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Lisi, triality, postmodernism, and Hawaiian beaches

After the merchant of smear Ms Naomi Oreskes, Edward Witten has another "peer" who has also been interviewed by John "End of Science" Horgan: the surfer dude also known as Garrett Lisi:

Surfer-Physicist Garrett Lisi Offers Alternative to String Theory—and Academia
The absurdity of this company is self-evident and comical. Horgan begins by an explanation why Garrett Lisi is "famous". In November 2007, Lisi submitted a paper on a theory of everything. Lee Smolin added him to his short list of 17 "geniuses" (which included 5 people whom Smolin hasn't slept with; I make no statements whether Lisi belonged to that group) – crackpots who were Smolin's "proteges" and hopefuls to become the "next Smolin" i.e. the world's most celebrated crackpot at a given moment. This "endorsement" was clearly sufficient for tons of low-brow journalists to run stories about a surfer dude who revolutionized physics.

Surfer babes

The paper boasted Lisi's ability to notice some of the basic relationships among the Lie group \(E_8\) and its subgroups – Lisi was demonstrably unfamiliar with most of the basic facts from this class even several years after his preprint – and he distorted many of the group-theoretical facts underlying GUT quantum field theories and heterotic string theory model building to "incorporate" gravity into the "grand unified force" in unorthodox, namely wrong, ways. A key tool to sell the paper was a simple visualization of the weights of \(E_8\). The model suffered from some elementary flaws that a good graduate student could have seen within minutes. He misunderstood – and the model ignored – the spin \(j=2\) of the gravitons and the chirality of the Standard Model fermions, among many other basic things.

You may check that despite the astronomical amount of hype, the paper only has 34 citations as of now, so it still hasn't even become "well-known" according to the INSPIRE's terminology, and chances are that this wouldn't be enough to find a postdoc job if he were a grad student. Needless to say, most of the followups are worthless preprints by themselves and in average, such a paper has less than 5 citations.

It's 2014, there's no Lisi hype in the media, and I don't expect that many readers still misunderstand that Lisi's papers are just piles of cr@p. Even Smolin and Woit – who were employed as general secretaries of the crackpot movement in 2006 – have thrown their friend Lisi under the bus at some point – while promoting other crackpots and other old and new delusions that they will only throw under the bus after many more years, when the cr@piness of those things will become way too self-evident.

Instead, let me talk about the sociological issues mentioned in the interview.

Is he sorry about the attention seven years ago? Lisi says that the attention was "very very strange" but it was also "fun". Crazily enough, he says that the attention was bad for the development of the theory. In other words, he seems to blame the fact that nothing has come out of his paper on the media storm itself.

Needless to say, this is completely preposterous. Every publicity, especially positive publicity, is a good publicity. If some paper is mentioned in the media, many more people – including physicists – will look at it. The real problem here is that the paper is rubbish, so the more people look at it, the more it is well-known why it is rubbish.

He's surfing on Hawaii again. Good for him.

Lisi describes some basics of the spectrum of the Standard Model, the Grand Unified Theories, and his love for \(E_8\). And he sort of immediately says that some group embedding of a subgroup inside \(E_8\) should describe three families. It doesn't really work but it fails to work for other reasons than Lisi says. All the technical comments are noise in which the density of clearly invalid propositions is so high that it makes no sense to respond. At the end, I decided not to correct his claims about the meaning of triality and its possible implications. A TRF reader would need some background but with this background, he may probably see what's wrong about Lisi's triality claim himself.

He also tries to claim that he is making "progress" – adding even more preposterous "appendices" to the already nonsensical 2007 paper.

When asked about Witten, Lisi says that Witten wrote impressive and beautiful papers and we also learn that
He, his students, and his colleagues have dominated the high-energy theoretical physics community with string models for decades now.
That's a cutely demagogic formulation. String theorists are described as "he, his students, and his colleagues" (in this order) to make the reader believe that it's some kind of a family business or corporation of Edward Witten – to make the reader think in terms of some conspiracies. The truth is that virtually all string theorists are as independent of Edward Witten as you can get and people have studied this remarkable theory because it's so remarkable.
However, even the most enlightened foresight from the most brilliant mind can be wrong, so it would be better if he wasn’t a dick about it.
Right, they can be wrong, but using the word "dick" for the most cited physicist in the world isn't a sufficient piece of evidence to establish (or to convincingly argue) that something about the string-theoretical description of the Universe is invalid.

