|Saint Petersburg Branch of the Russian Humanist Society|
|Pseudoscience. How Does It Threaten Science and the Public?|
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(Report at a RAN Presidium meeting of 27 May 2003)
The attitude of the government to science is changing for the better. This is remarkable. The President of the country, V. V. Putin, has announced a long-range program of support to science. It would see that there is every basis to view the future with optimism. However not everything is so cloudless. There are influential forces in society which are interested in reducing the role of science. One of these forces concerns us today.
Here are statements of one of our newspapers with a large circulation, "An old threat hangs over new science which penetrating into the key secrets of the universe - it is from the Russian Academy of Sciences which has organized a Commission to Combat Pseudoscience". We will talk later about what they mean by "new science", but right now here's one more quote, "Succumbing to the most complex riddles which nature presents us with, the RAN is hastening to label as pseudoscientists those researchers who risk working on the leading edge of knowledge".
The quotes cited are not the point of view of a rude journalist; this is an assignment. A systematic, intentional duping of the population is going on via the mass media. Just a few of these headlines are frightening, "Ordinary lasers destroy human blood", "The collapse of classical physics", "The monster blood-drinkers return", "Russian physicists have discovered a new lethal radiation". The terrible poison which they feed people leads to an estrangement of the public and the systematic cultivation of a doomed people for whom everything has been predetermined. They dissuade people from thinking critically but teach them to believe blindly. By the way, the very same attempts are also being made in the field of education. Whatever the apologists of reform say, they are trying to lower the educational level in Russia. Academician V. I. Arnold has written about this more than once and therefore I will not develop this theme. I note only that some "successes" have already been achieved in this direction.
Who needs to drive the country back into the Middle Ages? People who cannot think critically, who are unacquainted with logic, and are easy to manipulate. If science is suppressed (in such an event education itself will weaken) a golden age will begin, for example, for businessmen working to sell the population completely absurd "instruments" treating up to 350(!) various ailments and for corrupt officials supporting [this] criminal business. The situation today in the market of medical instruments already seems completely abnormal. Quantum medicine instruments and senseless zircon bracelets are insistently advertised; a whole series of devices has arisen which catch the radiation of diseased cells, amplify them and return them to the diseased cells "in opposite phase", after which recovery occurs instantaneously. Various swindlers vary the idea in various ways: one directs the radiation of the diseased cells on the same [cells] thanks to the effect of the intensification at the expense of the interference. Another directs the radiation of healthy [cells] on diseased cells...It is surprising that, as a rule, the "instruments" have the permission of the Ministry of Health or the Chief Medical Officer so that they rob unfortunate sick people on a legal basis.
A little here about the "instruments" referred to. For besides them are "instruments" generating electromagnetic radiation and gravitational waves (several such devices do not even require electrical power). The hit of last season was a neutrino generator for treating cancers at any stage. The author of this "masterpiece" produces neutrinos while passing acoustic waves through a vacuum. Even schoolchildren should know that there is no way a sound wave can pass through a vacuum but the author of this nonsense, passing himself off as a professor, firmly stands his ground. It also does not embarrass the inventor that physicists have to create detectors weighing hundreds of tons to detect neutrino particles or that neutrinos are created in the center of the Sun and get to its surface practically without hindrance, freely passing through the Earth's crust.
One can judge how shamelessly some of the aforementioned devices are forcing their way into various regions of the country by the scale of corruption of high-ranking medical officials. By the way, they, too, will be more comfortable without science.
Most of this market is built on deceiving buyers who are retirees. However, wealthy people are also not forgotten. Not long ago a holographic patch was offered for sale - "a planar torsion generator". This "instrument" protects owners from the influence of the harmful radiations of cell phones, microwave ovens, television sets, etc.
With our support a group of enthusiasts from St. Petersburg tried to take licenses away from psychic healers which they got to....correct biofields. This action encountered rabid resistance. But at the same time biocorrectors and bioactivators which correct a non-existence biofield are spreading throughout the entire country. If our biologists are not involved and the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences [RAMN] is asleep on the job, the shameless robbery of sick people will continue in an ever-increasing scale.
The mass adoption and use of pseudoscience began with the appearance of latter-day wonder workers on TV screens like A. Chumak. Today pseudoscience has penetrated into many government agencies. Its traces are observed in the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of the Emergency Situations, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the State Duma. I will cite several examples. Speaking live on the eve of the New Year on the RTR channel S. Shoygu [the Minister of the Emergency Situations Ministry, MChS] said that the MChS uses the advice of astrologers in its work. Several years ago a laboratory of psychics was organized in the MChS. Military Unit 10003 continues to operate in the Ministry of Defense, conducting quite dubious experiments with sorcerers.
