Archive for June 17, 2012

Do you like to spread rumors?

Everyone is excited about the coming ICHEP conference and what will be shown by CMS and ATLAS concerning the search for the standard model Higgs boson. It is hard to be patient, and the urge to indulge one’s curiosity and to speculate without bound is hard to control.

One must ask, though: is it really OK to spread rumors?

The main rumor-monger these days is Peter Woit at Not Even Wrong — a formerly excellent blog that in recent months sometimes seems more devoted to scandal and gossip than to education. You can read there that ATLAS and CMS are seeing “about 4 sigma” in the H→γγ channel. Peter’s statements were quickly echoed over on viXra log and even Tommaso Dorigo posted an elliptical entry on Quantum Diaries. I’m sure other blogs are posting rumors – I am too lazy to go look for them now.

As a member of the CMS Collaboration, I know precisely what we have. But my loyalty remains with my collaboration, especially the people who are working right now to carry out the analysis and verify the results, as well as to the people at the top who have to chart strategy and make difficult decisions. A little splash in a blog is not worth the bother it would cause all these people.

I don’t mean to sound sanctimonious. I am just stating who I am and what choice I have made. Other people obviously make other choices, for all sorts of reasons. The education of the interested public is essential and I applaud those who do it well. The desire to get off of high horses and to step out of ivory towers is good and I value that, too.

But where does one draw the line? At what point does a blogger make a transition from expressing his/her enthusiasm, and explaining something to the general reader, toward increasing ratings and readership of his/her blog? Maybe I am too straight-laced, hailing from New England, while others prefer to hang loose. I guess the only thing to say is, as one says in this part of the world : vive la différence!

June 17, 2012 at 2:47 pm 15 comments


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