In 2016, Ancient Origins published an article entitled Is Marco Polo a Fictional Characte r? and it led to hate-mail and overall outrage among some readers. It was blown so out-of-proportion that the author decided to give $2,000 to the first person who could provide historical evidence of Polo’s existence. Of course, no such evidence exists, so the proverbial threats ceased, but such an adverse reaction causes one to wonder: why would anyone be so attached to this fictional character whom they believed to be a historical figure, and why would anyone suggest that he was, in fact, a real person, when there is no evidence whatsoever to support such a viewpoint?
Kublai Khan gives financial support to the Polo family, and accepts gifts of the Venetians by Master of Busico (1412). ( Public Domain )
A Challenge to Think Critically
This leads to aspects of critical thinking, which is highly praised in educational doctrines but rarely taught or respected in classrooms. Educational leaders often claim that critical thinking is targeted in schools, but students are not taught how to apply it, nor do some of them grasp exactly what it is. Some teachers do not know what it actually is, and they do not want to teach it or engage in its classroom practice. This is because their beliefs and practices determine, to an extent, who they are as individuals, and if such beliefs are questioned, their very existence is threatened. That is why critical thinking is often not praised in person, though it is a frequent expression in school mission statements and student planners.
Some teachers have actually been instructed by administrators that they do not encourage students thinking critically, hence questioning authorities. Such topics involve the efficacy of masks in the stretched-out fight against the pandemic, the historiography of religious doctrines, and the fact that some historical information presented in history textbooks is blatantly false. Many books touch upon this topic; a couple general ones are Lies My Teacher Told Me and Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong , both by James Loewen. The former, which is hailed as a history classic, reveals information about the first Thanksgiving, Christopher Columbus , whose real name was Colon, hence ‘colonies’, and his numerous other appellations throughout all the countries in America, the real history of the war in Vietnam and John Brown and Abraham Lincoln, and the disappearance of certain topics, including the full picture of racism and suffrage in the Americas, in high school and university textbooks.
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DR. KEN JEREMIAH has written several books about religions, mummification, and spirituality, including Living Buddhas, Christian Mummification, Eternal Remains. Making Millions: A 500-Year-Old Kabbalist’s Guide to Conquering Chance, and Zen Art, Zen Writing Daily Meditations for Improving your Craft and Finding Joy in Life . Élonzo Ferguson is a ghost writer and editor. He and Jeremiah are working on some articles about East Asian historical mysteries. For more information about the possible non-existence of Marco Polo, the authors highly recommend Frances Wood’s book Did Marco Polo Go To China?
Top Image : Was Marco Polo just another fiction from Rustichiano? Source: Ulia Koltyrina / Adobe Stock.
By Élonzo Ferguson and Ken Jeremiah