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

michael witzel witzel at FAS.HARVARD.EDU
Fri Feb 9 02:42:03 UTC 2007

I give up. My word is my word.


On Feb 8, 2007, at 8:40 PM, George Thompson wrote:

> 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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