Gina Says Part two

Download the second part of my book “Gina Says.”

Link to the post with the first part.



 “Gina Says,”

Adventures in the

Blogosphere String War

selected and edited by Gil Kalai


Praise for “Gina Says” 


After having coffee  at the n-category cafe,  Gina moved to  Clliford Johnson’s blog “Asymptotia” where she mainly discussed Lee Smolin’s book “The Trouble with Physics.”

Among the highlights:  Too good to be true (Ch 17); Dyscalculia and Chomskian linguistics (Ch 19); Baker’s fifteen objections to “The Trouble with Physics” (Ch. 25); Maldacena (Ch. 28);  High risks endeavors for the young (Ch 31);How to treat fantastic claims by great people (Ch. 33); Shocking revelations (Ch. 38); How to debate beauty (Ch 41.)

Some little chapters appeared also as posts:

DrachmasOptimism, Thomas Bayes and probability, Can category theory serve as the foundation of mathematics,  Controversies , Debates, Foundational impossibilities, Amazing possibilities, (links and comments), Noise,Ulam and the future of mathematics, Some philosophy of science.

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15 Responses to Gina Says Part two

  1. Dear Gil – apropos your comments on Mendel on page 3, I think the view on Mendel has (somewhat) shifted these days. Rather than parroting what I have read elsewhere, let me just refer you to a reference:

    (actually, I don’t know how authoritative this vindication of Mendel is either . . .)



  2. Gil Kalai says:

    Dear Danny,

    Mendel was, of course, one of the greatest scientists of all times, and if the outcomes of his experiments express also some tuning by an overlly devoted assistant or by himself, it won’t be right to judge his methodology by modern-time standards.

    I remember that I found Fischer’s analysis (that I read in a book by Freedman Pisanti and Purves) very convincing and I am not sure if there is really a serious way around his conclusions.

    The overall issue of too-good-to-be-true in science and especially regarding statistical evidence is quite fascinating. (A surprising place to read about it is in Korner’s book on harmonic analysis.)

  3. Dear Gil – I’m sure you’re right about Mendel. Thanks for the Korner reference – I look forward to checking it out.



  4. Kea says:

    Cool!! Thanks! Gina is most welcome at my blog.

  5. Pingback: How to Debate Beauty « Combinatorics and more

  6. This is a very interesting book- I read it all.
    I didn’t like the word “bullshit” on page 123 line 4, because it is a different level word from the rest of the book. Imagine in Hebrew, Theodore Herzel throwing a sentence like “Im tirzu, ashkara ein zo agada”.
    As a result, it draws attention from the reader in a way which is not intended. I recommend the word “nonsense” instead.

  7. Gil Kalai says:

    Dear Daniel, thank you very very much!

    I will think again about the choosing the word bullshit. (BTW, are you aware Frankfurt’s essay on bullshit )

    Apropos, the words ashkara and fadiha were next on my list of arab-words-used-in-Hebrew-slang to try to use (after ahla, walla, sababa, and yalla).

  8. Thomas R Love says:

    I finally finished reading part 2, interesting but not quite as fascinating as part 1. As far as the sociology of science is concerned, two works come to mind: ‘The Construction of Quarks’ by Andrew Pickering and ‘Quasars, Redshifts and Controversies’ by Halton Arp.

    Both are essential reading (and warnings)

  9. Thomas R Love says:

    Will there be a part 3 or have you moved on to greener pastures? Did Gina ever make a decision about the validity of string theory?

  10. Gil Kalai says:

    Hi Thomas, no more parts are planned, (but I may revise the book and especially the second installment which consists of parts 2 and 3). Should we try to “make a decision” about the winner in the 2009 World-Series? or the 2050 Super Bowl?

  11. loop says:

    Thanks this was a good read

  12. Liza says:

    Just finished the second part. It is truly a marvelous book and I enjoyed every page. Thanks Gil.

    Here is my laymen’s shot at a Gina-esque debate on science and religion:

  13. D R Lunsford says:

    Hi, I’m new here. You may know me, I’m the guy who unified gravity and electromagnetism, well, really, all Yang-Mills fields, but everyone seems to wish I would go away. Well, I’m not going away. :)

    I read through the first part of “Gina says” – in it, I saw myself quoted from Peter Woit’s blog, about an off-hand comment I made about HSM Coxeter – namely, some empirical knowledge I gained from Dannon yogurt tops, building the Platonic solids from them (read it, it’s in Gina) – apparently Gina took these offhand comments out of context and assumed I was talking about string theory. No, just the solids, I’m afraid. I’ve never wasted 10 minutes thinking about string theory. But anyway, Woit responded to an email from Gina about my offhand comment, with a bitter statement about the quality of his blog, and my misinformed comment. My comment was perfectly informed as it happens, because I proved my little theorem about the altitudes of the Platonic solids – nothing to do with string theory.

    Well this little drama got me to thinking – about Gina, Woit, bloggers, and physics.

    First – many of Gina’s earnest questions are misinformed. Second – the Internet is ruining science, by enabling bullshit on a gigantic level. Third – what does Gina want to know? Is Gina willing to work for the knowledge? Fourth – Who the hell is Gina anyway? Someone’s alter ego? Fifth – has anyone ever learned ANYTHING from these blogs? Sixth – I want to throw up. Since we are now at the number of dimensions of the world’s physical vacuum, I will shut the fuck up.


  14. Gil Kalai says:

    Hi DR!

    I remember your remark as very nice and completely unrealated to String theory. Here is what you wrote:

    “I remember reading “Regular Polytopes” as a kid and discovering empirically a fact about the Platonic solids. I was eating a lot of Dannon Yogurt at the time – the container was environment-friendly wax paper which was nonetheless rather weak. To strengthen the top, a circular cardboard disk was inserted. I pried out a bunch of these identical disks and used them to make the five solids by inscribing regular polygons in them etc. In the end, each face of each solid could thus be inscribed in the same circle. When I set them on my desk, I noticed that they paired up in altitudes, the cube and octahedron having the same altitude, likewise the icosahedron and the dodecahedron, while the tetrahedron was paired with itself, being self-dual!”

    (Your remark seems to contain some facts about building platonic solids from identical discs that I am not aware of. It was interesting to learn that Danone yogurt used platonic solids to attract kids to yogurt.)

    Strangely, the impression I had from your comment there (that of a distinguished old respectable scientist reflecting about his youth) is different than the impression from the comment here.

    As far as I can see Gina’s comment about how polytopes arise in string theory (that was not accepted for publication) nor Woit reference to uninformed comments referred to your comment.

    Gina wanted to mentioned the connection between duality of polytopes and string theory “mirror symmetry”. Peter regarded Gina’s proposed comment as uninformed, since in his view, “the reason algebraic geometers have been so excited about mirror symmetry is that it’s a far more subtle and unexpected phenomenon than just the kind of geometric duality of polytopes that you write about.”

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