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What happened to VK's review of the 't Hooft paper?

+ 3 like - 1 dislike
444 views

This paper http://physicsoverflow.org/21059/renormalization-and-gauge-invariance had a long review by Vladimir Kalitvianski. The review is not there anymore, it was downvoted before, now it's gone, not even hidden, just gone. Who got rid of it? This is not appropriate, the answer was not low-level, it was not off topic, it was just annoying.

asked Sep 7, 2014 in Conflict Resolution by Ron Maimon (7,535 points) [ revision history ]
recategorized Apr 2, 2015 by dimension10

4 Answers

+ 3 like - 0 dislike

I'd like to take up Ron Maimon's suggestion

I propose to create a section ''contributions far below the desired level'' and move there (rather than hide or delete) all questions, answers, comment discussions, submitted papers, and reviews that don't meet high-level criteria, with links in both directions so that those interested can check for themselves whether they agree, and voice agreement or opposition. This is being done at the moment with discussions in comments only (which are manually moved to chat if off-topic), but this could be extended.

If the contributions in the section ''contributions far below the desired level'' don't show up in the main lists of Q/A obtainable from the buttons on the main page, this leaves a high level surface for the general public while not preventing discussions on questionable items.

answered Sep 8, 2014 by Arnold Neumaier (12,365 points) [ revision history ]
edited Sep 8, 2014 by Arnold Neumaier

We already have such a section for "contributions below the desired level", except it isn't called that, it's called "chat". It's not just for contributions below the desired level, it is also for clarifications, and general discussions that are distracting from the main line of thought. There is nothing shameful about chat, it doesn't cost you rep to get things wrong there, and it can be used to clarify things before they are publically posted.

If you wish to this VK answer to chat, however, I think it is a mistake. There are ways to improve it which simply ask for more precision and less flowery language, but in the end, such a review is a freedom you grant the contributor.

The opinion about how to introduce the interaction in this review is not completely nonsensical, and there is some merit in giving a definition of the renormalization scheme in physical terms. The discomfort is obviously over the use of mathematical schemes where the parameter is losing it's physical meaning, and this discomfort is something most students feel when first transitioning from 1950s renormalization to 1970s 't Hooft style renormalization procedures.

The nonperturbative renormalization constructions are generally a little closer to the 1950s than the 1970s, mostly because it is difficult to make nonperturbative mathematically rigorous sense of a dimensional-regularization minimal-subtraction method. But it is likely possible, although in a way closer to the original analytic regularization technique that inspired dimensional regularization, through propagator modification.

This stuff confuses students a lot, even though it is extremely convenient, and it is 't Hooft and Veltman's responsibility--- they introduced the convenient perturbative schemes that give some people headaches while learning renormalization. From some conversations I had with Jaffe decades ago, nonperturbative renormalization folks are generally dissatisfied with dimensional regularization minimal subtraction, because it make the formal process of perturbative renormalization too easy and automatic, and make the transition to a non-perturbative rigorous scheme more opaque. I think this is another case where Hairer renormalization shines--- you can make complete rigorous sense of analytic regularization in Hairer's framework.

@Ron no, as I understand Arnold's suggestion, the Chat section can not serve as this propopsed section for ''contributions far below the desired level''. The Chat section is for things that are in principle still appropriate for PhysicsOverflow things that are valuable, whereas the section ''contributions far below the desired level'' should contain stuff that really should not appear on the main page and that is strictly speaking not appropriate for PhysicsOverflow. VK's rant then should go into the by Arnold proposed new section. Your trying to interpret even the worst and most annoying nonsense VK writes in the context of interesting physics he clearly never heared nor thought about when writing his rant, does not change the fact that it is just an annoying rant to agressively self-promote his wrong and negative opinions about certain physics topics.

@Dilaton: Sorry, Dilaton, but you are unreasonable here, because of your laughable political internal division of obviously sincere people into "trolls" and "non-trolls" (which is entirely based on how much academic power you think they have), and then getting the ridiculous urge to punish people who are trolls. It's not your job to punish anybody, voting and time will do more than an adequate job of punishing everybody. We will, all of us, look at least as silly to future generations as Boltzmann and Maxwell look to us.

Vladimir's rant is sincere, it is based on a mathematical understanding (only flawed the same way Dirac's was flawed), and it is in every way perfectly acceptable for physicsoverflow, it is just incorrect, and everyone knows it except Vladimir Kalitvianski. You can't see that it is ok but incorrect because you have a personal feud with other less sincere folks who are attacking string theory.

