Kavanaugh victory lap

  1. Ah, the sweet cup of Lefty tears — the howls were almost as satisfying as during Trump’s inauguration.
  2. A sure way to lose a war is to be in denial about its very fact. This guy gets it; the NR folks (stilldon’t.
  3. We had a good feeling about Kavanaugh getting confirmed but didn’t want to jinx it like we did with Roy Moore. Extrapolating from a 2-point sample, we hypothesize that beer-drinking, ball-playing alpha jock types fare better with the public than weirdo religious types.
  4. Did Trump manage to convert mutual knowledge into common knowledge? That’s how you do it, Terry.
  5. For the love of power, please GOP: drop the abortion thing already!

A question

for all the lefty “it’s not a trial, it’s a job interview” types: Are you not at all concerned about the precedent you’re setting? Suppose Pres. Kamala Harris goes to nominate a Supreme Court justice. Do you really think that unscrupulous Repubican hacks will not be able to find, in a country of 300+ million, over a period spanning 30+ years, someone who’ll remember something? Or do you have higher expectations of the Republicans than you do of your own side?


Hot garbage

A blogger who smirkingly appropriated fraudster Stephen Jay Gould’s title manages to lie twice right there in the title of his post: “Paper is rejected twice: Because it was hot garbage”. If by rejected he means “accepted and then un-published without explanation or due process” — well then, we know we’re dealing with a reliable narrator. We had previously argued that the paper should be judged on its mathematical, not biological merits: it is possible, in principle, for a brilliant mathematical contribution to be worthless from the point of view of biology. Brilliant or not, the paper has prompted a vigorous discussion among leading mathematicians — which, ipso facto, would seem to indicate its mathematical interest. But Igor Rivin’s carefully sourced post demonstrates that the paper is also of interest to evolutionary biology, Gould-wannabes notwithstanding.

Speaking of hot garbage, a paper published in the prestigious PNAS in 2004 claimed to mathematically have proved that “diversity trumps ability”. Readers of this blog will recognize a steaming pile when they step into one, but the mathematician Abigail Thompson had pre-empted us, having stomped this turd into the ground back in 2014. Among her conclusions: “the paper is seen to have essential and irreparable errors”.  Even Queen Izabella was forced to concede that “Thompson is not unfair in her mathematical analysis” — but not without fretting that somehow debunking false mathematical claims will adversely affect women. To our knowledge, the junky paper has not been retracted or un-published — at least, nothing on its PNAS page indicates that this might be the case.

For those keeping score, it would appear that a certified garbage paper supporting the SJW dogma will continue to be electronically hosted on the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences website without so much an acknowledgement of its “essential and irreparable errors” (much less a retraction), while a solid, interesting mathematical contribution is un-published, in gross violation of all academic standards, simply because it offends PC sensibilities. These incidents have all the trappings of a cultural, political war and bear very little resemblance to rational academic debate. And if this is a war, it behooves our side to treat it as one.

What’s good for the goose

The contentious biologist Lior Pachter has joined the fray, siding with Lysenko.
He accuses the mathematical commentators on Tao’s and Gowers’s blogs of making illiterate pronouncements on biology. As we’ll shortly see, he’s plenty guilty of blasting way past his own spheres of competence, but presently we address the substance of his criticism. Without pontificating on the complex, porous interface between mathematics and biology, we’ll note in passing that mathematicians can make solid contributions at the boundary without actually knowing much biology beyond the high school level. Population dynamicists and phylogenic analysts do this all the time.

But that is completely beside the point, since, as pointed out in Igor Rivin’s comment, the paper in question does not purport to offer a biological contribution! It mathematically models a well-documented phenomenon. Find the model unrealistic? Question the phenomenon’s veracity? That’s what rebuttals and rejoinders are for. What happened at NYJM is the paper equivalent of a summary execution (something I’m not entirely sure Pachter opposes for his ideological opponents). As for the paper’s mathematical interest — it would be ironic for a biologist who complains about ignorant mathematicians invading his field to take issue with that, would it not?

But it gets better. Pachter, you see, also dabbles in psychometry. Or rather, he brazenly dismisses the whole field from first principles. Nevermind that it has been actively studied for over a century, leaving a voluminous trail of scientific literature. Pachter’s got a slick gotcha-argument discrediting the whole field as bunk. He’s in good company with Queen Izabella — except she invokes more advanced tools and hence ends up looking sillier. (Pachter and Laba also share a passion for hounding innocent men out of their jobs, but that’s a topic for another post.)

We leave off with a note to hypocrites everywhere, and especially those fond of Yiddish proverbs:
עס נישט קיין ביינער, וועלן דיר נישט וויי טאן די ציינער

Reminder: Zuleikha project is soliciting stories

So a female academic has published “A List Of Known Harassers in Academia”. The database prominently displays (I guess for legal cover) the message, “Note: All cases are based on publicly available documents or media reports.”

We take this opportunity to remind our readers that the Zuleikha project is soliciting accounts, from the academia, of men being falsely accused of sexual misconduct. To send reports anonymously, write to zuleikha.potiphar@gmail.com. Include as much information as you can, including dates, institutions, names, what action was taken against the innocently accused, and what repercussions followed for the false accuser, if any.