Lubos Motl’s apology November 20, 2008Posted by dorigo in physics.
Besides the exchanges that have occurred on this blog and on Motl’s, which are out for everybody to read, I have tried privately to get Lubos to understand where was his mistake, which -over the course of the last 24 hours- has grown to gigantic proportions by his insistence, his neglecting the evidence, and his arrogant behavior.
Now, I originally thought he was just pretending, and he had seen his mistake but was unwilling to acknowledge it. Over the course of the day, I gradually realized he instead really believed he was right. So I forced myself to explain to him what he had gotten wrong with private messages, and I think he now, finally, got it. I understand he is a speed reader as much as he is a speed writer, and he overlooks things. But at some point he, too, must stop and think. At least a couple of times a day, it is physiological, right ?
The reason I think he has finally understood is that he did not answer to my last message, the fifth of the day, where I made a final, more thorough attempt at explaining to him that the CDF analysis first uses a small set of data collected by a unprescaled trigger, and then, 28 pages into the manuscript, starts using the whole dataset. Experimentalists know that dynamically prescaled triggers are harder to use for cross section estimates, but theorists probably ignore it. On page 28 of the CDF paper, at the very bottom, the explanation is for everybody to read. So, the 153000 ghost events correspond to 742/pb, and their effective cross section is 200/pb, not 75 as Strassler, and then Motl, argued.
Now, I know Lubos is a busy guy, so I will make it easier for him. He cannot bring himself to write an admission and an apology, so I will write it for him, in a way that is hopefully acceptable for him. My hope is that he will undersign it. So here is my offer. Lubos can cut and paste it to his blog too if he wants.
“I, Lubos Motl, apologize for the mistake in which I was driven by Strassler’s paper, and by the rather complicated way the CDF preprint on anomalous muons is written. I insisted I was right because I could not spend my time reading the CDF paper, I have better things to do. I now realize my mistake, and apologize with the CDF collaboration -whose results I misrepresented-, with Tommaso Dorigo -whom I accused of not knowing how to compute cross sections, and with all the readers I deceived.”
Awaiting Lubos’ signature now.
UPDATE: strangely enough, no endorsement yet. In the meantime, I cannot fail to notice that many of you are still confused. I am slightly upset by the fact that anybody may not know whom to believe, whether a retired string theorist or an experimenter who authored the study on which we are discussing. I invite those of you who are still unconvinced to ask the main author of the analysis: Paolo Giromini. His email is frascati [at] fnal [dot] gov.
UPDATE: Lubos apologized! And he did using the very same words I suggested above, plus more. See here. He finally understood he was wrong, although he needed the tip from two other CDF colleagues to get there. He did not go so far as to take off the two posts where he uses various epithets to describe my ignorance in computing cross sections, but admittedly, this is as good as it could get.