Yet More On ArXiv Trackbacks

Several blogs today have discussions of the arXiv trackback issue, mostly spawned by Sean Carroll’s posting on the topic.

Jacques Distler has a posting where he explains that the arXiv has instituted an ill-defined “active researcher” criterion for allowing trackbacks to blogs and that:
Peter Woit’s publication record doesn’t put him anywhere close to “active researcher status”
I’ve written an extensive comment over there about why I happen to think I am an active researcher and the evident absurdity of the idea the Jacques Distler is capable of making a rational evaluation of this question.

More discussion of this is at Chad Orzel’s Uncertain Principles, and Georg von Hippel’s Life on the Lattice.

Update: Yet more on trackbackgate from Lieven le Bruyn , Evan Goer and Capitalist Imperialist Pig. The first has the useful suggestion of using Technorati to automatically generate complete sets of links to discussions of arXiv papers on blogs. The second reminds me why it’s a bad idea to hit the “submit” button when you’re extremely pissed off.

Update: In discussion over at Jacques’s blog about what an “active researcher” is, the dicey issue has arisen that Jacques actually doesn’t seem to be one himself. One commenter has suggested that this whole issue could easily be resolved by just picking a definition of the term, noting that

Few will object to defining a minimallly active researcher as one who has posted an average of 2 papers per year to arXiv over the last 3 years.

Jacques comes no where near qualifying as “minimally active”, since he has only posted 3 papers to the arXiv during the last 3 years.

Personally I don’t think the 2 paper/year criterion is very good. It doesn’t account for length of papers, or that they may be the product of a collaboration, so the author in question is only responsible for a fraction of the paper. A more accurate measure would be based on counting pages of papers and dividing by number of authors. Under this measure, over the last four years Jacques’s research productivity looks like this:

2002: 9.3 pages
2003: 3 pages
2004: 0 pages
2005: 23.7 pages

for an average of 9 pages/year (this count is being a bit charitable, since 15 of the 2005 pages are from a “landscape” paper that may not even be science).

Jacques has made it clear that a certain author for whom this number is 14 pages/year is not “anywhere close to ‘active researcher’ status”, so I guess he is even farther away from qualifying as an “active researcher”.

Always seems surprising the way people living in glass houses like to throw stones…

Update: This particular food-fight has even been written up for the on-line component of Discover Magazine.

Update: A couple more people weigh in on this, Jim Hu and Alejandro Satz.

Update: I haven’t heard anything at all from anyone associated with the arXiv, but a couple trackbacks to one of my recent postings have appeared, so there seems to have been some sort of change of policy there.

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111 Responses to Yet More On ArXiv Trackbacks

  1. Dick Thompson says:

    Reading Distler’s discussion of the policy, I was struck by this:

    One’s first thought is: why not use the same endorsement mechanism used for paper submission? Unfortunately, the experience of the moderation system is that endorsement is not a terribly high barrier to entry. Some endorsers are rather loose in endorsing people to submit papers and one can only imagine that they would be even looser in endorsing people to submit trackbacks. In the case of papers, the second-stage filter of moderation is clearly necessary. But we had already decided that there would be no such second stage in the case of trackbacks.

    In other words we have the mandarin attitude that can’t trust the “underlings” to stay with the program. Now, rather than 1984 I am reminded of the Bush White House. Small difference, perhaps.

  2. anon says:

    Oh? So now the arXiv moderation system (for papers) is high-handed censorship, too?

    They should just accept every paper and have a “debate”?

    There must be thousands of endorsers (clicking around, it seems that anyone with any sort of a publication record is an endorser). I can imagine that, with that number, getting endorsed ought to be a trivial matter.

  3. woit says:

    anon,

    I’m not going to try and defend what Dick is saying, since I don’t know what his point of view is and quite possibly I wouldn’t agree with it (I’m a lot more elitist and willing to see suppression of crackpottery than many of my commenters), but I tried to engage Distler in a discussion of this point:

    “Some endorsers are rather loose in endorsing people to submit papers and one can only imagine that they would be even looser in endorsing people to submit trackbacks.”

    which I think is the one that Dick is characterizing as “can’t trust the “underlings” to stay with the program.”

    Distler claimed that endorsers have endorsed papers by people like the Bogdanovs to back this up. I characterized this as a bad endorser and asked whether they couldn’t just deal with bad endorsers for trackbacks the way they dealt with bad endorsers for papers. All I got in response to this was an insult, at which point I realized that trying to have a serious discussion with him was a waste of time, certainly not worth it on this particular question which is a side issue.

