Monday, November 25, 2013

The Institute for proving Graph Isomorphism is in P

(This post was inspired by Adam Winklers awesome book
Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America.
Disclaimers one: Adam Winkler is my cousin and I got a free copy.
Question: Should I give him a free copy of my VDW book when it comes out?
Disclaimer two: Scott did a post on a related matter here.)

If someone started an Institute to prove Graph Isomorphism is in P that would
be very odd since it could be that GI is not in P.
If someone started an Institute to study Graph Isomorphism that would be
much less odd (though still somewhat odd).

Does it make sense to have an openly biased think tank?

  1. If a pro-gun-control person writes a book that proves that there weren't that many
    guns in America in the early 1800's would you believe it?
  2. If an anti-gun-control person writes a book claming that the more guns there are
    the less crime there is, would you believe it?
  3. The CATO Institute: A Libertarian Think Tank.
    If they did an honest study of gun control and concluded that it does reduce
    crime then would they publish it? I honestly do not know.
    If they did an honest study of gun control and concluded that it increases
    crime then would anyone believe it? Being openly biased might undermine their credibility.
  4. The Tobacco Institute (they no longer exist). They produced reports
    claiming that smoking was not unhealthy (or perhaps that the evidence is incomplete).
    They were employed by the Tobacco industry. Did they ever have any credibility?
    Did they do any unbiased science, perhaps on non-smoking issues?
    I honestly don't know.
It is tempting to say Scientists should not have an opinion before they do a study. But this is clearly not correct in theory or practice. Scientists do indeed have an opinion, even an interest, in what a study will tell. Why is that different from the Tobacco institute?
  1. An honest scientist's preconceived notions are hopefully also based on science and not on who is paying him and not on other non-science factors.
  2. An honest scientist, when faced with evidence that they are wrong, will hopefully pursue that evidence and perhaps change their mind. This might be easier in math than in science since Proof is our accepted criteria. For example, I doubt there are diehards who still think that NL ≠ coNL.


  1. I'm pro-gun, anti-graph. Shoot 'em all and let God sort them out (into isomorphism classes)

  2. I've read that the Tobacco Institute funded a variety of other junk science (e.g. climate change denial), as a kind of cover for their tobacco junk science.

  3. funding and science is inextricably linked. hence the importance of "neutral" taxpayer supported/govt agencies like the NSF. science and capitalism do not always mix well.

  4. Would you stop with your fear mongering? The polynomial hierarchy is fine and talks about a supposed "collapse" are non-sense.

    The logspace hierarchy did collapse, but that was an entirely different matter! (We suspect foul play). So, there's no need for panic, people should continue using the hierarchy as usual.

    Inspired by Scott Aaronson :

  5. The Past  US Courts find Big Tobacco guilty as charged.

    The Present  The journal Science has uncovered, via investigation, a thriving black market in science paper authoring

    The Future  Rates of Erdödos-style amphetamine use rise to unprecedented levels … particularly at top-rank grad schools?

    Conclusion  STEM students stand in urgent need of better professional narratives than the history of science, present academic circumstances, and future prospects provide them.

  6. Replies
    1. The ACLU is also biased of course so if they produces reports like a think tank does (do they?) then that bias might make them untrustworthy.
      Or NOT- the point of my post is to raise the question- does having a bias
      make one untrustworthy?