THE BOGUS DISCOVERY OF WILCZEK, POLITZER AND GROSS, LESSON 3

LESSON 3: Statistics schmatistics!

Let us go back and examine the three amigos’ diagram again, now from another point of view. They claim a great statistical fit of their theory to the data, and the gods on Mount Kirunavaara endorse this strongly.

Yet, if you look at the measurement data in a simpleminded way, there are two locations where clear data trends are indicated that are locally different from the main trend. This is not statistical scatter, not to anyone with firsthand knowledge of measuring and processing data. These are real and present features of the data set, needing urgent attention. I was the one to point this out years ago.

My country cousin Bhombol has helped by applying his all-powerful felt-tip pen to this situation as well.

We now have three possibilities:

1. This could still be statistical scatter, but to establish this one needs to acquire more data points in the region of interest. But this was not done, was it?

2. These features are artifacts of measurement. In that case, the entire data set is suspect.

3. These features reflect some underlying physics. This means the investigation remains wide open

In sum, there is no way in God’s green Earth that anyone can say “This is the correct theory.” If you say this is a good theory or a great theory, then, fine. But when you say it is a discovery, I say it is a bogus discovery.

Finally, in Lesson 1 I said that in going up against tough mathematical physicists and atom-smashing experimenters, you should choose your own weapon rather than fight on their terms. What is your weapon in this case? [Hint: What did cousin Bhombol use?]

That completes the coursework. Exams are in a week. Closed book.

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