    But the whole thing did show that there is an attitude at the arXiv that even endorsers can’t be trusted. I freely admit that, having no access to data about how this system has worked for accepting papers, I can’t tell whether lax endorsers are a serious, insoluble problem, or whether the problem is that they represent legitimate points of view that happen to be different than Distler’s.

  4. anon says:

    “I can’t tell whether lax endorsers are a serious, insoluble problem, or whether the problem is that they represent legitimate points of view that happen to be different than Distler’s.”

    Presumably they’re not a serious problem because, as Distler says, the papers are also vetted by the arXiv moderators.

  5. woit says:

    “Presumably they’re not a serious problem because, as Distler says, the papers are also vetted by the arXiv moderators.”

    The current endorsement system seems to work tolerably well, and from what Distler says, involves a moderator sometimes trumping an endorser. What I couldn’t get an answer from him about was why not just use the same trumping mechanism when necessary, in this case trumping an endorser who endorses a crackpot blog? This sort of extra level of moderation has nothing at all to do with the fact that it would be too hard to moderate indvidual blog entries. This would be an extra level of moderation on the question of which blogs to accept.

  6. Michael says:

    Peter, comparing your own academic accomplishments with Jacques’ and reaching a conclusion in favor of yourself raises your crackpot index to an all-time high.

  7. woit says:

    No Michael, I’m just pointing out that, by the criterion suggested on Jacques blog, he and I have the same lowly status of not being “active researchers”. I suspect you do too. Join the party…

  8. robert says:

    I recall that, when the internet first started to have an impact, it was hoped that it might liberate the scientific community from the ‘publish or be damned’ mindset and the tyranny of the anonymous and vindictive referee. This expectation does not seem to have been fulfilled; self-interest and internecine nastiness still prevail.

  9. Michael says:

    Peter, your misunderstanding is that activity is measured in number of pages or papers per year. Important new ideas per year is more like it. Jacques has already mentioned that the criterion for “active researcher” is somewhat ill-defined. He also explained to you that it’s only part of a multi-stage filtering system, which as a whole works far better than its individual components do. This is a point you keep ignoring. Of course, you do it on purpose to advance your agenda. You may not be the greatest researcher, but I don’t think you are stupid. I can see behind your mask and others do, too. Only Quantoken and Iman Zumbal take you at face value…

  10. Eli Rabett says:

    How about linking forward? Blogs that want to link to Arkiv should explicity include the report number so it will be picked up by Google, and anyone wanting to see what the comments are could simply search on the report number.

  11. woit says:

    Michael,

    I’m well aware that Jacques’s criterion for “active researcher” is “somewhat ill-defined”, and part of a “multi-stage filtering system”. One of the stages seems to be “is this person causing serious problems for string theory?”.

    Your Quantoken obsession was always a bit weird, but Iman Zumbal?????

  12. Michael says:

    “Iman Zumbal” is a pseudonym a crackpot better known as “Danny Ross Lunsford” recently used on Lubos’ blog. Since you probably didn’t know that, I can fully understand you found my mentioning that name strange. 😉

  13. Power Ranger says:

    Peter didn’t count papers/year. He counted (pages/paper)/(authors/paper)/year.

    I’ve never heard of that measure, till Peter invented it. It would make every single high-energy experimentalist have (nearly) zero level of activity.

    Was there any point to the exercise, except to show that he could find SOME measure (no matter how ridiculous), by which he is “more active” than Distler?

  14. woit says:

    Michael,

    Glad to have the “Iman Zumbal” business cleared up, I was worried for a moment that you had completely lost it. I do read Lubos’s blog, it’s one of the funniest things on the net (did you know that most Harvard professors are anti-Semites? I learned that today). And sometimes he has interesting news about things like who will get the Fields medal. But I guess I don’t read it as carefully as you. Danny is pretty wacky, but can’t hold a candle to Lubos in that department. Unfortunately for you, I delete much of Danny’s best stuff.

  15. J.F. Moore says:

    Michael: “I can see behind your mask and others do, too.”

    You don’t speak for me, or necessarily anyone else here. I don’t believe Peter Woit is engaging in sophistry at all, as you imply. What I don’t take at face value, because it has been made impossible to do so, is the criterion for allowing arXiv trackbacks. I do comprehend it, on the level that I understand that any bureaucrat who makes the mistake of precisely defining such a criterion (or even who specifically is charged with any judgement calls) loses their arbitrary powers related to that criterion.

