Bogdanov brothers deny bogosity

And we believe 'em - but only in even-numbered universes

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Letters Igor Bogdanov has written to us denying the papers published by him and his brother form part of an elaborate hoax. It's a long email citing already-published emails; and we only reproduce these in part.

Re: Physics hoaxers discover Quantum Bogosity

Dear Dr Orlowski,

We were quite surprised to read your conclusions about the "hoax" deliberatly perpetrated by us. This not reflecting the truth. Here is the text we sent to various physicists about this affair :

As everybody probably knows by now, since Oct. 22 we received many emails coming from the whole planet about a rumor of "hoax" based on reverse "Sokal's model".

We were very astonished, my brother and myself, to discover that there is a powerful stream of opinions whose action is to present our works as a deliberate hoax or mystification.

It is pure non sense.

Initiated from France, this campain coincides with the creation of our new scientific TV program on France 2 and could be originated by a very ancient editorial conflict that had nothing to do with science.

We have now identified the main source of this hoax rumor and we send you here after the disclaimer of his author.

Igor Bogdanov

Igor attaches the correspondence from Max Niedermermaier to Ted Newman (referred to here by John Baez in his summary of the case.

They also attach an email detailing the referees reports and the acceptance of the paper published in Classical and Quantum Gravity.

Subject: CQG/119461/PAP
Date: Fri, 24 Aug 2001 15:19:56 +0100
From: "Imported For: Class. Quantum Grav. --By: IOPP.API" <cqg@-->
To: igor.bogdanov@-->

Ref: CQG/119461/PAP

24 August 2001

Dr I Bogdanov
Laboratoire Gevrey de Mathematique
Universite de Bourgogne
5 avenue de Montespan
75016 Paris

Dear Dr Bogdanov

TITLE: Topological theory of the initial ...
AUTHORS: G Bogdanov et al

We are pleased to inform you that we have accepted your article for publication in Classical and Quantum Gravity as a Paper.

COMMENT : It took 7 month of very detailed work before we could address all the questions raised in the various reports and get a version of the paper that could satisfy the referee.

After having read the referee's report, everyone who is familiar with topological field theory would immediately realize that the referee understood perfectly well the paper. His question raised in point 4 demontrates that not only the referee obviously knows the principles of topological field theory but also understood the idea presented in the paper : " The authors' point out the H=0 (or L, which is typical for topological field theories) can, more or less, be viewed as the same as \beta H =0 for \beta =0 (in the limit of infinite temperature)."

IN CONCLUSION : It seems totally unfair to pretend :

1) that the referee did not read the paper
2) that the referee did not understand its content
3) that the referee was not demanding profound corrections and modifications
for the paper to meet the standards of the journal.

Thank you for your attention,

Best regards,


Baez it is who alerted the world to the Bogdanov papers in a posting to Usenet.

"Nothing in any of the Bogdanov's papers suggests that they really understand N = 2 supergravity, Donaldson theory, or KMS states. I'm reasonably familiar with all these topics, and as far I can tell, all they write about them is a mishmash of superficially plausible sentences containing the right buzzwords in approximately the right order. There is no logic or cohesion to what they write," he adds.

The Bogdanovs, according to Baez, lost a plagiarism lawsuit in France and he notes the similarities between the papers published.

Francois Griey adds that one of the publications has now regrets publishing the paper:-

I come to the conclusion that it seems very unlikely this is all a deliberate hoax from the Bogdanoff brothers, contrary to what you suggest.

It is more like being famous and eloquent make things (including getting a PhD with a questionable memorandum) become easier.

"And it looks like they managed to match Sokal's trick of inserting at least one obviously false claim into their mix, when they claim that Foucault's pendulum can't be explained by classical or relativistic Physics," notes our valued correspondent Bill Softky.

A hoax? A breakdown in the peer review process? Or neither?

"They are no better (but no worse) than several theoretical physisicts friends of ours who often use some mathematical terminology that they do not master well enough... The result being that their own scientific contribution is conceptually vague and therefore 'not even wrong'," writes Robert Coquereaux in a sympathetic update here. There's a dialog with the Bog.Bros. at the same page, here.

Finally, thanks to reader Tim Sansom who discovered this splendid research paper. [247kb PDF, or use Google's HTML rendering]. How high does this rank on your bogometer?. ®

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