I get some of the best fan mail!

I received this from an advocate of dark matter in 2014, after a Twitter spat. In retrospect, this is a great example of how social media has poisonned communication. The language even gives a preview of the Trump years.

Stacy,

You are an abusive bully that lost my respect in 2009 with your [name redacted] Physics Colloquium where you stated that "cosmologists do not know what they're doing" a number of different times and a number of different ways *, and attacked my ** field throughout your talk. I have no idea how you expect to earn respect when you do and say things like that. At the time, I was trying to build the cosmology efforts at [name redacted], and your horrid, abusive, unscientific presentation*** did not help --- being given to the majority of my colleagues at [name redacted], who are outside of my field.

You also do not have free reign in saying insulting statements in saying you cannot "make theorists think." **** That language is unacceptable and unprofessional.

Also, I never bring up your sad, pathetic attempts at science in public---ever. So the truce is unnecessary---just like I do not bring up the static universe work of Geoff Burbidge or that of Young Earth Creationist geologists. It's irrelevant, gives attention to bad science, and leads to the wrong conclusions. However, if someone else does bring it up (like yourself in twitter), I will happily dismantle the subterfuge and lies behind your "predictive" claims---just like the horrid claims your recently made with M31 dwarfs *****. So, don't even think I am not going to call out your bad work when it comes up, because that would basically be defending your shoddy, misleading, and misrepresentative work by remaining silent. I am going to call out your work as lies, because it is exactly that! ******

Your ego has gotten so big by the media flocking to your calls of "wolf" on the cosmological and dark matter community that you've lost all perspective you may have once had as a scientist. It's interesting that you take refuge in complements from octogenarians that have been semi-retired for 25 years and do not keep up with cosmological research. Vera Rubin is an excellent scientist, but that does not mean she remains an expert today.

I'd be happy to never communicate with a bully******* like you again. But, I will always dismantle the subterfuge that is your claimed "scientific" efforts if it ever comes up in my presence.

Sincerely,
Kev Abazajian


* I quoted Landau: "Cosmologists are often wrong, but never in doubt." At no point did I in anyway suggest that cosmologists did not know what they were doing. I did point out that historically, we cosmologists have been wrong many times, including about things that we were quite sure of.

** By saying "my" field, the author is asserting that he is a cosmologist and I am not. This assertion is ridiculous, albeit in a sociologically interesting way. His Ph.D. is in physics, mine is in astronomy. When I started in physics grad school, the opportunities to work in cosmology were extremely limited. This is part of the reason I switched to astronomy, and I've been doing cosmology ever since. When the author of this diatribe came along, physicists had also begun to work in cosmology. Gradually there developed two distinct communities of scientists that self-identified as cosmologists: one from the particle physics tradition, and the other from the much older astronomy tradition. I remember taking with me the arrogant particle physicist attitude that astronomy was trivial and could be picked up easily. I learned through experience that this is not true, and there are very good reasons why the fields are distinct. As an astronomer, I'm now used to seeing particle physicists bring this same arrogant attitude to my field. But now it seems to be getting worse, as I have seen a number of disturbing assertions like this to the effect that those of us who have practiced cosmology (for a much longer time) as astronomers are somehow not cosmologists - and by implication, not qualified to comment on the field we invented.

*** I have given variations on this talk many times over the years to a wide range of audiences. I've never heard it described - even second hand - as abusive or unscientific by any one else. On the contrary, I have frequently been told that it was "the best talk I've heard in 5 years!" Indeed, I've heard this so often that I infer that "five years" is tantamount to practically forever: people don't want to be over the top and say it was the very best ever, but apparently it is up there - for a lot of people.

**** The author is refering to the quote "You can lead a theorist to data, but you can't make him think" which I find funny, so it has been on my quotes page since the late '90s. I intend it as a humorous way to address the unwillingness we sometimes seem to suffer when confronted with new & strange ideas. The author apparently took this personally. He certainly embodies the mind set I was poking fun at.

***** The papers to which he refers are ApJ, 766, 22 and ApJ, 775, 139. The first one makes predictions, the second one checks them. These were a priori predictions made in advance of the observations that test them and were subsequyently proven successful. How this amounts to `horrid' `lies and subterfuge' I cannot fathom.

****** Intellectual honesty rates very high in my personal value system. Ironically, this is what helped spark this conflict, as I admitted the possibility of a hypothesis neither of us was disposed to like. He is manifestly unable to make that admission. It is quite possible that I am wrong to take MOND seriously. That is a very different thing from being dishonest about it.

******* Just who is bullying who here?