World Multiconference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics ???

Perm url with updates: http://xahlee.org/comp/WMSCI.html

World Multiconference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics ???

Xah Lee, 2010-04-04

Starting about 2005, i regularly receive email asking me to participate a conference, called World Multiconference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics (WMSCI). Here's one of such email i got today:

Dear Xah Lee:

As you know the Nobel Laureate Herbert Simon affirmed that design is an essential ingredient of the Artificial Sciences Ranulph Glanville, president of the American Society for Cybernetics and expert in design theory, affirms that "Research is a variety of design. So do research as design. Design is key to research. Research has to be designed." An increasing number of authors are stressing the relationships between Design and Research. Design is a mean for Research, and Research is a mean for Design. Design and research are related via cybernetic loops in the context of means-ends logic. Consequently, we invite you to submit a paper/abstract and/ot to organize an invited session in the International Symposium on Design and Research in the Artificial and the Natural Sciences: DRANS 2010 (http://www.sysconfer.org/drans) which is being organized in the context of The 14th World Multi-Conference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics: WMSCI 2010 (http://www.sysconfer.org/wmsci), 2010 in Orlando, Florida, USA.

...

I do not know this organization, nor do i remember ever having contacted them. I don't know how they got my email or know that i'm involved in the computer science community. Though, after getting a few of their email, one clearly gets a sense that it is a scam, soliciting innocent idiotic academics (those with PH Ds.).

Here's what Wikipedia has to say about them: World Multiconference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics. Here's a juice quote:

WMSCI attracted publicity of a less favorable sort in 2005 when three graduate students at MIT succeeded in getting a paper accepted as a "non-reviewed paper" to the conference that had been randomly generated by a computer program called SCIgen.[8] Documents generated by this software have been used to submit papers to other similar conferences. Compare to the Sokal affair.

WMSCI has been accused of using spam to advertise its conferences.[8]

Now and then, whenever i got their email, the curiosity in me do lookup the several terms cited in their email, partly to check the validity. For example, in this one, it mentiones Herbert Simon. Another one i recall i got recently mentioned Science 2.0. Both of the terms i haven't heard of before.

One'd think that it is easy to tell scam from real science, but with today's science proliferation, it's actually not that easy. Even if you are a academic, it's rather common that many new science terms you never heard of, because there are tremendous growth of new disciplines or cross disciplines, alone with their new terms. Cross-discipline is rather common and natural, unlike in the past where science is more or less clearly delineated hierarchy like Physics, Math, Chemistry, biology, etc and their sub-branches. However, many of today's new areas is a bit questionable, sometimes a deliberate money making scheme, which i suppose is the case for WMSCI. Many of these, use terms like “post-modern”, “new-age”, “science 2.0” to excuse themselves from the rather strict judgement of classic science. Many of these terms such as “systemics”, “cybernetics”, “infomatics” are vague. Depending on the context, it could be a valid emerging science discipline, but it could also be pure new-age garbage. And sometimes, nobody really knows today.

In the past 2 decade, there are quite a few cases where peer reviewed papers published in respected journals are exposed as highly questionable or deliberate hoax, arosing massive debate on the peer review system. The peer-review system itself can't hold all the burden, but part of it has to do with the incredible growth of sciences and limitation of the single human mind to make sense of them all. For examples, see:

  • Sokal Affair (The Sokal Affair was a publishing hoax perpetrated by Alan Sokal, a physics professor at New York University. In 1996, Prof. Sokal submitted an article to Social Text, an academic journal dedicated to postmodern cultural studies.)
  • Bogdanov Affair (Twin brother physicists published in peer reviewed journal that was accused to be random mix of physics jargons)
  • Jan Hendrik Schon (German physicist who briefly rose to prominence after a series of apparent breakthroughs that were later discovered to be fraudulent.[1] Before he was exposed, Schön had received the Otto-Klung-Weberbank Prize for Physics in 2001, the Braunschweig Prize in 2001 and the Outstanding Young Investigator Award of the Materials Research Society in 2002, which was later rescinded.)

When it comes to philosophy, it is worse. For example, there's this Hegel (1770-1831), i personally regard him as the worst mumble-jumbo scumbag.

In the computer science or programing area, which i'm personally a expert, there are quite a huge number of wishy-washy shit. Examples include: Extreme Programing (espousing that programing should be done by 2 males sitting in front of a computer together, one code while the other sucks his cock.), Universal Modeling Language (which supposes that this pseudo-language solves the world's problems), Design Patterns (which peddles best practices under the aegis of OOP and jargonism.), and, of course there's Larry Wall, whose crime is too numerous to list. (disclaimer: opinion only.)

Even in the area of math, i'm reminded of the guy Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983). Personally, i despise his name.

On the other hand, there's Stephen Wolfram, with his A New Kind of Science. It has received criticism from many scientists and mathematicians as garbage, exasperated by Wolfram's megalomania personality. Personally i respect his work highly. (See also: Notes on A New Kind of Science.)

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