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Time for me to say a word on behalf of Derek: I have never had nor expressed
any doubts about the existence of a Derek Gatherer with a biology background
as advertised. I should be quick to point out that if I had such doubts, it
would be both pointless and against list policy to make allegations about it
here. Nevertheless, a real Derek Gatherer does exist! I am sure you will be
immensely grateful for the news, especially coming from me. I certainly have
my disagreements with you, but at least I agree that there is a "you" with
whom I disagree. Nice to know the INS agrees too.
Still, this is the Internet, subject to all the caveats raised in Wade's
"Faking it" post, and then some. There are also various ideas of "memetic
engineering" (including the "engineering" of beliefs) spreading around.
Manipulating people with fake information (often to provide information) also
runs in some circles of hacker culture. I don't, however, know of cases where
papers were published by non-existent authors. So on that level, science does
not work that way. Receiving carefully written pseudonymous emails about
science is another matter entirely -- although still only a small minority of
communications. Not knowing how one can detect such things readily suggests
the possibility of self-preserving misbeliefs. On the other hand, telling how
to spot a fake would only change the way fakes are done.
In a message dated 1/31/2002 3:20:47 AM Central Standard Time,
> Oh come on Aaron! What are you on about? Science doesn't work like that.
> You really ought to know better, I mean you were a scientist once yourself,
> so it's not as if you aren't familiar with the system!! How can you
> say that:
> "In memetic engineering, if a physicist with certain properties doesn't
> exist, then it too needs to be synthesized in the 'lab.' So if you need a
> to vouch that the essence of nuclear isotope decay is in changing electron
> positions, then just work up a name and convincing set of credentials for
> someone and have that "physicist" say whatever needs to be said.
> if careers, reputations, and large sums of money appear to be riding on
> argument at hand. If some pre-existing physicist challenges the theories
> the newly synthesized one, the newly synthesized one can angrily call the
> pre-existing one a fake."
> I have been in this game, or at least in the biology part of it, for 20
> years now, and I've never seen anything even remotely similar to what you
> describe. I know all the top biologists, by reputation if not in person, _
> and so does every other biologist_ and it would be impossible for, as you
> maintain, anybody to just "work up a name and convincing set of credentials
> someone and have that [biologist] say whatever needs to be said". It just
> wouldn't work. If a Dr X suddenly appears from the University of Y, then
> instantly the coffee room conversation is 'I know X from my time at Y' or
> know a guy who was a student with X at Z', or 'I heard Y speak at a
> conference in Q' etc. There is just no scope for the creation of false
> identities with fake titles, publications etc. People would see through it
> a flash. I am confident that physics is similar enough for the same to
> Now having said that, I can't help thinking here (now call me paranoid if
> you will) that all this stuff, like your previous extraordinary parable
> concerning Margaret Mead (list passim) and the recent bizarre stuff about
> Tony P Baloney' isn't really about real life at all, but some kind of murky
> attempt to suggest that some individual person (like me????, eh? is that
> is just a "work up name and convincing set of credentials" or a "Dr Tony P
> Baloney". Oh, and not to mention all that about somebody on the list
> a case of narcissistic personality disorder (now that really is not a nice
> thing to say).
> If that is what you are implying, then please be decent enough to say so
> loud, clearly and ambiguously to all list members. Don't please retreat
> behind the 'it is not my purpose to make specific allegations' stuff, and
> then proceed to repeat the vague ones.
> Let's do a deal, okay? You tell me exactly what evidence you want me to
> provide concerning my qualifications, publications, affiliations, mental
> health etc. When I got my US visa I had to send all my transcripts of my
> degrees etc to the INS. They seemed to be satisfied.....
> PS: My publication list (all real stuff, I promise you) is on the web at:
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