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Scientific conference falls for gibberish prank
ABC ^ | 04/15/2005 | Reuters

Posted on 04/15/2005 6:40:12 AM PDT by bedolido

A bunch of computer-generated gibberish masquerading as an academic paper has been accepted at a scientific conference in a victory for pranksters at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Jeremy Stribling said that he and two fellow MIT graduate students questioned the standards of some academic conferences, so they wrote a computer program to generate research papers complete with nonsensical text, charts and diagrams.

The trio submitted two of the randomly assembled papers to the World Multiconference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics (WMSCI), scheduled to be held July 10-13 in Orlando, Florida.

To their surprise, one of the papers - "Rooter: A Methodology for the Typical Unification of Access Points and Redundancy" - was accepted for presentation.

The prank recalled a 1996 hoax in which New York University physicist Alan Sokal succeeded in getting an entire paper with a mix of truths, falsehoods, non sequiturs and otherwise meaningless mumbo-jumbo published in the journal Social Text.

Mr Stribling said he and his colleagues only learned about the Social Text affair after submitting their paper.

"Rooter" features such mind-bending gems as: "the model for our heuristic consists of four independent components: simulated annealing, active networks, flexible modalities, and the study of reinforcement learning" and "We implemented our scatter/gather I/O server in Simula-67, augmented with opportunistically pipelined extensions".

(Excerpt) Read more at abc.net.au ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: brassmagnet; conference; falls; gibberish; prank; scientific

A computer program generated the research paper complete with nonsensical text, charts and diagrams. (AFP)

1 posted on 04/15/2005 6:40:12 AM PDT by bedolido
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To: bedolido

Sounds like some of the Lab reports I did for Thermodynamics Class.


2 posted on 04/15/2005 6:44:21 AM PDT by Mikey_1962
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To: bedolido
This is too funny, but it does highlight the differences between a conference paper, which is typically a unrefereed oral presentation, and a scientific journal publication, which must pass peer review.
3 posted on 04/15/2005 6:44:55 AM PDT by doc30 (Democrats are to morals what and Etch-A-Sketch is to Art.)
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To: bedolido

World Multiconference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics (WMSCI). Just pronounce it as "Whimsy".


4 posted on 04/15/2005 6:47:20 AM PDT by theDentist (The Dems are putting all their eggs in one basket-case: Howard "Belltower" Dean.)
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To: bedolido

These guys have a guaranteed job with any pro-Kyoto, enviro-whacko group out there.


5 posted on 04/15/2005 6:48:08 AM PDT by DTogo (U.S. out of the U.N. & U.N out of the U.S.)
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To: bedolido

Bwhahahahahaha!


6 posted on 04/15/2005 6:49:32 AM PDT by add925 (The Left = Xenophobes in Denial)
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To: bedolido
Brilliant...

I actually know one reviewer on Epinons.com who writes hundreds of reviews by using a quick little program to replace key indicators with features he plugs in... All he does is enter criteria and hit a replace button.. it goes through and changes out specs and product titles.. after flipping a few paragraphs around, he publishes it.. he has made thousands of dollars doing this... (this is, however, one reason I would never trust reviews on epinons.com...)
7 posted on 04/15/2005 6:50:45 AM PDT by mnehring (http://www.mlearningworld.com)
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To: bedolido
generated the research paper complete with nonsensical text, charts and diagrams. (AFP)

Just like the papers I wrote in college. ;)

8 posted on 04/15/2005 6:50:59 AM PDT by dfwgator (Minutemen: Just doing the jobs that American politicians won't do.)
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To: mnehrling

In my college chemistry class, we constantly used S.W.A.G on test. Scientific Wild A$$ Guess.


9 posted on 04/15/2005 6:54:00 AM PDT by phil1750 (Love like you've never been hurt;Dance like nobody's watching;PRAY like it's your last prayer)
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To: bedolido
A computer program generated the research paper complete with nonsensical text, charts and diagrams. (AFP)

Sounds like he has a job waiting for him at Microsoft. Maybe he'll do a better job writing help files.

10 posted on 04/15/2005 6:57:22 AM PDT by Only1choice____Freedom (I alone, am the chosen one. Because I alone, did the choosing.)
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To: DTogo

"These guys have a guaranteed job with any pro-Kyoto, enviro-whacko group out there."

My thoughts exactly!


11 posted on 04/15/2005 6:57:36 AM PDT by poobear
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To: bedolido

Who doesn't love a good geek-prank? It's deserving for those chin-stroking, head-nodding sychophants pretending to be above it all. It's funny how a bunch of multi-syllabic words placed in esoteric context can generate interest.


