Subject:      Re: "America B.C." -- anything to this?
From: (Yuri Kuchinsky)
Date:         1997/11/12
Message-ID:   <64b36q$fcc$>
Newsgroups:   sci.archaeology,sci.anthropology,sci.anthropology.paleo

Ross Clark ([22] wrote:
: Yuri Kuchinsky wrote:

: > : > Fell's books contain huge amounts of highly controversial data,
none of : > : > it, or very little, rigorously tested. The mainstream has
never dealt with : > : > 99% of it.  : : I would describe him as an "idea
man", a kind of researcher who : > : > never stopped with one thing at a
time and researched it in detail. :

: How about a "fabulist" or "compulsive bullshit artist" who found that
: some people believed his stuff, and perhaps came to believe it
: himself?

You're being very unkind, Ross. I have no evidence that he was ever trying
to bullshit anybody on purpose. His ego was huge, he committed many
academic sins, and he thought the world should simply accept him as the
Messiah of Epigraphy. That much is true.

: Anyway, despite your disingenuous disclaimers for Fell, in his
: writings he did his best to mimic the manner of serious scholars and to
: give the impression that it was very thoroughly researched indeed.

Give impression to whom? Don't tell me you were ever taken in by his

: Yuri, I've already mentioned on this group Fell's loony attempt to read a
: message out of some Easter Island rongorongo characters in the background
: of a Gauguin painting. That was presented with the same solemnity as all
: his other stuff. You tried to laugh it off as one of his lesser efforts,
: but how are we supposed to tell the serious stuff from the nonsense?

Why are you asking me this? Aren't you supposed to be a serious scholar
who should know the difference?

: Many
: people, faced with a heap of shit and the possibility that there might be
: a diamond somewhere in there, would say 'I've got better ways to spend my
: time'...

Hey, it's up to you how to spend your time. Your complaint seems to
consist of: "He made me work too hard trying to follow up on his stuff."

Well, I suppose the lazy shouldn't even try...

: I have published a study of another Pacific enterprise of Fell's, where
: he claimed that an inscription on a bamboo container was the only known
: example of a lost script from the Tuamotus, in Eastern Polynesia. It was
: not. It was in Batak script from Sumatra, and could be read by any
: literate Batak speaker -- the reading of course having nothing to do with
: Fell's. I recognized the Batak script simply from leafing through general
: books on writing. I was able to check with a native speaker and confirm
: the identification. If Fell could throw off stupid ideas like that
: without even the most elementary reality checking, why should I believe
: you if you say "Oh, but his other stuff is much better"?

Ross, this is a nice story. I can give you a few more like this... But if
all you're trying to do here is to prove that Fell was not a "responsible
scholar", then you're just trying to shoot fish in a barrel. Fell was not
a responsible scholar. But great discoveries are quite often made by
weirdos and eccentrics.

So now you proved Fell was an eccentric. Fine with me.

: As for Fell's claims about language relationships, he uses the same
: technique of heaping up superficial resemblances that has been used by
: crank linguists since time immemorial. It is not the responsibility of
: serious linguists to examine every such claim in detail.

It's the responsibility of a serious scholar to recognize that something
important is being proposed.

: It is the
: responsibility of people making such claims to learn something about
: linguistics. Unfortunately ,for Fell, it's too late.

Sure is.

So far, you've only pointed out what was wrong with Fell. Hu posted a long
file where he pointed out some of the things that were right with Fell.
These are the different approaches.

The main point of your response seems to be: I was so cozy and comfortable
in my little corner of the academic maze, minding my own business, until,
all of a sudden, this big bully boy comes around and tells me I've missed
this and this piece of information supposedly very relevant to my field.
How I hate him! Now, instead of going fishing, or watching the ball game,
or whatever, I have to read more of these boring books and try to figure
out what's going on!

This guy is a jerk! And he is not a serious scholar! I can prove it. Down
with this intruder! Don't take him seriously. Let's just all ignore him!

And this is what happened...

And then one guy had a brilliant idea... "I know how to deal with this
bully! Let's just accuse him of some unpardonable sin. That'll teach him.
Such as... What is it gona be, Jack? Child molestation... or... Racism! I
think this will work! And then we'll never have to ever worry about the
culprit again. This will save us a lot of work so we can all go and play

And this is what happened...

(Of course, in the above, I don't mean you, Ross, _you_ know better, but
rather the other guy posting in this thread who sounds like a broken



Yuri Kuchinsky in Toronto -=O=- [23]

Comparative studies of primitive art have probably been
jeopardized by the zeal of investigators of cultural contacts and
borrowings. But let us state in no uncertain terms that these
studies have been jeopardized even more by intellectual pharisees
who prefer to deny obvious relationships because science does not
yet provide an adequate method for their interpretation
   -=-   Claude Levi-Strauss, ANTHROPOLOGIE STRUCTURALE, 1958

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