Wednesday, February 24, 2010

My Reply to Lubos Motl

The picture above is my favorite of Dr. Lubos Motl of Czechia. Looks like a pleasant fellow, yes?

UPDATE : click here to see his video (from 2002). He states he didn't leave Harvard over denied tenure, but rather "I wasn't denied any tenure. I resigned because I couldn't stand the radical left-wing scum that effectively controls Harvard - and the Academia." - Lubos . I can see how disgusted he would be with Harvard. It's not close to what it used to be, they really take Liberalism too far. Lubos of course, is a devotee of  Fox News, which promotes the completely extreme opposite philosophy of Harvard.

For background on what you are about to read, please read Dr. Sabine Hossenfelder's "Interna", and comments, here.

To be called immoral by Motl is a high accolade. ... Aruns [sic]

You mean I'm not not the only one who came to that conclusion? Cool, and high-five.

... Aruns [sic]and Colyers [sic] and similar stuff are far leftists who have purely political reasons to help to defend the indefensible but that can't change the fact that what they're doing is deeply immoral, too. ... Dr. Lubos Motl, Ph.D. (in what?), Rutgers University

What's "immoral", Lubos? Criticizing a criticizer and ad hominem personal attacker such as yourself? In Karl Rove's world, "criticism" should work only one way, and THAT's Politics, baby!

In his world. You should watch the film, "Bush's Brain," in which Rove, on camera, explains his political strategy of shining a light on the opponent to make your guy win an election. Or do your friends at John Birch and at Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. tell you not to? Who's "the man" if you don't at least consider the other guy's opinion? Not you if you don't, obviously.

I'm not "a lib", Lubos. I'm a political moderate. It might pleasantly surprise you how many ways I agree with some of your not-extreme thoughts, and even some (but not all) of the extreme ones. But let's talk Lubos, about your favorite subject.

As many have said here and elsewhere, you are an excellent teacher until one comes upon that subject where you toss objectivity in the fireplace: Superstrings Theory. There ARE alternatives, Lubos, but rather than explore them you attack not just the theories, but the theorists themselves.

That's unprofessional, rude, crude, crass, uncouth, and classless. It is also, as stefan stated, entertaining ... but only to a point. Is that why you do it? For hits at your website? Are you that insecure as a person? Isn't it enough that SciAm's George Musser mentions only 4 websites that people should read to understand Superstrings Theory in his book "T.C.I. Guide to String Theory", and those four are BackReAction, Cosmic Variance, The Reference Frame, and Not Even Wrong? Isn't it great to be one of those four? Isn't that sufficient?

As a fellow Scarlet Knight (2 degrees) who is currently indebting/bankrupting himself sending his two oldest children to Rutgers, I humbly beseech you to represent our alma mater better, i.e. and to whit, grow up.

Btw, I mention you at my latest post, here. I  sincerely hope you're not offended. I look forward to further discussion between us. Ski in the high Tatras? Beer in an outdoor cafe in Pilzn? A motor tour of Bell Labs-Murray Hill, Serin Physics Lab, The Hill Center for Mathematical Sciences, Fine Hall and Fuld Hall, lunch with Peter Woit at Times Square's Hard Rock Cafe? All are within 30 miles of my house. All are possible.

To Neil Bates: good points, mate.

Colyers [sic]


Jérôme CHAUVET said...

It's too much smart words for shouting at a barking dog.

Steven Colyer said...

It's too much smart words for shouting at a barking dog.

You're a madman, so I love you. Do you know thanks to Google Language Tools, translate to the following in French?:

C'est trop dire à puce pour crier à un chien aboyer.

I do not speak French (I should, ... I live a 9-hr drive south of Montreal ... which I've visited and loved), so you be the judge if Google Language Tools got it right.

Lubos? Yeah. He's like 90% of a man, maybe 95%. All he needs is to learn civility, and he would then have potential to change the world in other than a negative fashion.

Steven Colyer said...

By the way, "Recent Comments" don't work at my site, currently. I very much want to say stuff at YOUR blog, but for some reason I can't comment at your "Recent posts." Pls investigate, thanks.

Andrew Thomas said...

Good post. Lubos's aggression says much more about him than about the people he attacks. A psychotherapist would have a field day. Personally, I strongly suspect Lubos is overcompensating for - how shall I say - a "lack of inches in the trouser department". He has some sort of insecurity like that. Stands out a mile. (unlike the trouser department ..)

Steven Colyer said...

Thanks Andrew, but I don't think the size of his dick, or "tallywacker" if you will, should come into the discussion.

