Jul 09

Re: arXiv:The Modern Cure For B.A.D Mathematicans?

This'll be a short one. But hopefully something I'll comment on more in the future.

I've found a terrific article by Professor Melvin Henriksen published in The Mathematical Intelligencer in 1993 and republished online at the Topology Atlas by him. Henriksen-if you're unfamiliar with him-is currently Professor Emeritus at Harvey Mudd College and he's one of the few remaining active-sort of-mathematicians in one of my favorite areas of mathematics:point set topology. He's also published quite a bit in algebra,has been very active in historical aspects of mathematics and is currently one of the major overseers of the mammoth virtual site Math Forum supported by Drexel University.

The elitism in mathematics is nothing new-nor,sadly,is it unique to mathematics among academic endeavors. Henriksen-never one to keep his opinions to himself-summed up the situation-and the reasons behind it-beautifully and informatively,in this article:


If anything,the situation has worsened since he wrote this article.

When you mention certain branches of mathematics at some unmentionable universities that believe only the half a dozen places on Earth called "Ivies" are where civilized humans exist and everywhere else is untamed jungle with blood drinking,grunting barbarians with pieces of paper masquerading as educated humans-you actually get audible laughter. They don't even try to be kind about it. Why should they? Anyone who can't see that they're right is a fool and won't get promoted anywhere. At least,not if they have anything to say about it-and sadly,they do.

I'm currently investigating the possible role of general topology in additive number theory. To be honest,if arXiv-simply called "Archive" by most of us-didn't exist,I doubt I could publish it anywhere. This remarkable tool has changed publishing forever through open access and free publishing in mathematics and physics with no formal refereeing-and therefore no monkey business. Any attempts to shut it down or seriously regulate it should be met with savage resistance. Such attempts at regulation has already begun in the form of the vote in 2004 by the Archive board to allow only preprints-presumably because copyright issues could arise that could jeapordize corporate profits. The bottom line is that it's begun-the attempts to control it.

(The copyrighting of concepts as property is a terrifying phenomenon that I hope to tackle in depth another time.Suffice to say this is a Pandora's Box that threatens all original thinking if it's not strictly controlled.)

It's a wonderful reality we live in currently in this regard- free publishing. Let's not let the B.A.D. crew and their wealthy allies wreck it like they've wreaked whatever doesn't serve their purposes.

In other words,business as usual on Planet Earth.

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