Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A new Richard Poynder piece

A commenter points out a May 12 Richard Poynder article called Elsevier's Chaos, Solitons & Fractals: Risen phoenix or missed opportunity? (PDF). [The link is now dead. I am nonplussed that everything El Naschie Watch links to suddenly vanishes. Fortunately a reader saved the PDF and sent it to me. You can access it at the bottom of this page.]

El Naschie Watch is one-stop shopping for all things El Naschie, so naturally I am linking to that. I do have a slight bone to pick with Richard, however.

Richard's PDF is a fourteen or fifteen page article in which this paragraph appears:

We also know that the Nature article has been removed from the Web; as have the comments about El Naschie posted on the n-Category Cafe blog. A critical article about El Naschie published in March 2009 by Die Ziet, however, remains online — although some of the text has subsequently been changed.

The links are exactly as he has them. All three links are to material that is unavailable or incomplete. Go ahead, try them. You will find them pretty unsatisfactory. In each of the three cases the complete information is available on El Naschie Watch: First. Second. Third. Why didn't he tell his readers?

He told me in an email in January "I do follow your blog". And no doubt this blog is where he obtained the broken links, because who on the Internet obsessively saves stuff like crappy broken El Naschie links except us? Nobody. Toward the end of that email thread (we exchanged nine emails altogether) he told me my name "could still be a pseudonym" when I had just told him I blog under my own name, implying I perhaps was lying to him. I was taken aback. He must have been miffed because I wasn't giving him as much personal information about myself as he would have liked. He wanted a Facebook page, and I don't have one. Or maybe Richard's problem is that he fancies himself a professional freelance journalist while I am a mere blogger, and he disapproves that I sometimes post sophomoric El Naschie taunts like the aversion therapy series [which is now deleted]. That's fine, I'll link to him, he won't link to me, I don't mind. Richard, I don't think your readers are well-served by denying them a link to El Naschie Watch, but that's up to you, and you are welcome to continue following my blog. Leave a comment here if you like.

Comments are unmoderated on El Naschie Watch. On Richard's blog I once posted an innocuous question about Ayman Abdulrahman's paranoid rant because it mentions Richard, but he didn't allow it. Go figure.

Richard's article did include one very funny line. Funny to us, anyway, because of what we know about Baez.

So how do critics react to the re-launch of CS&F? When I contacted Baez he declined to comment.


Richard emailed a response to me about five hours after I posted the above.

Hi Jason,

I just wanted to respond to your point about my not linking to your blog. It has nothing to do with who you are, but simply that I am uncomfortable with some of the images you have used in the past, and the tone of some of your comments about El Naschie.

Best wishes,


So my surmise that Richard thinks El Naschie Watch is too déclassé to link to is spot-on.

He gives no explanation for saying "Jason" could be a fake name.

Here's my opinion, Richard: The right thing to do, since this blog is the primary information source about the guy, and since you used it to write your mysteriously disappeared article, is to link to El Naschie Watch but to warn your readers that they may find the blog offensive. But what do I know, I'm just a blogger. You're a professional journalist.

Below you'll see the contortions he goes through to avoid mentioning El Naschie Watch. He simulates thoroughness by larding the piece with marginally relevant links to uninteresting material, but can't bring himself to mention a single El Naschie lie or scandal. Thus his readers cannot be told that El Naschie's Web site (which Richard does link to) features on its front page a photoshop of El Naschie with three Nobel Laureates. Why not? Because it would require a link to El Naschie Watch, and that would be vulgar.

View the file on Scribd
I tried a couple of PDF to HTML convertors but they didn't give very good results, so here's the PDF hosted on Scribd. As a reader pointed out, we are complying with the legalese at the end of the PDF: We credit Richard Poynder, we haven't changed the text, and we have no commercial purpose in posting it.

Here is an updated version of Poynder's piece:

View this on Scribd

There are various changes, but most notable from the standpoint of El Naschie Watch is that the following paragraph has gone missing since it was sourced from this blog without attribution, as noted above:

We also know that the Nature article has been removed from the Web; as have the comments about El Naschie posted on the n-Category Cafe blog. A critical article about El Naschie published in March 2009 by Die Ziet, however, remains online — although some of the text has subsequently been changed.

A hat tip to the anonymous commenter who mentioned this.

See also:

Translate English to Arabic
محمد النشائى El Naschie Watch محمد النشائي El Naschie News محمد النشائى محمد النشائي All El Naschie All The Time محمد النشائى


  1. > The link has just gone dead.

    What is it about links from this blog causing material to disappear?

    > someone can find a copy of the PDF

    The PDF says "This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales License. This permits you to copy and distribute it as you wish, so long as you credit me as the author, do not alter or transform the text, and do not use it for any commercial purpose." so you're free to repost it.

    > I don't think your readers are well-served by denying them a link to El Naschie Watch

    It was clearly influenced by uncredited recent discussion in this blog, for example footnote 1 on p.4:
    "Paul Grigolini appears to have published around 18 papers in CS&F since 2001. He also authored a paper in a book published by Springer in 2005 for the festschrift in honour of El Naschie's 60th birthday. The paper is entitled Quantum Mechanics and Non-Ordinary Statistical Mechanics."