Much more important is your description, as is mine, of the degree of his "insecurity." Maybe his Dad beat the shit out of him like Hitler's with an arse-kissing sissy mother's as well to further screw up the mental works. Dunno, don't care. The end result, as we all know, is painful to our whole field to behold.

Jérôme CHAUVET said...

It's too much smart words for shouting at a barking dog.

Is my sentence wrong or unclear? Isn't it correct saying so?

Lately, I've been talking in German + French at home, so that I may be kind of confused with languages and some of my sentences may sound awkward.

What do you want me to do? To correct my sentence, or to completely translate in French an English sentence you tried to translate with Google Tool?

About my blog, I don't know what you are talking about? I tried to comment the most recent post, and it worked. All settings are okay.

Kind of weird, no?

About Lumo: Wow, wow, wow, this awful vendetta at the Backreaction blog makes me feel so sorry for Physics. Really sorry.

Andrew Thomas said...

Yes, to be serious, it's something like that - a lack of affection when it was growing up. Which is rather sad, actually.

I feel most sorry for Stefan, actually, the things Lubos says about his wife. It must be really painful for him.

Jérôme CHAUVET said...

Lumo uses non scientific arguments to criticize Bee about her scientific competence. So, I agree with Andrew to say that he has got a real real big problem. Does he fear to be forgotten by other physicists because he lives in Eastern Europe? Like Andrew (sorry Steven) but it has to do with his two "round things" (if he has some)

I just want to stop hearing and talking about him for a while.

What we are doing at present is achieving the most important part of his business plan, and my advice is that he mustn't win too much out of us.


Plato said...

Just a point for you fellows.

I am not a religious man per say, but I think we understand the issues about the psychology of, that we can defer to our own "judgment process," as a conscientious objector, as some "error correction" that will have to contended with.

So one thing I learnt is the subjective snowballs that people like throw, okay it's winter here, does not differentiate us to much from those we criticize. Do we see facets of ourselves in the words we share of another?

As Steven points out the knowledge is there and to get past this subjective relationship we do need to see what is being extolled. Even Peter Woit had to contend with the backlash of his own quirkiness.

In one sense we see where mathematics is real, if it goes along side of how we would describe something in the natural world, so it behooves us to see the correlative physics relation.

If the conception is not there with eye of it's beholder then one might have missed the true essence of that thought portrayed?

Short on time. Will come back to it.


Neil B said...

I repost this section since it involves a humor proposal of mine (or maybe it should become real.) I mention LuMo obliquely but this is not to put him down. As I've said before, I don't dig his irritability but he has provided helpful comments many times. Mixed bag situation, as they say.

LuMo - Maybe he feels cheated out of recognition for some reason. There's a lot of people like that. In many cases around the world it's true, and they were wrongfully thwarted of their goals (by election fraud, stolen ideas, ideas were right but not appreciated at the time, etc.) I propose a Union for the epitomes of such people: The Union of Disgruntled Thwarted Deservees. ("Deservees" is formed from usual -ee suffix, as for draftees, attendees etc. - someone who does or is done to, so someone who deserves something. I sadly did not coin the word.) Not everyone thwarted deserved something, not every thwarted deservee is disgruntled; etc. - so there can be splinter groups too. Well after all this mess it's hard to stay serious.

Steven Colyer said...

Neil Bates, this may seem weird, but I actually LIKE Lubos, and what I mean by that is I actually like his PASSION for Physics. I may not agree with him 100%, but I do not disagree with him 100% either. He is, after all, a member of our community, a "Brother in Physics" as it were. No, a "Brother in Science", which is an ever greater thing. So I care about him.

What I do NOT like is his attitude, specifically, his "name-calling." I mean, how dare he call Sabine and Stefan "evil scum." That is uncalled for.

Einstein and Bohr disagreed a lot, but they were always friends. They were able to put professional disagreements aside from personal feelings. This is important to me, if serious discussion about what we ALL feel are important issues are to progress. To do otherwise is to regress the advancement of Humanity and our collective long-term survival, IMO.

For example, I care what you write as well Neil (indeed, at least your own personal theory suggests a real experiment to prove or falsify), and I've read what you wrote at Lubos' thread. Very diplomatic on your part, well done.

But more importantly, it's more in keeping with how Bohr and Einstein discussed things. Even if Bee was tautologically wrong and Lubos is completely correct as you imply, that important fact becomes lost when an important person in this discussion accuses the other as being "evil scum", as Lubos does.

It's not only not necessary, it hurts Human progress.

