Censored Comments From the Reference Frame

Since many people have been posting off-topic comments here that were censored over at Lubos Motl’s Reference Frame, I’m creating a separate posting so that there will be an appropriate place for these. Also, if you want to try and carry on a discussion with Lubos on the topics of these comments, here is the place to try (although I don’t quite know why you’re bothering…).

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94 Responses to Censored Comments From the Reference Frame

  1. runge_kutta says:

    Peter I’ve always wondered why you never post on Lubos’ blog, though he posts on yours. Are you banned ? If so, don’t worry, I was banned too, for making an offhand comment about Bert Schroer. I no longer remember the discussion we were having, except that it had something to do with Bert Schroer, so I guess I can’t continue it here.

  2. Anon-e-mus says:

    Lubos, I may not always (more precisely only very rarely) agree with you on many topics, but I believe you are certainly much, much more intelligent than that. Peter is clearly not referring to all deleted comments, but only to those bona fide comments that were deleted because of your “zero-tolerance with those who disagree with me”-policy. Even if you appear to think poorly of his intelligence, you cannot possibly believe that he is interested in archiving porn/pills/casinoes spam deleted from your blog.

    (Recently, I was told by someone who knows you personally that you are in fact a normal/nice person in real life, so maybe you should try and get you online persona back in line; he/it seems to suffer from too many forms of personality disorder to even begin to enumerate; if that is not your real self, and I have no reason to doubt the word of your colleague, why would you want to project that kind of appearance? A polite manner usually gets you a lot further.)

  3. MathPhys says:

    Motl,
    You’re a sick kid. Get help.

  4. Hmm I guess the title should be “supposedly deleted comments…”

  5. woit says:

    I’ve deleted some of the spam comments Lubos posted here (and my spam filter caught others). I suppose I could set up a separate place for comments deleted from this posting….

    runge_kutta,

    The last couple of times I wrote a comment on Lubos’s blog he immediately deleted them. One was responding critically to something he said about me, the second was responding to something that one of his commenters (“LambChopofGod”) was saying about me. Not something I’m likely to waste my time doing again.

  6. Kasper Olsen says:

    If you

    “don’t quite know why you’re bothering…”

    then why do YOU bother to make this post?

  7. amused says:

    Here’s the most recent of mine, deleted from the comment thread of his “Dean of crackpots” post.
    ———–
    LM: “The reason why the situations of string theory and evolution are analogous is that both of them are more or less inevitable given the known data, known approximate laws of Nature, and known and derivable logical constraints.”

    Oh dear, Lubos, looks like we’re going to have to call on Jacques Distler to denounce you again.

    (You remember the previous time over at cosmicvariance, right?)
    ————–

    By remarkable coincidence, a couple of days later Lubos writes his “Darwiniana: evolution and string theory” post, referring to the denunciation episode and elaborating on his string theory/evolution analogy…

  8. woit says:

    Kasper,

    Not much of a bother, only took a few minutes to make the posting. The reason I did it was to deal with all the Lubos-deleted comments that people were posting here. If I left them in the postings where they were, they interfered with the discussion about the topic of the posting. But I didn’t want to delete them, to be in the position of censoring those already censored by Lubos. This is the best solution I could come up with, if you have a better one, let me know. The best one would be if he would not delete reasonable comments from people who disagree with him.

  9. Ponderer of Things says:

    Lubos, since you have been offered asst. prof. in spring of 2004, you haven’t published a single scientific paper. Is there something in the works, or does editing your blog comments take away all of your research time?

    26 months, or roughly 800 days. Are you going to go for 1,000 days? More?

    Any brilliant stringy ideas lately? Are you not afraid of some youngsters soon calling you what you call others – intellectual rodents/microbes, crackpots, washed up, etc.?

    That would be… ironic?

  10. Dan says:

    http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-th/0606100

    http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-th/0601001

    Don’t worry: one day, besides pondering, you’ll be learn how to use search engines…

  11. MathPhys says:

    My comment to Motl posted above (“You’re a sick kid”), was specifically a reaction to a post by him (since then deleted by Woit) that contains pornographic references which I thought that was way, way out of line.