  16. Michael says:

    Peter, if you need anything else, I’ll be at your service. 😉 Why do you think I’m about to lose it? I know I’m inconvenient for you (and you and your friends here would surely find better and stronger words for it), but did I give you any indication that I’m an unstable individual?

    I, too, find Lubos blog highly entertaining. Lubos is an incredibly sharp thinker and his judgement, especially when it comes to unfamiliar or vague ideas is almost unmatched. His political posts simply reflect that he is a man with principles, and he’s got the guts to speak up. Whether you enjoy his mocking of Smolin articles and other humoristic posts is strictly up to you. Your comparing him with Prof. Zumbal is a stupid cheap-shot.

  17. woit says:

    Power Ranger,

    “Was there any point to the exercise, except to show that he could find SOME measure (no matter how ridiculous), by which he is “more active” than Distler?”

    No, there really wasn’t any point to the exercise except that.

    But if you want to stick to papers/year over the last three years, as suggested on Jacques’s blog, he’s well below the minimally acceptable standard of 2/year for an “active researcher” and flirting with going under half that, 1/year over the last few years. And some of these papers are, well, a bit thin. I don’t think he’s going to measure up to typical standards for “active researcher” constructed by counting publications. Which might explain why he steadfastly refuses to explicitly construct such a standard.

  18. Michael says:

    Dear J.F. Moore,
    I didn’t try to speak for you. I said “others do, too”, which is more than likely accurate. Today’s dedication of this song goes to you:

    http://www.carlysimon.com/music/Lyrics/You're_So_Vain.html

  19. Power Ranger says:

    Is there any reason to think the standard is stricter than the “active scientist” standard used to determine who is an endorser on the arXivs (as suggested by “anon”)?

    I followed his suggestion of clicking around. Pretty much anyone with a pulse (scientifically speaking) who posts papers at the arXivs qualifies as an endorser.

  20. woit says:

    Power Ranger,

    We don’t know if Jacques’s “active scientist” standard is stricter than that of being an arXiv endorser since he refuses to tell us what it is. The only thing definite he’s told us about it is that Peter Woit doesn’t come close.

  21. Michael says:

    “The only thing definite he’s told us about it is that Peter Woit doesn’t come close. ”

    That’s what scientists do: when in doubt, stick to the facts…

  22. Power Ranger says:

    But we have a good bit of data: Christine Dantas, Lubos Motl, Matthew Nobes, Urs Schreiber, … all qualify. You, apparently don’t.

    Somewhere between their levels of productivity and yours must lie the dividing line (presumably, closer to theirs than to yours, if you’re “not even close”).

  23. woit says:

    Power Ranger,

    Yes we have a good bit of data that, whatever the mysterious “active researcher” standard is, Peter Woit doesn’t qualify but most other people do. And I’m sure that will remain the case no matter what for the forseeable future. At some point later this year I’ll probably be posting some of my more recent research on the arXiv. It will then be very interesting to see how Jacques constructs an “active researcher” standard that allows him, with his barely 1 paper/year to qualify, but not me. I’m sure he’ll find a way, but it may be really tough if he actually has to tell us what it is.

  24. woit says:

    Eli,

    This already works. If you google on standard arXiv numbering of a paper you’ll get relevant blog entries. Problem is you get lots of other stuff to and have to sift through it. Lieven le Bruyn suggests using Technorati, which tracks blogs, but I haven’t tried it.

  25. J.F. Moore says:

    “I didn’t try to speak for you.” – Michael

    You said that only two specific people, not including me, take Peter at face value. I do and probably some others who read this blog as well. Too bad if that was so confusing for you to grasp.

  26. anonymous says:

    Micheal: “That’s what scientists do: when in doubt, stick to the facts…”

    Agreed, but unfortunately that is not what Jacques is doing. He is fixing his conclusion first, and then making rules to justify that. That is what ID folks, creationists, fanatics and string theorists do.

  27. SteveM says:

    Under this totally vague criterion Higgs and Gell Mann don’t qualify as “active researchers” either. I can only assume in the unlikely event they start blogs up they too won’t get trackbacks. A lot of qualified people get bogged down in administration and teaching and may not publish for a long while but they should still have a voice and the right to participate.

