Friday, November 18, 2011

The Guardian on El Naschie v Nature

An amusing account of Friday's proceedings by Alok Jha, science correspondent.


Nature magazine accused of libel

Professor compares himself with Einstein and says expert witness is not sufficiently qualified to understand his work


A scientist who is suing one of the world's most prominent scientific journals for libel compared himself to Albert Einstein in the high court on Friday as part of his evidence against the journal. Professor Mohamed El Naschie, also claimed that an eminent physicist brought in by the journal as an expert witness to analyse the value of his work was not sufficiently qualified to do so.

El Naschie is suing Nature as a result of a news article published in 2008, after the scientist's retirement as editor-in-chief of the journal Chaos, Solitons and Fractals. The article alleged that El Naschie had self-published several research papers, some of which did not seem to have been peer reviewed to an expected standard and also said that El Naschie claimed affiliations and honorary professorships with international institutions that could not be confirmed by Nature. El Naschie claims the allegations in the article were false and had damaged his reputation.

On Friday, Nature called Professor Neil Turok, a cosmologist and director of the Perimeter Institute in Canada, as an expert witness to assess some of the work published by El Naschie.


Turok described his expertise as being in cosmology. "I work at the theoretical end of cosmology… my work consists of applying unified theories, such as string theory, to the most difficult questions in cosmology, namely the beginning of the universe or the initial singularity, the moment where everything was at a single point in the conventional description."

In his evidence, Turok said he found it difficult to understand the logic in some of El Naschie's papers. The clear presentation of scientific ideas was an important step in getting an idea accepted, he said. "There are two questions – one is whether the work is clearly presented and readers would be able to understand it. It would be difficult for a trained theoretical physicist to understand [some of El Naschie's papers]. I couldn't understand it and I made a serious attempt to understand it. The second question is about the correctness of the theory and that will be decided by whether it agrees with experiments. Most theories in theoretical physics are speculative – we form a logical set of rules and deductions and we try, ultimately, to test the deductions in experiments. For me, clear presentation is the first thing in the presentation of a theory."

In response, El Naschie pointed out that even Albert Einstein had made mistakes in his publications. "Einstein is the most sloppy scientist ever. He never defined his quantities, he doesn't put in references and he made so many mistakes of mathematics and concepts. He was a very natural man when he explained something to lay people. But Einstein, whom I admire very much because he had imagination and the courage to stand up to the bloody Nazis, Einstein was an extremely sloppy man."

Later in the session, El Naschie accused Turok of having "no idea" about mathematics and being unqualified to assess his work. "If somebody doesn't understand things, it's his own limitation," El Naschie said.

Turok was questioned by El Naschie, who is representing himself in the trial. During the cross-examination, the judge, Justice Sharp, interrupted El Naschie at several points to remind him to ask direct questions and allow the witness to answer, rather than making lengthy statements.

For long periods the questioning focused on Turok's knowledge of the history of physics, the identity of specific Nobel prize winners and how aware he was of the pioneers in theoretical physics.

Sile Lane, a spokesperson for the Libel Reform campaign said: "Scientists expect publications like Nature to investigate and write about controversies within the scientific community. The threat of libel action is preventing scientific journals from discussing what is good and bad science. This case is another example of why we need libel law that has a clear strong public interest defence and a high threshold for bringing a case. The government has promised to reform the libel laws and this can't come soon enough."

The trial continues.


El Naschie may have been prompted to compare himself with Einstein by this comment, but it's possible no prompting was necessary.

The Queen's Bench List has been updated, and the trial continues on Monday.


COURT 12
Before MRS JUSTICE SHARP
Monday, 21st November 2011
At 10 o’clock
Jury List
FOR TRIAL

TLJ/10/1474 El Naschie v MacMillan Publishers Ltd & anr Pt Hd


We still have no idea what "Pt Hd" means, nor do we know what "Jury List" means. Is there a jury, or not?


Related posts:



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
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6 comments:

  1. "But Einstein, whom I admire very much because he had imagination and the courage to stand up to the bloody Nazis, Einstein was an extremely sloppy man."

    Wow, some gall this crackpot numerologist has. No matter what Einstein's deficiencies were, El Naschie doesn't even have 1/1,000,000th of the mathematical skill or physical insight of Einstein.

    By the way, Turok publishes in Int. J. Mod. Phys. D ( http://www.worldscinet.com/ijmpd/18/1814/S0218271809015977.html ). Wasn't it decreed, on this blog, by some anonymous "authority" that everyone who publishes there is a crackpot?

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  2. Anonymous, please, do not distort what was said:

    "IJMPD turns out to be a crackpot journal, publishes crackpot papers, uses incompetent referees and has a chief editor that desperately tries to sweep the dirt under the rug whenever confronted with rebuttals."

    That's far from saying "that everyone who publishes there is a crackpot."

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  3. http://www.worldscinet.com/ijmpd/18/1814/S0218271809015977.html

    Even some CSF papers aren't by crackpots.

    Still, Anonymous's observation suggests an aggressive attack for El Naschie in Monday: That Turok publishes in a crackpot journal. I would enjoy that. Poor Mohamed is being beaten like a red-headed stepchild.

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  4. Pt Hd is a contraction of "partly heard", signifying that a case has already commenced and the hearing date is a continuation, rather than the commencement of a new case before the court.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Talonmies, thank you for explaining!

    ReplyDelete
  6. "During the cross-examination, the judge, Justice Sharp, interrupted El Naschie at several points to remind him to ask direct questions and allow the witness to answer, rather than making lengthy statements."

    Why would I somehow have expected that lengthy statements would be heard? :D

    "For long periods the questioning focused on Turok's knowledge of the history of physics, the identity of specific Nobel prize winners and how aware he was of the pioneers in theoretical physics."

    Let me guess - Prof. Turok lost (according to EN's pov, that is)?
    One possible reason could have been that he'd never played buzzword-bingo before.

    ReplyDelete