[Sca-cooks] Questions on coffee

Celia des Archier CeliadesArchier at cox.net
Sat Jan 30 13:23:45 PST 2010

Urtatim posted: 
> Stefan forwarded some wild fantasies about coffee from another list.
> First, many scholars today are leaning toward what is now 
> Ethiopia, formerly known as Abyssinia, as the place from 
> which coffee originated, although the Yemen has also been 
> under consideration.
> That whole dancing goats and their goat boy herder story is 
> complete fantasy, although all over the web.

Hmmm... Alright, had to jump in here.  It's legand, that's not the same thing
as fantasy.  Many stories which are legand have some root in reality.  How
much the legand coincides with the data varies greatly.  Let's remember that
the existance of city of Troy was legand until the archeological discoveries
of the late 19th, early 20th century.  And that's not unusual. 

The fact that the argument for something is not true does not mean that the
thing itself is not true. That's a fallacist's fallacy. The fact that
something has not been proven does not mean that it's not true. That's also
faulty logic.  Just as faulty as assuming causality when you see causation or
assuming it's true because a lot of people say it's true. 

One thing that I see a lot of in the SCA is a presumption that if one cannot
prove it, it cannot be so... And at the same time, we fall in the trap of
"Appeal to authority" fallacies all the time by assuming that if someone we
take as an authority says it's so, then it is so. When I first joined the SCA,
my mother, who is sometimes ignorant (in the sense of less educated than
others) but also often wise, pointed out, when I was expounding on something
"historical" I had learned in the SCA, that I couldn't know, because I wasn't
*there*.  As I have advanced in my study of logic and epistimology, I've
learned just how right she was.  More right than she actually knew, because my
being "there" would not necessarily have helped either ;-)  We can conclude,
and we want to make sure that the data, our sources, on which we base our
conclusions, are as sound as possible, but absolute statements are generally
false by their very nature. 

My point is simply this.  It's all well and good to research what was written
by period contemporaries, while remembering that not everything was recorded,
and not everyone recorded accurately (nor without bias), and to come up with
our own theories of how it must have been.  But we lose perspective, and close
off avenues of learning and research when we decide that if we can't find it
or support it, then it's not possible.  There's a big leap between "we don't
know" and "it can't be."  The first is a quite rational, and academically
sound position.  The later closes the door to discovery.   

Anyway, sorry for going off on my own little rant... It triggered one of my
own "pet peeves."   And while I also tend to expect that the legend of the
goat herder boy is most likely just a nifty story... Without knowing that it
was intentionally authored (i.e., fictional), I have to leave it firmly in the
"legend" column :-) 

The rest of Urtatim's post shared some great resources, so let's say thanks!
But let's keep an open mind that what we can't prove, and what we don't know,
is just that... What we can't prove, and what we don't know. And the rest is
just what we *think* we know, until someone shows us the error of our ways ;-)

In service, 

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