the 'islamic' time standardization institute

For those of you who does not know the reknowned turkish novel writer ahmet hamdi tanpınar and his witty work the time regulation institute, the joke in the title of our yet again turkish plagiarism story, will be lost.

in his famous book tanpınar criticises the superficial hence ala turca attempts of modernization via the all too important 'time regulation institute' and the story of the individuals who use the time regulation concepts to further their personal agenda.

well it finally happened. and sometimes reality is stranger and funnier than fiction.

mustafa helvacı, an astronomer in ankara university starts working in the religion ministry in turkey as an astronomer, since prayer time regulation is very important and one of the main tasks of the ministry: 'the standardisation of prayer times and calendars.' later he used his internal knowledge and possible contracts to acquire a scholarship for research on 'the orbital motion of moon.'

but apparently he used the money to conduct his own research on circumstellar dust around asymptotic giant branch stars. 4 years later in 2001 he came back to turkey supposing he got his degree on the 'moon orbits,' and for some reason he later got another degree in astronomy from his department on dust around AGB stars in 2003.

funny part is he has been personal advisor to former minister current president abdullah gül, and he continued his work in various government institutions due to his connections with the rising islamist party.

it was published on an article today on the 'republican' (read opposition to the islamists in turkey) newspaper. it mentions, the majority of the work is in web and have been done by the astronomers. i could not find the actual reference but i will get to the bottom of it. i will not be surprised that it was an astronomer collective action.

anyhow here is helvacı's information in ankara university website, from his kentucky connection and research papers in ads.


neuroquantology - or - here comes a new challenger

after our (as the people's physicists front) yarman triumph through wiki deletion and witnessing the unfolding of the anılır story it was time for a new target, a new challenge. and our wishes were fulfilled without further ado. behold:


as my fellow physicist comrades point out the necessity of violent physical force against the bullshit users of the term "quantum" we are set out to find and ridicule relevant bullshit. like quantum leadership or quantum therapy. in between the penis size increase google ads, some kind of personal help book pops out of the white noise with some kind of scientific reference.

we of course know the fringes which relate consciousness with quantum processes which are even worse than the gravitation fringes which only are interested in the physics theories. the reason being, when the bullshit theories diffuse to the scientific area concerned with human issues, the applications of the relevant bullshit to real life situations become immense hence the possibility to infect and effect the society is considerable. but nothing would have prepared us for the horror of a journal in citation index.

first of all meet the person behind the scene, doctor sultan tarlacı. he is a medical doctor of neurology working in our lovely city of izmir, at a private hospital. he is a writer of many books and operator of a blog called quantum brain (kuantumbeyin) which is a "best of" assembly of bullshit buzzwords including but not only constrained to: quantum, psi, parapsychology, neurophilosophy. he also publicizes his books on brain, psychology and quantum physics and seems to have gathered some following due to his exotic assortment of topics.

there is nothing wrong up to this point. but when the jokes stop being a joke and the feyerabendian distopic scientific practice (=proliferation of the "truth value" of a topic through propaganda and public relations) starts to be applied for this pseudo scientific discourse then the line needs to be drawn. it turns out neuroquantology is not just a bullshit topic in a blog but a editor reviewed journal.

as good rationalist physicists we disseminated the bullshit and appropriately ridiculed it on friendfeed. but the funny thing is, apparently our dear doctor googles himself hence paid us a visit and even made us famous in his blog by answering our allegations and linking to our friendfeed topic!

the title is "the brain impaired are squeezing for fat in a fly," referring to a turkish proverb.

nevertheless he made us so happy that, rather than answering to him in friendfeed we decided to put our allegations here, also in english, to start up disillusioning the not only the current status of quantology but also the thompson-reuters which put the journal to the list.

