[Indo-Eurasia] **The Farmer-Sproat-Witzel Model

George Thompson gthomgt at COMCAST.NET
Fri Feb 9 01:40:24 UTC 2007

No, Michael, not the last word. 

Not until you also see to it that a response from Mahadevan is not 
framed by massive moderator notes and long essays of rebuttal.  Let 
dissenting views through to your list without these pre-emptive attacks 
on them.  They smother debate.  They abuse the role of the moderator on 
a scholarly email list.

It is not enough to let Mahadevan  post to your list.  You have to treat 
him fairly.  And make Farmer do so too.

I know that am speaking for many other list members in this matter.  
They have assured me of this.

George Thompson

michael witzel wrote:

> Last word:
> The invitation to Mahadevan is NOT a trap.
> I will personally see to it that his comments will appear on the IER  
> list,
> Basta!
> M.W.
> On Feb 8, 2007, at 6:33 PM, George Thompson wrote:
>> Dear Michael, Lars Martin, and Reinhold,
>> I too am busy.  My publisher wants a manuscript in a few days.  So  I 
>> will be brief.  It is de facto Steve's list.  He conceived of  it.  
>> He himself set it up on Yahoo.  And he runs it. Michael and  Lars 
>> Martin simply legitimize it, occasionally helping out with the  
>> moderating duties, as I once did.  I think that it is legitimate to  
>> discuss the ethics of email-list moderation on an email list.
>> Reinhold, I think that you have misread the post that was sent to  
>> that list.  It was sent by a third party, giving notice of  
>> Mahadevan's article in the Hindu. Farmer took it over for his own  
>> purposes, as is his wont.
>> Michael, you may wish to dismiss this as a personal matter, but, as  
>> a friend of Mahadevan, perhaps you should address the discussion of  
>> the treatment of Mahadevan here, instead of "leaving it apart."   
>> Wasn't the treatment of him not a little abusive?  Mahadevan is an  
>> eminent Indologist.  This is an Indology list.  I think that it is  
>> legitimate to address the abuse of this Indologist on this list.
>> If the IER list, as you prefer to call it, is based on a  publication 
>> model, why do you let so many uninformed Hindutva types  on that 
>> list?  Do you really consider discussions like the recent  one on 
>> flying machines in Vedic worthy of publication?  Or is this  just a 
>> kind of sport that you and Steve enjoy: skewering the  crazies, like 
>> Kalyanaraman, et al?.  For someone who has many  other, more pressing 
>> tasks to deal with, you do seem to spend a lot  of time in this sort 
>> of sport.
>> Finally, list members, please note that I sent my initial post on  
>> this matter to three email lists that I felt would be appropriate  
>> places to discuss these matters.  My post was received by two of  
>> them.  The third list -- and its moderators -- have ignored it.  This 
>> simply confirms my point that the so-called IER list is in  fact 
>> *not* an open list, and that it would be foolish for someone  like 
>> Mahadevan or Asko Parpola, or anyone else who disagrees with  the 
>> Farmer Sproat Witzel thesis, or who disagrees about anything  with 
>> one Steve Farmer, to enter into that obvious trap.
>> Dear Prof.  Mahadevan: this invitation is an obvious trap.  Please,  
>> don't step into it!
>> Perhaps someone should pass the warning on to him, in the interest  
>> of Indology.
>> Best wishes,
>> George Thompson
>> Michael Witzel wrote:
>>> Dear All,
>>> since Steve Farmer is not on this list (INDOLOGY), I answer  briefly 
>>> as I am co-moderator of the Indo-Eurasian Research list @  Yahoo, 
>>> along with L.M. Fosse). Clearly, the IER list is not  "Steve's list"!
>>> See: <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Indo-Eurasian_research/>
>>> On Feb 8, 2007, at 9:22 AM, George Thompson wrote:
>>>> I know that my post will seem to many to be little more than a  
>>>> personal antagonism between me and Farmer, but it is more than that.
>>> But that is precisely what it is. I know the all of the   
>>> background, which is not appropriate to be spread all over the  net. 
>>> We have enough of that already (as I can testify to  personally, for 
>>> a decade... :^).
>>> In addition:
>>> The IER list is moderated for good reasons. INDOLOGY members will  
>>> remember that  Dominik had to reformat this list a few years ago  
>>> when the level of Hindutva sniping got too bad. We have learned  
