Re: *dan-

From: stefan
Message: 5622
Date: 2001-01-18

From: "Piotr Gasiorowski" <gpiotr@...>

Dear Piotr,

I am encouraged by the fact that you remain interested in physics
and, especially, maths. Perhaps, you are aware of the "chaos theory"
which is studied at many universities (there are some fantastic
fractals on the web)? Well, its founder was a professor of
mathematics who started his life as an engineer -
Prof. Ralph Abraham. His lectures (available in txt form on the web)
can be very enlightening - he is a scientist but also belongs to
that small group of people whom you cannot understand because they
are interested in "weird" things.

I have great respect for your knowledge of linguistics and I am
learning a great deal from your emails as well as from those of
other experts in various disciplines on this list (eg I find
Etruscan cryptography entrancing!). But - correct me if I am wrong -
you seem to reject what you call "pseudoscience" on the basis of
what? have you studied those pseudosciences over a number of years
to give your unbiased view of them?
Audiatur et altera pars? or are you happy with a bird's eye view of
subjects you don't approve of or regard as science.?

Astrology of the popular press predictions is nonsense; but a French
statistician Gauquelin spent many years studying correlations
between people's occupations and the position of planets in their
horoscopes. To say the least his findings should have make
scientists look for some explanations rather than dismiss the
finding as a lot of codswallop.

Dowsing? how much do you know about it? I know our compatriot in
Canada who is making good living by dowsing for minerals and oil for
giant corporations. Why would they employ him instead of making
expensive drillings on the advice of geologists? I tell you why -
because dowsing *works*. And that's something when you think of
hard-headed businessmen.

I have been just reading some acerbic exchanges on the Linguists
list on the thorny subject of Nostratic. One of the well known
professors of linguistics reluctantly admitted (with many
reservations) that the role of chance in all those coincidences is
"rather pervasive", though "we lack a yardstick for evaluating the
effect of coincidences of lexical similarities."
Hmm, dr Ramer, dr Dogopolsky and even Bomhard could
have allowed themselves a wry smile. Yep, chance is a chancey
problem but IMO it should not be lightly dismissed as a "mantra".:-)

Well, my advice would be -let's study the chaos theory because, as
in everything else in this universe of ours - chaos and order must
be equally balanced and taken into account if we are to get anywhere
in our search for truth.

Please carry on regardless and forgive my intrusion into your
learned discourse.As a journalist I am interested in science,
pseudoscience and even in the effect of fractals on our wonderful
language :-)

I'm not a narrow-minded specialist. Linguistics was my second career
choice. I am also a lapsed electronics engineer and I remain
interested in maths and physics. I am aware of current and emerging
views in the natural sciences. There are many people with academic
titles who regard themselves as scientists and at the same time
believe in things like dowsing, telepathy and astrology. How they
reconcile it with their training and knowledge is completely beyond
my understanding, but the sad fact that some academics are attracted
to pseudoscience does not lend any credence to the latter. It only
shows that education may have a very superficial effect on the