U.S. Publication of Not Even Wrong

Today a heavy box with copies of the U.S. version of Not Even Wrong arrived at my office, and I’m quite pleased the thing is finally being published in this country. It appears that Amazon has it in stock (see here), the very old publication date they still have listed as “September 30” is incorrect. Presumably it should soon be available at fine book-sellers everywhere…

Update: Lubos has posted his usual slanderous review of the book on the Amazon site, and then presumably logged in from many different places to vote for his own review. Now it seems I get just one star instead of the two I got in the UK, since it seems I have “abandoned any integrity”. As usual, he’s very big on intellectual integrity. He lists as the first “embarassing error” in the book the Gev instead of Tev typo that was in the British edition, although he is well aware that, thanks to him, the typo was fixed for the US edition, which is the one he’s reviewing. He’s also paranoid and delusional, accusing me of “using various tricks to erase all inconvenient reviews”.

Update: I’ve updated the NEW errata page to include the US edition, and also started a reviews and press coverage page.

Update: Since Lubos’s review of NEW on Amazon has been deleted, he is now offering $20 to anyone who posts a one-star review of “the book with the black satanic cover”, and manages to get Amazon to leave it there for at least two weeks. Yet another example of string theorist’s belief in the “market-place of ideas”, I guess.

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63 Responses to U.S. Publication of Not Even Wrong

  1. c.w. says:

    congrats, peter! i finished the U.K. version a few weeks ago and loaned it to a friend who had just watched the 3-part NOVA series.

  2. David says:

    Congratulations. I really enjoyed the UK edition. Well done.

  3. D R Lunsford says:

    Congratulations, Peter! I well remember reading your original paper “String theory: an evaluation” while at work back in 2001. I was literally dancing in the aisles that someone finally got it and had the balls to speak up. Well done.


  4. comentator says:


  5. Shan Gao says:

    A very intriguing book! It should be also read and understood by the string theorists. Congratulations!!
    By the way, I will soon publish a new book Quanum Motion, which may also imply that string theory is incomplete, or even wrong. See my research website http://www.quantummotion.org/.

  6. King Ray says:

    Peter, congratulations! I’ve had it preordered on Amazon for months, so hopefully it will arrive soon. Keep up the good fight. The string may really hit the fan now, with all the publicity the US printing will bring in the media. Brace yourself!

  7. ksh95 says:

    Screw it, I’ll contribute to the Buy-Peter-A-porsche fund.

  8. TheGraduate says:

    Congratulations. Hope to see it in Barnes and Noble or Borders some time soon.

  9. Christopher says:

    I’ve received my copy of your book. Looks good. Congrats.

  10. Jody Trout says:

    Congratulations, Peter!

    I received notification from Amazon today that my copy is in the mail. I look forward to reading it! Keep up the good work.


  11. nigel says:

    Congratulations. I bought the British version and I like the fact that it is not varnished with any hype or speculation. When are you going to write a textbook? Now you have media attention, I hope you get contracts for other books lined up and get non-returnable advances. Try to get a contract to either edit an encyclopedia of non-biased QFT research, or to edit a journal. Unless you do something like that, it probably won’t ever happen, or else will be a flop.

  12. Rickkkkkkk says:

    Good deal and congratulations

  13. Who says:

    I just checked Amazon’s physics best sellers list and the book was #5

    (just above Brian Greene “Elegant Universe” which was #7)

    They update hourly, so if you look now it might be different


    This best seller list is what you get by narrowing
    Books > Science > Physics.
    It is still pretty broad.

    On the same list where N.E.W. is #5, I saw “Warped Passages” as #31, and “Fabric of the Cosmos” #39 and “Road to Reality” #44.
    However many of the other titles were textbooks.

  14. Well done Peter!

    I am glad there is a US version, I also will be most happy to go to my usual Borders and thump my fist at the information desk if I don’t find your book on the shelves… Just for the sake of it. Of course it’d be much better if they had it on a bookstand on top of a pile in front of the entrance…


  15. Vicky says:

    My copy is on the way. My birthday is next week and I have taken the day off from work, so I will probably spend a bit of the day reading. I will post a review on Amazon once I have finished the book.


  16. Who says:

    As of 1 PM eastern today, the Woit and Smolin books were #14 and #15 on the Amazon physics bestsellers list.

  17. TheGraduate says:

    Who said:

    “As of 1 PM eastern today, the Woit and Smolin books were #14 and #15 on the Amazon physics bestsellers list.”

    I casual reading of the list suggests that they are being pushed down the list by textbook sales. A large number of the books that are higher on the list are textbooks.

  18. Alain-Paul says:

    How about a frensh-transleted version?

    I can read english, it’s just for the comfort.


  19. D R Lunsford says:

    I would be willing to do the translating.


  20. woit says:


    I haven’t heard anything recently, but Dunod has bought the French rights to the book and I believe that they have hired a translator, but don’t know what the state of that is.

  21. Alain-Paul says:

    O.K. for the response.

    If the edition Dunod has bought the french right, i think the project is on its way.


    p.s. Sorry for some mispelling of the previous message (even in the mail !).