A huge paragraph is dedicated to deluded conspiracy theories and downright lies claiming that string theory lost the contact with reality, it must be wrong even though he can't give any evidence of a problem, and all this rubbish. String theory is described as a "postmodernist monstrosity" – that's quite bizarre to hear from a protege of the community beloved by Evelyn Fox Keller and similar postmodern pseudointellectual trash. Lisi criticizes the fact that the progress in string theory was driven by its inner momentum – but that's exactly how it works when the science has some intrinsic value. When a theory doesn't have any intrinsic value and produces no interesting results and no explanations of anything that make sense, it's being promoted by external excrements such as John Horgan, and that's the case of (not only) Garrett Lisi's "ideas". This disgusting paragraph culminates with the sentence
I escaped to Maui to get away from the train wreck.
Time for your pills, surfer dude. You have never been inside the train in your life and you're arguably incapable to jump on that train – i.e. to learn everything that is needed to actually do string research. So you're just trying to find excuses for your handicap – the train must be a train wreck, right? Well, it's not. You try to implicitly sell the populist suggestion that everyone may become a string theorist if he wants – except that this claim has really nothing to do with the reality.

The next paragraph enumerates dozens of crackpot papers that could be "alternatives to string theory", along with their authors. Of course, they may only "keep" this "chance" to be alternatives to strings if no one actually looks at them carefully. Otherwise they would follow the example of Lisi's own "huge" crackpot paper. All the fashionable comments about the string theory's competitors are only superficial rhetorical tricks to make the gullible people believe that there could be alternative theories. In reality, none of these things is able to pass even the simplest checks. There are no known alternatives to string theory.

He talks about his SUSY bet against Frank Wilczek that should be decided on July 8th, 2015. He thinks that "he is very likely to win". I am not quite sure. Collisions at the significantly higher energy will begin in April, a small amount of data may be enough to see the new physics, and announcements may very well be out before the early July.

In the next paragraph, he says that
if we replace string theory by deformed Lie groups and representation theory, we'll have this wrapped up before lunch.
It must have been difficult to live for those 7 years without a lunch. To see absolutely no positive news or positive progress on his proposals despite the millions of people including thousands of surfer dudes (and potential researchers) who have been exposed to the omnipresent gospel about the new theory of everything. Meanwhile, since 2008, e.g. Witten has collected over 1,000 citations just on papers written after 2007, and tens of thousands on all papers.

Lisi says that he misses universities but he clearly finds surfing, kitesurfing, hiking, and paragliding more important so I don't think that he would be ready to work. At the end, we learn that he is acting as a degree-non-granting institution running science hostels where you may pretend to "do science" while you are surfing etc.
Twenty years ago, research scientists were anchored to academic libraries and laboratories. The internet has now set them free. Where can they go? What is an ideal theoretical research environment? I think we need something like artist retreats, but for scientists.
It's not true that destinations attractive for tourists only became the place to do science in recent 20 years. Heisenberg has found his picture of quantum mechanics on Heligoland, a truly romantic island in the North Sea. The first superstring revolution of 1984 was announced in Aspen, Colorado. Famous schools would be taking place in Les Houches and lots of other attractive places near pretty mountains and sexy beaches.

But at the end, whatever the environment is, there is a difference between surfing (or other relaxing activities) and doing physics. The environment is ultimately secondary for everyone who does some serious research because he or she is focused on the work and its finest details. Nothing has really changed about those things in recent decades. Nothing has changed about the difference between solid science and pseudoscience, between robust content and hype, between actual progress and vacuous promises. And the previous sentence contains too many bad news for Garrett Lisi!

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snail feedback (44) :

reader Ann said...

So he thinks the Internet has set us free from the dusty old brick and mortar libraries/academies. If only that would remain true -- if the UN gets its way, totalitarian govenments can close off and censor whole chunks of the Internet. Obama seems to not care a gnat's ass about it, either.

