Debating evidence, method & Inferences: Oak vs Koch – Part 6

Continued from previous part— (part 5)

I wrote,

Your statement below does give me a hope that at least our discussion (you and me) will not digress from evidence related to astronomy evidence and limiting ourselves only to the internal evidence of Mahabharata text.

This is what Dieter Koch had written…

Now please understand that I do not have the intention to debate with you about the historical and archaeological and the related epistemological aspects of the problem. Why? It would obviously become a never-ending debate, and we would never arrive at the actual topic of my critique, namely the astronomical problems of your approach. You are no doubt aware that astronomy is the field where your theory can be tested (falsified) most easily. So, we should not avoid this field, but rather give it first priority. So I do insist that we refrain from all historical, archaeological, or unnecessary epistemological digressions and distractions.

My response..

I agree that the debate will become never ending and that is precisely the reason I wanted to call it out, immediately.

Even worse, an arguer may, conveniently, jump from one discipline to another, in fostering one’s own argument. This is inconsistent in a logical discussion. Astronomy arguments are to be challenged from astronomy arguments and evidence and not by appealing to other branches of science, unless their relevance can be clearly stated.

To summarize, I won’t bring in another discipline but astronomy in our future discussion unless you do. I also want to set the ground rules that we will restrict ourselves to astronomy and related evidence and that too limiting ourselves to internal (and only internal) evidence of Mahabharata text. Let me know if you agree with this proposal. Let me also know if you have any objection to this proposal.

Dieter Koch wrote..

For the current debate, let us assume that the historical date of the Mahabharata war could have been at any time between 11.091 and 4508 BCE! Based on this assumption it is possible to discuss all astronomy questions, e.g. those concerning the Arundhati-Vasishtha observation as well as my astronomical arguments against the year 5561 BCE.

My response…

In a scientific discussion, things can be assumed without supposing them (i.e. supposing them to be true). Your statement above is indeed a rational and scientific way to establish the background and framework to discuss a certain claim, i.e. in this case, mine for the year 5561 BCE as the year of Mahabharata war. Yes, I agree that all astronomy questions, concerns and objections of yours – either for AV observation or for any other astronomy evidence and related claims/assertions/assumptions for year 5561 BCE (or for that matter any other year that falls within this ‘Epoch of Arundhati’) can be discussed most fruitfully.

Even then my point is if you have any additional concerns, it is my responsibility to address them first, before jumping to any other observations of Mahabharata text. This is not driven by any dogmatic attachment to AV observation and its inference for the timing of Mahabharata war, but is based on the idea that agreement about testable evidence and its corresponding inferences is achieved at each stage before moving to next set of evidence (or discussion, criticism).

For example, there is no point going further in discussion by stating that ‘Oak’s inference due to AV observation could be true but then it may not be true! This would be trivially true statement but such background statement does not add to the strength of the discussion.

My assertion is not that my claim for 5561 BCE is the last word on the timing of Mahabharata war. Rather, my assertion is that my claim for 5561 BCE (based on my theory – stated in my first response) is the best claim among all existing 130+ claims (i.e. better than all existing claims) for the timing of Mahabharata war. Thus, I encourage you to select any proposal of your choice (1198 BCE as proposed by you or any other that you consider it best and worthy of comparison with my proposal of 5561 BCE).

The choice of a better theory/proposal is always in the context of more than one (two or more) proposals and science only talks of the best theory (more appropriately – better theory) in the context of other existing theories. There is no absolute basis for any one theory for being the best. Science is fearless in claiming a certain theory to be best of its time, and humble in recognizing that any theory is only one observation away from falsification.

To be continued…

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