May 04, 2010

Genius wrote about Native history

We get e-mail:Hey Rob, thought you might find this interesting:

William Sidis is believed, going by standardized testing, one of the smartest men who have ever lived.

Invented his own language at the age of 8, knew 40 other ones, he was a Harvard lecturer on mathematics at the age of 12. Shortly after graduating cum laude at MIT at the age of 16 however, he was arrested for attending a socialist protest and sentenced with 18 months on charges of sedition. His parents managed to persuade the court to transfer Sidis into their own sanitorium for a year and set about to "reform" their son.

After this ordeal, Sidis was dedicated to living the rest of his life in obscurity.
However, he released many works (stretching from cosmology, linguistics and public transit) under psuedonyms, one of which was The Tribes and the States in 1935, much of which he read directly from wampum beads.
Publications and subjects of researchFrom writings on cosmology, to American Indian history, to a comprehensive and definitive taxonomy of vehicle transfers, an equally comprehensive study of civil engineering and vehicles, and several well-substantiated lost texts on anthropology, philology, and transportation systems, Sidis covered a broad range of subjects. Some of his ideas concerned cosmological reversibility, "social continuity," and individual rights in the United States.

Sidis' The Tribes and the States (ca. 1935) employs the pseudonym "John W. Shattuck," giving a 100,000-year history of North America's inhabitants, from prehistoric times to 1828. In this text, he suggests that "there were red men at one time in Europe as well as in America."
Some excerpts from the book show Sidis's progressive beliefs:

The Tribes and the StatesIntroduction

There are certain definite departures from the common and well-known points of view regarding America and its past that the reader will notice. At the opening, it is obvious that the beginnings of American history are sought not in Europe but here in America, among the peoples who originally inhabited this country, and the characteristics of the various parts of the country are treated as directly traceable to the varying characteristics and customs of the early tribes in the same regions. The tribes of Indians are considered, not as savages or barbarians who created nothing of importance, but as the real founders of the best and most important parts of modern American institutions: federation, democracy, postal service, written constitutions, the idea of individual rights, are among the many things which, according to this version of history, modern America owes to its red predecessors. And, as a corollary, the coming of the white people to America, which, from the standard point of view, starting American history in Europe, was a series of discoveries, is here treated as a series of invasions from Europe by a barbarous people who understood nothing of American institutions, but who, in the very process of overrunning the continent, acquired, at least partially, many of the ways of doing things that they found on this side of the ocean, and civilized themselves, and even their original home countries, in the process.

Chapter II: The Red Man in America

The Different Red Stocks. America before the invasion by the whites was entirely inhabited by the red race, but it would be a mistake to suppose that that meant they were all of one language, stock, or nationality. Differences in nationality and characteristics were as pronounced as among the whites, if not more so. The mere fact that their white conquerors have lumped them all together under the incorrect heading of "Indians" does not make them all alike, and it is important to understand that pronounced national and language differences were to be found among the aboriginal inhabitants of America, and that therefore any statements about customs, forms of government, etc., applying to one red nation would be likely to be false as applied to their neighbors. There were many language groups among the red people which showed no relation to one another, beyond the common characteristics which will be mentioned in this chapter.

Chapter V: The Great White Invasion

An Invading Race. The new experiment in national administration, that of federation, was not to have a good chance to develop among the red people of America, where it was naturally best adapted. Almost immediately on the heels of the first trial of this new form of organization, came a most destructive series of invasions from across the Atlantic, by the same white race which, thousands of years before, had descended like a plague on Europe and wiped out the European branches of the red race. And now on they came across the Atlantic Ocean in great numbers, bringing with them the host of infections that had destroyed the red men of Europe and that was to wreak similar destruction in America. They not only brought with them weapons of warfare infinitely more destructive than any that had been known in America, but also conducted warfare with such ferocity as had never been known among red peoples from one end of America to the other. They brought over alcohol, an agent which, while destroying its victims, also in the process rendered the victim dependent on his destroyers; and, like the white man's infections, its effects were infinitely more destructive on the red man than on the whites, who had been accustomed to it for generations. Infections and alcohol were probably the most effective of the invaders' destroying agents, more than wars or other means of destruction that the white invaders brought over with them.
Comment:  I hadn't heard of Sidis before this.

Is it just a coincidence that someone with an IQ of 250 was critical of the standard economic, religious, and historical views? Maybe, but probably not.

Of course, Sidis also believed in a mid-Atlantic continent of Atlantis. According to him, it formed a land bridge between America and Africa and was home to the first great "red" civilization.

Sidis seems to imply that some Indian achievements came from Atlantis. This is a false and scurrilous view we often see in stories about Central and South American Indian civilizations.

For more on the subject, see Indiana Jones and the Stereotypes of Doom and America's Cultural Roots.

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