Posts Tagged ‘American Mathematical Society’

Plagiarism by ex-president of the Royal Society. 2: The cover-up by the American Mathematical Society

Friday, November 8th, 2019

Part 1 of this post restated the facts regarding my novel mathematical point about “Einstein’s mistake”, how it was copied by Michael Atiyah during his AMS Einstein Centenary lecture of 2005, and its subsequent report published in the Notices of the AMS, 2006. Also copied was the claim that the point was novel enough to constitute a paradigm shift. It was also related to quantum mechanics as I had done earlier. For sure, Atiyah did it knowingly, for (a) my novel point about Einstein was very widely disseminated through two books and several journal articles, and newspapers, and (b) Atiyah persisted in falsely claiming credit even after (c) he was directly informed of my past work, and acknowledged being so informed.

But before going to an ethics body (which later indicted Atiyah) I first approached the American Mathematical Society for redress.

So how exactly did the AMS respond to this plagiarism?

As the AMS ethics states (see excerpt):

  • The knowing presentation of another person’s mathematical discovery as one’s own constitutes plagiarism and is a serious violation of professional ethics. Plagiarism may occur for any type of work, whether written or oral and whether published or not.

And how ought the AMS to respond to plagiarism? It says:

  • “the Society will not knowingly publish anything that violates this principle, and it will seek to expose egregious violations anywhere in the mathematical community.”

The AMS cover up: part 1

But what did the AMS actually do? Did it expose this egregious violation of its ethics to the maximum extent possible?

Not at all. To the contrary, it covered up. How? The AMS did publish a note acknowledging the indubitable similarity of my earlier published work with the ideas attributed to Atiyah in the offending article published in the Notices. But this was not enough. Not even an apology was offered: that is the belated acknowledgement subtly tried to pass off Atiyah’s plagiarism as an “acceptable” oversight. It suggested that, in preparing for his Einstein centenary lecture, Atiyah had somehow missed noticing my two prominent books and journal articles on Einstein. But that Atiyah too had independently arrived at the very same novel mathematical (though not social) conclusions about Einstein in his Einstein centenary lecture, as I had done a decade earlier. The conclusions were so novel that the offending article had, like me a decade earlier, called it a paradigm shift, and had even linked it to quantum mechanics exactly as I had.

My letter objected to this. It was already plagiarism when it happened the first time, in 2005 because my extensively published work was widely disseminated, and wide dissemination is the test of plagiarism on the stated AMS ethics. It was plagiarism beyond all reasonable doubt when it happened a second time, through the prominent 2006 article published in the Notices of the AMS, AFTER Atiyah was directly informed of my past work, and had acknowledged being so informed.

But Andy Magid the then editor of the Notices refused to publish my letter. He wanted to hide the  full facts that Atiyah plagiarised twice, and that the second time there was not a shred of doubt that he plagiarised knowingly. Obviously, hiding these key facts would mislead many people into thinking the Atiyah case was one of “innocent” oversight. That is, the editor misused his editorial authority to suppress facts and mislead people by refusing to publish my objection. (His intent must be judged from his actions, and not what he preaches to his students.) That is, instead of upholding the stated AMS ethics, the AMS editor connived at its violation. Haensch, in her blog post, is furthering conniving in that unholy effort to water down Atiyah’s plagiarism, by twisting facts into allegations.

Indeed, Atiyah pressed his false claim so brazenly for a good reason: the value of formal mathematics is judged solely by authority, and as the authority, Atiyah was confident that many formal mathematicians would throw ethics and facts to the wind and jump to defend him (for quid pro quo, or because of their deep respect for authority).

Act 2: “Atiyah’s hypothesis”, Atiyah’s mistake

Therefore, Atiyah continued brazenly. In Atiyah’s second act of plagiarism he got two of his stooges, Johnson and Walker, to write the report of his lecture for the Notices. Why? First it provided a fig leaf of cover, which I later tore apart by pointing out that Atiyah was consulted. Second, the real aim of the Notices article was to attach his name to my ideas. Only by a third party (though not Atiyah writing himself) could coin a new term linking Atiyah to the grand “discovery” (not C. K. Raju’s book in the library, but the ideas in it!).

To further press Atiyah’s claim to the ideas, these two named it “Atiyah’s hypothesis”. This was done on the socially savvy principle, that people go by the name attached to a discovery, irrespective of the real discoverer. Therefore, merely naming it “Atiyah’s hypothesis”, while again suppressing any reference to my prior work, would forever mislead people into believing it was Atiyah who first thought of the idea.

This devious plan to plant that term “Atiyah’s hypothesis” in the most widely read math journal was probably Atiyah’s idea. At any rate, this nomenclature certainly had his approval, since Atiyah was consulted, as Walker was eventually forced to explicitly admit.

But there was another, even more subtle aspect of social savviness. Calling it “Atiyah’s hypothesis” (instead of “Einstein’s mistake”, as I did) would not arouse social opposition (as, for example, in Israel denying me a visa to talk about it in Palestine). Atiyah understood the value of my mathematical point, but he was interested in promoting himself, not in speaking the truth about Einstein.

