Make the Historians Do the Math

In an earlier post, the No Name Decades , it was made known in the comments section that the ‘Teens really don’t start till January 1, 2011; just as the noughties didn’t start till January 1, 2001. This does not make intuitive sense to most of us 3rd millennium people, even if it is technically correct.

The problem, you see, seems to stem from the fact that the Romans and their descendants didn’t have a zero. Thus, the order of years went from 1 B.C. to 1 A.D. Since this first decade, century, millennium had no zero, the 21st century must start on January 1, 2001 rather than January 1, 2000. Isn’t life just so confusing.

Then again, how often do the non historians among us talk about say the third century? Or for that matter the third century B.C.? Since we mostly talk about A.D. stuff and indeed mostly stuff in our lifetimes or a handful of lifetimes backwards, why not include 1B.C. as the zero year of the first decade, century, millennium A.D.?

Thus the nineties went from January 1, 1990 to December 31 1999, the noughties existed from January 1, 2000 to December 31, 2009. The third millennium will exist from from January 1, 2000 to December 31, 2999, the 21st century will exist from January 1, 2000 to December 31, 2099; exactly the way we intuitively think they exist.

Let the historians worry about the repercussions. Did you go into history to hide from more complicated math? Bwuh, huh, huh! Now deal with 1 B.C. being part of the 1st decade, century, millennium A.D. Now the 1st century B.C. will have gone from January 1st 101 B.C. to December 31st, 2 B.C. Want to deal with ancient history? Deal with the complications as well.

So, finally, we can stick our tongues out at Arthur C. Clarke and all his acolytes who insist that the noughties, 21st century, and 3rd millennium didn’t start until 2001.

But most importantly, my 20/20 joke in The No Name Decades gets saved. That, after all, is the most important point.

About Larry Russwurm

Just another ranter on the Internet. Now in the Fediverse as
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One Response to Make the Historians Do the Math

  1. Bob Jonkman says:

    A quote often attributed to Abraham Lincoln asks “If we called a dog’s tail a leg, how many legs would a dog have? Still only four legs. Calling it a leg doesn’t make it one.”

    Calling 1 BC the Year Zero doesn’t make it so.


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