12 posted on 04/15/2005 6:59:45 AM PDT by edpc
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To: bedolido
Makes me proud of my alma mater. MIT has it's share of leftists, but it's by no means a PC campus.
13 posted on 04/15/2005 7:01:27 AM PDT by RonF
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To: phil1750
In my college chemistry class, we constantly used S.W.A.G on test. Scientific Wild A$$ Guess.

..they used the same term in Hydrology...in Engineering.

14 posted on 04/15/2005 7:01:41 AM PDT by skinkinthegrass (Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they aren't out to get you :^)
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To: bedolido
Here's the blog on MIT's Technology Review web site:

http://archives.trblogs.com/2005/04/two_very_funny.trml

If you visit one of the links on the blog, you will find instructions on how to download the program that generated these articles.
15 posted on 04/15/2005 7:06:32 AM PDT by mnehring (http://www.mlearningworld.com)
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To: bedolido

I guess the more educated you are, the easier you'll fall for a bunch of multisyllabic nonsense.


16 posted on 04/15/2005 7:07:10 AM PDT by polymuser
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To: bedolido

Hey, these guys were just trying to win the "Ward Churchill Medal of Academic Excellence"!


17 posted on 04/15/2005 7:07:28 AM PDT by Polyxene (For where God built a church, there the Devil would also build a chapel - Martin Luther)
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To: bedolido
the model for our heuristic consists of four independent components: simulated annealing, active networks, flexible modalities, and the study of reinforcement learning" and "We implemented our scatter/gather I/O server in Simula-67, augmented with opportunistically pipelined extensions".


18 posted on 04/15/2005 7:09:34 AM PDT by reagan_fanatic (It takes all kinds of critters...to make Farmer Vincents fritters)
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To: doc30
".... the differences between a conference paper, which is typically a unrefereed oral presentation, and a scientific journal publication, which must pass peer review."

Well, that's not "quite" true. At most conferences I've been to, the "peer review" happens in real time with questions from the audience after the talk. In some cases, those "reviews" have been pretty damned scathing.

19 posted on 04/15/2005 7:13:16 AM PDT by Wonder Warthog (The Hog of Steel)
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To: edpc
"Who doesn't love a good geek-prank? It's deserving for those chin-stroking, head-nodding sychophants pretending to be above it all. It's funny how a bunch of multi-syllabic words placed in esoteric context can generate interest."

And don't forget "MASS EQUALS VALIDITY!"

Top sends
20 posted on 04/15/2005 7:13:21 AM PDT by petro45acp (Democrat = socialist. Say it loud, say it often, and VOTE!!)
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To: bedolido; add925
Hilarious Academic Postmoderm Gobbledegook Random Generator
21 posted on 04/15/2005 7:13:44 AM PDT by Constitution Day (Gunga galunga.)
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To: Constitution Day

bttt


22 posted on 04/15/2005 7:18:39 AM PDT by stainlessbanner
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To: Wonder Warthog

You make a good point, but the abstract is still unrefereed in the proceedings. Also, I've seen many graduate students, presenting for the first time, getting blistering attacks from some grumpy professor with a hot pepper up his @ss. At that point, the student's advisor, or more sympathetic audience member, will step in and correct the noise maker. At other conferences, I've seen industrial work criticized by an academics as to being not possible or goes against such and such principle. The author simply retorts that the process makes a selling product in wide use. If the process was impossible, how can we have a finished product. Some professors are out of touch with what happens in the real world, even in science.


23 posted on 04/15/2005 7:40:06 AM PDT by doc30 (Democrats are to morals what and Etch-A-Sketch is to Art.)
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To: Wonder Warthog
Why would anyone even bother to organize a subject area conference if they don't have any quality control? It's just open mike at the improv without the beer.
24 posted on 04/15/2005 7:49:00 AM PDT by Old North State
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To: bedolido
This reminds me of something I hadn't thought about in years. The hoax is from 1969. The faces are still red.

From Google:

Naked Came the Stranger was a novel that was designed to test just how low the standards of taste of the American public had sunk.

25 Newsday staff members each wrote a chapter of this novel. Their only requirements were that their chapters could contain no plot or character development, no social insight, and no verbal skill. Only one thing was required: a minimum of two sex scenes per chapter.

