However when famed linguists pass away such as Cyrus Gordon, academic institutions and the bureaucratic clones that they spawn enforce an unsaid "taboo" that lasts anywhere from many months to several years. Rather than allowing science to prevail, it is customary practice amongst career-loving opportunists to keep hush-hush on logical criticisms, exploiting human mores like "respect for the dead" and "civility" to elevate one's status in the anthill. Behold Exhibit A, a painfully emotive eulogy in honour of the well-intentioned nonagenarian published by The Jewish Quarterly Review (2001), a clear example of science laced with personal politics, even possibly ethnopolitics. It's a kind of "reverse ad hominem", just as reprehensible to logic as its mirror twin, meant to attribute heroic grandeur to failed theories that were senseless even when they were first published. I am openly a militant logician. Reasoning stops for no man, woman or child. I believe that all sacred cows should have their entrails ripped from their frames, to be eaten raw by true priests of logical stoicism. The remaining bovine carcasses should then be burned before the altar of Minerva Veritatis, in honour of the beautiful Warrioress of Truth, Eliminator of Human Drama and Politics. I look at Cyrus Gordon's work as yet another quadrupedal to slay for the altar.
Throughout his entire book Evidence for the Minoan Language, Cyrus Gordon used the typical slice-'n-dice methods of an amateur hack. He evoked ancient words that weren't even attested in order to desperately connect them with any and every Semitic language by pure random whim, whether it be Hebrew, Phoenician, Arabic, Ugaritic, Akkadian or some obscure idiom in an obscure dialect of Old Aramaic. He had gone to every length to find any connection no matter how pathetically incorrect. Here is a few of some of his imaginary "facts" that should have expelled him from the scholarly community long ago:
- Minoan (y)a-ta-no- = Phoenician yatan- 'he has donated' (page 28)
No such Minoan word. He concocted this from his misreading of the symbol for 'i' as 'no'. It's properly read a-ta-i (see here) and written on stone libation tables. In fact, Minoan doesn't appear to have initial y- because 'ya' far too often alternates with 'a' in initial position. He chose to misread it here and insisted on initial y- in this one case to supply pretend evidence for his nonsense. Yet he contradicted himself on page 42 by acknowledging pa-i-to written with the same character 'i' that he thought was 'no' in the former word! Applying inconsistent phonetic values to symbols is ad hoc garbage, as you can plainly see.
- Eteo-Cretan isalabr = Hebrew ʔišša lə-ḫābēr 'woman to companion' (page 9)
No such Eteo-Cretan word. The Cretan artifact in question is Dreros #1 (see here with picture) and as you can see Cyrus Gordon takes advantage of his readers by not supplying honest pictures of the artifacts he warped to suit his agenda.
- One can prove linguistic relationships with random connections to random languages
While everyone else might recognize Cyrus Gordon as a valid linguist, I just can't bring myself to believe that. The very fact that he published Evidence for the Minoan Language based on this naive principle of folk etymology shows that he didn't understand the very basics of linguistic science. Perhaps if he had read Mark Rosenfelder's excellent primer How likely are chance resemblances between languages?, Cyrus Gordon could have made a far more informed book and I wouldn't be so annoyed.
Do universities truly have a monopoly on critical thinking and competence, or are they just groupThink institutions that obstruct progress with empty speeches about celebrities with false accolades? Are we rational human beings or are we controlled by superstitious fears of the otherworld that prevent us from pointing out bad scholarship when we see it, simply because the intellectual maverick in question had just passed away? Can we not distinguish between an empty personal attack and the healthy dismantling of a dead man's irrational pet theory?