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Math Science

Crackpot Scandal In Mathematics 219

ocean_soul writes "It is well known among scientists that the impact factor of a scientific journal is not always a good indicator of the quality of the papers in the journal. An extreme example of this was recently uncovered in mathematics. The scandal is about one El Naschie, editor in chief of the 'scientific' journal Chaos, Solitons and Fractals, published by Elsevier. This is one of the highest impact factor journals in mathematics, but the quality of the papers in it is extremely poor. The journal has also published 322 papers with El Naschie as (co-)author, five of them in the latest issue. Like many crackpots, El Nashie has a kind of cult around him, with another journal devoted to praising his greatness. There was also a discussion about the Wikipedia entry for El Naschie, which was supposedly written by one of his followers. When it was deleted by Wikipedia, they even threatened legal actions (which never materialized)."
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Crackpot Scandal In Mathematics

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @04:33PM (#26216345)

    Yeah, you really have to be careful out there... that's why I get all my astronomy and mathematical insight (as well as web design hints) from http://www.timecube.com/ [timecube.com]
    And if it ain't there, then I just look it up on wikipedia

  • Err... (Score:5, Funny)

    by brian0918 (638904) <brian0918NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @04:36PM (#26216363)
    Where's the article?

    Ohhh! Right right! This is the article. Slashdot is now a primary source!
  • by Fractal Dice (696349) on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @05:10PM (#26216751) Journal

    Alas, something I discovered to my sorrow over the years is that sufficiently specialized math is indistinguishable from gobbledygook (and vice versa).

  • by canajin56 (660655) on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @05:19PM (#26216867)
    Perhaps it's an experiment: He's a mathematician. Now he's just demonstrating how the Impact Factor is a poor metric, and will soon present a superior measure that correctly ranks the journal poorly. ;)
  • Re:Caught (Score:1, Funny)

    by theillien2 (1426175) on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @05:24PM (#26216907)
    Why would you even bother posting this when /. puts the domain for the link in plain text?
  • by uberjack (1311219) on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @05:34PM (#26217025)
    This is an example of the sort of abuse we get all the time from ignorant people. I inherited this science from my father, an ex-used-car salesman and part-time window-box, and I am very proud to be in charge of the first science with free gifts. You get this luxury tea-trolley with every new enrolment. In addition to this you can win a three-piece lounge suite, this luxury caravan, a weekend for two with Peter Bonetti and tonight's star prize, the entire Norwich City Council.
  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @05:48PM (#26217189)

    Mathematicians use all sorts of funky ancient Greek symbols to express their thoughts. It's like trying to read an APL program.

    If mathematicians could represent their concepts in car analogies, maybe ordinary folks would be able to understand what all the fuss is about.

    At least, here, on Slashdot, where the car analogy is the lingua franca.

    And the mathematicians might have some fun with it. How would you express the concept of isomorphic, infinite-dimensional, separable Hilbert spaces with a car analogy?

  • by sdpuppy (898535) on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @06:13PM (#26217445)

    And the mathematicians might have some fun with it. How would you express the concept of isomorphic, infinite-dimensional, separable Hilbert spaces with a car analogy?

    Oh that one is too easy - all you have to do is imagine driving on the Cross-Bronx Expressway during rush hour and you have the concept down pact!

    The infinite-dimensional corresponds to the amount of time it takes to get to your destination, separable Hilbert spaces are where you are and the space just ahead of the car in the other lane moving faster than you which you can never seem to reach unless you go under the separable space under the truck, and isomorphism is what you think of the other testosterone poisoned drivers who don't know how to drive.

  • How would you express the concept of isomorphic, infinite-dimensional, separable Hilbert spaces with a car analogy?

    First, assume a perfectly spherical car of uniform density...


  • by DynaSoar (714234) on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @08:08PM (#26218467) Journal

    It does not help the cause of the sole source of criticism, a math blog from U. Texas, to have ostensibly technical criticism asserting incorrectness but admitting ignorance (see second link in summary). The author takes issue with some points in an article of which he has some experience. However, he points out several things that he has no knowledge of and admits as much. He then asserts from this admitted position of ignorance that the material with which has is not familiar is somehow fraudulent. To make that claim valid the author would have to be able to determine that with certainty, but he can't.

    This technical criticism is produced in support of a posting elsewhere in the same blog, the author of which makes the same sort of assertions, and likewise fails to support most of them. In fact he can produce partial support for only one, and then claims support from others which is not produced. Some of this supposedly comes from his own administration which he admits does not support his work pursuing the matter.

    I take no position with regards to the central issue. I've seen a couple journals with very incestuous editorial policies and staffs. It makes it hard for others to get published. However, the situation evolved into this because those people did a lot of work with each other, not because any of it was fraudulent, so this can happen in an absence of any wrong doing.

    Claims of wrong doing are extremely serious, as the occurrence of such things are. Such claims should be supportable. The claims made in TFA that are supportable are not of evidence wrong doing, and claims of wrong doing are unsupported, and by admission, unsupportable by those making them. As far as I can tell this is a single blog's flamefest with more crackpot value than what they claim is due their target.

    In short, the accusers appear to be embedded in at least as much pot and crack as they accuse others of, failing utterly to differentiate themselves from kettle. They may have a valid point, but they fail to show it, instead making themselves look all the worse through the use of reciprocal psychoceramics.

  • by Ian Alexander (997430) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @02:28AM (#26220633)
    I would actually say it's not a statement at all. It's a predicate longing for a subject. :)

Computers can figure out all kinds of problems, except the things in the world that just don't add up.