The Epigraphic Society
Our late Chief Editor wrote these words for the website about a year before he passed away. He was a wonderful asset to our Society and is sorely missed.
ESOP’s Role in Presenting New Ideas and
Encouraging Cultural and Academic
Consideration of evidence that indicates possible ancient contacts between cultures of the ‘Old’ and ‘New’ World remains a major interest for ESOP and its readers. While delays have taken place in our publication schedule, research progress has continued, and the prospects for updating and publishing the findings appear quite exciting. We are working with several authors who have made substantial progress in obtaining new and significant data, encouraging them to define their ideas clearly and responsibly for maximum impact and critical evaluation.
We are aware that information that appears most interesting (and that appears as a new academically justified discovery), may need to be handled carefully, taking into account both reasonable and unreasonable criticisms. This is especially true for proposals that suggest existing paradigms may need to be reevaluated —such as those indicating ancient exchanges of information or ideas have taken place involving cultures previously believed to have developed in relative isolation. This is also true in considering potentially advanced philosophical/religious ideas or technical knowledge of indigenous people previously considered to be "primitive." Such ideas engender unscientific, passionate criticisms (in the editor’s opinion) from individuals of authority within established academic circles. In spite of the problems, ESOP’s goal continues to be the honest evaluation of the data on a level playing field, in which opposing points of view can be dissected and discussed. In discussing controversial findings or opinions we will endeavor to maintain a collegial scientific atmosphere for considering opposing opinions and debate needs to be over the ideas not the personalities.
Experience has shown that one must expect the lower aspects of human nature to prevail in debates and public meetings on the subject matter. My observations suggest that even the most carefully validated work will encounter many non-scientific obstacles that will need to be overcome. This includes the use of fallacious ad hominem attacks and false appeals to authority, rather than proper scholarship as well as other non-scientific manipulations by those entrusted to make judgments based on fairness and scholarship.
Such manipulations appear to be motivated more by the desire of some academics to protect their own views and careers, or those of current or prior associates, rather than to promote an honest consideration of alternatives required for practical as well as philosophical or epistomological reasons. The results are usually anathema to a proper scientific process.
The above considerations make it clear that ESOP
needs to maintain its role as a medium for bringing forward scholarly, open
exchanges of information and
In prior issues of ESOP, my editorials described the developing "Epigraphic Discipline." I was interested in detailing why it was important to apply this discipline on general epistemological as well as more specific heuristic grounds which might apply to any particular artifact or body of information being considered. This write-up, and this issue of our journal, provide additional new and/or updated examples. We hope the information will lead to additional understandings and also encourage follow-up studies (using any of several available multi-disciplinary approaches). In forthcoming issues of ESOP, it will be interesting to encourage additional interactions with preserved ancient knowledge to see if any of the findings relate to the fulfillment of ancient traditions.
Jon Polansky, Chief Editor
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