Conventional Wisdom

Conventional wisdom describes ideas or explanations that are generally accepted as true by the public or by experts in a field but are not necessarily true. Though widely held, conventional wisdom is  unexamined and may often be used to maintain the status quo. It was popularized in the 1950s by economist John Kenneth Galbraith in his book, The Affluent Society, but actually dates to the 19th century.  Examples of conventional wisdom from history include:

Nero did not “fiddle” during the Great Fire of Rome. As a matter of fact violins had not been invented.  Also, Nero rushed back to Rome to organize a relief effort, which he paid for from his own funds, and he also opened his palaces to provide shelter for the homeless, arranging for food supplies to be delivered in order to prevent starvation among the survivors.

In ancient Rome, the vomitorium was the entranceway through which crowds entered and exited a stadium, not a special room used for purging food during meals. Wealthy gluttons and emperors may have binged and purged, vomiting was not a regular part of dining.

Christopher Columbus did not believe in the flat earth idea that was prevalent prior to his voyage.  Sailors and navigators of the time knew that the Earth was round. The early Greeks knew it was round and Eratosthenes actually calculated the Earth’s diameter.

Tomorrow, More misconceptions.   RitaBay

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