OT: language origin and creationism

Dave Wilton dave at WILTON.NET
Thu Apr 1 00:07:06 UTC 2010

Appearance in a refereed journal is one criterion on which to judge, but
it's not the only one. An otherwise solid argument that appears on the web
(or anywhere else) should not be discarded just because it isn't
peer-reviewed. And conversely, peer-review is no guarantee of the
correctness. Passing peer review just means that the article has no obvious

This web site has a good list of criteria for evaluating sources:
http://www.library.cornell.edu/olinuris/ref/research/skill26.htm. I'm sure
there are other good lists elsewhere.

In this case, the following are some objectively considered problems with
the article:
--The authors are writing outside their field of expertise (they are not
--Previous works by the authors have not been about linguistics (mostly
about the morality of homosexuality)
--The publisher (Apologetics Press) has a vested interest in one side of the
--The argument makes extensive use of unsupported arguments from authority
(in this case biblical)
--The writing style indicates bias (extensive use of exclamation points,
among other things)

These are just a few I pulled out from a quick skim of the article. I'm sure
there's a lot more that can be said.

I also did a Google search of the authors. While this has no bearing on the
(lack of) validity of the article, I did find out that two years after this
article was written one of the authors was fired by Apologetics Press for
sexual misconduct with underage boys. Another example of Savage's Law that
anyone who makes a religious argument against homosexuality is probably
doing something worse.

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of
Cohen, Gerald Leonard
Sent: Wednesday, March 31, 2010 3:35 PM
Subject: Re: OT: language origin and creationism

But then on what grounds would the student justify the article as the "best
source"?  If she wished to say, "Yes, all the  authorities in linguistics
say such-and-such, but here is my evidence that they're wrong," that would
be one thing. But unless she does in fact have a scholarly (vs. religious)
reason to challenge the scholarly communis opinio, I don't see how she can
say that the article she chose is the best source.

Gerald Cohen


American Dialect Society on behalf of Salikoko S. Mufwene, Wed 3/31/2010
4:49 PM:

SSM: Shame on you! This is an invalid argument of authority. It sounds
like no sound argument can emerge from obscure sources (and from the
underdogs in science) and as if authoritative publications have always
been correct. I don't believe in creationism, but I would consider
addressing the subject matter from down the pedestal. If authorities
have always been correct, the books would have been closed on several
issues today.


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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