Scientific Credentials (was Re: Tamil words in English)

Luis Gonzalez-Reimann reimann at UCLINK.BERKELEY.EDU
Mon Mar 2 20:29:10 EST 1998


At 08:11 PM 3/1/98 PST, Vidyasankar wrote:

>On the other hand, someone without credentials in a humanistic field may
>say things that may be worthwhile to listen to, at least once in a
>while. That the someone holds a degree in science/engineering need not
>always be held against him or her. Do not summarily dismiss everyone who
>has had scientific training. You can see that I am making this statement
>with a selfish motive in mind. :-)
---------


Vidyasankar,


I am not summarily dismissing anyone from anything.   What I was reacting
against (as, I think, were Dominik, et al) is the notion that a "respectable
degree" from one field confers some kind of authority in another field.
Common sense and good judgement don't necessarily come with a degree (just
as they don't necessarily require one).

Because Indology is more on the humanities side of things, the sciences
(physics, enginnering) are the areas whose degrees are foreign to the
discussion, but the argument can, of course, also work in the opposite
direction.

It is probably generally more common, however, for people to brandish
"scientific" degrees or achievements as proof of sound judgement.  This is,
unfortunately, not always the case.  Even a Noble price in chemistry says
nothing about someone's ability to discuss Indological matters.  And I have
seen many physicists (and other scientists) become followers of different
gurus and take for granted the wildest assertions about Indian history,
philosophy, religion, lingustics,...

All the best,

Luis Gonzalez-Reimann



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