    Motl, I have no idea what goes in your mind, but please tone it down a bit, because you push people too far, and it’s no longer funny.

  12. MathPhys says:

    Dan,

    Co-authoring two speculative papers, within the span of 3 years, is by far not a whole lot, particularly for a young theoretical physicist at this stage of his career, working in a field that’s supposedly “active”.

  13. top ten says:

    my attempt of discussung the main achivements of string theory relevant for physics in http://motls.blogspot.com/2006/06/science-vs-democracy.html was interrupted by insults (Harvard can be proud of the “squirrel”). My deleted answer was, after some re-editing


    dear Lubos, you misunderstand me: I am not telling that “AdS/CFT” was not invented by string theorists. I am telling that string theorists made a few true achievements, but only on issues that physicists do not consider much relevant, and failed on the issues that would have given real progress in physics.

    This is why usually string theorists don’t talk to experimentalists, and why their talks often annoy phenomenologists and cosmologists. Realizing this fact is a medicine that cures many young string theorists, grown in a community where everybody agrees that counting the entropy of black-hole-like-SUSY-states was an enormous achievement.

    I comment on “AdS/CFT” that is the most interesting result: the interesting part of “AdS/CFT” is the “/”. Indeed people who classified CFT or supergravities in AdS often notice that their works did not attract much attention until the “/” was recognized. Indeed my squirrel committee planned our universe such that we do not live in AdS nor in CFT, so that “AdS/CFT” beautifully connects two theories of which we do not care much (this is another check that they are dual). Attempts of applying “AdS/CFT” to QCD did not improve what we already knew from other less celebrated approximations”

    Later, Lubos defended his arguments applying the technique known as “useful idiots”: comments that agree with his line are allowed and the rest is deleted. A normal person understands that applying this technique without having control of all media is not intelligent, and the situation of string theory is not so bad that a constructive discussion has to be stopped at any price. This is I why I fear that Lubos does not think “string theorists will reward me for this dirty job” but he really thinks what he says: “I am Jesus defending civilization from crackpots”. This would be sad.

  14. top ten says:

    to defend Lubos, let me add that it is true that in past years he co-authored only one paper, but it is a good one: conjecturing that quantum gravity implies “gravity is weaker than electromagnetism” is closer to physics than deriving from string theory that “gravity exists”. However these good results also show how this line of research is far (and possibly hopelessly far) from getting something relevant for physics.

    I see no point in lowering quality standards such that the rediscovery of hot water can be considered as a major achievement. No hype will convince physicists, laymen and crackpots that it deserves a Nobel prize.

  15. RM says:

    deleted post was simply: “Mr. Motl, what are the predictions of string theory that you say will shortly be confirmed by experiment?”. (I guess there aren’t any).

  16. To anyone interested, you can discuss Lubos Motl’s top ten results over at my blog:

    http://christinedantas.blogspot.com/2006/06/top-10-string-theory-results.html

    No posts will be deleted there, except those with personal attacks.

    Best wishes,
    Christine

  17. Chris Oakley says:

    The quoted text below, by LM, appeared in his blog. If I answer it there, the comment will probably be deleted, so let me try here. It concerns my Amazon review of “Not Even Wrong”.

    5 stars. Hi, my name is Dr. Chris Oakley, it is my fourth review and I am the 110,000th best reviewer. As my name indicates, I have a physics PhD and as the degree proves, I will be in Sabine’s committee that will democratically vote about the future of physics. Twenty years ago, I wrote three or four preprints. Unfortunately, no other physicist has yet appeared who would think that they make any sense – but that’s probably because of the string mafia.

    Actually, I only blame the String Mafia indirectly for this. The issues raised are not really considered to be problems by anyone other than AQFT people. Some of the latter did make sense of my work, but seemed not to be willing to accept any of the conclusions. One of the papers was in fact published in a respectable journal (Physica Scripta).
    One minor quibble: at Oxford a Ph.D. is called a D.Phil.

