Pythagoras mentioned in Vedas?

Bo Klintberg klintber at CHASS.UTORONTO.CA
Thu Jun 17 20:20:31 UTC 1999

Dear Lars Martin,

I thank you for inviting me to such a debate, but I am afraid that I will
have to pass. The reason is simply that I don't think that this type of
inferential logic will do any good to history in general or Indological
research in specific. As I see it, there is nothing that can be compared
with real evidence (archeology, etc.). Therefore, at least in my own
research, I will invest my time in more rudimentary research and less in

Perhaps an example is appropriate here. Anyone who reads Greek philosophy
must have been quite surprised over the accounts that Arstotle left us
with. Although an excellent philosopher in his own right, his ability <to
observe> the world around him left him with some really unsatisfying
conclusions. I think we all can learn something from this example.

But I nevertheless wish you all success in your philosophical efforts!

Greetings from a cloudy and chilly Toronto,
Bo Klintberg

On Tue, 15 Jun 1999, Lars Martin Fosse wrote:

> Bo Klintberg wrote:
> > Dear Lars Martin Fosse:
> >
> > This is just a short letter to tell you that I am <truly> sorry if I have
> > <personally> offended you. I thought that I just scrutinized some
> > argumenents that potentially I thought were yours. Once again, I am truly
> > sorry if I in any way disturbed or offended your person.
> >
> > That doesn't, however, mean that I like your way of doing statistics. I
> > still don't. :-)
> I disliked your argument about chimpanzees, which seemed to indicate that I had rather
> primitive ideas about Indians. However, you are forgiven.
> Now, my statistical views have to do with a certain kind of inferential logic that is used
> extensively in the humanities, in politics and in law. I think a debate along such lines
> would be interesting, and I invite you to such a debate. I'll promise to be serious, and
> not make nasty remarks. My interest in this matter was stimulated by my reading of more
> Indo-European homeland studies (both European and Indian) than any man should have to read
> in his life. It struck me that much of the reasoning in cases where data are scanty is
> based on analogy, or if you like, paradigmatic thinking. Because certain data (or
> combinations of data) are associated with certain other things according to experience, the
> data are interpreted along the same lines. In the homeland context, for instance, the
> Indo-Aryan migration into India was a couple of generations ago seen as an invasion of
> warlike tribes, overrunning and destroying the Harappan civilization. This was analogous to
> for instance the situation in the late Roman empire. We know today that this interpretation
> is wrong, and that there are other models or analogies available, so that the modalities of
> the intrusion of Indo-Aryans into India can be interpreted in other ways. This leads me to
> a more general consideration:
> Assume that the phenomenon A always is accompanied by the phenomenon B. Then we have an
> ironclad rule, and we know that whenever we find A, we have B as well (if B is not
> physically present any more, we must assume that it once was). Then consider the following
> situation:
> A is accompanied by B in 50 % of the cases
>                             by C in 25% of the cases
> and                       by D in 25% of the cases.
> Now if you find A (and only A), you have to make a choice between B, C and D. Since we have
> statistics based on experience, the most likely candidate to accompany A is B, but both C
> and D are possible. In other words, finding A, you make the inference that A is most likely
> accompanied with B (even if you don't find B).
> Now consider:
>  A is accompanied by B, or C, or D. We have no statistics. We have in other words three
> possible interpretations, but no way of deciding which one is the most probable. This is
> the situation that obtains in a large number of cases, both in ancient history, in
> philology and for that matter, in police work. And we need a kind of method for dealing
> with such uncertainties. I hope you will see the connection to my reasoning around
> Pythagoras. You do not have to like my statistics, but I would be interested to know how
> you treat such conundrums methodically. Which is why I used the old trick question "Have
> you stopped beating your wife?" (Yes or no!) in a slightly revamped version. If you are
> ever dragged into court accused of wife-battering, you will soon find out that probability
> thinking matters if physical proof or eyewitnesses are missing.
> Best regards,
> Lars Martin Fosse

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