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From: Usenet To: All Msg #156, Oct-06-93 06:27PM Subject: Re: Forrest Mims: Setting the record straight on SciAm (Part 1 Organization: MSU Dept. of Physics & Astronomy Subject: Re: Forrest Mims: Setting the record straight on SciAm (Part 1 of 1) From: hatcher@msupa.pa.msu.edu Message-ID: <28vuqk$j2q@msuinfo.cl.msu.edu> Reply-To: hatcher@msupa.pa.msu.edu Newsgroups: sci.skeptic,talk.origins In article <19931006.130912.577@almaden.ibm.com>, creichley@vnet.IBM.COM (Charles Reichley) writes: >In <28urgm$rpf@msuinfo.cl.msu.edu> hatcher@msupa.pa.msu.edu writes: [snip] >> In article <28tr10$sca@organpipe.uug.arizona.edu>, >> sfm@manduca.neurobio.arizona.edu (Stephen Matheson) writes: >> >> >4. Jonathan Piel offered to buy and publish three of my columns >> >during a telephone call he placed to me on October 4, 1989: >> **************** >> >> Was this call recorded? Or is this simply Mim's recollection >> of how it went. Frankly I -can-NOT- consider him a disinterested >> party and simply accept his word of what was said based solely >> only his "word". Especially based on a telephone call. Verbal >> transactions are notoriously subject to misinterpretation, and >> misrememberance. And when one feels wronged sometime that can >> extend to willfull lying about what was said. >Unless I am given evidence, I will assume that Mims is accurately and >honestly telling us what he BELIEVES happened. Oh, dear me. You've misunderstood. In no way did I mean to imply that Mims doesn't BELIEVE what he says, simply I'm skeptical that it is a fully factual representation of what transpired. Thus my skepticism about his "disinterest" in presenting an even unbiased viewpoint. >I agree that this does >not prove Mims' point, but to go from "Mims' recollection may be wrong" >to "Willful Lying" shows a predisposition against Mims. I didn't accuse Mims of outright lying...simply pointed out that it IS fairly common human nature to "color" the truth more when one feels slighted. And one can do this without even realizing it. >Since Mims has >already shown that he is willing to tell the truth about his creation >beliefs, even though it cost him a job, it seems that we can give him >the benefit of the doubt in terms of truthfully relaying what he >BELIEVES to be the chronology. But now possibly he regrets that decision...and his adherence to the "truth" suffers? You must concede that it is a distinct possibility. Historical revisionism is certainly not a new concept. And I feel no more need to "give him the benefit of the doubt" than any other one sided acromonious(sp?) story I hear. Maybe it's the crowd I hang around with, but I'm always a little leery of one sided debates; so if I take up a devil's advocate position, forgive me. >As I said, I'm not using this to argue >that Mims' account is the correct one, just that it is premature to >accuse him of deliberately lying about this. Which I hope I haven't done. I meant only to SUGGEST it as a viable alternative to Mims's assertion that what he presented was the "truth". >> > "There's no question that on their own merits the columns >> > are fabulous! If you don't do them for us you ought to do >> > them for somebody because they're great...Give me three of >> > them and I'll run them and give Jearl [Walker] a >> > vacation...I'll buy them from you...Forrest, I trust you >> > implicitly. You're a man of honor and integrity...In its own >> > right what you've written is first rate. That's just not an >> > issue. It's the public relations nightmare that is keeping >> > me awake." >> > >> > (Published in part in HARPER'S, March 1991.) >> >> That it was "published" means nothing ... only that Mims repeated >> this (HIS) story of the conversation to someone and they printed it. >> It says nothing about the truthfulness of what was asserted. >I didn't see Mims as including the Harper's reference to re-inforce or >to lend a 'second voice' to his contention, but rather to give us a >place to look for the quote he is giving us. I'd have to dig up the >Harper's interview to see what all is there, but I appreciated Mims >including the reference. Robert seems to be looking for evil motives. But if he supplied the quote then, why would we think it any different NOW. If there's more to it then what was presented here...please do fill in the blanks. Otherwise it's simply are retelling by the very same source and the reference serves no purpose. >> Especially when followed by: > >> >> >5. In a letter to me dated October 27, 1989, Piel denied he >> >offered to buy and publish the three columns: >> >> Note carefully the date -- 23 days after the phone call. >> MUCH earlier than the re-telling to some HARPER'S journalist >> (a full 1.25 years later or so ... depending on time lag). >> >> > "First, let me set the record straight. Neither I nor anyone >> > else on behalf of SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN agreed to 'buy and >> > publish' any of the installments that you prepared for 'The >> > Amateur Scientist'...we undertook no obligation to publish >> > those articles...." >> > >> >This letter's denial of Piel's own words made it obvious that it >> >was pointless to continue discussions with Piel. Therefore, I >> >wrote Claus Firchow, then president of SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN. >> >Firchow's lawyer called a few days later to ask what it would >> >take to make me happy. I told him all I wanted was for SCIENTIFIC >> >AMERICAN to abide by its agreement to publish and pay for my >> >three columns. He quickly agreed. The lawyer specifically told me >> >I would be free to submit proposals in the future. I have sent >> >many such proposals, all of which have been rejected or ignored. >> >> I don't see anything there that says the lawyer agreed to >> have SA publish all of your future proposals. Again, I'll >I don't see