    I am especially proud about the paper that renormalization is not needed. My excellent solution is to insert random factors into the loop Feynman diagrams, such as the delta functions and step functions: I call the added step functions “positivity of energy”. I have figured out that for some smart extra factors, this can miraculously make the integrals convergent! I don’t care that the unitarity is sacrificed because unitarity is just a stringy propaganda. And I hope that the experiments will be changed to fit my predictions. My theory is clearly more important than AdS/CFT, and I will vote to replace AdS/CFT scholars by scholars who study my theory.

    Lubos links to the first paper in the series, entitled “On the possibility of quantum field theory without renormalization”. The title is, as he suggests, optimistic. Local field equations seem always to lead to infinities, whichever way one does QFT. But there is no tampering with the graphs (I think he is confusing my methods with the Epstein-Glaser approach). The graphs I show in the paper are indeed always finite as they are just phase space integrals, but there are ones which have pathological divergences and, yes, the “removal” of infinites here is handwaving. I think now that one just has to start with non-local field equations. As for experimental tests, I was considering \Phi^4 theory in this paper! A later paper, on quantum electrodynamics, reproduces the results from tree Feynman graphs, so he had better have the discussion about experimental verification with someone else.

    As for unitarity of the S-matrix, there is no S-matrix here as I am trying to be consistent with Haag’s theorem. You should read the whole story on my web site some time, Lubos, if you can spare the time from your busy schedule.

    I have not read the book – in fact, I am writing this review half a year before the book is published. But I think it has something to do with the Star Trek by Isaac Asimov, and I prefer Asimov over the string theorists. Advocates of all physics theories would only admit that the author is right, in his book that I have not read, if they were wired up to a Polygraph. Also, I recommend you Second Creation.

    Mostly correct except that I have a January 2005 copy of the manuscript which Peter gave to me when I visited that month. I also have a copy of the finished product. There are updates, but as far as I can see, no substantial differences.

  18. Chris Oakley says:

    Oh, and I should add: in January of last year we were sitting on the tarmac at JFK for two hours as the flight was delayed. With Peter’s book to read, the hours just flew by. It is a great read.

  19. Ponderer of Things says:

    Dan,
    I thought someone will mention this.

    arxiv is a depository of unrefereed, unpublished drafts that may or may not see become an actual publication.

    It is no substitute for peer-review, a fact some stringy fellas need to be constantly reminded of.

    Any crackpot, to use Lubos’ language, could make a dozen of arxiv posts within a couple of days.

    According to ISI Web of Knowledge, Lubos has 10 publication, with h-index of 7. Over the past three years he had one paper – from APR 2004. He had zero papers in 2005. He had zero papers in 2006, so far. Look it up if you don’t believe me.

    I wonder how many assistant physics professors ANYWHERE have this sort of publication record.

  20. Patrick says:

    I’m not sure whether I should post this here, it’s got nothing to do with Lubos Motl, but it is a question about string theory. I’ve just downloaded a copy of

    “The String Theory Landscape: a Tale of Two Hydras”
    Joseph P. Conlon, Contemporary Physics, vol 47 2006

    I have a background in condensed matter physics, but am pretty ignorant of the standard model, QFT (except the RG stuff that we studied in Stat. Mech.) and string theory. I was wondering if anyone here has read it and if it is reasonable summary of the issue.

    Thanks.

  21. Ponderer of Things says:

    More data points – let’s look at other young string theorists.
    Sergei Gukov (currently a professor at CalTech), who has received his PhD in 2001, the same year as Lubos, has published 21 papers since then. Marcus Spradlin (now a faculty at Brown), and another 2001 PhD recepient, has published 22 papers. Nima Arkani-Hamed had over 40 new publications in the 5 years following his PhD (1998-2002).

    Lubos has published 5 since his PhD.

    These are all *published* papers, not hypothetical pre-prints.

    I am sure people will point out it’s unfair just to look at the toal number of publications, that he had a single brilliant paper that is better than anything those other folks has produced, but that’s open to interpretation.

    By any standard, Lubos has not been as productive as some of his colleagues. Experimentalists can often find their work to be disrupted by having to setup a new lab at a new university, but even then most of them manage to keep producing results.

