Anatomy of Holland

The last weblog text on open access publishing caused me to write this letter to VSNU and other bodies in Holland. VSNU is the platform at which Dutch universities collaborate.

Letter to VSNU and others on membership dues and open access publishing.

Addendum October 17 2016: There is a spreadsheet example now with rough data for mathematics education in Holland.

  • It would cost school employers an additional EUR 50 per mathematics teacher to compensate teachers for memberschip of NVvW (the Dutch association of mathematics teachers) and turn Euclides (its journal) into an open access journal.
  • Employers have already agreed to compensation. It is just that (mainly 2nd degree) teachers do not join up.
  • For publishers, schools already have contracts for access, such that a teacher only has to activate the account. Similarly, schools might see it as a contract with NVvW, and teachers only have to activate their membership. (NVvW thinks of itself as an association only and not as a publisher too.)
  • Employers cannot say what association their teachers should join. The closed shop should not be with a particular association but with a default association. The individual teacher decides whether to join an association and which one. The decision to join is only made easier via “complementary subscription” and the “activation of membership”.

Secondly, I had to think about what Timothy Gowers wrote when announcing “Discrete Analysis” while using the Scholastica platform.

(a) He uses that accepts submissions from all over the world. But this would be difficult to create for each discipline. Best is that the institute where you graduate also supports your follow-up.

(b) In that line of argument: It appears that arXiv rejects some papers because they are second-guessing universities whether you are a “true” scientist or not. Papers of mine have been rejected as if I were a crackpot. See my protest about how they can handle this. But I have a degree of econometrics from Groningen (1982) and teacher of mathematics from Leiden (2008). I am quite dismayed that arXiv starts judging on quality while they don’t have the background to judge. See also Richard Gill’s experience on a similar strange rejection, the paragraph “Quantum crackpots”.

(c) Gowers wants “quality” for his journal on “Discrete Analysis”, as if this would be a criterion for open access publishing. This is really no argument but misunderstood vanity. An editor for “peer review” should check on clarity and scientific nature, and that is it. The discussion on quality might be done at a second stage, and is a different kind of discussion. Such decisions actually are new articles, in which an editor-author may argue why some paper or analysis has quality. Gowers identifies these “judgements on quality” as “editorial comments”. Those however should also be submitted to peer review, and they generate citations (namely when such an author refers to proper sources). Gowers now generates the strange phenomenon that some people might make the inference “It was rejected by Discrete Analysis and thus it doesn’t have enough quality”, while that very topic of quality should be subject to peer review at least.

Addendum 2016-10-13: Thus, there might be three types of journals while Gowers has only one. Note the word type. With three types, there can still many different titles, also on Discrete Analysis.

(c1) A journal type “Proofreadings for Discrete Analysis”, consisting of links to submissions (abstracts and full texts) and links to the referee reports.

(c2) A journal type “Recommendations for Discrete Analysis”, with again a list of links, likely introduced by the abstracts. The meaning of this journal is that editors perform as 2nd stage proofreaders, who judge on the articles and referee reports, and provide recommendation by inclusion in the list. It would be best to specify which editor does the recommendation, since we cannot presume that all have read it. Potentially, though, editors hide in the herd to secure anonimity. Editor reports are entered as 2nd stage referee reports in the repository, both for recommended and rejected articles.

(c3) A journal type “Discussion of the recommendations for Discrete Analysis”, in which editors of (c2) given an overview clarification of their recommendations and rejections. Basically these texts have first been published in (c1), and the selection for (c3) is done by another group of editors than for (c2). Editor reports of (c3) are again included in the repository, with links to the underlying original papers.

(d) We should not confuse open-access with open-minded. I wonder whether Gowers is aware that mathematicians have a mortal fear for crackpots. Will his journal be open-minded or will it be another exercise by mathematicians to abuse others as crackpots ? An example of abuse is given in the former weblog text w.r.t. a paper on a new algebraic approach to the derivative.

Let each institute of higher education (HE) – university or college – create a working paper archive (WPA) for its alumni.

The alumni can be at the level of bachelor, master or PhD, see the Bologna Process at ECAHE for a description of the quality levels.

For example, one of the qualifications for a master’s degree is:

“have demonstrated knowledge and understanding that (…) provides a basis or opportunity for originality in developing and/or applying ideas, often within a research context;”

If a university deems someone worthy of a master’s degree then it would be logical to assume that the new master might develop some new ideas, and then it would be useful when those could be archived. Let the institute that granted the degree create such an archive for its alumni.

The alumni would not be obliged to use this archive, but having such an opportunity would be a great service to the world. Creating such an archive would serve the purposes of universities and colleges and their libraries on the recording and distribution of knowledge.

It would be better when the archive would not only contain drafts for articles submitted to peer reviewed journals, but also versions, research notes and comments, or links to those.

These higher education HEWPAs would form the basis of what would be called the “publishing process”.

  • Submission to the database would make the results public. Everyone should be able to read the submission. Potentially there might be an option to time-stamp an idea and keep it secret for a while, but such ideas should become public after the author’s death plus some years. Potentially there might be a protocol for patenting as well.
  • The copyright remains with the author. Submitted material can be read by others but can only be reused with permission for which types of contracts are available.
  • There would be monitoring of citations, comments, versions, and so on.
  • Groups of editors might form journals to serve particular interest groups. They might choose to list only the abstracts with links to the WPA, or assist the author in a new version or new layout. These would be scientific journals and hence open access. There would be no additional costs for publishing or distribution, since the costs of the WPA are paid for by institute of HE. If editing is seen as part of an academic job, then these editors are paid for the institutes as well. The commenting on work by others forms part of scientific research indeed. Trying to make your journal “the best” might be part of unavoidable vanity.
  • The archive function is intermediate between library and press. Many elements in the datebase can be printing on demand. For some publications there can be volume printing, as now happens at university presses. One would suppose that many readers would appreciate quality control by editors for expensive outlays in print.
  • Alumni can also join scientific societies and associations. When these unions are professionally relevant, then the employers would pay for the membership dues. When these dues would be used to support a journal – like the Econometric Society has Econometrica – then this means that the employers would ultimately pay for the editing (or that academia pay for their own editing).

This is how it always should have been. There is no need for “commercial scientific publishing”. The current situation with commercial scientific publishing, pay walls and even scientific associations that put their journals behind pay walls to encourage membership to cover costs, are a deviation from sound management of science.

It is true that a commercial publisher can put out advertisements and use fancy labels and claims like “this is the best journal” while a scientist is supposed to remain modest. Thus we can understand from historical reasons that we got where we are now, and that scientists washed their hands and allowed publishers to take control, but those are not good reasons.

Example 1. Dispersion over various archives and lack of some

Currently, for example, I use (1) my website, (2) this weblog, (3) EconWPA in the past and now the Munich Personal RePEc Archive (MPRA) for my economics papers, (3) I have some papers at on statistics and mathematics history and overview, (4) for time stamps I also used, (5) recently I discovered an archive for Dutch educational materials that also allows English (, (6) and there are the “official publications” with their archives.

This means that economic texts in Dutch are only archived on my own website, and not indexed etcetera. Will foreigners be able to find the English educational material ? This also means that most of my work on education and didactics of mathematics are achived only on my website, and not indexed as such.

For mathematics education there is this curious observation:

“Robert’s last recommendation is to have a preprint server for math education research. As he notes, this is a road we’ve tried to go down before and we didn’t get very far. I don’t think the problem has nearly as much to do with policy or categories of the arXiv as it does with the lack of a “preprint culture” in mathematics education. What I learned in those previous preprint discussions, and in my observations as a developing scholar, is that math educators regularly and happily share work in progress — with a select group of people. In math ed, there doesn’t seem to be widespread faith in anything like Linus’ Law,   the open source software dictum that says, “With enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.” I think the math wars led to a lot of distrust, and some of it is very rational. It’s safer to only share preliminary work with a few scholars who share similar methods and theoretical frameworks, and then refine the work after peer review before publication in a journal whose readership is likely to understand the work. Maybe it shouldn’t be this way, but to move forward we’re going to have to confront some of these beliefs.” (Raymond Johnson, August 2014)

Example 2. Horrible effects of paywalls

I am already member of the Dutch association of teachers of mathematics NVvW, but for access to the journals of the English ATM or US NCTM I would have additional member fee charges or reading fees, while the Dutch council on education research NRO doesn’t provide subsidies for the kind of research (PROO) that I am doing (letter). Fortunately, my work is so creative that I don’t have to rely on extensive search in the literature, but alternatively put, since I cannot do such extensive search, I focus on what I can do, which is being creative. The snag is that my creative work again hits the pay wall, when “open access” journals again require submission fees and/or transfer of copyrights. My impression is that my membership of the Dutch Royal Library should be sufficient to gain access to information all over the world. Why not ?

Better per institute than discipline

Originally, Bob Parks had an initiative EconWPA at WUStL, modeled after This worked fine, but WUStL stopped it for administrative reasons. One can imagine that it requires an investment to archive papers in a field for the whole world. I am very grateful to Bob for his efforts in the past, and grateful to MPRA to take it over.

This indeed causes the question whether it is useful to archive per discipline or per graduating institute. My impression is that it is better to have the archives at the institutes. They have granted the diploma, and the story starts from there. Over the years an author might shift into a new field but on occasion it would be useful to time-stamp the qualification for that new field.

There are “academic social media” initiatives like ResearchGate, and Mendeley, of which Gaudeamus states: “Too bad they aren’t specialized in socializing the process of publishing in scholarly journals, both to editors and authors.”

Example 3. Article on algebraic approach to the derivative

Having an alumni WPA would mean that I could submit this article to a WPA at Leiden University, where I graduated in mathematics teaching. The article explains the algebraic approach to the derivative as originated for education, and provides a bridge for research mathematicians who might be interested to see whether they can develop it further mathematically.

Currently, the article is only on my website and not at any archive where it can be indexed etcetera.

The article is in English and thus not relevant for the journal Euclides of the Dutch teachers of mathematics.

I submitted the article to “Nieuw Archief voor Wiskunde” (NAW), which is the journal of the Dutch society of mathematics, who are mostly research mathematicians (working at the academia).

The referee wrote an abusive report. While I referred to the domain of the reals, which are a Field, he or she gave a “counterexample” with a Ring. There are some more abuses. See my letter of protest.

The editors of NAW rejected the paper while referring to this referee report. I asked the editors whether they had actually read the submitted paper. I received no reply to this. When they had read the paper, then they could have seen themselves that the report was abusive, and that the referee was dysfunctional, especially when I had pointed out the abuse. This is an abysmal manner of editing.

Thus, the paper still is only at my website. If it were at a Working Paper Archive at Leiden University, then editors could be hunting for material, and discover the paper via indexes and abstract and quality of the author. I would not have to look for journals and submit it, and be exposed to such abuse, but quality editors would locate it. The world would be quite different.

A bit more on this example 3

I wrote my protest the same day when the report arrived. My response is to the point. It expresses sheer intellectual outrage. It doesn’t express the emotions that one feels when one’s work is abused, but it expresses the rational outrage that can be substantiated with arguments. The arguments in my response of October 3 suffice.

It is useful to explain a bit more about it. The discovery of the algebraic approach to the derivative dates from 2007 when I retyped “A logic of exceptions” and programmed this in Mathematica, and included a section on the “paradoxes by division by zero”. It is quite a horror show how the mathematics community in Holland has responded to this for almost 10 years now. I have a lot of praise for Richard Gill and Christiaan Boudri but am quite weary w.r.t. others.

With this present paper and referee report: had I waited with my response a few days longer, then I might have added the following. It would have made for a longer reply so it is better that I dispatched my response immediately. Yet, let us look at the additional arguments why the referee report is below standard. The referee refers to “sin x“.

2016-10-03-naw-sinI already wrote my response that the referee could have asked me before rejecting the article. I could have pointed to “Conquest of the Plane” (COTP) (2011) where this is explained, or the review of COTP by Richard Gill in NAW 2012. Those are both in the list of references, and thus the referee was too lazy to look for this, or ask this. Apparently he or she found sufficient satisfaction in having insulted me for not thinking about trigonometry as the most obvious answer for his or her state of ignorance.

However, I would deem that the admission that the algebraic approach would work for polynomials would already be a major reason for publication. The common perception is that limits are required, but if they are not required for polynomials then this is a major step ahead. The referee could have pointed out that the stated objective of the paper is to provide a bridge from education to research mathematics, and then have concluded that the further development might be something for research mathematicians. However, the referee doesn’t see how important this admission is.