There is no need for a new "below level" section, as it will serve as a penal colony for sincere contributions. There is no need to punish people for being wrong or distracting, just move them to chat, and link the chat. That keeps the site clean, and has no censorship, and no punishment. The only things that require removal are insincere things, like spam, links to time-wasting silly youtube videos and so on, but the ones in question were just humor.

If you wish to move the review to chat, do so because it is linking to fluff, for the reasons dimension10 said, and place it in a chat room regarding 't Hooft's paper, and keep a link from the paper's page. That's acceptable. Don't make up a punitive area for people you don't like.

@RonMaimon I'm pretty sure Dilaton did not mean that people should be shut up based on a categorisation of "trolls" and "non-trolls". Vladimir is as welcome as any other user to make positive contributions as he did for a week or two before the sarcastic poetic spammy off-topic rant. Similarly, such rants are not welcome, not because they're written by Vladimir, but because they're off-topc. And spam. And poems.

Saying that "PhysicsOverflow is not for crackpots" is just a convininent (to write) way of saying that low-level, crackpot stuff is unwelcome (no matter whom it's written by). Please don't interpret the worst possible of every statement.

Sorry, Dimension10--- while your explanation regarding hiding the answer are reasonable, and the linking in VK's answer, I agree, was cynical, gratuitous and unnecessary (so I understand your decision to hide the answer, although deletion was a bad mistake), by contrast the messages I see from Dilaton consists of political character assassination which I can't abide or take part in. Explain the physics, and leave the character assassination out.

@RonMaimon There is no character assassination going on as I explained in my previous comment. What you interpret as character assassination is just a convenient way to put the level, the level is certainly not decided by the authors.

+ 3 like - 1 dislike

It seems that dimension10 has accidentally deleted this review (I am giving the benefit of the doubt). VK has placed the text of the review here: http://vladimirkalitvianski.wordpress.com/2014/09/06/renormalization-and-gauge-invariance-by-g-t-hooft/

This review was downvoted, it is not a correct review. But it is an informative review, in that people with similar ideas can get a rebuttal of such ideas in the linked discussion to such a review. This is how you best deal with wrong reviews, not by deleting them, rather by responding to them until all the confusions are cleared up. It doesn't take all that long, and it is more helpful to others.

I would like to understand why this was deleted. It is not a good text, but it is an on-topic text, which is roughly at the appropriate level. It might be lacking in meaty stuff, calculations, models, and so on, but the paper it is reviewing is sort of a fluffy thing anyway.

I don't see the point of having a review sections if we aren't going to allow open access, and that includes people who have wrong ideas. Half the criticisms in the world are totally off-base, and you need to get them out in the open, so you can attack the problem at the root. If we wanted to restrict who can say what to a class of people, then you might as well go to a journal. Rebutting VK's nonsense doesn't take long anyway, and it is more helpful for the site than deleting it.

But in any case, deleting or hiding a review is without a doubt a punitive restriction, and it cannot be done at the whim of a moderator, it must be discussed within the community. There is nothing in the text that merited deletion as far as I can see, simply downvotes.

If there is some consensus that this text is inappropriate, I would like to know why. Wrongness is not a reason, there are lots of wrong things in the world that are best dealt with a quick rebuttal and a downvote.

answered Sep 8, 2014 by Ron Maimon (7,535 points) [ revision history ]

I disagree -1. Generally we should certainly not allow random crackpots, cranks, and trolls who are not knowledgeable enough about the topic they post, to hijack threads in the reviews section to promote personal from a physics and mathematical point of view not justified negative opinions about the topic of the paper, see my answer to this question..

Your opinion of who is a crank and who is not is not particularly useful. You're going to get it wrong many times in the future. Best to just move the offending discussions to a sandbox and leave a link, this way you don't get censorship developing, and when you make a mistake, you can fix it.

It is often easy to dismiss someone one does not understand, as a crackpot. It's a human tendency to take the easy way out in handling cognitive dissonance. I think such an attitude should be avoided as much as possible, on this forum. Missteps form a possible stepping stone to a better understanding and maybe even useful creative ideas.

@Siva I generally agree with you, but the reason for the deletion of Vladimir's review isn't that it is crackpot, but that it's not a review, but a poetic rant with hidden off-topic links to the reviewer's blog, papers, and even youtube channel.

