Thursday, November 18, 2010

A short response to D.D. Guttenplan

A commenter said I should let it go. I was going to write a long, detailed response but I'll just say I'm still waiting for Mr. D.D. Guttenplan to list the "various blogs" that fingered El Naschie, and to explain why he didn't credit any of them in his article, since El Naschie's name was important enough to share with his New York Times readers. And I'll conclude with a heartwarming anecdote.


About two months ago I was browsing through the StatCounter log and was struck by a series of entries.

They showed sophisticated use of Google search terms to trawl El Naschie Watch.

The search terms led me to guess that the trawler was from El Naschie's law firm. Provisionally I labeled the London IP address "Collyer Bristow" so that it would show up with that notation when the visitor returned.

I am bemused to see that the aforementioned Mr. Collyer Bristow, who combined the string "El Naschie" with others in clever ways to do his trawls; and Mr. D.D. Guttenplan, who writes only that he "came across" El Naschie Watch but wasn't interested in "any indivual's" publications, and that El Naschie Watch "didn't really seem relevant" to his interests... share a computer. How laudable that two El Naschie Watch visitors with such incompatible views of the great man's relevancy should get along as flatmates! It gives one hope for humanity.



Posts about D.D. Guttenplan:


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7 comments:

  1. Even if DDG won't admit the truth (he doesn't seem the type), you can bet that his colleagues are loving this.

    Maybe the others are right that you shouldn't get hung up about it, but I don't see anything wrong with sticking up for yourself. The quickfire style here is pretty outspoken, but I read a load of posts (with some pleasure) and I have to say that the underlying trend is very factual and precise.

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  2. > I was going to write a long ...

    It is good that you are back on your meds, give them a chance to work.

    From the above we learn you've matched the IP used to post the comment from DDG with one that visited when the THE rankings story broke, presumably after your 18 Sep blog entry with the tip from the math prof finger El N. So that at least that explains why the news is so stale, if the article was indeed largely written two months ago (though doesn't explain why nytimes sat on it for so long).

    He already said he came across the blog in the course of researching the article, and sure enough he did. And you say he also did a careful investigating this blog (assuming the searches in question were localized here). Having learned the name El Naschie from RankingsWatch or elsewhere, it would have been eminently sensible to learn what else might have been of interest out and around, including various details of the pending lawsuit, etc.

    But none of that made it into the article, because that wasn't what the article was about. Careful reporters harvest much info that is discarded. The article is instead about the fact that the ranking methodology is so misconfigured that a single person, never mind whom, from a relatively unknown university, could somehow outperform all of Harvard, Stanford, etc., in some subfield. And that THE quality control was so poor that this didn't raise a single red flag before they announced THE results. At this stage, there's a story independent of who it is (as also emphasized in this recent follow-up:
    http://citationcultures.weblog.leidenuniv.nl/2010/11/18/new-york-times-questions-science-behind ).

    But the person's name was quickly known, so there was no reason not to mention it. Had the article then gone into more detail about El N, then it might have made sense to mention this blog, but the article was instead about the rankings, so it made more sense to mention RankingsWatch (and note once again there was no live link, so probably that blog didn't get much referred traffic anyway, since most readers don't get around to searching for the url. Those sufficiently interested might also have searched for El Naschie and landed here, and no doubt you see them in the log traffic this week.)

    > I'm still waiting for Mr. D.D. Guttenplan to list the "various blogs" that fingered El Naschie

    For the umpteenth time: No, the article made no such claim, you still misidentify the meaning of "identify" here. In this context, it just means he was *named* on various blogs, a true statement. It does not imply that he was independently identified on various blogs. So DDG has nothing to explain, and do keep waiting til your meds fully kick in. The article never said you weren't the first to post the identification, it never said someone else was, it said nothing more or less than the name quickly appeared on various blogs, which it did (in some order, but that was not a pertinent detail in an article with space constraints and with a different focus).

    The article lifted or stole nothing from here. Unlike Poynder's work which has left you oversensitized, there were no uniquely smoking guns, and the "examples" you gave were less than compelling, to say the least.

    So there's nothing further to be gained by pressing a "precedence" claim.
    The existence of this blog facilitated the rapid identification of the guilty party, and facilitated the rapid dissemination of the information. The information even made it into a stodgy old relic from the print era, further raising name awareness of your hero for the next public round, whatever form that will take. So it's all consistent with the putative purpose of this blog, a success all around, and no reason not to rest at that.