>>> from that.
>>> However, If there is *scholarly* disagreement, even heated  
>>> exchanges, fine. For example, one scholar of Indian grammar has  
>>> publicly done so, vociferously, several times, and has finally  
>>> chosen to withdraw from further  discussion, -- but he has not  
>>> attacked the list as such on other fora such as this.
>>> It also is important to note that our List uses a publication  
>>> model, unlike other lists.
>>> Further,  that we have  attempted to take on very central issues  
>>> (some discussed at great length, and over a year) such as our  still 
>>> ongoing "stratification" discussion.
>>> In doing so, we have in fact broken new ground, and we have also  
>>> debunked many scholarly myths standard (Indus bricks, weights, etc  
>>> etc.)  ever since we started. This is possible as we have scholars  
>>> from some 30 fields who correct each other. No inbreeding.
>>> I leave apart the discussion about my friend Mahadevan's newspaper  
>>> article and Steve's invitation to him to discuss it in public. I  
>>> think Mahadevan is wrong in what he printed in the Hindu, and I  
>>> have said so on IER.
>>> Incidentally,  if some things were said about the F-S-W paper at  
>>> Madison in October 2005(?), this has not reached my ears yet. The  
>>> only  thing in writing  so far is a rather polemic paper by my  
>>> friend  A. Parpola, his talk at Tokyo in June 2005, where I was  
>>> present. There was NO time for discussion! We did that a few weeks  
>>> later, in his, M. Kenoyer's, Steve's and my  presence, at Kyoto.   A 
>>> good defense for the "script" model did not emerge. Kenoyer  
>>> conceded that the Indus signs do not represent written language  
>>> (like sentences)  but he still called them a 'script' ...
>>> And that is all I will say about this topic. I have better things  
>>> to do... such as finalizing 2 book projects.
>>> Michael Witzel
>>>> Let me cite post #6030 of the IER list dated Monday, Feb. 5,  
>>>> 2007.  In this post a notice is sent to the list of an article  
>>>> written by Mahadevan that expresses disagreement with the Farmer- 
>>>> Sproat-Witzel paper.  A paragraph from Mahadevan's article is  
>>>> quoted there.
>>>> Notice that the post is preceded by a moderator's note from  Farmer 
>>>> that exceeds the length of the quoted passage, and notice  too that 
>>>> it concludes with a long essay by Farmer, rebutting  Mahadevan, an 
>>>> essay that is perhaps three times longer than the  material quoted 
>>>> from the Mahadevan article.
>>>> In short, Mahadevan has been refuted even before he is invited to  
>>>> wade into this "debate."  Notice finally also that in the  
>>>> moderator's note, Farmer expresses doubt that Mahadevan will  
>>>> accept the challenge to debate on the Farmer list since Mahadevan  
>>>> is obviously wrong, and then a $10,000 "prize challenge" is  
>>>> offered -- once again! -- to anyone who can refute the Farmer- 
>>>> Sproat-Witzel thesis.
>>>> Needless to say, there are many good scholars on that list and  
>>>> there have been many informed discussions on it.
>>>> As one list member has written to me privately, this moderator  
>>>> handles the list more like "an impressario than a scholar."    
>>>> Also, this list member reminds me of the South Asia conference in  
>>>> Madison in Oct. 2005, where many objections to the Farmer-Sproat- 
>>>> Witzel thesis were raised.  All of this is ignored on that list,  
>>>> however, as was my objection to the way that the Mahadevan  
>>>> invitation to debate was framed.  Why would anyone accept such an  
>>>> unfriendly invitation?
>>>> Dear list members, if you do not accept my characterization of  
>>>> this kind of list moderation, please offer me a better one.
>>>> Thank you for your response and your patience.
>>>> George Thompson
>>> Michael Witzel
>>> Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies, Harvard University
>>> 1 Bow Street , 3rd floor, Cambridge MA 02138
>>> 1-617-495 3295           Fax: 496 8571
>>> direct line:       496 2990
>>> <http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~witzel/mwpage.htm>
>>> <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/compmyth>
>>> <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Indo-Eurasian_research/>
>>> < http://users.primushost.com/~india/ejvs/>

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