On 16 January 2003 on the "Culture" channel another minister (M. Shvydkoy), acting as the moderator of the program "Kul'turnaya Revolyutsiya [Cultural Revolution]", organized a show, "Only Astrologers Can Be Believed", where an actress completely removed from science was selected as the opponent of an inveterate astrologer and demagogue V. Ledovskikh while among the audience in the hall were several professional astrophysicists, who had no chance to speak seriously on the subject from a scientific perspective.
A booklet by O. Krushel'nitskaya and L. Dubitskaya "Stories About Astrology" was published on order of the Ministry of Education (!) to help the next generation and the "Prosveshcheniye [Enlightenment]" Publishing House and T. Globa issued a series of handbooks, each of which was devoted to a particular sign of the Zodiac and accompanied by the corresponding text (about 10 pages), from which the student learns under the influence of which planet the year is, what problems it portends, etc. Of course, it doesn't come to his mind whether to check whether or not his horoscope is accurate. Thus the masters of deception are forming a Middle-Age consciousness in their selfish interests. It remains to add that in the Russian national classification of professions astrologers have already been placed on a level with soothsayers. Alright, but what the actual encouragement of astrologer charlatans is leading to, judge for yourself.
Several years ago a theoretical and practical seminar was held in the Scientific Research Institute of the Ministry of Internal Affairs [NII MVD] where among others things means of identifying criminals with the aid of astrology, clairvoyance, and dowsing were discussed. Bringing in astrology, an NII MVD employee, Doctor of Juridical Sciences Ye. G. Samovichev, explained why serial murders remain unsolved for so long. "The difficulty of solving these crimes is dictated, in particular, by the resistance of these programs (determined by the date of birth and the date the crime was committed - Eh. K.) to outside influence since in practice a criminal can be arrested and convicted when the time of "operation" of his criminal program is coming to an end". It evidently never occurs to Mr. Samovichev that 300,000 people are born in the world daily. Thus 300,000 serial murderers will appear on Earth after just one astrological cycle. So where are they?
It is difficult for expert investigators after the lectures of such "scientists". And it is not accidental that they have already started to come from regional procurators' offices to our Commission for explanations, for the above seminar is not the only place where they teach pseudocriminology. A deputy committee chairman of a previous State Duma, Doctor of Technical Sciences V. Tetel'min, made his own contribution to this matter: "Orthodox science 'does not notice' the artificial bioresonance, the targeted influence of one person on the biofield of another. It is possible to do this by technical means, let's say, with the aid of an individual- or mass-action psychotronic weapon. It is true that until now it was thought that such a weapon had not been created but that if individual models were created then they could operate only at a very close range. But in a number of cases great distances are not required. Thus, in one version the wife of State Duma deputy Lev Rokhlin was subjected to zombification with the aid of a low-frequency quantum resonance emitter. Supposedly she did not know what she was doing [Rokhlin's wife killed him using his pistol - Eh. K.] inasmuch as her brain was controlled by other people". I think that there is no need to comment on such an absurdity.
An unfortunately famous general, G. Rogozin, was observed in the entourage of the first President of Russia, B. N. Yel'tsin, who predicted the start of a thermonuclear war in August 1999 as well as a scoundrel, G. Grabovoy, exalting himself as a doctor of physicomathematical sciences. By the way, the latter said that today he mentally checks the condition of the President's aircraft before takeoff. He is the inventor of a unique instrument - a "crystal module" - with the aid of which the power of the nuclear explosion was substantially reduced during underground nuclear tests at Semipalatinsk. Although the absurdity of such a statement is completely obvious to any physicist, an investigation was conducted especially for nonprofessionals which showed that Mr. Grabovoy had never taken part in nuclear tests. Thus, G. Grabovoy is lying. Gullible officials ought to know this, for he has let it be known that the crystal module will be good at nuclear power stations. You can never tell; they might still set up the "instrument" at an atomic power station! From a recent television broadcast one happens to find that Mr. Grabovoy lectures at the MChS and is a consultant to the RF [Russian Federation] Security Council.
Military astrologer A. Buzinov worked at the Ministry of Defense for a long time. Inasmuch as every tank, aircraft, and ship has its own date of "birth", Mr. A. Buzinov has indeed found a vein of gold, having extended the astrological rules of the game to military equipment. Our mass media has facilitated the growth of his popularity in every way. One should think so! For he has precisely predicted a number of crashes, in particular, the loss of the ferry boat "Estonia" in the Baltic, a "Ruslan" aircraft over Irkutsk, etc. True, for some reason we found out about these surprising predictions after the fact. I want to mention here a case which the mass media left out. Right after the tragic events connected with the explosion of apartment houses in Moscow he appeared at the Federal Security Service Directorate for Moscow and Moscow Oblast and declared that he was able to identify where the terrorists were hiding explosives. I cannot say whether the FSB officials believed the prophet or not but a careful investigation of about 10 addresses indicated by A. Buzinov was immediately organized: the consequences could have been too serious. Of course, no explosives were found. For some reason the mass media were silent about this. But this is enough by itself to forget about this person forever.
