Monday, January 03, 2005

Dan Brown is a fraud: A list of errors in Angels and Demons

Dan Brown, author of the immensely popular The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons, makes a big deal of the accuracy of his books and the time he spends researching them. On his webpage, Brown explains that "Because my novels are so research-intensive, they take a couple of years to write." The first page of both The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons has the heading "FACT". The following page in Angels and Demons claims that "References to all works of art, tombs, tunnels, and architecture in Rome are entirely factual (as are their exact locations). They can still be seen today. The brotherhood of the Illuminati is also factual."

Since Brown highlights his concern with getting the facts right, he opens himself up to criticism of the "facts" that he presents throughout his novels. And it turns out that Dan Brown, much of the time, is full of shit. What follows is a list of errors found in Angels and Demons. It is not meant to be exhaustive or complete. There are plenty of inaccuracies that I'm sure I've missed. Nor does it catalog the innumerable instances of infelicitous prose and implausible scenarios. Dan Brown is an awful writer - his language is pedestrian at best, his characters flat, his plots formulaic. But that's not my concern. The problem with Dan Brown's books is that people buy into his claims that they're factually accurate. Call me a pedant, but facts matter, especially when you claim that you get the facts right.

My goal here is convince people that you shouldn't believe any of Dan Brown's factual assertions. He gets some stuff right, but he's wrong just as often as he's right. Go ahead and read his novels for fun. But don't trust a single word he's saying without doing further reading. Brown's either incompetent or careless. In either case, he insults his readers by getting so much wrong. It's amateurish, and he should be castigated for it.

I've restricted this list just to instances where Brown is flat-out wrong. There are plenty of misleading and dubious passages in Angels and Demons that I've left out due to the difficulty in verifying all of his errors. So this list is representative of the kinds of factual mistakes that Dan Brown makes. As you'll see, Brown has some knowledge on the topics he writes about; it's just that his knowledge is superficial and incomplete.

If you know of further errors in Angels and Demons or if you spot any mistakes in this list, please feel free to pass them on. And the next time you hear someone talk about how smart Dan Brown is, send them this way.

The List
- On the map of "Modern Rome," there are at least five errors.
1) The Ponte Sant' Angelo is translated as "Bridge of Angels." This is a rather bad translation... the bridge bit is right, but "Sant' Angelo" means holy or blessed angel. Brown's pluralized it and dropped the holy bit.
2) It's not the Via Condotti, it's the Via dei Condotti. And it’s considerably further south than Brown put it.
3) It's not the Via Nationale, it's the Via Nazionale.
4) The Pantheon is south of Piazza della Rotunda, not north of the piazza, as Brown puts it.
5) Sant' Agnese in Agone is west of Piazza Navona, not east of it, where Brown puts it.

- After sending a fax, you don't stay on the line (7).

- Langdon calls "ancient documents" and "historical hearsay" the "symbolic equivalent of fossils" (8). This is nonsensical. I'm not sure how documents and hearsay symbolic equivalents of anything? More substantially, documents and hearsay differ when it comes to what they reveal about the past. Documents, particularly those roughly contemporary to the events they describe (primary sources), are generally considered relatively reliable sources of information. Hearsay, especially when far removed from the event in question, is far less useful, though it can reveal plenty about who's propagating the hearsay. To conflate documents
and hearsay into a category that is equivalent to fossils reveals a fundamental misunderstanding about how history is written.

- The pilot of the X-33 claims that at sixty thousand feet, people weigh thirty percent less (15). This is pure nonsense. Rising 60,000 feet from the earth will decrease one'’s weight by less than 0.6%. For information on the effects of altitude on weight, see this page.

- While walking around the CERN campus, Langdon notices a marble column incorrectly labeled Ionic. Langdon points the mistake out to Kohler: "That column isn'’t Ionic. Ionic columns are uniform in width. That one’s tapered. It’'s a Doric –- the Greek counterpart." (26) The problem is that Ionic columns are themselves Greek. The three orders of classical columns, Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian, are all Greek in origin, so it’'s impossible for the Doric order to the be the Greek counterpart of the Ionic. It'’s also much easier to distinguish the Doric from the Ionic based on their capitals; Doric columns have plain capitals, while Ionic columns are topped by volutes or scrolls. You can see the differences here.

- In one of his lecture-y moments, Langdon mentions the Polish astronomer Copernicus. Kohler interrupts, saying that the church murdered Copernicus and other scientists "for revealing scientific truths." (31) Copernicus died from complications from a stroke in 1543, soon after the publication of his De revolutionibus orbium coelestium. There is no evidence that Copernicus was murdered by the church.

- In discussing the Illuminati, Langdon reveals that the Catholic Church denounced the group as Shaitan. Questioned by Kohler, Langdon provides further information. "It'’s Islamic. It means adversary - God’s adversary. The church chose Islam for the name because it was a language they considered dirty." (34) Complete bullshit. Neither "Islamic" nor "Islam" is a language. The latter is a religion, the former the adjective form of that religion. Perhaps Langdon (and Brown) was thinking of Arabic?
UPDATE (27 January 2005): Niek Kouwenberg e-mailed me and argued that "Shaitan" is of Islamic origin (it's from the Koran), so Langdon and Brown are correct here. That argument relies on a reading of the passage that I don't agree with but I think I can see. I may have been too harsh here. In any case, Brown doesn't make things very clear.

- After learning that Vittoria Vetra practices hatha yoga, Langdon muses that "The ancient Buddhist art of meditative stretching seemed an odd proficiency for the physicist daughter of a Catholic priest." (50) All forms of yoga are Hindu in origin, not Buddhist.

- While talking with Kohler and Vetra about the Big Bang theory, Langdon insists that the theory was first proposed by "Harvard astronomer Edwin Hubble" (69). At no point in his life was Hubble associated with Harvard.

- In defiance of Kohler, Vittoria tries calling the authorities to help investigate her father'’s death. She’'s unable to, since "This far underground, her cell phone had no dial tone." (95) I have no trouble believing that Vittoria had no dial tone, but it’'s not because she’s underground. Cell phones never have dial tones.

- While pondering the removal of the Vatican Museum’s works of art, Langdon also thinks of the architectural treasures housed within the museum: "the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter'’s Basilica, Michelangelo'’s famed staircase leading to the Musèo Vaticano" (107). There’ are four (yes, four!) errors in just this sentence. First, it’s the Musei Vaticani (Vatican Museums), not the Museo Vaticano. Second, there’'s no accent over the e in "museo" in Italian. Italian has penultimate stress, so there’'s no need for the accent. Third, St. Peter'’s is not housed within the Vatican Museums. Finally (and most wrong), the spiral staircase was designed by Giuseppe Momo in 1932, over 350 years after Michelangelo'’s death.

- Upon seeing the pilot of the helicopter in his "garish attire," Langdon explains that the uniforms were "Designed by Michelangelo himself." He then recalls the requirements for entering the Swiss Guard: "applicants had to be Swiss males between nineteen and thirty years old, at least 5 feet 6 inches, trained by the Swiss Army, and unmarried." (115) As usual, despite Langdon'’s supposedly expert knowledge, he succeeds in getting it wrong. It’s a popular misconception that Michelangelo designed the uniforms of the Swiss Guard; in fact, the current uniforms were designed by Jules Repond in the early 20th century. Langdon (and Brown) also gets the requirements wrong. Applicants must be at least 174 cm (68.5 inches, or a bit over 5'8").

- As Langdon and Vittoria fly over Rome, they see the Roman Forum. Brown’s description of the forum includes this gem: "The decaying columns looked like toppled gravestones" (119) Toppled gravestones have fallen down; they’'re horizontal. Just about all the visible columns in the Roman Forum are still upright, as this photo shows.

- A bit later, Brown describes the Tiber. "Even from the air, Langdon could tell the water was deep." (119) I suppose there’'s some question as to what “deep” means, but it’s hard to believe the Tiber would ever qualify as deep. As the Tiber runs from Rome to the Mediterranean Sea, its depth ranges from 7 to 20 feet, so it’s highly unlikely that it’s any deeper while in Rome. For more information on the Tiber, see this page.

- As they approach St. Peter’'s, the reader is treated to a description of the basilica. "The marble façade blazed like fire in the afternoon sun. Adorned with 140 statues of saints, martyrs, and angels, the Herculean edifice stretched two football fields wide and a staggering six long." (119) Take a look at the façade of St. Peter’s. Do you see 140 statues there? Then there’s the matter of the size of St. Peter’s. As most Americans (but apparently not Dan Brown) know, a football field is 100 yards or 300 feet long (120 yards if you count the end zones, but you typically don’t for this sort of thing). According to Brown, that would make St. Peter’s 600 feet wide and 1,800 feet long. Yet, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia (which would know), the dimensions are a bit different: "width of the [nave] at the entrance, 90.2 feet […] entire length of the basilica including the vestibule, 693.8 feet". I have no clue where Brown got his numbers. At first I thought that Brown might be conflating the piazza with the church, but the piazza’'s approximately 1100 feet long and 800 feet wide (again from the Catholic Encyclopedia). Perhaps Brown got the length of "St. Peter’'s" by adding together the length of the basilica and the piazza, but "St. Peter'’s" is used to refer to only the church. Plus, he’s already mentioned the façade, and piazzas don’t have façades. Either Brown’'s awfully confused or he'’s just wrong.
UPDATE (1 February 2005): Eamonn Gaines e-mailed me to point out that the dimensions of Piazza San Pietro probably changed in the 1930s as the result of the construction of Via della Conciliazione, which provided an unobstructed view of St. Peter's from the Tiber (which itself was a consequence of the Lateran Treaties signed by the Holy See and Italy in 1929). This does not, however, change the fact that Brown drastically overestimates the length of St. Peter's. Thanks to Eamonn for the insightful comment.

- While walking through the Vatican, Langdon and Vittoria see lots of signs, one of which says "Capella Sistina" (124). I'’m guessing the Vatican sign-makers speak Italian and actually get the spelling right: cappella. Brown probably makes a ton of these Italian mistakes throughout the book, but it'’s not worth my time to check out every (mis)use of Italian.

- Langdon tells Vittoria that the Pantheon "got its name from the original religion practiced there -– Pantheism – the worship of all gods, specifically the pagan gods of Mother Earth." (224) Langdon is so nonsensical that it’s hard to know where to begin. First, the Romans did not practice pantheism, the belief that God is everywhere and involved with all phenomena. Second, while the Romans were polytheistic, that doesn’t mean they worshipped "all gods." Rather, they worshipped their particular set of gods, as Langdon suggests, contradicting the statement he’d just made. Third, while Terra (the Roman equivalent of Gaia, the goddess of the earth) was part of the Roman pantheon, she was not equivalent to the Mother Earth of later neo-paganism that Brown seems to be referencing here.

- In a useless flashback, Langdon recalls a lecture he gave in his Symbology 212 class where he tells his class that "The practice of 'god-eating' -– that is, Holy Communion -– was borrowed from the Aztecs." (243) It'’s unclear exactly how this would have occurred, seeing as the communion has its roots in the Last Supper (somewhere around 30 C.E.) and the Aztec civilization did not rise until the 14th century. Even if the Aztecs had been around when the practice of communion began, there’s was no contact between Europeans and inhabitants of Central American at that time, what with Columbus not reaching the New World until 1492.

- The BBC correspondent Gunther Glick tells his photographer (through Brown’'s typically clunky exposition) that "the Rhodes Scholarships were funds set up centuries ago to recruit the world’s brightest young minds into the Illuminati." (256) This is impossible, since the fellowships "were initiated after the death of Cecil Rhodes in 1902." See the Rhodes Scholarship website for further information.

- Brown describes Santa Maria del Popolo as "askew at the base of a hill on the southeast corner of the Piazza. The eleventh-century stone aerie was made even more clumsy by the tower of scaffolding covering the façade." (259) The church sits on the northeast corner of the piazza, not the southeast corner, as this map shows. Also, the current building dates from the 15th century, not the 11th, as Brown asserts. Later Langdon muses about the number of entrances the church has, remembering that "Most Renaissance cathedrals were designed as makeshift fortresses in the event a city was stormed." (261) Santa Maria del Popolo is not a cathedral and if, as Brown claims, it was built in the 11th century, it'’s not Renaissance in any way.

- Brown places the tomb of Alexander Chigi in the "secondary left apse of this cathedral" (Santa Maria del Popolo) (265). We'’ve again run into the cathedral problem, but Brown makes some more mistakes here. First, the Chigi chapel houses the tombs of Agostino and Sigismondo Chigi, but not that of Alexander Chigi. Alexander Chigi, Pope Alexander VII, lived in the 17th century and is buried in St. Peter’s (see a picture of his tomb here. Second, the Chigi chapel is not an apse. Apses are round and typically found at the altar-end of churches. The Chigi chapel is rectangular and found near the entrance of the church. While the Chigi chapel is found on the left side of the church, I have no idea what it means for it to be "secondary." Once he'’s back in the piazza, Langdon’'s "eyes climbed the tower of rickety scaffolding above him. It rose six stories, almost to the top of the church’'s rose window" (289). Santa Maria del Popolo has no rose window. Most churches in Italy don'’t. Extensive information on Santa Maria del Popolo can be found at this impressive Churches of Rome site.

- As the BBC journalists watch Langdon and Vittoria, Chinita tells Gunther that he'’s "definitely going to hell." He agrees, but insists that he’ll "be taking the Pulitzer with" him (290). Brown’'s describing an impossible circumstance, as only work that has "appeared in a U.S. newspaper published at least once a week" is eligible for a Pulitzer Prize in journalism.

- As Langdon, Vittoria, and Olivetti search for the site of the next murder, Langdon asks Vittoria if they’'re looking for churches southwest of the Piazza del Popolo. She nods and tells him "No churches. From here the first one you hit is St. Peter’'s." (293) Nonsense. If you go southwest of Santa Maria del Popolo, you'’ll hit plenty of churches, but never St. Peter’'s, since St. Peter’'s is nearly due west from S.M. del Popolo.

- In describing Bernini'’s mixed media work The Ecstasy of St. Teresa, Brown claims that the sculpture was commissioned by Urban VIII who then rejected it since it was "too sexually explicit for the Vatican." (336-337) Bernini’'s masterpiece, which consists of more than the central sculpture of St. Teresa and the angel, was meant to be in Santa Maria della Vittoria all along.

- Brown described Bernini’'s Fountain of the Four Rivers as "A flawless tribute to water [which] glorified the four major rivers of the Old World -– The Nile, Ganges, Danube, and Rio Plata." (402) As usual, Brown starts on the right track only to end up horribly confused. While the fountain does represent the four rivers he names, that'’s about all he gets right. Brown'’s biggest mistake is thinking that the Rio de la Plata is a river of the Old World. Unless Argentina is now in the Old World, the Rio de la Plata isn'’t there. Bernini’'s four rivers are meant to represent the continents: the Nile represents Africa, the Ganges Asia, the Danube Europe, and the Rio de la Plata America.

- After the battle in the fountain with the Hassassin, Langdon climbs up the platform of the fountain and sees “"All of Rome spread out before him.” He spots a “building as famous as any in Rome.”" (424) Quick! Name a famous building in Rome! The Colosseum? St. Peter’s? The Pantheon? Did you say Castel Sant’ Angelo? I didn'’t think so. Not to mention the fact that you can barely see outside of Piazza Navona when you’re in it, even if you'’re on the center of the fountain.

- "In a final breathtaking revelation, Langdon realized Bernini'’s city-wide cross of obelisks marked the fortress in perfect Illuminati fashion; the cross’s central arm passed directly through the center of the castle’s bridge, dividing it into two equal halves." (425) I’'m not sure what Brown means by "central arm." Crosses have two arms, so neither of them are central. And even using Brown'’s doctored map, neither arm of his cross cuts directly through Ponte Sant’ Angelo. He’'s just making stuff up.

- While describing the election of the recently deceased pope, Cardinal Mortati reveals that he was the Devil'’s Advocate for the process. Brown goes on to explain that the Devil’'s Advocate is "that individual responsible for unearthing reasons why the eligible cardinals should not become Pope." (542) More of Brown'’s half-truths. There is such a role in the Catholic Church, but not when it comes to papal elections. Rather, as the Catholic Encyclopedia explains, the devil'’s advocate'’s responsibility is to “prepare in writing all possible arguments, even at times seemingly slight, against the raising of any one to the honours” of beatification and canonization. In other words, the devil'’s advocate finds the skeletons in the closets of those who are being considered for sainthood (or blessedness, in the case of beatification), not the papacy. The office of the devil's advocate was abolished in the early 1980s.

UPDATE (4 January 2005, 8:30 P.M.)
People have contacted me with some more of Dan Brown's mistakes and to provide further information.

- Pope John Paul II abolished the office of the devil's advocate in 1983 (courtesy Sandra Miesel, co-author of The Da Vinci Hoax).

- Brown gots the Illuminati all wrong. According to Miesel they "were a kind of Masonic group bent on world domination. They had nothing to do with science and were permanently shut down by the Bavarian police in 1785 or thereabouts."

There's plenty more dumb stuff like this. If you have any more, feel free to send them in and I'll keep updating this list.

UPDATE (20 February 2005, 12:05 A.M.)
Swiss reader mzfrogg e-mailed with more errors in Angels and Demons:

- Vittoria remembers the first years of her childhood in Switzerland: «She
was nine years old, rolling down hills of edelweiss flowers» (S. 126)*.
«And smashed all her bones», as I would like to add. Everyone grown up with
alpine lore knows: Edelweiss grow mostly on rocks and often in very exposed
places. Those trying to pick one often fall to their death in the process.
They are also very rare. I've only seen one or two in 30 years of walking
around in the mountains

- CERN-secretary Sylvie Baudeloque thinks about the significance of the
church in her life: «The church recorded the benchmarks of her life –
funerals, weddings, baptisms, holiday – and it asked for nothing in
return
» (S. 366). Doesn't Brown know we pay church tax in
Switzerland??!!

- Der commander of the Swiss Guard's name is Olivetti. There is hardly a
name more Italian than that Dabei wissen wir doch: Commanders of the Swiss
Guard however are very often of German Swiss stock (aristocratic stock,
too). The current one is called Mäder. There was one called Estermann and
one called Mäder.

- According to Brown, Swiss Guards are «recruited from one of
Switzerland’s four Catholic cantons». The 1990 Swiss census holds that
there are 11 (out of 26) cantons with a clear majority of catholic
inhabitants: Zug, Luzern, Fribourg, Schwyz, Jura, Nidwalden, Ticino,
Appenzell Innerrhoden, Obwalden, Valais, Uri. They are the traditional
Catholic cantons of Switzerland. In an interview I read on the net, Guard
commander Elmar Mäder said that about half of the members of the guard were
from one of the three cantons Lucerne, Valais or St. Gallen (which has a
large Catholic diaspora). The rest are from all over the place, but most
likely from Catholic cantons.

- Brown describes the accent common to Swiss Guards as «fluent Italian
tainted by the Franco-Swiss influence». That is unlikely, as the Catholic
cantons mentioned above are German speaking – except Valais (German &
French), Ticino (Italian) and Jura (French). The typical Swiss Guard accent
is therefore much more likely to be «tainted by the Swiss German
influence». Now I have to put in a word for the author at this point: He
wouldn’t want to waste time explaining to the audience that four languages
are spoken in Switzerland. And since he wrote the book for Americans he’d
have to explain this. Because most Americans don’t know the difference
between Switzerland and Sweden, let alone the cultural niceties of each
country. And since part of his novel is set in Geneva (French speaking)
he’ll have all Swiss speak French, even if it’s not true. The motto seems
to be a fair one: «never let the facts get into the way of a good story».
It is, after all a well plotted book.

- Hang on, though! On page 268, we are given the cv of Rookie Lieutenant
Chartrand: «Chartrand was Swiss army trained and had endured two years of
additional Ausbildung in Bern before qualifying for the grueling Vatican
prova held in secret barracks outside of Rome.» There is a German word
after all: «Ausbildung». As to this obviously necessary «Ausbildung»:
www.schweizergarde.org tells us nothing about it. Also, if it exists, it’s
very very unlikely to be in Bern. Because if there is one staunchly
protestant Canton in Switzerland, it’s Bern.

339 Comments:

Read more comments
At Jan 4, 2005 5:06:00 AM , Blogger Sharon said...

Conflating 'documents' and 'hearsay' is inexcusable, but I can't help thinking a parallel between documents and fossils does in fact work in several ways. I'm thinking particularly about a) survival: only a small portion of the written records of the past survives, often fortuitously and in fragmentary forms, although some environments may be more conducive to survival than others; and b) interpretation: no single document/fossil makes much sense on its own, it needs to be contextualised, compared and analysed; and there may be differing interpretations of what it means, even whether it's genuine and certainly how reliable it is as evidence. (I say this as one who spends a good deal of time tearing her hair out over legal records and how much of any of them you can believe.)

 
At Jan 4, 2005 7:22:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh good, I'm not the only one who's getting annoyed by this. You've got most of the ones that were niggling me (particularly the Aztecs and Ionic columns), but here's a few more:

1. When Vittoria's explaining antimatter, she says, "Everything has an opposite. Protons have electrons. Up-quarks have down-quarks." Both rubbish. An antiproton isn't an electron; it's... well, an antiproton. An antielectron is a positron. And up-quark and down-quarks aren't antimatter opposites either; they're just two of the six flavours of normal quarks, and their opposites are anti-up and anti-down.

2. At the end of Chapter 43 the camerlengo says that the Prayer of St Francis is the line, "God, give me strength to accept those things I cannot change." No it isn't. That's the Serenity Prayer. The Prayer of St Francis is the one that begins, "Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love," and all the rest of it.

3. Why would a British reporter think in American slang? Apart from the occasional token bit of Cockney ("She was an odd bird") his reported thoughts are littered with Americanisms like "Hell no!", "anchor spot" and "I sure hope so".

 
At Jan 4, 2005 8:09:00 PM , Blogger Danny said...

You've got a good point, Sharon. I think my biggest problem with Brown's analogy is the language he uses. I can see documents being the equivalent of fossils, but what the hell does it mean for documents to be the symbolic equivalent of fossils? What's symbolic about their similarity?

Thanks for your additions, Anonymous. I knew there was something screwy about Brown's discussion of antimatter, but I don't know enough about physics to be sure of exactly what was wrong. I'll be sure to add your corrections to my list.

 
At Jan 9, 2005 2:54:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is taking me a long time to read this book, as I am only reading it when I don't have anything else to read. There are so many mistakes and things that don't ring true that they just end up being hugely detracting.

Some mistakes are so blatant I almost think Brown does it deliberately.

Here's some:

In Chapter 9, "Langdon was certain Kohler would recognize the name [of Galileo]". Well, apart from the fact it's highly improbable that any professional physicist wouldn't be aware of Galileo, Langdon could be resonably certain Kohler would know the name as a few pages earlier in Chapter 7, Kohler had mentioned "men like Einstein, Galileo, and Newton".

Chapter 24: "The droplet appeared and disappeared in the robotic red blinking of a digitial LED" - well, it's not a mistake, although I've never seen an LED display that blinks. It's about 8 hours before the batteries run out, so there will be plenty of segments lit. (Admittedly, in Chapter 22, the digits are described as "blinking". That may be what Brown is trying to describe, but his descriptions are so sloppy, I'm inclined not to give him the benefit of the doubt".

Then on the next line: '"Can you lighten the contrast?" the commander asked, startling the technician' - presumably the technician was startled by his commanders poor grasp of vocabulary. You can increase the brightness; increase or decrease the contrast; or lighten the image. But lighten the contrast is nonsense.