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  3. "It is good that you are back on your meds, give them a chance to work."

    :) You may be right. I considered titling this post "A short response to the liar and thief Mr. D.D. Guttenplan"

    "assuming the searches in question were localized here"

    Yes, they were constrained to elnaschiewatch.blogspot.com.

    "But none of that made it into the article"

    The great man's name made it into the article, and Guttenplan deemed it important enough to share that information with his readers.

    "Had the article then gone into more detail about El N, then it might have made sense to mention this blog"

    Guttenplan uses the great man's name three times. In one case, we learn he initiated an email exchange with El Naschie. Where do you think he got the great man's email address? Where do you think he learned, as he said, that Dr. El Naschie sued the British journal Nature? Where do you think he learned that the case is still in court? Hint: One of his blog-constrained search terms was "Nature".

    I realize you find my individual examples uncompelling. It is possible to source these facts individually thither and yon about the Internet, but the simplest explanation is that he found them by performing searches constrained to El Naschie Watch (where such minutiae are lovingly collected, polished and displayed) using terms of interest -- to wit, the very searches he performed.

    Still, maybe we only disagree about the threshold for how much detail makes it sensible for him to mention this blog. As the proprietor of El Naschie Watch it is natural that I place the threshold lower than you or Guttenplan.

    "No, the article made no such claim, you still misidentify the meaning of "identify" here. In this context, it just means he was *named* on various blogs, a true statement. It does not imply that he was independently identified on various blogs."

    Whatever Guttenplan meant by "identified", not only did his article not name the "various blogs", but his crafty response did not either, inspite of my asking the question specifically. There remains to this moment no obstacle to Guttenplan explaining what he meant by "identified" and enumerating what "various blogs" he meant. Really, his reticence on this straighforward matter is hard to understand.

    "Unlike Poynder's work which has left you oversensitized"

    Yes, that's certainly true.

    "So there's nothing further to be gained by pressing a "precedence" claim. The existence of this blog facilitated the rapid identification of the guilty party, and facilitated the rapid dissemination of the information. The information even made it into a stodgy old relic from the print era, further raising name awareness of your hero for the next public round, whatever form that will take. So it's all consistent with the putative purpose of this blog, a success all around, and no reason not to rest at that. "

    I agree completely. Thank you for your insightful comments. I enjoy them from beginning to end.

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  4. Anonymous,November 18, 2010 5:18 PM:

    Why do you think that this blog is run by an obsessive individual? It's pretty clear to me that behind it there's a formidable intelligence agency. Even the Great Man (M. El Naschie for those who don't know of whom I'm talking about) came to the same conclusion. LOL

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  5. You guys should have a beer together.

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  6. > Where do you think he learned, as he said, that Dr. El Naschie sued the British journal Nature? Where do you think he learned that the case is still in court? Hint: One of his blog-constrained search terms was "Nature".

    Though schooled in the U.S., he's currently based in London. Maybe it's common knowledge in journalist circles in the U.K. that there's a pending lawsuit? Perhaps he was just searching for additional information here, in case such was lovingly collected, and there was more to say than "just pending"? (If he searched for Nature, he already knew about Nature. It turns out there is no further info or insight here about the lawsuit or its current status, other than a 1 Apr update which might have caused confusion.) That this blog had to be the source that the case is still in court is presumptuous to the point of solipsism.

    > There remains to this moment no obstacle to Guttenplan explaining what he meant

    There's no motivation to waste time bulldozing a mountain back to a molehill.

    And there's another reason why he or the editors might have decided to largely sidestep the El Naschie issue in the first place: his current location in London and mention of the International Herald Tribune suggest he may be affiliated with the London office of the IHT rather than directly with the nytimes (the former used to be more independent but became the global web edition of the latter a couple years ago). That could easily mean they'd get dragged into some litigation as well under UK libel law due to their legal presence there. It would be unjustified and they'd win eventually, but evidently these things take forever to adjudicate and why risk it for some tangential mention in an article primarily on a different subject? So they settled on a few carefully worded and relatively non-contentious statements of fact, leaving it to the reader to infer or research further details, disappointing the ElN afficionados, but probably standard practice in the UK to avoid getting dragged into time and money wasted exercises.

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