However, the referee might also have realised that Sin has a Taylor expansion as a polynomial. Obviously, this expansion uses the limit of n → 0, but not the limit  Δ→ 0 as required for the derivative. My analysis on the algebraic approach to the derivative doesn’t reject limits per se, but only argues the limit Δ→ 0 is superfluous. The required information for the derivative is already in the formula for f[x], and it suffices to use algebraic methods. Thus, if the referee had had a first year course in analysis, then he or she should not have made that remark as quoted above.

Obviously, the Taylor expansion uses the derivatives themselves, and thus there is the question how this feat of Baron von Münchhausen is achieved. Again, the referee could have pointed out that the stated objective of the paper is to provide a bridge from education to research mathematics, and then have concluded that the further development might be something for research mathematicians.

However, I refer to COTP for the deduction. Richard Gill’s review suggests that there is hidden use of limits again in squeezing of values, but, there is actually an application of logic only.

Note also that the referee writes “sin x“. However, the sine is defined as the y-value on the unit circle of arc φ on that unit circle, and Cos[φ] is defined as its x-value. Thus “sin x” is gibberish as if x = φ. See my earlier suggestion for a didactic presentation of trigonometry.

A hypothesis for social psychology: an autistic fear for crackpots

The problem is rather that the world suffers from mathematicians and their fear for crackpots.

Let me quote form here, page 2:

There are ample indications that this hostile attitude is not uncommon in the world of mathematics. A mathematician wrote to me on March 7 2012:

“Once  you have irritated old-style mathematicians (…) they turn, of course, into crackpot interception mode. Start nit-picking, misunderstanding, finding real small errors, maybe some big ones, but  certainly consistently misunderstanding what you are trying to say. We all get letters and papers from crackpots who are squaring the circle, proving that Bell’s theorem is wrong, or solving the P=NP problem. (…) It’s quite a sport to show in public to your mathematical friends that these crackpots are a public nuisance. (…) You drew attention to yourself, you got attention, and now several Delft mathematicians are thoroughly enjoying a little group-crackpot-ridiculization. Bu t I could say (and in fact do) that one could say that you asked for this! Never mind. Remember Gandhi: first they ignore you, then they fight you, then you win.”

I object that I “asked for it”. The quote above concerned “Conquest of the Plane” (COTP) (2011) but the issue is the same for the current paper on the algebraic approach.

The paper that I submitted to NAW is an excellent review of both the algebraic approach and the current state of research on this. It fits the stated objectives of NAW to publish the article. The algebraic approach to the derivative a world class discovery, and it deserves to be treated with respect and be published. I never claimed that everyone should agree with everything. The ideas of publication is dissemination and does not imply that the editors agree with the analysis. They would have a useful role in checking on clarity and relevance for the readership. Competition with other articles is less relevant for digital publishing (though NAW is also on paper).

I am an empirical scientist and no psychologist. I have a bit more leeway than a psychologist to hypothesize about what is happening here.

Earlier I already applied a lay reader’s understanding of social psychology to the world of economics (here or local file). Let me now indicate this for mathematics.

My impression is that mathematicians are further up in the autistic spectrum and have difficulty in dealing with conflicting information. They know that everyone in their peer group hunts for crackpots. In the case of conflicting information they consider it their best protection to accuse others of being a crackpot, rather than confront their peers and be accused of being a crackpot too. They have a mortal fear of being associated with crackpots, and then can no longer think straight or treat someone with respect.

Addendum 2016-10-11: I now located an actual “autistic spectrum”, namely the AQ questionnaire by Simon Baron-Cohen, see also wikipedia (a portal and no source), and Telegraph 2015. Presumably as a scientist I would be scoring higher on this too, but my point would be that mathematicians are trained to look at formulas at the neglect of empirics, language and humans.

In this case mathematicians have been trained to think that limits are required for the derivative (excepting perhaps non-standard analysis). An article claiming otherwise thus provides conflicting information. For me, the referee is anonymous, but he or she is not anonymous for the editors. When they would say “You really liked that article from that crackpot ?” then the referee might feel exposed. For the referee psychological survival dictates the “crackpot-intercepting mode”, with misrepresentation, slander and neglect.

For me as a non-psychologist this is a fair description of the mathematics community as I have experienced it throughout my whole life.

There is a difference between “(research) mathematics” and “mathematics education”. Research mathematicians, like very likely the editors of NAW and their referee, focus on abstraction, and will have less experience with the empirics of education. Teachers of mathematics have to deal with real-life students, but when those teachers originally have been trained as mathematicians, then those teachers suffer cognitive dissonance, and they resort to traditional ways, that however have not been designed for didactics. The educational programme in mathematics gives ample proof that it is not didactic. This situation can only be caused by teachers who do not observe what is happening with students.

Check the evidence.

As in 2008 I advise each country to have a parliamentarian enquiry into mathematics education. For Holland, a petition is here.

Playing the ball and not the man

Obviously, this involves social psychology, and it is not fair to use the argument “ad hominem”, in which one plays the man and not the ball, like in: “He is a mathematician and thus an autist and thus cannot be trusted.” My argument is quite different. My argument observes the facts of an abusive referee report and a abysmal way of editing, relates this to earlier observations, and arrives at the inference that there must be a common factor. The suggestion that the common factor would be a low quality of my work can be rejected, check some other reviews, and, appreciate the point that this concerns mathematics education so that you can check a lot of formulas and arguments yourself. Society has a serious problem in dealing with the human quality of dealing with abstraction.

Effect of name-calling in the community of mathematics education

The hypothesis that mathematicians are higher up in the autistic spectrum, and far too easily resort to the “crackpot-interception mode” (as it euphemistically is called, as it actually involves misrepresentation and slander), fits the observation that name-calling has such a devastating effect within the community of mathematics education.

Some people have the attitude that this is just “name-calling”, and that grown-ups should be able to neglect it. I have indeed been accused of being overly sensitive to such “name-calling”. However, in the community of mathematics education, such name-calling is a “call to arms” and invitation to all to get into the “crackpot-interception mode”. I find it only sensible to protest against it, because we are dealing with a community that stops reading well once the first rock has been thrown.

The algebraic approach to the derivative was discovered and published in 2007 and the first “review” was in 2010, when Ger Limpens reviewed the book “Elegance with Substance” (EWS) (2009, 2015) in Euclides, the journal of the Dutch association of teachers of mathematics. Euclides is not a scientific journal, but one would hope for fair representation. However, Limpens finds it necessary to wonder whether I would be a wierdo. The Dutch word is “zonderling” and the English translation is “wierdo”, since the English word “eccentric” still has a somewhat favourable sound. Eccentrics may be respected in England but in Holland they are abhorred. The idea that Holland would be a tolerant country is a fairy tale. Limpens found it necessary to inform the readers that the cover of the book reminded him of Don Quixote. The editors of Euclides refused to publish my answer. I am rather convinced that Limpens’s misrepresentation, name-calling and slander about EWS made it easier for others and perhaps inspiration for some to throw other rocks. In the present case, I cannot write to the editors of NAW that Limpens gave a positive review, and in fact, as a scientist I must provide all information and report that Limpens took from the book that I would think that Newton and Leibniz would be dumb people. This, alas, is what the editors of Euclides saw fit to print, and of which I must assume that most of my colleague teachers of mathematics have read.

Recently, there was another case of name-calling and reference to Don Quixote, now with respect to the issue when pi or tau “should” be the standard. See my former weblog text on this.

Blind or double blind refereeing need not be wise

Anonymous refereeing as NAW does is an invitation to start misrepresenting. Editors should however also keep in mind that there should be decent treatment of a submitted paper. The latter is important for the citations and career perspectives of the author. Simply referring to other publication possibilities is awkward when a journal like NAW has a monopoly position in Holland. It are my collagues who might wonder: why wasn’t it published in NAW, if it would be so important ?

If I were paranoid then I would argue that the editors of NAW already decided that I would be a crackpot, and that they themselves quickly wrote such an anonymous excuse to block the paper, or asked some of their crackpot-intercepting buddies to write such an excuse. But I am not paranoid and only wonder why such a referee should remain anonymous.

Above I explained that reviewing the work by others is part of your academic job. Thus let it be known who is performing so badly. This is part of the Elo-rating like in chess, where scores are adapted from game results.

The editors of NAW might refer to the case of Limpens. His name is known and I can protest about his maltreatment. The editors of NAW might argue that they want to protect their referees from such protests, as if these referees would only honestly report about their findings when they would have such protection. I doubt whether this is all fair and square. When referees don’t misrepresent, don’t name-call and slander, and don’t neglect or burke, then there should be no problem with arguments pro and con. Then there will be a scientific discussion, as we should all hope for.

(For Dutch readers I can refer to “forum theory” by De Groot, that should be translated into English a.s.a.p.)

Earlier texts on the publishing process

I already wrote on some aspects before.

  • This text in 2014 suggested to replace arXiv with vixra and PressForward.
  • This is its sequel.
  • See here on Timothy Gowers and his boycott of Elsevier 2012. Interestingly, Gowers has now started a journal using the Scholastica platform. Gowers uses arXiv as the farming base, but obviously arXiv can be needlessly selective (in a fear of crackpots), and such a base is lacking for many disciplines, and thus it makes sense to propose that each institute of HE creates its WPA.

Boycott Elsevier, designed by Michael Eisen 2012

The road from science and scientific discovery into political discussion is often via the channel of a particular party. Politicians of any party are less likely to discuss an idea when there is no party advocating it anyway.

In the USA, members of the Senate and House are elected via districts, which is District Representation. This likely caused the division between two main parties, Democrats and Republicans. The situation likely causes that there are a lot of Think Tanks that want to reach out across the division, to inform voters directly on their various own approaches. For Think Tanks it is important to find at least one representative who is willing to support their case. Bipartisan support is nice but not always necessary, as one can always wait for the next turn in the political cycle.

In Holland, there is Proportional Representation (PR). With 150 seats, it takes only 1 / 150 = 0.67% of the nation-wide vote to get a new party into Parliament. When an issue is important enough to start a Think Tank on it, then likely at least 0.67% of the voters would care about it nation-wide, and then it might be better to start its own party rather than a Think Tank. Political parties in Holland have their own “scientific bureau“, that can inform the rest of the world about their analyses.

This paper of mine compares DR and PR, with the example of the UK, and concludes that the Dutch system is most democratic. See also the short discussion of this in Mathematics Teaching 222 in the context of the UK referendum on PR in 2011.

Baudet starts a think tank rather than a party

Thierry Baudet (1983) started in 2015 a Think Tank “Forum voor Democratie” (FvD) (forum for democracy).

Unfortunately the FvD English page currently still gives a Dutch text on their mission. Let me translate. Their stated mission is to fight the deterioration of democracy and improve its quality e.g. by means of referenda and direct elections of mayors. They also want to move power from the EU back to Holland. They want a strict system of “green cards” for immigrants. They explain their perceived link of democracy to the latter by that “uncontrolled immigration threathens social peace” (my translation). (Like in Brexit, immigration pops up at unlogical spots, as if people stop thinking when the subject arises.)

It is remarkable that Baudet thinks that he cannot get 0.67% of the vote for such a noble cause as the defence of democracy. In Holland, the political party D66 also wants to improve democracy, but they are pro-EU and not anti-EU, and thus he cannot join up. However, as a Think Tank, Baudet would be forced to collaborate a lot with D66, because of the shared view on democracy.

Perhaps it might be easier to start a niche Think Tank rather than a political party though: for, a party requires capable representatives. It may also be a matter of temperament, as Baudet states that he has no affinity with politics itself and wants to remain “independent”. It is okay for other people to follow him but he will not follow others.

Baudet and his FvD helped initiating the 2016 Dutch referendum on the EU Treaty with the Ukraine, see my discussion here and here. Baudet is also prominent in the petition, discussed in the former weblog text. There I promised to look a bit closer at Baudet’s views, which I will do here.

A bit on Baudet’s background

Today’s society cannot do without education. It is always useful to look at what people got their diploma in. This is not intended for an ad hominem argument but helps to clarify their field of competence and way of thinking. The theme of the “Two Cultures” by C.P. Snow indicates that we must be alert on bridging gaps. (See e.g. here.) When people age and grow more experienced, they will tend to diversify from their diploma, but it is seldom that a person from the humanities acquires a taste for science and mathematics as well.