Chapter 40: '"Did you trace the call?"... "No luck. Cellular with heavy encryption. The SAT lines are interfused, so triangulation is out. The IF signature suggests he's somewhere in Rome..."'. I think there maybe some technical issues to address here, but it is such total gibberish... I half-suspect he wrote this bit the day after watching a DVD of "Enemy of the State" or something and tried to remember some "good" words. Not sure what SAT is - maybe it is short for satellite - in which case it should be "sat-lines". (That's just correct punctuation - no techie knowledge required)

Chapter 41: "The central office of the BBC is in London just west of Piccadilly" - well, the BBC News Centre is at TV Centre, in West London - well away from the centre. Bush House, the original HQ of the BBC is in central London, but to the east of Picadilly Circus. Although if you want to place it geographically, you'd probably say it was just up the road from Trafalger Square.

"The switchboard phone rang" - What does this mean? Does it means the switchboard operator is putting a call through? (the editor is unlikely to be sitting at the BBC's main switchboard). Or does she have two phones on her desk - possible, but uncommon. Then she answers "BBC" - which implies she's answering a direct line, not a call forwarded from the switchboard.

Anyway, she stubs out her cigarette - which is good as the BBC, like virtually all big offices in the UK, bans smoking. And it's a Dunhill. Now Brown could have just said "cigarette". But he specifically adds the "Dunhill", which leaves me completely confused about what additional information he is trying to tell me about this character. I'd have expected her to have a quick gasp on a Marlboro Light or a Silk Cut (in the smoking room). Now this isn't strictly a mistake - it is possible she was smoking a Dunhill at the time - potentially she could have been smoking a Cuban cigar while wearing a ball gown - but if you want to create believable characters either the character conforms to type, or you expalin the discrepency - "she smoked Dunhill as a mark of individuality" or whatever.

Chapter 45: "they will have to be practically on top of the canister before they even detect any signal" - not a mistake, this is completely correct as the cannister is right next to a wireless camera transmitting a known, high frequency, relatively high powered signal which will mask anything from the cannister. Anyway, back to the plot - how on earth can these people locate the cannister?

 
At Jan 9, 2005 3:13:00 PM , Blogger Danny said...

Thanks for the additions.

I didn't even try to catalog all the bits that don't ring true. But since you brought up the BBC reporters...

At some point Brown describes Chinita as "black, though she preferred African-American" (or something along those lines). Chinita, presumably, is British, though Brown never explicitly says so. But if she's British, she wouldn't self-identify as African-American, now would she?

 
At Jan 10, 2005 5:50:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It does say her "mom [is] a Southern Baptist", so it appears she is American. Nothing wrong with an American working for the BBC - it could be a useful plot device: her less-than-British reaction may be useful at some point. But Brown constantly challenges our preconceptions, without any explanation and without any reason. The whole effect is just confusing.

I don't have a problem with the British characters talking in American prose - it's a reasonable convention for a mass-market US book - but I fell off my chair when I reached the phrase: "you're a few crumpets short of a proper tea". The sheer arrogance of Brown: rather than use a genuine British cliche or idiom, he just makes something up. This phrase is just laughable.

In Chapter 52, Marci is asked if they can transmit live. "1.537MHz". No idea what she means by that, but it's not enough bandwidth for broadcast-quality video. So I can't even work out if Brown intends her answer to be affirmative or negative.

At the second murder, "BBC" is described as an acronym. It's not, it's a abbreviation. (OK, this is a minor detail, but it's one of those "common" mistakes that professional writers of English are aware of).

Macri can't transmit the first death until she gets "a fixed cell read" - although this makes no sense as she is trying to uplink to satellite, not a cellular network.

In Chapter 78, Glick relays his story to the Editor-in-Chief via a video technician. The Editor immediately decides to run it. (Consider this for a few seconds and you realise how farcical it is. This, remember, is the BBC which Macri told the reader a few chapters ago "carefully confirmed and checked" every story).

A few pages later, Macri cites "Article 12 of the Free Press Act". Why a person working for a British company in the juristriction of the Holy See would quote (what I believe is) an US law is beyond me. And would a professional videographer ever refer to a video tape as "film"?

 
At Jan 10, 2005 7:28:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The X-33 travels at Mach-15, "hurtling through space at... 11,000 miles per hour". 60,000ft is not "space" (it's only about 20% the way there) - and this altitude is far too low to achieve the speed mentioned. And 11,000mph at 60,000ft is actually over Mach-16 as the speed of sound decreases with altitude.

Then, when Langdon boards the helicopter at Rome airport: "the chopper churned in neutral": well helicopters don't have a "neutral" in the same way other vehicles do; although disconnecting the clutch between the engine and gearbox would have the same effect. But then on the next line, it mentions that the rotors are spinning. Then the pilot gets on board and "fired up the engines". Now I don't know about flying a helicopter, but I would guess the logical order is: pilot boards - fire up engines - engage clutch - rotors spin. Not in Brown's strange, temporally challenged universe.

In Chapter 41, Churchill is quoted talking about the "English Parliament", which ceased to exist in 1707. Churchill would have said "British Parliament".

Langdon mentions (Chapter 55) that Madonna never uses her surname, Ciccone. Although these days, she does increasingly use her surname "Ritchie". (OK, this is a pretty trivial and slightly debatable point.)

In Chapter 59, the Swiss Guard calibrate the sweepers for a "sub-three-ohm flux field": ohms cannot be a unit of magnetic flux. Often books and films will try to use some impressive-sounding psuedo-scientific babble for effect, but usually there is some semblence of possibility (think Back to the Future and one-point-twenty-one gigawatts). Dan Brown just appears to use random "good sounding" words.

 
At Jan 10, 2005 8:53:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is another macroscopical error, when Dan Brown speaks of Galileo (I'm quite sure the autor never read something serious aboute this scientist) and his theory of gravitational orbits (sorry for my bad english, I'm italian and my english is not so good as I would like) of planets: Brown stresses that for Galileo the orbits where elliptical but the Church wanted then round for perfection. This is nonsense. It'well known that Galileo was a ferocious defender of round orbits against the elliptical ones of Keplero (Galileo liked to think of himself as a philosopher and ermetist). The Church never entered into the discussion nor had a position. Galileo dismissed the elliptical orbit theory of Keplero as childish. You can check. This is just one on many errors I have found in your book. I have found terrible and numerous errors in the Da Vinci Code too. It seems to me that Dan Brown always writes about things he clearly doesn't know or understand. There is an error in your contestation too. The Preghiera Semplice (the Serenity Prayer) is not of San Francesco since it was composed in the 1912 in France and published for the first time on Osservatore Romano in 1916, during WWI. It'a common error, none the less an error.
Arjuna

 
At Jan 12, 2005 8:42:00 AM , Blogger c-mike-go said...

Just another couple of comments on the scene at Santa Maria del Popolo---I visited Rome last April to visit my daughter, and the piazza was our unofficial meeting place after her classes at Temple University's campus there. As soon as I read "at the base of a hill on the southeast corner of the Piazza", I began to read more critically, since-as you correctly state-it's on the northeast corner. Brown characterizes the steps to the church as curved--they're not (except at the very ends). Later, Langdon and Vittoria explore a "narrow alley" next to the church to seek another entrance--there is no alley; the right side of the church fronts onto the piazza. Brown refers to "the top of the church's rose window" (289). You're right--Santa Maria del Popolo has no rose window, but my guess is he means the round window above the entrance steps (visible in photos available on the web).

 
At Jan 13, 2005 11:38:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The most glaring mistakes, from my point of view, refer to the bad science Brown so abundantly spreads out in A&D. Many of them go unnoticed, but to a person who is mildly science-literate watching both Vetras and Kohler rant about antimatter and how it PROVES God's creation is tantamount to what most people would experience when a character purported to be an English professor burps out something like "Well, when Dickens wrote Romeo and Juliet, which, as you know, is the story of a jealous Moor and his wife..." That's exactly how I felt as I read Angels & Dragons, especially the Kohler dialogs. I cringed at almost every paragraph.

I will try to explain the mistakes out of memory.

The Big Bang.

Concerning paternity of the theory, Brown has his facts more or less right. But just "more or less". A Belgian Catholic priest and scientist, Georges Lemaitre, was one of the forerunners of the Big Bang theory. He was not alone, though, as Brown implies. He had been preceded by a Russian mathematician, Alexander Friedmann, who showed in 1922 that Einstein's general relativity equations in the general case allowed for an expanding Universe. At the time Lemaitre put forward the theory (1927), it was a mere hypothesis, a derivation of the equations with no experimental backup. This, along with the traditional view of the Universe as static, worked against general acceptance of the Big Bang theory, NOT the religious consequences of the theory, as Brown states.

When Hubble explained the red-shift of distant galaxies in terms of the expanding Universe theory and when element synthesis was incorporated into the theory by Gamow and others (who made the prediction of residual radiation that Penzias and Wilson found experimentally years later), the theory started gaining wide acceptance in the scientific community, eventually debunking its rival, the Steady State theory. It is now virtually unchallenged.

Therefore, it is pure nonsense by Brown that reproducing the Big Bang in a lab --which by the way is impossible, more about this later-- would have a dramatic impact on our view of cosmology, at least at the Big Bang-Genesys vs. Steady State debate. This debate, as I said before, is long dead.

Furthermore, Brown mistakes a very common physical process, observed daily in every particle physics lab in the world --the creation of a matter-antimatter pair-- with the Big Bang. This is preposterous. The Big Bang by definition entails the creation of all matter, all energy, and all of the spacetime continuum in a giant, primordial explosion. There is no way to simulate this explosion because:

a) The explosion itself creates the known Universe TOGETHER with its space and time. It does not make sense to OBSERVE this process from outside, as by definition there is no outside in the Big Bang. Everything (matter, energy, space, time) is inside. This is a hard concept to grasp and it's also a loose way to put it, but it's true. The Universe by expanding creates its own space, there is no space outside. However, in Vetra's experiment, there is clearly space outside: OUR space.

b) The amount of energy required to simulate the conditions immediately after (10^-35 sec.) the Big Bang is huge to the point of being unachievable to both current and any foreseen technology. We are talking in excess of 100.000.000.000.000 degrees here. No accelerator on Earth can approximate those conditions, in which a high energy quark-lepton-photon "soup" would be the only thing in existence. No protons, no neutrons, evidently no atoms. During this time, the Universe would be "inflationary", expanding quickly and creating its own space as it did so(something not observed, of course, in Vetra's experiment).

Furthermore, Brown seems to think that the Big Bang is an immediate process that would create atoms of matter (and/or antimatter) in no time. Not so. Nuclear reactions --yes, there ARE nuclear reactions that create deuterium and helium nuclei out of protons, which make you wonder how the little fact that nuclaer fusion was occurring went unnoticed to Vetra and others in CERN-- would take three minutes to cease. Our Universe, furthermore, took 300.000 years to cool enough to form atoms. How did Vetra cool his personal Big Bang (hint: the Universe cools by expanding)?

http://www.astro.wesleyan.edu/~bill/courses/astr107/wes_only/Lectures/lecture30.htm

Finally, as Kohler correctly gasps, the Big Bang itself is a singularity (calling it THE singularity, as Kohler does in awe, is something a physicist accostumed to encountering MATHEMATICAL singularities everywhere in his equations would never do). We have no information about that singularity, and no hope of ever obtaining any information. For all we know, all of our laws fail at that point. That makes reproducing the Big Bang theoretically problematic, to say the least. How do you create something that you don't have any clue about?

Minor point that has already been noticed: it is impossible that scientists knew in 1917, as Brown states, about particle creation in the Big Bang.

Antimatter

But the worst part of all of this is that all of Brown's mumbo-jumbo about reproducing the Big Bang is UNNECESSARY. On the theoretical ground, because virtually all cosmologists agree that the Big Bang occurred, so no big surprise here and calling the Pope with the good news. The "good news" have been with us for at least 50 years. On the practical ground, the creation of antimatter does not need a Big Bang. As I said earlier, antimatter is created daily in particle labs. And in cosmic rays. And in a host of nuclear reactions... AND, most importantly, in what is called vacuum energy or zero-point energy, little reactions that occur all the time everywhere without us noticing (thanks to the oft mentioned and seldom understood Heisenberg principle, if you want to know).

Given this, there is no way that an experienced physicist like Max Kohler would be taken aback by antimatter creation. He would certainly be amazed at the AMOUNT of antimatter, about the fact --that Brown never mentions but is obviously the case-- that the antimatter is structured in atoms, and at the confinement technology, but that's it.

At some point in the novel, Brown says that Vetra, in his "Big Bang" experiment, wanted to create matter and was amazed when he got antimatter also. Preposterous. ANY first-year physics student knows that a photon (energy) can decay into a particle and its anti-particle, in matter and antimatter. That's in fact what zero-point energy processes are all about. And anyone knows about anhilation, the inverse process, which is observed daily and should not elicit such an awe-stricken reaction from Kohler when mentioned. Type "Feynman diagrams" in Google and count the number of references (there are about 96.000). Those diagrams describe the processes I have mentioned above (among many others). That's about how surprising Vetra's findings are to a physicist.

In his foreword, Brown talks about CERN being able to create antimatter for the first time recently. Mr. Brown simply does not know how to read. CERN announced that it had been able to create the first antimatter ATOM, specifically a hydrogen atom. NOT the first antimatter (which at a smaller scale, antiprotons and positrons and antineutrinos have been known for 70 years or so, positrons being the first in the early 1930's). That's about how sloppy Mr. Brown can get.

Of course, the novelty of Vetra's experiment is that the antimatter is obviously in chunks, probably in plasma form (although he attributes liquid features to it, even calling it "drop"). THAT would be an amazing feat, but somehow Brown fails to mention it. THAT would leave Kohler gasping. Not antimatter by itself. ORGANIZED and CONTAINED antimatter. But Brown never tells us which form his antimatter takes. He couldn't care less.

And, unfortunately, it's important... because containment depends critically on the state of the antimatter. For example, plasma is highly ionized (electrically charged), and in principle could be contained in a magnetic field. A gas, a solid or liquid would be more problematic. Every bit as problematic as containing, say, regular, material H2 --we must assume the antimatter is anti-hydrogen, the easiest atom to manufacture-- in a magnetic field, since antimatter has pretty much the same physical properties as its material counterpart (only with the charges reversed). In that respect, the quoted instability of antimatter is hogwash. Antimatter is as stable as matter. Except that when they BOTH come together, they anhilate each other; but that's a characteristic of BOTH in the presence of the counterpart.

Vittoria Vetra explains her containment technology as a revolutionary idea, leaving Kohler yet once more in wonder. Another big laugh. Magnetic "bottles" have been proposed --and, to a degree, used-- for plasma containment for years(in this case, MATERIAL plasma containment, but remember it's the same). It's simple. Antimatter is not the only thing that must be contained without touching anything. Hot plasma, as the one used for nuclear fusion, is so hot it cannot touch any solid material either. PLUS, the simpleminded magnetic bottle that Vittoria proposes, two opposing electromagnets, would never work. I need to read again the description, but it seemed to me in first reading that Brown thought two magnets would be necessary to form a bipole. That would also be an enormous mistake. Any magnet is a bipole by itself, every magnet has both North and South polarity.

The cheap theology.

Genesys "confirmed"? The Universe got a start, that's for sure. But wait. Does that CONFIRM the statement that an intelligent agent, aka GOD, created the Universe? NO WAY. For all we know, the Big Bang could have started by a spontaneous photon appear out of nowhere. Now, if you want to call a photon God, you are welcome to do so, but I would reserve such a big word for a higher entity than the energy particles now impacting my eyes from the screen.

Kohler's conversion --especially when he tells the "camarlengo" that Vetra PROVED God's existence-- is therefore unbelievable. No scientist would take the Big Bang as DEFINITE proof of Genesys. "Prove" is a very big word in science and is never used lightly. At any rate, he would have thought it out long before being confronted with the experiment, which, as I said, is unnecessary for theoretical purposes.

I already mentioned a very faulty idea of God that Brown explicitly states: his cheap, new-age equation "God = Energy". Nonsense. Physical energy is well understood. It is a PHYSICAL --i.e. natural, not supernatural-- quantity. It does not show structure. Obviously, it does not show thought, for which structure is probably needed. It does not show any supernatural properties. It does show some very down-to-earth properties, like being conserved. And to boot, it can be converted into matter. In fact, it is EQUIVALENT to matter. Is God equivalent to matter? Is He measurable? I didn't think so. No theologian would fall for this cheap hogwash.

Finally, Brown states that the creation of a matter/antimatter pair is tantamount to "creatio ex nihilo", creation from naught. Bullshit. Energy is not "naught". It is, as I just said, a very physical, very material, very MEASURABLE quantity. But still there is in Nature a "creatio ex nihilo" of sorts. Only it did not happen once at the Big Bang. It happens ALL THE TIME, EVERYWHERE: it is the creation of energy fluctuations in a vacuum, due to Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. It is as unromantic as that: possibly the most common process in the Universe.

Mr. Brown, I don't mind photon torpedoes in Star Trek. I know the term is meaningless for the scriptwriter. But I do object to pretentious physics cum theology. Next time, document yourself. Or at the very least, don't use the word "FACT" so lightly.

P.S. Oh, and you are a terrible writer too. Almost forgot to say that.

 
At Jan 13, 2005 5:36:00 PM , Blogger Danny said...

Florian Käferböck of Austria e-mailed me with these comments on Dan Brown's science:

Whatever Brown says about anti-matter, he gets it all wrong:

In the introduction of the book (I can't quote, I'm afraid, as I read the book in the German translation) he writes that anti-matter is the ideal source of energy, as it does not emit any kind of radiation.
This is, of course, absolute crap: When you bring together matter and anti-matter they annihilate and turn into pure energy, most of it in the gamma-ray area of the light spectrum.
When later in the book such an annihilation occurs, it causes an explosion of light - which is actually correct, although visible light is, as I said, only a fraction of what you get. Now what I'm asking is: What does Dan Brown think that visible light consists of, if not radiation? Jelly Beans?

Another thing is: When he explains the process of anti-matter generation he gets very hazy - probably in order to hide a big mistake (which I therefore think was intentional): When you create anti-matter and matter (you always get the same amount of both simultanously) you have to put in the same amount of energy that would be freed in the annihilation of the same quantity of anti-matter. This is what Einstein's famous law E=mc² says, in case you didn't know (if you did know, please don't take offence). The amount of energy (E) equals the amount off mass (m) multiplied with the square of light speed (c), which is a huge number. It isn't as if you you get matter from nothing - all paid for - nothing god-like at all.

One more thing that doesn't concern physics but translations:
The pledge on the Great Seal of the United States of America (you know, "novo ordo saeclorum") does NOT mean "new secular order" as claimed by Brown (or at least by his character Langdon). The common translation brought forth by conspiracion theorethics as "new world order" is wrong either! According to the Stowasser Latin Dictionary (the standard dictionary in use in Germany) "saecolum" means "age" or "lifetime" or "generation". No mention of secularity or world at all!
In fact the motto can be loosely translated as "a new order of the ages". And of course on top of the seal stand the words "annuit coeptis" meaning "he (meaning god) has favoured our undertakings", which doesn't sound very much like Illuminati.
There are a few more reasons to think that the Great Seal is an Illuminatic symbol - and of each of this reasons a perfect falsification. But I won't go into the details in this place. Most things of interest about the Seal can be found at: http://www.greatseal.com/

One last thing: My girlfriend who visited rome told me a very interesting fact: The fight scene at the Fountain of the Four Rivers could never happen in the described way - simply because the fountain isn't deep enough. It is little more than a single foot deep. Even if bound with chains it would be very hard to drown in there.

 
At Jan 14, 2005 5:21:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I forgot to add one of the most important criticisms to Brown's faulty physics, an error which Danny has fortunately corrected.

In effect, what Brown proposes is a violation of the Law of Conservation of Energy. He seems to think that the energy produced by annihilation of matter and anti-matter is gratis. This is probably related with his misconception that matter and anti-matter are created "ex nihilo", out of nothing. Not so.

Matter/anti-matter pairs are created out of ENERGY, for example in the form of a photon which "splits" into one electron and one positron. As Danny correctly points out, the mass of these particles will be related to the original photonic energy by m = c^2 /E.

In the end, aside from minor fluctuations due to Heisenberg's principle (actually, its correlate in energy/time rather than position/momentum), energy has to be conserved. It follows that the initial energy E of the photon which originally split in an antimatter/matter pair will be equal to the energy E' resulting from the annihilation of the pair (the argument is the same if the positron resulting from the first pair is annihilated with a different electron, only a bit more involved). There is NO NET GAIN OF ENERGY, so the perpetuum mobile proposed by Brown is baloney, as any bright high school student would be able to tell him.

 
At Jan 14, 2005 5:37:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, I see now that it's not Danny but Florian who made the conservation of energy remark. And I always forget to sign. The last two "anonymous" are by me, Luis.

Kind regards

 
At Jan 14, 2005 5:46:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a blunder! That's m = E / c^2

What a pity this tool doesn't allow editing...

Luis

 
At Jan 18, 2005 4:28:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can just about forgive Dan Brown for constantly distorting the facts badly to fit the plot (so that anti-matter becomes a big bomb etc...) - dispite Brown's disingeneous statements of "fact", it is still fiction. However, the holes in the plot and flawed logic are inexcusable.

For example, Brown is unable to distiguish between the narrator's and character's point of view. For example, Glick and Macri talk about the "Havard Guy" despite no evidence at this point that they know more about Langdon than just a mystery person on video; a few pages later, Langdon talks about the BBC reporter's opinion on CERN - despite running round Rome for the last hour, no where near a TV.

When Langdon finds the final brand, he overlooks the fact it was "in reverse... the brand's negative!". By any conventional definition, it is reversed (a mirror-image) but it is certainly not a negative (black is white and vice versa).

 
At Feb 1, 2005 11:05:00 AM , Blogger Boeciana said...

Just a wee point, but it irritated me more than the science things - did you notice Brown's bizarre use of 'canonised'? At one point a (living) priest is referred to as not even having been canonised yet, or something like that - Brown seems to be making a point about the chap's status, but really, what was he thinking? And where on earth was this man's editor?

 
At Feb 2, 2005 7:19:00 PM , Blogger Meredith said...

One of the biggest errors that leapt out at me had to do with Catholic moral teaching. The camerlengo is informed that he was actually conceived in vitro (or was it artificial insemination? I can't remember now, but neither option works), not by sexual intercourse, so he didn't have to kill the Pope. "It was all okay, see? The Pope and the nun didn't violate their vows of chastity! You were horribly mistaken!" Here's the problem: creating a child in vitro (or by any other means outside of natural intercourse) is prohibited by the Church. The Pope would still be comitting a mortal sin, and the zealous camerlengo would still feel justified in killing him. Dan Brown, if you're going pursue this weird animus against the RCC through every novel you write, you could at least familiarize yourself with a little basic doctrine. The kind of stuff I had straight by the time I was in junior high.

 
At Feb 4, 2005 4:55:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good collection of mistakes.

About Brown's confusion of the word "Islamic" with "Arabic":

He also says that the "hassassin" counts "in Islamic," which, as you've said, is not a language. In addition, if the guy is all anti-religion, it makes even less sense! Near the end, he says, "Ma'assalama" (not sure how Brown spells it) before he tries to kill either Langdon or the girl, can't rememember which right now. Sure, "ma'assalama" means "goodbye" - however, it also means "with peace"! Which is an idiotic thing to say before killing someone!