any evidence of that either, but I don't see Mims SAYING >that. Mims did not imply or indicate that the lawyer promised to >publish future articles. I assume, but can't prove, that the point Mims >was trying to make was that at the time this happened, SA hadn't ruled >out the possibility of publishing his articles in the future. Okay, so SA hadn't ruled it out. But now we've got Mim's saying in (4) that they definitely *would* publish based on a telephone call, and Piel's lawyer stating in writing that they had made no such agreement. Why shouldn't we give SA the "benefit of the doubt" and assume (as is quite reasonable) that NO agreement had been made? >He then >tells us that in fact they HAVEN'T published any additional works -- but >he didn't say that this was a violation of an agreement or anything. >Once again, Mims seems to just be giving us a running chronology of what >happened, and Robert seems to be misinterpreting it so as to make it >look like Mims is saying things he didn't say, and is stupid for saying >those things he didn't say. No, in the last go round it was asserted by Mims supporter that SA had indeed promised to publish each and every one of the three articles written. And if that wasn't what Mims was asserting in whatever communications prompted this reply, then I find the wording most puzzling... >> > ...we undertook no obligation to publish those articles...." If this is supposed to be a running "chronology" then there are holes all about waiting for an 18-wheeler to drive through. SOMETHING occured between Mims's purported grand praise and his receipt of this letter. And if the view weren't so one sided then we would be privy to went on; as it is it looks very biased. So biased that my skeptism alarm went off. >The only claim Mims made in the referenced paragraph was that the lawyer >agreed to publish the three articles already submitted, which Mims has >claimed he had a verbal agreement for purchase. But the lawyer DENIES that SA made such an agreement. Thus it comes down to who do we believe in this dispute over a (supposed) verbal agreement. And as the saying goes: A verbal contract isn't worth the paper it's written on. We may NEVER "know" what was agreed. In fact, I put forth the suggestion that it was all (at this stage) a legitimate misunderstanding: both parties thought they had agreed to something different. >> ask for some kind of proof (other than Mim's word) that the >> lawyer agreed to anything...strange though that once burned >> by a verbal agreement Mim's jumps into another one. Perhaps >> a more rational explaination (or at least probable from my >> point of view) is that Mim's has a hard time clearly understanding >> what has _actually_ been agreed upon during a conversation, >> and misunderstands/misinterprets others as agreeing with his >> viewpoint wholeheartedly. I know I've fallen into that all >> too common trap. >It would be nice to have written proof of everything, but not having >written proof doesn't prove it isn't true. Nor does it prove it to be true. Mims presented his side, I responded with a possible alternative...and then you attack me for not simply accepting every one of Mims's statements. >I don't mind you not >believing it, but it is a leap to go from your disbelief to attributing >to Mims some basic flaw of understanding. It was a _possibilitity_. Neither of us is ever likely to know the "truth" >> >6. At least one Internet message suggested that SCIENTIFIC >> >AMERICAN would have been justified in firing me because of >> >scientific incompetence. >> >> Saying they are "justified" isn't the same as saying that >> they actually, in fact, did do it for this reason. I'm >> beginning to see a reading comprehension problem here which >> would support my senario of misinterpretation of others >> on the part of Mim's. >There does seem to be a reading comprehension problem here, but it isn't >Mims'. >Mims is starting a section where he wants to defend himself against the >claim that he is a bad scientist -- a claim that was made on the >internet, and which Mims correctly attributes to an internet post, NOT >TO SA. Mims does not appear to be arguing that SA 'fired' him for this, >I don't know where you got that idea. Okay... I'll accept that interpretation of what he wrote. Maybe in my devils' advocate mode I was a little hasty. >The following paragraphs contain Mims rebuttal of the INTERNET POST >which claimed SA could have 'fired' him for incompetence. His rebuttal >takes several tacks: >1) SA never questioned his qualifications But we don't know what he OR SA means in this respect by "qualifications". And that's an issue...I stand by my assertion that being UNscientific with respect to a scientific issue (evolution) certainly raises questions about his "qualification". And until someone at SA stands up and tells us what they actually meant I can as easily read their statement to mean that they had no questions about his WRITING qualifications...obviously if they were disturbed by his anti-evolution stance then they must have had questions about his SCIENTIFIC qualifications. >2) The SA employees involved had high praise for him personally >3) The SA staff were impressed by his scientific gadgets >4) Other companies have used his gadgets That's all very nice. But irrelevant to the issue of whether SA was in some way obligated (there's that term again, Stephen) either ethically or legally to hire Mims. That *was* what I thought this thread was about. If it's supposed to be about how Mims is an all around likeable tinkerer, no one's really disputing his "gadget"-building abilities --- those aren't the issue we're talking about when it comes to "incompetence" and are thus simply a red herring. The incompetence comes in under his scientific judgement and skills. >5) His gadgets have provided real value to the scientific community That is a value judgement that I