Re: [tied] About methodology...

From: Glen Gordon
Message: 3431
Date: 2000-08-28

> ALL sciences can be called theories of logical deduction, not just
> >mathematics. Deduction is the key to it all.

>No, Glen, physics or geology do not study logical deduction but things like
>elementary particles or rocks. They of course make USE of >logical

This is exactly what I said.

>First, as you certainly realise, humans DON'T derive from a single
> >ancestor. They could in theory derive, as in the Book of Genesis, from >a
>single ancestral PAIR, but that's untenable from the point of view >of
>population biology: even a specially protected species won't >survive if
>its total reproducing population is too small.

Oy veh... Of course, humans don't derive from a _single_ ancestor in the
strictest sense! Rather, as you have unnecessarily explained, we're
genetically derived from a small sample. This conclusion has absolutely no
bearing on the ACTUAL population of homo sapiens at the time of "genesis".
Again, this is precisely the same set-up for human language.

>This may well be true: most -- though, mind you, not all --
> >palaeoanthropologists reject the multiregional theory of human origins.

This is irrelevant. In the end, only a percentage of original human genes
could have survived to the present day; Just as only some language families
survived to the present day. The languages, and the people, represent only a
fraction of the large diversity that would have existed at genesis. Whether
language or people are ultimately polygenetic or whether there is consensus
on the matter is very irrelevant to the present-day evidence which can only
serve to show "monogenetic" tendencies due to natural selection over aeons.
A polygenetic past would precede a monogenetic ancestor. In this sense, I am
both a follower of polygenesis AND monogenesis.

Although temporal horizons, splits, divergences and convergences are
fascinating and very important concepts when dealing with reconstruction,
they are by no means a good arguement to downplay long-range comparative
linguistics. You use these terms only to confuse and create unnecessary
doubt in the field.

Now, as I was sipping some Earl Grey, looking at the weekend newspaper, I
noticed a beautiful and very easy-to-understand analogy to explain
"extrapolative methodology".

When doing a crossword puzzle, Piotr, do you fill in only the answers that
you are 100% certain of? How about the ones you don't know? Do you,
perhaps.... "guess" at them, by chance? I'm very sure you cannot resist this
very human temptation.

But why? Quite simply, this is the most logical and efficient algorithm in
which to complete the game, as any Artificial Intelligence expert will tell

Without guessing at the questions you aren't sure of, you will never hope to
discover new patterns that could help further fill in the puzzle. You will
not learn _new_ answers. You will not adapt and grow. In the end, the one
who dares to guess advances faster and is far readier for the next challenge

>As a matter of fact, I have no pet hypothesis about the relationships >of
>Nivkh, that's all. Why should I have one? I'm not a specialist in >Nivkh
>and I certainly wouldn't venture an opinion based on a cursory >examination
>of word lists or selected grammatical patterns.

While there is some logical rational to your lack of pet hypothesis for
Nivkh, it remains a far less efficient means of deduction. Your
specialization in Nivkh is irrelevant - The term "specialization" is in
itself a gradient, personal and meaningless term as is your previous usage
of "proof". You have a functioning brain. Therefore, you, as much as anyone
else, can become (and are) a specialist of Nivkh.

Afterall, "specialist" is in the eye of the beholder. I, personally, don't
consider much-loved personnages like Starostin or Illich-Svitych to be very
adept at general reconstruction at all, even though there still remain some
benefits to the products of their unskilled curiosity - They provide a
founding theory to be further improved upon.

Remember, Piotr, it's all a crossword puzzle waiting to be solved.

- gLeN

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