About the word "shaytan" (شيطان): So what if it's in the Qur'an? It's still ARABIC, not Islamic. It's simply the word "Satan" in Arabic. And by the way, the origins of the word predate the Qur'an; it comes from Hebrew (שָׂטָן). As everyone should know, the Torah came before the Qur'an. So the word isn't rooted in Islam, no matter what one may argue. If you're not Muslim and you speak Arabic, the word would be still be Shaytan (however you wish to transliterate it).

Anyway, that's all for now.

(Hopefully the Arabic and Hebrew text in my comment shows up.)

 
At Feb 4, 2005 4:57:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I made the comment above. I'm just adding that my name is Melinda. Sorry about that.

 
At Feb 4, 2005 5:00:00 AM , Blogger Danny said...

Thanks for the info, Melinda. I think I knew "Satan" came originally from Hebrew, but I had no clue at all how to get Hebrew or Arabic characters in html.

 
At Feb 5, 2005 7:21:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another example of the sloppy or misinformed writing (take your pick depending on how charitable you feel): On the FACT page, Brown start's off with "Switzerland's Conseil ... CERN ...'. Seeing as CERN is "the European Organization for Nuclear Research, the world's largest particle physics laboratory, situated on the border between France and Switzerland", I am puzzled by the use of "Switzerland's". Why not say "Europe's" instead. I know this is nitpicking, but it is irritating, on a par with the nonsense that communion was "borrowed" from the Aztecs.

 
At Feb 7, 2005 3:18:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

My copy of the Bible lists the name of Satan in the Book of Job, which would have been written before the Koran. My dictionary lists the derivation of "Satan" as coming from the Hebrew for "adversary". Since Hebrew and Arabic are both Semitic languages it is not a surprise that the word would turn up in both languages.

 
At Feb 7, 2005 4:31:00 PM , Blogger Spenny said...

Yes, as a Brit, the blatant Americanisms grate intensely. As with many readers, it is not the fact that this ripping yarn is full of nonsense, it is the fact (to use that word again!!) that we are told, usually by Dan Brown, or Dan Brown's publisher, or Dan Brown's "award winning website" that he is factual, uses years of research and is highly educated. Claim it is a jolly romp, and I am relaxed, we can laugh together at his mistakes; claim this is great literature and I am in a state of perpetual irritation.

He shares a lot in common with the Tom Clancy franchise (though TC often does not write his own books) where he displays the unpleasant trait of being determined to show by clever asides that he knows things that other people don't. (For example, in one TC book, he spends half a chapter explaining how everyone knows that the best fish and chips are obtained from an English pub - clearly never having been in Britain and experienced a fish and chip shop, which still exist even with the onslaugh of kebabs, curries and chinese take-aways!).

The one example that irritated me in A & D was that he decided, being the hyper-intelligent being that he is, that he would make a rip-roaringly funny scientists joke. As we all know, scientists live on another planet and do not enjoy jokes about bottoms, breasts, bodily functions and so on, they all have to make clever intellectual comments. So "He can argue both sides of a Mobius strip". For me, I would have left it as that, you either get it or you don't. Not an earth-shatteringly funny or clever comment. But no, Dan knows that we are not as clever as he is, so he has to explain it, Mobius strips only have one side so he can't argue both sides can he? See, as soon as you explain it, as he does, it falls rather flat.

Of course, the really, really, really, annoying thing is that bloody camera. There it is beaming its signal. We are told of the sophistication of the Vatican's systems. It appears to have infinite battery power as there seems to be an implication that it is not plugged into the mains, it seems unlikely in retrospect that they would have wired up a circuit where the camera was placed, as they could just switch of a circuit at a time until the camera stopped transmitting (no, they only seem to switch off the electricity to reduce interference, if I paid enough attention). So let us give him the benefit of the doubt and assume it has a wopping great dilithium crystal power source and can beam its signal happily without a connection. Hmmm, but what is it that still troubles me? Ah, yes, it is the fact that there is a perfectly detectable transmission coming from it and any old bit of detection kit could have homed in on it in 5 minutes. Whichever way you look at it, it was totally traceable.

Come on! This is the absolute fundamental of the plot and within 30 seconds, it falls apart.

So I get irritated and engage a couple of brain cells. What's this about artificial insemination being OK? Try typing in "artificial insemination catholic" into Google. I skipped a couple of entries, so I had to put some effort into the research, the third entry came up with this:

http://www.loras.edu/~CatholicHE/Arch/Sexuality/AIH.html

Looks pretty authentic to me, though admittedly I haven't spent 2 years researching this book so I could be wrong.

Basically, DB could have spent 30 minutes on the phone to his local Catholic priest and got as definitive an answer.

Oh, and I've never heard a BBC cameraman called a videographer either.

...and if the one mile journey did take one minute in the taxi, as explicitly pointed out by DB, the taxi driver must have driven most of the journey at speeds of over 70mph, accounting for acceleration and deceleration. This seems highly unlikely, even for an Roman driver.

...and having been to Rome, have you been to any part of Rome in the evening where you could drive a van up, drag out a chained body, have a fight, fire a gun, drown someone (we seem to need to allow over a minute for our expert swimmer and his wonderful lung capacity), wander off dripping wet, and make your escape before midnight? The place is alive with people strolling about. Perhaps I am missing something?

 
At Feb 7, 2005 4:47:00 PM , Blogger Danny said...

You're right about the sheer absurdity of the fight in Piazza Navona occurring without anyone noticing. Piazza Navona! At night! It's packed with people all the time.

More evidence that Dan Brown knowledge of Rome is a good deal less impressive than he thinks it is.

 
At Feb 8, 2005 4:10:00 AM , Blogger Spenny said...

Re: busy Rome: what makes this lack of consideration of crowds less forgivable, is that earlier in the book they consider it implausible that the Illuminati could get away with their plot so publicly. Indeed, the previous killings relied on closing off a church that would otherwise have people in it, and the murder in the Square (tramp and little girl) relied on being public too.

To continue the "FACT" statements, it is interesting to note that John Grisham, who writes a ripping yarn himself, was quite happy to state in The Last Juror that he had changed various laws of the time of the book to fit his plot. He managed to do three things that Dan Brown does not: write a consistent plot, make things up to make the plot work, and stated that it is made up (as opposed to making things up, saying they are true and still having a plot full of holes).

 
At Feb 9, 2005 1:26:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Spenny for pointing out the most obvious flaw in the plot -- that the wireless camera was beaming out a perfectly traceable signal. My other question is, how did that little portable camera tranmit through three stories of solid stone and earth?

BobN

 
At Feb 11, 2005 1:16:00 PM , Anonymous Lazarus said...

Who is the bigger loser/idiot, Dan Brown for writing these falicies, or you for finding them? Get a fucking life, man.

 
At Feb 11, 2005 1:22:00 PM , Blogger Danny said...

I'm quite happy with life, thanks.

 
At Feb 12, 2005 7:46:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow Lazarus, feeling the need to pointlessly insult a blogger you've never met? Talk about not having enough going on in your life...
-LG

 
At Feb 15, 2005 6:06:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The ILLUMINATI was a philosophical order set up by Adam Weishaupt around 1776. They joined Masonic lodges to try and increase support for their Enlightenment, rationalist thought. However, they were removed in a series of edicts from 1784 to 1786. Weishaupt himself was evicted in 1785. See http://freemasonry.bcy.ca/texts/Illuminati.html .

 
At Feb 19, 2005 1:33:00 PM , Blogger cumu said...

I feel people have been unfair to Lazarus. They haven't grasped the hilarious irony inherent in his pretending to join the "loser/idiot" fraternity by posting here. He makes his comedy intent very clear by misspelling "fallacies". If he hadn't given such clear clues that he's a comedy genius, he'd open himself up to charges of being a rude, ill-informed loser/idiot himself. So well done Lazarus!

 
At Feb 19, 2005 1:38:00 PM , Blogger cumu said...

And just to add to his ironic comedian credentials, Lazarus pretends to misunderstand the difference between "fallacies" and "factual errors"! The guy slays me!!

 
At Feb 19, 2005 1:59:00 PM , Blogger cumu said...

Sorry - I feel I should say something about Dan Brown here, rather than just slapping the wrist of a rather impolite "contributor". First up, how does it happen that Langdon, a Harvard professor with expertise in Renaissance symbology, isn't fluent in Italian? And how does Brown explain the fact that a Catholic priest like the Camerlengo would pray directly to the late Pope [and not to God], as he does before they lift the lid off the Pope's coffin? The simple answer to both these questions is that Mr. Brown hasn't done his research and doesn't deserve the world-wide praise and vast income he's received.

 
At Feb 19, 2005 2:08:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

it seems that most of the errors in angels and demons have been uncovered here- interested in making a list of the mistakes in da vinci code?

 
At Feb 20, 2005 1:43:00 AM , Blogger tommytuttle said...

Just one more point. Has anyone considered that it is somewhat odd that one would go to the trouble to televise the hidden explosive in the first place? The ease of tracing the location of the wireless camera signal hit me immediately. That's really stupid, and to what purpose?

But then I realized that Dan needed the "visual" for the suspense factor, anticipating, for example, when this thing goes to screenplay. A screenplay could simply cut to a visual of the clock on the bomb, but without those in the Vatican seeing the same thing, the suspense doesn't work. I couldn't think of a great way to get this visual into their hands that was undetectable either.

One might consider a visual feed from some other mirrored source, like a dummy bomb, time-synced to the real bomb, and then transmit the image of the mirrored dummy bomb via the net, for example. Tracing the transmission would only find the dummy bomb, and the Vatican people still get the visual. But that gets overly complicated, and is messy. Other ideas?

The bad science in A&D annoyed me no end, throughout, with all the 3-ohm mumbo jumbo, and Kohler's gee-whizing obvious nuclear physics stuff, and historical errors about Galileo, and on and on.

But I still enjoyed the book, and admire someone who can create such engaging works as A&D and D-code.

 
At Feb 21, 2005 3:54:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

In regards to flashback about the Holy Communion:

The roots of Communion/Last Super are actually borrowed from Mithraism, which in turn borrowed it from older religions. Mithraism was prevalent in Rome during the first century and many the elements of Christianity owe their roots to this religion, including halos (sun disks), worship on the day of the Sun (Sunday), Virgin birth, December 25th, and on and on.

 
At Feb 21, 2005 4:29:00 PM , Blogger Danny said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At Feb 21, 2005 4:33:00 PM , Blogger Danny said...

In regards to flashback about the Holy Communion:

The roots of Communion/Last Super are actually borrowed from Mithraism, which in turn borrowed it from older religions. Mithraism was prevalent in Rome during the first century and many the elements of Christianity owe their roots to this religion, including halos (sun disks), worship on the day of the Sun (Sunday), Virgin birth, December 25th, and on and on.
Are you sure about this? This sounds a bit like Dan Brown's hokum in The Da Vinci Code. Christianity was certainly syncretic in its early years, borrowing elements from other religions, but I'm not sure that all the ones you've listed came from Mithraism specifically. Could you provide a reference? Thanks.

 
At Feb 28, 2005 9:05:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The whole premise of using plastic magnets to slip the anti-matter container through the Vatican metal detectors is flawed, since metal detectors don't react to metals as such, but to magnetic fields (normally induced in metal objects by the alternating magnetic field of the detector). Unless they had been configured to ignore items that are already magnetic (which I fail to see any logical reason for), the magnetic fields of the container would have triggered the alarms immediately.

 
At Feb 28, 2005 10:17:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The author can't seem to make up his mind about what the anti-matter substance consists of. In chapter 21 it is made very clear that it's positrons only. In chapter 36 it is made very clear that it's anti-hydrogen (atoms made of positrons and anti-protons).

Let's go with Brown's first claim. Then a quarter-gram of positrons would consist of roughly 270 trillion trillion particles, with a total electric charge of over 40 million Coulombs. The electric field generated by such an enormous collection of charged particles would cause electric discharges from more than 200 miles away and easily incinerate a whole city just by being there.

But that's not the worst part. Not by far. As even highschool kids know, similarly charged particles will repel each other. Forcing 270 trillion trillion positrons into the size of a droplet (let's say a sphere with a diameter of about 1 cm -- the book is rather vague) would cost roughly 50 trillion times as much energy as you could get out of the anti-matter itself. Furthermore, it would take a force field stronger than anything envisioned in Star Trek (or any other science fiction series I'm familiar with) to keep the sample together. And if you released the particles, they would fly apart with enough force to blow up the Earth several times over.

 
At Mar 1, 2005 6:07:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Page references refer to the Corgi paperback edition of ”Angels and Demons”.

p.151: The ”eight-foot spear with razor-sharp scyte” carried by the Swiss Guard is ”rumored to have decapitated countless Muslim while defending the Christian crusaders in the fifteenth century”. The last crusade took place in the fourteenth century and the Swiss Guard, founded in 1515, was not involved.
p.194: ”Conclaves are held by candlelight.” Not true.
p. 254: Pantheon named as ”the oldest Catholic church in Rome”. Not true; the pagan temple became a church in AD 609, several other churches are older than that.
p.260: Pantheon is said to have ”one narrow entrance”. The entrance is about seven metres wide.
p.261: ”Piazza della Rotunda” should be Piazza della Rotonda and lies directly in front of Pantheon; the order of ”no closer than two blocks” becomes ridiculous. ”Piazza Sant’ Ignacio” should be Piazza Sant’Ignazio.
p. 263: There is no ”Piazza de la Concorde” in Rome. There is a Place de la Concorde in Paris, however.
p. 270: ”La Tazza di Oro’s outdoor café” does not exist, they serve their excellent espresso only indoors. And the correct spelling is Tazza d’Oro.
p.293: ”The alley on the right side of the church” is not an alley, but a wide road sweeping down from the Pincio. There is a wall on one side, the other side is the right side of the church.
p.294: ”They had as few entrances as possible”.Santa Maria del Popolo has three front doors and two side doors towards the so called alley. There are also one door on each side of the altar. Plus, maybe, the one that Brown says goes ”from the the base of the rear wall directly into the foundations of the church”.
p. 316: ”This is the first altar of science!” Bernini carved the Habbakuk and Angel statue 1656-61 and all the other sculptures mentioned as Illuminati pointers several years, even decades, earlier. The first pointer is the last one made!
p.318: ”nobody else had contributed artwork to this chapel!” Not true. Raphael designed and Lorenzetto executed the statue of Jonah, the bronze bas-relief is by Lorenzetto, and so is David, the companion piece to Bernini’s Habbakuk.
p.319: ”Who other than a famous Vatican artist would have the clout to put his artwork in specific Catholic chapels around Rome”? Brown is mixing cause and effect: Bernini acted on commissions from families owning the chapels: Chigi here, Cornari in Santa Maria della Vittoria etc.
p.329: ”because it’s outside the walled city, Roman officials for centuries have claimed it as a part of Rome.” The controversy in question can only have been present from 1871 (when the Italian forces entered Rome and the pope considered himself ”prisoner in the Vatican” ) to 1929 when the concordat between Italy and the Vatican defined the state borders – with Piazza San Pietro definitely inside the Vatican. ”For centuries” is pure nonsense.
p.330: The four stone disks surrounding the obelisk in Piazza San Pietro are not bas-reliefs, they are simply flat stones, parts of the compass rose araound the obelisk. They depict winds from north, south, east and west – and how Langton (p. 337) decides upon the West wind as the important one is unexplained: the angel in Santa Maria del Popolo can’t have pointed with that exactness.
p.334: ”Art historians knew the fountains marked the exact geometric focal points of Bernini’s elliptical piazza”. Not true: the focal points are marked by two red stone disks rougly halfway between the obelisk and the fountains. Standing on one of the disks you have the illusion that the nearest colonnade has only one row of columns instead of four.
p.369: ”Nobody is allowed down there”. Not true; tourist groups visit the necropolis almost every day of the year. Even I have been there.
p. 374: ”Bernini had carved dozens of fountains in Rome, most of them in front of churches.” The correct number is less than a dozen, most of them not in front of churches.
p. 375: ”The Ecstacy of St Teresa, shortly after its unveiling, had been moved from its original location inside the Vatican.” Downright lie. Bernini’s St Teresa was commissioned by Cardinal Federigo Cornaro for his sepulcral chapel in the left transept of Santa Maria della Vittoria – and include portraits of the donor and his family. St Teresa has never been inside the Vatican and was never rejected by Pope Urban VIII and banished to ”some obscure chapel across town” for the simple reason that Urban VIII died in 1644 and Bernini did the job in 1645-52.
p. 378: ”On top of each tomb, in full papal vestments, lay life-sized semblances of each Pope”. Very few of the tombs – mainly those from the Middle Ages – in the Vatican grottoes have sculptures of the Pope inside on their lids.
p.394: ”The church is on Piazza Barberini”. It’s not. It’s on Piazza San Bernardo, half a kilometer uphill från Piazza Barberini.
”Twenty years ago…city planners had removed the obelisk and replaced it with a small fountain called the Triton.” Nope. There has never been an obelisk in Piazza Barberini, the Triton fountain in the center is hardly a small one and has been in place since 1643. Since Bernini made it the claim that ”in Bernini’s day, Langdon now realized, Piazza Barberini had contained an obelisk!” is nonsense.
p. 440: ”Langdon flashed on Bernini’s statue of Triton… in the square outside this very church”. Cf above: wrong square. And here the Triton – correctly – is attributed to Bernini, not a small modern one. Did he forget what he just had written?
p. 441: ”According to the map, the spear was pointing west”. The arrow – not a spear – held by the angel is pointing more or less downward at Teresa’s midriff. Since the sculpture sits along the left side of the church wall, the arrow would be pointing to north/north west.
p. 451: ”The piazza was deserted”. With a lot of restaurants along the sides and three famous fountains in the middle, Piazza Navona simply can’t be deserted at 10.45 PM.
p. 454: ”The water was waist deep”. Well, not quite – and the statement is completely at odds with the underwater fight in the following pages, where Langdon ”swam across the bottom of the fountain”(p.463). The fountain, by the way, is from 1651. The dove at the top of the obelisk is the symbol of the Pamhilij family, from which Pope Innocent X came: he ordered the fountain.
p.468: ”All of Rome spread out before him”. Even at the top of the obelisk’s platform he would se no more than the houses surrounding the square, and definitely not either St. Peter’s, Santa Maria della Vittoria, Piazza del Popolo or Castel Sant’Angelo. It would also take quite an imagination to see the shape of the (modern) park surrounding Castel Sant’ Angelo as a pentagram.
p.470: ”Langdon had little doubt that the angel and surrounding pentagonal park were Bernini’s doing as well.” Well, they’re not. The park is modern, the angel is by a Dutchman called Pieter Antoon Verschaffelt and from 1752, a century after Bernini.
p. 471: ”Lungotere Angelo” doesn’t exist but ”lungotere” should possibly be Lungotevere, which means ”along the Tiber”. The street outside the castle is called Lungotevere Castello and nothing else.
p. 475. ”a giant spiral ramp that circled up inside the fort”. OK, but not built for the use of ”commanders on horseback” in a hurry. The ramp is almost 2000 years old and the castle once was the tomb of emperor Hadrian and his family. Art historian Langdon evidently has no idea about that.
p.478: ”He had heard of this tunnel many times”. Il Passetto is hardly a tunnel, but a covered gangway between Castel Sant’Angelo and the Vatican. The entrance at the castle side is from one of the bastions, not from the castle itself. I don’t know if the other entrance is from the Pope’s private library (p. 509), but it was certainly never a ”secret escape route”, being high on very visible pillars along the streets all the way. These days there are even guided tours along part of the Passetto.
p. 480: ”Bernini, as head architect of renovations here…”. He was never that.
p. 527: ”the select few clergy who had descended ofter the years…” As mentioned above there are daily guided tours to the Necropolis.
p. 557: If someone really would survive a drop from several thousand feet aided only with a windshield tarp and by sheer luck end up in the Tiber close to the Tiber island, he would first of all bang into the bottom (not very deep here) and die, no matter if the running water may be three times softer than still water. Secondly he would be swept downstream very rapidly, the current is strong on both sides of the island, and thus be impossible to reach in time for spectators on the shore. And thirdly he would be desperately sick after swallowing the almost deadly polluted water.
p. 558: ”Ever since the island had been used to quarantine the sick during the Roman plague of A.D. 1656, it had been thought to have mystic healing properties.” In fact those properties were supposed to be in full swing a thousand years before that; there was a hospital on the island already in 293 B.C.
p.593: Brown is the first to claim that the ”Devil’s Advocate”has anything to do with Papal elections, officially credited by the church to rely on divine inspiration. The Devil’s Advocate (the job is now abolished by Pope John Paul II) had to dig for dirt concerning people suggested for beatification and canonisation. Since Papal elections are made by secret voting it’s rather hard to see where in the process a Devil’s Advocate could come in and air his findings.


These are only remarks concerning Dan Brown’s treatment of a ”well researched” (The Poisoned Pen) and ”Michelin-perfect ” (Publishers weekly) Rome. I leave it to people with knowledge about antimatter, Vatican hierarchy, the Illuminati and other cornerstones to have a look at ”Angels and Demons” from their respective points of view.

 
At Mar 5, 2005 2:24:00 AM , Anonymous Shri said...

Well, lots of people have posted lots of errors in the book and I must say, the book read as fiction is good, but as "fact" (sorry guys) falls short. I will admit this though, it was fast so I didn't spot most of the mistakes that people have cited here till I read it a couple of months later. Anyways, CERN itself has a page on antimatter, what it looks like, the LHC - even the safety of antimatter at
http://public.web.cern.ch/Public/Content/Chapters/Spotlight/SpotlightAandD-en.html
. Check it out!

 
At Mar 19, 2005 6:59:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

All very interesting reading guys. I read A&D, but have not yet read The Da Vinci code. I realized how off Brown was and tried to take it all as fiction, but being a science buff a lot of the nuclear stuff was hilarious. Still, I'll probably read TDVC.

Just to get in on the fun, I'll add one more problem that relates to editing rather than research. After finding the second cardinal killed, the next marker points west and there are 20 or so churches along the line. In Chapter 80, pg. 316 (Pocket Books paperback) "Langdon looked at the list in his hand. It contained the names of the twenty or so churches that were located on a direct line with the West Ponente's breath."

A few pages later (Chapter 84, pg. 336) Langdon is in the archive looking for a Bernini work honoring fire and talks about The Ecstacy of St. Theresa having been moved (already proven false). "What had caught Langdon's eye was that the work had apparently been placed in one of the five churches on his list."

Five is "twenty or so"?

In an afterword, Brown thanks his editor calling him "one of my dearest friends." Perhaps he was too much of a friend to point out his mistakes.

And, not a mistake but something that bugged me was the lame-o, very stilted "love story." Unnecessary in the extreme, and the last chapter is nauseating. So I'd agree with the person who has already remarked that Brown seems to be writing for the eventual movie adaptation.

I'll also add he's simply not that great of a writer. One review in my copy gushes "these characters have depth!" Huh?!?