Baudet’s cv doesn’t state whether he did gymnasium A or B. Generally students with gymnasium B tend to specify this though. Also given his later studies in history and law there is a great likelihood that Baudet did A. We should not expect insight in science and mathematics.

He got a bachelor in history in 2006. At Vox Europ 2012 “The EU is an empire, and empires mean war“, the website claims that he would be a historian too, but generally this label would be reserved for masters, and Vox Europ better corrects the claim.

Observe that the general label “historian” is vague too. It is generally better when people study a particular field before they look into the history of that field. It is awkward to look at an issue in the past when you don’t know about the very field of study itself. Grand themes might be an exception since it is impossible to study everything, but check out this discussion on David Armitage.

Baudet’s 2012 thesis,The significance of borders. Why representative government and the rule of law requires nation states“, is a thesis in law, supervised by law professor Paul Cliteur and philosopher Roger Scruton. Thus it is not a thesis in history, though the thesis refers to historical events.

PM 1. The other members of the thesis commission are in law too, except for Alfred van Staden who is a political scientist and professor in international relations. Would he vouch for these aspects in this thesis ? PM 2. The meaning of a thesis is that it is one way of showing that you are qualified to do scientific reseach in that particular field. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you fully proved a particular argument. PM 3. An objective of a thesis is that the new doctor learns modesty about what can actually be proven. PM 4. Cliteur states on his website that he looks at issues of free speech, see also his lecture. I informed him about the censorship of science since 1990 by the directorate of CPB, and he doesn’t show an interest. Apparently Cliteur doesn’t see that it is a no-brainer to say that religious fundamentalism and terrorists who abuse religion present a problem to free speech. Those groups enjoy that he pays attention to them because they thrive on attention and it makes them more important than they are. In the mean time, Cliteur doesn’t defend the freedom of scientific thought right on his doorsteps, while it would be important for a free society that such defence is provided.

I am still looking for a review of Baudet’s thesis by an independent reader.

Potentially the mentioned short Vox Europ article has the same theme as the thesis. The scheme of that short article is that imperialism causes wars, that nationalism is opposite to imperialism, and (thus) that nationalism would support peace. Also Baudet classifies the EU as imperialist. Whether these definitions and statements are supported by scientists working in this field remains to be seen. I am more inclined to interprete developments in terms of political economy, and I haven’t read a key (convincing) statement by Baudet yet why his approach from law should generate key conclusions.

For example, Robert Mundell’s theory of the optimal currency area starts from economics and then provides some historical data that confirm the point. It is open for falsification from history. Baudet seems to turn this around, and starts with historical cases like Napoleon or the USSR and transfers insights to the present EU. This complicates the issue very much, since it suggests that we all must be historians of Napoleon and the USSR before we might discuss the EU. Instead, I prefer a background in political economy, and look at the EU and its future, while I am open for falsifications by historians who suggest parallels in their area of study.

For example, Deirdre McCloskey in her work as economic historian started out from economic theory and the philosophies of ethics and liberty before she discovered the key role of Holland around 1650 in the transformation from the Middle Ages towards the modern world economy. I think that McCloskey is a fine economist and historian, and her discovery of the key role of virtue ethics in this historical process is very convincing – i.e. the change of the social view of the merchant as a robber towards that of admiration and high social status, with the whole social infrastructure of bourgeois society supporting that change of perception. A good historian is always aware that one should not read modern ideas into the past. However, scientific laws are the same over time, and economic processes work the same too.

Incidently, Hubert Smeets, a journalist who has been reporting about Russia and the former USSR over many years, suggested in NRC-Handelsblad last weeks, that Baudet, Kelder & Wellens (from the inititative) would have compared the EU to the former USSR. This is a strong accusation, since the USSR was a totalitarian state. Wellens asked the NRC Ombudsman for a correction. The Ombudsman Sjoerd de Jong gave a fallacious reply. This is my deconstruction (in Dutch) of this affair. Conclusion: Smeets made a false accusation. Baudet’s comparison concerns imperialism which is a different issue, and what Baudet wrote by himself doesn’t have to be supported by Kelder & Wellens. The Dutch Ombudsmen do not work well, see my letter of 2013 to the international organisation of Ombudsmen.

Comparison with Hans van Mierlo and D66 who are pro-EU

In 1966, master of law and journalist Hans van Mierlo (1931-2010) founded the political party D66 (“Democrats ’66”). The “crown jewels” of D66 are: (1) a change from PR to DR, (2) direct elections of mayors and prime minister, and (3) referenda. Thus:

  • Baudet cannot join D66 or their scientific bureau (named after Van Mierlo who didn’t do science) since they are pro-EU and he is anti-EU. But he would be forced to collaborate with D66 a lot because of the shared views on the “crown jewels” (except perhaps DR ?).
  • Scientific analysis of democracy shows that these D66 “crown jewels” actually are less democratic. See my book “Voting theory for democracy“.
  • As far as I know, Hans van Mierlo never studied democracy and its electoral systems. Van Mierlo only was in love with the USA of JFK, and in Holland in the 1960s these ideas sounded new.
  • As far as I know, nobody else in D66 studies democracy. See how they disinform the UK.
  • As far as I know, Baudet never studied democracy and its electoral systems either. I am not aware of a clarification by him why D66 never succeeded w.r.t. its crown jewels. Apparently, Baudet only buys uncritically into the propaganda by D66 as if referenda and direct elections would be more democratic. Curiously, Baudet’s 2012 thesis,The significance of borders. Why representative government and the rule of law requires nation states“, discusses representative democracy and not “democracy” by plebiscite.
  • The Brexit referendum is rather disastrous from the scientific view on democracy, but it requires some study – see here – to cut through the dogma that a referendum is pure democracy by definition.
Legalistic / Popular Scientific
Pro EU and euro Van Mierlo, D66: crown jewels
Anti EU and euro Baudet, FvD: referenda, direct elections, vague on DR vs PR
Pragmatic on EU and euro Me, SvHG: anti-crown jewels

When Van Mierlo deceased in 2010, I honoured him with the pamphlet “Laat D66 zichzelf opheffen” (Let D66 abolish itself). About the dead nothing but good, and the pamphlet was intended as an antidote for his sectarian followers in D66 who might turn him into a saint and martyr of democracy. Observe that I signed this pamphlet under my personal and not scientific name, since it is a personal political opinion that a political party better abolishes itself.

Pamphlet 2010: Let D66 abolish itself

Pamphlet 2010: Let D66 abolish itself

PM. There is also the Dutch LibDem Party (LDP), founded in 2006 by Sammy van Tuyll. They are social liberal like D66, like my suggestion from 1993 of a Social Liberal Forum (SLF). Van Tuyll has a background in medicine, economics and law, and should be able to understand my economic analysis. It is not clear to me why he doesn’t study and discuss it. Van Tuyll and I met in 2007 and I explained about the censorship of science, and it didn’t ring a bell. I can only suppose that when Van Tuyll ever is elected into government then he will continue with the censorship of science by the Dutch government.

Meeting Baudet in 2010

I met Thierry Baudet at a book presentation in 2010, when he was co-editor with Michiel Visser of a collection of essays on conservatism. My comment at the book presentation was that a good starting point would be the natural conservatism in classical liberalism as formulated by J.S. Mill and J.M. Keynes. Of course my background is in economics. The book title suggests the conundrum that conservatism actually is progressive, but the content of the book did not clearly resolve this conundrum. Overall I thought that the book was useful, but did not feel that I should buy the second volume.

I gave Baudet a copy of the book by Hans Hulst & Auke Hulst in collaboration with me (1998) Werkloosheid en armoede, de oplossing die werkt” (W&A) (Unemployment and poverty, the solution that works). In response, Baudet gave me his business card, whence I sent him a note on the next day, April 13 2010, to confirm contact. The card and this link show that Baudet was already active in improving democracy.

Baudet's business card of 2010, referring to Dutch Parliament with 150 representatives

Baudet’s business card of 2010, referring to Dutch Parliament with 150 representatives

My presumption was that Baudet would read W&A, and that there would be a discussion proceeding from there. In some interviews Baudet is portrayed with stacks of books in the background so there is the suggestion that he might read books. However, while I read the book that he and Visser edited, I did not get a reply on W&A and neither on my suggestion to have a further discussion. One possibility is that he was too busy with his 2012 thesis (though W&A is relevant for that topic too). But after completion of the thesis, there still is no sign of interest.

There is my warning from January 2012 to various young Dutch intellectuals who might come across as “Young Turks“, including Baudet, that they should not forget about the need for a solid scientific approach to change of society. I knew that Baudet was a PhD student but not that he would present his thesis in June that year. Perhaps Baudet thought this warning superfluous since he was working on that thesis at that time. Perhaps it is okay to put on blinders for a thesis when finishing it. The very purpose of a thesis however is to teach you the scientific attitude that one should not neglect criticism.

In 2012 I highlighted the issue that now surfaces in the petition again, namely the link between the EU and euro crises to the censorship of science by the directorate of the CPB.

If Baudet and his FvD are so much interested in improving democracy, why are they not interested in my analysis of the failure of Trias Politica, and the need for an extension with a constitutional Economic Supreme Court ? Why doesn’t Baudet write a review of “De ontketende Kiezer” (2003) ? Why this island mentality and burking and elbowing out of views of others ?

Baudet doesn’t inform Kelder & Wellens at

Baudet in 2015 collaborated with master of law and journalist Jort Kelder and management accountant Arno Wellens on the petition that wants an enquiry by Parliament about the creation and future of the euro. See my discussion of in the former weblog entry.

Kelder & Wellens confirm to me that Baudet did not inform them about W&A and this warning of mine of 2012 to the “Young Turks”. If they want Parliament to provide “full information”, then I would hope that they themselves acknowledge that they had a glitch in their own information amongst themselves. They disinformed the 40,000+ people who signed their petition.

Because of Baudet’s neglect since 2010 of key information about economics and censorship of science, there now is this initiative that focuses only on the euro, while the relevant enquiry should be about unemployment, role CPB … and euro. The euro is only a symptom, and an addition to what went wrong already before.


Jort Kelder, Arno Wellens and Thierry Baudet, screenshot 2015-12-14

Council of Recommendation

The format of a Think Tank for Baudet’s FvD allows academics to join up in a council of recommendation, too, which some might find problematic if it were a political party.

Member of the FvD council of recommendation are professors in constitutional law Jos Teunissen and Twan Tak. They should understand my approach that there should be no taxation on minimum earnings. See the short text “Don’t tax sweat“.  Teunissen has this useful text “Vrijheid, gelijkheid en belastingen” (2010) on couples, but it is better to start with individuals, and then see DRGTPE p131-132 on couples. Constitutional lawyers should also understand the failure of the Trias Politica model of democracy and the need for an Economic Supreme Court (per nation).

Seeing the names of Teunissen and Tak causes the hope that they will be able to explain these things to the other members of the council, and that all agree that FvD can be abolished as it has been based upon a wrong analysis, neglect by Baudet and disinformation since 2010.

Here we find Baudet’s thesis advisors Paul Cliteur and Roger Scruton again. Obviously the thesis differs from the mission of FvD and it is a bit remarkable that the supervisors travel along, though the direction of travelling might also have been the other way around (from Euroskeptism towards thesis).

To my surprise I also see: Deirdre McCloskey ! After some search, though, we see that Baudet explains in his cv that he taught “between 2010 and 2011” at Arjo Klamer’s school “Academia Vitae” (though it filed for bankruptcy in February 2010), when Jos de Beus (1952-2013) got ill. McCloskey may have taught at this school too. Arjo Klamer was close to De Beus and gave an impressive presentation at the memorial meeting – see my comments on this. It is important to know that Jos de Beus did not understand Kenneth Arrow’s impossibility theorem for collective decision making. It is important to know that there is a line in economic theory from Jan Tinbergen to his PhD student Hans van den Doel to me, with a floundering branch to political theorist Jos de Beus, who collaborated with Van den Doel. Jos de Beus and I met when I presented Van den Doel with the Samuel van Houten Penning in 1994. We had occasional contact but to no effect.

As an economist, Arjo Klamer could help out by studying my work, but he doesn’t. Klamer however is also in the council of recommendation of FvD. For some reason, economists Klamer and McCloskey prefer Baudet’s non-economic approach in theory of law above my development in economic theory from Jan Tinbergen and Hans van den Doel. If only they studied my analysis and stated why they disagree, but now the world must wonder why they don’t look at it at all. And why would they not understand that they cannot see the full analysis yet, because of the censorship ? Ergo, that this censorship must be lifted ?