    Physics, and all science, is crucially based on debate and criticism. If you are confident in your work and publications–whether you work in string theory or anything else–then criticism, or trackbacks to criticism of your papers (even very severe criticism) should not bother you. As a professional scientist you should be able and willing to provide a counter argument at a technical level, without personal attack/abuse. Physicists have a long history of tearing each others work apart, both formally in the journals and informally at blackboards and the like–this is why physics has been so spectaculary successful. Blogs are now a new medium for this debate and a very useful one.

    Incidently, when exactly did physics turn into this dick measuring contest about who’s publication list is the longest or who has the biggest citation size? Recently, I keep repeatedly reading these obnoxious put downs of Peter Woit’s publications and credentials by anonymous characters like “Michael” and “Benni” and the like. So out of curiosity I looked up Woit’s papers at slac. Now I am not a “Woitian cheerleader” by any means but the first thing I notice is a paper in Physical Review Letters written by only himself while a graduate student. It has a top citation. Then some papers as a single author in Nucl. Phys. B. and Phys Letts B. The TRUE test of a physicist’s mettle is whether they can get papers published as a SINGLE author in elite level paper journals like this, the old-fashioned way, and get through the brutal (yes brutal!) peer review. So before they belittle other’s past work some of these younger upstarts should try this–they might find the rejection letters very sobering. Truth is most postdocs and assistant professor now would sink like a lead whale without a lot of co-authors. On your resume one paper in PRL written on your own is worth a hundred latexed submissions dumped in the arxiv, with your name alongside another 5 authors at the top, one of whom is your department head.

    The impression I get is that P Woit had the potential for a very good research career but was about 10 years too late by the time he got his Phd and simply missed the Standard Model glory years of the 70s and so never found the right niche that would have suited him. In the mid 80s a lot of guys found themselves in the same position and due to a bad job scene, started companies, went into computing or finance or took teaching posts since string theory had taken hold by then and was not to their taste or way of doing things (and of course it was string theorists who were now being hired and funded.). So please, Michael and the rest can you cut it with the snide remarks and insults? It is really wearing thin. If you think Peter talks crap about string theory then lets hear some concrete professional technical arguments from you as to why. Obviously in the trackback issue we want to block out crackpots, but we have someone here with a strong background, is qualified, has peer-revwed papers, works in a major university, has a book accepted for publication, and has the right to express his opinion. Please grant him trackbacks or else scrap this whole trackback thing. The idea that he is being censored is becoming troubling to me and a lot of other people too.

  28. Pookie says:

    No one disputes that Peter was doing good physics, as a graduate student, 20+ years ago.

    Should the arXivs accept trackbacks from anyone who, at some point in their lives, were active physicists (all those guys who “started companies, went into computing or finance or took teaching posts”)?

    Maybe having once obtained a PhD in physics should be enough?

  29. Thomas Larsson says:

    SteveM: We all know what DistlerCo think is the big problem: Trackbacks attract flies.

  30. JE says:

    Woit said,

    “For the record, I certainly think Jacques qualifies as an active researcher, by any sensible definition of the term.”

    The other way round not being true, which given the lack of experimental evidence for Distler’s work, makes Peter much less pretentious or rancorous than him.

    Michael said,

    “Peter, comparing your own academic accomplishments with Jacques’ and reaching a conclusion in favor of yourself raises your crackpot index to an all-time high”.

    Well, combining the bitter reaction to any criticism of string theory from some of its main proponents (now including censorship) with the lack of experimental evidence supporting it for the time being, I think Peter Woit presently scores far far behind.

    Woit said,

    “I’m sure he’ll find a way, but it may be really tough if he actually has to tell us what it is”.

    Once you meet the quantity criterion, there are still plenty of subjective “relevance or quality standards” enabling someone to block your trackbacks if that’s the purpose. Very sad indeed.

  31. ObsessiveMathsFreak says:

    Should the arXivs accept trackbacks from anyone who, at some point in their lives, were active physicists (all those guys who “started companies, went into computing or finance or took teaching posts”)?

    Perhaps they should. Elsewise, what is the point of the trackbacks?

    The point of trackbacks is to let the author of a paper, and the readers, know about discussions and references to their papers online. If someone who was running a company had a blog, and referred to your paper in it, showing its application to industry, wouldn’t you want to know about it?

    To the trackbacks make the system more open to ideas, or do they simply cross link within a closed circle. If the latter, there’s really no point implementing the system.

  32. Dear Peter Woit:

    A suggestion.

    You have several research papers published in high standard journals, but they are mostly dated back from the beginning of the arXiv (which was about 1992 I guess). If you can make them available electronically, I believe you could post them on the arXiv, perhaps with complementary notes contextualizing them or comparing them with the present status of research. There are examples of papers published before 1992 or so that were submitted to the arXiv. Select those papers of yours which you believe are of interest and post them there.