-dan (no relation :-)

 
At Mar 23, 2005 4:38:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

few more little things, beside the inconsistencies of the dialogs: you simply do not bark at the commander in chief of a foreigner army meaningless sentences about antimatter if you want to be taken seriously or think that you can picture a religion like the Christianity an hoax just because it has borrowed some gestures from others (which is BTW not true, as already said above!).
the first thing is the systematic "devastation" of italian words in the book; and please note that there are no italian sentences, just scattered words. Some of them have been already pointed out but it's really offensive that Brown did not even check the spelling of them ("altar of science" is "altare della scienza" and not "altare di scienza") in particular when it's an italian person to speak (Vittoria in particular).
Also some names are at least ridiculous: Vetra is fine but what about Ventresca that in italian is a particular, ad not very elegant salami? it's like calling an american person Pepperoni!
about the clergy: it's very improbable that a priest, or a cardinal, will introduce himself only with name and surname. More likely he'll say "padre" (father) or "don" (reverend, nothing to do with mafia stuff). another thing: I don't know about the requirement of being fluent in spanish but definitely a cardinal should be good in Latin!
Along with the topic of names: why the hell the famous painter Raffaello Sanzio should become Raphael Santi? i can understand that in America someone knows him as such but in Italy NOBODY does, and in Rome you'll never find anything about him as Santi. Same boldness about the various signals in Rome written in english: simply not true. Brown should have cited them in italian and given the translation. Finally two small points:
1) if Raffaello and Michelangelo are correctly better known by their first names why, according to the book, should be different for Leonardo? Moreover, among the three Leonardo is the only one who has not a real surname and "Da Vinci" simply means "From Vinci" a small town outside Firenze. nobody who knows him would call him that way, it's like calling Madonna: "From Rochester".
2) it should be mentioned that the Catholic Church has almost always used Latin as the official language and not English, so the idea that Sunday is actually because on that day the god of sun is worshipped is probably true only in english-speaking countries, but in Italian is "domenica" from "DOMINICA" latin for "day of the Lord" (DOMINUS = Lord), in Spanish is "domingo" (same root: Dominus), in French is "dimanche" (again same root).

 
At Mar 26, 2005 6:31:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

VERY interesting to read all your efforts! Don't you think it's time to do the same für the Da Vinci Code?

 
At Mar 28, 2005 9:17:00 PM , Anonymous Little Lotte said...

first of all...is Gunther Glick ur hero and inspiration...cause u certainly sound like him....just a thought
im sry but i must say...i pity you...first of all u should realize that Brown isnt the go to guy for Italian Grammar...he got editors for that...second its a FICTIONAL novel...so he took some artistic liscence and changed few locations around or maybe just maybe exagerated a few details...i believe thats commonly refered to as Hyperbole (in reference to the overestimation of St Peter's)...also...Glick is a tabloid journalist...did u expect him to say somethin inteligent?
trully if u have time to waiste on typin up page long "critiques" at least try to have some proffesional air about them...calling something "BS" doesn't give the reader much of a doubt that ur just out on a vendetta perhaps?
hope for the sake of avid readers u get more tactful and dont openly bash a book ur supposed to be "critiqueing" but actually assess its Literary value.

 
At Apr 1, 2005 8:15:00 PM , Blogger flosssy said...

Hmm, I agree with Lotte. I have a degree in literature and I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Whilst I have no problem with anyone highlighting historical or geographical inaccuracies, I do think they're only worth mentioning if they significantly impact upon the plot. The horror of a misplaced accent or an incorrectly conjugated Italian verb merely mocks the more serious point you are trying to make. And just for reference, I am English, probably a similar age to Gunther and use "i sure hope so" and other allegedly American phrases regularly!

 
At Apr 2, 2005 5:24:00 PM , Blogger Spenny said...

Flosssy,

I'd say a couple of things. Go back to the introduction to this and you will see that the issue is not so much the book, as Dan Brown, and more specifically his assertion that his books are based on well researched facts.

I was tempted to analyse Amazon reviews as a means of sampling the readership. They are quite polarised. At one extreme, we have the "fraudster" end. Quite a few of these acknowledge there was something in the writing that made it move along. The other extreme is what concerns me, a significant number of "well researched" comments, and an odd determination to deny that there could be a problem with the book. These are the same people who don't believe a veteran Captain Pugwash watcher like myself that the cabin boy was not called Roger (even though every episode ended with the phrase "and Tom said nothing"), nor was there a Master Bates or Seaman Stains. It seems the world of rumour is more believable than reality these days.

I don't think anyone would disagree that a clear work of fiction is allowed to play fast and loose with reality. I think a good example is that Robert Harris uses a factual background, but one is always conscious that you are reading a story, and therefore are aware that you would not take anything in the book at face value.

What is more under debate is the self-proclaimed credentials of Dan Brown. He claims a couple of years of research - a PhD's worth - for his books. He states forcibly that the real details are accurate. He then on his own web site tries to back up these assertions.

I'll point you to a simple example which shows his deliberate style, yet is readily undermined without 2 years of research.

Many historians now credit the unseen hand of the Illuminati with influencing the design of the Great Seal. The Illuminati had infiltrated the brotherhood of the Masons at a time when the Masons were very influential in U.S. politics (Vice President Henry Wallace was an upper echelon Mason.) Most believe the Illuminati used their considerable influence to "brand" their symbology on the dollar bill.

Note the casual use of Many historians now credit together with Most believe.

Unfortunately, these many historians that he appears to believe seem to ignore the historical fact that the design was 18th Century rather than 20th Century. The same goes for the science, Cern were irritated enough to do a very complete (but polite) rebuttal.

So, I think most of the critics could understand that Angels and Demons can be entertaining enough, different styles appeal for different purposes. To paraphrase you, I have no problem with anyone enjoying the book, I just think it is important to mention that there are claimed facts that significantly impact on reality.

 
At Apr 2, 2005 7:24:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Get A Life The Book Is A Work Of Fiction If Dan Brown Wanted To Write Pure Facts He Would Have. Personnally I Think That Dan Brown Is A Great Writer If You Dont Like Him Or His Books Then Dont Read Them.

 
At Apr 3, 2005 6:25:00 AM , Blogger Spenny said...

Anonymous:

If Dan Brown Wanted To Write Pure Facts He Would Have.

...and my point is that on Dan Brown's web site, he has done just that, and that more often than not these facts are readily shown to be misleading (and I think that is the crux of the problem, there seems to be a deliberate intent to misrepresent).

However, you also miss the point that Dan Brown in his introduction to Angels & Demons goes to great lengths to claim that this book is in many respects factual: he has two pages of thanks to his sources, he then has a page titled "FACT" about anti-matter production (which gains apparent credibility as he acknowledges CERN as his source), he then has a page titled "AUTHOR'S NOTE" stating that all the locations are entirely factual. In what way do you think that Dan Brown does not want to write "pure facts"?

 
At Apr 4, 2005 5:03:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any man can be elected pope.

 
At Apr 4, 2005 5:25:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Langdon also gets the requirements to become Pope wrong:

By tradition the Pope is elected from among the Cardinals, but by tradition only. It lies within the power of the College of Cardinals to elect anybody: an unknown, humble priest, a layman, even a married man if they so wish, to become the Supreme Pontiff.

 
At Apr 4, 2005 10:01:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another error regarding papal election: Brown has the cardinals locked in the Sistine Chappel voting over and over again until they pick a winner. As pointed out by the media in covering the death of Pope John Paul II, and explained on http://www.americamagazine.org/papaltransition.cfm there doen't even have to be a vote the first day, and if there, then only one. If no one receives the 2/3 majority, the cardinals reconvene the next morning, when there can be up to two more votes. This goes on for two sessions each day until someone gets the 2/3 majority or a certain number of votes has been taken, after which simple majority is sufficient.
I guess Brown needed to change this to keep the cardinals in the chapeland thus in harms way.

 
At Apr 4, 2005 12:13:00 PM , Blogger Danny said...

Thanks for all the comments, everyone. I'm sure that the current circumstances at the Vatican will reveal even more of Dan Brown's errors.

Reiterating a few key points that people seem to have missed:

I'm fine with novelists fiddling with facts for the sake of writing a good story. Fiction doesn't need to be true to life. But when an author claims that the 'facts' of his work are accurate, readers are entitled to point out his mistakes.

I don't expect Glick to make entirely accurate statements. But don't you think a journalist would know the eligibility requirements for the Pulitzer prize in journalism? Whether he's a 'tabloid' journalist is irrelevant; besides, he works for the BBC in the novel, having moved on from his earlier tabloid work.

On the whole, I'd like to think that my critique of Brown is pretty fair-minded. If I occasionally slip into crude language, well, Brown's writing is occasionally so exasperating that I can't help but vent.

Am I on a vendetta against Dan Brown? Yeah, probably. But point to one of my complaints that isn't accurate before you accuse me of simply slandering Brown. I spent lots of time checking my facts for this post, time that Brown didn't see as necessary.

Let me make this clear. This post is not about the literary quality (or lack thereof) of Dan Brown's work. I think he's an awful writer, but that's not my concern here. For damning critiques of Brown's prose, see these three posts by Geoffrey K. Pullum or read his chapter in Secrets of Angels and Demons.

What riles me up so much about Dan Brown's books is the people who, as Spenny notes, believe that his work is factually accurate, apparently taking Brown at his word that his books are well-researched. This is more of a problem with The Da Vinci Code since it's more popular than its prequel, but the fact remains that people whose knowledge of art, Rome, Paris, the Catholic Church, etc. is based solely on Dan Brown's books are grossly misinformed. I'm just trying to counteract his influence as best I can.

 
At Apr 5, 2005 5:44:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is one essential Mistake I simply have to tell you. Dan Brown insists on the Camerlengo being "an ordinary priest", even a kind of "servant" of the Pope. This is so ridiculous it hurts. The Camerlengo is of course a Cardinal himself and a kind of finance Minister of the Vatican. After the death of the Pope he and three elected Assistants are in Charge of the Vatican. This is hilarious when you think about the revelations late in the Book - the whole Plot dissolves to a certain degree. Brown is turning the Finance Minister into a Butler!

 
At Apr 5, 2005 6:40:00 AM , Anonymous Crosbie said...

p341, Corgi paperback edition of Angels and Demons: Chinita Macri, the African-American BBC camera operator, tucks a videotape of something important into her trousers, and thinks to herself, 'Cellulose Gold'.

Celluloid is what film is made from, not videotape.

 
At Apr 5, 2005 12:01:00 PM , Anonymous rol said...

I made the post regarding the papal election above. Thought I should add that what bothers me so much is that Brown simply manipulates facts to fit his story. I started out reading the book without looking up any of the alleged facts, and really got into the story. I can live with him fudging the science about anti-matter somewhat, I didn't expect it to be perfect from a scientific standpoint regardless of his claims. But when you realize that he has essentially rearranged the landscape of Rome just to establish some perfect geometric shape, the book becomes far less interesting. Add the fact that there is absolutely no connection between Galileo and the Illuminati, as is indicated by the link on his own website, and you really start to run into problems. His fudging historical facts, like the origin of the great seal (founding fathers, not Henry Wallace), that the Hashashin were eradicated by other muslims, etc., is simply unforgivable. I still have about 100 pages to go, will probably slog through it just to get it over with.

 
At Apr 6, 2005 3:54:00 AM , Anonymous rol said...

Does someone want to point out to Mr. Brown that: 1) Artificial insemination is forbidden by the church, and 2) it would mean that the Pope masturbated, arguably a violation of his vow of chastity, forbidden by the church in any event, even for laity. Maybe he spends all his time researching how to make Langdon look dummer.

 
At Apr 10, 2005 12:33:00 AM , Anonymous GWG Etobicoke Canada said...

I don't know where Brown got the term "preferiti" to describe the most likely candidates to become pope.

First, the term is "papabili."

Second, the papabili are not a discrete, clearly identifiable group. Brown (chapter 42) makes it look like there are four official candidates: "As was the custom four names had been chosen as preferiti ..."

In reality, the papabili are not a fixed, defined, formal or official group. Which individuals comprise the contenders is a matter of opinion, open to debate, and also subject to change. Add to that the fact that to be deemed papabile is no guarantee of anything. There is an Italian saying about the papabili, "He who enters the conclave a pope leaves a cardinal."

Third, for the same reason, there is no such thing as "the traditional private tea for the four preferiti." There is no official list of candidates. So a pre-conclave meeting among the candidates would be simply impossible.

Fourth, it is simply wrong to say "by Vatican Law the cardinal had to be inside the Sistine Chapel when the vote took place. Otherwise, he was ineligible."

Nonsense. One does not need to be a cardinal to be elected (Urban VI) and he certainly does not have to be present (Adrian VI). Though he subsequently would be asked to accept and could decline.

Fifth, the picture of cardinals arriving at the Sistine Chapel a few at a time, with the preferiti (in this story) arriving after the rest is not in line with the practice: cardinals walk to the Sistine Chapel in procession, together, in order by rank.

Sixth, and again this may have been noted above, there is no such thing as "The Great Elector." The cardinals who operate the process are chosen by lot, with a new set chosen each three days. There are three scrutineers (scrutatores), three revisers (revisores) to control the count of their colleagues, and three infirmarii to collect the ballots of sick cardinals.

Seventh, it is unlikely that Cardinal Mortati would burn the ballots by himself as he does in chapter 82. I believe the scrutineers and Master of Ceremony do this.

Eighth, it has already been noted that the role of chamberlain (camerlengo) is wrongly reduced in the book to a virtual butler. Actually, years (centuries?) the chamberlain has been a cardinal and therefore an elector. Thus it is absolutely false to write, as Brown does in chapter 92, "For the first time in Vatican history, a camerlengo had just crossed the threshold of conclave after sealing the doors."

Ninth, the discussion in chapter 136 of "Election by Adoration" is riddled with errors. Let's start with the fact that Catholics use the term "adoration" exclusively in reference to the Lord. God is the subject of adoration, but never a human being.

The actual term is not "Adoration" but "Acclamation." Election by Acclamation (or quasi-inspiration) "consists in all the cardinals present unanimously proclaiming one of the candidates Supreme Pontiff, without the formality of casting votes. As this must be done without previous consultation or negotiation it is looked on as proceeding from the Holy Ghost and hence is also designated 'quasi-inspiration.'"

Brown gets his facts wrong further by saying that Election by Adoration (Acclamation) overrides the cardinal eligibility rule so that any clergyman may become Pope. As noted earlier, there is no cardinal eligiblity rule period. Any baptised male Catholic, clergy or not, may be elected pope. (Though if the male is not a priest and bishop, he must be ordained priest and bishop (or if already a priest but not a bishop, ordained a bishop))immediately following his election

 
At Apr 11, 2005 4:03:00 AM , Anonymous Yves said...

"santa maria del popolo"
you claim that the church was built in the 15th century and dan brown was wrong when writing about 11th century stone and again about renaissance churches. this source (http://www.romewelcome.com/chiese/rome-churches.htm) says that the curch was originally built in 1099 (which is 11th century), but then rebuilt between 1472 and 1479 (which is 15th century). Dan Brown therefore got these things right, it's not a cathedral though.

 
At Apr 11, 2005 9:53:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you think Angel and Demons is rubbish, you ought to see the new novel by Don Brawn.

 
At Apr 12, 2005 8:40:00 PM , Blogger Mike said...

What section of the bookstore did you people buy A&D and Da Vinci code from? Bestseller fiction, fantasy, or non-fiction reference. Not the latter, I'm sure. Dan's misleading is limited to the one sentence at the beginning regarding fact. Far better to say 'based on fact' - this would have pulled all nitpickers teeth. As far as the story goes, it was entertaining fantasy - certainly not the best I've read, but far from the worst. The Catholic church squirms about it because it is based on fact - and some of the facts that it is based on make the church justly uncomfortable. But to blame Dan for these legitimate facts is unfair.

--
Meski

 
At Apr 13, 2005 4:35:00 AM , Blogger Danny said...

No, Dan Brown highlights all the research he does for his books and insists that they're factually accurate. Go look at his website.

 
At Apr 13, 2005 8:53:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just visited Rome last week. One of my intentions was to follow the path of the Illuminati.

But then I found so many things that are not accurate. And I was very disappointed.

Page 229: "Let me tell you something about it. A pantheon is a single room. A circular cell made of stone and cement. It has one entrance. No windows. One narrow entrance. That entrace is flanked at all times by no less than four armed Roman policemen who protect this shrine from art defacers, anti-Christian terrorists and gypsy tourist scams."

--Unfortunately, there was not even one policeman anywhere to be seen when I was at the Pantheon.

Page 249: "Rapahel's body was relocated to the Pantheon in 1758."

--At the Pantheon, the sign reads, "Raphael's body was transferred here immediately after his death." (not the exact sentence but this meaning) This is distorting the fact to help the plot!

Santa Maria del Popolo
--However, from the map of Rome I used when I was there, the angel did point southwest to what seems to be the direction of St Peter's. St Peter's is not South of Santa Maria del Popolo but quite southwest. In the map, there are no churches along the southwest line, although I did not walk along to prove this.

Page 295: A marbel block embedded in the square. At the base of the monolith. But the block is not a rectangle. It's an ellipse. And the block is carved with the image of a billowing gust of wind."

--This is the most disappointing. There are more than one marble block like this. I believe 16 of them, although I did not count. There are not only north, east, south, west, northeast, northwest, southeast, southwest, but also something like est sud est (east southeast) and west nord west (west southwest) etc in between. Why Langdon could recall only West Ponente? So that it can point to the west, to the Santa Maria della Vittoria?

Santa Maria della Vittoria
--As already pointed out, it's not at Piazza Barberini, you have to walk quite far if you want to start from there.

Piazza Navona
--The dove now looks to northeast direction. (not sure though) But Castle Sant' Angelo was at northwest. But in Dan Browns website it said, Obelisk with dove atop Note: This dove is taken down and cleaned every three years and from time to time will point the opposite direction that it does in the novel

Wara

 
At Apr 14, 2005 6:48:00 AM , Blogger Spenny said...

"Dan's misleading is limited to the one sentence at the beginning regarding fact."

Followed by:The Catholic church squirms about it because it is based on fact - and some of the facts that it is based on make the church justly uncomfortable.

..which is the problem. You want it both ways, it is a work of fiction so any complaints about inaccuracies don't count, but then you want it also to challenge the Church, where I think a rational person would suggest there should be a sound basis in fact.

I'll give you an example. Say DB wrote about a Catholic plot that was uncovered that the Pope encouraged priests to bugger little boys for some power-crazed revenge on all those who were not celebate. There is an element of truth in this so far as that it is known that some priests have been a trifle wayward, and we know that the Church was suspect in how it dealt with it. With no more distortion than is in A & D, DB could state his plot was based on fact. DB apologists then do your double take of saying it is fiction therefore is not subject to scrutiny, yet then say "there is no smoke without fire".

So which is it to be? There are plenty of real world things to challenge the Church on, both current and historic grounds.

To be honest, take away the obvious fantasy element, and I wasn't conscious of anything challenging in A & D. Take away the fantasy, the inaccurate and the proven fraudulant elements of Da Vinci Code, then I think the same argument goes.

 
At Apr 15, 2005 6:02:00 PM , Anonymous Erland said...

OK, I very impressive list of errors, from a lot of people.

I can add a few myself, though.

In Chapter 73, the sun is still up at 8.55 p.m. And we are told it is a spring day. But the sun will never set that late in Rome, not even at the summer solstice.

See

http://www.sunrisesunset.com/calendar.asp?comb_city_info=Rome,%20Italy;-12.5;42;1;2&month=6&year=2005&time_type=0

In Chapter 19, it is claimed that Galileo's "Discorsi" is about tides. Wrong. Discorsi is about mechanics and doesn't mention tides. Tides are treated in "Dialogo", where Galileo gives an erroneous explanation of this phenomenon.

When thinking about all these errors of Brown, and in particular the bizarre claim that Christianity borrowed Communion from the Aztecs, I can't help thinking that Dan Brown is actually joking. This claim is so blatantly absurd that Brown cannot have read it anywhere, he must have made it up himself. But why make up obviously absurd claims if not for joking?

Perhaps Dan Brown wants to prove that it's possible to make a fortune in writing bestsellers by lying about easily checked facts!

And perphaps he counts on earning a lot of money selling a lot of copies of his next book to people like us, who buy the book just to debunk it! :)

 
At Apr 21, 2005 9:42:00 PM , Blogger Mike said...


"Dan's misleading is limited to the one sentence at the beginning regarding fact."

Followed by:The Catholic church squirms about it because it is based on fact - and some of the facts that it is based on make the church justly uncomfortable.

..which is the problem. You want it both ways, it is a work of fiction so any complaints about inaccuracies don't count, but then you want it also to challenge the Church, where I think a rational person would suggest there should be a sound basis in fact.


I don't want it both ways. What part about 'based upon fact' do you not understand??? Most fiction is based upon fact - that doesn't mean it has to be constrained by fact. Does it challenge the church ? The RC church seem to feel it does - I've read a number of rebuttals in various places, online, in newspapers, etc from church authorities, and I imagine, church members. I'm looking at it from a POV of not being a representative at any level of christianity or any other religion, or having any particular brief for Dan Brown. I certainly wouldn't consider re-reading it.

 
At Apr 23, 2005 6:28:00 AM , Blogger Spenny said...

Mike, I understand your point, but fundamentally my beef is one of presentation. Of course most fiction is based on fact in some way, from complete fantasy through to historical novels. Dan Brown attempts to set himself apart from the typical novel. He does not just do this in one page, but it is also part of the style of presentation of the novel.

To pick up that last point, there is something of the style of writing which signals to the reader what is now being said is a statement of fact at certain points. It is clear that a significant number of readers take his statements (such as the Catholic Church burning millions of heritics) as given - and I believe that Dan Brown believed what he wrote to be true - he had researched it. Only he is not an academic, so he misinterprets and misunderstands, or half remembers something and decides that he knows it - like we all do.

I think it is interesting to contrast with something like Robert Harris' Archangel. This is clearly based on fact, and certainly weaves closely into the history of Stalin, but one never feels that you would take anything as a given without further checking - there are no clear borders between fact and fiction. The fun is almost in seeing a documentary and discovering the book was closer to the truth than you expected.

Some of this difference must come down to the clunky exposition by our Professor. As a literary mechanism, having the character step aside for a moment to make some historical statement oftne has no specific plot purpose aside from the presentation of a fact or an idea. As such, together with all the hype about research, the reader is signalled that this is indeed the truth.

Back to the challenging point: the fact that the Churh or CERN or whoever feels the need to issue a rebutal does not give the source any more credibility. It is clear that there are some issues which are misleading and there is a concern that these are being accepted rather than being challenged. This is of course fuel to the fire of consipracy theorists, because as it is only fiction there is no need for a rebutal is there - so it must be true after all.

 
At May 3, 2005 2:31:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am impressed. Just a few things to add on, though.

1) The 'alternative history' theories brought forward in Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code is based almost entirely on a book called 'Holy Blood, Holy Grail', which, although it brings to light some interesting ideas, is rather flawed in its conclusions.

2) Shaitan (hope I got Danny-boy's spelling right) is a word from the Koran. But it is still not an Islamic word, as the term 'Islam' refers to the Moslem religion. It is an Arabic word from the Arabic language, which has an equivalent in Bahasa Malaysia and Bahasa Indonesia, which is Syaitan.

 
At May 4, 2005 3:27:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

May an European add a somewhat heretic comment?
If, say, Dan Brown had allowed President Roseveldt to comment on the moon landing, placed Times Square in New Orleans and written about the nice view from the Statue of Liberty over Golden Gate, would all these US readers have been as prepared to allow him the right to transform geography and history as he pleased? Or could it be that these readers care nothing at all for facts, as long as the "facts" deal with things long ago and far away?

 
At May 6, 2005 3:02:00 PM , Anonymous Gastaman said...

