Thursday, December 06, 2012

Mathys Get Punked

A quick update to this post from April 2012, which is about a paper withdrawn from the journal Applied Mathematics Letters because it had "no mathematical content".  Now we have second paper retracted from the same journal because it made "no sense mathematically".  A summary:

There’s nothing new in this paper, so it’s consistent with something, we’re not sure what. But we have raised a very serious question! OK, people have been raising that question for centuries, but this is important, dammit. The fact that we haven’t actually added anything to the discussion of that question? Please move along, nothing to see here.

At the time, Dr. Dawg compared the situation around paper #1 to The Sokal Affair.  Since here many of the same people are involved (the journal editor, now replaced, and a co-author), I think his argument still holds good: the hard sciences are just as prone to being pranked as the soft.

1 comment:

jrkrideau said...

I find these papers hilarious, as I did the Sokal paper. If you read it, not an easy task IMO, it is so bad (good in a POE type sense?) that it is brilliant.

It's a case of the emperor having no clothes. Someone really needs to point out the problems with various disciplines and standards. Sokal did so as I suspect these papers have done. I have not read this last paper but all you had to do is look at the author's email address and glance at the reference list to see a hoax.

Something like Sokal and to a lesser extent these 'math' papers are a great joke. Some people pontificate about the awefulness of deceiving the reviewers. Nonsense, if you can't take a joke don't enter the field.

Scientists (hard and soft) have been aware of problems in the peer review process for years --it is far from perfect but it's about the best we have at the moment. It's just good to have somebody running a few 'tests' on the system to see how it's working :)