The resulting novel was attributed to a fictitious author (Penelope Ashe), who was played by the attractive sister-in-law of Mike McGrady, the columnist who conceived the idea for the hoax. McGrady's sister-in-law played her role to the fullest, appearing in interviews wearing low-cut dresses and bubbling about the joys of sexual liberation.

The American public predictably ate it up and sales of the book soared. The Newsday writers eventually began to feel guilty about all the money they were receiving from the farce, and confessed. But the resulting publicity only made the book sell even better.

25 posted on 04/15/2005 8:07:00 AM PDT by ihatemyalarmclock
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To: PatrickHenry

hoax-like ping


26 posted on 04/15/2005 8:14:25 AM PDT by longshadow
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To: longshadow
I think there was another thread on this a couple of days ago: Randomly-Generated Scientific Paper Accepted by Conference.
27 posted on 04/15/2005 8:21:28 AM PDT by PatrickHenry (<-- Click on my name. The List-O-Links for evolution threads is at my freeper homepage.)
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To: doc30
"At other conferences, I've seen industrial work criticized by an academics as to being not possible or goes against such and such principle. The author simply retorts that the process makes a selling product in wide use. If the process was impossible, how can we have a finished product. Some professors are out of touch with what happens in the real world, even in science."

Been there, seen that. But in defense of the academic guys (at least in my field of chemistry), many academics just don't have good "feel" for the really extreme conditions that modern chemical processes can bring to bear, displacing many reactions that ARE virtually impossible under normal lab conditions FAR from "normal equilibrium", and generating the conditions that the "industry guy" is describing.

28 posted on 04/15/2005 8:21:35 AM PDT by Wonder Warthog (The Hog of Steel)
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To: Old North State
"Why would anyone even bother to organize a subject area conference if they don't have any quality control? It's just open mike at the improv without the beer."

At the smaller conferences, the quality control is provided by the organizer, as he/she usually selects or knows the speakers, but at the really big ones (like Pittcon for analytical chemists), in many cases the organizer knows only a few of the folks asking time to present, and has to basically trust the presenter that his talk will be germane to the subject area. Most of the time the process works well, but it "can" be "jobbed" just like these guys did.

29 posted on 04/15/2005 8:22:30 AM PDT by Wonder Warthog (The Hog of Steel)
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To: doc30
This is too funny, but it does highlight the differences between a conference paper, which is typically a unrefereed oral presentation, and a scientific journal publication, which must pass peer review.

That would be true of only some conference papers. I have worked on the editorial board of several different conferences and we had a rigorous peer review process and accepted only about 15% of the submitted papers. At some of those conferences, I would rate the peer review as more rigorous than some journals in the field.

30 posted on 04/15/2005 10:00:21 AM PDT by ModelBreaker
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To: ModelBreaker

Your point is welcome. I was speaking in generalities. There are some, not the majority, but some, that do peer review before presentation. At least in my personal experience (chemistry). out of curiosity, what area(s) did you serve on while on the editorial boards? I don't think the conference in question had peer review, or if it did, it wasn't very strong.


31 posted on 04/15/2005 10:38:15 AM PDT by doc30 (Democrats are to morals what and Etch-A-Sketch is to Art.)
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To: bedolido
Folly runs both ways. To combat student plagiarists, some people are writing term papers that sound plausible to the ignorant and hilarious to the informed and submitting them to essay mills. Check it out. One would-be plagiarist accidentally submitted her request for a paper to a comedy writer, with both humorous and saddening results.
32 posted on 04/15/2005 11:18:58 AM PDT by Dumb_Ox (Be not Afraid.)
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To: bedolido
More people have written about computer-generated gibberish than I have.

Cordially,

33 posted on 04/15/2005 11:56:35 AM PDT by Diamond (Qui liberatio scelestus trucido inculpatus.)
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To: bedolido

Great! It almost sounds as though the generation of the paper would be relevant to the conference, though.

http://www.cnn.com/2005/TECH/science/04/14/mit.prank.reut/index.html
""The trio submitted two of the randomly assembled papers to the World Multi-Conference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics (WMSCI), scheduled to be held July 10-13 in Orlando, Florida.

To their surprise, one of the papers -- "Rooter: A Methodology for the Typical Unification of Access Points and Redundancy" -- was accepted for presentation.""

What could be more appropriate than a presentation about a computer generated paper at a conference on Cybernetics and informatics?

The paper is also linked by Art Caplan at http://blog.bioethics.net/


34 posted on 04/18/2005 6:58:50 AM PDT by hocndoc (Choice is the # 1 killer in the US)
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