Subject:      Re: bananas again (as requested by Bernard)
From: (Yuri Kuchinsky)
Date:         1997/11/12
Message-ID:   <64cmuh$qkp$>
Newsgroups:   sci.archaeology.mesoamerican,sci.archaeology

So now I will reply to Bernard's post of Aug. 18. Of course I already
answered it in detail on Aug. 28, but that post was lost in the Internet
shuffle. So here's the second try.

So this is what Bernard means by "demolishing" my arguments? Really now...
This is about as shallow and weak a post as any can be... And I waited 10
days in replying precisely because I didn't want to embarrass him...

Let's see what kind of a zingier it is...

"Bernard R. Ortiz de Montellano" <[22]> wrote on
1997/08/18 in <[23]>:


> Yuri, as usual, puts his unique spin on things,

> Bernard already > investigated in some detail the sources dealing with
Brazil which he > found quite confusing.

> I did NOT find them confusing;

Now, this refers to our previous discussion in another long thread about
bananas. And in that thread Bernard complained about Forbes, another
author we were considering, who gave plenty of historical sources for
early precolumbian bananas, and how Forbes confused the nomenclatures, and
about how the historical sources were not using clear terms for various
plants... Oh, well...

> my analysis
> showed that they most assuredly did not prove the presence of pre
> Columbian bananas.

Bernard is dreaming. He proved nothing of the sort. DejaNews has those old

> Yuri also erred mischaracterized my evaluation of
> Lathraps gourd proposal recently. There too, I proved to the
> satisfaction of most reasonable observers that Lathrap was in error.

Yes, Bernard, sure you did... But let's go on...

> See a copy of my posting the FAQ for the sci.archaeology.mesoamerican.
> Yuri only finds data confusing or uncertain when it does not support his
> predilections, whereas the sheerest tissue becomes irrefutable proof if
> it fits his thesis.

Nice accusations... But meaningless...

> Prof. Smole also needs to be checked. 1) Why published in this journal
> (and is it refereed)?

This is typical for Bernard. Nothing like sidetracking the discussion into
the irrelevancies and tangentialities. It's like the most important thing
about a Christmas present is what kind of paper it was wrapped in...

Of course, determined and aggressive American Isolationists like Bernard
do what they can to create the current climate where "heretical" research
is made very difficult to publish. And then he complains that it was not
published in a Big Journal! What nerve...

Doctor, heal thyself.

> 2) what is his disciplinary training? or is he an
> amateur in the area of botany?

More tangentialities. Now it's Smole's "credentials" that he is interested
in! Does anyone begin to feel Bernard doesn't have a case here?

> 3) his citations, as provided by Yuri,
> are all paraphrases-- one needs to see the original wording in the
> sources.

Well, try to read the original then. There was plenty of time to order it
on interlibrary loan...

> Im not particularly impressed with Smoles idea that _Musa_
> was in the New World in the Cretaceous and then survived till the
> present. If such a good food source had been here all along one would
> have expected it to be an important component of diets all over the New
> World and clearly named in Andean and Mesoamerican languages.

Fine, he doesn't like this idea. More on this later.

> The problem, as usual, is that people-- is it Smoles or just Yuri, keep
> using common names, i.e. plantain, which only confuse the issue.

How is Smole confusing the issue? Beats me... How is the word "plantain"
difficult to understand? Some kind of red herring for sure...

> If
> Smoles is not using the proper nomenclature, that is another marker of
> incompetence.

Gee, the word Musa is right in the article title... How's Smole not using
the right nomenclature? Strange objections indeed, but I suppose they'll
have to do when one doesn't have a case...

> What this discussion has to be about is whether *Musa
> paradisiaca* was here in pre columbian times. Smoles says:
>      ... musaceous plants cultivated by the Yanoama are
>      taxonomically similar to various wild plants native to their
>      territory. Certain of these wild relatives are classified as
>      _Musa_, while others are _Heliconia_, _Ravenalia_, and
>      probably even _Strelitzia_. These four constitute the most
>      common genera within the entire family of musaceous plants.
>      (p. 49)
> This is not really a good indication of competence and muddies the
> water. Smoles is not up-to-date even in 1980. Let me quote from one of
> the standard references at the time, J.W. Purseglove. 1972. *Tropical
> Crops. Monocotyledons 2* Ny: John Wiley p. 343.
> ... the family Musacea of the order Zingiberales, is restricted to two
> genera only, _Ensete_ and _Musa_.... The family Strelitziaceae, which
> was formerly, and still is sometimes in included in the Musacea,

This is the key here. Obviously, botanists were/are not entirely agreed on
nomenclature in this case. So now Bernard is going to use this line of
attack. The relevance of this? I don't see much...

> consists of four genera: _Heliconia_ with about 100 spp/ confined to the
> American tropics and sometimes raised to family rank; _Ravenala
> [misspelled by either Smoles or Yuri]

And now he found a typo (Yuri's typo), and he's going to be like TOTALLY
UNFORGIVING about it. Now he found a _real problem_! Gimme a break...

