[creative atomic scientist's translations]

Dominik Wujastyk ucgadkw at UCL.AC.UK
Mon Mar 20 10:59:41 UTC 2000

On Fri, 17 Mar 2000, Rahul Oka wrote:

> I could probably read any journal flung at me by linguists, because
> (a) I know how to read and I probably know mathematics (statistics and
> computer math) better than most of the linguists (theory rather than
> just application). I challenge the same linguists to understand and
> make sense of scientific journals.

This is a particularly pure expression of the central problem about
"Scientists" and humanistic study.  The arrogance in such a view is simply
staggering, yet I am afraid that many people trained in science actually
do think like this.

Some people appear to believe that a training in science is in some sense
a general training, that it confers a sort of sarvajnatva, a universal
ability to engage at a high level with scholars of quite different
disciplines.  I am afraid that scientists who express themselves on
humanistic topics in which they have no formal training are probably
rarely, if ever, told how embarrassing their writing is when read by
professionals.  So the myth persists.

But I insist once again that only people with a university-level training
in a professional field should engage in university-level discussion of
that topic.  A good knowledge of statistics is admirable, but it is no
substitute for a training in historical and comparative philology when
wrestling with the problems of interpreting Vedic texts, for

Dominik Wujastyk
Founder, INDOLOGY list.

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