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I have just commented on today’s issue of retractionwatch.com. A full thirteen years after the fact a respected researcher felt compelled to state
This humor, however, was clearly inappropriate and I have been apologizing for it to those who have contacted me and clearly been hurt by it.
“I renounce” did not work during the first wave of the inquisition, why should it do now? All it would get you was the mercy of strangulation before being burnt. The only ones sometimes left alone by school bullies are those refusing to show fear. If nothing else, at least it will save you from losing your dignity as well. As Prof. LiCata says, he was
using the descriptive style of articles about Britney at the time, but deliberately twisting those descriptions into descriptions of her advancing scientific accomplishments
i.e. copying verbatim from the popular press, whom today's thought police fails to find fault with. He also falls victim to a huge misunderstanding:
I am actually saddened that some people are assuming it was a negative or attack piece, as that not only surprised me and was not my intention.
None of those writing him incensed messages has ever or would ever read the piece in question. This is a wholly artificial and manufactured campaign and should be treated as such.
This is my comment on the Retractionwatch site:
How ridiculous can you get? This is a well written culture critique on a society, that considers undemanding pop culture front page news and deep insight into the natural world boring. It was written 13 years ago and only now dozens of people who had never before in their lives held a nature issue in their hands just happen to find it offensive? How much more proof do you need, that these moral storms are completely artificial and manufactured by powerful individuals wielding massive resources?
Interestingly just what Prof. LiCata envisioned is indeed happening in Germany. There is a fake Youtube channel called Mailab that looks like a private blog but is in fact professionally produced by German national TV. In it a young chemistry researcher successfully explains scientific concepts to a wide audience. As Bacon put it “If the mountain will not come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain”. This is what LiCata appeals for scientists (who else normally reads nature?) to do and we would do well to heed his advice.
Whenever I try to explain mathematical concepts to humanities students, my main aim is to get across that maths is easy, understandable, helpful, and fun. The actual current subject matter is secondary.
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