don't see anyone here to be qualified to make a definitive judgement on. They were "neat" gadgets, but must SA then hire him to write a column? He should feel free to publish them in other fora and let the scientific community deside for itself about their "real value". That he built some dohicky that someone used is nothing new, and nothing so outstanding that it doesn't happen everyday in some field of science. >6) He has won awards for his scientific prowess in building a > gadget, and SA even saw fit to publicize the award. As I understand it, SA didn't see fit to "publicize the award". Rolex BOUGHT advertising space; what Rolex does with it's space is of no concern of SA's editorial board. And as I said...let Rolex hire him. And as another poster pointed out Mims's "prowness" is more TECHNOLOGICAL then SCIENTIFIC. >There may have been other points. None of these points appears to be >presented to argue about his 'firing'. Then they shouldn't have all been intermixed between topics CONCERNING his non-hiring. That just confuses the readers. Two posts would have been appropriate: one arguing against about his non-hire, and one about his incompetence. But that wasn't the way they were presented and thus (with me) left a different impression on what Mims was attempting to show. >They are all specifically aimed >at proving that he is NOT INCOMPETENT. Incompetent at what? Building gadgets and whirlygigs? There was never any question. Doing or writing about science? Then there IS a big issue to discuss -- I *have* to question anyone who outright rejects a huge chunk of science (and it has a domino effect ... in rejecting evolution he must reject parts of physics, biology,...) >I did not see Mims mention once >in this section that his arguments prove that SA had an obligation to >buy his articles, although they DO make an indirect argument that SA, >and its readers, missed out on a lot of good articles about things that >definitely were of interest to the scientific community. Fine. Publish elsewhere and show up those snotnosed assholes over at SA. Instead it sounds like whining. Just because someone writes a "good" article doesn't mean SA must publish it. They chose not to...time to move on. >> >Yet prior to the barrage of publicity >> >that arose after they fired me, SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN never >> >questioned my qualifications. >> >> No one here asserted that they in fact did. What was suggested >> was that it _could_ have been used. But actually I think in >> a way some at SA DID "question [your] qualifications" -- >> not all of them, just your scientific judgement. I guess it >> depends on whether one includes scientific integrety in >> the class of "qualifications". If some guy with a PhD in physics >> came up and told me that the speed of light was infinite, >> I'd question his "qualifications". >He only claimed that they hadn't questioned his qualifications before >the 'firing'. He in fact implies that AFTER he pointed out he believed >in creation and that he was opposed to abortion, they DID publicly >"question his qualifications". Well (ignoring the abortion issue, since I feel it shouldn't have been raised) it seems pretty straighforward. t0: looks like a good "qualified" applicant: can write; has apparent grasp of scientific concepts. t1: Wait, wait, new information! He arbitrarily rejects a major scientific concept for UNscientific reasons. t2: Hmmmm. Maybe we should think about this and consider his qualifications more carefully. I see no "conspiracy". I couldn't care less about his views on abortion, but his views on evolution IMMEDIATELY calls into question his scientific judgement. I fail to see what the deep issue that Mims, Stephen, or you see here. They learned something new, it made them change their minds, or at least further question his "qualifications". Or is there some certification that one can aquire that prevents further skeptism at a later date? >> >Instead, the editors sent letters >> >and made statements praising my work. >> >> So those *particular* pieces had no/few errors. And maybe Mim's >> is a good writer. That still doesn't address the issue of >> whether he rejects a substantial body of work, contrary to >> evidence, based on religious bias. >No, nor was he trying to. He's showing that they didn't think he >was unqualified prior to finding out his religious beliefs. You say "religious beliefs" and I assert it was UNscientific beliefs. The first would be irrelevant to the job, but the second IS important. And I don't think that SA (later) rejected the writing he submited as "bad" because they found out his religious beliefs. Only that they didn't want their name associated with a believer in a wacko ANTIscientific cult story. The judgement wasn't against the articles (which I understand are still considered "excellent" even by SA) but about Mims's own judgement. All the articles prove is that he's a good writer and I don't think anyone questions that. What they do question is how his nutso beliefs with subtly influence his writing and/or how the association of SA with such an individual would embarrass the magazine. >> >When I visited SCIENTIFIC >> >AMERICAN at Piel's request, he said several times in the presence >> >of some of his staff, "We should have hired you 10 years ago!" >> >> Hyperbole...I see no *obligation* to hire Mims. And certainly >> if at this time he had no knowledge of Mims's anti-scientific >> attitude. This just indicates that Mims is a pretty good writer. >He is NOT arguing that this makes them obligated to hire him. He is >only showing that they respected him as a scientist, I certainly don't see THAT in that line. No where is there anything about them "respecting him as a scientist". And I suspect that it's more likely that they admired him as a writer and gadgeteer. YOU wrote in the "scientist" part...I'm writing it out