  22. Tony Smith says:

    Peter, will you be doing any book-signing and/or talk-show tours for the USA edition?
    How about CSPAN TV, which often does serious books?
    If you do, please post your schedule.

    Tony Smith

  23. nigel cook says:

    Professor Lubos Motl has reviewed N.E.W. yet again on Amazon. Amazon had to delete his previous reviews of N.E.W. which falsely claimed that string theory is based on evidence similar to that which evolution is based on. He really is a character. I know that at least two readers complained to Amazon that he was making inaccurate and irrelevant propaganda for string theory disguised as a book review. He now complains of N.E.W.’s ’embarassing errors’. (Is embarrassing generally spelt as embarassing by most Americans, or only by Czech-born string theorists?)

  24. Who says:

    double R is correct and usual, but plenty of Americans (not just the person you mentioned) misspell it with a single R.

  25. Who says:

    I hope someone besides myself is interested in how sales are going as indicated by the Amazon “general physics” bestseller list.
    Earlier I referred to the raw “physics” list, but that has a lot of specialized textbooks among which books for wide audience are scattered, so narrowing it down to what Amazon calls “general physics” is helpful


    I will give rankings of some other wide audience books for perspective. As of 10 AM eastern Saturday 26 August the “general physics” bestseller list included:

    Elegant Universe #5
    Brief History of Time #9
    Trouble with Physics #12
    Not Even Wrong #13
    Warped Passages #18
    Road to Reality #21
    Cosmic Landscape (Susskind’s book) #76

  26. D R Lunsford says:

    Motl’s review is the usual sophistry. I reported him to Amazon.


  27. Lubos makes me puke! says:

    Nigel- I believe he is still “Assistant” Professor Lubos Motl. I hope he is still a long way from a full professor or Harvard has gone down the tubes.

  28. chand says:

    Concerning translations, maybe Lubos would be interested in helping to translate Peter’s book in Czech? Apparently, he did a good job with Brian’s “The Elegant Universe”…

  29. be careful says:

    Lubos might notice that you wrote Gev and Tev instead of GeV and TeV!!!

  30. Visitor says:

    Lubos Motl – bringing the spirit of Leninism to theoretical physics.

  31. TheGraduate says:

    “It would be very foolish to throw away the right answer on the basis that it doesn’t conform to some criteria for what is or isn’t science” — Leonard Susskind

    Apparently IDers are very fond of this quote. I was watching book tv (C-SPAN2) today and one of the pro-ID authors of ‘Traipsing into Evolution” repeated this quote.

    A search of the quote on the internet finds other IDers equating ID and string theory and claiming a double standard and that legal challenges to ID should apply to string theory.

  32. dan says:


    would you mind a wiki entry, along with summary of your arguments against string theory?

    do you think lubos’ string theory rebuttals to your criticisms to be substantive?

  33. Thomas Larsson says:

    The only substantive critique in Lubos’ latest post is apparently that the US edition of NEW has a satanic black cover. Hard to argue about that.

    A few posts before, Lubos speculates that God is an American citizen. With that definition of God, it makes sense to claim that string/M-theory is the language in which God wrote the world. The world doesn’t seem to care much, though.

  34. Alphonse Warakomski says:

    Reading the popular literature on string theory has often left me with two ideas that the theory is nothing but mathematical masturbation and that physics under string theory has become the new metaphyics. Thanks for the expose, I read most of it last night after buying it yesterday.

  35. D R Lunsford says:

    Lubos’ slander has now been removed from the review list


  36. John Rennie says:

    I see Motl’s review has been removed (before I got a chance to read it). I’m not sure this is a good thing as it feels like censorship to me. If it was obvious to Amazon that his review was a rant it should be obvious to Amazon’s customers too.

  37. stupid says:

    ‘If it was obvious to Amazon that his review was a rant it should be obvious to Amazon’s customers too.’

    Maybe that’s exactly why they reported it, and why Amazon deleted it? If you want to see Lubos’ stringy propaganda, take a look at his blog, but try keep a sick-bag handy.

  38. John C says:

    Shame that Motl’s review was removed from Amazon, it was great reading. One phrase that stuck out in my mind was the one where he said something like “anyone interested in seriously pursuing theoretical physics should not read this book as they will get confused”. Does he really have such a lowly opinion of the next generation of theoretical physicists and their ability to think and discriminate for themselves? Or did he unintentionally reveal that “String school” is really about indoctrination, and not about discovery?

  39. Peter Woit says:

    John Rennie,

    I’m in general very much in favor of promoting Lubos and his views, to the extent that I’ve suggested to several science journalists that they should do a story on him. As far as I know, none of them have taken my advice. However, Amazon has an interest in not allowing its reviews sections to be used for obviously dishonest personal attacks, so they were quite justified in removing his.

    The review that was deleted was the same one that was up on the amazon.uk site for a couple months before they decided to delete it. It’s also still up on the amazon.ca site, where it’s the only review, and may be responsible for the fact that the book seems to be selling much less well through that site. Lubos has made it clear that he is willing to stoop to just about any level of dishonesty to keep people from reading what I have to say about string theory. In the case of the UK review, he knew that only giving the book one star would make it likely that his review would be deleted, so he gave it two stars. In the case of the US review, he couldn’t help himself and used just one star, which led to the quicker deletion there.