One of the reasons for the growth of the influence of pseudoscience is associated with the attitude of a majority of scientists toward this phenomenon. This attitude could be described in such terms as squeamishness, scorn, condescension, and connivance. The majority of scientists do not yet recognize the degree of danger hanging over science.
Speaking at the Vatican not long before the end of the last century, Academician V. I. Arnold said, "Considering the explosive nature of every kind of pseudoscience (like astrology), in the coming century a new era of obscurantism like the Middle Ages is completely likely in many countries. The present flowering of science can change to an irreversible decline similar to what occurred with painting after the Italian Renaissance".
The well-known American philosopher P. Kurtz recently noted: "We live in a time when the progress of science at the frontiers of knowledge is unprecedented. At the very same time anti-science, pseudoscience, and faith in the paranormal are growing, challenging the vitality of scientific research". We see that the growth in the influence of pseudoscience is not just of concern to our Commission.
Let's try to point out the primary "points of growth" of pseudoscience in our country. First of all, let's cite an excerpt from a document which landed on the desk of the head of the Soviet government 15 years ago. "A lag in the area of the theory and practice of spinor fields can have irreversible consequences in such defense areas as the methods and means of the highly-reliable detection of an enemy strategic weapon (ICBM, nuclear submarine, aircraft, etc.); the long-range destruction of enemy strategic weapons without contact; covert jamming-resistant communications with objects in space, on Earth, underground, and underwater; mobile equipment on gravitational principles; and psychophysical and biomedical influence on troops and the population, etc." It is easy for one to imagine what the Prime Minister would feel. We're talking about a weapon more powerful than a nuclear weapon. If you don't give the money you'll get the "irreversible consequences". Resources had to be allocated – 500 million rubles. But it was completely possible to deny them. All that was needed for this was a skilled expert review. A unique expert review was conducted in 1991 when from the rostrum of the General Meeting of the USSR Academy of Sciences [AN SSSR], corresponding member (now academician) of the AN SSSR Ye. B. Aleksandrov exposed the swindle of torsion fields (by this time spinor fields had been turned into torsion fields). After discussion in the AN SSSR General Physics and Astronomy Branch and an appeal to a USSR Supreme Soviet committee, the later adopted a decree "The Shameful Practice of Financing Pseudoscientific Research From State Sources". Right afterwards the Center of Nontraditional Technologies, created in the USSR GKNT [State Committee for Science and Technology] to implement the torsion program, was disbanded, and the director of the Center, Mr. A. Ye. Akimov, the godfather of this whole swindle, was fired. But soon A. Ye. Akimov organized a small enterprise with the sonorous name "The International Institute of Theoretical and Applied Physics" of the RAEN [Russian Academy of Natural Sciences]. The torsion swindle has grown and expanded from that time. For unknown reasons Akimov received financing from the Ministry of Science from 1992 to 1995 . In 1996-97 the Ministry of Defense financed Akimov's projects concerning mythical torsion communications channels. It is possible that financing continued further but this is difficult to establish: the work was done secretly. The fact itself that for almost 10 years confidential work has been done on a fifth type of interaction unknown to world science but known only to a small handful of initiates seems ridiculous and could have only one reasonable explanation: corruption.
It is interesting that today Mr. Akimov has completely forgotten his promises about torsion superweapons. Now it's about unique peaceful torsion technologies. And from time to time he gets caught in fraud. For example, in 1996 he stated, "The first flying saucer will soon be tested at NPO [Scientific Production Association] 'Energiya'. [It is currently called the "Energiya" Missile and Space Corporation]. Its principle of propulsion is completely new - there is no use of a reactive force. If the tests are successful there is a real prospect of a conversion of all transportation (SIC - Eh. K.), automobiles, trains, etc. to a new principle without the use of internal combustion engines" ("Chisty Mir [A Clean World]", N4, 1996). And here is a comment of V. P. Legostayev, the First Vice President and First Deputy Chief Designer of RKK "Energiya": "RKK 'Energiya' has not been working on, is not working on, and does not expect to be working on the development of 'flying saucers' based on a torsion field generator". Why am I describing this adventure in so much detail? The problem is, although there is not a single supporter of A. Ye. Akimov in the Physics Branch of the RAN and although the Physics Section of the RAEN has harshly condemned the activity of A. Ye Akimov and his henchman G. I. Shipov in the Physical Sciences Branch of the RAN, the torsion swindle is seizing newer and newer bridgeheads. Under the supervision of Mr. Akimov several closed stock companies have been formed which in recent years have gathered a harvest not only inside the country but also in the international arena. Among the unsuccessful operations of similar firms I can mention the attempt to introduce "torsion technologies" at the "Norilsk Nickel" industrial complex with the promise of an annual savings of $250,000,000. An attempt to clean the Yauza River with the aid of torsion generators barely failed. But here an operation to clean Gelendzhik Bay went brilliantly. Large funds were extracted from the budget. The secret consisted of comparing analyses from 1990, when waste runoffs in the bay were halted, and seven years later, after "processing" of the bay with approximately 100 milliwatt torsion generators.