Lubos doesn't have to discuss his views in a common decent humanely respectful manner, but he should, and for the sheer betterment of Humanity via Human understanding of reality and the progress that would be made therewith, grow up.

Jérôme CHAUVET said...

About Dr. Motl, I however agree to say that he often points out crucial points of discussion on novel theories, which are by essence fragile paradigms, and defends his view-point with smart strength and logical arguments.

Superstring theory has indeed led to thousands of relevant works in the field of quantum gravity, and thanks to it, we now know better than with any other theory that unification is possible.

He has his style, but Physics needs him.


Steven Colyer said...

I don't think that Physics "needs" Lubos, Jérôme, any more that this old world of ours "needs" any one of us. "The World" will go along its merry way if any one of us died tomorrow, or never existed at all.

I will say that if a certain Mr. and Mrs. Motl didn't get busy 35 years ago and make their baby boy Lubos, and further given that nature abhors a vacuum, that SOMEbody would have risen to defend Superstrings Theory in the extremist fashion he does. There probably would have been.


Who knows?

gilesgoatboy said...

Hello Steven, I hope you don't feel the presence of the goat boy sullies your blog.

I'm here because you are literally the only one who has shown the slightest courage in the face of the incredible pressure of Bee's increasingly hysterical and authoritarian insistence upon her viewpoint, if something so incoherent can even be considered a viewpoint.

Since you're a smart and sane person, I can imagine how you reacted to Bee's pathetic verbal response to my careful presentation followed by her even more pathetic, and in fact truly outrageous, abrupt shutting down of all comment before anyone other than herself had a chance to respond. Has there ever been a more transparent attempt to suppress a debate because one is dramatically losing that debate?

The question is: Are the Backreactors going to behave like submissive boot-lickers in the presence of this intolerable act by the Dominatrix? I see that your blog is read by regular contributors to Backreaction, so I pose that question to all of you. Whether I'm right or wrong in my argument, the debate I initiated is indisputably of great interest, relevance, and importance. Obviously Stefan and Bee believe that the longer it persists the clearer it will become that I am correct--and as human beings they are terrified by that possibility . But to react by suddenly shutting off debate just when it's getting most interesting is a shocking act of intellectual violence (and cowardice) that should be unacceptable to all right-thinking people. And I assume that you, Steven, and Backreaction readers generally, are such people.

P.S. Little did you suspect, Steven, (and all of you others) that you would suddenly find yourself in a moral crisis, Do the right thing and have your comfortable life perhaps turned upside-down, or cower in silence and let things continue as normal. Suddenly you have to decide, Do you have it in you to be Sir Thomas More, Giordano Bruno, Tom Paine, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela?

gilesgoatboy said...

I've just glanced through a few of the comments to Bee's "Yes, We Can't", and I see there's no need for you or your fellow Backreactors to respond to my comment.

Bee knows her readership--she can get away with any deception or suppression of discussion to mask her fallibility, and there won't be a peep out of you guys. Her boots are sparkling.

Steven Colyer said...

Welcome, Giles Goat-Boy. If you read Bee's and Stefan's closed thread you'll note she held open the possibility she may have been wrong, so no her boots don't sparkle as you put it but if you've read enough of her blog over a long period of time you would know they're pretty shiny.

Bee has taught me a lot, as has Lubos, as long as the subject is well-established Physics. What's interesting to me and many others is what's going on at the cutting-edge, where speculation meets opinion based on solid experimental results, extrapolated, and mathematical rigor. In this realm things get fuzzy, and I've always found Bee to be more intellectually honest than Lubos.

Lubos allows too much passion into his views IMO, and I'm not the only one who feels that way. For starters I can't understand his attacks on Bee and her reputation; I've resigned myself that since he hates Lee Smolin's guts to high heaven and she's associated with him that she gets shrapnel damage. Please don't think for one minute that Lubos will ever allow criticism of his views to be presented at his blog. He has zero tolerance for disagreement with his views.

These blogs aren't democracies. I tend to think of them as each blogger's home. Noone would take a dump in the middle of their hosts' living room floor, would they, and expect to be excused?

Tell us Giles, how long have you been into this stuff, where are you now and what are your goals?

Jérôme CHAUVET said...

Nice reply Steven, YEAH !!! You're the best one EVER.

Jérôme CHAUVET said...

@gilesgoatboy: I just wonder if you are some person of the research world (physicist, mathematician), or some blogger passing by there?

Where is your concern in bringing the Backreaction's authors so low?