+ 3 like - 1 dislike

It was me who deleted the review. The reasons for deletion were as follows:

  • It was not a review: Reviews are supposed to be reviews, not poetic rants.
  • It contained spam: It was full of links to the videos in the review author's youtube channel about koalas, red pandas, etc., which have no relevance to the paper.
  • It was obviously off-topic: What relevance do links to his anti-renormalisation papers and questions have to the paper there?

(By the way, the review author knew his review was deletion-worthy and would receive a hail of downvotes, so he added it as a comment to not lose reputation)

But I did not mean to delete it, only hide it (deletion erases the post from the database, hiding makes it visible only to the OP), and I'm sorry for that. Luckily, it can be restored from his blog as has already been pointed out.

So do you really want it restored, despite the obvious reasons to delete it?

Edit: I have restored the review and voted to delete. The downvotes could not be restored,

answered Sep 8, 2014 by dimension10 (1,950 points) [ revision history ]
edited Sep 8, 2014 by dimension10
I hope the votes it had will get restored too ...

I didn't see any links to koalas and red pandas in the original review, nor was there any gratuitous linking to papers in the original, the linking was on-topic and apropos. The review expressed the opinion that it is a mistake to formulate an interaction which makes the mathematical value of the mass term in the Lagrangian different from the physical mass, or shifts the electromagnetic coupling constant from the physical definition in terms of long-wavelength Compton scattering. It advocated for introducing the interaction with physical renormalization, like Dyson did, with counterterms built in, something which people formally do when they use physical renormalization. It further advocated doing an all-orders sum of some sort to find the real dependence of the interaction Hamiltonian at short distances, instead of doing a perturbation expansion, and since this is either difficult or impossible, it is a suggestion for future research. This suggestion I don't like particularly, because I like mathematically convenient renormalization schemes which are decoupled from physical renormalization, as these make it possible to study the abstract renormalization group properties more easily. I also have no problem with shifted mass terms and shifted couplings away from physical values. But thinking more precisely about this does not hurt, and just because one disagrees with VK, does not mean one gets to censor his opinion.

It was on-topic, because 't Hooft is discussing the introduction of dimensional-regularization minimal subtraction, which largely replaced physical renormalization and made people comfortable with nonphysical mathematical renormalization schemes.

Thanks, Ron. I hope the discussion will turn one day to the physics we want to describe (the radiation reaction).

@VladimirKalitvianski: It's not "we". If by "we" you meant to simply indicate the first-person pronoun "I", then I misunderstood, your majesty. Don't confuse me defending your right to speak with me agreeing with you.

By now, Hairer can do stochastic quantization renormalization completely rigorously in certain cases of physical interest, which is 3d superrenormalizable theories (which includes theories with 3d radiation reaction). This does so far involve a sort of "all-orders" understanding of the counterterm structure, this is what the superrenormalizability gives you, a way to bound the production of counterterms to finitely many operator products. Such a complete control is not going to be possible in the case of critical renormalization, but an analogous thing should be easily possible for asymptotically free theories.

Ron, I confuse nothing. I appreciate your defending my right to speak and your insistence on discussing physics rather than my personality.

+ 1 like - 1 dislike

Yes, everybody can take part in the reviews section, but I think if we are serious about doing high-level refereeing of papers in the reviews section, it should go without speaking that people who review and comment on a paper should sufficiently understand the topics of the paper under considereation.

Vladimiir clearly fails this basic precondition concerning t'Hooft's paper, as he clearly does not understand the concept of EFTs and modern renormalisation and he prefers ranting about these topics instead of correctly learning the physics involved. Vladimir is not an appropriate referee to review papers about EFT and renormalisation as he does clearly not (even try to) understand these topics!

Also, to keep up the level of the Reviews section I personally think we should not allow threads to be hijacked and abused by people who just want to promote their ignorance confusion, lack of knowledge and negative personal opinions about the topics of a specific paper. This is not the purpose of the reviews section as I at least understand it.

So even though VK's "review" was strictly speaking not off-topic (it dealt with the topics of the paper), there are im my opinion two reasons why it was not an appropriate to be posted below t'Hooft?s paper on PhysicsOverflow.

Displaying such inappropriate rants as "reviews" reflects bad on our intention to do serious peer-reviewing in the reviews section ...