OT: I wish TBBT would do an episode about a crackpot physicist - maybe that's how Sheldon decides to do String Theory again, after demolishing the crackpot's Theory of Nothing? (I haven't seen this season (8th) yet, so maybe they already coverd the topic.)

reader QsaTheory said...

Dear Lubos,
I meant to ask you this question for sometime now. It is often been said that we don't know what is the "principal" behind string theory as if QM or QFT have principles behind them which I don't see. Most theories are some assumptions and axioms either motivated or discovered formulas(trial and error ...etc). What is the principle behind QM for instance. So why is the big important "what is string theory" question at this stage of development?

reader Kimmo Rouvari said...

Does Lisi's crackpottery predict something new? or explain dark matter, dark energy, flyby anomalies, etc? I bet it doesn't.

reader Gordon said...

Good idea, Ann. Garret Lisi could appear in his Hawaiian shirt carrying his surf board. Then John (End of Physics) Horgan could interview Sheldon :) God, Horgan creates his own sitcom even without TBBT.
OT As a "liberal" (in Canada it isn't a code word for communist), my view of Obama has totally collapsed...at first I thought he just had the Hamlet syndrome---overrationalization and inability to make decisions... now, I think he is either a well-meaning puppet, or not nearly so nice as he seemed...Of course, I still think most of your Republican senators etc are, to use the PC language, "differently-abled".
IMO both parties are f$%ked.

reader Gordon said...

The biggest travesty is calling Horgan a "science journalist"...
""science terrorist" would be more appropriate.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Kimmo, it doesn't predict anything new and he is proud about it.

But that's not the problem. The problem is that the theory fails to predict many things that are *old*. ;-)

reader Luboš Motl said...

The word you probably meant - meaning a deep idea that has numerous diverse ideas as implications - is "principle". "Principal" is similar but it means something slightly differently, namely the director of a high school.

The principle behind quantum mechanics is the uncertainty principle, I would say rather clearly and unambiguously.

The ignorance about the corresponding principle behind string theory prevents us from studying string theory in the most extreme and general conditions such as those right after the Big Bang, or the initial conditions or the "global map of the landscape". Maybe it prevents us from understanding many other things as well - things we can't even describe by the words we know today.

These are answers to your questions but something in between the lines of your comment tells me that you didn't really want real answers - you wanted to confirm your misconceptions that answers don't exist and science doesn't make sense, didn't you?

reader Luboš Motl said...

Fun idea, Ann! ;-) I am sure that all the main boys in TBBT recognize a crackpot like that.

However, most of the viewers probably don't, so even if there were some hyped new guy who would discover that we live inside a hollow Earth or anything like that, the viewers would still be ambiguous about who is right and smarter and they wouldn't comprehend the concept of a crackpot.

reader Kimmo Rouvari said...

Nah, predicting something new is just a nice bonus. I just wanted to know how it is with Lisi's theory. No delusions here ;-)

reader Uncle Al said...

"chirality of the Standard Model fermions" Spin-1 massless photons and spin-1/2 massed fermions diverge. Opposite shoes violate the Equivalence Principle. Repair quantum gravitation and particle theory, Test spacetime geometry geometrically.

1) Geometric Eötvös experiment: 6.68×10^22 pairs of opposite shoes (pairs of 9-atom enantiomorphic unit cells) as 40 g of visually and chemically identical, single crystal test masses, P3(1)21 versus P3(2)21 α-quartz.

2) 17 mg single crystal test masses of P3(1)21 versus P3(2)21 benzil (opposite shoes) are simultaneously melted (into identical socks) in adjacent DSCs for enthalpies of fusion. Do opposite shoes vacuum embed with different energies?

3) de Laval vacuum supersonic expand racemic D_3-trishomocubanone to a ~1 kelvin molecular beam. Pass through a chirped-pulse FT μwave spectrometer for its high resolution rotational spectrum. Is there one spectrum or two? Perfect oblate rotor racemic hydrocarbon is viewed by high resolution Raman scattering.

