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Re: Yuri's smoking guns (was: Testing Gourd Diffusion?

Yuri wrote:
>Jeffrey L Baker (jbaker@gas.uug.arizona.edu) wrote:

: Yuri appears to have a short memory. I haven't bothered to check on the 
: coconut or the gourd, but here is what he said on the chicken. On Dec.
: he posted a message on the thread "Re: Smoking Guns? Yes" that included 
: the following quote:

: "Carter marshals VERY IMPRESSIVE EVIDENCE that the chicken was indeed 
: known and WIDELY SPREAD pre-Columbus. If this is true -- THIS WILL BE


>Well, at least you tried to substantiate your allegation that is
>incorrect. As anyone familiar with scholarly standards of objectivity
>would appreciate, my statement was carefully qualified, and thus on the
>level. I made no false or excessive claims, and I have nothing to retract
>or to apologize for. 

This is true semantically, though your passionate argument on behalf of
Carter's chickens -- and the numerous statements you have made in the face
of well-documented criticism to the affect of "I still think Carter has
made a good case" belies it a bit.  You say that if the argument is borne
out it will be a smoking gun, and you seem to think the argument is born
out. Ipso facto . . .

In any event, you have no need to apologize on this point. You advanced an
argument and defended it.  Though I think the argument was weak, there is
no need to defend yourself for this.  I would not go so far as to say your
arguments are objective (any more than mine are) because it's pretty clear
that you don't weigh all evidence about the rise of new World Cultures
evenly (or even look at most of them) but intentionally seek only those
sources which will support your belief.

>On the other hand, you feel quite free to make strange and unfounded
>allegations, it seems, and you do not acknowledge it when your errors are

I'm not sure what you refer to here.  Your central tactic does seem to be
advancing one "sure thing" and when it doesn't pan out asserting that
maybe by itself this "sure thing" doesn't prove anything, but when
combined with (add new sure thing or numerous old ones) it does.  What
this seems to suggest is that you "know" that diffusion happened and you
will continue to seek evidence that cannot be argued with. Well, fine,
that's your thing, but you can't expect that no one will point out that
this kind of reasoning is self-fulfilling.  If you only look at
diffusionist sources, you will only find arguments for diffusion.  If you
only seek sources that you know beforehand are going to agree with you,
small wonder that you feel your case is being supported.

It's been said before, but I'll say it again.  A whole bunch of  evidence
for contact that cannot be individually borne out does not constitute a
"package" that proves anything, especially when each argument suggests a
different contact (first Chinese, then Polynesian, etc.).  What it can do
if presented cleverly on these NG's is create a vague ambiance that what
you are at the moment presenting (chickens now, corn motifs in India soon)
is just the tip of the iceberg.

But again, that's your thing.    While I see nothing wrong with pointing
out what I consider to be flaws in your deep-rooted postulates, choice of
sources, evidence, and argumentation tactics, I would never deny you the
right to argue as you do (even if I had the power, which obviously I do
not) nor would I dismiss your arguments in any simple way.  I and others
clearly feel that the points you bring up are worth debating on some
level, or we would not debate them.

You should be happy that you generate discussion and even research (I
would never have combed through all those dictionaries for Japanese
chicken terms if not for you, and you have given me several ideas for new
novels, if only in a tangential way) rather than being angry that you
can't get anyone to agree with you.  I suspect that, on the balance, you
do feel this way, or you would not continue as you do in the face of such
obstinate criticism.

--Greg Keyes