In 1998 they managed to dissipate the haze over Malaysia from forest fires in Indonesia with the aid of similar generators. In my view, these enormous scams are possible only with the corrupt participation of high-ranking officials. Only the support of high-ranking protectors can explain the audacity of Messers. Akimov and Shipov, who dared slander academician Ye. B. Aleksandrov in the magazine "Elektrosvyaz". Obviously the benevolence of similar protectors could explain the recent quite bold statement by A. Akimov about the capabilities of "torsion technologies". "With their aid we can get energy practically from nothing, replacing all the thermal and atomic power stations and creating an alternative to nuclear power. New kinds of motors have already been tested which burn neither oil, nor natural gas, nor any other hydrocarbon types of fuel, and this means they do not pollute the environment. It has been shown in experiments that new types of communications operate without sending out electromagnetic waves but by completely different principles which practically require no traditional power". ("Intellektual'naya sobstvennost' [Intellectual Property]", N4, 2000).
One can catch Mr. Akimov in a swindle or fraud at each step, but this is a separate topic. I would like to note that the indifference and connivance of many scientists has led to regrettable results. The myth of torsion fields and torsion technologies has found fertile ground in the most unexpected places. For example, in Novosibirsk a so-called "International Institute of Cosmic Anthropoecology" appeared under the aegis of academician V. N. Kaznacheyev of the RAMN and Doctor of Medical Sciences A. V. Trofimov, having been accredited by the Ministry of Science in a completely incomprehensible manner. For example, in this Institute there is a torsion generator and research is conducted "to study the vital substance in torsion fields". Two words about this unique Institute. As the director of the institute, A. V. Trofimov, reported, "In our research on the long-range transmission of information we compared the astrological and astrophysical data of the participants using NOVA, an American database on astrology. They can change the course of time in this institute with the aid of "Kozyrev's Mirrors". And also in the Institute a laser beam interacts with "a reflected human biophysical field". Do not the examples cited demonstrate that so-called state accreditation has been turned into particularly bureaucratic games if obvious pseudoscience receives state support, in spite of the negative findings of a number of scientists, incidentally?
After the collapse of the USSR pseudoscience began to penetrate into the country's higher educational institutions. In 1994 a textbook by A. V. Vachayev and N. I. Ivanov was published in the Magnitogorsk Mining and Smelting Academy called "Power and the Technology of Structural Conversions". What is this book about? Models of the electromagnetic impulse rearrangement of the symmetry of elements are cited, as a result of which lighter and simpler elements are formed with an allocation of energy of the broken structural bonds". Here is one more excerpt from the text: "The impulse method of rearranging discharge water of any composition can become a reliable source of acquiring pure elements and energy". I think that no comments are necessary here. But [the names of the] irresponsible reviewers ought to be published. They are Doctor of Technical Sciences Prof. of Chelyabinsk State Technical University Ye. V. Toropov and Candidate of Technical Sciences, Senior Scientist of the MEhI [Moscow Power Institute], S. V. Kartavtsev.
In Rostov-on-Don in 1997 a book came out titled "Concepts of Modern Natural Science" written by collective authors under the leadership of Doctor of Sociological Sciences Prof. S. I. Samygin. The Ministry of Education recommended the book as a textbook for students of humanitarian and economic specialties of higher educational institutions. Here's the kind of "discoveries" the book presents to students: "Scientists assume that there is information about each object and about animate and inanimate objects at all points of the universe simultaneously. One more "pearl": "The information field contains information about everything in the universe and is capable of producing life and directing its development". "A holographic model is considered the most suitable model for explaining psychophysical phenomena". I hope that one can do without comments here.
