Friday, May 11, 2012

Tommaso Dorigo, cMSSM, and demagogy

Tommaso Dorigo has driven me up the wall by a demagogic article about SUSY, MSSM, and cMSSM, and so have his stupid readers. That has occurred despite the fact that he has already written about a hundred of such dishonest rants.

Because it seems that the Italians weren't sufficiently beaten by us today yet, let me copy my reactions over here.

By the way, tomorrow, Pilsen's soccer team is playing the Czech Gambrinus soccer league's final match against Liberec and it just happened that whoever wins will be the winner of the league! Sparta Prague has been gone for one round. A tie means that Pilsen loses; a victory means that "we" defend the title (with the same score but better mutual matches).

OK, back to the PIGS' propaganda:
Dorigo: The cMSSM is a very attractive "minimal" option to extend the Standard Model with a minimal addition of parameters (still, quite a few, as in any Supersymmetric theory). Its appeal lies in the fact that one may basically study the resulting predicted phenomenology by just investigating five crucial parameters.
LM: This is a very superficial, intrinsically unscientific, lousy mode of reasoning about Nature. Nature doesn't give a damn whether it's easy for us to find or verify Her conjectures or theories. They're as hard for us as they are and if we find them hard, it's our problem. Things that are "attractive" for lazy folks aren't necessarily the same things that are "attractive" for those who are searching for the truth about Nature and who are willing to think carefully and work hard in order to achieve the goal.

In other words, you are saying that we should only look for our keys beneath the lamppost. But they don't have to be there, especially not if you require that it's the particular lamppost that you decided to worship at a random moment for a random would-be reason, usually (and in this case) a reason that was chosen because it can be used for a demagogic argument defending your flawed preconceptions.

So reducing the number of parameters by considering subspaces of parameter spaces may simplify someone's life but it's surely not a way to achieve a theory that's more likely or more profound or more motivated than others. In particular, cMSSM has been close to excluded for a year or so. But its fate is extremely far from being representative of the fate of SUSY. Even within the MSSM, cMSSM is simply not the state-of-the-art region that is investigated and the MSSM itself isn't the representative of the state-of-the-art SUSY phenomenology at all.

Some people knew that cMSSM wasn't an excessively natural or motivated slice of the parameter space, others didn't. At any rate, the experiments show that the first group probably had a point.

Superficial texts such as yours are the reason why people end up with utterly irrational opinions about science. It starts with assumptions that are known to be wrong or at least misleading both for theoretical reasons as well as experimental reasons, then it unsurprisingly derives some "surprises", and makes a big deal out of these "surprises" that wouldn't exist if your text were not all about your stupid assumptions and misconceptions.
Dorigo: The paper is nice because it keeps the discussion at a reasonably simple level, and it gives no previous knowledge for granted. You therefore may know nothing about SUSY and read it back to back without trouble.
LM: It is equally pernicious for you to suggest that a reader may end up with an informed opinion about the status (and viability) of cMSSM or MSSM or SUSY by reading a mediocre paper even if the reader knew nothing about SUSY to start with. This is really a hardcore populist nonsense and I think that you must know very well that what you wrote is a lie.

Readers who don't study SUSY at least for 20 hours - after they learned QFT to a reasonable extent -  have no chance to end up with an informed opinion about the state of SUSY. After all, not even you are anywhere close to be able to make up an informed opinion about particular SUSY models, their relative importance, or even about the fate of SUSY itself which is much deeper a question - one that depends on the breadth of one's knowledge - than comparing a particular model to the data. You have virtually no chance and your generic readers' chance is smaller by several extra orders of magnitude. 

At most, what you can achieve is to map SUSY to their communist conspiracy theories about the mortgage crisis - greetings to Hontas Farmer - an "analogy" that most dogs can think of without reading your stupid demagogic blog, too.
"SpringTheorist": This as you put it "very superficial, intrinsically unscientific, lousy mode of reasonin" is called Occam's razor.
LM: Well, even if this were an example of Occam's razor, it wouldn't be in conflict with the fact that it is superficially, lousy, and intrinsically unscientific mode of reasoning. Ockham wasn't a scientist; he was a theologian and Franciscan friar in the dark ages, centuries before science was born, so if you are assuming that everything he wrote must be dogmatically viewed as a pillar of science, you should visit your psychiatrist again.

Equally importantly, picking cMSSM out of MSSM or even out of SUSY model building is obviously not an example of Occam's razor, not even according to the original quote which was
Pluralitas non est ponenda sine neccesitate
which means something like "the diversity of concepts shouldn't be inflated unless it's necessary", if I give it a somewhat more rigorous modern meaning.

First of all, MSSM doesn't introduce any new concepts that are not included in cMSSM so it is not increasing the "plurality" at all. Second of all, even more importantly and at any rate, much like Einstein when he authored his quote about simplicity, Ockham was very careful in saying "unless it is necessary". When we talk about the MSSM parameter space, it obviously *is* necessary to go outside cMSSM - for many reasons, including the reason that the cMSSM slice has been largely excluded, unlike the MSSM parameter space.

In fact, one could argue that according to Wikipedia, your usage of Occam's razor is upside down. The first sentence of the definition says that theories making "fewest assumptions" are preferred. But cMSSM makes a *greater* number of assumptions than MSSM. In particular, it has the extra *constraints* which are, you know, additional assumptions. That's also why the name of cMSSM is longer and more contrived than the name of MSSM, you know. So Occam's razor really favors MSSM over cMSSM.

Tommaso's hardcore populist articles of the type "you may understand everything about SUSY if you've never studied it as long as you read a low-brow review article" only help to make arrogant uneducated and intellectually defective idiots such as "SpringTheorist" even more arrogant.

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