Slander squared

When you are mugged and call a policeman, and when that policeman protects the mugger, then you feel abused in squared fashion. I greatly enjoy the Jack Vance SF novels that project 19th century scoundrel stories into the far future, but it is quite a difference to be abused yourself here and now.

The book Conquest of the Plane (COTP, 2011) re-engineers mathematics education. It uses the critique on traditional mathematics education given in Elegance with Substance (EWS, 2009). The PDFs are on their websites.

Two book reviewers of EWS and/or COTP advised to read COTP with an open mind. A “review” by Jeroen Spandaw (TU Delft) however misrepresents the analysis and is slanderous. Spandaw rejected my suggestion to talk about is.

A subsequent appeal to the TU Delft Commission on Scientific Integrity resulted in their decision in 2012 that book reviews are not at issue in the rules on scientific integrity, or alternatively that the supposed breach was so minor that it didn’t justify an effort to look deeper into the matter (with an actual investigation).

An appeal to the national supervising integrity body LOWI of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences KNAW confirmed this Delft verdict in 2014.

A report by Christiaan Boudri (Arnhem-Nijmegen) in 2013 was published after my appeal at TU Delft and before my appeal to LOWI. It reacted to Spandaw with the repeat advice to read with an open mind. The two integrity committees regarded this as too late for the original appeal at TU Delft, whence it had no impact, even though it was in time for the LOWI appeal.

It is amazing that the committees on integrity of science think that reviews of scientific books are not part and parcel of science. When scientists discuss the works of other scientists (listed in their references) then there are standards of fair representation and common decency. Why would those standards not apply to book reviews as well ?

Spandaw’s “review” is in Dutch. My discussion and protest of June 11 2014 is in English:

Reviewing a scientific book isn’t science ?
“Conquest of the Plane” and scientific integrity versus misrepresentation and slander

At no time the freedom of expression of a scientist is at issue here. If Spandaw is not convinced by COTP he is free to say so. At issue is only that you don’t misrepresent and slander and you don’t accept it from others.

The best approach remains that others read EWS and COTP.  It is unfortunate that there now is the added burden to have to think about whether you support the misrepresentation and slander or not. All this might perhaps be beneficial for the discussion on mathematics education. Mathematics education might be better than in the year 0 but is rather dismal compared to what is possible. More discussion of EWS and COTP will help to get an improvement.

Traditional mathematics educators like Spandaw think that they defend quality but they close their minds to the wonderful results that are possible when we re-engineer the traditional lores that we teach our students.


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