Skip to content

Things I feel bad about

In a comment on this entry, Jim Lebeau links to Scigen, a site by some MIT grad students describing a computer program they wrote to generate context-free simulacra of scientific papers that they submitted to a well-known fake scientific conference called SCI. (As far as I can tell, SCI and similar conferences are scams that make money off of conference fees (and maybe hotel reservations?).) SCI is well-known in that lots of people get their spam “invitations.”

Anyway, the Scigen folks went to the “conference” and returned with this amusing report. Basically, the organizers were shifty and the conference attenders were clueless. It gave me a queasy feeling, though: it reminded me of when Joe Schafer and I were grad students and went to a session of cranks at the Joint Statistical Meetings. (Until a few years ago, the JSM used to accept all submissions, and they would schedule the obvious cranks, the people who could prove that pi=3 and so forth, for the last session of the conference.) Anyway, Joe and I showed up and sat at the back of the room. It was basically us and the speakers, maybe one or two other people. We attended a couple of talks. The speakers really were clueless. They were people with real jobs, I think, but with delusions of mathematical grandeur. At some point, Joe and I couldn’t stop from cracking up. It was just too much trouble to swallow our laughs, and we had to leave. Then we felt terrible, of course. It’s a good thing that the JSM rejects these talks now.

The funny thing is, in the last few years I’ve been to a couple of real sessions at the JSM at the last time on the last day. And the attendence for these real sessions has been almost as low as for the fake one that Joe and I attended.

One Comment

  1. Phil Price says:

    Supposedly the American Physical Society used to have a policy — maybe still does — that "any member in good standing may present a five-minute talk at the annual meeting." Someone proposed a clarifying amendment: "any member in good standing may present a five-minute talk, no matter how poor."