45 years on paper cannot trump one day in a lab.

reader QsaTheory said...

Dear Lubos,

I have a Master's degree in EE ( the equations were basically advanced linear algebra), always been the top in my class. Our family business made a fortune(100 folds) by me introducing advanced mathematics in operations management. So I can't possibly be anti-science, besides I wouldn't be here in the first place and reading all these arXiv papers .


As for QM the axioms and the principles were established much later. Nobody came and said, oh look, we have the uncertainty so we must have QM. my understanding it was developed in stages with the black body, Bohr model ... etc. But I understand what you mean.

So let me follow up with this hypothetical question. If string theory was not discovered by chance how would you guess we would have arrived at it.

reader Ann said...

You are probably right, Lubos. Maybe for a general audience to get it, Sheldon and The Crackpot could be 'dueling it out' at a whiteboard, with Sheldon making appropriate, accurate and derisive verbal critiques of the other guy's equations. Instead of the Crackpot answering back with physics statements of his own, he consults his social media following on his smartphone and tells Sheldon that he has more followers on Twitter than Sheldon. Sheldon makes some choice remarks for that comment at which point the guy pulls out a fortune cookie and reads the fortune aloud to Sheldon, saying "It says I am right". Sheldon nods, with an enlightened expression o on his face and points to his own (Sheldon's) equations on the white board, and says, "Finally I understand where our area of disagreement lies. It's because what I do is physics and what you do is fortune cookie physics, a branch of cartoon physics' Crackpot looks puzzled and asks "what's cartoon physics?"

Sorry to ramble, just had to try something out.

reader Bill Ryson said...

LM used the word falsified.... ;) But seriously you can be a physicist sitting in a tree eating donuts. Academia is just a bunch of buildings. I understand the ridiculous level of personal, professional, and global politics that can go on there as well as all the drains on one's time so for some people it's best to do your work somewhere else. But point is that Lisi's theory was wrong. Calling Ed a dick doesn't make his theory any more correct.

reader BobSykes said...

I would happily watch that episode if the string babe pictured above were featured in it.

reader Magyar-vagyok? said...

Where did you get your Horty-story???

reader scooby said...

They are surfer babes, read the caption. I doubt string babes look even remotely like that.

reader Jason said...

It's a small world. In 1975 Evelyn Keller taught some unremarkable undergraduate math or physics course, I don't remember what exactly, that I had the misfortune of taking. She was a humorless crew-cutted man-hating feminist whose math skills were poor enough that she decided to concentrate instead on the history of science from a kooky left perspective.

reader Gene Day said...

You may not be anti-science, but your understanding of theoretical physics is juvenile.
I know high-school students with a deeper grasp of how science actually works.

reader Peter F. said...

I'm not sure that you didn't quantum-leap to a somewhat unfair conclusion about QsaTheory. ;-)

reader Luboš Motl said...

You're wrong. Just open images.google.com and type "string babes". There are various kinds of string babes - and the page of results will probably be dominated by G-string babes.

reader TomVonk said...

Yes you may. The account court (la Cour des Comptes) and the French budget.
In a more readable format for example :http://www.lefigaro.fr/conjoncture/2012/06/29/20002-20120629ARTFIG00476-ces-tres-cheres-associations.php

reader scooby said...

Thank you. I confess that I did not believe these numbers... Very interesting article,

reader Dilaton said...

Should the "End of science" Horgan not rather be called "End of popular science writing" / "End of science reporting" / "End of science journalism" Horgan?

I am not sure about how it is really him, who caused the end of good popular science reporting (where one could still learn something about the topics reported about instead of "enjoy" rants and attacks of incompetent but overreaching non-experts bullying the topics they want to "report" about and people working on them). Also, is there a point in time or an event that triggered the transition to the dark phase conserning popular science we hav today?

reader Nailtrail said...

I'm Hungarian, so definitely biased, but before calling me a whiny leftist, let me state that I'd like to see any politician with ties to the communist area until '89 removed from public offices and preferably in prison for treason against the country.

