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Robert I. Soare soare at
Mon Aug 2 13:53:59 EDT 1999

DATE:  Monday, August 1, 1999
TO:    FOM (Foundations of Mathematics): fom at


On June 21, 1999 I received from the Moderator, Stephen Simpson, a
copy of his "review" of the AMS Workshop on Computability Theory and
Applications (CTA) in Boulder (Simpson FOM June 21, 1999).  There
were a number of mathematical mistakes, omissions, and misleading
statements in sections relating to my own research area.  I am
responding to them now (see next message) on FOM only after very
careful consideration and preparation with full documentation and
logical analysis of the case, and only after sending several versions
of this draft to a number of close advisers and experts for
verification of my assertions.

While I was preparing this document over several weeks, Simpson and
another subscriber posted still MORE documents on computability
theory which are completely inaccurate and contain old assertions and
misconceptions.  I have therefore prepared several other shorter
papers correcting and refuting these points.  Message 1 (the next
message) is the longest, and lays the FOUNDATION for the others.  

One might think that it does not MATTER what is written on an
internet site of 385 people even if it is totally false, because
perhaps people do not read it, or do not believe it, or do not care,
or will not act on it.  Such thinking is misguided because
unsupported allegations about a person or a field can be dangerous,
and, if unchallenged, can acquire momentum of their own, and can
deceive the non expert.

For example, of the several people negatively reviewed by Simpson on
June 21 (with NO discussion of their work, NO logical analysis, and
NO factual support), TWO are up for PROMOTION this year, and their
superiors may read FOM.  The superiors have no way of knowing whether
or not Simpson's statements (FOM, June 21) are misleading and
contrary to the opinion of the overwhelming majority of those who
know the work.

Some time ago an outstanding mathematician, good enough for a full
professorship at a couple of the top five departments of mathematics,
was very nearly denied TENURE.  There were six or more excellent
letters of recommendation from the world leaders in his field,
professors at the leading mathematics departments, but there was also
ONE letter from a much less prominent person who severely CRITICIZED
the candidate, NOT for his research which was extremely good, but for
his FIELD (which was then, and is now, a FLOURISHING area, far MORE
so than the letter writer's own field, then or now.)  The letter
writer said the first field should NOT be represented at that leading
department of mathematics, even though it is represented at several
such now, and was at the time.  This ONE letter was enough to cause
great problems, and nearly kill the case, in what should have been a
routine case for promotion to tenure.

Similar voices, all out of proportion to their own mathematical
achievements, then managed to negatively influence OTHER scientific
support and awards to persons working in the first field, again
solely on the basis of whether the FIELD was worthwhile.  This
influence, even though its content was many times refuted by evidence
and logical argument, caused severe problems for researchers in the
first field a few years ago.  


This illustrates the old principle that one must face
misrepresentation and falsehood DIRECTLY because appeasement will
only cause further abuses.  My colleagues have urged me to IGNORE
this clearly misleading and incorrect criticism appearing in FOM, and
to go quietly back to my own research.  However, I have decided to
REFUTE these prevarications and misrepresentations once and for all,
and to do it with overwhelming evidence and logical argument.


This and other related material can be found on the WEB page:

Robert I. Soare
Paul Snowden Russell 
Distinguished Service Professor
    of Mathematics and Computer Science			
Department of Mathematics 	     PHONE: (773) 702-6029, Secty: 702-7100 
The University of Chicago            FAX:   (773) 702-9787
5734 University Avenue		     E-MAIL:	soare at
Chicago, IL 60637-1546	USA  	     WEB:

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