because the evidence is that at this point they (SA) had been exposed only to his writing and his gadgets, and NOT to his scientific thinking. Once they were made aware of how he "did science" then serious doubts arose. >and were WILLING to >hire him until they found out his religious views. UNscientific views about SCIENTIFIC theories. I don't think that the whole of religous views were reviewed...did they have long drawn out discussions about theology? I think not. The topic was a scientific theory...which he rejects UNscientifically. > Robert is trying to >make Mims look stupid by claiming that Mims is making a stupid argument, >when Mims isn't making that argument. What argument isn't he making? Be more specific. Either he's saying that SA should have hired him or he isn't. If he's claiming that they should have then that's what I'm rebutting...if he's not then I fail to see the point of this thread. >Mims is showing that Piel had no >problems with his work, No problems with his WRITING... But writing and gadget building isn't all there is to `Amateur SCIENTIST'. It's about being a "scientist" and by rejecting evolution for non-scientific reasons Mims proves that he's not qualified to write such a column. >to refute the INTERNET claim that he is >incompetent. And I argue that he remains SCIENTIFICALLY incompetent, until he proposes a *scientific* alternative to evolution, or provides some scientific rational for his rejection. As I previously posted I would claim any PhD. physist that claimed that the theory of special relativity is "wrong" to be "incompetent" until they put forth some sort of scientific proof. Mims has failed that, but rather simply reject lots of supporting evidence. >Robert, rather than addressing that refutation, mistakenly >tells us that Mims is trying to argue that SA had an obligation to hire >him just because they said good things about him. Okay, since I've proven that Piel DID have problems with his work (though maybe not his writing or his gadget builting ability) and have given good cause to consider him SCIENTIFICALLY incompetent then there is nothing left to discuss, since you're admitting here that SA wasn't obligated to hire him. > Of course, that would >be stupid, and if Mims had actually SAID "SA is obligated to hire me, >because they said good things about me", then I would agree with Robert. >But, MIMS DID NOT SAY THAT. But he structured his message so as to imply that. >> >When I said I had applied when C.L. Strong died, he said if he had >> >known, "I would have snapped you up!" Members of the editorial >> >staff congratulated me for getting the assignment. >> >> Again/still no *obligation* to hire Mims...maybe they would >> have snapped him up. Only to regret it later when a big stink >> arose as he used his SA credentials to give credence to some >> creationist literature. That's speculation, but not inconceivable. >Again, nothing in Mims sentence which implies that he is arguing that SA >is obligated to hire him; just another example of SA saying that Mims is >not incompetent. As a writer....and you've beaten this strawman to death: I'm NOT disputing that he can write. Note that this statement refers to events prior to their awareness of his scientific incompetence and is based on his writing and gadget making abilities ONLY. >> >Piel and the >> >other editors played with the various instruments I brought >> >along, including a solar ultraviolet radiometer, a radio- >> >controlled camera for kites and balloons, various surface-mount >> >circuits, etc. >> >> What revelance this has to ANYTHING is beyond me...looks like filler. >Well, I could kind of agree with you here, although it appears to be >suggesting that the SA staff found his scientific gadgetry worth playing >with, and so adds to his argument that SA did not think of him as >incompetent. As a gadget maker...but the column isn't `Amateur Gadgetry'. And if it were then Mims would have more of a case...but it isn't. >> Even after he asked if I believed in Darwinian >> >evolution, he took me to lunch with the editorial staff and gave >> >me a book which he signed, "Best regards to a Great Amateur >> >Scientist. Jonathan Piel." >> >> So he was nice to Mims after he confessed. Big deal. Would >> it have been better if Piel has summarilily(sp?) tossed him >> out on his butt? And that inscription certainly isn't a job >> contract. Simply an admission that Mims has done some reasonable >> (or even "great") amateur science. >Yes, and Mims didn't say it was an obligation to hire him. I repeat >this because otherwise some people will go around thinking that Mims >just posted a huge note trying to prove that SA is obligated to hiring >him, when he is merely trying to rebut attacks made against him by >internet posters. Rebut WHAT attacks? I must have missed the ones claiming he was a bad writer or a klutz at dohickey making. The attacks were about his SCIENTIFIC skills. And essentially none of Mims's post talks about that subject. Instead it's all about his writing and his toys, and how he feels that SA promised to publish _all_ of his columns, and how he was "fired" (even though he was NEVER hired -- if he can't even get that right, you *have* to question his judgement!). That's what leads me to beleive that the thrust was about SA being "obligated" to hire him: because he spent so much time on the issue and next to nothing on actual rebuttals. >(I would accept that he has two other motives: 1) To >argue that it was actually his abortion position that got him fired, a >point which he only makes once so it doesn't seem a major issue to him, Possible, and then SA would be in the wrong. But if I were on the editorial board, his evolution stance would have been sufficient to keep me from hiring him. No need to bring in truely religious debates. >and 2) to show that SA made a mistake in not hiring him, by showing that >he has done