  22. Peter Woit says:

    Patrick,
    The paper you quote is a reasonable summary of the current anthropic string theory ideology, written by a graduate student string theorist. I may comment more on it in the next posting.

  23. garbage says:

    Peter,

    I kinda agree with Lubos this time, why moving his trash can to your blog?

  24. woit says:

    garbage,

    This isn’t the trash can that Lubos is describing, it was intended as a place for people to post intelligent comments that he has censored. He has chosen to run his weblog by deleting any comments from people who disagree with him, trying to give the impression that what he has to say has unchallenged support. People censored in this way have chosen to bring their comments over to my blog and post them. What should I do about this, delete them as off-topic, or set up a separate topic to accomodate them? Do you have a better idea. If so, let me know it.

  25. Hi Chris,

    I am appalled by Lubos’ suggestion that you didn’t earn your D.Phil. He has no right to say that.

    Looking at his writings, it is clear to me that he has a very distorted picture of what science is all about. It seems that he is longing for some orderly structure in physics where a few high priests (Witten, Hawking, Maldacena, who else?) will decide which direction is promising and which is not; the rest of us, like obedient ants, will bring our small pieces to solve the big puzzle; and crackpots and heretics will be confined to torture chambers.

    OK, I am exaggerating, but not much.

    I think your work on renormalization is an interesting attempt to solve a long-standing problem whose importance was recognized by Feynman, Dirac, and Landau among others, and whose relevance to physics is unquestionable. I happen to disagree about your particular approach to the solution, but I have no doubt that what you are doing is physics at its best.

  26. Chris Oakley says:

    With reference to the comments on Lubos’s post about Amazon reviews for “Not even wrong”:

    1. I think that Brian Greene and I had the same thesis advisor (Graham Ross)
    2. My thesis did not contain anything significant about renormalization, for or against. It was almost entirely about free field theories.
    3. Lubos seems to have no clue about what I actually said in any of my anti-renormalization papers (see earlier posts on this thread).
    4. But if he ever takes the trouble to find out – if he’s smart enough (case not proven as yet) – he may be interested to know that Brian Greene had the same idea, as did Stueckelberg (1934) and Kallen (1950).

  27. Chris Oakley says:

    Hi Eugene,

    As with most things, there is little point in taking Lubos seriously. My thesis was not about anything especially controversial but my external examiner, Lochlainn O’Raifeartaigh (of Supersymmetry no-go theorems fame) did acknowledge that the work – in his words – “tied up a few loose ends nicely”. If anyone is going to call me a crackpot then it should be for my later (anti-renormalization) work, and that alone.

  28. ad says:

    It may be possible that Lubos spends some time in reacting to string theory critics and to some others which he might have invested in research entirely (although only he can say best about it). But THIS IS NOT WASTE OF TIME. One can easily see that the scientific community can be served in several ways, not just by doing active research. Astrophysicist S. Chandrasekhar once remarked about one famous physicist who had to neglect his research to play active role in setting up a scientific institute (which later became famous and still is) that his dedication to science is not less than any other active researcher. In the same way I find Lubos’s reaction to critics a service to string theory community. Not every string theorist would be able to play the same role as he does. His comments are often deep, illuminating and very sharp as opposed to many people (Lubos’s targets) who merely reveal their ignorances.

  29. da says:

    setting up a scientific institute is not the same thing as insulting people on blogs

  30. MathPhys says:

    While it’s clear that Motl knows quite a bit about strings, his comments on physics in general, and physics that’s older than strings in particular, are often myopic and blinkered.

  31. Peter Woit says:

    ad,

    “I find Lubos’s reaction to critics a service to string theory community”

    Perhaps the string theory community enjoys reading the way Lubos writes about his critics, but they’re making a big mistake if they consider this a service to them. He’s doing a fantastic job of convincing the rest of the physics community that there is something very wrong with string theory and with the way it is pursued.

  32. anonymous says:

    This is where I lose you, Peter. If indeed he is screwing up the reputation of string theorists, why don’t people publicly oppose him? Or at least clearly distance their stance/opinions from him?