With that, I would argue with the tax reduction point. VAT was raised to the highest level in Europe (27%) during Orbán's reign and dozens of new taxes were introduced, covering all aspects of life. Overall, the taxation level of both citizens and companies are at a high level compared to Eastern European standards and it is on the rise. Just yesterday, the Hungarian government announced a new internet tax, at a rate of 0.5 Euro per GB.

Orbán is a very talented and charismatic politician, but don't be fooled by his freedom fighter rhetoric, all he's interested in is power. First he was a Young Communist League leader, then a Soros funded die hard liberal, then he suddenly switched to a citoyen oriented, conservative, EU compatible middle-right, and now he's oriented towards Russia, Iran and China, with all the signs of a petty authoritarian leader. Ordering the building of a 3500 seat football arena from public resources right next to his house in his home village of less then 2000 inhabitants, restructuring the country's sport budget so that his favorite football team could get more funding then all other sports combined, while selecting the worst faces from the country's communist past as his inner circle... There are many many such signs that he should rather be leading a Carribean island and befriending the likes of Chavez or Castro.

reader Orson OLSON said...

As a US reader of Hungarian descent, I am mystified at the demonization of Fidesz by the "chattering classes." It is as though only Politically Correct democracy is legitimate Democracy (whatever that is), these days. No variants allowed. Didn't Churchill correctly call it the worst system of government, save for all the rest?

reader Stephen KIng said...

Sadly, when no experimental evidence exist to completely falsify a theory, it can go on and on on the back of its devotees.

reader John Archer said...

Excellent, Tom. You've nailed the scum very nicely. NGOs constitute a vast parasitical/criminal enterprise of the highest order.

If I had my way no punishment or retribution would be too harsh for those involved with them.

reader Nailtrail said...

There's always a chance I misunderstood the post, but I'm afraid you have the very core of the problem wrong. You wrote that "Whether a Hungarian citizen has participated in corruption in Hungary is a matter that should be decided by the Hungarian courts." I can definitely agree with that, however, the entry ban is not just a response to general corruption in Hungary, it's actually two US companies that the Hungarian elite were trying to force into corruption, hence the strong reaction from their financially very muscular home country.

More specifically, it's been a few years that the US is aware of rampant tax evasion and organized crime in cooking oil trade business in Hungary, supposedly reaching high circles in the Hungarian elite and that's not really surprising, corruption in the leadership of the Hungarian tax authority is common knowledge. The US have offered training, resources and tools to combat this crime, but all that was turned down by the Hungarian government.

The final nail in the coffin, leading to the travel bans was when Bunge, one of the US companies in question was approached by people with strong ties to the Hungarian government, offering various legal and illegal market advantages, in exchange of about 8 million USD in "contribution" to some fake foundation. I think it's absolutely in the right of the US to deny access for the people involved.

PS1. Regarding NGOs, these are some very specific NGOs the government is fighting with some very dirty methods. Greenpeace and the like are free to operate just as before. The NGOs in question are all sponsored by a Norwegian foundation and as it turned out the backlash from the government only started after one of Orbán's strong men tried to cut a share from the money but was strongly resisted by Norway. This is just pity revenge, in line with the core attitude of Fidesz, that is to respond in overwhelming and deterrent force to any challenges to its power.

PS2. Hungarians coming from Mongolia is indeed grossly inaccurate by genetic origin and by thousands of kilometers in distance, as the original homeland is near the Uralic mountains, present day Russia. Not that it matters in the third millenium, as due to the turbulent centuries in Eastern Europe Hungarians genetic composition is mostly Slavic by now.

reader Luboš Motl said...

The verbal construction "officials were trying to force U.S. companies into corruption" sounds rather comically contrived. How can I "force" a company to bribe me? What does it even mean? And in what country one may be committing a crime just because his behavior may be read as "attempts to force someone into corruption"? It makes no sense.

Also, your comments that some $8 million for organizations is at stake is comical given the fact that the U.S. government has paid $5 billion, with a letter B at the beginning, just to the organizations working to overthrow the legitimate government of Ukraine. Surely you agree that even if the funding in the Hungarian case was as sick qualitatively as the Ukrainian one, which it's surely not, it's still 400 times smaller, isn't it? Even if some $8 million contracts within Hungary were non-kosher, it's surely not a sufficient justification to cripple the foreign policy capabilities of a whole country by U.S. entry bans.

reader Nailtrail said...