To whoever said that the sun can't be up in Rome at 8.55 p.m., well, it's 8.43 p.m. right now and there's still light coming in from the window... I don't know about the rest of the world, but here spring lasts from the 21st of March to the 21st of June, and by then the sun is going to set even a bit later than it is now.

What really struck me as funny in this book is the sheer size of italian language mistakes, and the... shall we say... quality of them. I'm pretty sure he's translated most of them with Babelfish (babblefish?)... here's a few examples: "Continua cercando", "Probasti il museo", "spazzare di cappella", "para!", "Ufficio di papa", "Posibile", "uficcio", "pompiero", "non sportarti", "we are fungito", "straniero crudo", "Era un bar-àrabo", and the one that made me laugh the most, "E' chiusa temprano"... temprano is still used in spanish with the meaning he wanted to convey, but here it hasn't been used for what? A couple centuries? I'd understand if we were talking about a novel by Boccaccio, but this is 2005 for crying out loud... you write a book about italy and you can't even get a couple sentences right? Even a 10 years old italian child would have spotted those mistakes. Oh well.

 
At May 9, 2005 5:43:00 AM , Anonymous rol said...

I've discussed this a bit with some coworkers, one of whom took the 'it's a work of fiction' stance. There's a problem with this, though: Brown puts statements like that regarding the Aztec origins of the Eucharist, etc., not in mouth of anyone, but someone who is a professor, at HARVARD, speicalizing in these matters. He has this HARVARD professor say things like "Most historians/art experts/[insert your specialist here] agree that ..." and then says something that's completely wrong, or a theory subscribed to by a small majority considered to be outside the mainstream of their profession. This has nothing to do with whether it is a work of fiction.
As one of the previous posters said, you can't make a claim that Times Square is in New Orleans and expect to not take some heat. Especially when you make extensive claims as to how much research you do.
PS to those Europe, my harping about Harvard should not be taken as a sign of US arrogance: it would be not different if it was Oxford or any other elite non-American university.

 
At May 9, 2005 6:04:00 AM , Anonymous rol said...

I obviously mean a fictional Harvard professor above.

 
At May 10, 2005 8:10:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anybody doing physical harm to the pope will automatically be excommunicated and therefore cease being a catholic in that very moment ... not a likely thing for a priest to do. Look up "excommunication" on Wikipedia for details.

 
At May 12, 2005 8:50:00 AM , Anonymous Kankean said...

>In one of his lecture-y moments,
> Langdon mentions the Polish
> astronomer Copernicus. Kohler
> interrupts, saying that the
> church murdered Copernicus and
> other scientists "for revealing
> scientific truths." (31)

Langdon doesn't mention Copernicus. He mentions Giordano Bruno, who WAS mudered by the church.

Can you please cite you sources for the discription of Rome? I am trying to confirm you points on the geographic innacuracies. Thank you.

 
At May 12, 2005 12:05:00 PM , Blogger Danny said...

Langdon mentions Copernicus, right on page 31, like I said. See this. Using Amazon's serach function, however, I can't find any mentions of Giordano Bruno. Maybe you have a different edition of the book?

My description of Rome comes largely from living there for three months. There are plenty of good maps of the city you can find online. If you tell me which particular inaccuracies you're curious about I can post further information.

 
At May 12, 2005 6:02:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was reading your list of errors, and thought that I ought to vet your conclusions. The easiest way for me to do that was to evaluate the math regarding flying at 60,000 feet. Using the formula on your linked page "Altitude effects on Body Weight" I calculated the difference and came up with .57. That is not .57%. That is 57%, a far cry from the .6% that you claim. Thus, I have to wonder about other inaccuracies of your web page.

 
At May 12, 2005 7:14:00 PM , Blogger Danny said...

The formula for gravitational force (i.e. weight) is F = (G*m*M)/(r²) where F is force (weight), G is the gravitational constant, ~6.673*10^-11 m³/kg s², m is the mass of the body in question, M is the mass of the earth (~5.974x10^24 kg), and r is the distance between the center of mass of the two bodies in question. The radius of the earth is ~6,378,000 m. Let's take a body whose mass is 100kg. Using these approximations:

On the surface of the earth, a 100 kg body has a weight of 979.3 newtons, or 220.1 pounds. Going to an altitude of 60,000 feet increases the r in the equation by 18,288 meters. Plugging all the numbers back in, at an altitude of 60,000 feet from the surface of the earth, a 100 kg body has a weight of 974.4 newtons, or 219.0 pounds. 974.4 newtons is 0.5% less than 979.3 newtons, which means that the difference in weight at 60,000 feet is even less than I suggested in my original post and is nowhere near the 57% figure you came up with. You should check your math. And, while you're at it, stop impugning my work on the basis of a "mistake" that isn't wrong.

Incidentally, a reader e-mailed me with information suggesting that, travelling at 17,000 km/hr (roughly the speed given by Brown for the X-33) at an altitude of 60,000 feet, apparent weight does, in fact, decrease by roughly thirty percent. Here's his explanation:

What the pilot would be referring to is "apparrent weight" not weight, just as you aren't weightless when you orbit the earth. I did a very quick calculation this morning and it actually checks out reasonably well. The point is, that what you messure when you messure weight on the earth is actually the normal force comming from the ground (or the actual object you are using to weigh yourself), but since the earth is rotating a _net_ force is required to maintain persons on the ground, so the sum of the force of gravity (weight) and the normal force, must be equal to the required force to keep the object in rotation (called
centripetal force / acceleration). The apparent weight is the normal force (which is precisely equal to the weight at the poles), but when you're in orbit this normal force becomes zero because the centripetal force is equal to the gravitational pull from the earth (weight). So this does infact have a very significant effect on the apparent weight, and this is directly related to the velocity with which you travel at a given altitude. And with 60000 ft and a speed of roughly 17000 km/hr (here the rotation of the earth has not been taken into account, but since its a rough estimate its not very important) the figure checks out ok. Naturally Dan Brown should then have written "apparent weight", but it is a common error, just a claiming that you get weightless in orbit around the earth.


So while Brown's description may have been reasonably accurate, his explanation was far from clear.

 
At May 13, 2005 8:20:00 AM , Blogger Spenny said...

The pilot nodded. "Altitude sickness. We were at sixty thousand feet. You're thirty percent lighter up there. Lucky we only did a puddle jump. If we'd gone to Tokyo I'd have taken her all the way up - a hundred miles. Now that'll get your insides rolling."

Yes, yet another classic Brownism. This whole thing about weight is misleading anyway. Altitude sickness is primarily about oxygen deprivation, in a pressurised plane, this is not a problem.

I might concede airsickness, but not altitude sickness. He is correct that weightlessness does cause sickness (and a lot of other symptoms apparently).

These of course are the planes coming into commercial service next year, not yet designed and with no practical prototypes, whilst the A380 having taken off will finally be introduced at the same time, so perhaps we shouldn't be so harsh on a simple detail of airsickness.

I then had a thought about another comment he made - to go to Tokyo he would go 100 miles up. Now this is off the top of my head and I have not found a good source, but surely 100 miles is the very edge of the atmosphere and there is effectively no air there. A scram jet could not work at that altitude, it does need some air.

 
At May 18, 2005 2:27:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congrats to everyone here for the impressive debunking of Brown's "facts." I lost it early on in the scene where Langdon and Vittoria first arrive at the Vatican by helicopter. The pilot is suspicious of her cell phone, so he turns it on to determine that it has a dial tone. UGH. And now I'm supposed to believe anything else in this schlockfest?

 
At May 18, 2005 9:49:00 PM , Anonymous Dan Brown said...

you all SUCK!!!!... I am the greatest writer that has ever existed and i want you all to go to my website...not dan brown .com... i have a new one...www.freewebs.com/ibcool...i was to cheap to buy my own domain...

 
At May 20, 2005 1:02:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

you're the only full of shit one here and obviously extremely jealous of the genious that Dan Brown is! There is no denying he is one of the best writers alive, read the stats- YOU SUCK!

 
At May 20, 2005 1:21:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

My advice to you Danny is to get a life! When it comes down to it, it's a book, and a fucking good one at that, and there's no denying it.
If you don't like it, that's your opinion, and fortunately Danny, your opinion doesn't mean shit!
Ask the millions who did enjoy it.
Plus,one question, can you do any better? I think not- ASS!

 
At May 20, 2005 5:43:00 AM , Blogger Spenny said...

To make the point about this not being about the inaccuracies of the world of fiction, take another look at Dan Brown website

On the page titled Bizarre True Facts from ANGELS & DEMONS (which begs the question of what is an untrue fact):

NEW YORK TO TOKYO IN AN HOUR
The United States now has an aircraft that can travel at Mach 15 (over 10,000 mph.) The X-33 space plane cruises at an altitude of almost 100 miles high, on the edge of space. Although the X-33 is no longer classified, specifications of the X-34 (pictured to the left) remain secret. Aerospace specialists predict civilian passengers will be riding in planes like this by 2006.

The X-33 was only ever a test bed program.

From Wikipedia (article has NASA source link)

Construction of the prototype was some 85% complete when the program was cancelled by NASA in 2001, after a long series of technical difficulties including flight instability and excess weight.


From Wikipedia (article has NASA source link)

It [X-34] was intended to be an autonomous pilotless craft powered by a Fastrac rocket engine capable of reaching Mach 8, and performing 25 test flights per year. However the unpowered prototype had only been used for towing and captive flight tests when the project was cancelled in 2001 on cost grounds.

The Dan Brown web site also has a number of artists impressions being passed off as the real deal.

 
At May 25, 2005 7:36:00 PM , Anonymous GDaneUK said...

Some Excellent points. Like with the Davinci code, I quite enjoyed the book. The puzzles seemed a bit laboured but unlike TDVC where I have a pretty good knowledge of the places, I really have no knowledge of Rome so it all seemed interesting and so full of interesting facts. However, having no knowledge of Rome and reading all the above, I would be pretty hacked off if I went around Rome trying to follow the clues as facts. Anyway I digress, I had two points. One hit me straight away and spoiled the plot completely for me (mentioned above)and that was the stupid TV camera. How could it not have been tracked within a couple of minutes assuming by the signal it was sending. Seems a TV license detector van could have sorted that one out, or maybe they don't have them in Italy.
The other annoying bit was when the camerlengo put on the only parachute and jumped out of the helicopter. How come Langdon thought "Hmmmmmm now what was that useful fact someone told me on page 45 something about 20% slowdown.... now how big did it have to be and where can I find something just the right size..... and Hmmmmmm I am really glad Dan Brown established that the Tiber is Really Deep so if I land in it it will cushion my fall....." Instead of reacting like a normal human being and shouting "hey you bastard, if you are so holy why didn't you give me the bloody parachute!" Oh no, that might have increased the suspicion that the camerlengo wasn't all he was cracked up to be...... Oh well.

 
At May 27, 2005 7:51:00 PM , Anonymous Preacher Jim said...

This has all been enlightening, although, if you can ignore Brown's claims to be more factual than he really is, you can say, "Well, it is work of fiction." However, no one seemed to comment on what I thought was the greatest plot inconsistency ever. Any work of fiction requires the "suspension of disbelief," but it ought not to require the suspension of logic.

The great climax of this novel is that the carmalengo turns out to be the mastermind behind the murders, the theft of the antimatter, and the attempt to blame the Illuminati for it all. The carmalengo is not an art historian nor a scholar of the Illuminati nor of Galileo. How in heaven's name does he, then, have the knowledge and imagination to either understand or concoct the Path of Illumination as formulated in Galileo's book and demonstrated in the various Bernini works? And yet he sends the assassin to each of these locations, locations which require much arcane knowledge and thought by the expert in these subjects, Robert Langdon. Since, at the end, we are privy to the inner thoughts of the carmalengo, the one obvious solution - that the carmalengo really is Illuminati, and knows about the Path that way - must be discounted. So what is the explanation?

 
At May 31, 2005 4:19:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you really believe Dan Brown is a good writer, you need to read more. Just because he moves books doesn't make him a good writer.

 
At Jun 10, 2005 9:44:00 PM , Anonymous preacher jim said...

I would call that a nonsequitor, since in no way did I suggest that Dan Brown is a good writer. Go back and read what I said. While I don't slam him as much as you, I think my criticism is pretty obvious. . . . On the other hand, while I was reading it, it was a page turner, until it stopped making sense.

 
At Jun 15, 2005 4:15:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

From Amazon:

The narrative method of this book (and 'The DaVinci Code') may conform to the genre of thriller but that is NOT the point of either book. Attempting to judge it in terms of its adherence to the norms of the genre, or assessing its 'believability' sidelines the complex questions raised in the books about how and why Christian societies believe what they do, the interaction between individual and the institution, and the interaction between the past and present. Brown's books are highly aware of philosophical, psychological and traditional rationalisations of faith. They use the thriller genre to put forward ideas that would not normally sit easily in it, and, in doing so, the books transcend the reader's expectations in a wonderfully original and illuminating way. Brown is a deceptive author, cloathing his intelligence in unfamiliar garb and demanding many levels of deduction from the reader

Discuss ;)

 
At Jun 28, 2005 5:02:00 AM , Anonymous Flight said...

Why would the brilliant scientist, Vittoria Vetra, fear the Pope's 'mouth might be clenched tight with rigor mortis' 15 days after he died? And why on earth would Langdon be given CPR by Dr Jacobus when his heart was beating and he was still breathing? If you happen to fall into a river, just pray Dan Brown or his fans aren't around to administer First Aid.

 
At Jun 30, 2005 5:36:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought retina scans wouldn't work if the person was dead? Or in this case, eye cut out of socket - anyone?

 
At Jul 3, 2005 4:17:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

More hilarious and macaber stuff from A&D

1. Very little media coverage on papal election - yeah, right. See what happened on Spring 2005.

2.
Robert: "How was your day?"
Vittoria: "Well, to start off my father was brutally murdered and I was nearly raped and killed. Oh, then I witnessed a couple of other murders as well."
Robert: "I need to satisfy my manly needs so let's make love then"
Vittoria: "Ok"

Yeah, right...

 
At Jul 4, 2005 7:21:00 AM , Anonymous Maulòn said...

I live in Rome, and i'm italian. I just read that «Angels and Demons» story. It's all extremely implausible. I read it translated to italian, of course, so all «spellings» were obviously right in my version. I say «spellings», but, by the way, in our language every spelling corresponds to a pronunciation: e.g., «cappella» and «capella» are pronounced differently.

The most implausible things in the plot are the complex dialogues in english: italians who can do that -like me - are extremely rare (i need it because of international travel for work). English, here, is basicly a tool to access international information on the Web: very few people can actually speak some basic english, let alone complex english. In other words, english is a thing that can just be, to some extent, READ, here, not SPOKEN. Ask anybody who's actually been to Rome.

Alla prox, ciao.

 
At Jul 13, 2005 9:12:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why are the childish and laughable ambigraphs in English? They should be in Latin at least if the signs are so old the be keept in the Pope´s secret library? By the way I draw two ambigrams of my name and my wife's in just five minutes. That book is junk-literature.

 
At Jul 14, 2005 3:23:00 AM , Blogger Spenny said...

Yes, there are the big factual errors in the book, but then there are the slow burning irritations that also contribute to the feeling of being conned.

I'm not sure of the timing of when these objects were supposed to have been invented (not being interested in opening the book again!), but if it was in keeping with being 400 years ago, then patently the use of Englsih was a nonsense. Indeed, even if it was 50 years ago, an Italian based Catholic organisation using English - I don't think so. Another classic Brownism.

Whilst the ambigrams are clever, I also took issue with the idea of a design being declared impossible by experts. For a start Brown knows that they are not a well-known idea, so why would the world be full of experts who would know that a particular design was impossible (especially the word Illuminati which you just have to look at to see that it is nearly all vertical lines therefore trivial)? The technique is to use a variety of flourishes, so basically I doubt whether there is any combination of letters that cannot be turned into an ambigram with the appropriate talent.

 
At Jul 17, 2005 3:32:00 PM , Blogger donald said...

I loved all these comments. I enjoyed A & D and insisted my wife and son read it before we got to Rome this month. We had a good time seeing all the churches, Bernini statues, walked our tootsies off in the process, and had a lot of good laughs and Bronx cheers at the many errors, some of which we found, and our hats off to all of you who have done more sleuthing than we. I think Brown's editor should be branded with all six for allowing him to get away with all the stuff everyone has mentioned. But then, hey, it works for our government...

 
At Jul 19, 2005 9:07:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't mean to sound callous in this response, but you people need to relax. None of the "facts" you have identified as being innaccurate are listed as being "facts" in the book. There are very few items which the author submits as factually accurate (i.e., those items listed on one of the first pages regarding architecture and art). Other than those items, his novel is a work of FICTION. If you purchased a work of fiction intending to educate yourselves on world religion, secret societies or anything else, that was your first mistake. Why not stop reading fiction and go to the Reference section of a bookstore; it sounds like the majority of you would be better served. And its easy to sit here and pretend to have some sort of knowledge by picking apart the work of another. He just tried to write a story, not an accurate doctoral thesis. Again, I'm sure you all mean well...but you might as well be attempting to disect the "truths" behind the Spider man movies. If you're upset at the manner in which other people perceive the author's books, I suggest that you direct your anger at their stupidity, and not at the author of the fictional work of literature.

 
At Jul 19, 2005 9:31:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just posted under "annonymous" a few minutes ago (its stamped as the 2:07 PM entry). I usually don't post comments in any forums, but this one kills me. Have you all ever heard of creating "hype" around a product to sell it? Seems to me Dan Brown and his publishing co. did a good job with this book. (I assume you all bought it). Regardless of his claims of "fact," it is a work of fiction, which we ALL knew before we even picked it up. So the only ones to be mad at here are yourselves...why did you begin a work of fiction expecting a factual dissertation on any topic (I mean one guy even posted a comment on how a helicopter doesn't have "neutral"! - How dumb is that..who cares!?). The more I read what's posted here the more ridiculous the posts become. And where are all the citations to the sources everybody here used to do their "research?" All I see are a lot of conclusions with no support. Oh well...to each his (or her) own.

 
At Jul 23, 2005 5:06:00 AM , Anonymous Army1987 said...

Well, I'm Italian and I've only read the italian translation. Many errors were fixed there (obviously), including by adoration translated as per acclamazione.

As for the book, the plot is very good, as for the errors, some are just made to fit the plot (eg containing antimatter that way etc...), others are just pedantism (who would think about correcting Mach number because sound is slower in high atmosphere? or about wheter La Tazza D'Oro serves outdoors?) but other ones... Islamic language? Cell phone dial tone? Artificial insemination to avoid breaking the chastity? One mile in one minute -- do you have any idea of what is the traffic like in Rome? You may be almost more likely to take an HOUR to drive one mile... I wonder what he means by "research intensive". If you want to write a book in which chickens piss and have teeth, you're not expected to set it on the Earth.

 
At Aug 4, 2005 5:58:00 AM , Anonymous wiza said...

I thing anonymous did a really good job.. I spent hours poring over Rome maps to find 'Piazza de la Concorde' I think it's really Piazza Minerva

 
At Aug 6, 2005 10:25:00 AM , Anonymous JC said...

My cell phone has a dial tone. I live in Japan...Maybe European cell phones also have a dial tone?

 
At Aug 8, 2005 6:15:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

¿Cell phones? Ah, you mean MOBILE phones :-p

Sorry to disappoint you, but mobile phones don't have a dial tone in Europe.

Luis

 
At Aug 10, 2005 10:13:00 AM , Blogger Alf said...

Another error: The book says that Z particles have no mass, and were discovered five years ago (1995) by Vittoria's father.

Z particles do have mass. Actually, they have a lot: 100 times more massive than a proton. Even more massive than some atoms (like iron).

They were first time observed in 1983, but its existence were predicted much earlier (60s or 70s).

I explain it in more detail at my blog MalaCiencia (it's in Spanish).

 
At Aug 24, 2005 2:51:00 PM , Anonymous Max Biancofiore said...

I am an Italian guy that lives in London. As I've lived in England for 7 years now, English language as become as a second language, so I read books in English most of the times, but I still know what correct Italian is like.

In fact, I've just finished reading "Angel and Demons" and I was amazed at the fact that 95% (I'm not emphasizing) of his Italian quotes are wrong, badly speled, grammatically incorrect, and some of them make no sense whatsoever.

...and by the way. Nobody would ever call a Cardinal or a priest "Signore" (mister, or sir), but "Monsignore" for a Cardinal, or Father for either. Calling them Signore would be very diminishing.

Also, as far as I know there's no preferiti, and all adult male Catholics are eligible for papacy, not just Cardinals. There is no rule stopping a non Cardinal, non Priest to be elected Pope, even though it has never happened.

Max Biancofiore

 
At Aug 25, 2005 9:38:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have just a question... How can it take one hour to go from Boston to geneva fying at 17000 km/h ???
It's 7000 km far only... Ok let's say it takes time to take off and to land... but the author says that it's more than 10000 km a trip... I don't understand...

 
At Aug 27, 2005 5:43:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another mistake in the book which I haven't seen mentioned here so far: one of the four cardinals who have gone missing is a Cardinal Ebner from Frankfurt. Having a city assigned to his Cardinal title means that he would also have to be the (arch-) bishop of this city - and neither of the two major German cities called Frankfurt are one of the 27 German dioceses and even less one of the 7 archdioceses.

 
At Aug 29, 2005 11:13:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now perhaps Dan Brown has said that A&D's is factual.. none the less, it was still a great read. I could care less of the inaccurate accounts made here; however, as a reader. I look for a story line that does not want to make the reader put down the book. And this is what this story has done to me. It doesn't bother me if whether it was fiction/fact... who knows what's the truth these day's.

 
At Sep 2, 2005 2:23:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is nothing wrong when someone points out mistakes within a book -- but hey, attack the book, not the author! When I saw a large number of postings targeting Dan Brown the person (some bordering on hostility) I couldn't help but get a little upset. Some will say "he claimed things to be facts where they really were not so -- hence he deserves all of it". Yes, when I discovered these loopholes I too felt a little let down. But only 'a little'.

It took me 3 days to finish the book, and at least during this brief while I was involved, engrossed, entertained ... and without any time for the everyday worries, stress and boredom that plague most on and off. I weighed the drawbacks of the book against its sheer fun value, and the latter outweighed the former by a BIG margin. For this reason alone, I might criticise his book, but not attack him personally. Hey, what if he took all the caustic comments to heart and decided never to make his books THIS WILD again ... we'll be the ones losing out for sure.

Thank You, Mr. Brown, for the writing this book, for inspiring me to visit Italy some day, for making me think so much about religion, science, etc. Only, next time, consider working with your editor with just a little more care.

-- Tytbyts

 
At Sep 8, 2005 1:54:00 PM , Anonymous Sir Alec said...

1. if you say it is not your intentions to discuss the quality of writing.
EVERY single story/movie/novel has some kind of contradiction, or a seemingly obvious solution that would significantly shorten the plot.
even in life things can be overlooked. no matter how much of an expert you are in tense situations you might make mistakes, thats what people do.

there go half of those inaccuracies mentioned above.

2. this whole page is nothing short of a biased bash. high school like i might add. yes you found a lot of scientific inaccuracies yet you never mention ANY of the accuracies.
hardocre christians on here are bugging about the comunion, they presistantly overlook the FACT about christinaty, being a conquering religion, being based almost entirely on previous religions. not to mention it was promoted like a club party on a fri night - the more the marrier. (waving bread to starving children in africa. no jesus=no bread)
"the actual choice of December 25 for Christmas was made under the Emperor Aurelian because this was the date of the Winter Solstice and was the day devotees of Mithras celebrated the dies natalis solis invicti (birthday of the invincible sun).

