The Calendar Nonsens
Review of the book by D. E. Duncan
Berlin · Sept. 2000
The International Bestseller, "The Calendar", by David Ewing Duncan (London 1998), is concerned with "The 5000-Year Struggle to Align the Clock and the Heavens - and What Happened to the Missing Ten Days"
This book has been
praised as "scholarly" and "indispensible" by the
Observer, so we might have a look into it.
Even if the author meant to say that mathematically calculating with an "Average decrease in the year due to gradual slowing of the earth's rotation: ½ second per century" (which can only have been deduced from measurements of this bygone century) he would arrive at a diminishing of 10 seconds in 2000 years, supposing that would get him back to AD 1, this is a very rough estimate, and using as a base the extremely questionable hypothese that earth has moved ever since 2000 years by the same speed without any interruption or change whatsoever.
I do not want to question for a start other assumption the author makes here, merely advertise that he doesn't take his own figures for credible, as in the same paragraf he says "Date Caesar changed Roman year to Julian calendar: 1 January 46 BC" whereas on page 4 it is simply "1 January 45 BC" as everybody learnt in school.
But now, as we get deeper involved in his text, we should recalculate the dates he gives (p. 5) as those of a certain Roger Bacon in his "Opus Maior":
"He sets the true date of the equinoxe for the year he was writing, 1267, on . . . 12 March - a nine-day difference." This can be observed by any layman with the eye, he adds. And as for the future, in 1361, the calendar would be out of proportion by one day more, mounting up to ten days. The rule he adopted was quite accurate: Every 125 years one day has to be dropped (we reckon today 128 years). His knowledge of the length of the year in comparison to that employed in the Julian calendar is by any means highly exact.
But the dates given
to his ponderations are completely wrong! By simple way of addition one
can reach at the conclusion, that the actual difference of the Julian
calendar and the equinoxe in 1267 must have been 7.3 days (not nine as
told), or say roughly 2.5 days before Pope Gregors XIII reformation of
the calendar (which amounted to ten days). Looking at it the other way
- i.e. taking for granted that Bacon did not lye when he said that he
observed the equinoxe on March 12 as every layman can - he must have lived
somewhere near 1467 AD (or later) and therefore the retrocalculation of
his book by two hundred years is a mere hoax.
On page 7 he gives
Regarding the other
contents of that book - e.g. a geography of the Holy Land (!) - we had
long ago doubted the date it was composed. Yet the author concludes (p.
In order to give
more insight into the author's thoughts and portraying of history we shall
quote another passage refering to Roger Bacon (p.192):
As this International Bestseller of Duncan is throughout of the same quality I save the audience with further excerpts. I did only want to draw attention to the nonsense written and catered to the unaware which by this way troubles our field of decade-long honest search and investigation.
I would like to write a Comment to this text: