It's Christopher Columbus Day! The day American kids get to stay home and celebrate Christopher Columbus setting sail in 1492 on the ocean blue to prove the earth isn't flat and discovering America! Except none of that's not the case...
The sad truth is pretty much none of what you learned about Christopher Columbus in school is right. But since so much is wrong, we'll only talk about a couple things...
First, Columbus wasn't trying to prove the world is round. People in 1492 already knew that. In fact, they had known it was round for about 2,000 years. All the way back in 600 B.C.E., Pythagoras wasn't just working on that theorem you had to memorize in high school, he was coming up with the idea the earth is round. And two hundred years later, Aristotle used actual evidence – like the shadow o the earth on the moon, to prove it's just one big ball.
But when he set out to find a quicker way to the East Indies for trading, people DID laugh at him. Not because he thought the world was round, but because he was kinda terrible at math.
Columbus never had a formal education, so he never really learned how to read maps. Besides thinking Europe was wider than it was, he also thought Japan was further from China than it actually is.
So, Columbus thought he could SAVE TIME by traveling the Atlantic around to the Indies. He was so bad at his job, the fact he hit ANY land was pure dumb luck.
When Columbus DID hit the Americas – it wasn't the U-S-of-A – it was the Bahamas, Haiti and the Dominican Republic. On later trips, he ended up going further south, BUT HE NEVER set foot in the US.
But he did discover the Americas, right?
Not only did Viking Leif Erikson land in the Americas 500 years BEFORE Columbus, but there were millions of people already living in the Americas when Columbus landed.
So, yeah. He discovered nothing.
And there you go – Columbus: a guy you probably thought you knew about, but as it turns out...