a lot of good things that SA and its readership missed out >on because of SA's stance against him). Fine, but he could have reached a wider audience by getting, say, Discover to publish a column by him...thus showing up SA and pointing out how they made a mistake. And they might even take him now, if he were only to publically repudiate his anti-science beliefs. Just like I'd ask the pseudo-physist to accept special relativity before I considered him for a job in a physics lab. Either that or show the world what we're all missing and how the accepted theory is wrong. And it has to be a better argument than "the Bible says so". >> >Although Piel was clearly concerned >> >about my failure to accept Darwinian evolution, he did not fire >> >me until AFTER a female editor asked me about abortion and then >> >met with Piel and asked him to call me. >> >> As far as I can assertain he hadn't HIRED Mims yet...therefore >This may be true, and I confess to being somewhat confused as to the >term 'hired' and 'fired' in this regard. This is where I get on the "obligated" bandwagon...I feel that Mims is PURPOSELY obscuring the issue by asserting that he was 'fired' (presumably for "religous" reasons), when in fact he was never hired. >Certainly Mims has not claimed >he had a contract for a regular column. But he implies it throughout. And I see it as a willfull attempt to mislead the reader. Thus my hostile attitude. >He has claimed that he had a >verbal agreement for SA to purchase 3 columns, and he has claimed that >they terminated that agreement. I believe that they didn't "terminate that agreement". I think the fact is that he was indeed PAID for all three columns, it's just that after all this broke, they decided NOT to publish the last two. This is what he's bitching about and that's what I think the lawyer's letter is refering to: >> > ....we undertook no obligation to publish >> > those articles...." >Maybe that is what he means when he >says he was 'fired'. Since Mims never claims that they actually hired >him for a column, he can't mean he was fired from that position. As I understand it SA contracted for 3 article, he wrote them, they paid for them and published one. He completed his obligation, they completed theirs, then the contract ended (on it's own). Thus there was no "firing" in *any* sense of the word. To use that term I construe as willfull attempt to obfusticate. >> he certainly couldn't have fired him. Had a contract been signed >> by the time he left this visit? Refusing to hire someone is NOT >> equivalent to "firing" them. So this unnamed female editor had >> such influence that she could unilaterally force Piel not to >> hire Mims? Somehow I doubt it. Maybe she added to Piel's doubts ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ >> whether Mims was right for the job -and- whether he could work >> alongside the current (productive) workforce. >Why do you so quickly dismiss the power of the 'unnamed women editor'. >Women can be in positions of power, and despite your personal opinion, >there are men who take women seriously and could be expected to act on >the advise of a woman editor. I never said men don't take women serious...boy, talk about reading into things... what I said was that I doubted that Piel acted solely on her say-so. It would seem reasonable that he had his own doubts. You've removed the orginal context so I can't point how why I saw this as implied in Mims' message. >Nor did Mims claim to know why Piel ultimately made the decision, just >that Piel didn't make the decision until after the information about >Mims' position on abortion was made known to the female editor. And his antiscience views became known to Piel...with some time lag for Piel to think about it there's no real reason to believe that Piel took Mims's abortion stance into account at all. Why not give Piel the benefit of the doubt? >It >could be that Piel was uncomfortable with the creation issue, or that >Piel talked to others after the meeting with Mims. Exactly. So why bring in the red herring of "abortion" when there's no evidence that it played a role? >Mims is just saying >that there was a period of time between the time he told Piel about his >creation beliefs, and the time Piel terminated the 'agreement' to buy >the three articles, A writing comprehension error on Mims's part...I believe that the 'agreement' concerning the 3 articles was fully satisfied by both parties. That Mims obscures this point to the level that his defenders get confused sets off an alarm in my head. >and that during the period of time he talked to >a female editor about his abortion position, and she talked to Piel. >Mims obviously believes that this had something major to do with the >decision, but he doesn't claim that it was the sole reason for it. And gives not evidence that it played any role. Therefore we have no justification of saying that it played ANY part. >> >7. At least one message questioned my ability to do science. My >> [snip...] >> >> Depend what you mean by "do science"...could Mim's continue to >> dabble in areas removed from his religous bias and make sense? >> Probably. But that isn't the question at hand, it's about >> scientific integrety and potential negative publicity towards SA. >WIthout knowing exactly what Mims has claimed, I can't say how much his >beliefs go against accepted scientific knowledge. Nor am I going to get >into the evolution/creation debate. But that's the issue *I* see at hand: is a "creationist" qualified to "do science"? My answer is NO. >Mims at this point is only trying >to argue that he does good science, He can ignore the issue all he wants and "claim" to do good science. But that doesn't make it so...either he accepts the scientific method for dealing with scientific (physical world) questions or he doesn't. You can't pick and choose...it doesn't make sense. No one is saying that