change the fact that they possessed that piece of technology.

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I don't see how any of the points you make disprove a statement such as "the Islamic civilisation was the most advanced in the world throughout much of the middle ages", a statement which is on the contrary to what you say supported by plenty of evidence.

I didn't set out to disprove that. I disagreed with the idea that science, maths and engineering were invented by the Muslim world.

The idea that "the Islamic civilisation was the most advanced in the world throughout much of the middle ages" is something I treat with a fair deal of scepticism. I am not setting out to disprove that either, I am disagreeing with a general acceptance of it without any specific knowledge.

Whether or not any particular piece of technology was invented by a Muslim or taken from elsewhere won't change the fact that they possessed that piece of technology.

I agree, but one of the central tenants of the Islamic Golden Age is that Islam was its driving force. If its innovations were taken from other cultures then in what way were they Islamic?

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The quote from the article is

"he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering."

Or even more selectively "help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering."

Not nearly as exciting as The Telegraph's headline?

" Barack Obama: Nasa must try to make Muslims 'feel good' "

It's misleading and designed to provoke a knee jerk reaction by only stating two words from a much longer quote.

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Perhaps Mr Knight would care to watch this programme from the BBC series 'What The Ancients Did For Us'.

The early Muslims are credited with inventing distillation and could distil just about anything - from alcohol to perfume. Hygiene is very important in the Muslim world so they invented and manufactured soap - centuries before the West - and hundreds of bathhouses were built throughout Muslim cities. They understood the fundamentals of light and how we see' date=' and gave us the camera obscura. They invented algebra and worked out the angle of the tilt of the earth. They built the first windmill, pioneered the concept of the crank rod, and designed the first ever torpedo. Muslim creativity also led to the invention of a unique instrument called the astrolabe it could find the direction of Mecca, tell the time and, with the help of the stars, navigate you across deserts and oceans. But perhaps most important of all they pursued the cause of knowledge, translating and preserving the works of the ancients and building the world's largest libraries their 'houses of wisdom'.[/quote']

BBC/OU Open2.net - What The Ancients Did For Us - The Islamic world

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I didn't set out to disprove that. I disagreed with the idea that science, maths and engineering were invented by the Muslim world.

The idea that "the Islamic civilisation was the most advanced in the world throughout much of the middle ages" is something I treat with a fair deal of scepticism. I am not setting out to disprove that either, I am disagreeing with a general acceptance of it without any specific knowledge.

I agree, but one of the central tenants of the Islamic Golden Age is that Islam was its driving force. If its innovations were taken from other cultures then in what way were they Islamic?

I don't see that it matters. Islam was the defining factor in their world view and the common theme which held their civilisation (or indeed "world") together (and the terms "Islamic World/Civilisation are still credibly used today and still whole states run and define themselves by Islam) and hence it's the "Islamic World" and "Islamic Golden Age". They naturally took from other cultures but built on what they took; one can't expect a civilisation to rise from the stone age to technological dominance, inventing everything from the ground up.

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For a simple contrary opinion read the comment on this video from seanamico; a Persian.

"Geber was Persian, Sina was? Persian, Razi Persian. All you will come up with are Persians.

I have all the names of these men, out of 350 of them 314 are Persian, the rest Syria, Egypt, Morocco and couple of Eyrabs that were finally educated by us.

You could not continue shit. It took Persians hundreds of years to educate a few, we had & were like this over thousand years before you invaded."

I'm not saying to take this guy's word for it but it is an illustration of how one modern Persian feels about crediting Muslims or Islam. He goes on:

"It is your ignorance, Iraq a Persian name given to this nation was? under Persia for 1100 years before Muhammad. Anyone born in Iraq would not be Eyrab, but Persian, as we had already developed schools, hospitals, invited world scientist, mathematicians, poets & more to our gatherings for advancement of thoughts & minds, you were not involved, ever. All this existed before, so how is it anyone ows to a cult like Islam after you invade?

Hide them under the name of Muslim, to take credit."

Having known a Persian lady myself I know from experience that even as a Muslim she strongly disliked to have her own cultural identity smothered under the blanket of "The Muslim World" or Islam.

For more angry minorities, read this:

What Arab Civilization?

They naturally took from other cultures but built on what they took

How do you know this without reading up on the subject?

*************************************

FAO: HairyScaryMark

The early Muslims are credited with inventing distillation

-Distillation dates back to Greece and pre-dates Islam so I can't understand that

Hygiene is very important in the Muslim world so they invented and manufactured soap

-Babylonians and Egyptians both had soap, Sumerian tablets date it's invention to at least as far back as 2,500 BC.

They understood the fundamentals of light and how we see

-Very confusing... vague, what does it mean?

and gave us the camera obscura

-No they didn't

They invented algebra

-Seriously? Did you read that part?

and worked out the angle of the tilt of the earth

-I don't know

They built the first windmill

-Persians, pre-dates Islam

pioneered the concept of the crank rod

-3rd Century Rome, pre-dates Islam

and designed the first ever torpedo

-Not as we recognise it, but a torpedo-like floating invention similar to an egg can be credited to a Muslim inventor of the period

Muslim creativity also led to the invention of a unique instrument called the astrolabe

-The Astrolabe was invented in Greece in 150AD.