A member of the FvD council of recommendation is philosopher Ad Verbrugge. He is founding chairman of “Beter Onderwijs Nederland” (BON) (for “Better Education”). At the website of BON, some mathematicians are slandering about my work on mathematics education. Verbrugge doesn’t do anything about this. There is this letter of 2009 (my website has moved to I have rephrased some questions again this Summer for fellow math teacher Karin den Heijer, now board member of BON, see page 11 here.

The link to mathematics education is important. See my letter to the president of KNAW and directorate of CPB 2016, that explains that maltreatment of my work on mathematics education hinders other people to also see the value of my work in economics.

Member of this council of recommendation is Kees de Lange, emeritus professor in physics and former chair of an association on pensions NPB. De Lange might have looked at my suggestions on mathematics education, see my suggestion on what physicists might do. I am not impressed by De Lange’s understanding of economics. I am not aware of someone in the Dutch world of pensions who warned about the 2007+ crisis. In 2009 I contacted De Lange as chairman of NBP and informed him about the censorship of science since 1990 by the directorate of CPB. His reply was sympathetic to my feelings, as if that were a relevant issue, and that NBP did not look into economic analyses, and that my approach might only be discussed when shared by more economists (but they didn’t look at analyses anyway). I came away from this with the impression that De Lange was lost, both as a scientist and chairman of NBP. Later in 2010 De Lange helped found a political party 50Plus, he was elected in the Dutch Senate as member of a two-man fraction of OSF 2011-2015, but then continued independently.

PM. At this spot it is useful to mention that Baudet, Wellens and De Lange also perform in video channel “Cafe Weltschmerz“, created by (bachelor in business and marketing) journalist Willem Middelkoop (LinkedIn), who after the 2007+ crisis got rich by telling people to get into gold rather than have a parliamentarian enquiry into unemployment and censorship since 1990 by the directorate of CPB. One of Middelkoop’s books was published by Amsterdam University Press and by standard arrangement adopted by the University of Chicago Press, but it should have been accepted at neither place since there is no link to science. See my discussion of the gold bugs. One supposes that Middelkoop likes it when Baudet, Wellens and De Lange continue to create uncertainty amongst viewers, so that the market for gold as a “safe haven” remains strong. It is a pity, though, that this circus also draws in young people looking for answers, like psychiatrist Esther van Fenema (wiki) and mathematician Anna Grebenchtchikova (LinkedIn) and lawyer Hester Bais. They, with their higher education that should guard them, might be falling in the journalistic trap to look at symptoms rather than causes.

Member of the council of recommendation is Tom Zwart, professor of international and European law, since 2007 director of the Dutch School of Human Rights Research. Perhaps freedom of expression is also a human right of a scientist ? Or is the option to do science no human right ?

Member of the council of recommendation are other economists Edin Mujagic, Bruno de Haas and Daniel Lacalle. Let me invite them to study my work, starting with DRGTPE (before the crisis) and CSBH (after the crisis). Mujagic hasn’t responded yet, though my analysis dates from the fall of the Berlin Wall, that also affected his past. Lacalle is a hedgefund manager and could get very rich if he would start supporting my analysis (supporting the boycott of Holland, explaining to all that it is needed, and speculating on it).

Last but not least there is Theodore Dalrymple, who might be very happy to finally understand why the Dutch welfare state isn’t working as it is supposed to.

Thierry Baudet and Paul Scheffer

At “Cafe Weltschmerz” there is also this (tedious) interview of Paul Scheffer (1954, like me, Angela Merkel and Franςois Hollande) by Baudet on the Dutch referendum on the treaty of the EU with the Ukraine. Scheffer states that he would vote Yes for the treaty. Baudet participated in setting up the referendum, with the objective that people would vote No. It is fine that they can have this civilised talk, though it was so tedious that I quit watching after 10 minutes (though the referendum has already taken place).

Baudet was for one year a post-doc in 2013 with Paul Scheffer who has a chair in European studies in Tilburg. Originally, Scheffer first wrote a popular book on migration and the multicultural society, and then turned this into a thesis for Tilburg. The Leiden professor of social history Leo Lucassen stepped down from the promotion committee in protest that not enough had been done to make it a real thesis.

Scheffer did highschool HBS A, and graduated in political science in 1986. In his student years he joined the Dutch communist party, and later switched to the social democratic PvdA. He was at the Wiardi Beckman Stichting (WBS), the “scientific bureau” of PvdA in 1986-1992.

I was a member of PvdA in 1974-1991. When I was at CPB in 1982-1991 I developed my analysis on unemployment, with the conceptual breakthrough when the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 caused me to look at some fundamentals. My analysis was censored by the directorate. I sent a copy of my 1990 paper to Parliament, so that all parties were informed, and I was free to contact PvdA of which I was a member. I contacted WBS, and I assumed that fellow social democratic scientists would be interested in an analysis on unemployment. To my great surprise and dismay, they were not. See the letter reproduced in “De ontketende kiezer” (2003) p128. See my discussion “Soms loopt het zo” in “Trias Politica & Centraal Planbureau” (1994). My contact was with fellow econometrician Paul de Beer. I met Scheffer at a PvdA convention at that time so he was in the know. I met Scheffer again at the memorial service of Jos de Beus. I later discovered that Paul de Beer was an adherent of the idea of a basic income. See my discussion about the sectarian behaviour around basic income.

Director of WBS in 1989-2006 was Paul Kalma. I had had some contacts with earlier director Joop van den Berg (1981-1989), now fellow at the Dutch Montesquieu institute. The idea that there are drawbacks to the Trias Politica structure hasn’t arrived there yet.

When Holland succeeds in having this parliamentarian enquiry on unemployment and the role of the CPB … and the euro … then these events at WBS would be important to look into as well. As said at the beginning, the road from science and scientific discovery into political discussion is often via the channel of a particular party. Politicians of any party are less likely to discuss an idea when there is no party advocating it anyway. Thus it is very relevant to know why social democratic researchers at WBS were and still are not interested in a new approach to unemployment. I will be interested in hearing what has been happening as well. Obviously, Parliament will be hesitant to ask questions, since WBS is protected by the aura of science and by that parties will not easily look into dealings of other parties. But the notion of “scientific bureau” better be taken seriously, and scientists should be familiar with the idea of answering questions. Perhaps Thierry Baudet can already ask Paul Scheffer what his recollections are, and why Scheffer didn’t and still doesn’t do anything about the censorship when he heard about it.

The three Pauls (De Beer, Kalma, Scheffer), in 1991 at WBS (wikimedia commons and website De Beer)

The three Pauls: De Beer, Kalma, Scheffer, who were in 1990-1991 at WBS (wikimedia commons and website De Beer)

When a petition (“civil initiative“) in Holland achieves 40,000 signatures then it is mandatory for Dutch Parliament to pay attention to it, and formulate an answer.

The right to petition is old. The right to petition is in the Magna Carta of 1215. In Holland, the petition in 1566 by the nobles to Margaret of Parma is still taught in schools as a first step to the 80 year liberation war from Habsburg Spain in 1568-1648.

Famien_Strada_Histoire-Smeekschrift_der_Edelen-ppn087811480_MG_8892-T1p287In 2016, a letter to Parliament might be enough. Perhaps the issue can be resolved when Parliament (existing parties) indeed pay attention. But Parliament might not pay attention as it is too busy with its own petitions to the cabinet. Citizens with an issue might unite in a political party and get a seat in Parliament, but then there might be one-issue parties. Thus, the procedure for such a civil initiative and the criterion of 40,000 signatures make some sense. Dutch wikipedia (a portal no source) has a list of such petitions since 2006.

My scientific endeavour caused me to propose two petitions: (1) to have a Parliamentarian enquiry into unemployment and role of the Central Planning Bureau … and the euro, (2) to have a Parliamentarian enquiry into mathematics education and its research and policy making. Let us momentarily ignore the second one on math ed and its research, and focus on the economy.

There are two other petitions on the economy that require some attention. These have been caused by popular worry on the 2007+ crisis and not by scientific endeavour. Thus, let us discuss these three petitions to Dutch Parliament:

  1. Ons Geld (our money): a petition to have a different system of money and banking, with nationalisation of seigniorage, e.g. 0% or 100% fraction reserve banking. Their general website apparently is different from the petition itself, and is here. They want Parliament not just to study but to accept a principle.
  2. a petition to have a Parliamentarian enquiry into the creation and policy options for the euro.
  3. My petition to have a Parliamentarian enquiry into unemployment and role of the Central Planning Bureau … and the euro. Dutch readers would benefit from my discussion in 2013 (three pages) of euro 2.0 and a new system of money and banking.

From a position in science, the first 2 petitions are misleading to the people. They don’t focus on the real problem in the crisis and distract from the 3rd petition. They also abuse public worries about the crisis for the hobby horses of the initiators. These initiators found 40,000+ people willing to sign up, but the initiatiors did not give these people full information about the 3rd option. The initiators regard democracy as a beauty contest for the attention of the masses and not as an obligation to first arrive at sound information.

Thus, when Parliament evalutates the law on civil initiatives, it might look into rules how to better deal with information.

  • It would be important to know what individual members and Parliament as a whole accept as information. There is often reference to “science” but scientists have various analyses. A petition for a Parliamentarian enquiry might be superfluous when Parliament can already state what it “knows”. Such an enquiry however is useful for finding new information – e.g. via testimonials by experts.
  • Parliament already has a list of incoming data (with a difference between data and information). People might check these data too, but perhaps there can be a Parliamentarian institution turning these data into information.
  • People who want to embark upon a petition might be assisted in the identification of what isn’t known yet, and should also accept the responsibility of scientists to include information that might be new to them and respond to criticism, so that they don’t impose upon social time needlessly for what it essentially their own process of learning.
Petition 1. Ons Geld: 0% or 100% (?) reserve banking and nationalisation of seigniorage

Steps in the petition proceedings were:

  1. Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch minister of finance, replying to the petition in his letter of Feb 1 2016, rejected a change in the present system of money and banking.
  2. For the Parliamentarian debate there were different motions.
  3. The motion by Wouter Koolmees (D66) was accepted, to make it easier to have a 100% fraction reserve bank. Potentially, deposit insurance premiums might be reduced, but not fully abolished, since bad investments are not excluded (except in my scheme in “Money as gold versus money as water” (2013)).
  4. The motion by Pieter Omtzigt (CDA) to have a deeper study by the Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR) apparently is still under consideration. However, Jeroen Dijsselbloem apparently accepted the suggestion during the debate, and the WRR now has a weblink about this planned study. At WRR, a key position is by Arnoud Boot, professor of financial markets, at UvA. Boot has been prominent in the Dutch discussion on the 2007+ crisis.
  5. Jeroen Dijsselbloem, in his letter of June 21 2016, reviews current policy. He doesn’t refer to the WRR study like it doesn’t exist or would be relevant.

Thus, the petition started by non-scientists, and their request has been channeled towards science.

The initiators might have asked Arnoud Boot directly – by phone or email or at a conference or by organising a small conference themselves – whether he would be willing to look into this issue and try to get some WRR backing. There have been plenty of academics and policy researchers who have looked into the notion of 100% reserve banking, see for example the Benes & Kumhof IMF 2012 working paper, that revisits the Chicago Plan of 1936 by Irving Fisher and others. A researcher alerted me to Charles A. E. Goodhart and Meinhard A. Jensen,”A Commentary on Patrizio LainaÌ’s ‘Proposals for Full-Reserve Banking: A Historical Survey from David Ricardo to Martin Wolf´“, Economic Thought Vol 4, No 2, 2015. Update 2017-06-09: On 0% reserve banking, see e.g. here (except for the view at the end that our banking system is a Ponzi scheme).

The advantage of the petition however might be that now it is the minister of finance who asked WRR. It might be less easy for the minister to neglect the report once it arrives because he himself asked for it. However, such WRR reports tend to cause ministers no real problems.

A key problem would be that seigniorage now is under control of the European Central Bank (ECB) and that the Maastricht Treaty would require amendment which would not be achieved easily. However, the EU is managed by crises by management, and there will be plenty of crises requiring new adaptations.

