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Riofrio’s cosmology and ad hominem attacks March 31, 2007

Posted by dorigo in astronomy, news, physics, science.

Louise posted in her blog some information on the talk she could not give at the Imperial College last Friday.   I was there, in the conference room, and I ached for being unable to listen to her talk. You can learn something of what she would have said by visiting her site.  You can try posting ad hominem attacks there if you like.

That is to say that I am deleting a few comments left here by anonymous visitors that were unfair or insulting to her. I will never delete non-anonymous comments here, but if you choose to comment anonymously be advised that I will decide what to do with the text you write depending on circumstances – even disenvoweling is an option… If you wish to comment anonymously here you can well do so – and in general you are welcome -, but you cannot both be anonymous and write ad hominem attacks. That I think is to be censored.



1. Kea - March 31, 2007

Let’s hope Louise gets a chance to talk at another conference soon. Such dreadful behaviour is very depressing.

2. Tripitaka - April 1, 2007

Yes I think the deletions were justified. I was shocked
that people would post those things, maybe community standards are different wherever those people come from (for god’s sake lets hope they aren’t professional scientists).

Tommaso, you were surprised (actually depressed I think you said) that the thread attracted such traffic… I think the reason was the remarkable level of vitriol regarding various aspects of physics interpretation, even in the surviving posts – it is strangely fascinating to watch people humiliate themselves in an undignified slanging match. After all, moderate words are usually more convincing.

3. dorigo - April 1, 2007

Yes Kea, I join you in hoping Louise will get another talk very soon…

Tripitaka, I was not surprised, but of course I was rather annoyed by discussions here that had nothing to do with physics. But it is true, there also was a quite rough back and forth on the issue of dark energy. I must say I have nothing against that kind of arguing, and in fact I want to use the material for another post, when the discussion finishes.


4. Carl Brannen - April 2, 2007

” I will never delete non-anonymous comments here”

My sister, the English professor, has something she says that seems appropriate here: “never name the well from which you will not drink.”

Which reminds me of the kind of things the English professors say to each other at faculty meetings.

5. dorigo - April 2, 2007

Hi Carl,

the say is quite amusing and to the point… Indeed, I did have to do what I would have preferred not to. But saying “never” may be sincere at times, but is mostly used to exorcise a unwanted possibility…. That was the meaning of my comment.


6. island - April 2, 2007

I was rather annoyed by discussions here that had nothing to do with physics.

Bingo!… this isn’t even funny, but it would require that they actually do a little very simple causality-responsible physics in order to know that there’s nothing wrong with Louise’s math, so you have to come up with a better reason not to prefer her simplified model in order to reject it per the scientific method, and they can’t.

7. amanda - April 3, 2007

“never name the well from which you will not drink.”

Wilfred Thesiger, the great explorer of Arabia, was of course forced to drink from many unappetizing wells. One of them, aptly named according to him, was the Faswat-el-Ajuz, “The Hag’s Cunt”.

8. Tripitaka - April 4, 2007

Quote: “I want to use the material for another post, when the discussion finishes”

The topic was very interesting but the arguments were beyond my (extremely limited) level – hopefully some kind soul might put the main ideas into terms which dummies like me can understand… (one doesn’t really get both sides of the argument from the Babe in the Universe site)

9. Andrea Giammanco - April 5, 2007

I stopped empathizing with her when I noticed that she behaves exactly as her worst detractors: she continuously points out that her “personal enemy” is a communist, implying that this makes him a very bad person.
This is exactly the same things that some people do against her: pointing out something related to her personal life, implying that this makes her not trustworthy.

10. dorigo - April 7, 2007


I might agree with what you say, but it is very hard to be in her position and one might well feel one has to defend oneself in any viable way.

I do not judge her for that. I prefer to try and see more of her ideas discussed around, and see if I can get to understand more about the whole issue in the meantime…


11. delio - April 8, 2007


has it ever happened to you to submit a paper that has subsequently been rejected by a referee? Well, this has happened to me, and to millions of scientists before; this seems to have happened in this particular case, too (more than once). Why should it be a conspiracy? If anybody (possibly a professional scientist) finds a mistake in an article (maths, physichs, chemitsty, whatever), this is NOT an attack: criticizing a paper is only a way to push good science forward. Don’t you agree?

Happy easter!

12. dorigo - April 10, 2007

Hi Delio,

no, it never happened to me to have a paper rejected, not once in the 250+ papers which carry my name (note, I did not say “I wrote” since that would be a much smaller number). I must be one of the lucky few.

The issue with papers being rejected is not an easy one. Papers get rejected because they contain mistakes, because they are outdated, because they are poorly written. They also get rejected, sometimes, because they could potentially cause trouble some way or some other. Not for a conspiracy, maybe, but because ideas that go against the general consensus are not even considered. Think of the idea of the quantum in the early 20th century, for instance.

So, to answer your question: criticizing a paper is a good way to forward science, but barring it from being discussed or put in a preprint archive is not a good one.


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