A book of the late president of the International Academy of Informatics I. I. Yuzvishin, "The principles of Informationology", deserves special mention (Moscow, the "Informatsiologiya" Publishing House and the "Vysshaya Shkola [University]" Publishing House, 2000). I have already had occasion to analyze the previous book of Mr. Yuzvishin, "Informatsionlogiya" which contains many appalling absurdities. In particular, in it the speed of light has been changed from 10 million km/sec to 1 m/sec. In the new book he is done with that. The author even thanked me for critical comments. Now there appear new stunning "discoveries": "it can be said that in the depths of the universe it is likely that there can be temperatures of zero degrees Kelvin and lower 00K: 5-K, 10-K, 20-K, 30-K, and so on". "In order to expand scientific research and remove the orthodox quasi-scientific 'prohibition' it is proposed that the temperature scale be hypothetically expanded". As a result the newest, "Yuzvishin", scale will appear besides the Celsius and Kelvin scales. Of course, this nonsense seems funny but it is becoming sad when you find out that this book is "a textbook for higher and secondary educational institutions", self-education courses and proficiency improvement courses". It is sad that two representatives of the world of science, Doctors of Physicomathematical Sciences Prof. V. A. Ivanov and I. D. Sofronov appear in the role of reviewers. Did they read this absurdity?
I don't know where this "textbook" being discussed has been introduced, but at the MIREhA [Moscow State Institute for Radio Engineering, Electronics, and Automation] for about 10 years Mr. Yuzvishin headed the department of informationology and read a two-semester course "The Principles of Informationology". In passing, Doctor of Technical, Physicomathematical, Informationological, and Biological Sciences I. Yuzvishin crippled students of the Moscow Institute of Informationology.
In 2000 a textbook came to light in the I. I. Polzunov Altay State Technical University in Barnaul called "Physics and the Technology of Torsion Radiation. Torsion Technologies". Prof. G. I. Gos'kov of Altay University appears as a co-author of the textbook together with A. Akimov and G. Shipov. Today Mr. Gos'kov is deputy head of the information technologies department of this university. Among his recent "achievements" is the measurement of "energy information radiation", the detection of "bioenergy", and the "charging" of water with the aid of electromagnetic waves, ultrasound, an ordinary book, and hand movements. It is interesting whether the Ministry of Education knows whom Mr. Gos'kov is training for the country.
A year earlier in 1999 the 2nd International Congress of "Bioenergy Information Science" was held in the very same university. The principle organizers, besides the bosses, were the International Academy of Energy Information Sciences and the International Academy of Informatization. Here's what kind of subject matter was offered the participants:
I should say that Barnaul is far from being the only city where pseudoscientific conferences are being held. Many cities of the country welcome pseudoscience.
A few words now about publications associated with the Russian Academy of Sciences. In 1997 the "Nauka [Science]" Publishing House published a monograph of G. Shipov entitled "The Theory of a Physical Vacuum" on a commercial basis (the reviewers were Doctors of Physicomathematical Sciences A. Rukhadze and R. Kuz'min). Although it received a proper evaluation in the review of academician V. Rubakov published in "The Successes of the Physical Sciences", all the same the publication of the book caused considerable harm to science. The experienced masters of a swindle even translated it into English. As a result the book has become a unique banner of torsion swindlers. The swindlers who earn their living from so-called "torsion technologies" are little concerned that neither G. Shipov nor A. Akimov has a single publication in any serious refereed journal of physics and that the technologies described in G. Shipov's book do not exist. The fraud literally begins with the first lines. The author states that the book contains lectures that he gave at the Physics Department of MGU [Moscow State University] in 1993 and 1996. This is a lie! In a note the dean's office of the Physics Department it reports that "G. I. Shipov did not give a series of lectures at the MGU Physics Department on 'The Theory of a Physical Vacuum' or any other series of lectures". As has already been noted, the physics community does not like the torsion gentlemen. And all the same they have plenty of supporters. In an overwhelming majority of cases these are people who are quite remote from the fundamental problems of physics.
In 1998 a collection entitled "Chemistry, Technology, and the Industrial Ecology of Non-Organic Compounds" was issued by the Perm State University publishing house. It contains an article by V. F. Panov, A. V. Klyuyev, V. I. Kichigin, and G. V. Khaldeyev, "Torsion Fields and Chemical Processes". The collection was published in the name of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Science Council for Non-Organic Chemistry of the Ural Branch of the RAN.
In the same year, 1998, a book by Yu. B. Shauba "Current Medical Research by New Physical Methods" was published in Vladivostok in the "Dal'nauka" publishing house in the name of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Far East branch). This work has a quite distant relationship to science. Judge for yourself: here are presented biofields and chakras, and the remote influence on a person of medicines and poisons. Microlepton radiation and torsion fields do not escape attention. I think that the reviewers who let this book come to light ought to be named. They are Doctor of Medical Sciences Yu. V. Kulakov and Doctor of Geological and Mineralogical Sciences B. V. Preobrazhenskiy. Unfortunately, the list of similar books is far from being limited to the three cited.
