[b-hebrew] XSD

Bill Rea bsr15 at cantsl.it.canterbury.ac.nz
Tue Aug 23 17:50:41 EDT 2005

Karl wrote:-

>I've noticed that when you see someone who has a PhD and
>a reputation, that you seem to accept his words almost as
>canon. Hence you go into kniptions trying to justify the
>statements of the "experts" that you espouse. I question
>everyone, including myself. Give me a good argument based
>on the language, and I may change how I understand the
>text: merely quoting "experts" aint goin te cut th'

I'm not intending to pick on Karl as this sentiment is trotted
out many times by many people. While this attitude is superficially
attractive, in practice it's a dead end. Some have said that truth
isn't decided democratically, but in reality that's exactly how
our current understanding is reached. Researchers publish in
peer-reviewed journals, those articles are read by other
researchers and cited in articles of their own. Citation indexes
help us to find out which of the multitude of articles are
important as they are cited many times, and which are of little
significance as they are rarely cited. Over time a consensus grows.
That's how its actually done. The whole academic structure of degrees,
journals and so on is not the hindrance to the advancement of knowledge
that some (usually the ones not getting published) claim. It is a well
tested system which, while not perfect, works remarkably well.

New and radical ideas are advanced within this framework all the
time -- witness Rolf's theory which has been debated here on an off
for a number of years. Rolf earned a Ph.D. for a new and, currently,
controversial understanding of the Hebrew verbal system.
Whether it has the merit Rolf claims or lack of merit Peter claims
is not decided by either Rolf or Peter. It will be decided by the
community of Hebrew scholars over time as they examine the evidence and
weigh it up against other understandings of the Hebrew verbal system.
There is nothing conspiratorial in this. It is the best way we know
of establishing which ideas have value and which do not.

As skeptics often say - extraordinary claims require extraordinary
evidence. That saying is not designed to exclude new ideas, it merely
reflects the actual requirement for a extraordinary new idea to
supplant a currently accepted idea.

Questioning ``experts'' is fine if you have what it takes to
actually critically examine what they say. If someone says that
because they don't have a Ph.D. in a particular field they can
look at it more objectively and so their ideas have special merit
usually that person is a crank and can be safely ignored.

See the seven warning signs of crank science:-


Bill Rea, IT Services, University of Canterbury \_
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