phonetic resemblances

Max W Wheeler maxw at
Thu Jan 28 20:20:58 UTC 1999

----------------------------Original message----------------------------
On Thu, 28 Jan 1999, H. Mark Hubey wrote:

> Indeed there is no proof outside of mathematics. Even physics cannot
> "prove" that the sun will rise tomorrow. It's just that its
> probability is so high that we accept it. The same goes with other
> "laws" of physics like F=man, pV=nRT, etc. What separates physical
> sciences from social sciences is the great uncertainty and great
> complexity of the social sciences. The uncertainty comes from the
> complexity. Since we don't know the laws, we cannot predict anything
> and it looks extremely difficult, and it is. Some accept this to
> mean that it can't be done, but I don't.

Indeed, and for that very reason I carefully avoided the words "prove"
and "proof" in my posting. I spoke of "confirming" or "refuting" a
hypothesis. You may say I went too far in saying "refute"; "fails to
confirm" might be more accurate. But at the point where one's doing that
sort of hypothesis testing, phonetic resemblance is neither here nor
there. Systematic correspondence, above the chance level, is what we're

Max Wheeler


Max W. Wheeler <maxw at>
School of Cognitive and Computing Sciences
University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9QH, UK
Tel: +44 (0)1273 678975; fax: +44 (0)1273 671320

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