    Also, I believe you have enough material to publish review and expository papers or comments to given papers that would be of high interest. Work on them and post them on the arXiv.

    Perhaps that would give you the “numbers” that the “system” requires. Not that I think you should need to do that to prove anything.

    I really think that a discussion on the credentials of a professor in a major university, with a very solid background, is completely anti-ethic and repulsive. But it is an excellent example of people that constantly needs to derogate others in other to find pleasure or reinforce their own idea of how great they must be compared to others.

    I will stop here.

    Christine

  33. sunderpeeche says:

    When Peter previously wrote on this topic (to say ~ “no trackbacks so far and he hadn’t heard from arXiv for 3 months”) I suggested (approx) “don’t worry about the trackbacks, so what, this blog get enough attention and respect to stand on its own merits”.

    But Peter did not follow the suggestion and I am willing to admit his actions have paid off much better. I thought of writing a comment **2 days ago** but decided to wait. I am amazed, not to mention ROTFL.

    You can’t pay for comedy like this. The arXiv has gone out of its way to make a fool of itself.

    What is my attitude about the trackbacks? None. My main concern is that I don’t burst out laughing in the middle of the office and get sacked for reading this on company time.

    I checked Peter’s publication record on SPIRES a long time ago and I noticed that most of the papers are from the 1980s. I would not call him an “active researcher”, but as several people have pointed out, the criterion is both ambiguous and irrelevant.

    Well done, Peter, though I have no idea exactly what I am complimenting you for.

  34. Nat Whilk says:

    Power Ranger wrote: “Peter didn’t count papers/year. He counted (pages/paper)/(authors/paper)/year. I’ve never heard of that measure, till Peter invented it.

    This, of course, reduces down to pages per author per year. On tenure and advancement issues, something like that measure is used by my institution to measure quantity of one’s output (with this measure being augmented by an assessment of quality of output). I suspect many other institutions do so, too, counting a co-authored paper less than a single-authored one, and counting a short paper less than a long one.

  35. Pookie says:

    Under those conditions, I suppose you would fill every paper you write with a long review of well-known mathematics, confining your own work to a few pages interspersed here and there.

    With modern wordprocessing techniques, you could turn every 6-page paper into a 60-page paper with little trouble at all.

  36. Nat Whilk says:

    Pookie:

    If you can get away with packing 54 pages of fluff into a 60 page paper, you’re submitting your papers to different journals than I am.

  37. Pingback: 【格志】 ArXiv 的 Trackback 政策

  38. Pookie says:

    Submitting to journals?

    Oh. Right. Forgot about that step …

  39. The technorati thing was discussed and discarded in Distler blog time ago, if I recall correctly. Now, a good techorati trick could be to look for the url arxiv.org/abs . This is, including abs and not including www so we cover mirror references.

    Alternatively click here
    http://www.technorati.com/mini/index.html?s=arxiv.org/abs

    I suppose we could include this technorati window inside an iframe, llets see:

  40. hmm the iframe does not appear in the visualization, the html is filtered during posting. if someone wants to test in his website the command is
    <iframe height=500 src=”http://www.technorati.com/mini/index.html?s=arxiv.org/abs”> </iframe>

  41. woit says:

    SteveM and Sunderpeeche,

    This whole experience of having to engage in a detailed public defense of my credentials as a researcher, including responding to a large number of nasty attacks on this subject from people who have no credentials of their own, has been a rather trying experience. But the process has left me (and I gather most people who have been following it) with a lot of evidence that this is all about suppressing my criticisms of string theory, and I think the behavior of some of the people involved has been deeply disgraceful and unprofessional. It also has often been pretty damn funny.

    Christine,

    Thanks a lot for your comments. One possible good effect of this whole thing might be that it has provided some encouragement for me to get things written up. If Distler can ever be convinced to provide a definite standard for how many papers it takes to me an “active researcher”, that would be helpful. I strongly suspect he won’t though, purely because any standard he sets that would pose any challenge for me to meet would be one he is incapable of meeting himself.

    All of this has caused me to think for the first time in quite a few years about my older papers from the 80s. Although people have done this, I’m not sure it’s a great idea to try and post them now on the arXiv. There is at least one unpublished manuscript from that period which I was never happy with so didn’t pursue publication. If I have time I might work more on that and post it. The things I was doing back then are still actively being pursued by others. For instance the latest posting at Georg von Hippel’s blog is about simulations of theta-dependence in SU(N) lattice gauge theory. The first calculations of this were done for N=2 by me, with collaborators including Nati Seiberg back in 1983.