Mithraism, like Christianity, offers salvation to its adherents. Mithras was born into the world to save humanity from evil. Both figures ascended in human form, Mithras to wield the sun chariot, Christ to Heaven. The following summarizes the aspects of Mithraism that are also found in Christianity."

link : http://ancienthistory.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?zi=1/XJ&sdn=ancienthistory&zu=http%3A%2F%2Fanswering-islam.org%2FPagan%2Fdhia.html


to sum it all up . deeming the book to be entirely false is just as dangerous as saying the book is entirely factual.
if your intentions would be anything but bashing , if you would truly care about the truth you would :
A. not ever point out the faults in the plot that you will never be able to prove faulty (the black woman was never declared british)
that would help accentuate whats really important. and filter out the useless garbage you came up with.
B. you would not take mistakes out of context, you would present them side by side with EQUALLY important facts that are mentioned in correspondence.

everything you said , short of those times when you presneted a link, is bashing . if i wouldnt know better i would think your wife left you for dan brown.

*when i say you , i say all of you.

 
At Sep 8, 2005 2:06:00 PM , Anonymous Sir Alec said...

another short comment on the whole christianity bit.
you mention how the communion is not borrowed from the aztecs. yet just a few words before brown mentions euhemerus, and of course you let that one slide .

link : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euhemerus#Euhemerism_and_the_Early_Christians

 
At Sep 9, 2005 6:20:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

"in fact, the current uniforms were designed by Jules Repond in the early 20th century. Langdon (and Brown) also gets the requirements wrong. Applicants must be at least 174 cm (68.5 inches, or a bit over 5'8")."

1 inch = 2,54 centimeters
174:2,54 = 68,5
68,5:12 = 5,7 = 5' 7"

Go back to school, you stupid dipshit.

 
At Sep 9, 2005 9:41:00 AM , Blogger Danny said...

No, 68.5 inches is just over five feet, eight inches. There are twelve inches in a foot. 60 inches is five feet. Eight more inches brings you to 5'8".

Based on the time you posted and your use of commas, I'm guessing that you're from Europe, which might explain your ignorance of how feet and inches work...

 
At Sep 9, 2005 11:10:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sir Alec etc.

Firstly, you must realise that this list is not the work of one person but is contributions, some more worthy than others, by a number of people.

It is wrong to say it is not meant to be an attack on Dan Brown, it very clearly is, to quote from the introduction:

My goal here is convince people that you shouldn't believe any of Dan Brown's factual assertions. He gets some stuff right, but he's wrong just as often as he's right. Go ahead and read his novels for fun. But don't trust a single word he's saying without doing further reading. Brown's either incompetent or careless. In either case, he insults his readers by getting so much wrong. It's amateurish, and he should be castigated for it.

That has been on this page from the very beginning, and you will find that the theme running through this page is that there is something that Dan does that does make for something that is readable, but there are too many mistakes to accept the assertion made by the author both in the book, and repeatedly on his web site and in interviews that he is some sort of qualified, quality researcher.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a school of thought that somehow it is quite ok to spout nonsense and yet because you enjoy the book Dan is immune from criticism of his facts.

To be contentious, there seems to be a correlation between the inability of posters to write in grammatical English (language issues and typos excepted), use of abuse of other posters and general lack of general knowledge and their support for Dan Brown.

Ho, hum. (Oh, and nice to see you back Dan).

 
At Sep 10, 2005 3:31:00 AM , Anonymous Air Alec said...

there seems to be a correlation between the anal conceit and the bashful criticism.

you see you can be as verbose as you want. you can be as anal and vain as you want. you can keep attacking my english skills, even though it is my 3rd language (so i doubt you can even begin comparing yourslef to me).
let me guess, i am talking to a hill billy who never been outside the limits of his home town.

the fact you purposely avoided my point just serves my argument.

only by discussing the book in an objective manner, by paying respect where respect is due you can be taken seriously.

you are being spiteful and anal. the author of this page is trying to get nothing but volume . he is not concerned with the quality of the arguments.
as you mentioned yourself , his only purpose is to prove dan browns work as not worthy. so he uses every dirty trick in the book (no pun intended) to achieve that goal.

again . leave out the plot twists , this is not about writing skills . it doesnt fucking matter if the camera could be located or not. concentrate on facts , BOTH on accuracies and on mistakes. such as 20 kiloton was droped on nagasaki not hiroshima. 25th of december IS Conquering Sun.
such references to such stories as St Agnes or Daedalus and his labyrinth are ignored. why not skip those and concentrate on the fact that the woman is PROBABLY british and dan brown didnt make it crystal clear that she is American so he had no right to call her african american.....what rubbish...

being objective is the only way to gain respect. what you people do is pathetic, it is probably the byproduct of pure jealousy.
as was said before - get a fucking life.

 
At Sep 10, 2005 8:23:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alec,

I am disappointed that you have chosen to respond in that vein. I am well aware of the language issues and clearly intended to make allowance for that. To be clear, the correlation comment was more aimed at the mathematically challenged poster following, than you.

However, you demand that people must be objective, yet you cannot demonstrate that same ability yourself. Instead you seek to define the limits of what is valid for people to debate. You could have posted neutrally, saying this is what Dan did get right, but instead you chose to use this to claim the basis for this page was invalid.

You have a valid point, which has been made and accepted by both "sides", that a work of fiction that entertains is a worthy contribution to the world.

Sure, there are many small points made by a variety of people which by themselves are petty.

What I can't agree with is that you can suggest that it is only appropriate to attack the book, not the author. The fundamental issue is not the quality of the book, which is an interesting mix of writing of debatable quality and pace and page turning ability (take a look at Amazon reviews and that is quite a common theme) but the author's deliberate, repreated policy of supporting the factual nature of the book.Put another way, if Dan Brown came on TV and said, "Hey, I'm only having fun here" then this page would not be here, but in fact the problem is that Dan Brown himself more fits your profile than I do.

What is interesting is that although the critisms of fact, however anal, are valid, the response is to shoot the messenger. I am sure that there are plenty of Dan Brown fans who would read this and say, you've got a point but who cares? What I take issue with are those who say either "Dan Brown is right" because they know no better, or ignore Dan Brown's assertion of the factual basis of his book and use the "it's just a book" stance to claim some right of sanctuary against those assertions made outside the context of a work of fiction.

That last point is the issue of this page. Dan Brown deliberately used the "fact" stance as part of selling his books. How can it be a valid position that one party to an argument can make public statements claiming the factual accuracy of his books, yet you say that we are somehow not allowed to address that issue?

In terms of editing the page, I think what you should view is the Wikipedia entry which represents an edited view, sourced from this page in part. You misunderstand blogs if you think that there is a requirement of Dan to reject comments from people who pick up on what you view of minor points.

I don't think your point was intended to be evaded, hence the specific quote. The point is how can you be informed by this book when, as an uninformed reader, you have not the background to distinguish between the accurate and inaccurate?

Signed well travelled graduate of mature years, with no ability in any language than my native tongue.

 
At Sep 10, 2005 8:23:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alec,

I am disappointed that you have chosen to respond in that vein. I am well aware of the language issues and clearly intended to make allowance for that. To be clear, the correlation comment was more aimed at the mathematically challenged poster following, than you.

However, you demand that people must be objective, yet you cannot demonstrate that same ability yourself. Instead you seek to define the limits of what is valid for people to debate. You could have posted neutrally, saying this is what Dan did get right, but instead you chose to use this to claim the basis for this page was invalid.

You have a valid point, which has been made and accepted by both "sides", that a work of fiction that entertains is a worthy contribution to the world.

Sure, there are many small points made by a variety of people which by themselves are petty.

What I can't agree with is that you can suggest that it is only appropriate to attack the book, not the author. The fundamental issue is not the quality of the book, which is an interesting mix of writing of debatable quality and pace and page turning ability (take a look at Amazon reviews and that is quite a common theme) but the author's deliberate, repreated policy of supporting the factual nature of the book.Put another way, if Dan Brown came on TV and said, "Hey, I'm only having fun here" then this page would not be here, but in fact the problem is that Dan Brown himself more fits your profile than I do.

What is interesting is that although the critisms of fact, however anal, are valid, the response is to shoot the messenger. I am sure that there are plenty of Dan Brown fans who would read this and say, you've got a point but who cares? What I take issue with are those who say either "Dan Brown is right" because they know no better, or ignore Dan Brown's assertion of the factual basis of his book and use the "it's just a book" stance to claim some right of sanctuary against those assertions made outside the context of a work of fiction.

That last point is the issue of this page. Dan Brown deliberately used the "fact" stance as part of selling his books. How can it be a valid position that one party to an argument can make public statements claiming the factual accuracy of his books, yet you say that we are somehow not allowed to address that issue?

In terms of editing the page, I think what you should view is the Wikipedia entry which represents an edited view, sourced from this page in part. You misunderstand blogs if you think that there is a requirement of Dan to reject comments from people who pick up on what you view of minor points.

I don't think your point was intended to be evaded, hence the specific quote. The point is how can you be informed by this book when, as an uninformed reader, you have not the background to distinguish between the accurate and inaccurate?

Signed well travelled graduate of mature years, with no ability in any language than my native tongue.

 
At Sep 12, 2005 3:42:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

.

 
At Sep 13, 2005 3:15:00 AM , Anonymous Sir Alec said...

"I am disappointed that you have chosen to respond in that vein"

i do not like when people are being condescending. in your response to me you wrote "there seems to be a correlation between the inability of posters to write in grammatical English..."

if i have missunderstood your intention, even though i dont see how, i appologize for my harshness.

"You could have posted neutrally, saying this is what Dan did get right"
we have here listed the factual inacuracies alongisde with plot contradictions. if i would follwo that logic of pointing out all the thinsg he got right plus all the corresponding plof developments i would have to copy nearly 600 pages of the book.

"You have a valid point...that a work of fiction that entertains is a worthy contribution to the world."
i have NEVER made that point.

"What I can't agree with is that you can suggest that it is only appropriate to attack the book, not the author"
i do not suggest that

""Dan Brown is right" ... " "it's just a book" "
even though you were not addressing me directly i would liek to point out that i do not belong to either of those groups.
the book HAS facts in it. this is his selling point . he never said that it is entirely factual. people who care solely about a good read would not be affected by the inaccuracies . however curious people who seek knowlege will read the book and do further documentary resaerch on the subject of their interest.


if you look at your post , most of the time you were putting words in my mouth, sort of creating and forming the the opinions of teh person you are debating with . why did you chose that form of an argument ?

in order for people not to actually think that what i believe in is what you described i believe in , i have ot repeat myself:

the book HAS inaccuracies
also it contains a lot of facts

this is coming from a person who researched nearly every factual reference .

i do not like fiction. amongst fiction this book, due to its factual nature, stands out like snowhite in a goth club. HOWEVER if you intend to draw some of the presented information to your regular reservoir, it is obvious you crave knowlege. thus it would be most beneficial if you would do further reading on whichever matter at hand before bringing it up at a dinner table.

if we are talking about people who actually seek information i highly doubt anybody would suffice with just reading the book, so my suggestion is obsolete.

all in all its a great book
i wish people here would do some good by presenting a list of facts and mistakes. and leave out the petty arguments (especially about the ones about the plot, since the whole argument is about teh factual nature of teh book), what would minimize this page to about 30% of its currnet volume.
instead people are bitching and moaning about the marketing technique used to promote the book. if some one is a retard then he will read this book as a college text book no matter what.
how about you guys go make another page about how bill gates makes MS products to be incompatbile with the ones of other companies.

 
At Sep 14, 2005 1:03:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just for the record, I enjoyed reading A&D. Parts of it were really annoying to read, yes, but all the same, it was a quick, interesting read.

That being said, I don't know enough about science and art history to be able to point out inaccuracies, which is why this blog has been a great read. For those of you that can't stop criticizing this blog - please shut up and go read another blog. Some of us are here simply to learn and expand our minds.

 
At Sep 14, 2005 4:15:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alec,

I apologise that I have mixed up two postings and attributed things to you which were other postings. That was careless of me.

I think your reply makes a reasonable point; any disagreements on it have already been put for people to read.

To repeat, just to be clear, I hope you understand that I have never intended to criticise the English of foreign speakers in this blog - indeed there are some very impressive contributions from all sorts of sources. (The use of Alec etc. in the original was a careless way of meaning that the post was addressing the recent posters).

To address your point, I don't think anyone would pick up the book intending to gain an education - I agree with you strongly - but there are enough people posting comments on the likes of Amazon, and making comments elsewhere to give the impression that readers think they have received one afterwards. Why would they think that? It is because the book tells them that they need look no further.

Should this blog be balanced to be most useful? I don't think so, I still think it serves its purpose; it redresses an imbalance. If others wish to add things that are right to defend him, that is all possible, as is creating their own blog.

 
At Sep 16, 2005 12:24:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone noticed when they finally reach "demon's hole" in Chigi's Chapel, they say that the corpse they are looking at is that of Leonardo Vetra, not the first cardinal?

How could the author, editors or anyone else for that matter have missed that?

 
At Sep 28, 2005 12:22:00 PM , Anonymous Silas said...

What gets me about Dan Brown is not the affectation of how factual his book is, but the remarkable level of ignorance he displays about stuff you shouldn't need to be that much of an expert on.

People have defended Brown on the basis that he's a "good writer" or at least that he wrote a good book. But for me it's not just a matter of factual inaccuracy, or even whether he writes bad dialogue or characterisation. There are ways of writing good techno-thrillers, and Dan Brown is seemingly blissfully unaware of them.

For the masterclass in writing the fact-based thriller, look no further than Frederick Forsyth. If you want to read what is really involved with being a hired assassin, read The Day Of The Jackal. If you want to find out how to be a hostage negotiator, read The Negotiator. Forsyth evidently researches his books by actually talking to real people who are involved in these fields.

The principal trick that Forsyth uses is to make all his protagonists fairly intelligent and well-read, on the basis that his readers are as well. Brown assumes his readers are as ignorant as he is, and he makes his protagonists that ignorant as well. For example, it's quite hard for me to accept that a full Professor at Harvard, even in an Arts discipline, hasn't ever heard of CERN. Most people won't have heard of it, I accept, but not in an academic environment where he's likely to mix with scientists, surely? Let alone that the equation E=mc-squared comes as a complete surprise to him. Then again, the idea that one could get to the level of Director at one of the most elite research institutes in the world and yet not have enough everyday knowledge of the world to have even heard the word "Illuminati", simply beggars belief. Again, a cursory look at a physics textbook will tell you all you need to know about matter and anti-matter. That the clerical scientist had succeeded in creating a ¼ gramme of anti-matter is something that would possibly surprise the Director (although more likely is the sudden understanding of why his electricity bills had lately been of the order of the GDP of Brazil). That it is possible to create matter out of energy would certainly NOT be a surprise to him.

Freddie Forsyth would have given Langdon at least an intelligent layman's knowledge of physics - so that HE would have mentioned E=mc-squared, for example - and then let the top-notch physicist tell him the stuff he might not know about, such as the ability to create matter and anti-matter out of pure energy. That way the reader is made to feel that she's quite a bright person herself, but she's also learning something new. This is "techno-thriller writing 101".

And this applies to religious esoterica as much as matters of hard scientific fact. Who cares if the system of papal voting doesn't exactly match the reality? And just because the Devil's Advocate for beatification/canonisation isn't the same man as vets the applicants for pope, there clearly has to be some kind of vetting. But to make, as your major plot point, the idea that a priest would have a child with a nun but that, simply because he hadn't put his sausage into her hairy place the two of them would not be considered as having committed a fairly heinous sin, is utterly preposterous on the face of it! I did not know, for example, that Catholic doctrine has outlawed in vitro or other artificial forms of insemination and fertilisation. It seems to me that you could go either way with that. But priests and nuns are celibate not because there's something inherently sinful in the physical act - the Catholic Church very obviously has nothing against the physical act at all - but because they are supposed to dedicate their lives to God. If a priest falls in love with a nun, then, ANY kind of physical expression or culmination of that relationship is obviously going to be sinful. That the expression is actually bringing a child into the world is obviously deeply sinful. That the act actually consists of a second Virgin Birth would be outright blasphemy! So the idea of a priest having become a father in this way, that this is discovered by a leading Cardinal, and that this Cardinal would remotely consider that the only sin involved would be if they had had sex and that therefore the man is completely eligible for the Papacy, goes well beyond stretching credibility - it is utterly laughable. Look at it a different way: the Church is no different from any other form of politics. What matters is not even if a sin was committed - what matters is "How will it look if it comes out?" And on that basis alone Brown's plot fails to make the grade.

Dan Brown thanks his editors so effusively that I can't believe that he doesn't work as closely with them as has been suggested above - but it is clear that, unlike the book editors I've heard of from other sources, Brown's are as utterly ignorant as he is. The Aztec boob stood out like a big purple pustule on the end of the proverbial sore thumb, yet nobody noticed it.

I don't know what Dan Brown does when he does his "research", but his books would have a tenth as many howlers in them if he did what most other authors do, and have the manuscripts checked by experts - or at least people moderately well read in the various subjects covered. Or at the very least, someone who has been to Rome and can tell him that lonely unseen murders cannot take place in fountains the middle of public squares.

By the way, there's a small error in one of the corrections above - Bush House is not the traditional headquarters of the BBC, it's the home of the BBC World Service. The headquarters of the BBC overall are at Broadcasting House, which is precisely as he described it - except that it's due north, not due east, and it's Oxford Circus not Piccadilly Circus. Wrong Circus - wrong direction. DB needs better maps. Well, that's been said often enough, I think.

(I did not realise I'd end up writing a thousand words on this subject - apologies.. Silas)

 
At Sep 28, 2005 2:33:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't find errors in "fictional" part of the book such as X-33 plane,the ambigrams or even the Illuminati. But its rather IMPORTANT to see the TRUTH of christianity which is merely focusing on
conversions,critisizing others' "GODS". Christianity has always critisized scientific achievements from its begining,thats why western world has turned towards atheism,Buddhism etc. You should extract the MEANING of the book.
[shridhan@gmail.com]

 
At Sep 29, 2005 3:50:00 AM , Blogger Spenny said...

I'm not really sure I can follow the logic of ignoring demonstrable errors and accepting the underlying "philosophy".

- DB the English teacher who has problems writing good English.
- DB the brilliant researcher who makes basic errors.
- DB who demonstrates a lack of understanding of the basic tenants of the Catholic faith.

...but, we shouild ignore all that and give praise to DB for highlighting the problems of the Church vs. Science?

There is clearly a long history here, but I don't think DB has established any credibility that we should take his opinions on this matter, as reflected through this book, as any more valid than on the other topics.

 
At Oct 11, 2005 11:50:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe I have overlooked many other points because what I read was a (fairly bad) Portuguese translation, but it is hard to accept: that all Italian monuments are said to be correctly described and then you go Alpha Romeo (could it be a Phiat? or even a Phord?); and that(even considering the ambigrams are written in English) the word "diamond" is used as a synonym for rhombus or lozenge, which it is not in any of the relevant languages (well, it is a synonym in Japanese, too...).

 
At Oct 12, 2005 6:00:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blame his translator - the Alfa is correctly spelled in the original book.

 
At Oct 22, 2005 6:01:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enjoyed your Dan Brown Angels and Demons error list although I ran out of energy a small way in. Another two errors very early in the book are:

Kohler explains GUT is General Unified Theory. As any physicist , let alone the Head of CERN, will tell you its either Grand Unification Theory (the commonest form) or Grand Unified Theory http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_unified_theory.

The pilot of the X33 explains Langdon's nausea deplanning in Geneva as "Altitude sickness. We were at sixty thousand feet". This might come as a surprise to the many passenger who crossed the Atlantic at 60,000ft in Concorde ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concorde) in comfort and luxury. Not to mention the fact that there is no turbulence at 60,000ft which is the result of winds lower down in the atmosphere where most passenger jets fly.

Tony

 
At Oct 23, 2005 12:10:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've just read the German translation (the title of which is "Illuminati"...), and I noted a blatant error that I didn't read here. While there are general problems with timing (too much happens in too little time), there is one point where this involves a "hard" error:

In the beginning of chapter 107 (p. 537 in the Bastei-Lübbe hardcover) I read "Dreiundzwanzig Minuten nach elf." ("Twenty-three minutes past eleven."). Langdon is still outside the Castel Sant'Angelo. Later, in chapter 110 (p. 557) I read "Dreiundzwanzig Uhr dreiundzwanzig." ("Twenty-three hours and twenty-three."), so the same minute. But in the meantime, Langdon descended the spiral path, discovered the entrance, walked up the stairs, fought with the assassin, who finally fell to his death.

Perhaps this error is present only in the German translation, though (in which btw. a few of the problems reported here have been fixed).

regards
Wolfgang

 
At Oct 25, 2005 1:45:00 PM , Blogger Spenny said...

The time at the beginning of chapter 107 is 11:12pm so no cigar, I'm afraid - however, in chapter 109 it was past 11:15pm, a page of text later, 11:23pm. Mind you he did have a rather busy three minutes on the preceding pages, so we'll call it a draw ;)

 
At Oct 30, 2005 4:43:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Dear Spenny

you are right saying that one shud not accept errors and understand "philosophy" behind it.

But Dan Brown has just given examples and NOT ALL REALITY.

But what the Church did to Galieleo, Copernicus, Newton is real.
Church has never been good friend of scientists and those who differ from its "principles or morals". I dont think Church still says Earth is flat.

I think one shud not have any problems
in absorbing FACTS.

 
At Oct 31, 2005 12:12:00 PM , Anonymous Laugh? I nearly cried! said...

Going back to glaring pieces of nonsense, my personal favourite comes from Lieutenant whats-his-name of the Swiss Guard who describes the Basilica as being so many times the length of an "Olympic soccer field". Now that may sound plausible to those on the wrong side of the Atlantic but no European would ever talk about "soccer". Over here it's football, futbol, futbal, futebol, fitba or something along those lines. Soccer is what Americans play.
Worse than that is the guff about "Olympic" sized. I've never heard of anything other than swimming pools being Olympic sized. The bodies that govern football are FIFA, UEFA and the other continental bodies, they even govern Olympic football. Olympic football is about as relevant as college baseball is to the World Series, it's for players under 21 and hardly anyone cares about it, not that I'd expect Mr Brown to bother finding out.

 
At Nov 1, 2005 12:57:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its pointless to find errors like futbol or soccer. That american will understand soccer rather than futbol.

And why are you all re-researching what Dan Brown has written. Also not everyone goes that deep. Most enjoy his book and believe what they want to believe.

Everything in his book may not be right, but that doesnt change the story, which is CHURCH and CHRISTIANITY was & is no good(which is the nutshell of all).

 
At Nov 1, 2005 3:42:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah! You are Philip Pulman and I claim my $10.

 
At Nov 2, 2005 6:01:00 PM , Anonymous Bo Lundin said...

Looking for quite other things I stumbled upon http://www.romeartlover.it/Brown.html
where a Rome expert comments on Dan Brown's use of Rome and Roman "facts". I recommend a visit – both to the site and to Rome.
/Bo Lundin

 
At Nov 17, 2005 1:35:00 PM , Blogger JMA said...

TWO ANOTHER MISTAKES:

HELIPORT STANDS AT SOUTHEAST OF VATICAN CITY and not "at noroest of vatican city" as Dan wrote.