the scientific method answers religious or spiritual questions, but "evolution" isn't about religion, it's about the scientific inquiry of biological systems over time. >and that what he does is accepted as >good science. By who's definition? What he does is good writing and good gadgetry, but those aren't science. >I'm not sure why one would reject a good science paper >just because the person who wrote it has beliefs you can't agree with, >but Mims is not arguing that point (in this note). No one rejected his "science paper" (though really they're more about gadgetry), rather they rejected his ability to make scientific judgements and thus worried about how this would influence his writing. They also worried about the bad publicity they would no doubt acquire if they hired him. Credibility IS important. To ignore that SA's credibility would suffer by hiring an avowed creationist is to wear blinders. >> [descriptions of devices built deleted as irrelevant to this >> issue, unless Mims can produce a signed contract specifying that >> SA would pay for them _and_ publish about them] >They are only irrelevant to the bogus straw-man argument you have put up >as Mims' argument, namely that he is trying to argue that SA was >required to publish his articles. Since Mims' real argument is that he >is not incompetent, They his description of gadgets attacks a chimera, since it wasn't his gadget competence that was attacked. That you fail to see this is simply appauling. >these descriptions were entirely relevant because >they showed how, 'despite' his fatal flaw of having a religious belief >in creation, he was able to provide things of scientific value to the Gadgets != scientific value. [ several paragraphs removed ... all the topics are covered above] >> >9. I had absolutely no hidden agenda with respect to writing "The >> >Amateur Scientist," and I had no intention of ever attempting to >> >embarrass the magazine. >> >> So you say. But let me say that I for one am not convinced that >> it wouldn't have happened anyways. Maybe that's my paranoia >> speaking after having interacted with so many "creationists" >> on USENET. In any case, it still doesn't *obligate* SA to >> hire Mims. Hell, I'll promise never to attempt to embarrass >> the magazine if they hire me...oh, so now I'm employed. Wow! >Someone on Internet claimed that Mims' true purpose for trying to get >hired by SA was so that he could use that employment to lend credence to >other writings he would publish elsewhere that would deal with creation. It's possible. I can't say whether is probable. But you must admit that it's possible. And Mims would hardly be so stupid as to openly admit that this was indeed his plan. Thus disclaiming it proves nothing. And I don't thing anyone catagorically stated that they KNEW that was Mims' true purpose, only that it wouldn't be out of line with what many of the creationist have done in the past visa vi the school board controversies around the country. >Mims is merely stating that he had no such intentions. You don't have >to believe him, and he CERTAINLY can't prove that, any more than you can >prove that if you were in my office right now, you wouldn't shoot me >with a gun. So, then what's wrong with pointing it out as a possibility and being skeptical to some degree if he disclaims this purpose. >IF they had hired him, then we would know by now if Mims is >telling the truth, but since he was never hired, we will never know. In >any case, Mims isn't saying that SA was obligated to hire him just >because he wouldn't embarrass them on purpose. He is only rebutting a >claim made about him on the internet. >> >> >In a letter to me, Jonathan Piel >> >specifically stated he had no concern about my motives. (I will >> >be glad to post this letter verbatim.) >> >> Okay, so Piel possibly thought Mims wouldn't WILLFULLY embarrass >> the magazine. That doesn't mean that it wouldn't happen. A >> third party could easily do it without Mims's cooperation >> (or even knowledge) and it would still be a problem for the >> magazine. >This is merely Mims' offer of supporting evidence against the claim that >the real reason SA didn't hire him was because Piel believed Mims would >use his position to lend credence to creation writings. Mims is not I can accept that rational. I said so above. >refuting the (different) argument that OTHER people might use Mims' >employment in that way, just that Mims wasn't going to personally do it, >and that Piel didn't believe that Mims would do it. It is a refutation >of a point made by an internet poster, NOT an argument that SA should >have hired him. Never the less SA *would* in the end be embarrassed. Almost with 100% certainty. Creationist newsletters would -certainly- carry articles about how this big writer for SA was also a creationist and thus their fantasy is "scientific". That's their traditional tactic and to think it wouldn't happen is unrealistic. Thus this "rebuttal" only addressed a fraction of the issue, and possibly the part that the majority of us would agree on if for no other reason that if they hired him and he did indeed purposely embarress them then they would in actuality *fire* him (and not pretend fire him like he claims happened above). >> >My beliefs about abortion >> >and Darwinian evolution were strictly personal. >> >> NO. On abortion I'd agree with you. But evolution is a >> scientific theory and if Mims rejects that based on religious >> bias then one must also question what _other_ well supported >> scientific theories he's willing to similarly reject. To >> reject a scientific theory for reasons OTHER than scientific >> evidence is _a_priori_ evidence of being UNscientific and >> thus *not* suitable for a writing position on a scientificly >> oriented magazine. I'd ask Mims to turn the question around >> and consider "Would an athiest (strictly personal beliefs) >> be a