Being interested in the psychology behind conspiracy theorising, I've just spent this lunchtime coming up with a conspiracy that resembles the moon hoax. Note how I use established historical fact to shore up my ignorant speculations and deliberate lies.
Any feedback welcome.
The voyages of Christopher Columbus never happened. It is possible that Columbus himself, a notorious egotist, was responsible for the fraud, following an attempted expedition to an elusive (and in fact non-existent) island off the west coast of Gomera. However, the most likely explanation is that the Atlantic crossings were fabricated by the Spanish, mainly after the fact, in order to prove their supremacy over their Portugese rivals.
Here’s the proof.
It is well known that Columbus, or Colon as he was known at the time, was an experienced sailor, so there is no reason to doubt that he approached the Spanish monarchs King Ferdinand and Queen Isabela asking for ships, probably for trading purposes. However, in the late 15th century, it was generally believed that the world was flat, a belief that was backed up by Holy Scripture. Is it really conceivable that Columbus would have asked “their Catholic Majesties” to assist him in promoting such a heresy, at a time when the country was at war with the Moors and the Spanish Inquisition was at the height of its activities?
Within a week of setting sail from the Spanish port of Palos, the caravel Pinta lost the use of its rudder. This was possibly the result of sabotage by the ship’s owner, Cristobal Quintero, who was no doubt keen to avoid falling foul of the Inquisition. Whatever, it left the little “fleet” of three ships reduced to two. Faced with the choice of abandoning the voyage or going on with just two ships, Columbus went for an incredible third option – to sail on to the Canary Islands and repair the Pinta’s rudder there. So, on a group of tiny and largely barren islands, occupied by hostile guanches and a few million songbirds, Columbus’ crew were able to find the spares, the manpower and the expertise to repair a state-of-the-art vessel.
Columbus badly underestimated the size of the Earth – by several thousand miles, in fact. Such a fundamental mistake, and yet he was capable of navigating an unknown ocean? If you doubt his navigational incompetence, consider that he was unable to get a true bearing from the ship’s compass, and that he consistently misreported the distance travelled each day. (According to his own log – among many other examples - on Tuesday, 11September 1492, “That night they went about twenty leagues but he reckoned only sixteen.”)
On 25th September, Martin Pinzon returned a chart showing the position of islands in the vicinity. This, supposedly in the middle of an unexplored ocean! Where’s he supposed to have obtained this so-called chart? Did Leif Eiriksson bequeath it to him? Or St Brendan, perhaps?
It is reported that the three caravels passed through the Sargasso sea. This is perfectly possible with ocean-going liners, but wooden ships? They would have been fouled by the weed, and unable to advance or retreat. Unless the three ships were equipped with razor-sharp steel keels at least four feet deep, but history does not record this.
Consider that Columbus expected to arrive in Cathay (China) or Chipangu (Japan) where the caravels would have been moored safely in harbour. The ship’s gangplanks were designed for such an eventuality. Of course, Columbus had not allowed for the fact that the world is much bigger than he had supposed, and there was a whole other continent between him and his intended destination. When he first made landfall at the island of Guanahani, the natives were unable to provide him with a convenient harbour, so he was compelled to step onto the beach. The only problem – the gangplank was not long enough to reach the beach!