@steven: Thank you for kicking my ass after my last post. I was trying to get rid of some... burden at my blog, but it did not work.

gilesgoatboy said...

Jerome: Despite allegations by some Backreactors that I have a "massive ego", I actually don't, and because I don't, I do not expect people to have obsessively read and memorized my posts on the "Interna" thread. So I understand when you say, "Where is your concern in bringing the Backreaction's authors so low?" that you are simply giving me your general "impression" of my posts, without having in mind anything specific. But general impressions can be faulty, and yours is exactly that. If you were to re-read all my posts (NOT THAT I IMAGINE YOU EVER WOULD!--no massive ego here), you would see I was actually trying first, to elucidate Bee's error, and then to respond to her absolutely ridiculous defense. What you perceive as my attempt to "bring them so low" is just the impression created by the zealous, forthright, implacable assertion of reason (by me, in this case) in the face of someone unceasingly resisting that reason in increasingly ineffective and childish ways (Bee and Stefan).

Despite having the cobras of Backreaction, including Stefan and Bee, spew venom at me without pause, close scrutiny of all my comments will reveal only a single "unkind" allegation leveled by me, i.e. that Bee's response to my argument, repeated endlessly, was "absurd and deeply dishonest", and that allegation came only as the logical conclusion of a lengthy post laying out with mathematical precision the basis for it. And that's what I want to address to you Steven.

I understand the potent psychological forces involved here: submission to a powerful authoritarian figure (see Milgram's legendary "Obedience to Authority" experiments) and conformity to the group (see Sherif's astounding studies in that regard). At Backreaction, both forces demand, "Don't oppose Bee!" To speak out in the face of that is extraordinarily difficult. And there's another reason not to do so in your case Steven. Unlike many people content to do their job, enjoy their family, watch TV, etc. you, Steven, have felt the need to express yourself and interact intellectually. Hence your blogs, and your very frequent participation on Backreaction, and presumably elsewhere. I applaud that, and I fully grasp how pleasurable it is for you, and how you would be very reluctant to do anything that might possibly disrupt this gratifying new aspect of your life. And clearly, saying anything, however mild and judicious, against Bee could conceivably jeopardize your status at Backreaction, at least briefly, and possibly reduce the response to your blog since so many of its participants appear to be Backreactors.

But really Steven, how can you have remained silent when Bee repeatedly said, as her sole defense, "You (gilesgoatboy) and Lubos Motl agreed that my statement was correct, so why are we still arguing?", as though Lubos and I had conceded the validity of her argument, when she knew we had only said her statement was "trivially correct" or "meaninglessly correct" and had gone on to eviscerate her position. Whether Lubos and I were right in our argument is irrelevant--what is pertinent is that we never conceded ANYTHING meaningful and Bee knew that, and her repeated pretense that we had conceded the whole argument was "absurd and deeply dishonest". So I want to ask you directly, and I expect no evasions in response, "Do you acknowledge Bee's dishonesty in this regard, and if not, why not?" (Go back and read my comment on Interna beginning, "This post will have a very narrow focus..." on Feb. 24, for the full details of my proof of Bee's dishonesty.) You say in your profile of yourself Steven that you have "a rebellious nature". Was that decades ago and you've "matured" into a timid conformist, or do you still have the ability to rebel against all the social forces demanding silence and tell the truth?

Steven Colyer said...

You say in your profile of yourself Steven that you have "a rebellious nature". Was that decades ago and you've "matured" into a timid conformist ...

Absolutely. I don't usually think of the stuff I could get away with in my youth compared to how much I have to conform with boss & coworkers, family and neighbors before friends are even considered because it gets too depressing. You must be very young if you don't know that.

do you still have the ability to rebel against all the social forces demanding silence and tell the truth?

I'm still trying to figure out what the hell "the truth" actually is! I have a ton of more important and better things to do than go back and read the minutiae at "Interna" of this argument and in detail, at the current time. Put it on my list of TTD though.

Have you not read Bee's newest post?

Also, pls don't call Bee and Stefan "cobras" or anyone else here again, thanks.

Neil B said...

Hi Steven, are LuMo and ggb "weenies"? ;-)
BTW I responded to your comment at Bee's in re your comment at my joint.

Polymath said...

As an objective 3rd party, I immediately understood Motl's use of the words "Aruns" and "Colyers" to be an example of the rhetorical technique of synecdoche. He is not misspelling he names, he is pluralizing them to make them represent a class of similar things: "Aruns" = "people like Arun". This should have been obvious to readers of Motl since he uses this technique frequently when criticiizing the Woits and Smolins of the world.