good candidate for writing religious articles for a >> church newsletter?". That isn't to say that science is a >> religion, but an admission that personal beliefs INFLUENCES >> what one writes and thus make acceptable criteria for *not* >> hiring someone for a writing position. >This is at least a refutation about something Mims actually said. It's what I've had as my working thesis all along. That Mims is SCIENTIFICALLY incompetent. That you get all glassy eyed by his skillful writing and neato toys seems to have obscured your vision. >We can argue about whether a person can have personal beliefs that >go against the current scientific wisdom and still be an acceptable >scientist in other areas unaffected by those beliefs. But Mims hasn't argued that...he's simply tried to wash it away in one line stating it is a "personal belief" that would then have no effect at all. >Without getting into the Evolution/Creation debate, I don't think >I can discuss this point. However, (and it isn't a perfect analogy), >much great science has been done by scientists who had no idea about >evolution But not as generalists (ie. Mims was expected to write about all aspects of science...if he rejects a big chunk, and it isn't only biology that gets tossed, then what *can* we expect?). >-- I could argue that Mims, without accepting evolution, >should be able to contribute as much to the scientific community as >Galileo, or Newton, or any other scientist who did their work before >evolution was 'discovered'. You seem to have this belief that all the concepts involved in "evolution" are a disjoint set from other fields. But this is a fallacy, they're all interlocked. Remove a major one and it all comes tumbling down. Small modifications at the base are fine (ie. Newtonian physics --> Relativity) because these adjustments needed not overhaul of large bodies of OBSERVATIONS. But to reject evolution would require outright disguarding of lots of evidence as somehow flawed without any justification. >I however would agree with your analogy in a specific point -- I would >never hire Mims to write any scientific article dealing with the origin >of the species. or those portions of other fields that lend credence to the theory of evolution...I think you'd be surprised what would have to get tossed. Radioactive dating anyone? Geology, paleontology,... >I don't think his disbelief in evolutionary origins >make him unsuitable to write about how to build an ozone detector, But an ozone detector by itself is "Amateur Gadgentry". It's the underlying science that's the point of the column. And by rejecting the scientific method, he disqualified himself from writing (as a scientist) about "science". >any more than I feel obligated to know the personal beliefs of my >chemistry professor, or the meteorologist who is telling me how >to interpret the weather map. But if that meteorologist told you that the weather patterns were controlled by pink unicorns at his bidding and had nothing to do with the movement of air masses how much trust would you put in him? >> >Prior to >> >SCIENTIIC AMERICAN, none of the editors at the more than 70 >> >publications for which I have written ever asked me about my >> >personal beliefs. >> >> So these other publications weren't as thorough, but then again >> they probably weren't as prestegious(sp?) and thus didn't have >> quite the reputation to uphold. Again, what others did or >> didn't do places no *obligation* on SA to hire Mims. >Not what he is trying to prove. Which was what in this case? That others found his writing acceptable? There wasn't a dispute about that...it's his scientific judgement and credibility under the microscope here. Thus what other publications do or don't do is irrelevant. >> >10. In May I spoke with John Hanley, the new president of >> >SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN. Hanley was quite friendly and agreed to >> >review my request to again write for SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN. >> >> So Hanley should have immediately slammed down the phone? >> What's the gripe here...he gave Mims a second chance. Possibly >> prior to having all the facts on what previously transpired. >> >> >He said >> >no one else at the magazine would see the proposal and gave me >> >his private fax number. Several weeks later he rejected my >> >proposal, citing a letter from the magazine's lawyer's of 1990 >> >which, in effect, supported Piel's denial that he had previously >> >agreed to buy and publish my columns. >> >> Ie. at that point he became aware that possibly Mims was >> a pathological liar? Or is Mims somehow implying that by >> giving Mims his private fax number Hanley had defacto agreed >> to hire Mims? >Mims appears to be arguing that the problem at SA is not global to the >staff, but rather is confined to Piel. If it were strictly Piel, then why would Hanley later decline to follow up. The point is when Mims contacted Hanley, Hanley may have been in no possition to make a decision either way. Upon getting further input (from where ever) Hanley came over to the same side a Piel. Thus it obviously can't be strictly Piel's problem. >I don't see the point, or why it >matters, but on the other hand he ISN'T arguing that having the FAX >number obligates them to hire him. Then what was the point of that irrelevant information? He contacted Hanley, Hanley said send me stuff and I'll think about it, Hanely thought about it and decided that Piel was best situated to make the final decision. Why dolly it all up with how Hanley was "friendly" and how he passed out his private fax number. I admit by this time I was being a little sarcastic... >I just thought he was trying to show >that whenever he talks to SA, they seem amiable to him until Piel is >brought into the picture. There's no evidence that Piel directly had anything to do with Hanley's decision: >> >proposal, citing