Yeah, well, forced into corruption was indeed words not well chosen, but English is not my primary language, and you know what I was trying to say, picking on semantics is not a fair discussion tactic :)

There's no $8 million at stake for organizations. $8 million was just the asking price in one of the bribery attempts by Hungarian officials.

Anyway, I'll just stick to your awesome physics posts and will keep jumping over the political ones just as I've done before :)

reader QsaTheory said...

Gene, I don't know what has prompted you make such an aggressive statement, especially we had no exchange of any kind together. I do admit that I am nothing near a professional theoretical physicist and I never claimed to be. My knowledge is modest, it is correlated with how much time I spend studying, but it will help if you tell me a specific gripe that you have with my knowledge. What is "deeper grasp of how science actually works"?

Sorry for being polite, I feel dirty if I talk otherwise.

reader gtm said...

In the words of Lisi: "it would be better if you weren't a dick about it."

reader Magyar Ember said...

all these things are pretty much true and I could mention "excuses" for most of it but I wont. I simply don't find these very important issues or very disturbing interpretations.

But I still remain to believe that he is and will be remembered as a Hungarian freedom fighter, and he is the only politician who clearly agrees that Hungary's foreign relations shouldbe more pragmatic as in reality our "friends" mostly don't really give shit about us.

Only a seriously deluded leftists would think for example that the US of A gives the slightest care to our people as long as their interests are well served. And that's exactly what Gyurcsány did: served foreign interests for good press and political relations in the EU and US. and we are sick of it.

And while we are at it would you at least agree that the current "corruption" allegation scandal is a unacceptable intrusion in our domestic matters, abuse of power among allies, and intimidation against questioning the American foreign policy?

reader Magyar Ember said...

I have to apologize i was wrong. these two are strictly government controlled indeed. I think these are bad policy choices that should not have happened, and I hope that these will be reverted.

btw, are you suggesting that tobaccoo has a non-negligible black market? I am reluctant to believe this. I think most of the sales drop is caused by actual decrease in consumption. I see it just in my family and friends many stop smoking, and public attitude to smoking is shifting from "its cool" to "its for homeless people".

We think it is the governments responsibility to discourage unproductive or self-destructive behavior, you may call it socialist, but it is not too socialist. Even Gyurcsány agrees that Fidesz is doing good on smoking.

If you are a smoker i really did not mean to offend you, i try to live healty too but i don't, and i have nothing against people who live unhealthily in different ways than me. cheers.

reader Liam said...

It's true that the tax burden is still ridiculously high and the level of commensurate meaningful investment in public infrastructure shockingly low due to corruption and mis-spending. The overall reduction in both ills when compared with the previous MSZVP administration was still significant enough to act as a private sector windfall however. This has allowed the sometimes impressive, sometimes comical and sometimes tragic tightrope walk we've witnessed in the last 5 years to take place. VAT was already high to begin with. But now, I think they're running out of rope.

This internet tax business is so nuts, I don't even know where to start! It seems so badly thought through, I'm rather skeptical that it's actually going to turn out to be implementable. Ok, so corporations will be able to offset it against their tax bill, but what about start-ups, academics involved in transmission of big-data and any other number of legitimate high-volume users with no such tax bill to offset?

If this measure to return Hungary to the modem-age goes through, it's going to have a huge chilling effect on Hungary as an emerging tech-centre and turn out to be deeply unpopular. I post a high-res picture to your facebook wall from abroad, you check your updates and you get to pay?! No more free wifi in libraries and cafes etc etc?

We'll see if this stands...

reader Liam said...

No offence taken! It wasn't about my personal habits anyway, I was just curious about the situation when I saw the changes go through, and I think that given the public health aspect, the tobacco issue can certainly be legitimately argued to be a special case.

I don't really know much about black market tobacco beyond rumours to be honest, so I can't really back up my bold claim...

I certainly hope that consumption has indeed decreased! Szervusz :)

reader Magyar Ember said...