*************************************

Now, before you are tempted to come back and say "Yes, but Muslims improved on or modified these inventions" I'd point out that the passage you quoted didn't say that. It didn't say "they had windmills", it says, "they invented windmills".

It comes back to my point that this 'Islamic Golden Age' is greatly overstated and at times totally misrepresents the facts.

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I'm not going to start checking a a blow by blow list of inventions against primary evidence or whatever as that's too much for an internet debate I'm not hugely interested in. Nevertheless a casual browsing of what pertinent material I have on my table confirms for example "the development of Islamic science continued beyond [the translation of Greek, Persian and Indian scientific texts]. Muslim scientists added greatly to the material transmitted to them, through their own researches and through practical experiments and observations in fields as diverse as medicine, agriculture, geography and warfare." As well as: "The influence of the West in this period was virtually nil- perhaps for the very good reason that the West had so little to offer." (Bernard Lewis) Call me casually accepting of received wisdom if you will, but I'm prepared to take his word for it without rereading the whole book. Roger Backhouse, on economics, talks of a "'golden age' of Islamic dominance (750 to 1250)", their "great civilisation" and among other things points out "the legacy of Greece was preserved at a time when it was lost in the rest of Europe."

Since we're talking about the semantics of "Islamic Golden Age" I would say even if it were relatively insignificant in historical terms it would still be termed a "Golden Age" if it were the zenith of that particular culture. Which it surely was.

I too have made the mistake of asking a self-declared Persian about "Iran", but again I don't see that it changes anything. Such aggrieved minorities are to be found anywhere in the world, but we don't refrain from talking about the "West" in deference to indigenous Americans (some of whom perfectly capable of having their own states). If we use Huntington's view of civilisations, Vietnam for example (itself having many oppressed minorities) is part of "Sinic civilisation", despite being an independent and highly nationalistic nation-state, it being heavily influenced by China in the past and part of a political region highly likely to be utterly dominated by China in the future.

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I believe NASA is wholly funded by congress to the tune of around 15 billion dollars (10 billion pounds) a year.

.

WTF!!

I did a quick conversion here and changed pounds to seconds

1 Millon seconds is approx 11.5 days

1 Billion seconds is approx 31 years (365days)

10 Billion seconds is approx 317 year.

Dude, that's big numbers.

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This thread is much more interesting than it appeared from outside. I read a great book once at Uni called 'The Muslim Discovery of Europe' in which I read many interesting facts I have since forgotten. What did remain with me is that Muslim scholars invented the concept of the number zero, were ace at astronomy, and preserved much of the knowledge of Classical Antiquity, translated it, and then disseminated it, and developed it. Now considering that every single facet of the world of today is built upon every single thing that has ever happened, then it is clear that without this preservation and development of Classical knowledge, the technological scene would be very different today, almost certainly less advanced. European hegemony from the Renaissance onward is built on Classical foundations, thus on information preserved and updated by the Islamic world.

Interestingly the advances made by EuroCulture/Christendom from the Renaissance onward, were based on the classical ideals of Humanism, supplanting the strict religious literalism of Medieval thought with the idea that perhaps Theology is metaphor, rather than reportage. So current mainstream Christian belief is generally that much of the content of scripture is metaphor and allegory, 'truth' is revealed indirectly, only the Evangelistic Born-Again wing tend to believe the Bible is literal truth. And it is this process of transition from literal to coded knowledge that hasn't really occurred in Muslim theological thinking (although that is not to say that the change in Euro thought was either inevitable or an advance as such), or at least is not accepted as mainstream thought.* It took Christianity1500 years to get to that point, and Islam is not yet that old, so who knows what theological developments will occur yet, its the long game.

..Er, they did invent a heap of stuff y'know

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Classic, between that and 'Stolen Continents*' made me realise that the Western concept of historical progression is just that, our idea, not neccessarily an accurate objective history, if such a thing is even possible.

*Key fact, between 90 and 95% of the population of the American continents were killed by Old World diseases. In MesoAmerica and South America this was witnessed to an extent, in North America, disease vectors raced far ahead of European colonisation, leading directly to the Empty Land Myth, no wonder the N American indigenous peoples were touchy, they had just come through an extinction level event, only to then be robbed of everything they knew, by lying crooks.

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I don't have it to hand any more but I was thinking of Stolen Continents when I mentioned hypothetical indigenous states. These days I don't think anyone can take the conquest of the Americas for anything other than what it was it, and much of that book was about putting down the notion that indigenous culture was "wiped out". I agree that things like "middle ages" and "modern era" are more or less synonyms for when the West was lording it over every one else and when it was lagging behind. That said, it's hardly the only culture to have its own shall we say idiosyncratic view of history.

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