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Re: VMs: O.T.: The Indus Script--Write or Wrong? (Science)


Science Magazine this week features three articles about an obscure
comparative cultural historian and hobbyist named Steven Farmer who
claims to have proven, with the aid of a computer, that the mysterious
3rd millennium Indus script is "sheer nonsense. Just a bunch of random
magical symbols, sort of archaic doodles."

The ancient Indus civilization, centered at the cities of Harappa and
Mohenjo Daro in what is now Pakistan boasted thriving cities of
perhaps 50,000 or more and splendid sewer systems.

Oddly enough, American scholars, who dominate the esoteric field of
Indus studies, have found that, while excavations show that the Indus
culture boasted standardized weights, wheeled carts and really
excellent sewer systems, including extensive wells and underground
pipes, it apparently lacked three-dimensional sculpture and other
hallmarks of true civilization such as extensive fortifications,
social stratification and extramarital sex.

With Farmer's stunning discovery that, despite an inventory of over
400 signs, Harappan civilization lacked a true writing system, the
icing has been put on the proverbial cake.

"Yup," said Harold Ramsbottom, instructor in aeronautics at the State
University of New York, Bootle, "that about puts the icing on the
cake. Also, the whole damn population seems to have just up and
disappeared in about 1700 BC. Apparently just got in their spaceships
and went back to Venus."

Popular science publications like Science Magazine have this year
emerged as leading debunkers of linguistic fact and fancy. Earlier
this year it featured an article by Peter Gordon, associate professor
of dry-cleaning at Teacher's College, Columbia, proving definitively
that the Piraha, an obscure Amazonian tribe, have no counting system
and a finite, non-recursive language.

In August, Scientific American caused a stir by featuring the work of
Gordon Rugg, a lecturer in software and Alzheimer's at Keele
University, north of Birmingham and south of Manchester, proving that
the Voynich Manuscript was a hoax.

John Morrison, Professor Emeritus of Pictish Languages and Cultures at
St. Andrews University, Edinburgh, blames the computer.

"These wee bairns get their hands on a computer and go stramashin'
aboot destroyin' years o' linguistic research in the blinkin' o' an
eye. Hae they nae real work tae go tae and too mooch time on their
hands?? Grand airs and patched breeks! Nae d-----d French jam for me,
laddie, I'm off to play the grahnd piahno. Con-fee-toor! Huh! Sticky

Ross Bender
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