Why you should address the smallest number of bad apples, but then make sure you remove the bad apple
Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Overactive Smear Campaigners: Over the years I've had to deal with a few unstable web stalkers posting stuff outside their field of knowledge yet
appear on the surface to the uninitiated to be competent and spread
their comments by sheer repetition. I am putting this here to spare my co-authors (who are not
used to being stalked) some work.
The aim is not to harm
these people, to the contrary, this page is only there to give some
background information/web link when some official at NYU or a
me to wonder why he is bombarded with emails about my work, or to spare
my coauthors the need to address someone's "critique".
1- Debra Frisch: Strangely
by a paper I wrote on the law of large numbers, she started
posting and, posing for a specialist
in probability (she has remote connection as a psychology professor), emailing stuff about my "competence" to all manner of
university officials (and strangely, to every prominent person in the
fields concerned, such as Daniel Kahneman, Kenneth Arrow, seemingly
anyone who ever dealt with probability). She has been recently
arrestedfor unrelated charges but the problem is that many people she
wrote to (like the head of the department and various faculty at NYU) don't know about her
for her (and her victims) but need to leave her name here so I no longer have to reply to
people asking me about "my paper".
2- Eric Falkenstein: Same story
initially, after my article of 1997 on the Value-at-Risk, Falkenstein
developed some type of progressive compulsion that kept going.
So over the past 18 years he spent time obsessively posting and
stalking (perhaps as high as 50,000-100,000 words, the equivalent of 2
full of the usual stuff, with strawman
arguments and conflations of
statistical concepts. The volume led to
much misinterpretation of my work by people who thought he was competent in probability,
statistics, mathematical finance and reflected some
expert opinion or "peer review"
on the subject (the poor fellow is unqualified and hopelessly
clueless). The man is not just abhorent, but there may be
something deeply wrong with him. I was privately warned
about him and the potential of his behavior based on an incident and
appropriate action. I feel sorry about the fellow and wish him a stable
career but this link is here to save time (for me and coauthors in the
PP paper) from answering mail and correcting stawman arguments.
Typical misrepresentation: Falkenstein claims I operate principally "outside the peer-review system": check here (and the web is such a place that people believe the crap they read on blogs by mentally shaky people).
Posing for a quant (he's not remotely capable of stat 101) distort the
argument in a highly dishonest technique called strawman,
and quite often inverting the argument. He caused a mispromotion of my
ideas (mistaking what I do for the VIX when it is the opposite). I am extremely allergic to straw-man techniques as they map to theft. Many
people who practice straw-man can then respond, when exposed: look he
doesn't take criticism. It is not criticism but intellectual
distortion, fraud. He also keeps posting "what is true isn't new and what is new isn't true" before reading the book (he doesn't even wait for publication).
3- Peter Cotton: Some type of
failed quant/mathematician with savantic attributes. Every post boast
as sole attribute a degree in mathematics or background as chess
player. Cotton kept spreading strawman arguments, including the
savantic version of the Black Swan problem (see the chapter on the
savant's understanding of uncertainty) with a special site
"quantapology" and posts that are either distorting or
defamatory. Spread complete deformation of my work. Appears inactive for now. 4- Noah Smith
small number of homeless people cost the states a disproportionate
share of the bills, which makes it obvious where to look for the
savings. A small number of employees in a corporation cause the most
problems, corrupt the general attitude— and vice versa— so getting rid
of these is a great solution. A small number of customers generate a
large share of the revenues. I get 95 percent of my smear postings from
the same three obsessive persons, all representing the same prototypes
of failure (one of whom has written, I estimate, close to one hundred
thousand words in posts— he needs to write more and more and fi nd more
and more stuff to critique in my work and personality to get the same
effect). When it comes to health care, Ezekiel Emanuel showed that half
the population accounts for less than 3 percent of the costs, with the
sickest 10 percent consuming 64 percent of the total pie.