Irving Fisher (1933) and Arnoud Boot (ca. 2010), Wikimedia Commons (photo Christiaan Krouwels)

Irving Fisher (1933) and Arnoud Boot (ca. 2010), Wikimedia Commons (photo Christiaan Krouwels)

A guarded compliment for Dutch Parliament

Overall, I find the process still is a bit surprising. It was Parliament that created this new law on petitions, and Parliament can be complimented that it dealt with the petition by proper procedure.

Undoubtedly, all political parties already had ideas by themselves about money and banking. They didn’t need this petition to discuss the topic. However, the media reported on the initiative, and it touched a nerve in public worry about the 2007+ crisis, and thus the existing political parties in Parliament were alerted on their role as representatives of the people in general. Apparently, the petition caused a temporary focus on some aspects that they enjoyed discussing.

The end result that there will be a study by WRR could also have been achieved otherwise, but overall the petition allowed Parliament to show how Parliament can work on its better days. Except that it is a pity that Parliament did not discuss my letter that explained what in this petition was misleading.

Why the Ons Geld petition is essentially misleading

The economist in this group is Ad Broere, now independent consultant. It is unclear to me whether he is a general economist or a business economist, but he taught financial management and management accounting. I don’t see when the petition started but I informed Broere in April 2013 about this weblog of mine and about my approach to Euro 2.0, and did not get a reply. I find this problematic. Isn’t Broere interested in fellow economists who look into a similar issue ?

The Ons Geld documentation refers to engineer and non-economist Klaas van Egmond, who supposes a stock of money as large as GDP (= 1 in the model MV = PY) so that 1% growth in the stock of money (seigniorage under full reserve banking) amounts to 6 bn euro’s (page 13 of their document, or p645 in Van Egmond & De Vries ESB 4721, November 5 2015). They also seem to forget that banks use current seigniorage to pay for costs. They sugggest that all seigniorage can be taken by the government without the need for bank to raise transaction fees. Taking seigniorage away from banks might also be seen as the government introducing a tax on banks that they must recuperate in fees. The email exchange with Van Egmond on this is here. Any economist who looks into this proposal should spot these misleading assumption. It is curious that ESB let this paper be published. Any banker can tell these initiators that they tend to neglect the costs of operating a money system. Indeed Wim Boonstra in the same issue of ESB explains about costs.

There is also Dirk Bezemer who is only an advisor to the Ons Geld group, but he claims a position in science, and in fact recently in June 2016 was appointed as economics professor in Groningen which I protest about.

I already discussed this Ons Geld petition when observing that Dirk Bezemer disinformed Dutch Parliament in 2015. Before that, he disinformed Sweden in 2012, and after that he disinformed Radar TV in 2016.

A strange interaction between Van Egmond and Bezemer

Klaas van Egmond in both ESB and his presentation for Parliament refers to the article by Bezemer 2009 “No one saw this coming“. Apparently, Van Egmond has not read this article since he misrepresents its message.

The crisis of 2008 was not or hardly forseeable: “no one saw this coming” (Bezemer, 2009).” or in Dutch: “De crisis van 2008 was niet of nauwelijks te voorzien (…)

However, Bezemer really stated (VoxEU column):

“One result from such reflection would be that in fact, many had predicted this course of events for years. In a recent study (Bezemer 2009), I document the economists who did “see it coming”. At least a dozen serious analysts issued fairly detailed, well reasoned, and public warnings of imminent finance-induced recession.

They were apparently ignored by Stevens and other central bankers who then, as Alan Greenspan professed in his October 2008 testimony, watched with “shocked disbelief” as their “whole intellectual edifice collapse in the summer [of 2007]”. The official models they relied on missed the crisis not because the conditions were so unusual, as we are often told. They missed it by design.”

More on Dirk Bezemer 1

Bezemer’s background is in agricultural economics (thesis 2001). This need not be a problem. Jeroen Dijsselbloem is an agricultural economist, and there it is a problem. John Kenneth Galbraith started as an agricultural economist too, and I am much in favour of Galbraith, so this background itself should not prevent Bezemer from studying other issues too. It might actually be beneficial to have more background than only a focus on money as often happens with monetary economists. Bezemer came to money and banking via the notion of risk, the collapse of the Albanian economy due to a Ponzi scheme, and the crisis of 2007+.

Scientists should reply to criticism by fellow scientists. If Bezemer doesn’t reply to criticism and proceeds in disinforming others then his claim on being a scientist is up for grabs.

Bezemer had the bad luck that his paper “No one saw this coming” of 2009 got the fancy of readers who worried about the economic crisis. He got a subsidy from INET. Apparently he doesn’t want this success to be tainted by having to reply to criticism.

  • Just to be sure: I am very specific w.r.t. my criticism of 2009  w.r.t. Bezemer’s paper of 2009. If he would provide an answer perhaps this criticism might be resolved.
  • In 2016 there however are the additional questions:
    • why it takes so long to answer to criticism of 2009,
    • why he misleads people by not responding to criticism, including now his co-authors or own PhD students Kristiana Rozite, Joeri Schasfoort, Maria Grydaki, Anna Samarina and Lu Zhang, or his contacts in the Bank of England (BoE),
    • why he didn’t spot Klaas van Egmond’s errors: (a) on the stock of money, (b) on bank costs, (c) on misquoting his own paper,
    • why he doesn’t support my protest against censorship of science since 1990 in Holland. Like we had “Albanian (Ponzi) economics” and “Greek statistics” we also have “Dutch economic science” and one would expect scientists to protest about this.
More on Dirk Bezemer 2

In a google for this weblog text I also found an interview in English with both Lex Hoogduin and Dirk Bezemer in 2014 about the “pluralist” course in money and finance that they teach at the university of Groningen (also my alma mater).

Apparently, this “pluralist” approach still excludes reference to my work (DRGTPE and CSBH). It is also awkward to read such such interviews. I warned about developments before the crisis but neither Hoogduin nor Bezemer warned about the crisis but make a living of explaining it after the fact. Hoogduin was personal advisor of Wim Duisenberg and thus would be a prime witness for the Parliamentarian enquiry discussed below.

Bezemer states:

“(…) almost nobody saw it coming. Those who did see it coming, where rather obscure economists working in the Post-Keynesian and Austrian traditions.” (Bezemer, p6, first column, bottom)

  1. This is a misrepresentation of history. There is much more to the explanation of the crisis than what Bezemer makes of it. This is not a trivial issue. The diagnosis is relevant for the treatment. When you only see half of the explanation – since you willfully ignore criticism – then your policy advice will also be biased.
  2. There were more people warning, including me. Let Bezemer reply to my criticism. I am no obscure economist. I am part and parcel of the tradition of Jan Tinbergen and the Dutch Central Planning Bureau. I am an economist who is censored and ignored by deliberation.
  3. Bezemer shifts the meaning of his own analysis. Has he forgotton what he wrote, and is he starting to believe the quote in his title ?
  4. Hyman Minski was no obscure economist. The post-keynesian and Austrian traditions are well-known in economics, i.e. for people who study economics who aren’t of a one-track mind. Much is also in Maynard Keynes, who clearly included the uncertainty of the future into the conceptual model (e.g. “animal spirits”). “Post-Keynesian” might often read as Keynesian as well.
  5. It may well be that central banking economists like Lex Hoogduin forgot about Minski but that doesn’t make Minski obscure but it rather makes Hoogduin less competent. It is not as competent as well how Hoogduin treats my analysis, e.g. in the context of Peter Bofinger‘s visit to Amsterdam in 2012.

Bezemer also states:

“Thanks to research grants, I can put my money where my mouth is.” (Bezemer, p6, second column, bottom)

This is a wrong application of the proverb. Putting your money where your mouth is concerns your own money, not the money of other people received as research grants.

PM. Edin Mujagic and murdering money

I now found this text by Edin Mujagic who argues that the Ons Geld petition is rather superfluous, and that the focus should be not on banks but on Central Banking. I agree with much of this. However, it would be a change in the system of money and banking when economic agents could have accounts at the Central Bank at very low cost, see my paper “Money as gold versus money as water” (2013). The Central Bank doesn’t have to make investments since it can always print money, and also print money to run the system. A transaction fee however makes sense since it involves human activity. Also, it is better to first have an Economic Supreme Court before discussing changes in Central Banking. Mujagic has a recent book on central banking that I haven’t read and likely will not read, since it is better that he first reads my earlier analysis. Mujagic collaborated with Thierry Baudet on the latter’s Forum voor Democratie, about which later on.

Petition 2. A Parliamentarian enquiry into the creation and policy options for the euro

The petition was started by doctor of law Thierry Baudet (1983), master of law Jort Kelder (1964) and management accountant Arno Wellens (ca. 1988). Steps in the proceedings have been:

  1. When the petition had 38,000 signatures, there was this useful tv-interview with Kelder by journalist Sven Kockelmann (1969) (March 30 2015).
  2. After the petition got its 40,000+ signatures, there was a meeting of the Parliamentarian committee where the petitioneers presented their case (Video December 14 2015).
  3. Jeroen Dijsselbloem restated the position of the Dutch government, with the main point that the euro had been created in a democratic process (letter July 13 2016).
  4. The Parliamentarian committee will look into this when returning from the Summer vacation.
  5. PM. Political parties are busy with their programmes for the Dutch general elections of March 2017.

In NRC-Handelsblad Baudet, Kelder & Wellens warned “the Dutch elite” that there might be a Nexit if public concern isn’t handled properly. They got a reply by economists Steven Brakman & Harry Garretsen, and there is a short deconstruction by Ron Ritzen. Note that Kelder doesn’t want a Nexit but only wants to leave the euro and only warns about the risk about a Next.

Kelder and Wellens versus Baudet

Kelder and Wellens show much interest in money & wealth and its frauds.This interest might have seduced them to embrace the petition, not hindered by a deeper study of political economy (Dutch “staathuishoudkunde”).

Kelder studied law, became a journalist, was chief editor of Quote magazine (a Dutch version of Forbes) and started his own digital magazine (“nine to five”) of which Wellens is chief editor. Kelder is well-connected and counts Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte as one of his friendly contacts from the students days and young liberals JOVD. Mark Rutte studied history, and not economics, and still is an adept of Margaret Thatcher.

In the interview by Kockelmann, Kelder states that he was invited by Baudet. In 2010 I gave Baudet a copy of the book by Hans Hulst and Auke Hulst in collaboration with me, “Werkloosheid en armoede, de oplossing die werkt(1998). Readers of English may be helped by this part of the analysis “Don’t tax sweat“. I asked Kelder & Wellens whether Baudet had informed them about this, and they said “No”. At a Parliamentarian enquiry, Baudet might explain why he invited Kelder without giving full information, and Kelder might explain why he is happy with this.


On the question what news Kelder wants to see, Kelder rather dodges the question.

  1. Duisenberg (1935-2005, age 70) is deceased. A point of him is that people like Lubbers, Kok, Zalm and Bolkestein are still alive, and that there still is the opportunity to record their views. They are no longer in Parliament. However, they already presented their views in Parliament in the past. Their positions have been well documented. Readers and listeners of Dutch can see the video of “Geschiedenis24” of Black Monday of the Maastricht Treaty.
  2. According to Kelder many people accept the euro without studying it. If Parliament would have public hearings then people would start paying attention. This “media circus” however is not the purpose of a Parliamentarian enquiry. The purpose is to collect information for law making. Thus, the law on petitions generates a request to abuse the law on the Parliamentarian enquiry.
  3. Kelder states that there is hardly discussion about the consequences of the euro. There is discussion about millions of euros but not about the trillions of euros involved in the future of the euro, say ESM and so on. His initiative is intended to generate more attention for a public discussion of these issues. However, Kelder ignores that there is a discussion between experts. Public discussion of course is okay in a democracy, but soon issues become complex, and then the lay people and experts have a difficult time in communicating with each other. My suggestion has been the creation of an Economic Supreme Court (ESC), to help bridge the gap. The ESC focuses on government policy, is open to science and the public, and thus would provide a platform to discuss issues on content without political meddling. Kelder ignores this idea too. Thus he is aware that there is a problem in modern democracy with complex issues, but his solution is from 1800 to have a “public debate”. Thus he ignores that there is already discussion (see e.g. my papers and book “Common Sense: Boycott Holland” (CSBH, 2012), and he, as he writes me, actually doesn’t have time for following this discussion, so that he is a bit like the ostrich who wants Parliament to make the monster go away.

Recently, Kelder stated that he wants to quit the euro (Telegraaf, July 2). It is unclear whether he means that Holland must create the guilder again, or whether he e.g. wants a break-up into Northern and Southern coins (and France belonging where ?). Thus Parliament still has something to study for him.