The Russian Academy of Sciences publishes several popular science journals. There are many outstanding scientists on the editorial councils and editorial boards. However an impression is being formed that they are being used as famous names and do not set the journals' policy in any manner. How can it be explained otherwise that from time to time in these journals there appear articles extolling blatant pseudoscience?
I remember several such cases. The pages of the journal "Nauka v Rossii [Science in Russia]" were offered to Mr. A. Ya. Grabovshchiner to extol so-called quantum medicine, which has nothing in common with science. A strange article, to put it mildly, was published in the journal "Elektronika [Electronics]" dedicated to drawing energy from the ether. In one of the recent issues of the journal "Energiya [Energy]" an article was printed singing the praises of Scottish astrologer Madame Marjorie Orr. A popular science journal actually called for humbly heeding astrological forecasts, rejecting attempts to build a future on the basis of logic, common sense, and scientific forecasts. I add that the newspaper "Poisk [Search]", one of whose founders is the Russian Academy of Sciences, was also notable for having published an article concerning experiments about so-called alternative vision conducted at MGU. I note that when they showed a girl who saw texts and pictures with her eyes blindfolded to one of the members of our Commission, he tied a mask around her that he had brought with him and all the miraculous effects immediately disappeared.
In recent years pseudoscience has turned into a well-organized force having large financial capabilities. For example, the International Academy of Information Science regularly holds its forum in the State Kremlin Palace. Not a single scientific conference can permit itself anything of the sort. But this is a separate topic and we will not touch on it. We will dwell on a phenomenon which is rare for the time being - the penetration of pseudoscience into scientific conferences. I will cite the most scandalous example. The 2nd International Congress "Weak and Superweak Fields and Radiation in Biology and Medicine" was held in St. Petersburg in July 2000. Evidently the Congress' Organizing Committee did not conduct a selection of the reports presented. Judge for yourself what resulted. I will cite several titles of the reports.
But the inclusion in the program of a report entitled "The Essence of the Gravitational Constant" seems especially strange; there is no reference to the theme of the Congress and moreover it is mistaken. This, too, is irresponsibility and connivance.
Some words about the situation with the scientific journals published by the RAN. Alas, here too there is some defect in the work. In 1995 the journal "Biophysics" published an article of A. Ye. Akimov, V. Ya. Tarasenko, and G. I. Shipov entitled "Torsion Fields as a Cosmophysical Factor". Note that this is the only article about torsion fields which appeared in an RAN journal published not in the ZhEhTF [The Journal of Experimental and Theoretical Physics], where it properly belonged, but in a biophysics journal. Five years later one more article was published in the same journal, this time about pyramids. In 1989 a publication by A. F. Okhatrin came out in the USSR DAN [Proceedings of the Academy of Sciences] presented by academician M. Sadovskiy about the discovery of so-called microleptons. Attempts by corresponding member of the USSR Academy of Sciences Ye. B. Aleksandrov to publish a refutation immediately afterwards were unsuccessful. Not long ago this story "echoed". In spring of last year TIEL, an English firm with Russian roots, tried to get a license to prospect for oil using "microlepton technology" methods. In spite of skepticism by geologists, who stated that there was no oil in the claimed region, the firm insisted on going ahead with the license all the same. Intrigued journalists went to the firm's management. The latter explained that they were searching for oil with the most modern methods. In 1995 Martin Perl received a Nobel Prize for the discovery of the tau lepton. So that's what microleptons are - something close to tau leptons in their properties. Having found out about the story about microleptons M. Perl was indignant. A scandal began. A commission of scientists arose which decided to investigate this story. Robin Marshall, an English physicist from Manchester University and a specialist in the theory of elementary particles, rather quickly found the 1989 USSR DAN publication as the origin of this swindle. R. Marshall's comments about A. Okhatrin's article resounds as follows: "He is either insane or was drunk or is simply perpetrating a fraud". Prof. R. Marshall noted that "the existence of such a license will give them an enormous advantage". As regards the license, in the opinion of a number of members of the commission, "a license for drilling received from the British government could be used as a stamp of approval for marketing the technology in other regions of the world". One can imagine how things would be for our microlepton swindlers if they were already conducting oil and gas exploration in several regions of our country at state expense before receipt of the British license (which they will hardly get now)! Things have come to the point that swindlers have sent a letter to the head of the Russian government, M. M. Kas'yanov, with a proposal to investigate the oil and gas deposits in the Caspian [Sea]. The swindlers are ready to "appropriate" 500-600 million rubles a year. This is the sort of consequences that carelessness by editorial boards can lead to. This story served as a good lesson to us. I don't know about other branches but the Physical Sciences Branch does not let manuscripts go to the DAN without a review process. Not everyone likes this. "The fact that such an authority exists as a Commission to Combat Pseudoscience is a disgrace to the Russian Academy of Sciences. This Commission has one mission - to block the access to science of any new ideas". These words belong to academician M. M. Lavrent'yev. Mikhail Mikhaylovich is a mathematician, but for some reason he thinks that in the field of physics the entire community is not keeping abreast but that he alone is. He is angry at the Commission because for some time they have stopped the publication of his strange articles on physics in the DAN. And although the activity of the chairman of this Commission reminds M. M. Lavrent'yev of the activity of Torquemada, he has obviously overestimated my resources. In the final account, my influence obviously does not extend to the leading physics journals of the world. He could have tried to publish there. So if nothing happens, it won't be the Commission's fault.