  40. Peter Woit says:


    Right now there are a few places I’m tentatively scheduled to appear and talk about the book: Oct. 6 at the Cafe Scientifique in DC, Nov. 6 at the Princeton U-Store, Nov. 16 at the University of Minnesota, and some time in the winter at the NY Academy of Sciences (with Lee Smolin). When these are firmed up, I’ll try and make up a web-page with more details.

  41. Peter Woit says:


    Not sure what you mean by a “wiki entry”. There are already things on Wikipedia about me, about string theory, and about the criticisms of string theory, although I haven’t looked at any of these recently.

    No, I don’t think Lubos’s criticisms are substantive. When he first put them up on amazon.uk, I wrote something about them, see


  42. Frank B says:

    A couple of specific comments on the book (UK ed):

    1. On page 111 higher dim theories are traced back to Kaluza 1919. It is fairly well known that G Nordström (1881-1923) published a 5 dim unification of EM and gravitation (scalar version) already in 1914 (Phys Z). A brief summary in modern notation is given by F Ravndal (Scalar gravitation and extra dimensions, Proc. of the Gunnar Nordström Symposium on theoretical physics, eds., C Cronström & C Montonen, Helsinki, 2003: 151-164.)

    2. On p 61 it is claimed that QED is a “complete theory”. In what sense is it complete? If *complete*, should QED eg predict bound states for the H-atom?

    3. On p 191 it is claimed that “if a theory is non-renormalizable it is inherently incapable of ever reliably calculating anything”. Fermi-theory did make some successful predictions though non-ren. Indeed, within effective-field theory approaches it is known that renormalizability is not a necessairy requirement for extracting measurable quantities below some energy scale. One question is whether quantum-gravity as an effective field theory will ever bottom out in the form of a renormalizable theory — if not, there might still be a fully sensible (non-perturbative) theory.

    A message of the book is that people should concentrate on symmetries and their representations, which sounds good, but it is a vague suggestion that hardly lures people away from ST or anything else. Anyway, NEW is a smooth read; 1st part informative, second part more about opinions than ideas.

    Regards FB

  43. woit says:


    Thanks for the comments.

    1. Yes, I’m a bit weak on the history of extra dimensions, should have mentioned Nordstrom. In the book I do point out that my history was often incomplete, concentrating on explaining the origins of the names associated to ideas.

    2. The sentence in question just says that QED was “complete” in 1929, by which all I meant was that the fields and Hamiltonian were known.

    3. Yes, the discussion of renormalizability is an oversimplification. Various people have complained that I didn’t explain the effective field theory point of view on non-renormalizable interactions. Maybe I should have, but the book already contains a lot of indigestible material for most people, this would have added a bunch more to try and write something accurate and that would be accessible to people who don’t already know this story.

    Explaining the details of what I have in mind about representation theory would really not be possible in this kind of book. And, the last thing I wanted to do was write something hyping some very speculative ideas.

  44. Dan says:

    Hello Peter,

    There’s a brief paragraph of criticisms of string in wiki, which talks about the landscape and lack of experimental prediction. There’s a lot it doesn’t mention such as SUSY-breaking.

    I am curious as to whether you think Strings should continue to funded & research, at least at present levels if not more, should LHC discover evidence of SUSY particles or extradimensions or both. — obviously, should LHC fail to find such particles then the answer would be no. Also, there is research observation of dark matter, which could be an axion particle which is predicted by string theory. Axions, SUSY particles may be indications string theory is the right path?

  45. You says:

    “I’m in general very much in favor of promoting Lubos and his views, to the extent that I’ve suggested to several science journalists that they should do a story on him. As far as I know, none of them have taken my advice.”

    Here’s an old article on Lubos,

  46. Thomas Larsson says:

    I am curious as to whether you think Strings should continue to funded & research, at least at present levels if not more, should LHC discover evidence of SUSY particles or extradimensions or both. — obviously, should LHC fail to find such particles then the answer would be no.

    This is interesting. Do string theorists in general think that string theory funding should be reduced if no evidence of SUSY or extradimensions are found at the LHC?

  47. woit says:

    Axions have nothing in particular to do with string theory, and observation of them wouldn’t necessarily tell us anything about string theory.

    If the LHC finds new physics, whether it be supersymmetry, extra dimensions or whatever, lot of people will be jumping into whatever area it is, and there will be plenty of funding for this. String theorists will have to make the case that string theory has something to say about this new physics. Whether they can do this plausibly depends on what the LHC finds…

  48. Peter Orland says:

    Frank B asks,

    On p 61 it is claimed that QED is a “complete theory”. In what sense is it complete? If *complete*, should QED eg predict bound states for the H-atom?

    The answer is YES. Without a potential-energy approximation scheme, this is hard. Such a scheme exists, however, and works well (in relativistic physics, potential energies are a fiction). For example, the Lamb shift is predicted by QED. Bound state eigenvalues and eigenfunctions are
    analytically calculable.

    This is so despite the likelihood that QED is probably a free field
    theory with no cut-off.

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