From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The following is a very interesting essay, but it is not encyclopedic. If its anonymous author would like help turning it into a Wikipedia article s/he need only ask. --Ed Poor, aka Uncle Ed (Please add your comments, Uncle Ed!)

The adjective unscientific has several meanings. Originally referred to methods and reasoning that was not in accordance with the principles of science. Especially if the lack of objectivity or proper methodology, like an unscientific opinion poll.

As the meanings of words change rapidly in our days, the word unscientific became widely used to any taboo issue that has been closed forever and the authorities do not want to hear about it again. If the theory or idea in question has an overwhelming opposition, the prejudice and the lack of official interest supposedly kills it after a while. The immense inertia of the human sciences, represented by hundreds of thousands of mainstream scholars and the mass media does not give a chance to those theories to survive, unlike centuries ago. A common answer to those issues is that the real scholars do not have time to waste with those theories, they are too busy with much more important issues, and those questions had been closed a century ago. All these facts contribute to a possibly unbalanced progress of the human sciences. It appears that mankind is aware that may have chosen the wrong trail centuries ago in many basic questions but ignores these problems. It is simply too late now to switch tracks.

The meanings of the words are changing rapidly. It is likely that, when these problems are officially admitted, the nuance of the word unscientific may include a second meaning as a different theory that refuses the arbitrary basic assumption(s) of a prevailing scientific theory.

Some well-known examples of the scientific vs. unscientific logic:

Scientific theories:

1) The history and sinking of a continent called Atlantis is a fiction invented by Plato. Since his works are purely spiritual and idealized, there is no reason to believe in his ridiculous theories. Atlantis must have been the exploded Greek island of Thera or Santorini.
2) The early human civilizations developed independently. They have never had a common cradle, and none of them has been devastated by a cataclysmic flood.
3) There were no pre-Columbian ethnic, cultural or linguistic ties between the opposite sides of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, except some migrations over a land bridge between Asia and Alaska.
4) America was discovered by Columbus in 1492 C.E., and earlier claims do not have archaeological support.
5) The prehistoric Trojan war waged against Troy by the confederated Greeks belongs to the Greek mythology and not necessarily historic.
6) The Bible is not a reliable source for the historians and chronologists, because its numbers and regnal years are literary devices that do not agree with the unbroken Assyrian eponym lists, which may or may not be reliable.
7) The ancestors of the Jews have never lived in Egypt, and the Exodus is a myth. The "standing" of the sun and the moon during Joshua's war does not have any scientific basis. The Babylonian captivity did not last for 70 years as the Jewish records claim.
8) Romulus and Remus were mythical persons. Rome was founded in 753 BCE.
9) The concept of God was created by Man, descendant of apelike animals. Man created god in his likeness. While this cannot be proven of course, athiests have faith that it is. Many explanations for the existance of an ultimate scientific force have been proposed, and they support the concept of a single "God" incompassing the universe.
10) Intelligent life does not exist in outer space, because no one has responded to our constant radio broadcasts and systematic signals addressed to them.
11) Should intelligent beings exist anywhere else, they would be unable to visit our planet, since it is scientifically impossible to have the energy and speed to reach Earth from the nearests stars.
12) A few millennia ago, most of our ancestors had the constant impulse to invent fictious stories for their children about their historical experiences. If an account does not fit into our scholarly views, it must be a lie or falsehood.
13) Mankind's myths and legends are literary products, with little or no historical value. They have been created by confused primitive minds, often under the influence of a hallucinogen. In other cases, they are products of the modern colonization. For example, the Cargo Cult with wishful waiting for another ship laden with goods.
14) The languages of each continent are isolated from each other, and a diffusion never took place. They developed independently, except the Arab, the Madagascan-Malay and Eskimo languages. Beyond an indeterminate maximum distance, their apparent similarities are due to coincidence and do not deserve scientific attention. Even an 8% lexicostatistical correcpondence of cognates could happen by pure chance.
15) Comparisons between languages (comparative linguistics) must be based on grammatical structure: morphology and syntax. Lexicostatistics is a relatively useless theory.
16) The Romance languages have evolved as provincial dialects of the Roman conquerors' corrupted Latin. Without the Roman Empire, they would not exist.
17) The classification of the languages is objective, scientific and possible. We do not have to worry about dialects and their past. They are only curiosities and not the key issue.
18) Egyptian is a clearly distinct African language. Any similarities between Egyptian and the European or other distant languages are coincidental, therefore the comparisons are useless.
19) The fictitious story of Robinson Crusoe is the first English novel, written by Defoe. It is based on the story of Alexander Selkirk.
20) It is obvious that the Old English language was the direct ancestor of the Middle English. The latter developed from the Old English, a Germanic language, around the twelfth century.