If this "review" did not accidentially get lost, I would have voted to delete for the reasons mentioned above.

answered Sep 8, 2014 by Dilaton (4,295 points) [ revision history ]

I don't see how you can make this claim, considering that it's not even a Weinberg paper he was reviewing, rather an 't Hooft paper. The paper did not discuss EFTs at all, it was about the development of modern perturbative renormalization and dimensional regularization. It is plainly obvious that you did not read either the paper or the review, and made up your mind based on the fact that you don't like the review. I didn't like it either, but I didn't try to censor it.

If you think it is an inappropriate rant, the proper way to deal with it is to have a single localized place where it can be discussed, a specific place for VK models, and then you can add a link to this discussion in the review.

I am not happy with the way this was dealt with, simply because it was an arbitrary exercise of power, over text which expressed an opinion that Dilaton and Dimension10 do not like.

I don't like this stuff any more than you do. But I know where this kind of Diracian skepticism comes from, and I respect Dirac's opinion (even though it was wrong), and I know what happens in censored communities. Censorship is a disaster, and it starts with silencing cantankerous but well-meaning people with misguided peeves. You've just taken the first step.

I should point out that if you were to propose it for deletion, I would vote against. But in this particular case, VK might be better off having this rant on his personal website, because he didn't want the downvotes. If you were to propose moving it to a separate place meant to discuss renormalization in general, I would vote for, so as to keep the reviews section clean.

I don't want to see a censorship policy develop here, and I don't see any reason for it. If you want to keep a discussion focused, simply move the offending text to a sandbox, like a chat-room, or a dedicated question, and discuss it there. This can keep the paper discussions professional, and at the same time give everyone a chance to be heard and have their criticism answered.

Answering unjustified criticism is the right way to deal with unjustified criticism. The no-repetition policy and on-topic policy can keep unjustified discussions quarantined without any special exclusion policy.

Thanks for the catch ...

Note that Vladimir already has his controversial general question about renormalisation here, Arnold patiently tried to explain things to him there, so I see absolutely no reason to exercise even an infinitesimal tolerance towards Vladimir's tendency to spam the site by bringing up his insulting legitimate physics point of view about renormalisation on other places again and] again and again and again and again  ... !

This "review" or rant therefore did violate your no-repetition policy.

@RonMaimon Dilaton miswriting the topic of the paper does not at all prove that he or I did not read the review. Vladimir has often ranted against legitimate papers on EFTs and against renormalisation (his pet enemy) too, it's often quite hard to recall the post in question.

@Dimension10: I never "ranted against legitimate papers on EFTs". What I do not accept is extending EFT "ideology" or framework to all QFT.

EFT ideology for sure stops at asymptotically free theories, like QCD, and also should in principle stop for scale-invariant theories, like Wilson-Fisher points, Banks-Zaks points, N=4 gauge theory, and certain N=2 theories. The Wilson-Fisher points are realized as explicit phase transitions in low dimensions, but they can also be defined from embedding in superrenormalizable (power-law asymptotically free) theories.

A theory is for sure ultraviolet complete when you can embed it in an asymptotically free theory, and when I was a grad-student, Argyres, Pellard, and me gave one such construction for N=4 gauge theory. The motivation was to have a non-perturbative definition of N=4 theory which is for sure consistent.

For QED, however, it is not clear that there is such a formulation, because of Landau pole issues, and the inconsistency of CED. The focus on QED is particularly misguided, because there is no reason to expect it is well defined. QCD is for sure well defined, when defined appropriately, so pure gauge theory is a good place to make rigorous renormalization consistent.

But even regarding QED, there are debates. It isn't clear that monopoles don't fix QED. But your arguments are naive because they don't accept that it is possible for a theory like QED to fail to make sense, you think that this is merely a problem of formulation.

That the formulation is unique, it is not modifiable in any essential way, is demonstrated by the lattice formulation. The simulations of lattice QED and constructions of QED like theories with supersymmetry clarify a lot about what to expect from QED at strong coupling, although the issue is not resolved. None of this is related to the infrared self-radiation issues that you keep blaming for the wrong formulation, these are separate, and are difficult for unrelated reasons.

@RonMaimon: You wrote: "But your arguments are naive because they don't accept that it is possible for a theory like QED to fail to make sense, you think that this is merely a problem of formulation."

Ron, QED may fail to make sense, I admit it, but in a different sense. If you want, we can discuss it in another thread.

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