I feel uncomfortable about this Telegraaf interview, since Kelder uses strong language that make him sound annoyed and angry, while he generally tends to present a polite and easy-going image. In the interview, Kelder grows aware himself about this contrast, is amazed about his own bitterness, and clarifies that he isn’t himself when speaking like this. Kelder states these views:

  • He rejects the Southern influence on the euro because of the differences in management cultures (Calvinism versus Catholicism), and sees leaving the euro as the only way to handle such differences,
  • he calls the EU a “religion”,
  • and calls Jean-Claude Juncker a “power junkie” (Dutch “machtswellusteling”, Google Translate “power voluptuary”) who has not been elected democratically (though there have been EU Parliamentarian elections),
  • and warns for a Nexit (NL leaving the EU) when Dutch policy makers do not come to their senses. Kelder would not be in favour of Nexit. He focuses on the eurozone. In this, Kelder seems to ignore the errors in democracy in the Brexit referendum. That is, when there would be a Nexit, he would not fight it as a result of misleading processes (e.g. errors that are propounded by Baudet’s Forum voor Democratie), but would still regard it as proof that people reject current policy making,
  • he doesn’t want to come across as angry, because he states that he isn’t, though he uses language that suggests that he is.
Baudet and Wellens

This weblog entry is already too long. In a sequel I will look at Baudet and Wellens.

PM. Petition 3. Unemployment, CPB … and euro

I suppose that I can give the short conclusion that this petition is the one to sign (by Dutch citizens). See the About page of this weblog.

Listening to Roy Orbison – Pretty Women

Let me give a clear and unbiased assessment of the qualifications and work of “dr.” Michiel Doorman at “Freudenthal Institute” at Utrecht University.

Let me first present four neutral points and then follow Sherlock Holmes.

(1) Michiel Doorman defended his “thesis” in 2005: “Modelling motion: from trace graphs to instantaneous change” (online), written under the supervision of P.L. Lijnse and Koeno Gravemeijer.

(2) He might best be introduced by his cv on p243 of his “thesis”:

“Michiel Doorman was born on 1 october 1962 in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. He completed his secondary education in 1981 at the Minkema College in Woerden. In1988 the Utrecht University awarded him a masters in Mathematics for his thesis on the extension of a proposition in intuitionistic logic for automated theorem proving. He minored in Computer Science. From 1988 he has been working at the Freudenthal Institute. Until 1992 he was mainly devoted to software development. During the following years he has been involved in curriculum and teacher training projects, mainly concerning the role of information and communication technology in mathematics education. Since 1994, this work concentrated on upper secondary (pre-university) mathematics education in a research project on the integration of the graphing calculator, in a curriculum development project (Profi), and in a project that aimed at guiding the Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics departments in schools to cooperate. In 1998 he started his PhD research study.” [my emphasis]

(3) There is also his Utrecht University webpage, that states:

“Interests are context-based mathematics education, modeling as a lever for learning mathematics, inquiry based learning and coherency between mathematics and science learning.”

(4) Michiel Doorman was also invited as one of the keynote speakers at the 3rd International Conference on Research, Implementation and Education of Mathematics and Science (ICRIEMS) at Yogyakarta, Indonesia, in May 2016.

  • This is Doorman’s presentation pptx (on “inquiry based learning”) and
  • this is the proceeding pdf: “What Can Mathematics Education Contribute To Preparing Students For Our Future Society?“.
Michiel Doorman at ICRIEMS 2016 (fourth from left) (Sources: ICRIEMS website)

Michiel Doorman fourth from left (Source: ICRIEMS website 2016)

Why does Doorman in 2016 claim success for RME while it failed ?

Around 2005 there was much discussion in Holland – a real math war – about arithmetic in elementary schools. The academy of sciences (KNAW) set up a committee to look into this.

Recall the graphical display of the math war between RME and TME, and the solution approach of NME. These abbreviations are:

  • RME = realistic mathematics education
  • TME = traditional mathematics education
  • NME = neoclassical mathematics education

(i) This KNAW-committee concluded in 2009 (see the English summary on page 10 in the report) that pupil test scores for RME and TME did not really differ. Paraphrased: one cannot claim a special result for RME. Observe that many test questions contained contexts.

“Growing concern about Dutch children’s mathematical proficiency has led in recent years to a public debate about the way mathematics is taught in the Netherlands. There are two opposing camps: those who advocate teaching mathematics in the “traditional” manner, and those who support “realistic” mathematics education. The debate has had a polarizing effect and appears to have little basis in scholarly research.” [This neglects my third position with NME.]

“The public debate exaggerates the differences between the traditional and realistic approaches to mathematics teaching. It also focuses erroneously on a supposed difference in the effect of the two instructional approaches whereas in fact, no convincing difference has been shown to exist.” (KNAW 2009)

(ii) Doorman in Yogyakarta 2016 is unrepentingly for RME. He refers to key authors on RME, and takes a question of TIMMS 2003 with an international score of 38% and a Dutch score of 74% and claims, misleadingly:

“This cannot fully [be] attributed to the implementation of  RME, but it strengths [sic] the feeling that this approach contributes to the quality of mathematics education.” [my emphasis]

(iii) Subsequently, I criticised the KNAW report on these counts, and neither KNAW nor Michiel Doorman have responded to this criticism:

  • Before the report was published by alerting the committee chairman to Elegance with Substance (2009, 2015), that however is not included in the references.
  • In 2014 explicitly for the collective breach of research integrity, for either neglecting or maltreating my books Elegance with Substance (2009, 2015) and Conquest of the Plane (2011) and Dutch Een kind wil aardige en geen gemene getallen (2012) notably on issues of arithmetic (the present subject): the pronunciation of numbers and notation of mixed numbers.
  • In 2015 for neglecting the issue that TME prepares for algebra while RME doesn’t. The KNAW report uses the outcome of test questions and not the intermediate steps. Pupils who can only use RME will be very handicapped for algebra in secondary education.

See my 2016 letter and its supplement to the president of KNAW and director of CPB about the failure of the KNAW report and the neglect of criticism.

A repeat exercise that isn’t quite superfluous

I have explained, to boring repetition, that the Freudenthal Head in the Clouds Realistic Mathematics Institute (FHCRMI) should not be at a university. Please observe that first there was criticism on the failure of “realistic mathematics education” (RME) and only later it was discovered that Hans Freudenthal had actually abused the work by Pierre van Hiele. There also is a sound scientific explanation why it is a failure: namely a confusion of processes of learning with applied mathematics.

Thus it holds:

There is little advantage in repeating this analysis,
neither for each and every individual working at FHCRMI.

For example, stating that Michiel Doorman works at FHCRMI should be sufficient. That he is at FHCRMI does not imply that he can indeed be at university and that his “thesis” and “PhD title” are proper.

However, the following points cause that it isn’t quite superfluous to look into Doorman’s qualifications and work.

  • Michiel Doorman is member of the board of NVvW, the Dutch association of mathematics teachers. See my recent letter with a Red Card for this board. Thus it helps for the next annual meeting of NVvW in November 2016 to be specific.
  • Also, there is my letter of April 15 2016 to NRO, the Dutch organisation for the distribution of funds for research in mathematics education. I advise them to stop subsidising FHCRMI. It so happens that Michiel Doorman did a project ODB08008 for them in 2009-2012 on the “digital mathematics environment” and “efficient exercising mathematics” (DWO). It will be helpful for NRO to see that, for example, Doorman is an ideologue and no scientific researcher. This is related to the following.
  • There is the new impulse for “21st century skills” or in Holland “Onderwijs2032“. Part of the attention is for soft skills, part of the attention is for computer programming, part is elsewhere. ICT brings us to the work of Doorman too. There has already been a major disaster with the neglect of computer algebra since 1990. For example DWO at FHCRMI tends to present many Java applets that lack the flexibility of computer algebra. Don’t think that these issues are easy to resolve, but I do hold that the decisions have been driven by ideology and that the results are a disaster and a great waste of funds: penny wise pound foolish. See for example these two reports by the Inspectorate for Education: In 2002, mathematical topologist Hans Freudenthal is called a “pedagogue” while he had no education or training on this, and they assume that FHCRMI knows about ICT while the report doesn’t mention computer algebra but applets on “wisweb”. In 2006, the “waarderingskader” (inspection standards) doesn’t seem to realise that computer algebra can used in all subjects that use mathematics.

Above, I mentioned four neutral points. Following Sherlock “Google” Holmes I already debunked the event in Yogyakarta. Let us look at the other three points. Beware of confusion.

Ad 1. Doorman’s “thesis” of 2005

Michiel Doorman defended his “thesis” in 2005: “Modelling motion: from trace graphs to instantaneous change” (online), written under the supervision of P.L. Lijnse and Koeno Gravemeijer.

  1. In the “thesis”, Doorman basically refers to Paul Drijvers at FHCRMI for computer algebra, but Drijvers is no light on this either. For the subject of the thesis (“Furthermore, it has been examined what role computer tools could play in learning mathematics and physics.”) it would have made much sense to look deeper into computer algebra.
  2. Also check my analysis that Koeno Gravemeijer is no scientist but an ideologue for “realistic mathematics education” (RME) who misrepresents issues on “21st century skills” (in Holland “Onderwijs2032“), and who doesn’t see the revolution by computer algebra. (Dutch readers can look here too.)
  3. On p58-59 Doorman critically adopts RME, and remember that this was in 2005, while RME was under discussion, see (a) the discussion in 2006 between Robbert Dijkgraaf (who has no qualification for math ed at this level) en Kees Hoogland (a RME ideologue, see below), which report was written by RME supporter Martinus van Hoorn, and (b) while Jan van de Craats (who has no qualification for math ed at this level) was protesting about RME, and published “Waarom Daan en Sanne niet kunnen rekenen” in 2007. See my criticism w.r.t. Jan van de Craats (fighting his math war on the side of TME and neglecting NME since 2008).
  4. Doorman refers to Freudenthal for “guided reinvention”, but this is a wrong reference (he may only have coined the phrase but not the concept), and Doorman’s thesis does not refer to the true inventor of the concept (guide through levels of insight) Pierre van Hiele at all.
  5. I will not look at this “thesis” in detail because there is really no reason to so so now.
Ad 2. Curriculum vitae

Doorman’s cv shows that he got a mathematics degree and continued at Freudenthal Head in the Clouds Realistic Mathematics Institute (FHCRMI), thus without a teaching degree in mathematics and without proper training in research of mathematics education.

  • The KNAW report of 2009 showed that FHCRMI doesn’t do research on arithmetic education, and one should not suppose that this is different for other areas.
  • Thus Michiel Doorman is neither a teacher of mathematics nor a researcher in the education of mathematics.
  • We find no qualification for teaching and research, but immersion into ideology, and while he is involved in programming and the role of ICT for (mathematics) education, there are only perfunctory statements on computer algebra (for all subjects that use mathematics).
Ad 3. Webpage

Observe that “context-based mathematics education” is a rephrasing of “realistic mathematics education” (RME). Also “inquiry based learning” is basically RME, with contexts as the starting point for the “inquiry” (constrained by learning goals).

Someone really interested in didactics and RME would also have been interested in my analysis that shows that RME is a confusion and an ideology.

Observe also that the sciences are easy victims of RME. The sciences do not care much about mathematics education, and when RME people flock in to assist in the learning of the sciences, and when student learning time for mathematics is actually spent on the sciences, then professors of physics or biology might hardly object. For RME the sciences are useful window dressing, since those provide both contexts and an aura of respect and acceptance, and an argument that “students are learning something” (even if it isn’t mathematics). There is a curious historical link-up of mathematics with the beta sciences while there are also the humanities (alpha) and social sciences (gamma), see here. But is it really curious, and isn’t there a method, that the human and social scientists who know the techniques and who also do research by observation are kept out from this association between “mathematics education” and “science education” ?

Possible confusions that are triggered immediately

Stating the above might immediately trigger some confusions.

