Holy cow, I wrote a book!
One of the things that fascinates me is how each country's view
of history is clouded by its own chauvinism.
I was reminded of this when researchers were
able to reconstruct the original recording from a phonautograph
which predated Edison's phonograph,
thereby adding another claim to the mix of who invented
I think the most contentious invention belongs to human flight.
It seems that every country on the planet
has a claim to
being the pioneer in this field.
I'm particularly amused that both France and Brazil claim
Alberto Santos-Dumont as their own.
Failure is an orphan.
When I visited Portugal, I asked one of the professors,
"What is it that students in Portugal are taught is
Portugal's greatest contribution to humanity?"
The professor had to stop and think for a while before
formulating an answer.
"Portugal has not fared very well of late economically.
Our best years were long ago.
I would say that our greatest contribution was our
the Age of Discoveries."
My question to you, dear reader, is to tell us what students
in your country are taught are your country's greatest achievements,
or alternatively, what students believe them to be.
These beliefs need not be based in fact.
I'm more interested in what it is that people want you to believe
whether or not it's actually true.
For starters, here's my list of what students
are taught (or end up believing)
are the great accomplishments of the United States:
Many of these are contested, and two of them are flat-out wrong:
Elisha Otis did not invent the elevator, but he made them popular
in the United States thanks to safety improvements.
Similarly, Henry Ford did not invent the automobile but he made them
popular and affordable in the United States by using an assembly line.