In highschool history class. To be fair i have to add the "zsidótörvényeket" (jew-laws(?)) that Lubos mentioned. these were discriminating against jewish people, but I don't find them any more outrageous than the current proposed or in some places implemented analogous feminist laws. So these methods are not unanimously considered criminal, its just a fashion that discriminating men is less wrong than discriminating jewish people.

I still consider the jew-laws wrong, but not really comparable to Nazi leaders war crimes. Interestingly in discussions about Germans, never arises the stigma that they may have possibly "collaborated" with the nazis, its only for us, regardless of the fact that Horty indeed refused to exterminate the jewish population.

We often get the criticism that Hungary was the country where the Holocaust was the one of the "fastest" but they fail to add that it is because we refused to do it ourselves*, in order for it to happen we had to be occupied by a country known for being very well organized among other things...

*yes ethnically Hungarian people participated under German occupation and I am ashamed and sad for this, but it was not Horty, and therefore he while have introduced some extremely non-PC(or shall I say extremely PC?...) laws, in my eyes he does not deserve to be called a "fascist leader".

reader Magyar Ember said...

I agree but two things:

1.Hungarians have a very widespread and unfortunate culture of not taking laws especially taxes seriously.

The root of this is that under Socialist lead it was us, the people against them the government. It was almost an achievement to fool the commies and we were quite open about it maybe the most open in the socialist block. (You should definitely watch sometime the satire move "tanú"(The Witness (1969)) with your Hungarian friends portraying our attitude towards the socialist authorities we consider it a very fun movie, because it is very true). Anyway thats the root of us having now a very serious tax evasion problem, many just don't see it as a big deal. This is one of the reasons I support the Orbán government introducing the income tax to quite low flat 16% and increase the sales tax from 25% to 27% , that is extreme, but can be collected from every business, not just honest ones. It much better encourages lawful business practices, and we will not have to hear bitter entrepreneurs complaining that you have to evade taxes to remain competitive. Now it is much harder to be unlawful.

As the tax-evasion culture hopefully fades, i expect and demand my government to reduce and align the tax system to other European countries to reduce the benefits of "offshoring"

2. I consider the internet tax idea to be fundamentally
wrong and also very high. I find it unlikely that they will implement it as it is proposed now. They should reduce welfare especially retirement pension if the govt is out of money, but believe it or not the Hungarian media have really forced them in the corner before the elections shouting constantly that extreme austerity measures will be required to maintain relatively low deficit. (Thats right! if you don't speak Hungarian, it would be the last thing for you to believe that the (vast) majority of the media pay lip service to the opposition. )

reader Magyar Ember said...

So it is exposed how ridiculous thoughts you are fed by well financed opposition news sources, and your response: you put your head in the sand.

Well sir/madam you have every right to do so, but when some "activist" or news agency suggest you that you are entitled to your own Maidan putsch to put power behind your delusions you shall remember that you have seen warning signs that you might be used as a tool, but you refused even the first steps to carefully consider your "opinion".

I will do everything in my power(not much) to save my country from a civil war being fought for foreign interests.

but seriously, if a person skips politics i would expect him to do it consistently not just claim it when he does not make sense.

reader Liam said...

Ah yes, "Tanú" - I've heard of it! It's been recommended to me by friends over here, I'll make sure to find some time to watch it.

I'm personally also very amenable to the idea of VAT as a fairer, more efficient and proportional means of taxation on consumption and economic activity than you get with the controversial, loop-hole prone and bureaucratic sliding-scales of income tax, (which also always end up being unfavourably compared to taxes on passive income, bonuses and asset sales such as capital gains tax etc, which are universally lower than income tax in every country for no better reason than that the wealthy lobby for it to be that way.)

One of the problems with corporate, capital gains and income style taxes is that they can be avoided by small scale/grey outfits who stay under the radar and by large scale outfits who can afford an army of lobbyists and tax lawyers, and it's the middle that gets squeezed and asked to shoulder the burden. VAT doesn't suffer from this problem.

A high-tax high tax-evasion scenario is a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation and as you say, there is a long way to go to break the viscous circle over here.