a letter from the magazine's lawyer's of 1990 Thus why not give Hanley the benifit of the doubt and believe that he came to a decision based on his OWN reasoning? Or his talks with lawyers, why pin the "blame" on Piel? >> > Hanley told me I should >> >submit future proposals to Piel, but Piel does not respond to >> >them. >> >> His perogative. If those columns are all so great then why >> doesn't Mims simply get some other publisher to print them? >> And if SA loses sales to some other magazine then Piel can >> take the blame. >Since this occured back in 1990, I would think that Mims has moved on. That's why I see it as whining and interpret a lot of it as arguing that he _should_ have gotten the job. >He is only writing this because for some reason the internet discussion >cropped up again recently. Hardly "recently" by my recollection...dates anyone? Certainly, early summer, possibly during the spring. >Here he seems to be telling us that he has >continued to write articles, and submits them to SA in case they have >changed thier mind. He seems to be arguing that they are stubborn, but As is their right (to be stubborn). >since he has filed patents and some of his gadgets are being used, I >assume that other publications HAVE been publishing some of his work. >On the other hand, I also get the impression that Mims really wishes SA >would hire him. >> >He has also declined to correct four specific errors in >> >SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN about which I have informed him, even though >> >I have assured him it is unnecessary to cite my name. >> >> I'm sure they get such requests all the time...and I'm sure that >> they let all but the most egregeous slide. But somehow because >> Mims points them out SA is obligated to print something? What >> I see here is a personality type that *I* would be distressed >> to see working with me. Maybe it wasn't the science after all >> that Piel rejected, but the fact that Mims would have been >> too disruptive. >Well, I think this seems a bit like whining to me also. Mims appears to >be arguing that Piel has a personal vendetta against him, and that it This seems to be the underlying thread throughout Mims' message, thus you must excuse me when I'm a little leery of a one sided discussion of what transpired. The vendetta comes across as mutual. >makes Piel be unrational to the point of not correcting mistakes in >articles just because it is Mims that points them out. This line of >argument did not persuade me. [snip ... getting TOO long] >> >This message corrects the principle errors on the disk I >> >received. I'll be happy to answer questions relayed to me and to >> >post verbatim copies of correspondence to and from SCIENTIFIC >> >AMERICAN if anyone is interested. I have informed Jonathan Piel >> >and John Hanley at SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN about your discussions and >> >offered to post their response verbatim, but they have not >> >responded. >> >> This last sentance gives the impression that Mims feels that >> it is their obligation to respond to him every time he contacts >> them. By this time I'd be having my secretary toss anything >> with his name on it into the circular file, unopened. >Actually, I took it as a statement that he TRIED to give them a chance >to respond to whatever he was saying, but they didn't respond. Not that >they were obligated to respond, just that Mims wasn't being unfair to >them. Let me ask you. Given the apparent mutual acrimony, would YOU respond? I'm sure there are lawyers in the background tying people down who *would* like to respond. That they don't proves nothing. >Kind of like when you listen to a news show and they tell you >that someone they just said bad things about was given a chance to give >a response but didn't. It doesn't lend credence to the bad things, just >lets you know that they TRIED to get another point of view. >You really have to be looking to pick a fight to attack this. I'm not "attacking", just pointing out in my own way exactly what you said, namely that they would be unlikely to respond. >> Besides, if I were SA I'd _certainly_ not submit any response >> *via* Mims. And I'm sure their lawyers would go white upon >> the suggestion that they make an informal response here on >> the net. So am I surprised by the lack of a rebuttal? No. >> Though it would be nice to hear from the other side rather >> than simply speculate and listen to Mims's (obviously biased) >> viewpoint thrashing over this stale old argument. We can >> talk more when Mims produces a signed employment contract. >Well, Mims specifically started out trying to refute some claims made >about him and this situation on the internet. His statements mostly >dealt with the internet claims, and when he finished, he restated that >he thought he had answered the internet claims. Then why was it all sandwiched between whining about being "fired"? The first few and last few items dealt with his interactions with SA, in between was about his credibility. There would have be much less confusion if he hadn't intermixed the two topics. And obfusicated them by using misleading terminology like "fired" and implying that contracts or verbal agreements were broken. >If SA cared, I'm sure they would 'answer' directly rather than through >Mims. But I don't know why SA would care about Mims trying to rebut >claims made by internet writers. >> >Forrest M. Mims, III >> >> >_________________________________________________________ >> >--------------------------------------------------------- >> >End of article posted for Forrest Mims by: >> >Steve Matheson Program in Neuroscience University of Arizona >> >sfm@neurobio.arizona.edu >> >> -robert >Charles W. Reichley, IBM FSC, Manassas, Va. >Reminder : This post has nothing to do with IBM or its subsidiaries -robert

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