anyhow; tarlacı's rebuttals of our allegations are irrelevant and amusing at best: ranging from his test scores as a medical student, to sadly not being able to make money from "his new paradigm." but the most disturbing ones are first, as formerly mentioned the isi indexing of neuroquantology which is a long topic that i will go into detail; and secondly the inclusion of nobel laureate brian david josephson in their editorial board. according to tarlaci's logic, josephson's existence in their journal should prove the scientific nature of it.

for the uninformed; josephson is won the nobel prize in physics (1973) for his work on condensed matter when he was 33 (24 according to tarlacı), and then later he moved onto more greener pastures, i.e. mind–matter unification project. this sudden shift to more speculative topics, led him to multiple ordeals like being banned from arXiv for a while to being the target of scientists for supporting pseudoscience in royal mail's nobel stamp series.

"Josephson believes that psychics and telepaths may be able to direct random energy at sub-atomic levels for their own purposes, and in the commemorative stamp booklet writes that developments in information and quantum theories 'may lead to an explanation of processes still not understood within conventional science, such as telepathy'. It is not a suggestion that has gone down well with fellow Nobel laureates, however."

in this piece i don't want to condone any scientist of any stature; but i just want to point out that one should evaluate the scientific value of a proposal on the basis of the argument, not on the basis of who said it, what is the former accomplishments of the person. from this respect, the arguments and interests of josephson is not currently accepted by the rest of the scientific community. call it orthodoxy or not, unfortunately this is peer review. a concept that neuroquantology journal does not have.

having said all this, actually josephson himself also voiced concerns about the publication quality of the journal neuroquantology for the case of a paper which explained poltergeist activity as a quantum effect. his response to the new scientist was "this looks distinctly flaky to me."

so we decide to evaluate neuroquantology (which tarlaci refers to as "my journal"), on the basis of its contents, not based on whether thomson-reuters listed it in citation index or on your editors (who find the papers inside "distincly flaky" by the way), but evaluate them on their contents. and the final resolution is they are an intellectual pollution to the scientific commons, just ingullible accumulation of bullshit buzzwords, written with the style and sophistication of a first year engineering student taking a class on philosophy.

we will continue our quest to find and ridicule the NQ papers, to exemplify how bad it is to leave the decision of what science is and is not at the hands of cooperations like thomson-reuters.

here are some of my current favorites.

* A Game-Theoretic Approach to Metaphysical Reconciliation of Quantum Superposition
* A Neuroquantologic Approach to How Human Thought Might Affect the Universe
* A Robotic Program that Acquires Concepts and Begins Introspection


serkan anılır, an update

remember anılır? the astronaut candidate polymath, the man of many talent who lost his PhD? he also lost his job at the Tokyo University after it was discovered that he also falsified his CV.

meaning; he forged his documents concerning his graduation from istanbul technical university and illinois institute of technology. here is the google translated japanese news article and the university press release.


serkan anılır - portrait of a young scientist as a fraud -

this entry comes from a draft from last year october:

as we sit in a busy cafe which is renowned by its cakes with the fellow heidelbergers and sip our coffee, our friend claudia, with a voice uncontrolled, tells us what she realized about publicity of science. everybody become suddenly silent and look at us. she cracks up in awkwardness.

another person who is not afraid to spit out bullshit (more precisely lies) in public and profit from it is serkan anılır. i have mentioned him in a former post and at that time in sourtimes. but things turned out to be worse than i thought.

let's back up a bit: anılır is an architect in tokyo university, which currently works in a project called infra-free, meaning infrastructure free buildings. but more importantly he regularly appears in the contemporary media, both in japan and turkey as the:

space elevator guru,
jaxa (japanese space agency) department leader,
astronaut candidate,
scientist with awards,
writer, educator, entertainer, enterpreneur etc.

but he and his career came under questioning by a group of online people. of course i need to mention myself and my post in turkish sourtimes, but more importantly a group of japanese interested people realized the importance of the situation and started a blog only dedicated to our researcher anılır. i was contacted through my post here and my sourtimes entry, and i witnessed as the thing unveiled.

