Wednesday, March 21, 2007

12:30 PM GMT, March 29

The talk and powerpoint were finished Monday evening, before this other stuff hit. There is still no telling what will happen next week. Yours truly will be at the podium whether I am pulled from the schedule or not. Will someone try to forcibly remove the speaker? Will there be a scuffle? Will the press be watching? Is this the most exciting science blog or what?

I wish to re-emphasise that I mean no harm to anyone. After showing early promise in maths, I was accepted to the world's best-known physics department just after turning 16. After not being allowed to finish there, I attended another university across the Bay. People associated with the first university did their best to get me removed or prevented from speaking.

I have decided to finish up with a tropical research university, a place so remote that most people haven't heard of it. It is peaceful, close to coral reefs, and far removed from the cutthroat atmosphere of Berkeley and Stanford. As was tried in 2004, someone has stalked the writer and pulled papers from arxiv. Now he has reached across the ocean to stop a talk.

I wish to thank Kea and others who have tried to help me post. Someone has under-estimated my hacking skills. The problem has been isolated to one person fingering his computer at 00:51 in the morning New York time. He confesses to pulling papers from arxiv due to prejudice. When his email went across the Atlantic, conference organisers considered it the word of Cornell.

This person's bio page is very interesting. He is an avowed Marxist-Leninist, admires Noam Chomsky, and wishes to see the US violently overthrown. Mahndisa and Lubos, you would love to hear about this guy. "There must be a social contract between a scientist and his syndic," he writes, "and an exit penalty for kamikaze runs outside this setting." People like him wish to control what you hear and think. Does he represent Cornell University?

UPDATE: Here for posterity is this character's bio page

Don Barry

This is a brief personal introduction. An abridged professional curriculum vitae may be found here.
My picture gallery is also available through this link.


Marxism/Leninism and socialist philosophy: We're returning rapidly to the era of giant monopolies and robber-baron owners. The last time this happened, in the 1880-1920 period, the "solution," a mere band-aid, required mass action by labor, inspired leadership by strong nation-states, and suppression of an entire activist movement. This time it won't be so "pretty." The nation-state is gone as an entity independent of capital, capital itself is more fluid than it has ever been before ($6 trillion in real goods traded internationally in 1993, $50 trillion in capital traded internationally in that year), and the efficiencies of production (21% of USA population in manufacturing now vs. 60% in 1920) means that fewer scabs can keep the factories open, pitting more and more people against each other. I concur with Wallerstein's prediction for an unstable "quiet before the storm" lasting another decade or two, and then the deluge. Quite frankly, I don't think we'll deal with it very well here (I recall the collapse of Weimar). In Europe, with a social-democratic tradition, I think things (this time) will go better. Will they light the way out?

I wrote the above paragraph in the 1990s. As of 2007 the police state is well underway, thanks to the connivance of both major political parties. I urge people to study the work of the Socialist Equality Party and support its candidates. I do.

Some favorite things I've read:
The Case of Comrade Tulayev , by Victor Serge, Journeyman press, 345 Archway Road, London N65AA (try finding this in your local bookstore - good luck!) Serge was one of the most perceptive social writers of our century, combining Dreiser's monumentality of form with a precision of language and miniaturist bent that gives him the scope to plumb both the interior and exterior of the political upheavals of the early century. Here's a brief excerpt.

The World Socialist Web Site, the most vital daily source of news and penetrating analysis now available on the web.
International Socialism, Once great, now rather comprador with a tendency to grasp somewhat desperately at entryism, though some authors are still worth reading.

Perry Anderson's thin volume In the Tracts of Historical Materialism, an astounding reposte to the preposterous claims of structuralism and its descendents to have superseded Marxian analysis. Anderson has since followed those he mocked into obscurantism, but at his peak he was well worth reading.

Education: I've tried to unbuild walls between scientists and their communities. Years ago, I formed an astronomy outreach organization structured along the lines of an amateur club. At its peak, my colleagues and I had a structure for involving the astronomically curious in our work outside the formal settings of a classroom. We further used the interest of our 250 participants to reach out to visitors at most of the state parks of Georgia and involved tens of thousands of people annually in a personal astronomy experience. Sadly, the experiment of "hyper-democracy" in this organization made it unstable to manipulation by unscrupulous amateurs with no vested interest in astronomy per se, and eventually led to the suspension of our support for the group. I'm convinced now that our educational system at large needs to be reformed along syndicalist lines, perhaps one of my main areas of rapport with our distinguished social critic and theorist Noam Chomsky. As in a society at large, science flourishes within professional societies and collectives of scholars and students when its progress is directed by those with a stake in it. There must be a social contract between a scientist and his syndic, and an exit penalty for kamikaze runs outside this setting (dissension within a syndic is fine, no Lysenkoism here, but the Edward Tellers and Pons and Fleischmanns of the world who operate outside the morality of their colleagues must earn their recompense).