However, despite this crafty way of plagiarising my work, Atiyah slipped up, because he lacked the knowledge which went into shaping my ideas. Atiyah the mathematician made a blunder about the physics involved. (more…)

Plagiarism by ex-president of the Royal Society. 1: The facts

Friday, November 8th, 2019

Background: What the decolonisation activist should know

By way of background theory, decolonisation activists need to understand the following. Western wealth was initially built on the obvious theft of land (e.g. of “Red Indians” by killing them) and the theft of labour (of blacks by enslaving them) and forcing them to work on the land. However, colonial power was built on a lesser known and more intangible theft: the intellectual theft of knowledge. This intellectual theft was used to glorify the West by systematically creating fake intellectual heroes from early Greeks to the “renaissance” (see Is Science Western in Origin?). This self-glorification was then used (e.g. by Macaulay) to impose colonial education, the key and continuing source of colonial power. (See, Ending Academic Imperialism: a beginning.)

To dismantle continuing colonial power, decolonisation activists must understand two key ways of covering up intellectual theft. The first is to use the “doctrine of independent rediscovery”, to let off the intellectual thief, and, indeed, continue to give credit to him. The second is the systematic technique of demonisation, to attack the one whose idea is stolen. Recall, how, instead of condemning genocide, it was the “Red Indians” who were demonised e.g. through “Western” films and narratives of “cowboys and injuns”. Likewise, instead of condemning slavery, it was the blacks who were demonised, and continue to suffer from the resulting prejudice even after slavery and apartheid officially ended. That is, apart from creating fake heroes, the West also systematically creates fake villains by demonising all its opponents to make even genocide and slavery “morally righteous”.

The following should be regarded as a case study which explains how these tricks continue to be used today at the highest level of the most reputed Western academic organizations to perpetuate colonial power and academic imperialism.


Recently, a blog post “Putting math in context” came to my notice. It “tangentially” links (a) decolonisation of math (in which I have been involved over the past decade) to (b) the brazen and repeated plagiarism of my earlier published mathematical work by a former President of the Royal Society, Sir Michael  Atiyah and (c) its cover-up by the American Mathematical Society (AMS). This post on the AMS official blog, is written by Anna Haensch, an Assistant Professor at Duquesne University, and former AMS-AAAS mass media fellow. Her job as a blogger is supposedly to improve the public understanding of science. But the post is misleading. It distorts facts. Since this is a matter of great public importance, the issues need to be clraified, especially in the context of attempts by racists and formal mathematicians to protect their power (and jobs) by derailing the effort to decolonise math.

My response is in three parts. (1) The facts, (2) the cover-up by the American Mathematical Society, and (3) the lessons for decolonisation.

Fact, not allegation

First, referring to my webpage on Atiyah’s  plagiarism of my work and its cover-up by the AMS, Haensch calls it an “allegation of intellectual theft”, and “a really wild ride”.

But, it is a FACT that Atiyah plagiarised my work. There is a public finding by an ethics body that Atiyah was prima facie guilty of plagiarism. This is the first entry on the Atiyah webpage:

Hence, this is today an established and cited case of plagiarism. There is a distinction between a convicted criminal and an alleged criminal! Journalists are required to respect facts, but Haensch does not. (Perhaps because she is also a formal mathematician. Formal math is divorced from empirical facts, and hence can reach any false conclusions through bad postulates. This is one good reason to decolonise math.) A formal mathematician can simply postulate that “fact=allegation”. :) How else does Haensch reduce the public finding of three experts of an ethics body to a mere allegation made by me? For she has not offered a single new fact, or argument. Her related journalistic trick of avoiding facts is “proof by adjectives”, to persuade people who are too lazy to check facts.

AMS belatedly acknowledged my prior work

The other fact is that even before the judgment by the ethics body, the Notices of AMS itself eventually admitted the similarity of my earlier published ideas to those falsely claimed by Atiyah. This is again stated on the Atiyah webpage:

Is the journal (the most widely read math journal) so abysmally lacking in standards that it published such an admission merely on the strength of a wild allegation? Haensch’s insinuation implies this!  Actually, the strong similarity with my ideas is indubitable, and anyone can cross check it: just use the links to various documents on my Atiyah  webpage.

To recall, I first linked functional differential equations to a paradigm shift in physics on the one hand, and to quantum mechanics on the other. This was published as part of a long series of journal articles later consolidated into a book, Time: Towards a Consistent Theory, Kluwer Academic, 1994. (Fundamental theories in Physics, vol. 65.) These novel ideas were exactly the one’s for which Atiyah dishonestly claimed credit in his AMS Einstein centenary lecture 2005 and in its report published in 2006. This was done in full knowledge of my past work.

Why a post-facto acknowledgement is NOT enough

OK, so why is the post-facto acknowledgement to my prior work not enough? (more…)