it seemed his lies about his past exceeded paid bullshit awards, fake papers nowhere to be found and talk materials full of plagiarized material but also included a photoshopped picture of himself in an astronauts suit in the children's book he wrote.

he retaliated in his blog that this picture was a joke that got out of hand and he was going to reply to the allegations.

that never happened.

funny thing is right now that post is currently deleted which can be found in sourtimes.

even worse the japanese bloggers sent a big package to tokyo university with their findings. the investigations started on december and they ended this month (march). and for the first time in the university history a phd was annuled (see google translated japanese press release, and an english news)

this is a great day for the university and science, it more so because it underlines the importance of the common people's (translated people outside university) participation in it. not the academia, not the media, not the public, not the government (which funded him) and not even the tokyo university itself discovered it, but rather a group of japanese bloggers, getting partly help from turkish volunteers made this happen.

we are at a time of transformation, a transformation of not only communication but a paradigma shifting, revolution pending, change of means of production. don't think that i am extrapolating too much. as the information was commodified starting from 60s and used as a means of profit; now it is time to free it for the people.

the classical institutions which control the information and the people who take advantage of them through the titles and the credibility that are given are bound to be replaced by a more equal and efficient way of information production: that is the effort of a web community that can access the information freely, and share and proliferate it collaboratively.

p.s.: by the way turkish news channels were pretty quick to pick up on the story. here is a nice recap from december.


corrupting germany through history of islamic astronomy

turkey is a great experiment of and case study for modernism in early twentieth century. i think "the little prince" is a book that is translated to most languages, and it perfectly captures the zeitgeist, with a footnote on turkish modernism. the asteroid of the little prince is discovered by a turkish astronomer but western audiences do not believe him due to his clothing, till a turkish dictator makes a law for clothing and with the switch of clothing the turkish astronomers ideas suddenly become acceptable (check it out yourself).

This asteroid has only once been seen through the telescope. That was by a Turkish astronomer, in 1909. On making his discovery, the astronomer had presented it to the International Astronomical Congress, in a great demonstration. But he was in Turkish costume, and so nobody would believe what he said.

Grown-ups are like that...

Fortunately, however, for the reputation of Asteroid B-612, a Turkish dictator made a law that his subjects, under pain of death, should change to European costume. So in 1920 the astronomer gave his demonstration all over again, dressed with impressive style and elegance. And this time everybody accepted his report.

for me this is a perfect example about how the perception of science as empirical, rational and progressive is misplaced. the current problems of science of course is not effected by things like dress code but rather community connections due center periphery relations, which puts the scientists of peripherial countries into a disadvantageous positions.

a bold proposition coming from a well respected western scientist is more likely to be accepted in the scientific community, rather than it coming from an outsider.

this shows there is a certain aspect of habitus culture in the community of science, to form collaborations and apply for grants, we abide by unwritten rules of communication. although it creates hindrances for the outsiders, it is not by itself such a bad thing but rather a fact.

as a scientist who wants to change the sexist and racist practices of science, and destroy the market oriented transformation aspect of it, my solution is to show the cultural aspect of science and learning science.

ok, my rationalizations are sometimes an overkill i admit. here is what i am doing as a practice, i will be giving a talk in mannheim (which supposedly has the most fraction of inhabitants with turkish background) and a giving a talk in the planetarium about history of islamic science.

it is called islamic science, since back at those days there were no nations and the culture was dominated by islam, the language of science was arabic. science was conducted intercontinentally, and most importantly the switch from greek idealism to empiricism happened during middle age, in an islamic geography.

i believe, like the change of our clothes, the switch in language was made in hopes of a paradigmatic shift in the minds of the masses, in effect only caused us to be severed from our history. the history of science we learn is written by west, completely disregarding the middle age transition from ancient greek concepts to enlightenment. in our history islam is disdained as backward and dogmatic.