Blogger Kea said...

LOL again! I hope the press are there if there is a tussle. Some Lara Croft skills might come in handy.

11:42 AM  
Blogger Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden said...

03 21 07

Hello Louise:
What an interesting post. While I disagree with the guy calling you out of your name, I wonder about why you have posted a link to him. He does seem to have some objectionable views. But this really isn't about him. This is more or less about your credibility. He is a distraction from your opportunity.

Perhaps you might take this opportunity to talk a bit about yourself and your theory. My brother calls getting over initail barriers in thought OVERCOMING OBJECTIONS.

If you are able to justify your positions with grace and humility and can admit to aspects that need work, then you will likely be accepted. After all, it isn't about us; it is about the work. Best Wishes.

11:42 AM  
Blogger serge said...

This is no laughing matter, unfortunately. You must feel terrible.

Hang in there. Try to absorb/deflect the agression that was done to you, as in judo. Concentrate, meditate on the positive, on what is good in life. Keeping Goodness strong in your mind is the best medicine.

From the context, and also from similar experience to men, I don't think that the majority of the cause of this agression is a reaction to your gender. It probably is because of your ideas and the current social context of violent mental disease world-wide.

Example 1: Established whale researcher who in the 1970s stated the hypothesis that based on observations it appeared that whales may be able to listen to other whales over hundreds of kilometers. He was ridiculed and ostracized. Now we know that some whales do this over thousands of kilometers and not only listen, they respond too. His career was almost destroyed at the time. He is recognized as a great scientist.

Exampe 2: Fleishmann and Ponds, of the cold fusion fame. They were ridiculed and ostracized in the 1980s. They even had to leave the US to find a job. They were rescued in Japan by M. Toyoda, founder of the Toyota conglomerate. And now cold fusion is accepted as a valid theory with reproducible experiments and funding.

In such situations, we must not ignore the possibility of military/industrial justifications for such attacks. In both examples above, there were significant military impacts related to these ideas. And if I am not mistaken, your ideas have major military significance. If your ideas have some validity, then it would make sense that someone would want them discredited for as long as possible.

Keep blogging.

12:51 PM  
Blogger L. Riofrio said...

Thanks, I have been attacked like this more times than I care to think about. New ideas can expect to meet some skepticism, but preventing someone from speaking/publishing is cowardly and reprehensible. It is time to expose these people.

1:50 PM  
Blogger CarlBrannen said...

You will get far more exposure for your theory by causing an amusing scene then you will by quietly giving an interesting lecture.

Of course at this late date it is too late for them to make this sort of switch. As if one person is going to do permanent damage to physics by one talk.

It is a fact of human nature that people love to stare at an automobile wreck. If it were me, I'd be contacting journalists who plan on being there. It will make a great story.

3:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clicked through your comment on Dynamics of Cats:

Louise, a skim over your blog reveals a lot of strong feeling from you about your ideas. As I have heard many times throughout my career, extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. So if you feel under attack, the best way to respond is to systematically, convincingly, and dispassionately disprove the critics to your idea with supporting evidence, theory, and observations that strongly support your view.

Frankly it should end there. The personal attack you received should not be responded to very publicly, because then you are escalating whatever conflict is going on. While satisfying, outing the attack doesn't solve anything and probably will make your life worse in the short term. I am however not saying that you should ignore these attacks on your reputation, but to do so with the people who can really effect change in a specific situation, namely editors, conference organizers, or department heads of the offending person. If you politely point out your attack to these people, often you will get the desired effect. If it doesn't work, go to the next level up in authority. If all else fails, then maybe consider going the route you have chosen.

2:05 AM  
Blogger nige said...

"We're returning rapidly to the era of giant monopolies and robber-baron owners."

- Dr Don Barry,

The giant monopolies are mainstream arXiv defended speculations which have been a failure, like string theory.

Dr Barry's behaviour shows that he isn't interested in real science, just getting a pat on the back from his friends at Cornell by attacking new ideas which aren't coming from mainstream orthodoxy.

I do think his obsession with Marxism on his page is unhealthy. Marxism's a failed idea, like string theory.

Marxism, string theory and the dark energy of the mainstream Lambda-CDM cosmological model (GR with small positive CC) can only be "defended" by the tactics being used by Dr Barry and Dr Motl, namely ad hominem attacks on critics.

That's all they can do. I think it is reasonable to point out where people do this in public, to deter others. If you just write to complain to their manager, supervisor, or professor, you'll probably be wasting your time.

First, that person will have enployed them in the first place, and will have more sympathy with them than others. Dr Motl for example is still at Harvard, despite producing little research and much hot air and rudeness in his attempts to attack scientific critics. Maybe he will have to leave eventually, or tone down his attacks, but it is a waste of time either way.