    I haven’t spent much time keeping up with the details of work in this field, and it’s far from my current interests, so I haven’t written about it here. Maybe at some point I will do this. My original work was based on what I still think is a quite beautiful idea about dealing with topology of lattice gauge fields, maybe at least I’ll try and find the time to write a blog entry here some time explaining it in simple terms.

  42. amused says:

    “On your resume one paper in PRL written on your own is worth a hundred latexed submissions dumped in the arxiv, with your name alongside another 5 authors at the top, one of whom is your department head.”

    This is not actually true, unfortunately. It is more like the other way around: for career advancement in theoretical HEP, papers written with influential senior coauthors trump single-author PRL publications any day (unless the latter contains a truly spectacular result, which is rarely the case). The reason is simple: to survive long-term in this business you need the support of influential senior people, and generally you only get this if they have something personal at stake in whether you succeed or not. Young people working independently will quickly discover that their single-author PRL publications are effectively worthless on the job market.

    To make this comment semi-on topic, let me just add that I think the club mentality alluded to above is also what is ultimately behind the banning of trackbacks from this blog.

  43. Benni says:

    Woit wrote: One possible good effect of this whole thing might be >that it has provided some encouragement for me to get things >written up.

    This is the only correct conclusion existing. It should be no problem for you, even if it is a scientific critisism on stringhteory. Simply publish some serious work.

  44. woit says:

    Benni,

    The work I’m talking about writing up has nothing at all to do with string theory. As I’ve tried to explain to you over and over and over again, the problems with string theory are not the sort of thing it is appropriate to write a standard scientific paper about. You can do this to show that a wrong theory is wrong, you can’t do it when the theory is “not even wrong”.

  45. Dick Thompson says:

    Peter my standpoint is that there is a wide difference between someone like Sarfatti, who got in, and Tony Smith, who didn’t. Sarfatti’s contribution was evaluated as mathematical gibberish, while Smith’s although way off the main road, and maybe presented with “attitude”, seem to be mathematically sound – I haven’t seen anybody say otherwise.

    Bottom line, the circle the wagons attitude is overdone, if only by a little bit.

  46. Dear Peter Woit,

    I am glad to know that my suggestion will be somewhat useful.

    I very much look forward to your upcoming book.

    I also look forward to your continual criticisms of string theory and hope that any rebuttals of them from the ST community will come in educated, technical language.

    Christine

  47. woit says:

    Dick,
    I agree with you about the Tony Smith/Sarfatti question.

    One problem with the increasing prevalence of pseudo-scientific stuff being done by smart, respectable people is that it makes it harder and harder to maintain some reasonable standards of what is legitimate science and what is crackpottery. When this happens, standards start to devolve from focusing on content, to focusing on the credentials of the people involved.

  48. Benni says:

    woit wrote: The work I’m talking about writing up has nothing at all to do with string theory. As I’ve tried to explain to you over and over and over again, the theory is “not even wrong”.

    Well, you said that your current interests lie now elsewere and not in the topics you published in the past.
    So I thought, as your interests lie in criticising stringhteory, you should come with something like
    http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-th/0309170 which is obviously a critisism.

    Even the endorsement system of Arxiv is based on the idea of an “old boys club”. The thinking was “researchers only endorse researchers”.
    To belong to a club of researchers, I think, despite what the rules and opinions of other people are about, what a researcher is, or who they exactly want in that club, it would be best to research on something. Regardless what it is. When you find your old papers interesting you should obviously go there.

  49. Benni says:

    Here is even more scientific criticism:
    http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-th/0402101
    From the abstract:
    Assuming this “landscape” exists, anthropic explanations of some quantities are almost inevitable. I explain that this landscape is likely to lead to a prediction of low energy supersymmetry. But we argue that many features of low energy physics are not anthropic and, as currently understood, the landscape picture will get them wrong.

    Why don’t you come up with papers like this?

  50. Woit Comment 9112 wrote:

    All of this has caused me to think for the first time in quite a few years about my older papers from the 80s.

    This is a good news. We have got a continuous loss of people going industry, computers, math, (er… and astro-ph); generically leaving particle physics towards elsewhere. Now tell me that Stephen Wolfram is coming back to study weak decays and I will consider the week complete 🙂

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