    It seems to be that you are implying more than just Lubos’ commissar-like behaviour. You are implying something about the broader string theory community. But, where is the evidence of that?

  33. Peter Woit says:

    anonymous,

    Some string theorists would never read his blog, think he’s a fool, want nothing to do with him, and so see no reason to mention him one way or another. Others seem to think it’s a good idea to participate in his blog and encourage him.

    All I can say is that an astounding number of people, particle theorists and not, have told me that reading Lubos’s blog convinced them that there was something seriously wrong with string theory and string theorists.

  34. Who says:

    This is where I lose you, Peter. If indeed he is screwing up the reputation of string theorists, why don’t people publicly oppose him? Or at least clearly distance their stance/opinions from him?

    It seems to be that you are implying more than just Lubos’ commissar-like behaviour. You are implying something about the broader string theory community. But, where is the evidence of that?

    Interesting question. forgive me for intruding, since it was asked of Peter and he will doubtless respond.

    We don’t know as of present that the string community is NOT reacting so as to distance itself from Lubos Motl, though perhaps not fast enough for its own good.

    Be that as it may, there is the historical question why the string community ( well organized and having its own interests at heart) DID not distance itself or take steps to control EARLIER as in 2004 and 2005 when the mean and misleading statements were flying.

    I think I can bend your question slightly so that it asks why did they not then realize that Motl’s public ranting would be harmful to the longterm interests of the string community and more generally of physics theory? What does this say about them, and perhaps about US academic communities more generally? Is there something amiss? And what (besides this) is the evidence for it?

    One possible answer is that it was not expected (in 2004-2005) that non-string quantum gravity would proceed as rapidly as it has. Although understaffed and underfunded, especially in the US, it has made notable, even enviable, advances towards goals which string theorists might themselves aspire to.

    If that had not happened, the community might have been able to laugh off Motl’s antics, since they would have done no general harm besides the chagrin of those outsiders whose inconsequential work he belittled. In other words he didn’t HAVE to turn out to be such a liability. But now when there is some serious challenge from the competition, it looks bad to have a half-informed madman for advocate.

    Just my take on it. will be interested to hear our host’s response.

  35. Aaron Bergman says:

    There is no “string community” to take some sort of uniform action. What I do know is that most people just want to completely stay of all this online stuff and stick to research.

  36. garbage says:

    “…What should I do about this, delete them as off-topic, or set up a separate topic to accomodate them?”

    I guess if they dont fit anywhere in your posts this also become kind of your ‘trash can’ as well doesnt it?
    That doesnt mean that nothing intelligent could come out of garbage 😉
    Indeed, the lore says that once upon a time an indian mathematician by the name Ramanujan first discovered mathematics in an old book he found in the trash. I, in the other hand, wouldnt recommend the latter as the best source of education 😉

  37. Ponderer of Things says:

    Other string theorists might

    a) not know/care about blogs (especially older faculty)

    b) find Lubos’ behavior reprehensible but decide not to interfere publically for the same reason why one should never wrestle with pigs – you will get dirty and the pigs might enjoy it

    c) disapprove of his behavior and tell him of their disapproval personally (to which he reacts as if he is being “leashed”)

    d) disapprove of his behavior but also assume that Lubos is a big boy who can speak for himself and if he makes a fool out of himself it is not damaging reputation of his scientific community

    e) approve of his behavior and see Lubos as a brave warrior (knight in shining armor) taking on heretics and doubting thomases where everyone else is too chicken to say anything

    I think it used to be a), quickly shifting to b), with people who tried c) are now reverting to safer option b). Of course in Lubos’ Wonderland Multiverse the correct answer is e) and only e). Anyone who thinks otherwise is a squirel, a microbe or a crackpot.

  38. MathPhys says:

    Ponderer,
    I think it’s option (d). It’s too messy to start quizzing your colleagues about their personal business, and Motl’s blog is his personal business. I don’t see Vafa wanting to get into that.

  39. MathPhys says:

    I think we have psychoanalyzed Motl long and hard enough. Time to move on.