Butane is not liquid in PTN... and butane is not have smell... like Dan Brown told in story.

JA

 
At Nov 19, 2005 1:22:00 PM , Blogger +voodoochild+ said...

interesting ideas... i never realized the errors of DB... thanks for the informative posts!!

 
At Nov 19, 2005 4:38:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good novel. It was hilarous. A few thing:

1) If you remove someone eye, the retina shouldn't come with the eyeball (attached to the optical nerve). Even it the retina is also cut, I don't think the retina scan would work.

2) Vetra and his daughter produce anti-matter without the knowledge of anyone at the CERN (using a billion dollars accelerator). Non-sense, in those large laboratory, you cannot hardly push a button without a lot of approbation.

3) Anti-matter annihilation at CERN. Only a tainted plexiglas protect everyone. The annihilation should produce x-ray and gamma, plexiglass is not a good protection.

4) The wireless camera have a GPS. They don't use this approch to find the camera claiming it will take several days. How come? Were can I buy such a camera? Super resolution, I a dark aera, you can see clearly the droplet, the CERN written on the container, etc.

The best one:

5) The fax receive by Langdon at the beginning. Anyone receive a photo in a fax? How can I see all those detail cleary, especially the ambigram?

 
At Nov 22, 2005 12:22:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

What you need to understand is that the story is FICTION. Fiction means the author does not have to get everything right. And besides why don't you write your own story and let us condemnfor your lack of "accuracy."

 
At Nov 28, 2005 9:33:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

well i guess dan brown has made more than a few enemies after DVC that even A&D is also attacked by these PURISTS lol

 
At Nov 28, 2005 9:38:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now perhaps Dan Brown has said that A&D's is factual.. none the less, it was still a great read. I could care less of the inaccurate accounts made here; however, as a reader. I look for a story line that does not want to make the reader put down the book. And this is what this story has done to me. It doesn't bother me if whether it was fiction/fact... who knows what's the truth these day's.
-----------
very well said. and hard to accept by those anti dan brownists lol

 
At Nov 29, 2005 1:07:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I truly emjoyed reading this page. I have read A&D, in my defence I must say that the book was on sale, and found it apalling. Apart from the bad language, it seems that Dan Brown assumes that his readers are idiots without the slightest grasp on logic and common sense.
What really cracks me up is the sentence under the heading Facts. "Antimatter creates no pollution or radiation..."
I don't know what schools Dan Brown went to, but already in my eight year of school I was supposed to know that light is radiation. And only a few years after I was supposed to know that much of the energy output of matter/antimatter annihalation is gammaradiation which even Dan Brown must accept as radiation.
It has been mentioned here before, but starting a book based mostly upon facts (his words) with a so amazing error is just hilarious.
How can he even claim to be serious?

 
At Nov 29, 2005 3:03:00 PM , Blogger Stewart said...

I've not read Angels & Demons having considered The Da Vinci Code to be enough of a dumbed down piece of a crap for one lifetime.

Reading over this, and it has been informative, I applaud those who have listed falsehoods, inconsistencies, and illogical actions for their efforts and I see that Brown is inherently bad and beyond literary redemption. Still, with all the money he has made he can now afford to send himself on a creative writing class.

I've experienced a certain mirth at the majority of those who come here to defend Dan Brown and his work when, all things considered, they have no argument and, as is obvious, little experience of books. A Dan Brown book is, most likely, all they've experienced in recent years and it's a sad state of affairs for book lovers when they see this sort of crap hitting the shelves.

It's no surprise, I should think, that most of those who use the "it's fiction, get over it!" line of thought are those who don't stand up and be counted but, like most who don't really have a clue what they are talking about, go under the monicker of 'Anonymous

 
At Nov 30, 2005 6:26:00 AM , Blogger Maximilianus said...

Two mistakes I found in the Da Vinci Code:
1. Secretariat Vaticana, referred to a single person, means nothing. Secretaria Vaticana is latin and is referred to a group.
2. "The latin word haereticus means choice". False. Haeresis means choice, in greek. Haereticus simply means heretic.

 
At Nov 30, 2005 9:08:00 AM , Blogger chicagopeteinrio said...

I'm currently reading A&D and enjoying the book even though I recognize it's not great literature and I wouldn't use it as a reference book for my tour of Rome. I enjoyed reading this blog as well to learn a little more about the truth of certain matters but I just wanted to make two comments. First, some people should lighten up even if they hated DB and his books. The blogger who wrote the following: "68,5:12 = 5,7 = 5' 7" Go back to school, you stupid dipshit.
# posted by Anonymous : 11:20 AM" looks pretty bad with this insulting remark when he can't even divide 68,6 by 12. Second, I loved this one: "If you want to write a book in which chickens piss and have teeth, you're not expected to set it on the Earth.
# posted by Army1987 : 10:06 AM" Is it true that chickens don't piss? Being a city boy the question never occurred to me but it's a fascinating thought. Oh, well, at least DB has a lot of people talking about things - that's got to be worth something.

 
At Dec 9, 2005 7:41:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey! Get a life.

 
At Dec 11, 2005 6:41:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The bible is as full of errors as Dan Brown's book.

 
At Dec 12, 2005 8:11:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

My god, you are so pathetic. All authors make mistakes with their work. The bible has so many mistakes (thanks to whomever it was that pointed that out) that it is almost laughable. Some parts of the bible have so many grammatical errors that it makes me sit down and laugh at Christianity. Stupid silly Christians! Look at Dan Brown's books as works of fiction, rather than as fact (to anyone with even half a brain this should be obvious. Of course, the original author of this article is still being discussed in a committee as to whether he even has a medulla or cerebellum in his brain.). Dan Brown is an extremely gifted individual, and he breathes life into every character that he creates. His characters are dynamic and constantly changing, and it isn't as if their actions are predictable. Also, references to plants are not expected to be perfect. If you were looking for the exact location of a edelweiss plant and where it can be found, I would suggest reading a book about botany, not one that is categorized as "fiction." And you don't have to use the map in the book to find your way around the city. That would be idiotic. My overall point is to stop looking for every single flaw in the novels. If that is how you find joy in your life, then I pity you. The purpose of reading is not to find flaws in the book, but to enjoy the themes and plot in the book and finish it with a sense of fulfillment. And I can definitely say that I was fulfilled when I finished reading Brown's novels. And so was everybody else (save for a few unfortunate misfits).

 
At Dec 13, 2005 4:22:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

niggerish

 
At Dec 14, 2005 4:35:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's why the bok is fictional!!! Not everything is 100%! Especially how they made so much antimatter, and all the other crap! I don't see you writing novels that end up at the top of best seller lists!

 
At Dec 17, 2005 4:48:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

If, say, Dan Brown had allowed President Roseveldt to comment on the moon landing, placed Times Square in New Orleans and written about the nice view from the Statue of Liberty over Golden Gate, would all these US readers have been as prepared to allow him the right to transform geography and history as he pleased? Or could it be that these readers care nothing at all for facts, as long as the "facts" deal with things long ago and far away?

We'll get our chance if Brown ever finishes his next work, which takes place in Washington D.C.

I'm looking forward to it. :)

 
At Dec 20, 2005 11:56:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

my question is, have any of you knuckleheads ever gone out and had fun - and not sat here all night bitching about a well written book. HEY, at least it's not Danielle Steele? Right?

Good book, author's purpose served - he made you think. Are you guys breaking down the legitmacy of The Godfather next? Or Blue's Clues? Backyardigans? Pooh?

NEXT ON SUPER CRITICAL BOOK BLOG LINE: We break down Tom Clancy, is the RAINBOW 6 really gay?

Come on out, we have a beer for you.

JB

 
At Dec 25, 2005 2:01:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a book! You spend many hours critisizing what you cannot obtain. You are no famous author, a sore spot in your life I'm sure. Why spend so much time on this subject, movies come out every Friday with much worse factual innaccuracies. Get a life.

 
At Dec 25, 2005 7:37:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

All I can say is wow.

After reading DVC, I was amazed at DB's fountain of knowledge. And I went on to read A&D. Being the ignoramus that I am, I took everything at face value; accepted everything DB wrote. And now, having taken a full hour and half, I have been enlightened.

Make no mistake, DB writes a very intriguing plot (granted, both of his books are in formulaic and repetitive essence, so his books are bound to get very boring indeed), and so far they've been great reads. However, what DB sells out on are the facts he has Langston tell. The 'facts' serve as filler and make the book very interesting, as a person tends to think (as I did) that they are getting an education. It is in this way, that DB's books are great to read.

So I applaud all you who do all this research and contribute to this site. You have disillusioned many, and will continue to do so in the future.

And seriously, to all you who care more about plot than facts, ever read 1984? A prime example; the government plays with the common populace, who get so drunk on 'fun' government activities and propaganda that they become deluded and blind to the real world. That's what happens when people start caring more about what satisfies them rather than reality.

A&D and DVC are good books, but I'd be on my guard for any falsehoods coming my way.

 
At Dec 28, 2005 10:21:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read the novel a long time before the Da Vinci craze hit and must say I was rather frustrated with the inaccuracies within the text.

First, the level of Italian employed in the text would not even be expected of the most ignorant of Italian speakers. The grammatical errors amazed me. Consider that Dan Brown is writing in the US where I am certain there are hundreds if not thousands of people he could have consulted. Even your average child could spot the mistakes. Most sentences made no sense whatsoever. Generally, I am against these little inserts that do nothing whatsoever for the book, however, if he was so compelled to add these tidbits in italian i would like to hope he atleast did some background work and not just use an internet trasnaletor! (A splendid idea would have been to read Eco's "A Rat or a Mouse" rather than plagiarise "Foucault's Pendulum"!!!!)

ps Sant'Angelo does not refer to either Angels or Holy angels but rather Saint Angelo

 
At Dec 29, 2005 3:48:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know that this is a pretty old article at this point, but I just finished reading the book and was looking for further reading on Brown's subjects.

I think I've deciphered his statement about documents and hearsay being the "symbolic equivalent" of fossils. Langdon is a "symbologist," so I think that when he says "symbolic equivalent" he means "symbologic equivalent"--a sybologist's fossils. He's not trying to say that documents are symbolic of something else.

 
At Dec 29, 2005 4:12:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Additionally, I have a possible explanation for Meredith's grievance (that the camerlengo's in vitro origins violated Catholic dogma as much as breaking a vow of celebacy would).

I tried and failed to find the first occasion that the Catholic Church defined in vitro as a sin, but it is conceivable that at the time the procedure was performed to produce the camerlengo, it had not yet been banned. Unless the edict by the Church was retroactive, the camerlengo's dad would've been free and clear.

 
At Dec 30, 2005 10:11:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment will not add much to the discussion, but I just wanted to give you a virtual pat-on-the-back for the patience and fortitude you have shown when dealing with the floods of Dan Brown groupies who drop by on a mission, in quasi-religious ecstasy, with no other objective than to be rude, annoying and intentionally oblivious to The Point of the blog comments.

If these people are unable to grasp the objective of this blog-entry, even after it has been blatantly posted at the top of the page, and then carefully explained again and again in terms even a 2 year-old could understand, they are merely doing a disservice to themselves by revealing their severe intellectual limitations where reading comprehension is concerned.

Congrats on your powers of observation and of critical reasoning!

 
At Jan 1, 2006 11:10:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

dan brown made me lose a trivial pursuit game with his inaccuracy: the question was: how many helicopters and planes does the pope own. thinking of his book 'angels and demons' I answered: one helicopter. the correct answer was: none. the pope owns no aircrafts.

 
At Jan 3, 2006 10:30:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my fucking god. Would you people stop bitching for FUCK sakes! I remember reading a comment in here where an anonymous said that it's a piece of fiction and only claims a few things factual. You don't have to point out everything he got wrong. You stupid pieces of shit. He claimed a few things were factual that's it! You can bash him on those things but nothing more. Anything else is mindless dribble and a waste of your own and other people's time. Like he claimed some things about antimatter we true or the things listed on his site under bizarre but true facts or the map he has in the book. But that is about all you can comment on! He didn't say anything else was true so keep all your comments to yourself. IT WAS A GOOD BOOK! AND FUCKING FICTIONAL!

 
At Jan 4, 2006 8:18:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

...and your point is?

 
At Jan 4, 2006 6:29:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

?

 
At Jan 6, 2006 9:55:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: Anonymous : 3:30AM

I quite agree. It is a work of FICTION, as it quite clearly states inside the front cover.

Dan Brown does not claim that every word of it is factual, but merely points out that some of his references are.

If you want to tear apart a work of fiction that claims to be fact take a stab at the bible.

 
At Jan 7, 2006 1:32:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have already read The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons and right now I am reading Digital Fortress. The way Dan Brown handles his plots is always the same: one chapter is set in a place with one of the main characters and the next chapter is somewhere else with the other characters. This way of revealing the plot should keep the readers' curiosity and interest high but after a while it becomes tedious, also because his chapters are too short. You can't really enjoy the plot if it changes every page. At least this is my opinion and I hope that if someone doesn't think the same he/she will say so in a polite way and not like someone with f.... in every line.

 
At Jan 16, 2006 4:23:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

can i just point out that while some of the mistakes in the italian are grammatical errors, some of the spelling ones could be as a result of poor editing....be pedantic if you like but ever think it might be time to cut some slack over certain things?

 
At Jan 29, 2006 10:58:00 AM , Anonymous I like Dan Brown despite the errors said...

When Langdon is being driven to Raphael's tumb in the Alfa Romeos, the driver says something like "My wife and I...". Aren't swiss guards supposed to be unmarried?

 
At Jan 29, 2006 1:06:00 PM , Anonymous gennav said...

On page 186, as Carlo Ventresca reminisces about her mother's praying of the rosary, Dan Brown writes "Hail Mary, Mother of God... pray for us sinners... now and at the hour of our death."

The second part of Hail Mary starts with "Holy Mary" not "Hail Mary". I think Mr. Brown got his prayers mixed up there.

 
At Feb 3, 2006 5:16:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

yo, the dial tone part, it could have been the other end's dial tone, not of the cellphone itself.

 
At Feb 3, 2006 1:22:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, anyone looking forward to the new Tom Hanks movie?? Just kidding.

I am Catholic and have read both A&D and TDC. I think the problem is when people start taking such books literally, whether to believe everything in them or to rip them apart for all their inaccuracies and then get mad at the author. These are works of fiction and meant to entertain, no more, no less. We're not talking masterpieces of historical or scientific revelation here, folks.

I think Dan Brown would be very pleased to see this web site and learn just how closely everyone has read his books. I'm sure that in writing the books, he was hoping to get people all fired up. It sells books (and gets them made into movies).

He is a clever fiction writer. He uses some facts and then bends them to make the plot that he has in mind work. If everything didn't match up -- such as "Langdon was stunned to realize that all four points intersected to form a perfect cross... BRILLIANT!!" -- who would buy the book?

Anyway, I think it's fine for us to look at the book and talk about things that don't make sense. As an intellectual discourse, that makes for some lively fun. But when you start getting angry at Brown, that's a little silly.

The frustration should be directed toward the people who read this stuff as if it were Gospel.

 
At Feb 8, 2006 4:55:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

"When Langdon is being driven to Raphael's tumb in the Alfa Romeos, the driver says something like "My wife and I...". Aren't swiss guards supposed to be unmarried?"

No, they are not. The (as far as I know) only murder in the guard ranks took place a couple of years ago and seemed to have had something to do with the wife of the commanding officer.

 
At Feb 8, 2006 5:05:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I think Dan Brown would be very pleased to see this web site and learn just how closely everyone has read his books. I'm sure that in writing the books, he was hoping to get people all fired up. It sells books (and gets them made into movies)."
I don't care much for the Brown variety of thrillers, but I DO care for Rome. When reading A&D and finding a myriad of quite unneccessary mistakes and/or downright lies (why, just to name one, should Santa Maria del Popolo have only one front entrance in the book, when it has three very visibe ones in the real world? The plot would have been exactly the same if Brown hade cared to be correct instead of careless) I became somewhat irritated. Reading this blog I've understood that several other readers with knowledge of other more or less important details – from antimatter to details of the Catholic faith – have felt the same irritation. And I do not believe that Dan Brown included all the mistakes and lies just to "get people all fired up". It would be a rather stupid way of getting attention, wouldn't it?

 
At Feb 10, 2006 4:17:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd like to suggest that anyone who finds Dan Brown's ideas interesting try reading Umberto Eco, Neal Stephenson, Robert Anton Wilson, or countless other authors who have treated the same subjects more accurately and more incisively. And with better plots, better characters, and better pacing. And years ahead of Brown.

Or at least watch Hudson Hawk. It's got Bruce Willis; you can handle that.

 
At Feb 10, 2006 4:31:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some comments for the Dan Brown apologists:

There are a number of posts arguing that, since none of the posters have written a bestseller, they have no right to judge Dan Brown's. For example: "And besides why don't you write your own story and let us condemnfor your lack of "accuracy."

Ignoring the fatuous nature of the argument, a number of people who have written bestsellers agree. Salman Rushdie famously called attention to Dan Brown's "facts" and ended by concluding that one of his books was "so bad it makes bad look good."

Not that Rushdie is automatically right because he's famous; just that it's more than a bunch of math geeks who are pissed off at Brown.

But why are people pissed off?

One poster argues, "Also not everyone goes that deep. Most enjoy his book and believe what they want to believe."

Another poster writes: "Everything in his book may not be right, but that doesnt change the story, which is CHURCH and CHRISTIANITY was & is no good(which is the nutshell of all)."

This is exactly the problem. Many of Dan Brown's fans do "go that deep," and believe that they've learned something important from his books, when in fact they've been grievously misled.

To answer the "CHRISTIANITY was & is no good" issue: There are plenty of things to blame the Catholic Church for, and Christianity in general. But almost none of them appear in Dan Brown's books.

If you challenge the Church based on what you've read in Dan Brown--whether you're looking for reform, or trying to save a friend from mindless faith, all you're going to do is make yourself look like an idiot.

Imagine this conversation.

Dan Brown Fan: "If you're so holy, why did you kill Copernicus?"

Church Apologist: "He died of a stroke. Natural causes. Biographers by Protestants and even Communists agree that we couldn't possibly be involved." (To self: "Good thing he didn't ask about any of the people we did kill....")

DBF: "OK, well, what about the fact that you're still using the Swiss Guards, from the Crusades, where you brutally murdered countless Muslims?"

CA: "The Swiss Guards were founded after the last Crusade was long over. That was a regrettable era in our history, but we've been good guys for half a millenium now, and in fact the Guard is part of the new, modern Church."

DBF: "OK, but your whole religion is stolen from the Aztecs! Defend that!"

CA: "Aztecs in the 1st Century AD? You're over 1000 years off, my boy!"

DBF: "But what about all the Mithraism, like the dates of your biggest festivals?"

CA: "Our most important festival is Easter. The Mithraists didn't even have a holiday at that time."

DBF: "OK, but Christmas is on December 25. Ha!"

CA: "And about half the religions in world history have holidays at that time. In particular, it's also a Jewish holiday--hardly surprising, since Jesus was a fulfillment of the Jewish prophesies." (To self: "Good thing he's so hung up on Mithra that he didn't follow up on where the name Easter came from....")

DBF: "But you put the Sabbath on Sunday. The Sun's Day. That's Mithraist, isn't it?"

CA: "Actually, the early Church, like the Jews, celebrated the Sabbath on Saturday. By the time it was moved, Mithraism was hardly relevant. More importantly, if you look the word up in Greek, Latin, Aramaic, Hebrew, or just about any other non-Germanic language, it's not even called Sunday."

DBF: "But your whole religion is a lie! Jesus married Mary Magdalene and had descendents who became the Merovingians."

CA: "Now you're switching books on me. But did you know that the only source for this idea of Mr. Brown's was a book acknowledged by the authors to be a fabrication?" (To self: "Good thing he's still hung up on Mithra and didn't ask why we moved the sabbath, or consider the Roman polytheists--but if he had, he probably would have called them 'pantheists' anyway....")

As a bystander, you check with Wikipeia, and find that the CA is right about everything. Can it be true? So you do some more research, and indeed it is.

So, maybe he's right about members of all other religions (and most other Christian denominations) going to hell. I guess I'd better start going to Church and tithing....

P.S., I couldn't pass this up: "And why are you all re-researching what Dan Brown has written."

Because Dan Brown didn't research it.

 
At Feb 25, 2006 3:50:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brown writes, in the Author's note

"References to all works of art.....can still be seen today."

He never claims to be a scienitst and there story is supposed to be just that....an interesting read...not an encyclopedia of knowledge

 
At Mar 1, 2006 4:51:00 AM , Anonymous Jens Lang said...

I enjoyed reading Brown's two Langdon-books, but as you already mentioned, there are plenties of mistakes in it, that even someone could tell, who barely knows about arts or geography.

In particular, I found Brown's description of the French and of the Europeans as whole very amusing. It's just like he declared typical American stereotypes about us simply the truth, by putting the words into Professor Langdon's mouth.

But nevertheless, if you get over that stuff and consider that you're reading a novel that will keep you entertained for several days, or even longer, and that for less than 10 Dollars... as I said, I liked it. It's just a fictional novel, after all.

 
At Mar 4, 2006 11:22:00 PM , Blogger JohnnyC said...

Oh, and I've never heard a BBC cameraman called a videographer either.

I have worked production for over 15 years, No self-respecting cameraperson would ever correct anyone by saying "videographer". Videographers shoot weddings.

 
At Mar 7, 2006 10:48:00 AM , Anonymous Heather Everson said...

I'm sorry you can take your opion and stick it where the sun don't shine. Angels and Demons is a book that is highly entertaining. I guess people like you have to blow things out of proportion. You just don't have an imagination.

 
At Mar 14, 2006 4:49:00 PM , Blogger Spenny said...

Under cross-examination, Brown told the court that he was "not much of a detail person" and he relied on his wife to carry out much of the research for The Da Vinci Code

I wouldn't have guessed...

 
At Mar 26, 2006 1:37:00 PM , Blogger Myarine said...

Hi everyone,
I'd just like to ask all those using the 'it's fictional' argument whether they have ever read a (creative) writing book? If they have they will know that an author should do there up most to ensure all facts stated in their work are accurate regardless of whether they are stated at the beginning of the book. Now i understand that sometimes facts have to be distorted to fit the plot but their were many instances when the facts had no or little impact on the story and should have been corrected.
Also would bloggers stop calling other bloggers names, it's unneccesary as well as childish. By all means debate somebodies opinions but don't belittle them.
p.s. i have read several factually accurate books that gave an interesting read which just goes to show a plot can fit the facts as well as the other way round.

 
At Mar 26, 2006 10:09:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

dude get a friggin life....it's only a god damned book

 
At Mar 28, 2006 5:05:00 PM , Blogger Myarine said...

Some god damned books have started religions or changed the way we think!

 
At Apr 5, 2006 7:02:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have to be the saddest dickhead in the world.

You get your kicks by pointing out Brown's mistakes instead of enjoying a great book. It really is sad.

Get a life. Seriously.

 
At Apr 11, 2006 8:19:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enjoyable stuff here. I was unable to finish both Angels and Demons and Da Vinci Code (I almost managed Angels and Demons, by forcing myself, because that's the one I bought, but had to give up around the 'unhand that woman, you fiend' scene), but I did find most of the stuff here fun. Thanks.