Turns out this internet tax thing is a storm-in-a-teacup as we say in the UK. Some old guys in the treasury didn't really quite understand what they were proposing, and the public backlash over here right now is enormous... the government is already backing down, ha ha! (And thank goodness.)

reader Magyar Ember said...

Also that $8 million is only an allegation, and if my memory serves right, it is not even made by the USofA, just a self-declared anti-corruption hero who admitted not having any evidence, which reduces it to a speculation.

The empire basically said they own us and we don't have the right to ask for explanation it is "corruption and/or benefit from corruption" period. So the left-liberal media went ahead and started cheering and producing excuses for Obama.

reader John Archer said...

I think, more generally, NGOs are a major component of this thing the politicos have come these days to label as civil society™, an horrendous euphemism intended to conjure up in the minds of the great unwashed masses mental associations with something like "upright, dedicated and responsible sections of the citizenry".

The politicos are very keen on this civil society meme and holding consultations with it. It gives the strong impression that they are listening™ to the people. [Never mind that a lot of the time there is no such people, no such demos — something which they are very keen to gloss over in order to prevent any discussion of. But that's another thing.]

The other acceptable™ components include almost exclusively noisy leftard activists, zealots and opinionators of one kind or another answerable to no one, or racially/religiously challenged community leaders™, also answerable to no one, or at least no white man.

I'm no social taxonomist so there might be others. If there are, it doesn't change anything — these will have a high negative score on the wholesomeness scale too. That's all that counts, and it's guaranteed.

Actual civil society doesn't get a look in. But then that's the whole point.

reader Lisi/Smoli Calls Witten a Dick said...

Circa 2007, Lee Smolin, Sabine Hossenfelder, and Peter Woit ushered in the era of "science (pseudoscience) via lies, hype, and deceit." Today they are taking it further down by ushering in the era "physics via profanity" wherein they call respected senior physicists such as Ed Witten "Dicks."

Firstoff, all four--Woit/Smolin/Bee/Lisi--are utterly failed physicists. And that is why they have to engage in name-calling, ad hominem attacks (calling Ed Witten a "Dick"), and vile, base behavior--the sort of profane, hype-driven behavior that Scientific American and its favorite useful idiot John Horgan love and profit off of. Were it not for the blogosphere, we would have never known Lisi/Bee/Smolin/Woit's names, as they are naught but empty hype created to drive tweets and traffic to unscrupulous media companies which exalt in namecalling and profanity, and thus favor those who call others "Dicks."

This is the kind of language and dialogue that Lee Smolin, Peter Woit, Sabine Hossenfelder, and Garrett Lisi are using to degrade and destroy physics, and recreate it in their own sordid, debased, failed image:

"However, even the most enlightened foresight from the most brilliant mind can be wrong, so it would be better if he (Dr. Edward Witten) wasn’t a dick about it." --Garrett Lisi at http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/2014/10/20/surfer-physicist-garrett-lisi-offers-alternative-to-string-theoryand-academia/

The Lee Smolin, Sabine Hossenfelder, Peter Woit, Garret Lisi team of failure thinks that calling professional, award-winning physicists "dicks" is the best way to advance science.

reader SabineSmolinWoitLisi said...

The science of Lee Smolin, Sabine Hossenfelder, and Peter Woit consists of these stages whose goal is to create an entirely hype-based wikipedia (Lisipedia) page to mislead the public, while engaging in profanity and calling Ed Witten "a Dick:"

1. Hype a non-theory and asinine gibberish to the popular press as "fabuous."

2. Fan the flames of the nuclear media assault in numerous follow up comments, interviews, blog posts, and hoax papers.

3. Violently attack and personally smear any detractors in a purely ad hominen manner.

4. Collect the nuclear media fallout for the hoax paper and stitch it together as anonymous sockpuppets on wikipedia (Lisipedia).

5. Deny any involvement, even when the press has documented all the lying, hyping quotes straight from Smolin's mouth.

6. Call Ed Witten "a Dick."

7. Let the massive wikipedia page centered around a Smolin financed hoax, filled with pure Smolin hype, mislead the public so as to feed the massive egoes of Woit/Smolin/Bee/Lisi.