Monday, December 07, 2009

About the noble art of debunking

The reason why I got the stimulus to write about the art of debunking was that TGD was just debunked by a couple of fellows this morning: it was the fastest debunking that I have experienced since it took just half an hour. A friend of mine who still had some illusions about the intellectual honesty of scientists told to his physicist friends about TGD. The first response was somewhat irritated "Does TGD predict the perihelion shift of Mercury?" "Does TGD predict lense effect?". God Grief! I responded patiently and gave a brief summary about what is common between TGD and how the theories differ plus a long list of further reading.

This was too much: these fellows got really angry. Am I really thinking that they would bother to read this stuff?! The response was what one might guess it to be. The text is just word salad, there are no calculations, calculations are not detailed enough, and in any case: TGD does not predict anything new. The response carefully avoided any mention to contents since this would have necessitated some reading. The fellows of course argued that they had read the whole stuff. This would have been quite an achievement: 5 chapters of formula rich text during half an hour during morning hours when people have often also some other things to do!

Well, for a layman it is difficult to believe what kind of idiots are spending taxpayer's money as scientists. It has been difficult also for me. In ordinary job person with these ethical standards would end up to jail within few years.

This debunking experience was really not anything new to me. The academic world of Finland is the Promised Land for intellectually lazy mediocrits whose academic profile does not include much more than the standard arrogance plus the skills in the art of debunking. It would be of course naive to think that the situation is not much better elsewhere.

Of course, every academic person worth of his salary must be able to debunk. I have learned during these years the basic rules of the art of debunking as a victim and I am ready to admit that I have not tested these rules in practice. Despite the lack of personal experimentation I think that I can safely share the wisdom about the tricks of the trade publicly so that any novice can by direct experimental work to get convinced that the rules really work. Here they are.

  1. Select the victim to be below you in the hierarchy. The best choice is someone who has no institutional shielding. A good tip: exercise with TGD!

  2. The innocent novice might think that it might be necessary to do a lot of work by learning what the intended victim has done. This is not at all necessary! If you necessary want to see some trouble, read some abstract or introduction. Basically it is enough to know the branch of science that the victim is working on and perhaps some rough idea about what he is suggesting. Some cautiousness is however required: Lubos debunked TGD by claiming that the theory exists inside my head only. Lubos had not bothered to visit my home page to see that there is 15 books of detailed documentations. Avoiding this kind of blunders requires only a minimum amount of preliminary work.

  3. The innocent novice might also worry about how he can develop detailed arguments if he knows nothing about the stuff to be debunked. No problem! The whole point is that you do not say anything about contents!! "General arguments" are much easier and actually optimal to create the illusion that you have a profound knowledge about the subject matter, and see immediately that something is wrong (you need not specify what this "something" is!). Laconic comments create also an expression that you are a little bit inpatient of being forced to waste your precious time by commenting this kind of trash. If you necessarily want to take risks by saying something about contents be very very cautious: this is not for beginners since there is always the danger that your reveal that you have not actually read the material. Check at least that it is theoretically possible that you have read the material so that you do not make the same blunder as the physicist friends of my friend this morning.

Simple! Isn't it! But keep in mind the Golden Rule of debunking: say never anything about contents!! To make the idea concrete I give some general arguments which bite always. The text is just word salad! There are no calculations! Calculations are not sufficiently detailed! Logical deductions are circular! There are no clear principles! The author has misunderstood even elementary general principles! The theory does not predict anything new! Difficult to understand what the author is aiming at and what his motivations are! If the idea would have something in it, it would have been discovered long ago! And so on... The innocent novice can get rid of his innocence by developing similar arguments as an exercise.


janne said...

Just as long it is quantized. Observation from a novice.

Matti Pitkänen said...

Perhaps the most embarrassing accident, which can happen to a novice happened to a blogger whose name I have diplomatically forgotten: let us call him/her X;-). X debunked thoroughly a book which very probably was critical against string theory and made it clear that the author had the intellect of a simple monocellular. Unfortunately, there was a little credibility problem: someone in the grateful audience noticed that X had got the name of the author wrong!