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Re: OT: Doubting Thomas: was "Introducing Myself"

From:Sally Caves <scaves@...>
Date:Thursday, February 17, 2005, 16:59
----- Original Message -----
From: "Henrik Theiling" <theiling@...>

> Hi!
Hey, Henrik!
> Doubt increases if the story becomes less believable, i.e., if the > story more and more contradict what you have encountered so far. > Quite natural. :-)
Yes, true. You don't want to believe every urban legend you hear, until you've read up on it some. But the problem with my friend is that he didn't want to read up on it. Annoyingly persistent, :) I gave him the name of some books, I told him that there were accounts of it on the Internet (not everything on the Internet is false) and pictures of Gage's skull at the Smithsonian. His philosophy was that unless he had seen it it didn't exist. I told him that we believe scientific facts that we have never personally encountered--that water is composed of hydrogen and oxygen in a special combination. Why should we believe that? Most of us can't do the complex mathematics or the experiments that led up to this conclusion. We believe that we have diverticulosis when the doctor tells us that we do even though we've never seen the pockets in our colon. Why should we believe the doctor? It might be just indigestion. Or a stomach ache rather than a heart attack. Certain forms of believe save our lives.
> Just for the record: I did not say it is a hoax (or at least did not > intend to...). It's just that the Pirahã story is quite unbelievable, > special and contradicts quite a few things encountered so far. So > I'll just keep my doubts for a while. There are a lot of urban > legends out there.
I don't think this is one. We might check Muke's sites, and see if any of them show a bibliography of print articles. There are library search engines of print articles in anthropology, too; FirstSearch is pretty good. Things that get into major anthropology journals I generally tend to trust. I don't know if any exist for the Piraha, but it could at least be checked before we say "I don't believe it." Also, I'd be curious to know your answer to my question: "what fixed notions do we have about human tribal behavior, or human language and cognition that we don't want unsettled?" Sal


Henrik Theiling <theiling@...>