  • As member of the NVvW board Doorman might argue “not to look into the criticism on FHCRMI because of an interest there”. Instead, he should rather take the initiative and make sure that this criticism was answered in decent manner rather than burked. If his interest is so large that he cannot speak freely on science then he should rather not be in the board.
  • Doorman in a 2015 text in Euclides, the journal of NVvW, referred to (intellectually stealing) Freudenthal and not to (victim) Van Hiele. When asked to correct, he didn’t reply to this very question (see page 8) but talked around it, see my deconstruction of his “reply”. Potentially Doorman just didn’t have the relevant knowledge about didactics, for histhesis” refers to RME but not to Van Hiele. If Doorman had looked into this criticism of mine, he could have been a bridge of understanding for the other members of the NVvW board and readers of Euclides, but he wasn’t.
    PM 1. I don’t understand either why these people didn’t see that he dodged the question.
    PM 2. Doorman in Indonesia sheets 44-49 on RME repeats the reference on anti-didactic inversion to (intellectually abusing) Freudenthal at the cost of (victim) Van Hiele.  Thus I asked a correction, he dodged the question, and proceeds as if there would be no problem (and likely not informing the audience about the criticism).
  • Thus Doorman is neither teacher nor researcher: so what is he doing in the board of NVvW ? From qualifications, actually their lack, and work, actually the lack of answers, it is a small step towards wondering about motivation. A good hypothesis is: he is spreading the gospel of RME and blocking criticism. If Doorman wants to become professor at FHCRMI he must show that he is a true sectarian of RME. He is polishing up his cv and can now claim that he has been involved in the community of teachers, even when it was dodging questions. This is a hypothesis only, and one might also offer other explanations like blindness.
  • I wonder who paid for this trip to Yogyakarta. It is also known that Freudenthal Head in the Clouds Realistic Mathematics Institute (FHCRMI) still is busy in establishing footholds over the world even though RME has failed. See also, who apparently neglect the KNAW report or my criticism.
  • Yes, there is also NRO-project supervisor Frits Beukers, but he is professor of mathematics also without qualification for mathematics education research. Beukers presently is chairman of the Platform Wiskunde Nederland (PWN)-education committee, but would represent the universities since he has no qualification for primary or secondary education or the trade colleges. In that committee we also see Kees Hoogland, who abused the biography by John Allen Paulos for RME, and who has not corrected yet and who refuses to give an English translation of the key section.
Disclaimer: Can I be unbiased ?

I stated that I would give an unbiased assessment. Can I really do so ? Undoubtedly the reader will make up one’s own mind, but my perception is that I have been fair and unbiased.

Doorman’s “thesis” of 2005 is closely related to the education on the derivative. There was ample scope for a meeting of minds. When Doorman sticks with RME and Java applets, instead of NME and computer algebra, it is all of his own choosing. The differences in positions can be mentioned:

  • Check my proposal since 2007 for an algebraic approach to the derivative, see e.g. Conquest of the Plane (2011).
  • COTP was also programmed in Mathematica – a system for doing mathematics on the computer (a.k.a. “digital environment”) .
  • Also, I am a user of computer algebra since 1993, while Doorman tends to use other programs that don’t have the flexibility of computer algebra.
  • Doorman was editor of TD-Beta when I submitted a short note in 2012 on my invention of the algebraic approach to the derivative. This was maltreated. See here anonymised  and see here with full names (it is a scientific discourse and no private exchange).

At the NVvW annual convention of 2015 when Doorman was elected to the board, I had my doubts but opted still mildly optimistically for the benefit of the doubt. I had no experience with this TD-Beta journal and perhaps everything was an unfortunate misunderstanding. It doesn’t happen so very often that someone can propose a new approach to the education on the derivative. The performance of last eight months however gives evidence of the mindset of an ideologue.

Conclusion: Doors of perception

Any link to Doorman’s name is coincidental, and it is also a coincidence that the Dutch family name “Doorman” indeed is related to the English “doorman” (at least according to the Meertens institute).

The phrase “doors of perception” comes to mind when looking at Doorman’s presentation sheet “Aim of Primas” that states:

“A question not asked is a door not opened!”

  1. This implies that an opened door is a result of a question. (This need not be an open door.)
  2. This doesn’t imply that asking a question will open a door. (The question might e.g. be ignored.)

The message of this present weblog is, amongst others, that there are some crucial questions that Michiel Doorman refuses to look into and apparently doesn’t want to answer. He is employed at the Freudenthal Head in the Clouds Realistic Mathematics Institute, that should not be at a university. Apparently Doorman did not inform his hosts in Indonesia about the existing critique either.

The former weblog entry discussed how a school can “improve” its success rate by ditching weak students. I used a small theoretical model to show this. It is more advantageous for a weak student to try for graduation twice, and by using a corrected success rate the school is not punished for that. Let us now look at some real data from a real school.

A disclaimer is that I am not at home in this field of study. My interest has been in the didactics of mathematics and overall economics of education, and while I have looked at issues of testing, this present application is a new topic for me. The Dutch Inspectorate of Education reports on this since 1817, and I am merely feeling the water and asking questions for my understanding.

Jan Jimkes has been critical of the government policy on arithmetic tests in highschool, see here and here. So let us see – tongue in cheek – how his own school is doing. Jimkes got his mathematics degree in 1966 and has been a math teacher for 36 years and former conrector of St. Bonifatiuscollege in Utrecht. Arithmetic indicates that he must have retired around 2002. Our data are from 2013-2014 and thus have not been affected by Jimkes directly. This discussion might not be impartial because I disagree with Jimkes on some points (see here), and because this is also my own highschool where I graduated in gymnasium in 1972. We might have arrived at Boni around the same time, but perhaps at the different buildings for I have no recollection of him back then, and my math teachers were Van Gils and Andringa.

The following discussion is not about mathematics education but about equality of opportunities in general. In Holland VWO = 6 years preparation for university, HAVO = 5 years preparation for college, VMBO = preparation for trade school. Within these curricula, there again is the distinction between the humanities (A, qualitative and likely not quantitative) and science (B, quantitative and likely also qualitative).

In elementary school at the end of grade 6 for pupils of age 12, teachers advised whether they might do VMBO, HAVO or VWO. At Boni grade 9, students have been allocated to HAVO and VWO, and we can see how the prediction worked out. Boni might get good graduation scores on VWO by sending weaker VWO students to HAVO.

The history of Boni is that it originated in the emancipation of Catholics in a Calvinist country. Originally Boni wanted to make sure that students capable of university got a real good VWO education (HBS, atheneum or gymnasium). The addition of HAVO is an outgrowth and originally no core business. The option of HAVO is agreeable for students who don’t fit VWO but who can remain in the same school. A student may feel better with high grades in HAVO than with low grades in VWO. Having graduated at HAVO at Boni, 17% continues in VWO again.

The data basically come from the school itself. Boni reports to DUO, and there is a visit by the Inspectorate of Education. The results are reported on by the Inspectorate and on the website “Scholen op de kaart” (SodK) where schools compare with each other. For Boni the link is here. I assume that these data will be updated to a new school-year, and thus I copy a graph below.

Report by the Inspectorate of Education

The Inspectorate of Education gives us the Boni report of 2015 about school-year 2013-2014. On page 9 of the pdf we find the following text. This text refers to the “scorecard 2014” while we will look at the scorecard 2015 with data on 2013-2014:

“The success rate for grades 7-9 is satisfactory for the scorecard of 2014 [sic]. However it is unsatisfactory for the years before. Relatively many students with an advice for VWO transfer to HAVO. The success rate for grades 10-12 is good.” (My emphasis and translation (English teacher Boerlage) of: “Het onderbouwrendement is volgens de opbrengstenkaart 2014 [sic] voldoende maar in de jaren daarvoor onvoldoende. Relatief veel leerlingen met een vwo-advies stromen af naar de havo. Het bovenbouwrendement is goed.”)

In the scorecard 2015, Boni had 1459 students in 2013-2014, 33% in the first two formative years (grades 7-8), 20% in HAVO (grades 9-11), 47% in VWO (grades 9-12).

We indeed find that an initially surprising percentage of potential VWO students are actually at HAVO. See also the graphs below.

  • In grade 9 at VWO: 71% had an original VWO advice from elementary school, 27% had HAVO advice and 2% mixed.
  • In grade 9 at HAVO: 52% had HAVO advice, 47% VWO advice and 2% had a mixed advice.
Report by SodK, schools comparing with each other

SodK gives graphs of above data. HAVO is on the left, and VWO is on the right.

  • The red bar gives students with an original advice for VWO. Many are at HAVO indeed. However, HAVO is a smaller fraction of the school, so there is also the effect of the denominator. The “comparison” is awkward.
  • The purple bar gives students with an original advice for HAVO. Surprising for me, still about a quarter of VWO classes are filled with these students. Apparently, prediction at the end of elementary school is difficult.

Original advice for students in grade 9 at HAVO (left) or VWO (right) (Source: SodK)

Comparison and translating the graphs into numbers

The grey bar is a “comparable group”, not necessarily the national average. This “comparison” however is distorted by the mixed HAVO / VWO advice, that is important for the “comparable group” but not relevant for Boni.

For VWO, the 2% mixed advice for Boni can be allocated equally to 27+1 = 28% HAVO advice and 71+1 = 72% VWO advice.

For VWO, the mixed advice in the “comparable group” is about 18%. Allocating this equally, we find a HAVO advice of about 16+9 = 27% and a VWO advice of about 64+9 = 73%.

Thus Boni is not exceptional.

VWO Boni “Comparable”
VWO Advice 72 73
HAVO Advice 28 27

For HAVO, the 2% mixed advice for Boni creates a choice, and let us assume that the Boni split is 53% versus 47%.

For HAVO, the “comparable group” is about 22%. Let 55+11 = 66% have had HAVO advice, and 14+11 = 25% have had VWO advice. Then we still lack 9%. Probably this is VMBO advice, not shown here. The graph is crooked, and creates some uncertainty.

Boni may seem exceptional but when a normal outflow from its large VWO intake enters a smaller HAVO department, then this share must be higher. My suggestion is that the Inspectorate develops a better comparison for the effect of the denominator (I don’t feel like trying).

HAVO Boni “Comparable”
VWO Advice 47 25
HAVO Advice 53 66 + missing 9 = 75
More data from the Inspectorate

The three year data show for the central exam (and not the school exam nor the joint result) for 2013-2014:

  • At HAVO grade 9-11, 73% didn’t retake a class, and the graduation grade point average (GPA) on a scale of 10 was 6.3 (slightly below average). At SodK we find the final success rate: 89.6% or roughly 90% graduated in 2014.
  • At VWO grade 9-12, 79% didn’t retake a class, and the graduation GPA was 6.5 (above average). At SodK we find the final success rate: 95.1% or roughly 95% graduated in 2014.
Is Boni cooking the books ?

Boni’s profile for VWO hardly differs from the comparison group. If someone is cooking the books then everyone is. We have no data for the final selection point at grade 11 that we discussed earlier.

Boni’s profile for HAVO is partly explained by the denominator effect. It is unclear how a correction would look like, and thus we must postpone judgement. We still would expect a graduation GPA that is higher than the national average. However, it is a bit less. Thus it is more likely that VWO students are transferred to HAVO for the mere reason that HAVO actually fits them. Perhaps these students are disappointed and not motivated to work hard for HAVO ? However, 17% of the HAVO graduates continue to VWO (see here). It is not clear to me whether these are only original HAVO students or whether there may also be former VWO students who get a second chance.

Overall, a possible explanation is that (some) elementary schools give their pupils an advice of VWO to try to get them into well respected Boni, after which the true selection happens at Boni.

Apparently, forecasting a career is difficult. Testing on mathematics skills at elementary school is not necessarily difficult but rather deliberately crooked in Holland. There are two approaches: “realistic mathematics education” (RME) and “traditional mathematics education” (TME). The tests created by CITO still allow that both methods score equally, looking only at the outcome of sums. However, only TME prepares for later algebra in highschool. Thus, CITO better develops tests that also attach value to the intermediate steps that are used to find the outcome of sums. There is also my proposal for better “neoclassical mathematics education” (NME), see here. See my letter to KNAW and CPB.

Boni seems to have a useful school model. By selecting pupils who are closely related (core and related non-core), it can concentrate on the core, while still providing well for the non-core. This model benefits from the fact that there is no education higher than VWO. Schools with a core on HAVO must provide for surrounding non-core VWO and VMBO.

A similar question arises when one can create two classes of the same denomination: mix the students, or create a faster and a slower class ? A criterion should rather be on learning styles, to allow teachers to economise their methods.

What is this discussion about ?

