It shouldn’t surprise you that PaleoBabble doesn’t let political correctness get in the way of scholarship.

Some readers may recall the furor a few years ago caused by the announcement that someone had produced a hands down case that the Chinese really discovered America. The book that touted this idea was written by Gavin Menzies and published Harper Perennial in 2003 under the title, 1421: The Year China Discovered America. Turns out that the discovery was treated as paleobabble by Chinese historians, and for good reasons. A good example is the article-length review of Menzies’ book (“How Not to (Re)Write World History: Gavin Menzies and the Chinese Discovery of America“) published in the Journal of World History (Vol. 15, No. 2; Jun., 2004), pp. 229-242.

Here’s what Menzies said of the results of his study (as noted by the reviewer):

Menzies is contemptuous of professional historians who ignore evidence of Chinese influence in the Americas, “presumably because it contradicts the accepted wisdom on which not a few careers have been based” (p. 232). He explains that he has uncovered information that has eluded many eminent historians of China, even though it was right before their eyes, “only because I knew how to interpret the extraordi nary maps and charts that reveal the course and the extent of the voy ages of the great Chinese fleets between 1421 and 1423” (pp. n-12). A former submarine commander in the British Royal Navy, he has sailed in the wake of Christopher Columbus, Ferdinand Magellan, and James Cook, hence he recognizes that those mariners, who navigated with copies of Chinese maps in hand, were themselves merely sailing in the backwash of Zheng He’s fleets (pp. 9, 12).

And here’s a sample of the reviewer’s thoughts:

Menzies flouts the basic rules of both historical study and elementary logic. He misrepresents the scholarship of others, and he frequently fails to cite those from whom he borrows . . . Unfortunately, [his] reckless manner of dealing with evidence is typical of 1421, vitiating all its extraordinary claims: the voyages it describes never took place, Chinese information never reached Prince Henry and Columbus, and there is no evidence of the Ming fleets in newly discovered lands. The fundamental assumption of the book? that Zhu Di dispatched the Ming fleets because he had a “grand plan,” a vision of charting the world and creating a maritime empire spanning the oceans (pp. 19-43)?is simply asserted by Menzies without a shred of proof.

Sounds like fighting words! Enjoy.