SV: River Sarasvati: Atomic scientists reconfirm location

Lars Martin Fosse lmfosse at ONLINE.NO
Wed Mar 8 15:17:46 UTC 2000

Tarek Wani [SMTP:tarekwani at USA.COM] skrev 08. mars 2000 15:27:
> Although Mr Wujastyk is entitled to his opinion,
> it is unreasonable to dismiss work by others
> that does not belong to one's area of expertise without
> reading it. The ad hominem attacks on work coming out
> of India, without looking at the evidence, takes us
> back to the attitudes of the colonial period.
> Is it too much to ask to keep racial prejudices and
> hate-mongering out of this list?

Racial prejudice and hate-mongering do not come into it. Let me give you a
counter-example: Recently, Thor Heyerdahl of Kon-Tiki fame, together with a
cartographer published a book on the Norse migrations to Canada containing some
"controvesial" views. Heyerdahl is man of great personal courage and daring-do,
and both respected and admired for it, but unfortunately he also wants to count
as a scholar without having the relevant qualifications and consequently not
the critical attitude expected in a scholar. The Norwegian specialists within
the field have politely rejected his hypotheses. Possibly, his lavishly
produced book will appeal to the general public.

I could give a couple of other examples from other fields than Indology where
enterprising amateurs with a good standing within other fields have tried to
attack difficult problems. One of these, a biologist called Barry Fell, some
years ago published a book where he argued that Norwegians had discovered
America 1700 BCE. He also claimed that he had solved the mystery of certain
American rock carvings, which - surprise, surprise! - turned out to be Old
Norse (for once not Sanskrit). (The Old Norse he read into the carvings turned
out to be in a language that was younger than the oldest Norse inscriptions we
know. Barry Fell, like so many scientists, was a lousy philologist).

In Norway, I am probably the only one to know about Fell's book, and only
because I have an American aunt who brought it home in the mistaken idea that
she had some wonderful news for us. I had a hard time convincing her that the
book was nonsense. Apparently, Norwegian-Americans were delighted with Fell's
ideas (does this sound familiar to anybody?).

Please drop the idea that we reject ideas simply because we are racists. That
is a too  convenient explanation. We usually reject ideas because they are
badly argued and often based upon nationalist prejudice of a kind that is all
too familiar  in Europe and elsewhere.

Best regards,

Lars Martin Fosse

Dr. art. Lars Martin Fosse
Haugerudvn. 76, Leil. 114,
0674 Oslo
Phone/Fax: +47 22 32 12 19
Email: lmfosse at

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