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A notorious string critic remains invisible at a string event

Are opinions and tirades as important as research and results?

Two days ago, I described my shock after the Quanta Magazine edited a sentence about the set of candidates for a theory of everything according to the order issued by a scientific nobody who had nothing to do with the interview with Witten.

Natalie Wolchover literally thanked (!) Sabine Hossenfelder for providing her absolutely deluded feedback:

Thanks to Sabine, I realized that Edward Witten was just totally misguided. After all, he's just an old white male and those suck. Sabine Hossenfelder told me that there are lots and lots of candidates for a theory of everything and lots and lots of people like Edward Witten, for example the surfer dude Garrett Lisi. I have absolutely no reason not to trust her so I immediately edited the propaganda imprinted into my article by the old white male dinosaur.
She didn't use these words exactly but my words describe more clearly what was actually going on. Crackpots such as Ms Hossenfelder simply control science journalism these days. They have nurtured their contacts, they have the right politics which is what the science journalists actually place at the top, and that's why these disgusting SJWs may overshadow Witten or anyone else.

But I don't want to report just the bad and shocking news of this sort. There are sometimes events that could have evolved insanely but that didn't. On December 1st, Brooklyn saw an example of those. A cultural foundation called the Pioneer Works organized a debate about string theory, Scientific Controversy No 13.




The room was full, mostly of younger people (hundreds of them), Jim Simons funded the event, and popular science writer Janna Levin hosted it. It turns out that a Peter W*it was in the audience but he hasn't talked to anybody and no one has noticed him. If you weren't familiar with these things for years, Peter W*it was one of the most annoying, most hostile, and most dishonest anti-physics demagogues who appeared in the pop science press all the time some 11 years ago.




What could have happened is the following: The host, e.g. Janna Levin, could have said:
Wow, dear visitors, screw our panelists, Clifford Johnson (who got some space to promote his new book, The Dialogues, which has lots of his own impressive illustrations) and especially David Gross. Because of some miracle, we have a true hero here. Let me introduce Peter W*it. Applause. Now, you can go home, Clifford Johnson and David Gross. We will talk to him instead.
Thank God, that didn't happen, the piece of šit was treated as a piece of šit, indeed. But some of the sentences voiced at the event were weird, anyway. We learn that at the very beginning, Janna Levin asked both Johnson and Gross whether they were for or against string theory or neutral.

Peter W*it reports that "it flustered David Gross a bit". Well, it surely flusters me, and not just a little bit. Janna Levin is one of the talking heads who often paints herself as a pundit who is familiar with modern physics and events in it. Does she really need to ask David Gross – and, in fact, even Clifford Johnson – whether they are for string theory or against? In fact, it's worse than that. She must have been really ignorant about everything because an answer by Gross – an answer that perhaps deliberately said nothing clearly – was interpreted by Levin as if Gross were a string agnostic. Wow.

David Gross internally acknowledged that the time for obfuscating jokes was over because her ignorance was serious and responded by saying that he's been married to string theory for 50 years and doesn't plan any divorce now.

I don't want to waste my time with detailed comments about new anti-physics tirades by crackpot Mr Peter W*it – which contain no ideas, let alone new ones – but let me say a few words about one sentence because it conveys some delusion that is widespread:
This flustered Gross a bit (he’s one of the world’s most well-known and vigorous proponents of string theory)
OK, so W*it agrees it's silly for Levin not to know that Gross is pro-string. But look at the detailed explanation why it's silly. It's silly because "Gross is a well-known and vigorous proponent" of string theory. Is it really the first relevant explanation?

What's going on is that Mr W*it is using language that makes the scientific research itself – and its results – look irrelevant. People are important because of their opinions, W*it wants you to think. So one divides the world to proponents and opponents.

But David Gross isn't important because he's an advocate of something, or because he speaks vigorously. He's important because he has moved our knowledge of physics – and even string theory – forward. And by a lot.

What's really relevant – and what a host of physics debates who is as competent as Janna Levin pretends to be should know – is that he has written lots of papers about physics and also string theory. What's important isn't that he is a proponent of string theory; what's important is that he is an important string theorist!

INSPIRE tells us that he has written some 200+ published and 300+ total number of scientific papers. The total citation count is about 40,000. 19 papers stand above 500 citations.

You know, a citation isn't an easy job. It really means that the author of the followup "mostly or completely" reads your paper. Not every reader cites you so in average, some dozens of highly qualified people spend their time by going through the dozens of pages of your paper which are much more difficult than reading a romantic novel. That's needed for you to earn one citation and Gross has some 40,000 of those.

Look at the list of Gross' 19 papers above 500 citations. One paper with Callan is there from the late 1960s. Then you have the Nobel-prize-related papers about QCD (one with Wilczek), asymptotic freedom, and the structure of the gauge theory's vacuum, anomalies (with Jackiw). Aside from others, there are some 5 papers about the heterotic string from 1985-1987 – Gross is one of the players in the "Princeton quartet" that discovered the heterotic string. A Gross-Witten paper is there to discuss stringy modification of Einstein's equations, and two Gross-Mende papers discussed the high-energy scattering in string theory.

If you look at the groups of papers above 250 or 100 citations, you will find some newer ones – newer papers often have fewer citations "mostly" just because they're newer. You will see that Gross has participated in many important developments, including some very recent ones in string theory. He's had important papers about AdS/CFT (including some analysis of Wilson loops and the stringy dual of QCD), two-dimensional string theory, non-commutative gauge theory within and outside string theory, string field theory, and many many other topics.

Note that lots of grad students sometimes face the need to study Gross' papers (and lots of other papers) in quite some detail. And they remain silent and modest. Janna Levin who paints herself as a physics guru not only fails to study Gross' papers on string theory and other things. She doesn't even know (one superficial bit of information) whether he is "pro string theory"!

Gross is a charismatic and assertive guy and it's great. But the core what makes him a "string theorist" isn't his opinion but his contributions and knowledge. The activists such as W*it, Hossenfelder, Horgan, and dozens of others constantly brainwash their mentally crippled audiences into believing that results and research don't matter. What matters is the "right opinions" and just writing a hostile rant full of lies, idiocy, and hatred – e.g. what the "Not Even Wrong" weblog is all about – is pretty much on par with Gross' contributions to physics. W*it's or Hossenfelder's "work" may be opposite in sign to Gross' but it is the "work" of equal importance in its absolute value, W*it et al. implicitly claim.

Sorry, comrades, but it's not and that's why Gross is a top physicist while you're just worthless deceitful piles of whining excrements, along with the brain-dead scum that keeps on visiting your blogs as of 2017.

And that's the memo.

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