The main thing is to make it clear to other people that behaving this way in the name of Marxism or whatever isn't clever, it's not scientific in the least.

2:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Louise (and Kea, as I am also posting this on Kea's blog),
I am very sad to hear that Cornell's censors have reached even beyond arXiv to pressure a meeting at another (supposedly independent of Cornell) institution to prevent you from delivering a talk that had already been accepted.
It is especiallly disgusting that Don Barry attacks you personally as "a frequent crackpot pest" and suggests that if you are allowed to talk, it should be regarded as "some comic relief".

Since I am blacklisted by the Cornell arXiv, I am in the same position of Carl Brannen stated:
"... at this time, my giving support for Louise would be uh, counterproductive ...",
I will not burden you by complaining to Cornell or Imperial, but I do want to express my feelings on your blog, and on Kea's. Please feel free to delete this comment if you (either Louise or Kea) feel that it is redundant duplication.

Since I was hanging around Ga Tech in the 1980s, I may have encountered Don Barry, but if I did, I don't recall it. On his web pages at Cornell, he said:
"... science flourishes within professional societies and collectives of scholars and students when its progress is directed by those with a stake in it. There must be a social contract between a scientist and his syndic, and an exit penalty for kamikaze runs outside this setting
(dissension within a syndic is fine ... but Edward Tellers ... who operate outside the morality of their colleagues must earn their recompense). ...".

In short, he says that only establishment science can be good science.

That would rule out such things as:

Continental Drift (advocated by outsider Alfred Wegener in 1912, but not accepted until the 1960s);

Bohmian quantum mechanics (Oppenheimer, as head of the Princeton IAS, said "If we cannot disprove Bohm, then we must agree to ignore him.);

the Copernical theory (advocated by outsider Galileo);

stars as suns (advocated by outsiter Bruno, who was burned to death for such);

statistical mechanics as basis for thermodynamics (advocated by Botzmann, who was driven to suicide);

QED (invented by outsider Stueckelberg, who was ignored until Feynman et al "rediscovered" it - Feynman, after receiving the Nobel, saw Stueckelberg at CERN and said ""He [ Stueckelberg ] did the work and walks alone toward the sunset; and, here I [ Feynman ] am, covered in all the glory, which rightfully should be his!" ... ".

In the interest of length of comment, I will stop my list here,
conclude by saying that you, Louise, should follow your heart and do what feels right,
no matter what Cornell or anyone else says.
Of course, you should listen to substantive criticism and continually reexamine your model, and if you find flaws, correct them and so produce an improved model,
but if you remain self-critical and follow your heart, I think that you will not go wrong.

Tony Smith

PS - It seems strange to me that Don Barry cites Teller as an example of bad science,
even though Teller had the support of the weapons-building establishment and did in fact (with the help of Ulam and others) build a hydrogen bomb that was undeniably successful physics.

PPS - Here is a quote from Claude Allegre (from his book The Behavior of the Earth (Harvard Press 1988)), in the context of the establishment's adoption in 1961 of Wegener's 1912 proposal of Continental Drift (which actually had even earlier been "set forth in 1858 by Antonio Snyder-Pellegrini"):
"... Originality is a highly esteemed virtue as long as it is not TOO original. ... the only tolerable originalities are those that are differentially origininal (in the mathematical sense). The quantum jump in the evolution of scientific ideas is taboo ...".

6:54 PM  
Blogger Gebar said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8:35 AM  
Blogger Gebar said...

Hi Louise,

My best wishes for your presentation and your whole endeavour.

If you are able to justify your positions with grace and humility and can admit to aspects that need work, then you will likely be accepted. After all, it isn't about us; it is about the work.

It should be about the work only and not us, but obviously it isn't. If it were, grace and humility would have nothing to do with it. The merits of a work would be recognized irrespective of whether you present it humbly as you advise or sassily, as Louise perhaps does. And if grace and humility is necessary, it should be necessary for both sides, mainstream and "outsiders". And I can see neither grace nor humility in Don Barry's interventions.

But let me make a prediction here, for anyone who may read it. What Louise proposes, and what nige, and Carl and Tony Smith propose, (and allow me to add myself to this list too with what I propose), will ultimately prove true. You know why? Because these matters are been studied for over a century, and unification is still as far away as it was in the final days of Einstein --perhaps even more so. So, if all these super-smart and super-trained people have not managed to discover the solution after all this time, it can only mean one thing. They are looking in the wrong place, in the wrong direction.

What we outsiders propose may not be the ultimate solution to the problem, but it is in the right direction. Will it be accepted? Of course not. These views will prevail ultimately, but they will only do so when a famous member of the mainstream will propose them (as in the case of Stueckelberg and Feynman), or perhaps several famous members of the mainstream, and even then the struggle will be long, with the mandatory delay until the representatives of the old school (who do not hesitate to evaluate a theory on the basis of whether it uses tensors or not) are no longer active in the field. Because very often it is about them and not about the work. Sadly, this is the structure of scientific revolutions.

