Re: Good summary of Bogdanov controversy

From: Osher Doctorow <>
Date: Sun, 10 Nov 2002 17:10:10 -0800

From: Osher Doctorow, Sunday Nov. 10, 2002 5PM

Thanks to Tim May for the site reference. I read the story, and it's quite
interesting. It's the first time I've looked at this in detail, although I
heard a rumor about it. I have a few comments that I'd like to make now.

1. The acceptance of nonsense for publishing or Ph.D.s or M.A.s or M.S.s is
obviously wrong.
2. The cause of the acceptance needs to be investigated by scientists and
philosophers and others.
3. History tells us a few things about nonsense if we study it carefully,
especially the history of Creative Geniuses like Beethoven, Shakespeare,
Paul Dirac, Einstein, Schrodinger, Socrates, Plato, Mozart, etc. I will
itemize these below beginning with 4, but I'll just mention that they fall
under Mediocrity, Ingenious Imitation, and Creative Genius.
4. Mediocre scientific people in my definition don't even have the ability
to imitate (see below).
5. Ingenious Imitators in science (and similarly for music, literature,
etc.) imitate other scientists but only go 0 or 1 step ahead of whomever
they are imitating.
6. Creative Geniuses go more than 1 step ahead of anybody else working on
the same or similar problem or anybody else in the field or subfield.
7. Having spent most of my 63 years of life in Academia, both as a student
and as a teacher/researcher in mathematics including statistics and
mathematical physics, it is my opinion that more than 99% of mathematicians
and physicists are Ingenious Imitators, and I have a stong suspicion that
this is the case in most other academic fields.
8. Peer review is the usual way of determining which papers are published in
scientific journals, and it follows from 7 if I am correct that most peer
reviewers are Ingenious Imitators, and therefore that what gets published in
most journals is at most one step ahead of the previous person (and possibly
0 steps ahead).
9. The solution to the problem of 8 and similar difficulties with Ph.D. and
Masters Degrees is in my opinion a positive one rather than a negative one,
namely, to foster more Creative Geniuses in Mathematics and Physics (and
other fields).
10. In my opinion, Ingenious Imitators can become Creative Geniuses with
sufficient education, tolerance, practice in accepting and thinking up new
ideas, learning tranquility rather than anger or fear, and guidance from
other Creative Geniuses or Creative Problem Solvers (a sort of borderline
type between Creative Genius and Igenious Imitators, which I'll explain
another time hopefully). Giving up Materialism, including Money-Related
Materialism, Power Materialism, and Sensation Materialism, which includes
giving up bureaucracy or the interest in becoming part of it, is key in

Osher Doctorow, Ph.D.
One or more of California State Universities and Community Colleges
(Mathematics, Statistics)

----- Original Message -----
From: "Tim May" <>
To: <>
Sent: Sunday, November 10, 2002 12:44 PM
Subject: Good summary of Bogdanov controversy

> A good summary of the Bogdanov controversy is in the New York Times
> today. URL is
> Some of the folks we like to quote here are quoted in the article,
> including Lee Smolin, John Baez, Carlo Rovelli, etc.
> Also, the latest "Wired" print issue has a fairly good survey article
> by Kevin Kelly about theories of the universe as a cellular automaton.
> Konrad Zuse gets prominent mention, along with Ed Fredkin. I didn't
> read the article closely, so I didn't notice if either Tegmark or
> Schmidhuber were mentioned. The usual stuff about CA rules, Wolfram's
> book, etc.
> Things have been quiet here on the Everything list. I haven't been
> commenting on my own reading, which is from books such "Physics Meets
> Philosophy at the Planck Scale" and "Entanglement." Isham's collection
> of essays on QM should arrive momentarily at my house. My interest
> continues to be in topos theory, modal logic, and quantum logic.
> --Tim May
> (.sig for Everything list background)
> Corralitos, CA. Born in 1951. Retired from Intel in 1986.
> Current main interest: category and topos theory, math, quantum
> reality, cosmology.
> Background: physics, Intel, crypto, Cypherpunks
Received on Sun Nov 10 2002 - 20:24:52 PST

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