> with one species only, _R.
> madagascariensis* J.F. Gmel, travellers tree in Madagascar [BOM not a
> good candidate for the Yanomamo];_Strelitzia_ with five spp. in south
> Africa [BOM not a good candidate for the Yanomamo, either];..
> D.J. Mabberly. 1987. *The Plant Book* Cambridge:Cambridge University
> Press.
> Confirms what Purseglove says about _Ravenala_ and _Strelitzia_ and also
> that in the Zingiberales Musacea, Strelitziaceae, and Heliconaceae are
> different FAMILIES.
> Bottom line. Smoles either is throwing in red herrings by claiming that
> plants of species that dont exist in south America are there, or he
> doesnt know anything about botany.

OK, suppose I grant Bernard that he is correct here. Suppose Smole's
botanical knowledge is not up to scratch. So what's next?

Bernard seemed to have found some problems about nomenclature. So what
does it prove? More later...

> Smoles is also muddying the water by
> claiming that These four constitute the most common genera within the
> entire family of musaceous plants. 1) These are not all musaceous
> plants; 2) These are families with lots of different genera; 3) He is
> babbling

Wow. Bernard is into some serious demolition here... Too bad he's actually
demolishing... what? His own position! And he can't even see it! We're
beginning to have some real fun now...

> if he claims that these are the most common-- Musa has 2
> species, Ravenala has 1, Strelitzia has 5, but Heliconia has 100. Smoles
> numbers are nonsensical.

Give it to him, Bernard!

> As I have often said-- most recently with
> respect to Heyerdahl-- Check statements that are easy to check or those
> in which you have expertise. If the author, Smoles or Heyerdahl, are in
> error, then one is justified in doubting the entire body of claims
> because people who are sloppy in one thing will be sloppy in all.

So here we go. Bernard thinks that he found Serious Errors in this part of
Smole's article. This should be enough to show that Musa was not brought
to America across the ocean in ancient times, right? Well, actually...

It seems to me, that Bernard actually _forgot to think_ when he launched
into this orgy of reclassification.

Let me remind. Smole's thesis consisted of three parts.

1. Solid anthropological evidence about Yanoama using the Musa as their
mainstay, most likely from precolumbian times.

2. Solid historical sources indicating Musa was precolumbian. (And I have
more of these too, actually, besides the ones Smole cited. I posted them

Having established the above rather convincingly, Smole further suggested:

3. A (rather unusual) hypothesis, that Musa was actually not carried
across the ocean by mariners -- but was _native_ to America.

As we can all see now, I hope, Bernard actually concentrated all his
energy on demolishing #3. Why? I don't really know.

Oh, well, suppose Smole is wrong about #3 after all... I'm actually _quite
willing_ to grant Bernard this! I suppose  now we will just _have to_ go
back to the hypothesis that Musa was CARRIED ACROSS THE OCEAN BY MARINERS
in ancient times.

You can see how disappointed I am... I can almost cry... Or laugh...

> Sorry, Yuri. No smoking gun--or plantain-- here.

No understanding of the implications of your own arguments, Bernard?

> Yuri ends with,

> In any case, it seems to me that the old thesis of
> Bernard that the archaeologists of old were so wrong when they thought
> they
> uncovered banana remains in Inca tombs can be now finally put to
> rest. And Bernard will probably have to admit that his rather
> unkind comments about Prof. David Kelley, whose mentioning of
> this matter in his recent article precipitated this discussion,
> were perhaps quite unjustified?
> Certainly not. Kelley supported Van Sertimas assertions about bananas
> in Peruvian graves on the basis of a worthless nineteenth century
> reference alone,

One of the great qualites Bernard possesses is the telepathic ability to
read minds. I've remarked about this before, but here's another case of
Bernard ESP. So now he knows exactly why Kelley said what he said?

> thus showing a distinct lack of critical academic
> judgment. Even is Smoles is right, which at this moment is questionable,
> it has nothing to do with Kelleys judgment. Kelley did not cite Smoles,
> or any one else, and was probably not aware

What is this "probable", Bernard? With your powers of ESP you should be
able to know for sure...

> of him so it is irrelevant
> to my judgment of his standards of evidence or his competence.

Ability to read our opponents' minds is a dangerous weapon. This is what
makes Bernard such an awesome debater, no doubt.

I don't know why Kelley said what he said about precolumbian Musa in
America. He just happened to be right, it seems, and Bernard just happens
to be wrong...

When will Bernard deal with #1 and #2 arguments of Smole? I don't think he
wants to touch them... Because they are solid.

Care to try, Bernard? Or will you just give up now, and save yourself
some embarrasment?



Yuri Kuchinsky in Toronto -=O=- [24]

Oh, what tangled webs we weave when first we practice to believe

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