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Darwin-L Message Log 5:20 (January 1994)

Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

This is one message from the Archives of Darwin-L (1993–1997), a professional discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences.

Note: Additional publications on evolution and the historical sciences by the Darwin-L list owner are available on SSRN.


<5:20>From ad201@freenet.carleton.ca  Wed Jan  5 12:43:13 1994

Date: Wed, 5 Jan 94 13:43:10 EST
From: ad201@freenet.carleton.ca (Donald Phillipson)
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: Re: Linguistics controversy
Reply-To: ad201@freenet.carleton.ca

Bayla Singer wrote from Penn U 5 Jan. 94

>I also agree that we (the nonspecialist public, again) do tend to invent
>marginal backgrounds for our 'heroes' where none really exist.  Edison
>saved us the trouble, and created his own legend.  However, Morse and Bell
>were truly marginal to the electrical-science/technology field, and was
>Robert Fulton to that of steam engineering.

We are all tempted to swing from the one extreme (orthodox hero-worship)
to the other (no one's a hero.)  The way out of this is to find defensible
criteria for "hero," "marginal," etc., as precise as possible.  You may
here be right about electricity qua physical science (I don't claim to
know;)  but it would be very rash to say innovators like Morse let alone
the holder of the most patents in history were "marginal" in technology.

You know your criteria are good when some other user applies them to an
individual or case you've never heard of and reaches the same result you
would.

--
 |         Donald Phillipson, 4050 Hall's Road, Carlsbad           |
 |      Springs, Ont., Canada K0A 1K0; tel: (613) 822-0734         |
 |  "What I've always liked about science is its independence from |
 |  authority"--Ontario Science Centre (name on file) 10 July 1981 |

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