Posts Tagged ‘Atiyah’s hypotheis’

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…)