8:39 AM  
Blogger Rae Ann said...

Oh, man, I'm so sorry you've had to go through this. It's just another example of some jerk with some letters after his name thinking that he can bully women. On a much smaller scale I've had this happen too, and I think you've done the right thing to publicly "out" this bigot who is trying to sabotage your work. Bigots need to be publicly called out and humiliated for being hypocrites. You go girl!

1:53 PM  
Blogger Rae Ann said...

Incidentally, I think Nigel is very wrong to put Lubos and this guy in the same category. Of course, my view is a bit biased.

2:00 PM  
Blogger L. Riofrio said...

All your supportive comments are appreciated. I have concluded that harassers need to be exposed, so everyone can see their slimy tactics. Tony, it is interesting how well this person fits in the communist mold. I feel we can win/lose in the arena of ideas, if those ideas are allowed to be presented.

3:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Louise, I think that you are correct that
"... we can win/lose in the arena of ideas,
if those ideas are allowed to be presented. ...",
I agree with you that "... harassers need to be exposed,
so everyone can see their slimy tactics. ...".

A point of interest in the copy of the Don Barry e-mail you quoted
is its header, showing "... Cc: Simeon Warner ...".

It is my recollection that Simeon Warner and Paul Ginsparg worked together at Los Alamos, when the arXiv was administered there,
that when the arXiv administration was transferred to Cornell, it was part of a package deal whereby Paul Ginsparg and Simeon Warner also went to Cornell.

In my experience with the process of being blacklisted (something that was not done until after the move to Cornell), it seemed to me that Simeon Warner may have been acting in concert with Paul Ginsparg as an active moderator/gatekeeper/enforcer of the blacklist.
it is my opinion that the "Cc: Simeon Warner" shows that Don Barry may not be merely what Rae Ann called an individual "bigot who is trying to sabotage your work", but may be part of an organized censorship effort at Cornell.

I should also say that some of the people who seem to me to be actively involved in Cornell's activities that seem to me to be censorship may be female, so that I feel that the situation is broader than sex discrimination, although in your case that does seem to be a factor.

Tony Smith

4:52 PM  
Blogger serge said...

correct spelling: Fleischmann, Pons

update: the whale researcher is Roger S. Payne. ref.: review
current work

I wouldn't be surprised if the communist qualifier was a false flag; a common obfuscation and honey pot technique in these networks.

3:08 AM  
Blogger CarlBrannen said...

Well, I've come around to concluding that a few people have it in for you, Louise, something personal. I've posted as such over on Tommaso's blog.

1:42 PM  
Blogger serge said...

I just realized that one of the attackers did mention Fleischmann and Pons as examples of scientists that deserve to be ostracized apparently, if I understood his meaning, because they did not obey the decisions of their peers and went ahead and published their findings.

First I must apologize for not noticing their names in my first survey of the attacker's ramblings.

Second, let me point out that today, March 2007, it is now commonly known that Fleischmann and Pons are being re-instated and the continuation of their work is very exciting and active. They probably will soon be official heroes (they always have been to me) and I wouldn't be surprised if they get the big prize maybe in 10 years or so. The pendulum swings. Maybe the required amount of time has elapsed and the truth is now allowed to be official.

I also wish to point out the text of the attackers about them:

*There must be a social contract between a scientist and his syndic, and an exit penalty for kamikaze runs outside this setting (dissension within a syndic is fine, no Lysenkoism here, but Edward Tellers or Pons and Fleischmanns who operate outside the morality of their colleagues must earn their recompense).*

This is consistent with my impression that this attacker thinks that he is helping to enforce his group's policies and control over published ideas. The only such groups and *policies* that I know of are essentially military-industrial in nature. His allegiance to such groups may very well be imaginary, a delusion, on his part. He may be a very sick person.

2:19 PM  
Anonymous ttyler5 said...


Eric Berger at the SciGuy blog of the Houston Chronicle has you linked at his post on the upcoming conference.

I hope you have a great presentation as well as a great reception!

The stalker fellow sounds like an ideological-totalitarian sociopath.

I hope you have contacted the FBI about this matter.

I suspect that his hacking into the arvix and pulling papers is against federal law.

And I am quite certain it is a violation of your free speech rights, and I think you should see an attorney on this.

3:13 PM  
Blogger dr.psycho said...

I'm a bit shocked by the fact that nobody complains or comments negatively about Louise's opinion that being a communist or a fan of Noam Chomsky qualifies somebody as an un-trustable person.

12:32 PM  
Blogger nige said...

dr psycho:

perhaps the fact that communists are untrustable is due to that fact that communism requires a police state and dictatorship to succeed. like arxiv.

12:54 AM  
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