Last month I made the following prediction:
String theory doesn’t make any predictions, but I can make one: Lubos will be among the first reviewers of my book on Amazon, and I’ll get two stars.
This prediction was confirmed today, with a certain Harvard faculty member acting exactly the way you would expect. The reason for the two stars is that Lubos is well aware that Amazon usually deletes one star reviews.
His Amazon review is nutty in so many ways it’s hard to know where to start. It begins with:
I have read a different edition of the book than one offered here, and I apologize in advance for any inaccuracies in my review that this fact could cause. In fact, if any errors from the list below have been corrected, it was because of my feedback, so I think it is fair to list them anyway.
I have no idea what “different edition” of the book he is referring to, perhaps it is the earlier version that Cambridge considered a couple years ago, which was circulated by them and by me to various people. Whatever it was he was reading, I never received any feedback from him correcting supposed errors. Besides this weird delusion, pretty much everything else he quotes as an error in the book is something he has made up out of whole cloth. He doesn’t directly quote a single word of mine or give page numbers, so I can’t even figure out where he is getting this nonsense.
I’ll just ignore the ranting and ad hominem attacks, trademarks of someone on the losing side of an argument, and address the very few substantive errors he claims I make where I can actually locate the exact place in the book he claims an error is being made:
Woit writes that the energy of the LHC beam will be 14 GeV, instead of 14 TeV
Page 31: “[the LHC] is a proton-proton collider with a total energy of 14 Tev”
Note that the original is correct, his correction is wrong (the beam energy is 7 TeV).
In his description of the history of supersymmetry, he forgets Pierre Ramond.
Actually I explain carefully in the preface of the book that the history is quite sketchy and many people are left out. One of my main fears after writing this book was realizing how many enemies I would make by not putting their names in. In this case however, Pierre Ramond is in the index and I write:
Page 154: “The first string theory with fermions was constructed by Pierre Ramond late in 1970”
Page 155: “Early string theorists discovered that string theories with fermions involved a version of supersymmetry…”
He misunderstands how SU(2) can be embedded to SO(4)
There’s nothing in the book about embeddings of SU(2) in SO(4). Presumably this is a reference to a mistaken statement I made once on this weblog. Yes, dear reader, among the by now probably thousands of pages of material I have written on this blog, I have sometimes said something incorrect. The book is written a lot more carefully than my blog postings.
Even more seriously, he builds his case upon e-mail messages from undetermined sources that supported Woit’s viewpoint. Most of these e-mails were obviously written by crackpots.
In the book I’m quite careful to attribute things I quote and there are very few e-mails quoted. There’s only one unattributed e-mail that I can think of, it was written by someone visiting the Harvard string theory group at the time of the Bogdanov scandal, who wrote:
“So no one in the string group at Harvard can tell if these papers are real or fraudulent. This morning told that they were frauds, everyone was laughing at how obvious it is. This afternoon, told they are real professors and that this is not a fraud, everyone here says, well, maybe it is real stuff.”
This is unattributed since I don’t know who wrote it. Maybe they were a crackpot, one visiting the Harvard string theory group.
The problematic statement that string theory makes no prediction is repeated hundreds of times, and in many particular contexts, such a statement becomes not only boring but also patently false.
I doubt it’s actually in the hundreds, but sure, I do repeatedly claim that string theory makes no predictions, and this is not “patently false”, but completely accurate.
he never mentions names like Weinberg, Gell-Mann, Hawking, Randall, Arkani-Hamed
Weinberg, Gell-Mann, and Hawking are each mentioned many times in the book, and I list Lisa Randall’s book as the suggested place to learn more about brane-world scenarios. It’s true that Arkani-Hamed is not in the book.
I could go on about the rest of the review, but really, what’s the point?
I would like to think that Lubos is a huge embarrassment to the string theory community, but the sad thing is that there’s little evidence that they’re embarrassed.
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