Monday, June 05, 2006

Advice to a Senior Physicist

Luboš Motl says that:

A senior physicist who is not a string theorist has sent me a piece of text that he or she called "a tendentious, malicious attack on scientists and through that on science itself".

The perp in this case is a Robert Matthews, writing behind a subscription wall in the Financial Times, so I have no clue as to what he said, but it clearly provoked LM as well as his senior colleague. The post itself is pretty much the usual, long on insult and short on specifics, but my real point here is addressed to the "senior physicist."

Why exactly was it you gave this to LM? Luboš, of course, is a very clever fellow, but he also believes practically every crackpot notion known to the modern world - or at least the right wing ones. If you want to discredit some writing, sending LM to do the hit is *not* the way to win hearts and minds. Of course Lumo did say she (or he) was not a string theorist so ...

The anti-stringers are are starting to get more vocal.

I'm inclined to think the issue is mainly beside the point. The LHC will be built, and results will either give some encouragement to ST or not. If not, ST will probably go to sleep (with the fishes!) for quite some time.

2 comments:

  1. 'A senior physicist who is not a string theorist has sent me a piece of text that he or she called "a tendentious, malicious attack on scientists and through that on science itself".'

    - words inserted into text by Lubos shortly AFTER comments on Woit's controversy.

    Original version (June 4th, 2006 at 7:52 am):

    “A senior physicist has sent me a piece of text that he or she called ‘ tendentious, malicious attack on scientists and through that on science itself’.”

    (Quoted at https://nige.wordpress.com)

    There is probably a problem with extreme bitterness and paranoia by string theorists above Motl, since string theory can't do anything physical.

    (It is important to face the facts over how the string theory community will respond to pressure. If you push gently against a brick wall, the normal reaction force automatically keeps it from falling over. The harder you push, the harder the wall pushes back, thus maintaining posture. You need to reach the yielding strength of the wall before anything constructive occurs. String theorists are being pushed a little, and are responding in kind.)

    Original version by Lubos would have caused embarrassment to EDWARD WITTEN regardless whether it was Witten, Randall, or someone else altogether who sent Lubos the email.

    Since Lubos is dishonest about strings, you can't believe anything he says. I think a vast amount of pressure is needed to get these people to behave reasonably. They have been abusive to me for a decade, as one example. See also how Tony Smith and others are suppressed from arXiv by stringers. The anger and abuse from Motl over IQ and other stuff just shows the scale of the problem. You aren't going to change hardened attitudes and prejudices without violence, I fear.

    Nigel

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  2. Nigel,

    You have some good points, but I don't think recapturing physics departments by violence is one of them! Physicists, stringy and otherwise, will make up their minds as the evidence comes in (or doesn't).

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