And one more academician, Natal'ya Petrovna Bekhtereva, is scaring the people with this terrible Commission through AiF [Argumenty i Fakty (Arguments and Facts)]. "Right now is not a suitable time to express very courageous ideas because in the Academy of Sciences there is a Commission on Pseudoscience". Why has academician N. P. Bekhtereva suddenly begun to fear the Commission? At the beginning of 2002 a group of authors headed by her published an article in the journal "Fiziologiya Cheloveka [Human Physiology]" entitled "About the So-Called Phenomenon of Direct Viewing". Even the authors themselves noted that this was a particularly preliminary investigation. Experiments were set up so that the possibility of simple peeking was not completely precluded. In such an event it is completely incomprehensible, how could one make dubious statements evoking a protest from any physicist, for example, "alternative viewing is performing with the aid of the skin" or with the aid of a locator [lokatsionnyy mekhanizm]? It is easy to say that there isn't the slightest sense contained in these statements. Meanwhile, the result of this absolutely unconvincing article was an uproar raised in the mass media about a dubious phenomenon presented by the press as a known fact established by academic science. Alas, there were several grounds for the mass media to refer to science this time. Natal'ya Petrovna herself recently stated, "This phenomenon has been thoroughly investigated by us" (AiF, N 1-2, 2003). But how can the authors of the article under discussion state with conviction that "this is a pilot work and a particularly preliminary qualitative investigation not claiming to have detected any quantitative patterns"? Is this really a crude work and also a "thorough investigation"? And does academician N. P. Bekhtereva really think that one unconvincing work is a sufficient basis to send the President of the country a letter with a suggestion about the need to introduce an "alternative viewing" training method in the special services?
As regards Natal'ya Petrovna's fears for "very courageous ideas", then I want to note that not one physicist will regard "skin viewing" as a courageous idea; on the other hand, they would accompany it with another epithet. And the Commission has nothing to do with it here. The article evoked indignation not in the Commission but in the scientific community of the country.
In December 2000 one of the best physics journals in Russia, "Letters to the ZhTF [Journal of Technical Physics]", published an article by V. V. Roshchin and S. M. Godin entitled "An Experimental Investigation of the Physical Effects in a Dynamic Magnetic System". The impression is created that the members of the editorial board did not look at the article, relying on the conclusion of the reviewer. Meanwhile, a casual glance would have been sufficient to understand that it could only have been published in some science fiction almanac. In reality, in a short note once can encounter antigravity (the weight of the apparatus during the experiments fell from 350 to 250 kg), and the observation of "magnetic walls" at a distance of up to 15 meters from the axis of the apparatus without a reduction in the strength of the magnetic field with the distance from the axis, and a number of other wonders.
To the editorial board's credit it needs to be said that it apologized on the pages of their journal to the readers for the publication of this article. And one more small touch about the article in question. It was published in the name of the Institute of High Temperatures; however the latter has no connection with this "research". And there is no such apparatus at the Institute. By the way, such forgeries are a standard practice of pseudoscience.
It is known that science lives and develops according to its inherent ethical standards. Any new effect, any discovery must find first recognition in the scientific community. Therefore the authors of any significant scientific result attempt to publish it in the most prestigious scientific journals (refereed, of course). Publication of initial results in the mass media is considered bad form. Moreover, an appeal by scientists to the highest echelons of authority with a demand for immediate support for brilliant discoveries which the scientific community does not even suspect seems unacceptable.