  40. anonymous says:

    String theorists wait hoping that LHC will discover something that is or can be named “stringy”. Like supersymmetry, or extra dimensions, possibly with branes, or an anthropic nothing,… We will see.

  41. Aaron Bergman says:

    My comment (which seemed to take quite a while to show up again) should read “completely stay off all this online stuff”.

  42. anonymous says:

    “There is no “string community” to take some sort of uniform action. What I do know is that most people just want to completely stay of all this online stuff and stick to research.”

    Standard nonsense from Aaron, as usual. If that were the case, the converse would be true as well, i.e., any bad press for string theory would not bother them, since they just want to “stick to research”. Polchinski, Distler, Srednicki all write in to reprimand Peter for inaccuracies etc. when the chance arises. The last one’s responses are especially comical, I recommend the readers to browse through Peter’s earlier posts’s comments.

    We also have (Peter’s word) evidence that people PRIVATELY write to Peter saying how much they appreciate his work, but hesitate publicly themselves. ,

    Its pretty easy (and cheap) when funding is flowing, and the press is glowing, to say “it doesnt matter, I’m just interested in research”. But then jump in if string theory gets bad press.

  43. Aaron Bergman says:

    I urge you to consider the word ‘most’ in my comment.

  44. JC says:

    Why not create a new “category” of posts, where all the stuff Lubos censors ends up? This is probably bound to show up many times in the future, with folks posting their deleted posts here.

  45. Peter Woit says:

    JC,

    The WordPress category feature applies to posts, not comments. For now, having one post devoted to all things Lubos I think is more than enough. In the past I’ve had to shutdown the comment sections of postings after a few weeks in order to control spam, but the new version of WordPress has an anti-Spam feature that may be good enough to do the trick itself (although it still misfunctions sometimes for reasons I don’t understand, sorry Aaron…).

  46. Benjamin says:

    Sometimes I wish I knew if this apparent bad feeling is for real, or whether ambitious and spirited physicists are just jousting with each other for fun.

  47. alexis says:

    If you read this:
    http://motls.blogspot.com/2006/06/top-ten-results-in-loop-quantum.html
    .. and the (currently) ‘quick’ comments, you’ll see what a bunch of sexist mouthbreathers these buttheads are.

  48. Peter Woit says:

    In case people are wondering what alexis is referring to, in his latest posting, in the middle of supposedly explaining what is wrong with a list of achievements of LQG, Lubos includes a photo from the website of Louise Riofrio. The photo shows her with an impressive lizard. Lubos puts this up with links to her web-site and a not very good paper she wrote, trying to humiliate her as an idiot (although she’s an attractive woman, so he writes that she “may have other virtues of course”). His intent is to show that people with Ph.Ds in physics can not know what they are talking about (besides Riofrio, I’m clearly another physics Ph.D. he has in mind). Problem is, Riofrio doesn’t have a Ph.D., she is (or was) a student at San Francisco State University which doesn’t have a Ph.D. program in physics (they do have a master’s degree program). In his comment section he and his commenters speculate on which is Riofrio, the woman in the picture or the lizard, with Lubos explaining that he had thought of using a picture of her with a monkey, to better make the point.

    The guy is just completely grotesque and subhuman, it’s amazing that anyone takes him seriously.

  49. Ponderer of Things says:

    Have you no manners, Mr. Motl? Seriously, did your parents forget to teach you about not making despicable “jokes” at others’ expense?

    I hope you realize that making sexist comments (and then commenting on how “hillarious” similarly sexist comments of others are) puts your position on the whole Summers affair in quite a bit of context…

  50. not deleted by Lubos says:

    in order to be allowed to post comments on the Reference Frame, just write in a polite politically-correct way. For example, my hoax below even got a kind honest answer (in the post about Hawking and the John Paul II):

    Dear Professor Motl, I recently read the enlightening books by Hawking, Greene and Randall. Do you think that the hidden reason behind these attacks against you string theorists is that String Theory is getting too close to understanding the origin of the Universe, revealing our role in the immanent?

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