it might be, but only the institution of the religion; not the culture of it, which included all colors of heterodoxy, and richness of literature, science and logic; even literary analysis of kur'an.

in summary i will talk about vahdeti mevcut as a basis form empirical research, i will talk about geometry, spherical trigonometry, first analog computers and more importantly the attempts to topple ptolemaic universe.

racism in europe, sexual discrimination in university

i met a turkish astronomer yesterday. she'll be here for a year for a research project. it was not so hard for her to find me, since my name is out there and here i am bothering people by sending group mails for organizations. through the foggy and snowy landscape around the observatory i found my way to her building and we sat down for a while.

i was happy to meet another astronomer, sometimes i am jealous of my italian colleagues who can discuss their problems in their own language. one of them says it does not matter because the terms are english. i believe learning and discussing science in mother tongue is a hindrance we learn and practice the language of the master, we are stripped off of our culture and ability to express ourselves. one language as the international language might be practical but in everyday life usage the cultural particularities which defines us as a person is lost in the translation and the language spoken between colleagues is an empty receptacle for information transfer not a profound communication tool. that's why we are speaking a language with english grammar with italian and german words.

anyhow the reason i go through this is to explain the fact that my positive response of meeting another turkish astronomer was something personal and practical not ideological.

as opposed to an unknown max planck institute worker, who said "you are the first turkish astronomer in max planck," during a visit.

i would have understood if he said, "you are the first turkish person working here," which she was not. i wonder do they tell our swedish colleague, you are the first swedish student coming here. will they care if they had a norwegian postdoc, pointing out the exoticity of it.

i don't think so and this is not just pointing out an objective fact. facts are things we notice, as they pass through our filter of prejudices.

let me sketch it out for you, a female turkish astronomer is a positive thing because it means "we" are raising ourselves up from our backward stance. this is coming from a male professor who works in a country with currently one (in number: 1) female professor in astronomy.

it is well known that the fractions of female scientist in engineering and natural sciences in western, scientific central countries are far below the levels of greece, turkey and india. researchers are puzzled. i read this fact before but here is the words of wendy williams concerning the book they edited "why aren't more women in science?" :

The single most surprising finding was how much better women in some countries perform on math tests as compared to men in the United States and Canada! For Steve Ceci, the most surprising finding was that countries not known for their egalitarian attitudes toward women (for example, Turkey) produce more women computer scientists than do countries thought to be more modern and egalitarian (for example, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom).
i know for a fact that only in ankara the total number of female professors of astronomy is higher than whole germany. this is not considering the departments in istanbul, izmir, çanakkale and antalya.

i am not suggesting that turkey is doing "good science," after all we are at the periphery of science. but it shows where science is the science as we know it creates less female scientist, due to the competitive male aggressive aspect of it. in the center of science, doing good science not only means personal prestige but also means power through big projects and funds.

luckily enough last week there was a nature article about a relevant research that points out that american female astronomy graduate students suffer from "impostor syndrome" more than male phds. meaning they doubt their potential and scientific prowess more than their male counterparts. just to briefly give a cause it is due to the aggressive way of male communication (here i just quote my socialist feminist friends) that dominates the scientific research in which we need to present our results sweeping over the problematic analysis details and "hide" the shortcomings of our approach. there is no flexibility or space for doubt during a presentation, we give a complete, consistent and contingent picture and everybody claps, curtain closes.

another aspect is the so called cultural issue. maybe culturally turkey is not egalitarian (if we consider the female parliament members and violence against women) but institutionally is far ahead of germany in terms of class and sex diversity in higher education (i will write about this extensively later), to explain the institutional discrimination one only need to look at the current discussions about the law which plans to give money to stay at home mothers as opposed to subsidizing the kindergartens which are running out of space for children. this law will condemn women of germany to their homes, rather than to pursue a career, if they ever want to have a family. even worse this is done in the name of in christian values and concept of family.