    But it otherwise has little new content or insightful analysis. The latter 2/3 starting on p.5 is a completely misguided discussion of how CSF should have been used as an opportunity for either open peer review or open access, as though starting from a spectacularly failed journal and outstanding embarrassment would have been a good opportunity for anything.

    Perhaps the "professional freelance journalist" was embarrassed both by the quality of what he had posted, and by his unattributed use of material from other sources.

  2. I have Richard's response in an email to me and I'll add it to the post.

  3. Hi Jason
    I think it would be better if you remove all these porno pictures you have in your blog about El naschie. As you see Richard Poynder complained about these pictures. He also complained about the tone of comments, but you can argue about that.

    These picture would even have worse consequence for Arab and Muslim peoples. It is more than enough for El naschie and his followers just to tell that your site is a porno one, it has constructed sexual images and so on, and in this way your site looses all credibility for all its information content.

    It would be appreciated, if you are concerned about the culture differences. It might be, according to your culture, these pictures don't matter, but as you see it matters for Richard. Moreover, it is more serious for arabic and Muslim readers.

    Your blog contains serious information and solid evidences for the fraudulence of El naschie and his E-infinity group. So please don't let these picture make a sort of distraction from the real goal.

  4. Anonymous -- save the PDF to disk if you can! I want it! I tried to retrieve it both from Google's cache and from the browser cache on my computer, but to no avail.

  5. Zahy, I will take down the aversion therapy series, which were a response to death threats from El Naschie followers. If there are other posts you think are problematic let me know.

  6. A part of Poynder's post is Google cached. I'll send it to you.

  7. > save the PDF to disk if you can

    It is safely saved 746498 bytes. But it is boring. Says little about El Naschie (and nothing new), and more about the deficiencies of "the professional freelance journalist". (Hint: discomfort about past images or tone of comments is neither a plausible nor defensible excuse for unattributed use of content, even by an amateur freelance journalist.) It's 2/3 boilerplate material on open access masquerading as having something to do with CSF.

  8. Anonymous, send it to Jason anyway. Anonymity guaranteed.

  9. Absolutely, send it anyway. I agree that it's largely boring, but its sudden disappearance makes it exactly the kind of thing we try to archive. You can use my email widget just below the Recent Comments section. As Shrink says, anonymity is guaranteed.

  10. I have the PDF! Thanks to the reader who sent it.

  11. > I tried a couple of PDF to HTML convertors but they didn't give very good results

    The generic pdftohtml at seems to work OK on it.

    The "professional freelance journalist" doesn't seem to have much respect for preserving the journalistic record. Ordinarily such posts are not removed without a trace. It's generally preferable to post a retraction, with some explanation, e.g., "This post was removed due to a) threat of lawsuit, b) low quality and other persistent confusion, c) broken links, d) flagrant reuse of unattributed information from other sources"

  12. Yeah, professional journalists do sneak retractions and corrections surprisingly frequently. Funnily enough, it's always the bloggers who catch them, so this is par for the course.

    The sourceforge convertor, like the others I've tried, tries too hard to duplicate the original PDF formatting. What I want is a single vanilla HTML page with nothing but text and basic tags like p-tags for paragraphs and a-tags for links. That way when I paste it into Blogger it will look the same as everything else on the blog.

  13. Now that I had the opportunity to read the whole Poynder's post I can only say: It's so obvious he used this blog as a source.

  14. He doesn't even deny it. We're good enough to read, but not good enough to link to.

  15. Well, at least the Wikipedia's article on Elsevier links to this blog:

  16. Yes. And we get clicks from the Wikipedia article.

  17. And just today the Elsevier article on Wikipedia was updated in the CSF paragraph - with Grigolini and Courbage as new editors. Although the contributor cited CSF's page as the source it's clear where he obtained the information first.

  18. In that paragraph, we are a reference for the statement "The controversy has been covered extensively in the blogosphere." It's the best sentence to be referenced in, so I'm satisfied. The comparatively uninteresting sentence "As of May 2010, the new co-Editors-in-Chief of the journal are Maurice Courbage and Paolo Grigolini" generates far fewer clicks, I am sure.

    Now that the El Naschie Watch is becoming such a classy joint, it'll soon be time to try again to edit the Arabic Wikipedia article.

  19. well it's back here, backdated to 12 may, with no explanation for the absence

  20. Yes, and Poynder has a great sense of humor, obviously, by naming the PDF of the post "Phoenix":

    Unfortunately, "Phoenix" has not risen from the ashes yet (the link to it is dead, apparently).

  21. I see Poynder's blog post, but as you say, is a broken link. What's up with that?

  22. > Yes, and Poynder has a great sense of humor, obviously, by naming the PDF of the post "Phoenix":

    No self-referential humor there: the original article re CS&F was subtitled "Risen phoenix or missed opportunity".

    But there is currently a pdf here:
    Enjoy comparing to the earlier version -- he's managed to expunge some of the unattributed content.

  23. Yes, I noticed that and had been meaning to blog about it. Thank you for the reminder.

  24. Anonymous: True, but, curiously, the previous PDF had a different name (CS&F).