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Why So Many Cannot See The Merit In Stafford's Work: My Opinion

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Posted by Paul R. Martin on July 21, 2002 04:07:57 UTC


Although you have considerable qualifications to assume the job of summarizing the conversations in these forums concerning Dick Stafford's work, I think there are a couple areas in which I might be more qualified than you. You certainly are glib, bold, witty, and as you claim in

boy, you are fast! However, there are times when you are just half fast.

There are three distinct qualifications in which I have the advantage over you. And because of them, I feel compelled to offer my summary to stand alongside yours. These qualifications are: First, I know Dick personally, second, I have studied Dick's work extensively, and third, I have an advanced degree in mathematics.

So when you say things like, "But, his arrogance is a defense mechanism.", and "He's a lot more fragile than the online (and probably 'real-life') facade suggests." I hope the readers of the forum realize you are making these judgements without knowing the man. I can tell the readers, categorically that you are completely wrong about him as a person.

And, when you say things like, "The recently sited commentary (the Google discussion group) sums up nicely how Stafford's stance is foundationally myopic.", it should be obvious to your readers that you have not formed your opinion of Dick's work by studying it. Instead, you make a pompous sounding two-word summary, "foundationally myopic", of your interpretation of other people's opinions who haven't studied his work either.

And, when you say, "Even without understanding all the math, someone as uneducated as I can see what Stafford cannot see.", I give you credit for admitting that you are not capable of following Dick's math, but since you failed to tell us what it is that you see that Dick cannot, I take this as just blather.

In your post, you offered your opinion as to "Why so many in here cannot see Stafford's quackery". Since I am somewhat more qualified than you to comment on this question, I will give you my opinion: They cannot see quackery because there is none.

The real question is why so many in here cannot see the merit in Stafford's work. I think there are many reasons. I'll list the most important ones.

1. Dick is not a particularly good communicator.

2. Few, if any people in here have the requisite qualifications in mathematics and physics to understand what he has done.

3. I am aware of no one in here who has gone to the trouble to study Dick's work with the objective of trying to understand what he has done.

4. Those who buy into the official position of Academic Science are put off by some of the claims Dick makes at the outset of his paper, and are thus prejudiced when they read it.

I am not a particularly good communicator either, so I'd better elaborate on these four reasons a little to make sure I'm not misunderstood.

Even though we expect that the most complex theories should be explainable in simple language, there really aren't that many scientists who are good at it. Dick is not one of them. Another problem is that Dick's mathematical notation is somewhat non-standard. He has made simplifications in the notation that use less ink but which must be explained in order to understand them. At least, I had to have them explained to me. It could be that physicists use some of this shorthand notation and could understand Dick's paper, but it definitely is not standard mathematical notation.

When I read Yanniru's criticism of Dick's usage of indices, I thought I might be able to help him clear up his confusion. I went back and re-read the voluminous correspondence between Dick and me concerning the use of those very same indices. Only after reading it again did I remember how deep and subtle the ideas were that were being developed. Yanniru didn't even get close to catching on to what Dick was doing there. I gave up my intention to try to help. I remain convinced that it is hopeless without Yanniru making the same kind of commitment and putting in the same kind of effort that I did to be able to understand what Dick has done.

As I have told readers of this forum before, with my level of mathematical competence, minus a considerable amount of atrophy due to old age, I was able, with great difficulty, to comprehend what Dick had done in his first chapter. My lack of knowledge of physics, and to some degree of mathematics, prevented me from going further. From what I have read that Yanniru has written, my assessment is that he would have at least as much, if not more, difficulty in understanding Dick's paper than I had. It is also my, less-well-informed, opinion that it would take someone of the stature of Ed Witten to comprehend Dick's discovery simply by reading his paper. For any lesser intellect, I believe it will take some serious study.

Now, these comments were intended to demonstrate that Dick did not do a particularly good job of communicating his discovery in his paper. Especially if the objective is to enlighten non-mathematicians and physicists.

But beyond that, he has had a terrible time trying to communicate with readers of this forum. Virtually every time he posts something, I cringe when I read the responses which clearly indicate to me that he has been completely misunderstood. And of course, the conversation then quickly devolves into invective and name-calling. A real shame.

Now, as for assessing the mathematical and physics qualifications of the participants of this forum, I am probably in no better position than you, Luis. But, since I am giving you my opinions, here's what I think: I think the only candidates who have a chance of qualifying are Alex, Yanniru, Bruce, and Alan. And I'm not so sure about Alan. I think he is a brilliant guy who can probably see the deep significance of the mathematical concepts, but who completely ignores or skips over the rigorous formalism.

So moving on to my reason number 3 with these three candidates, I don't think any of them have studied Dick's paper. They may have read it but I don't think they studied it to the extent required to understand his development. For example, of the two typographical errors in the equations that I discovered during my study, Alex found one and neither Yanniru or Bruce mentioned either one. Neither did any of them question Dick's non-standard notation.

I think the reason these three didn't study the paper in depth, was because of my reason number 4. It was just too threatening to open their minds enough to try to understand what Dick has done.

What I hoped would happen, when I first introduced Dick to the Counterbalance forum, and its readers to him, was that someone like Alex, Bruce, or Yanniru, would take Dick's work seriously and put in the kind of work that I did trying to verify the correctness of what he did. Unfortunately that has not happened, and I'm afraid that it probably won't. Instead, what happens is people dismiss the work out of hand and try to wave it off as nonsense citing examples of their own misunderstandings of pieces of it. I give up.

But I thank each of you for putting up with this long conversation, and contributing your opinions about it along the way. I hope that for you readers who have only casually followed along, that this will put the whole thing in better perspective. One thing you can say about Dick's work is that it sure stirs up some strong emotions and some pretty violent outbursts.

Warm regards,


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