Here is Encyclopedia Britannica, eleventh edition, online, right page.
As you will notice, he tried to prove one could get to India, he found land, was content with that, and assumed he had found India.
Not long ago, it was often said (like by Washinton Irving: a Disney comic, starring Goofy as Christopher Columbus, which I read as a child, repeated this except it ended in a flat earth joke) that he had proven the earth round.
Incidentally he had that once again, but it was already proven in another way. He knew it, his contemporaries knew it, saying it was not a spectacular thing.
When he adressed himself to the King of Portugal, first, he appeared uninterested, but he sent one ship without telling Columbus, and it came back with frightened sailors. So the reason he was at difficulties getting a crew in Spain, apart from the war against the Moors (and yes, Al-Andalus had been under Moors, and it is not certain popular feeling under them accepted learned astronomers' conclusions about earth's roundness) may well have been sailors in Spain getting bad news from the Portuguese ones.
But one main thing is: he found land West of Spain, he knew that on a globe India is West of Spain, he thought he had found India. Duh ...
"I tried to prove something, I found what I wanted, so I have proven it" - Wrong!
But that lesson, which can really be learned from Christopher Columbus is not taught very well in schools.
Darwin tried to prove all creatures share a common ancestor, so he proves all dove species have a common ancestor* by cross-breeding indirectly species that will not cross-breed directly - and he thinks an argument by parallel is licit:
Finally, then, varieties have the same general characters as species, for they cannot be distinguished from species, except, firstly, by the discovery of intermediate linking forms, and the occurrence of such links cannot affect the actual characters of the forms which they connect; and except, secondly, by a certain amount of difference, for two forms, if differing very little, are generally ranked as varieties, notwithstanding that intermediate linking forms have not been discovered; but the amount of difference considered necessary to give to two forms the rank of species is quite indefinite. In genera having more than the average number of species in any country, the species of these genera have more than the average number of varieties. In large genera the species are apt to be closely, but unequally, allied together, forming little clusters round certain species. Species very closely allied to other species apparently have restricted ranges. In all these several respects the species of large genera present a strong analogy with varieties. And we can clearly understand these analogies, if species have once existed as varieties, and have thus originated: whereas, these analogies are utterly inexplicable if each species has been independently created.
Origin of the Species, Ch. 2
But, here he goes beyond evidence. He has never cross-bred dove and eagle*, nor will he ever, not even with very many intermediates. He has never cross-bred bird and lizard, nor will he ever, not even with very many intermediates. He went beyond evidence. Yet he thought he had found an argument. Explaining the lack of argument by intermediates being lost is an explanation, but not an argument.
Similarily, Galileo did prove one argument for Geocentrism wrong, to wit that no heavenly body is seen circling any other body than earth: he proved Jupiter had a moon. But he did not prove Jupiter circling Sun were not indirectly circling, along with sun, earth. So: He did not disprove Geocentrism.
But he thought he had.
St Robert Bellarmine confronted him with a problem: if we move around the sun each year, we should see the stars move other way round each year, but we do not. Galileo explained that lack of evidence by telescope not magnifying enough.
On top of that he explained tides a wrong way and made a wrong test implication which a Portuguese Cardinal knew from experience was wrong. I have examined the new theory by Sir George Darwin here: it seems to fit Heliocentrism and Geocentrism equally well.
Later it was discovered stars are seen to move back and forth each year, in very strong telescopes - but only some of them. St Robert had probably meant seeing all stars in the sphere of fixed stars moving. As it is these only some stars moving do not prove a sphere of fixed stars being seen from a moving earth. They prove either one or another of two things: either the "fixed stars" are not fixed, but moving, or they are very unequal distances from us. We know from other observations, moving with respect to rest of fixed stars, but same direction year after year, that fixed stars may move. So, a moving earth is still not proven optically.
It was, by then however assumed that earth was proven moving by another reason or two:
- 1) Kepler had made a heliocentric model with ellipses, and the ellipses fit the observations;
- 2)Newton had explained movement in a very roundabout complex way, and the observed movements fit that explanation.
And so the discovery of stars moving back and forth each year was by Catholics under pressure from Masonic régimes (like in France) taken as final proof Galileo was right even if he could not actually prove it, and by the rest as a convenient way to measure distances of stars from solar system, according to how much or little earth's supposed ellipse around sun (optically and by day/night/seasons an ellipse of sun around earth in relation to "fixed stars" - that are not fixed - would work as well) reflects in this or that star's observed movement back and forth each year.
"Our opponent told us we would see this if we were right, we have seen it, so we are right - right?"
Wrong. You did not see what St Robert probably meant you would see if you were right, you saw something which is indecisive.
Then the distances measured by these assumptions - how this is done see this message over here on Trigonometry and astronomic applications - are taken as proof the heaven's cannot be circling earth each day and night. (This is a century later and a half later"parallax" was discovered before 1850, the "parallax measured distances" are used as an argument after 2000).* But if "fixed stars" are as close as fixed stars can be and just not fixed, that is not a valid proof either.
It would be if fixed stars were taken to be held together by a solid material known from earth, because tensions would make it break at far lesser speeds, but Geocentrism does not depend on fixed stars being in a solid sphere. Nor do our opponents (who are the mainstream, if you thought I did not know that) themselves count the "fixed stars" as either fixed or in a solid sphere.
Our senses are not absolutely decisive proof against Heliocentrism, insofar as there is an explanation, consistent with Heliocentrism, proposed by Galileo and by Copernicus already that explains why we see what we see, even if it is not the exact truth. But this explanation is less economic than the Geocentric explanation, that we see what we see because it is the exact truth in this matter. Saying we see what we see for some other reason, it may be possible in quite a few matters, but in each we should have an obvious reason for rejecting the obvious explanation that we see what is there to see.
A message on speeds related to Heliocentrism and Geocentrism and so far extant living human observers is here. And a debate about to begin with if moon landing could have been staged to sell the pictures of an earth turning around - I said there was a motive, but no real necessity to assume a fake - and further on Geocentrism between me and essentially two other writers is here.
So, do schools teach the lessons that are there to be learned from these cases?
- Christopher Columbus is still often taught to have proven the earth round, against the supposed adverse dogmaticism of the supposedly flat-earth fanatic Mediæval Church.
- Galileo is taught as having proven Heliocentrism, by discovering moons around Jupiter and by giving a non-direct explanation of our sight and balance sensations in case Heliocentrism is assumed right.
- Darwin is assumed to have proven his point.
And if it is remembered that Columbus thought he had found India, it is always thought of ass a little sad joke about him, never as a lesson in logic. Because if it were, it would be obvious that Galileo, Darwin and others too might have over-interpreted a success in the experiments.
Mouffetard, Paris V
Dormition of the Blessed Virgin
*Dove species having a common ancestor is an example of what in Creationist circles is known as micro-evolution (small [change] evolution), and has been proven, dove and eagle having a common acestor is referred to as macro-evolution (big [change] evolution) and has never been observed or proven in itself.
**Funny enough, as I was writing on this paragraph the window closed down, Blogger is great by its automatic saving device. I reconnected on Mouffetard library computer n°10 at 13:41 o' clock p.m.