A year and a half ago V. Sobolev's group from Volgograd, which right away made seven (!) outstanding "discoveries" among which was a new inexhaustible source of energy, very much like a perpetual motion machine, a magnetic charger, a superconductor based on a low-temperature plasma, etc., turned to the President of the country, to the RF Security Council, to the government, and to a representative of the President. Physical scientists first heard about these sensational "discoveries" at a press conference to which none of them were invited and where they had ended up completely by accident. At this show it turned out that the group had not one scientific publication! It is true that, when replying to a proper question, V. Sobolev declared, "We are preparing articles, we will soon go to scientific journals, and the discussion will begin". A month later Mr. Sobolev had forgotten all about his promise. "To take time to write scientific articles, their review process, and pushing them through means taking much valuable time away from us". I hope that this reply needs no comment.
Several months before the public appearance of V. Sobolev's group the mass media made yet one more "genius" a hero, L. Urutskoyev, who "discovered" a magnetic monopole and the effect of transforming elements, let's say, into gold and platinum. And not long ago in a letter to President V. V. Putin State Duma Deputy B. Ye. Nemtsov reported that L. Urutskoyev had managed to enrich uranium-238 by 50%. I would like to note that the concentration of this isotope in natural uranium without any enrichment is 99.28%. It is unworthy of a former physicist to "dash off" letters without even reading them.
S. Shoygu also displayed concern about L. Urutskoyev by addressing a letter to the RF Security Council in support of L. Urutskoyev's activity. A strange picture is forming. Dozens of qualified physicists of Moscow, Novosibirsk, and St. Petersburg were forced to investigate the "discoveries" of L. Urutskoyev. They had to create a special commission in the Kurchatov Institute and listen to L. Urutskoyev and commission members at the Institute's Science Council. The experts were unanimous: L. Urutskoyev's experiments were faulty. But the latter, enjoying high-level support, changed his story: his correctness had been confirmed at the Joint Nuclear Research Institute [OIYaI] (Dubna) and in the nuclear center at Sarov (the former Arzamas-16). And here the director of the OIYaI, academician V. G. Kadyshevskiy, had already been forced to state that the OIYaI had no connection with L. Urutskoyev's experiments. It followed from those experiments which, by the way, were conducted at Sarov in the presence of L. Urutskoyev himself, that neither magnetic monopoles nor the transmutation of elements was observed.
This was all reported to the RF Security Council. But one of the high-ranking officials very much wanted to create a new federal program under Mr. L. Urutskoyev. And here the acting chairman of the Security Council, V. Sherstyuk, distributed a new letter with a demand to conduct an expert analysis not just at the RAN but also at the Ministries of Atomic Energy and Science. This all seems absurd. For these organizations had already clearly expressed themselves clearly and unequivocably. What else was necessary?
There are many volunteers among us to profit at state expense. And until the state decides to put projects in order with expert scientific review we will only watch from the sidelines how budget resources flow into the pockets of the con men and their protectors who hang around science.
The problems of pseudoscience are quite multifaceted and we cannot cover all aspects of this phenomenon. For example, we have left the problem of the export of pseudoscience practically untouched. Nothing has been said about the completely abnormal situation with patent affairs in Russia. But even the facts mentioned in the report are sufficient to understand how dangerous is the phenomenon we are dealing with. We should organize a mass movement against pseudoscience. Branches of the Commission need to appear in the immediate future, at least in the largest cities of the country.
The scientific community is beginning to open its eyes, although slowly. Today we have a sufficient number of qualified volunteer scientists who are ready to work in the Commission. I should note with satisfaction that Ukraine has followed our example. An analogous Commission has been organized there which has taken on itself a mission which includes the struggle against unprincipled advertising in medicine. Contacts have been established with this Commission just as with other international societies of skeptics which conduct educational work with the population of various countries.
If we are to talk of the future, one of the most important tasks is the revival of popular scientific publications. I should note that the Siberian branch of the RAN has already displayed initiative in this matter. In the very near future the first four books will appear on the counters. I would like Moscow, St. Petersburg, and other large cities not to be left out of this undertaking.
A no less important task is the involvement of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences in the struggle against pseudoscience. The examples cited in the report are convincing evidence that the RAMN simply does not have the right to stand aside.
Up to now the Commission has operated on a volunteer basis. However matters will go considerably better if the Presidium of the RAN agrees [to cover] small expenses. The Commission should have its own facilities in the RAN Presidium, means of communication, 2-3 staff members, and minimal financing. As regards the Commission members, they will work on a volunteer basis, as before.
Today pseudoscience has enormous resources. It is absolutely clear that it is an unrealistic task to completely eliminate it. However if our plans are successfully realized, pseudoscience will have very great difficulty, however, as well as the unprincipled officials who are building their fortune in collusion with it.
Academician E. P. Kruglyakov
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