Letter to Theocharis when he published in Nature

Ivor Catt, PO Box 99,

St Albans AL3 4HQ

tel 0727 64257


Theo Theocharis

200a Merton Rd London SW18

tel 01 870 6191


cc Dr Harold Hillman­

Surrey GU1 2BX


cc Peter Hagarty, Editor,

Computer Bulletin,

British Computer Society

[Now part of IEE.]

13 Mansfield St.,

London, W1M OBP

tel 01 631 1049 x206


cc Geoff Shorter,

Deputy Editor,

Electronics and Wireless World

[Previously Wireless World;

later Electronics World]

Dear Theo,

1 would first like to state my enormous admiration for your 15oct87 article in NATURE, which you sent me recently. Also I think very highly of your paper ON THE METHOD AND SCOPE OF RESEARCH given by you to the 900th anniversary of the founding of the oldest university in the world, Bologna.

In your Nature article‑ last page, in the middle;

   “…. every single bit of painstaking proven knowledge is frivolously questioned and cynically scoffed at."­

This is close to one of Hillman's proposed rules of conduct - that the introduction of humour into a serious scientific debate should be seen to be destructive. You must get in touch with Hillman.

 I am sending a copy‑of this letter to Hagarty, to show to him that leading scientists are extremely concerned about suppression of advances in science, and are discussing how science can be reformed (we would say saved) in the future. After his organisation BCS [British Computer Society],  has suppressed my work‑on WSI (rejected everyproffered publication) for 15 years, he has‑asked me to submit an article for the COMPUTER BULLETIN. However, he has not committed himself to publication. Hagarty joined the BCS last December, so these long running issues do not involve him. However, it should be said that the BCS has been under the control of a small coterie of careerists in (I think) Southampton and Manchester Universities, and their publications more or less limited to them plus a few odd contributions from up country Assam to reinforce its international flavour. Since I compete with Mc and Ston for research funding, I have been suppressed. Should I now meekly publish in BCS ‑ validate a decadent organisation, having succeeded in spite of its 100% obstruction?

In my book COMPUTER WORSHIP, pub Pitman 1973, p64, and elsewhere (e.g. The Guardian p25, 16feb89), the obstructive behaviour of the learned institutions re my work is discussed. In my book I discuss the BCS's hostility to computer hardware.

I return to your NATURE article. This is of major importance - a landmark article ‑ and so should be meticulously‑analysed.

I can only start here.                                                                                                     

Some ten years ago I caught you on the Cretan Paradox, or Russell Paradox, and you've conveniently forgotten it. It appears twice in Nature 15oct87; start of p2 and same page at FALSITY.

Our opponents are so slovenly that you are justified politically in using such an argument, but I feel that, between you and me (and HH), such recursiveness or self referencing is faulty. I think that hierarchy in communication must be allowed - a statement about statements must be allowed to disobey the rules of conduct for (mere) statements. This must be pursued at great depth by you and me.                                                                    

line 7, middle column last page. You allow that other disciplines than science can lead to truths. This contradicts your position elsewhere, where you say that the only route to any truth is via  science (or perhaps scientific method). This leads to a general question about your absolutism ‑ science or nothing – which we need to discuss at length.

I shall return to discussion of the Nature article later. When do I see you?

Should a newly hired staff member of BCS be told that BCS does not relate to advances in the computer art, although it may some such after they have occurred? That seems very unkind. Is the BCS a useful tool for advancing the career paths of Mc and Ston lecturers, or is it a useful tool for advancing the computer art? Have I got the wrong universities? Has BCS reformed since I last looked at it?

At the end of the Govt funded project on my computer architecture work at Brunel University, the man in charge, (now) Prof. Mike Lee, said, "At the end of the project we shall publish on it.” I said, "You can’t; all attempts to publish on WSI are rejected by all learned journals." Lee replied; "We can publish, because, we're Academia." (Lewin/Lee spun out of Ston Univ.)

 Would Hagarty like to publish an article by me and also perhaps you in too on suppression by learned institutions in general, and BCS in particular?

Electronics and Wireless World, June88, p592, also discusses suppression of my work by the institutions.

Ivor Catt

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