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October 25, 2002

Revenge of the French Intellectuals

Stung by the Sokal Hoax, two French brothers, Igor and Grichka Bogdanov, have made a stab at righting the scales. They managed to obtain PhDs from the Université de Bourgogne in Dijon and publish 4 papers filled with nonsense:

KMS Space-Time at the Planck Scale, G. Bogdanov, I. Bogdanov , Nuovo Cim. 117B (2002) 417-424.
The KMS State of Space-Time at the Planck Scale, I. Bogdanov , Chin.J.Phys. 40 (2002) 149-158.
Space-Time Metric and the KMS Condition at the Planck Scale, G. Bogdanov, I. Bogdanov, Annals Phys.296 (2002) 90-97.
Topological Field Theory of the Initial Singularity of Space-Time, G. Bogdanov, I. Bogdanov, Class.Quant.Grav. 18 (2001) 4341-4372.

What this says about the French PhD system or refereeing in the journals (and some journals they chose! Nuovo Cimento? The Chinese Journal of Physics? Gimme a break!) is anyone’s guess. But the most curious aspect of the affair was that they never even bothered to submit their masterpieces to the eprint archives. Which is to say that no one (and I do mean not a single person) actually read this stuff before the story broke…

For those unfamiliar with the field, let me explain what that means. The abstracts of new papers submitted to hep-th are read daily by thousands of physicists. If the abstract sounds interesting, hundreds will download and read it. Feedback (positive or negative) comes swiftly and copiously. If (like 99.9% of all scientists), you want to get your work noticed and read, you send it to the archives.

If, on the other hand, you want your work to “fly under the radar” and make it into a journal, having been read only by one other person (the overworked referee, and, in this case, perhaps not even by him), then you studiously avoid sending your work to the archives. Since no one in our field reads the journals anymore (why bother, when the archives are so much more convenient?), no one will be the wiser.

For more discussion of the unfolding “scandal”, see this Usenet thread.

The plot thickens: The Bogdanov brothers are not listed among the current or recent PhD students of the Lab. Have their names been pulled from the website, or is this all a put-up job?

Apparently, the Bogdanov brothers have been at this game for a while. I’ve been pulling up reviews on the web of their 1991 book, “Dieu et la Science” (God and Science), written with Jean Guitton of the Académie Française. From the excerpts, it appears to be written as an extended “interview”, with Guitton as the interviewer, and the Bogdanov brothers responding (with what sounds to me to be mostly bullshit). But … and here’s the interesting bit … all the reviews I pulled up from Google credit the Bogdanov brothers as having PhDs in theoretical physics and astrophysics (when they wrote the book, in 1991!).

Posted by distler at October 25, 2002 10:09 PM

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About the Guitton book …. a bad odour of copying is tied to this book and there was some debate about whether or not they “inspire” from other books

Posted by: Clement on November 5, 2002 12:45 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

About the Guitton book …. a bad odour of copying is tied to this book and there was some debate about whether or not they “inspire” from other books

(please keep my name anonymous)

Posted by: Clement on November 5, 2002 12:46 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Taken from Daniel Sternheimer letter to Monasterky, available in full from:

“Paris Match had given, in its September 12, 1991, and confirmed in affidavits from October 1993 and January 1994, examples proving that TXT had reproduced parts of a “Grand Document” of 50 typewritten pages by Guitton and the twins (December 1986) on the place of God in modern science, and some of another (January 1987) based on the transcript of an interview of Carl Sagan by the twins.”

Read the full story there before you decide where the odour is coming from…

Posted by: ark on November 11, 2002 9:32 AM | Permalink | Reply to this

Chin.J.Phys. 40 (2002)

This Chinese Journal become “famous” for those great brothers! It is very nice.

Posted by: yhnjikm on November 18, 2002 4:03 AM | Permalink | Reply to this

The Bogdanov bros are bastards!

Posted by: Maurice de Gosson on December 3, 2002 11:53 AM | Permalink | Reply to this

Dear Sir,
I thought you might be interested in knowing that according to an article in Le Monde of Dec. 19, 2002 the Bogdanov Brothers received their Ph.D’s
Igor on July the 8th 2002 and Grigory in June 1999. Both received the mention “honorable” which means mediocre in English.
As for the French PhD system, it has it’s problems. However I am not aware that you can buy one in France through the mail as it’s the case in our country.
Daniel S. Soultanian, Ph.D. (from France)
Hattiesburg, MS, USA
The web address for the “Le Monde” article:,9687,302805,00.html?query=bogdanov&query2=&booleen=et&num_page=1&auteur=&dans=dansarticle&periode=30&ordre=pertinence&debutjour=&debutmois=&debutannee=&finjour=&finmois=&finannee=&G_NBARCHIVES=756+585

Posted by: Daniel S. Soultanian on December 22, 2002 11:25 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Revenge of the French Intellectuals

After having read many contributions to the debate I am now satisfied that the Bogdanov bros ARE NOT bastards.

Posted by: Maurice de Gosson on March 1, 2003 10:01 AM | Permalink | Reply to this

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