'Absolutely wrong': GOP Senate candidate's pro-Christopher Columbus rant ripped to shreds by scholars
Portrait of a man, said to be Christopher Columbus (MetMuseum)

Missouri Republican Senate candidate Eric Schmitt on Monday defended the legacy of Christopher Columbus with a historically illiterate rant that also took a subtle shot at scientists.

"In 1492 the 'consensus' among scientists was that the earth was flat," Schmitt wrote on Twitter. "Christopher Columbus challenged that notion and changed the world forever."

Multiple scholars, however, jumped in to point out that Schmitt has his history completely wrong.

"Nope, absolutely wrong. Any scholar of the Middle Ages knew the earth was round," wrote University of Pittsburgh professor of religion Brock Baher. "The myth that they believed it was flat came from 19th Century when anti-Catholic propagandists like John William Draper & Washington Irving who wanted to claim religion was in conflict thesis with science."

Thomas Lecaque, an associate professor of Medieval history at Grand View University, made similar points about Europeans' general knowledge of the Earth's shape at the end of the 15th century.

"In 1492, almost everyone in Europe knew that the earth was round, and were closer to the accurate size than Columbus was," he wrote. "Columbus followed an incorrect line of reasoning, based on bad exegesis, and only survived due to luck. No one thought the world was flat."

Rebecca Anne Goetz, an associate professor of history at New York University, pointed out that "knowledge of a spherical Earth was widely discussed as early as the 5th century BC" through translated writings of Greek philosopher Aristotle.

And Princeton historian Kevin Kruse delivered an even pithier reply to Schmitt by writing, "Congrats on never reading a book after the second grade."