This discussion is actually rather on determination. The distinction between VWO and HAVO is close to the distinction between university and college (professional school). Some people argue that medicine at university is actually a professional education and not an education in science. This indeed also has to do with the learning styles, like Kolb’s contested theory of abstract / concrete and active / passive styles. Potentially VWO and HAVO differ in characteristics as in the diagram below, and the determination test would allocate students, depending upon school capacity or prospect for graduation. It is more likely that there are more dimensions however.

Determination of VWO vs HAVO ???

Determination of VWO vs HAVO ?

The Inspectorate of Education now uses a time horizon of three years. Within this time frame, they can already link graduates to an advice three years earlier. Thus for HAVO they can compare graduation at grade 11 to the start in grade 9.

  • With one year extra, they can link graduation at VWO to grade 9, and allow for resits of HAVO. This look at HAVO and VWO would test the performance of the school itself.
  • With a time horizon of seven years they can link graduates (with resits and return from HAVO to VWO) to the advice at elementary school. This comparison looks into the quality of this advice (with teachers differing from official CITO) rather than performance at Boni.

This model uses graduation as the golden standard (always on top), and uses the common nomenclature for the prospective tests (always on the side). Unfortunately, wikipedia (a portal and no source) presents this table in transposed form. Indeed, better look at wikipedia’s “worked example” that has (inconsistently) the proper orientation.

  • When we spoke about the success rate above, we took VWO as the success. The success rate translates here as the positive predictive value, PPV = TP / (TP + FP).
  • For determination, the discussion was too simple, since there is also the success for HAVO students, with the negative predictive value, NPV = TN / (FN + TN).
  • There is a whole machinery on this kind of test analysis, and it would lead too far discussing this.
Golden standard vs test
Graduated at VWO Graduated at HAVO
VWO Advice True Positive (TP) False Positive (FP)
HAVO Advice False Negative (FN) True Negative (TN)
Returning to the original problem w.r.t. the success rate

Let us return to our detective job that we started out with in the earlier discussion. In this case, graduation is not the golden standard but actually only an imperfect test. We now also take account of students who graduated but shouldn’t have and only were lucky. Thus we assume that there is some golden standard that can determine whether a student is a true VWO student or not. The Inspectorate of Education should study on such a golden standard. For example, when a student is not admitted or fails at Boni but succeeds later, perhaps elsewhere, then this would be a true VWO student. This gives the table below.

The statistical success rate at SodK, say the 95.1% success of the VWO graduation at Boni in 2013-2014, only compares the two rows of students who participated, and then passed or failed. Our problem were the students who were excluded from participation who were true VWO students, while Boni erroneously thought that those were false VWO students (who would either fail deservedly or not be lucky enough to pass anyway). This information is not presented by the Inspectorate.

Golden standard vs test
True VWO False VWO
Participated and graduated True Positive (TP) False Positive (FP)
Participated and failed False Negative (FN-Part) True Negative (TN-Part)
Did not participate False Negative (FN-Nonpart) True Negative (TN-Nonpart)

Perhaps the Inspectorate should first clarify how big the problem is for the whole country before we look at schools. Obviously, a student who is not admitted to the senior (graduation) year, is ill prepared, and after a while it makes excruciating sense not to allow this student to participate in the exams. However, why was this student not admitted to the senior year in the first place ? The issue can thus be paraphrased in the familiar discussion about the risk factors for retaking a class. Still, the earlier point that the success rate better be corrected so that schools are not punished for allowing students to resit graduation, remains, and this would percolate down too to lower grades.


Boni is innocent till proven guilty. These data don’t prove that Boni doesn’t cook the books. With these data, the issue is elusive, rather more on determination than on graduation. We would need more intel based upon the individual capabilities. Potentially we need only information about students in the critical range (whose grades cause discussion in the teacher meeting), but with all the selection going on (e.g. also on A and B flows), we would include all students (also for comparison and denominator). The report by the Inspectorate is still oriented at statistics in the style of 1900 looking at the unit of the school, rather than at statistics in the style of 2000 looking at the unit of the student. It reflects the correct sentiment that schools matter, but still. Management requires measurement. When you don’t measure something, then management runs risks which otherwise might be avoided. Apparently it is not clear to the Inspectorate yet what they really want to know about students. Are you able, now, to formulate your suggestions to them ? A disclaimer is that I didn’t read up on their research agenda, but now I know better what to look for.

There is a trade-off between the success rates of students and those of schools. A school can enhance its image by evicting less performing students, so that only good students contribute to the success rate. Less performing students are directed to schools with lower requirements. Nicely said: there can be schools with different levels that better fit their target populations. Is the latter too good to be true ?

De Maatschappij” (“The society”) is an independent network for people active in business and public service. On June 14 they organised a discussion about education (in-) equality. This obviously relates to success rates.

(PM. The location was the beautiful Hodshon House in Haarlem, seat of the “Koninklijke Hollandsche Maatschappij der Wetenschappen” (KHMW) (“Royal Society of the Province of Holland for the Sciences”) founded in 1752. In this case “Holland” stands for the province and not the whole country.)

Arnold Jonk of “Onderwijsinspectie” (Inspectorate of Education) presented results of the annual survey “De staat van het onderwijs” (a series of reports since 1817). He observed that inequality increases, notably by the statistical phenomenon that children of parents with lower education have increasingly less enjoyment of higher education themselves. Jonk argued that the data showed no single cause. He also observed that inequality between schools is rising.

The discussion caused me to think that the success rate for schools should be corrected for the opportunities that are granted to weaker students. Giving an opportunity should not be punished, in the event when the student still fails.

Other people have already thought about this, see this recent discussion about including CITO scores, e.g. on the website of schools comparing each other. Yet, I find it helpful to organise my thoughts on this, so that I know better what to look for in the future. The discussion at KHMW was open, and then I don’t mind mentioning an idea that isn’t fully developed yet, even though other people may not understand what you are getting at, or think that you are reinventing the wheel. Science is open. The following exposition should be helpful, and is still preliminary.

Item Response Theory clarifies that tests say something about students, but also conversely that students say something about the test. Something must be said about the school too. At the Dutch Inspectorate of Education there are measures on the output of schools, e.g. the “Opbrengstenkaart” formerly known as “kwaliteitskaart” for secondary education. Google showed this book “Het oog der natie, scholen op rapport” (2001). An informative discussion in Dutch is by Janssens & Visscher (undated). The PISA methodology aggregates results for countries, and a similar method might be used for schools. In Belgium, Frank Roels (emeritus) has a popular and partly entertaining discussion (in Dutch) about success rates and ways to manipulate those. Yet, I haven’t looked at these methods in detail.

For this weblog entry I only want to get some preliminary clarity about the problem, by using a simple example, so that it should be clear what the problem is.

Must John retake the junior year or will he be admitted to the senior year ?

Consider a highschool with grades 9-12: freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors. Each class consists of approximately 25 normal students. The school accepts that 1 student normally fails at graduation. This failure rate of 4% translates into a success rate of 96%.

Consider John at the end of the junior year (grade 11). He wants to enter the senior year (grade 12) and graduate next year. John is a weak student and differs a bit from the 25 normal students that are admitted without problem (including the one who failed last year). The school wonders about what to do with John. If John would be admitted but fails graduation next year, then this will affect the school success rate unfavourably, for this means a failure of (1 + 1) / (25 + 1) = 2 / 26 ≈ 7.69% or a success of 24 / 26 ≈ 92.31%. Perhaps it is better for John to retake the junior year, and be better prepared for the senior year ? The school has a policy that students may only retake one year. If John would fail twice in the junior year, he is removed from the school. Then it is favourable for the school that he no longer shows up in the school graduation success rate. For John it might be better to go to the senior year directly, for then he has the option to try for graduation twice.

In sum: for John it is better that he is admitted to the senior year (path A), for the school it is better to let him retake the junior year (path B). Assuming some transition probabilities, the following table summarizes the cumulated rates of success for John versus the school for the two paths. The Appendix below shows how this table was constructed.

When a school district has a rule that schools should have a two year average success rate of at least 95%, then the school will be inclined to steer towards path B. In this case the school is small and fluctuations can be explained, but still.


John’s success rate

School weighted average success rate

A. Admit



B. Retake




W.r.t. rising inequality, it is unclear to me whether above perverse selection effect occurs. Having different levels of education already mitigates the effect. Schools with low education levels might already have high success rates, because they collect the dropouts of the higher levels. Still the overall effect might be a reduction of the level.

Schools with high levels may also have high success because of the selection, and not be in need for additional money. The better schools might have the market power to select the better students. Higher educated parents may provide for extra stimulus. For lower educated parents this stimulus would have to be provided by the schools, but those may not have the resources. In that case, the government might give more money to the lower level schools. In the middle, the schools with more aspiration who give students more opportunity are punished because their success rates drop, and they are less likely to get government money.

This discussion tends to interprete the school success rate as applying to the school, but it is a student average. Our real focus is on the overall success rate for all students. This includes the probability that the weaker student John also graduates. Thus the school success rate should better be corrected for giving John this opportunity.

In Item Response Theory (IRT), only students with their competences and the tests with their challenges occur, and there is no school indeed. The individual transition probabilities however are affected by the quality of the teachers, whence IRT must be corrected for the school effect. Indeed, it is a general notion that the quality of teachers is one of the main instruments, as argued by Cornet et al. (2006) at CPB. Jochems (2007) however argued that we know relatively little about education of teachers.

A quick fix

Above weighted average punishes John for requiring one more year to graduate. A quick fix is to eliminate John from the calculation when he fails in the first senior year, conditional on that we know that he will succeed the second time. When the school success rate is based upon the remaining normal students, then this suffices for the school image. In the table below we replace the low success rate of .9231 (in red) by the normal .96, as if John didn’t participate. As a result, the weighted average rises from 94.9 to 95.5. The school is rewarded by a higher success score than along path B.

Now, however, the average duration at school enters the discussion. This quick fix is neutral for the delay that already occurs for John. It however assumes that schools and students do not manipulate by turning a failing normal student into a weak student. Allowing students an additional year is a luxury for the school. Potentially though students want to graduate as fast as possible. This quick fix introduces for policy makers a delay in the outcome (with first an estimate only). I have only looked at this numerical example and not looked at the conditions on the parameters. This is just an example case, and we would have to look how it works out, say in IRT. A label for this kind of research might be “opportunity neutral or rewarding success rates”, but perhaps a known or better label already exists. Perhaps this small model then is helpful for discussion.

Why is this important ?

Better control of the transition probabilities and good measures of success are important for the management of the educational system in general. There is also this important question of design: we have differentiation in Secondary Education, so why not in Primary Education ? This gives more application for success rates. Would it not be better to replace the rather uniform system of Primary Education by a differentiated system that is more sensitive to the capabilities of the pupils ? This proposal comes from Henk Boonstra, and I tend to agree, see here, though be warned that I am not qualified for PE.

When you are sick, you go to a hospital, get monitored, and when cured return to society. For prevention, there should be constant monitoring and regular checks. For schools, we would look not only at the dropouts and low achievers but also at students functioning below their capacity in general. If John in the model above fails, he should get another diploma fitting to his results, and the true question is whether  he has reached his capacity (or good basis for a career of choice). We are going to a society that keeps a digital image of your body and mind. The science of testing is with us since phrenology started, but now we need ever better systems to check upon both science and how it is applied.

Appendix on model and numerical example

There are two main paths A and B with each three endpoints, see the diagram. Let us use the following numerical example of John’s individual chances.

  • the probability that John graduates next year: α = 50%
  • the probability that John graduates after retaking the senior year: β = 70%
  • the probability that John becomes a senior after retaking the junior year: γ = 80%
  • the probability that John graduates after retaking the junior year: δ = 60%



Path John’s success rate School success rate, years 1 and 2
(A1) Senior-Graduate α = .5 25 / 26 ≈ .9615,    24 / 25 = .96
(A2) Senior-Senior-Graduate (1 – α) β = .5 × .7 = .35 24 / 26 ≈ .9231,   25 / 26 ≈ .9615
(A3) Senior-Senior-Fail (1 – α) (1 – β) = .5 × .3 = .15 24 / 26 ≈ .9231,   24 / 26 ≈ .9231
(B1) Junior-Senior-Graduate γ δ = .8 × .6 = .48 24 / 25 = .96,   25 / 26 ≈ .9615
(B2) Junior-Senior-Fail γ (1 – δ) = .8 × .4 = .32 24 / 25 = .96,   24 / 26 ≈ .9231
(B3) Junior-Fail (1 – γ) = .2 24 / 25 = .96,   24 / 25 = .96

View on Haarlem, June 14 2016