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On Fri, 15 Sep 2000, J Matthew Pearson wrote:

> > Good ol' theorists. Always proving their theories by using the theories
> > in question.
>
> What's with all this bashing of theorists?  As a theorist myself, should I take
> offense at this?
>
> Linguistics is the only field I know where theoretical work--and even the idea that
> there should *be* theories--is routinely dismissed.  Nobody would seriously suggest
> that physicists or chemists or psychologists or economists should confine themselves
> to the collection of data and avoid positing theories to explain that data.

Trust me, in physics the experimentalists take exactly the same attitude.
And in geology, too, as you can see from McPhee's _Basin and Range_.
The prejudice may be summed up thus:  Theoreticians are people who will
cheerfully sacrifice inconvenient facts to beautiful theories, and may
even develop meta-theories about the unimportance of counterexamples.

The contrary prejudice, of course, emanates from theorists: that
experimentalist (or fieldworkers, as the case may be) are
anti-intellectual stamp-collecting baboons, who wouldn't know
a decent generalization if it fell out of a tree on their heads.

> I'll shut up now.

        "The threat to shut up is a powerful rhetorical maneuver,
        and should be used only sparingly."
                --Ray Smullyan, paraphrased

--
John Cowan                                   [log in to unmask]
One art/there is/no less/no more/All things/to do/with sparks/galore
        --Douglas Hofstadter