I have to admit I'm envious of Dan Brown. The guy can't write worth shit, and looks like he can't do research either, but by luck and a big publicity campaign he ends up rich and famous anyway. Go figure. Ok, the pacing of the books seemed to be good.

Well, one can always hope that at least some of his readers will go on to discover all those actually good thrillers there are.

As for all that sacred feminine stuff in Da Vinci Code: I'm a wiccan, and most of the stuff in those parts of the book I managed to read seemed awfully familiar. Good old neopagan pseudohistory. Go check some of the older books from the occult part of your local bookstore or library. Lots of sloppy research and wish fulfillment there.

And yes, I am a wiccan. I just think I don't need to reinvent history for my belief system to have value. I think that doing that, on the contrary, weakens it.

KM

 
At Apr 16, 2006 11:36:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is probably going to be a waste of time, but I'd like to chime in about the "It's just fiction" debate.

The thing the Dan Brown fans seem to universally miss/ignore when they come here to vent their hatred at the person posting the site is his stated reason for posting it. Dan Brown clearly wants you to believe that this book is based on facts and that he's done a lot of research. It doesn't matter whether the book is a good read or not. (Personally, I don't think he's a talented writer at all. But I will admit he can conceive interesting plots, if you don't notice all the holes.) The point being made here is that Dan Brown has consistently tried to pass his books off as "factual". This is a clearly misleading stance. That's what this site it pointing out. It doesn't matter how good of a writer you are, if you come out and state or imply that what you have written is based on facts, you need to back that up. He obviously can't. If the issue was simply about whether the book is good or worth reading, then there's no argument. The real issue here is that he is misleading people. He's taking advantage of a public which he seems to think is more ignorant than himself.

One person said that to be fair all the facts that are true in the book should be listed. Like what for instance? That Rome exists? That there is such a thing as the Roman Catholic Church? That helicopters and guns and CERN exist? Other authors don't need to back up every detail, for the simple fact that they don't try to mislead people into thinking what they wrote isn't pure fiction.

The thing that bothers me even more about this book than the lack of writing talent (which is only my opinion) is that it insults the intelligence of any semi-educated reader. I don't have a degree in physics or religion, but when the "facts" are obviously wrong to me, it destroys Dan Brown's credibility. And once I realize that he hasn't even done the slightest bit of research, and then claims 2 years of it, I wonder what else he is going to try to foist on me as a reader.

Which brings me to another point. Someone mentioned that we should overlook all of the drivel he is foisting on us as fact and see the big truth he is supposedly showing us about science v. religion. I have to wonder, "Why in the world should I believe he has anything useful to say on that issue, when he's taken so much liberty with his 'facts' and 'research'?"

Another big issue that is being missed: Misleading people on all of these supposed "facts" is not merely harmless storytelling. It's called misinformation and it has an effect on society, especially when so many people are taken by it and it becomes part of the culture. There are people making lots of money selling people tours of all the places listed in his book "The Da Vinci Code" and they are pawning off this info on tourists as if it's fact. When enough people in a society believe these lies, it becomes part of the history and culture.

Example: Most people in the United States will tell you that the Civil War ended at Appomattox Courthouse when Lee surrendered to Grant. Yet, this is untrue. The Confederate States did not surrender then. Only Lee and his army. Yet, because of years of misinformation, people now believe the lie.

We are also constantly taught that the civil war was fought over slavery. If that is so, then why was slavery not even abolished until well into the war? The Confederacy left the Union because of the issue of states' rights, and slavery was only a part of that. Lincoln himself, the great emancipator, even said he would preserve the Union with or without slavery.

(Note: I'm not even going to entertain debates about slavery or the civil war. This isn't the place for it. These are just examples.)

An example from pop culture: At what point in the movie Casablanca does Bogey say, "Play it again, Sam"? Never. And yet people will tell you with complete certainty that it's a quote from that movie. It's a lie that's been passed on because enough people believed it and never checked it out.

So, here's the big problem with his books. He claims they are well researched and based on a host of facts. Most people don't know enough to spot the errors and don't feel like looking them up. So, they become "fact" to the popular culture. And then, because of Dan Brown, history gets rewritten in popular understanding. I've already heard people a few times saying, "Did you know that [Dan Brown error]" And the other person says, "Huh. I didn't know that." Now it's become "fact" in popular culture.

Bottom line is, if Dan Brown wasn't trying to pass off this drivel as fact and convincing people of it, there would be no complaint, other than it not being a very good book.

 
At Apr 18, 2006 5:18:00 PM , Blogger Das Votan said...

One Poster says:

Mr. Brown, I don't mind photon torpedoes in Star Trek. I know the term is meaningless for the scriptwriter. But I do object to pretentious physics cum theology. Next time, document yourself. Or at the very least, don't use the word "FACT" so lightly.

P.S. Oh, and you are a terrible writer too. Almost forgot to say that.
# posted by Anonymous : 4:38 PM


Mr. Brown, I don't mind photon torpedoes in Star Trek. I know the term is meaningless for the scriptwriter. But I do object to pretentious physics cum theology. Next time, document yourself. Or at the very least, don't use the word "FACT" so lightly.

P.S. Oh, and you are a terrible writer too. Almost forgot to say that.



This is a curious joke from someone who is so obviously out of touch with cosmology, considering his previous post:

“But the worst part of all of this is that all of Brown's mumbo-jumbo about reproducing the Big Bang is UNNECESSARY. On the theoretical ground, because virtually all cosmologists agree that the Big Bang occurred, so no big surprise here and calling the Pope with the good news.”

This is ignorance and wishful thinking on the part of the poster. In the first place even if every single person on the planet including all the “cosmologists” agreed it would have ZERO effect on reality. Things are not what we believe them to be, but are what they are. Secondly, astrophysicists and even QM practitioners are fully cognizant of what “theory” means, and some intelligent and well respected scientists are NOT convinced of the Big Bang Theory’s validity for a variety of reasons. (Not that their intelligence and respect has anything to do with the merits of an argument.) Lest it be claimed otherwise … http://www.spaceandmotion.com/Cosmology-Big-Bang-Theory.htm as merely one example from a rich field of scientific debate on the subject. Typing “Big Bang Wrong” into any search engine will also provide ample discussion material.

It is indeed a fact that the postulated “something from nothing” axiom is a commonality of both the Big Bang and many religious creation myths.

As a matter of fact Dan Brown’s actual crime is that of making repeated sloppy errors regarding verifiable information. This means the reader must question everything that he writes before accepting it. However, the mixing of fact and fancy is a valid writing method to make the material more believable for the reader. As an example of this method at its finest I suggest M. Crichton’s Eaters of the Dead.

When critiquing it is best for the critic not to repeat the mistakes being alluded to.

 
At Apr 19, 2006 10:28:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's hard for me to improve upon the comments above, but a related comment to that made of the portable camera... how was the BBC camera able to transmit live video back from the catacombs? It is essential to the plot that what is happening is observed by the world in real-time, but such a camera simply would not be able to do that (and, as was pointed out above, the portable video camera on the antimatter wouldn't be able to do that, either).

 
At Apr 21, 2006 5:34:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

HaHa

Some people simply have TOO much time on their hands. I am consider myself a reasonably intelligent soul and approached Dan Brown's work as a piece of fiction not fact.

I simply cannot believe some of the comments made on here. I enjoyed the book along with the Da Vinci Code and am well aware that that book too has errors. Again it's a piece of fiction. Not real - fantasy - a story. I suggest some of you book worms should go back to the library and read through some more dusty tomes.

I read the books, enjoyed them and thank Monsieur Brown for writing two good rip roaring FICTIONAL thrillers.

The FACT opening in Angels and Demons is FACT as far as I am aware.

The quote
The following page in Angels and Demons claims that "References to all works of art, tombs, tunnels, and architecture in Rome are entirely factual (as are their exact locations). They can still be seen today. The brotherhood of the Illuminati is also factual."

as far as I am aware is FACT

Mr Brown at no points states everything in his novel is FACT, and as far as I was aware I bought this novel from the fiction section. I can only assume the negative posters on this bought their books from the science/history areas of shops?

 
At Apr 21, 2006 6:02:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

first if you are posting here it means you too had a lot of time to spare...
second, have you ever been to Italy !?!? if the answer is yes than you really have a problem. if the answer is no then how could you say ... IS FACT?

This is the entire essence of this web page: IT IS NOT! There are too many sloppy errors to believe anything written in the book. Even the plot is unbelievable and not for the errors!

Fiction is when you create Superman who lives on Earth where everyone else still obeys the normal laws of physics. or when you can recreate dinosaurs from tiny drops of blood. NOT WHEN YOU COMPLETELY REINVENT HISTORY, GEOGRAPHY, PHYSICS and pretend that IT IS FACTUAL only to make ignorant readers say: “ahah! Finally someone is telling the truth!”

Moreover the plot is full of holes and un-necessary mistakes only to make you believe that the main character (and therefore the writer) knows so much that you are actually learning something from him. Go and read Clancy or Crichton or Smith or Eco or Presfield or Cussler or any other good writer of fiction. You will find that first they all did a real job investigating the science/history/geography/military behind the story and second they never claim to be factual.

And while you may consider yourself a reasonably intelligent person, which i'm not going to debate, you are absolutely ignorant. There is no fact about art, tombs, tunnels, architecture, names, italian OR WHATSOEVER that Mr. Brown gets right.

He did not research:

The history of the Church
The hierarchy of the Church
The history of Masonic groups
The history of pre-Colombian cultures
The history of the Templars and of France
Quantum physics
Nuclear physics
The geography and history of Rome
The Italian language
The Italian grammar
The history of the Louvre
Aeronautics
Electronics and computer science
The Renaissance period and the Italian history
The history of Rome

So a legitimate question could be: “what did he research?”

The Order of the Illuminati was established on May 1, 1776 at the University of Ingolstadt, then part of the Kingdom of Bavaria, in Germany, by a professor of law called Adam Weishaupt (1748-1830). The Illuminati were an interesting organization, with both esoteric rituals and a political aim, based on the Enlightenment philosophy and ultimately aimed at overthrowing the Roman Catholic and politically conservative Kingdom of Bavaria and replacing it with a liberal republic.

http://www.cesnur.org/2005/mi_illuminati_en.htm

The churches, monuments, architectures described by Brown in Rome are almost never those described in his book.

As far as TDVC how can you give such an idiotic title as “Da Vinci”? nobody in the entire world has ever used Da Vinci to refer to Leonardo simply because IS NOT HIS LAST NAME! DA VINCI means “from Vinci”, the small town were he was born. Now can you tell me how can I consider anything “factual” from someone who cannot even get right the name of the most important artist of that period? Of course now because of Brown the intelligent people will start referring to Leonardo as Da Vinci the same way I can refer to Einstein as “De Ulm”

Brown agenda was only to discredit the Catholic Church by throwing in every single page a lie about it. And to make it more solid he decided to show that he knows what he’s talking about by showing that is very knowledgeable also in other areas.
Nobody claims that he should write only FACTS but the point is that all the important issues that make the reader saying "i did not know about that!!!" should be otherwyse what is the point? SURPRISINGLY ALL THESE NEW FACTS ARE EITHER AGAINST THE CHURCH OR PUT THERE TO BACKUP THE CREDIBILITY OF THE WRITER SO THAT WHEN HE SAYS SOMETHING AGAINST IT THE READER IS BROUGHT TO BELIEVE HIM. UNFORTUNATELY THEY ARE ALMOST ALWAYS WRONG.

Read all the above and you’ll find out what.

 
At Apr 30, 2006 7:19:00 PM , Blogger Titius55 said...

I am an Italian who just bought angels & demons at "Borders" in San Francisco, caught by the curiosity of reading a book where my city, Rome, has a significant role. Unfortunately, only at the airport, homeward bound, I actually opened the book and scanned the map of Rome. Just after having read about the "facts" in the book and the careful research pretended by the "author", I was surprised to learn that Brown has learnt little from the many errors he had inserted in his other "masterpiece". In fact, I spotted immediately the misprints and errors listed in the website and a few more:
1)"via della Scofra" should be "via della Scrofa" (scrofa means sow)
2)"hospital tiberina" is actually called and so known universally "hospital Fatebenefratelli"
3) "Emanuelle" is mispelled: the street is not dedicated to the famous french erotic movie heroine but to an Italian king (Vittorio Emanuele II) who had a great role in the independence of Italy in XIX century.
So, immediately I learnt to have lost 9.99 plus taxes.
However, I continued reading, taken not by the absurd and naive plot, but by the curiosity to verify how many more errors (I speak here only of the trivial errors, not considering the many falsenesses) a pretended professor in a high standard American college can put in a text and an international editor can accept without consulting for example an Italian mother-tongue referee (several Italian phrases sound awkward to an Italian ear)or even a map of Rome, very easy to find in the web.
Just one more example: the Latin sentence "solum Dum prae oculis" at page 153 of paberback edition should be: "solum Deum prae oculis (habendo)", a frequent way to say "alone before God" in Christian phraseology. Nobody with a basic knowledge of Latin would ever misspell the name of God!
That's all for the moment.

 
At May 2, 2006 1:33:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why dont you faggets write the book next time? Its a damn good book and nobody is perfect. And I'm sure most of the million people that bought the book werent as intelligent as you folks to point out all the problems with the book. Read the fucking dictionary or something next time you fucking pricks!

 
At May 2, 2006 5:07:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well... yeah. But do you see "history book" printed anywhere on the book? No. Why? Because it is fiction. Nit-picking at Angels and Demons or The Davinci Code is like nit-picking Harry Potter. Of course it's not real, that's why people enjoy it so much. "Da cat sat on da mat" may be a historically accurate fact, but nobody is going to want to read it, because it's obvious that the author is a twat. Dan Brown is not.

 
At May 2, 2006 11:07:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think that most of you knobs...are well..just that...knobs. I mean come on... you must have purchased the book in the first place to even find the errors.... so he is probably just laughing at you nit-pickers now....and you will all probably see the movie...more money in his wallet....so i say get a life....or maybe for your next topic you could state there is no such thing as wizards or hobbits and there goes the lord of the rings credibility...my point... enjoy the book...thats what its there for and a good book it is to:)Conclusion...Dan Brown = 1..... Nit-Pickers = 0

 
At May 3, 2006 5:10:00 AM , Anonymous Darkflame said...

Two Anonymous cowards ago, Good analogy, both books designed to teach children how to read and Dan Brown's books have the same complexity of plot.

Last Anonymous coward: I only read Angels & Demons because
1. I heard that the Da Vinci Code was good
2. I heard Angels & Demons was a prequel
3. The books happen to be owned by my father

The only reason I finished Angels & Demons is because I was hoping that there would be something to redeem Brown, something at the end that would show his supposed talent. I know that it is only a fiction and I enjoy reading fiction, but perhaps the worst thing about this book is the Author Intrusion. It read like it should be titled "Conspiracy theory for dummies", and that I was constantly stopping to read those little boxes down the side of the page titled "Did you know?".

So far there seems to be a common thread in the anonymous agitatiors. They will generally call everyone against Brown some insult, suggest they write the book and remind everyone that they should just enjoy it because it's only a fiction. Well, IT'S A BAD BOOK. (fullstop) I could see that Brown has the capacity to write well, but that's not good enough. Writing well is just expected of anybody writing anything for the public.

I decided that maybe I wasn't fair, and because the movie was coming out I decided that I would read the preface of the Da Vinci Code and I must say, it put me off more than half of Angels & Demons did.

1. You have a curator that locks himself in a room, behind a gate.
2. The killer, who apparently knows the ultra secret secret of which four people know the secret, is totally bought in by a lie because it's same thing being said by all four, something that would have made me suspicious.
3. The curator makes no attempt to avoid being shot by the only bullet in the killer's gun.
4. The killer is too lazy to reload his gun with the second clip
5. The curator thinks about the detail of how he is dying (stomach acid filling the chest cavity), before 'knowing' he has 15 mins to live, but the gate opens in 20.

My sister has decided to read the book, but her description so far has put me off even more. Apparenly the curator moves stuff around and makes markings everywhere while he is dying, apparently he had some kind of UV pen, but I was wondering why the blood pouring out of his gut didn't obscure everything. Apparently Langdon corrects an officer about his interpretation of a pentegram the curator draws on his chest in his own blood. The officer goes on about satainism or something while Langdon argues that it's a symbol of love. I would say both interpretations are crap, the first I would understand someone thinking, the second I have basically only seen said by some wiccans (nothing against them) or fluffy newage crap. This Langdon is supposedly a religious symbology expert, and he's taking his info off of angelfire pages.

That's another thing that interested me, on his website: http://www.danbrown.com/secrets/bizarre_facts/angels_demons.html
Dan Brown interestingly states that "Because antimatter technology is changing so rapidly, links provided here would become outdated almost overnight. For the most recent information on this topic, enter "antimatter" into your favorite search engine."
Um, no. There are books, and other paper items written by real physicists that do this stuff for a living. This just shows how slack Brown is, claiming to do all this 'research' while claiming that he's not much of a detail person, when apparently his wife did much of the 'research'. I don't know how he can even claim having done research, but wait, what are all those names listed in the front of the book for then?

 
At May 4, 2006 10:35:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

FACTS:

- If you can recieve a signal from a portable camera you can locate that camera within minutes. (even if the book is fiction, its stupid nonsense that they cannot find the bomb while having a live transmission from it, you will not find mistakes like that in Star Trek)

- People still are interested in the church, otherwise this book would not be a bestseller.

- You cannot read phone numbers from a Homepage that is not listing phone numbers. Even if you invented the internet. ( If its fiction why didn´t they find out those numbers mindreading)

- One Kiloton TNT is not one thousand kilogramm TNT but one million kilogramm TNT. (fiction or not.......come on, he is a teacher and should have basic education)

- They try to develope an X-33 at Lockheed Martin (NOT BOEING) yet there is not one physically existing X-33. (If the book is fiction why is he taking real names, why not call the aircraft "magic super sonic 8000" or something)

- CERN does not own any aircrafts

- any unmarried male catholic can be elected for pope.

- To get the mentioned amount of antimatter you need more than the complete coal that you can find on earth. (If the book is fiction why didn´t they get the antimatter from outer space)

I like reading fiction books, I am a fan of "The lord of the Rings" or "Star Wars" (even if they have sounds in space) but I hate reading fiction books that are supposed to base on facts.

 
At May 6, 2006 12:38:00 PM , Blogger Atticus said...

do you people have nothing better than to sit there and complain about a VERY good piece of work!
Honestly!
Dan Brown has put alot of hard work and research into this book, and far enough if he made some mistakes I am sure it was to make the book more interesting!
Can I ask if any of you have ever actually written a best-seller?
I doubt any of you have, so when you do; if you ever do, then you can complain.

 
At May 7, 2006 4:13:00 AM , Anonymous Darkflame said...

Well, I think that everybody here that dislikes this book has said why and those reasons vary. What I haven't seen is anybody say why it's a good book.

Also, I'm getting tired of that "you haven't written a best seller so don't complain." excuse. You don't need to be Ceaser to know Ceaser, you don't need to be a student to learn, you don't need to be a programmer to use a computer, and you don't need to have written a best seller to have valid comments on one.

If what you say were true, then how can you say it's good? Have YOU written a best seller? How about this: every person that has come on here and attacked anyone who has something to say against Dan Brown is pathetic, with nothing better to do. But that's attacking the person and not the issue.

I would like someone to form a genuine argument why anybody should read Dan Brown's books besides "it's a good book" or "just read it like a fiction". I have yet to see ANYTHING at all convincing.

Atticus, at least you had the decency to put a name up.

 
At May 10, 2006 4:46:00 PM , Blogger Spenny said...

Atticus,

Whilst not in the Dan Brown league, and not a work of fiction, I have written a book which was well received by its audience with sales of over 15,000 copies in English ("Teach Yourself OWL Programming in 21 Days" with 4 good reviews and one stinker on Amazon.com if you care to look). It was translated into German, Greek and Cantonese. At 21 chapters and 1016 pages, it didn't quite have the thrills and excitement of A&D, but I did generally get my facts right!

I take it that my comments on this page are therefore more valid than anyone elses :)

BTW ...no I don't think so, either.

 
At May 13, 2006 3:47:00 PM , Anonymous Billy Jo said...

And what's with the Harris tweed jacket? He's really fixated on that thing!

Anybody count the total references?

 
At May 13, 2006 5:24:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a huge thorn in my side that he he honestly seems to believe that the Roman Catholic Church was the first, and is now the only, Christian church in existence. The RCC is a Johnny-come-lately compared to the churches of Armenia and Ethiopia.

And don't get me started on Brown's apparent denial of The Reformation.

I also want to see the minutes of the meeting where "the church" told their new converts that "their new Christian God" looks like Zeus.

And anyway, regardless of what the Brown defenders think, this is *not* a well-written book.

It's so poorly-written that I really hoped that the details on history, art etc., was really, really accurate. No such luck, though, apparently.

And if "it's just fiction" and the details don't need to be accurate, make up the country and the religion. Simply invent a religion that is as all-pervasive as Brown believes the RCC to be that has its origins in a fictitious country. Then, we would have no real . . . anything to talk about and compare the book to.

My biggest problem, though? Langdon comes off as stupid. He can't add two and two together (metaphorically speaking) and he even can't keep track of his own ideas. He says something, then minutes later, is surprised by the very thing he'd asserted to be true two pages before. For example:

"Galileo was an Illuminatus. And he was also a devout Catholic. He tried to soften the church's position on science by proclaiming that science did not undermine the existence of God, but rather reinforced it." (several pages) "Langdon had spent his career studying religious history, and if there was one recurring theme, it was that science and religion had been oil and water since day one..."

There are several other examples, and I'm only halfway through the book!

And for a book that relies so heavily on visual clues, I totally did not picture this as the Chigi Chapel.

Let me guess. It was dark and he couldn't see clearly enough to give proper details. Well, since half an hour later, the sun's just setting, he should've been able to see just fine.

I can't wait to see what the Pantheon actually looks like . . .

PJC

 
At May 14, 2006 1:23:00 PM , Anonymous Roy said...

Well, Darkflame, apparently you don't even know how to spell "Caesar", so shut the hell up.

A&D is a FICTION book. The book would be VERY boring if he were to use real history.

Whoever had said that you can't re-write history, geography, physics etc in a fiction novel is obviously an idiot. It's really sad that there are people in this world that actually believe that kind of thing.

Also, what Brown claims to be fact in the beginning is actually fact. There IS a brotherhood known as the Illuminati, and as for exact locations of the artwork? that I'm not entirely sure on, but they do exist, that's for sure. Brown never says that all his historical references are fact.

You all have taken this book so literally I'm surprised you didn't take the opening statement as such, because it clearly does not validate any of the false information in the book.

 
At May 16, 2006 5:25:00 PM , Blogger Prashant Pathak said...

Hello,

At first,I was told that you need to read A&D to understand TDVC that's what I did and to no surprise I loved them all ...
But when I read the comments on this blog I was totally dis appointed as to which I was assuming as a total fact ..I'm shattered as to no surprise I was aware from the first line that these books has no literary values but beased on FACT ..or what was said it was I was amazed and liked DB.Since,I'm an Indian with no Historical knoweldge and being null in Science thought it is amazing what DB had told millions by his research...HE HAS NOT JUSTIFIED HIS ACTS IF HE SAID FACTS IT SHOULD BE OTHWERWISE NOT.

I boasted in front of coupe of people about my knoweldge on Christianity,Christ and Physics but that was all so bloody wrong.Thanks to this blog I have something to understand a lot..I will certainly visit Rome to see all wrong DB did.

 
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