Unscientific theories:

1) The history and the sinking of an island as reported by Plato is probably true. Its location can be determined by geologists. Plato never claimed that a whole continent had disappeared. He wrote that a large island in front of another continent, to the west of the Pillars of Hercules (Gibraltar), was demolished by cataclysmic events. The Bahamas region contains the remnants of an island with Plato's dimensions. Its plain was once surrounded by steep montain ranges that have been found under the sea.
2) The earliest human civilizations had contacts with a common cradle that was eradicated by a cataclysmic flood.
3) There were pre-Columbian cultural, ethnic and libguistic ties from several crossings of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
4) Old and new archaeological proofs show that the Vikings, led by leif Ericson, (re)discovered America for the Europeans around 992 C.E.
5) The Trojan War was historic and Troy's burning can be dated astronomically at 1182 BCE. The Iliad and the Odyssey contain facts deriving from orally transmitted tradition and written records.
6) As the numbers and regnal years of the ancient Jewish records, including the Old Testament, are correct, the Bible is the most reliable source for understanding the history and chronology of the near East.
7) Most of the Israelites once lived in Egypt, and the Exodus is historical. The "standing" of the sun and the moon in Joshua 10 provides an exact and unique astronomical dating for his wars by a pair of identified eclipses. The Babylonian captivity lasted exactly 70 years, and the Jewish records are not false.
8) Romulus and Remus were historical persons. Their lives can be dated by three solar eclipses, one of which fixes Rome's foundation at 745 BCE.
9) Man was created by God. Even if a seven-day creation seems unlikely, the creation of certain plants (such as corn in America) as staple food for a tribe meant their actual "creation" and survival.
10) Intelligent life can exist on an endless number of planets. The Universe is endless and even 1% of endless is endless.
11) Intelligent visitors may have visited our planet in ancient times. We do not have any proof they ever left Earth and abandoned us. We do not know about the destruction of their universal dominions either.
12) Our remote ancestors tried to explain the world and its history to their descendants, and in general did their best to tell the truth. We have departed from Nature and God, and live in an artificial world of half-truths. Therefore, we have lost the ability to understand the clear logic of our ancestors and separate lies from the truth.
13) Most of the oldest myths are recollections of cosmic and historic events. The primitive nature of our ancestors' languages caused difficulties in explaining the original events. The subsequent distortions oven many generations produced some misconceptions and fanciful cosmogonical views.
14) All languages on Earth must be evaluated globally and not regionally. Rogid limits do not exist between the continents. There is no maximum distance given between the speakers of any two languages. A similarity as low as 1-8% in their vocabularies may mean early contacts between their ancestors, and those are not by chance at all. The 8% threshold in the lexicostatistics is arbitrary.
15) The structure of languages developed later than their elements. The sequence of the words cannot be more archaic than the basic words themselves. Many languages, like Chinese, do not have a morphology. The complicated grammatical rules of many modern languages are only a few centuries old, artificially created by literary authorities. Lexicostatistics could be important if long list of properly selected basic words are used.
16) The Romance languages are not simply descendants of the Latin spoken by the Roman conquerors. There were some civilized tribes in most European countries, and their ancestors had a common cradle (Troy, etc.) with that of the nation of Aeneas, ancestor of the Romans.
17) The urge to classify languages quickly is unscholarly. A mixed language, like English, cannot be put in a single box. The first step should be the reconstruction of the ancient dialects. Once the dialects were separate languages that have melted over the millennia into an alloy.
18) Ancient Egyptian had dialects that can be well compared with different European languages, proving their ancient common roots and early contacts.
19) The story of Robinson Crusoe is not a novel but a true autobiography, only edited by Defoe as he always denied its authorship.
20) The language mistakenly or conveniently called Old English was the language of the Saxons, widely spoken only in Essex, Wessex and Sussex. When this area (south of the Thames) dominated, the real English population in Mercia and the Midlands used it temporarily in documents as the lingua franca. Therefore, documents in real Old English have not survived. Practically all documents written in that age have originated from the Saxonian area that had no English population, so the official misnomer "Old English" should be called "Old Insular Saxon." About 1300, the real English became widely used and the misnomer gradually died out. The strange claim of some linguists that Old English has lost 85% of its words (Baugh-Cable, 1994: 49-53) is a misinterpretation. The extrapolated and unreliable conclusion is the existence of incredibly strong forces causing quick revolutionary changes that is applicable to any language, similarly to the theory of Darwinism.

Wikipedia in not only an automatic collection of old data and theories but allows you to edit, interact and update. Please feel free to change the wording if you want to turn it more encyclopedic. Our readers may wish to see both sides of the coin by new information: this is the only way serving the progress of the sciences. If we cannot see the problems, no one can find solutions.