let's be real, the west still has a long way to go to achieve equality. even worse, some of the rights that have been gained are thinned out. if a male scientist wants to pursue his career, moving from one city to another every 2-3 years till he gets a permanent position, it is more likely that he will find a stay at home partner, or a partner who would sacrifice her future for her family. the situation is far from symmetric for female scientists.

in summary, hell yes we have female astronomers in turkey. if as a professor you are happy for "my people" that we have a visiting female astronomer, and you think you are concerned about the equality of sexes in science, do us a favor and fix your own environment. push your government for egalitarian laws, and change the way western science is done.

to finish, i want to quote roman; a fun, loud and exteremely colorful astronomer colleague, "at least he did not say, you will be last turkish astronomer in max planck!"


racism in europe, an introduction

a very bold title after all this time that i was absent. apparently the people who are the closest to me do not recognize the daily banal racism that i face everyday.

let me back up a bit. i am a turk studying in germany. i talk german worse than a first generation of immigrant (as my other "auslander(foreigner)" peers here in university) yet i am a "white turk" not racially (because i don't believe in such a thing) but rather classwise. i dress up like an average westerner and i almost have an american accent when i speak.

when people hear my strange accent they ask me where i come from and when they hear turkey i get multiple responses which can be bundled up in just one simple sentence.

"you don't look turkish."

there are variations, sometimes they shut up not to say anything inappropriate and i appreciate it. but the other end of the spectrum is is when they ask me whether i have relatives in germany (because as you know turks move in flocks).

in the median of both they ask me about the race of my parents, or try to rationalize that the turks they observe come from anatolia (which from my perspective i do too). but you see the problem is not the looks but the social sense of what turkish is. rude, uneducated, dangerous, unemployed, backward/conservative/islamic/misogynist/non-western. don't think i haven't heard these things. when you talk to people about the racist possibility of turkish houses being burned in ludwigshafen, they say there is no such evidence and the fire was self inflicted due to the faulty illegal electricity tapping.

according to my friends i should be happy about this comments, because this derives from the empirical evidence they have; meaning they only have uneducated, unintegrated turks around them. and i am showing them that it is possible for a turk to have a phd. they pleasantly surprised, they mean well and it means they don't have ill feelings towards me anyway.

i say bullshit.

does looks, meaning phenotype defines the way you behave? this is -fucking- race centric view of life, and if you think that just because of the color of someones skin, or the way he dresses up or talks he acts in a certain negative way, you are racist.

another friend who is learning turkish, after six months, asks me whether i have european ancestors and tells i don't look turks. i tell her, i quickly learned that german girls are not all tall and blonde. she tells me no, those are swedish. i was speechless of course.

when it comes to the empirical reason for this kind of thinking; i just want to say if you want to look and find stereotypical turks, you will see them. you don't walk around with a racemeter and asses what kind of race looks and dresses up like.

and finally as it comes to how i feel personally about it, malcolm x will give the answer for me:

"If you're afraid of black nationalism, you're afraid of revolution. And if you love revolution, you love black nationalism. To understand this, you have to go back to what the young brother here referred to as the house Negro and the field Negro back during slavery. There were two kinds of slaves, the house Negro and the field Negro. The house Negroes — they lived in the house with master, they dressed pretty good, they ate good because they ate his food — what he left. They lived in the attic or the basement, but still they lived near the master; and they loved the master more than the master loved himself. They would give their life to save the master's house — quicker than the master would. If the master said, "We got a good house here," the house Negro would say, "Yeah, we got a good house here." Whenever the master said "we," he said "we." That's how you can tell a house Negro.

"This modern house Negro loves his master. He wants to live near him. He'll pay three times as much as the house is worth just to live near his master, and then brag about "I'm the only Negro out here." "I'm the only one on my job." "I'm the only one in this school." You're nothing but a house Negro."

-- Malcolm X

i might dress up and talk like the master, but i am not a fucking house negro/white turk that will accept and be happy about the racist discriminatory behavior of the master race.