Pseudonym (was Re: what is killing PKI?)

Robert J. Hansen rjh at
Tue Aug 28 19:31:21 CEST 2012

Hash: SHA256

I haven't responded to any of No Such Client's emails yet, on account of
them not being constructive.  This email is constructive, though, so
here goes.

> With due respect Mr Lebbing,  my initial post - was in response to
>  Mr. Hansen´s post which (from my perspective) was exceedingly
> rude, and arrogant.

I can understand why you'd think that.  To the extent that etiquette is
a subjective decision, I can't even argue against it.  But I'm not
overly concerned by it, either.

The worst trait of academia, in my mind, is the tendency of people
within it to get obsessed on their one particular thing.  I know one
person whom I and my colleagues refer to as "Random"[*].  Whatever
problem we propose, this person says, "You know what would fix this?  A
randomized approach."  This person is technically brilliant but unable
to recognize that this idea does not always work in the real world.  The
feedback cycle, wherein this person should discover "you know,
randomized algorithm theory really didn't help very much here," is broken.

The best way to keep a feedback cycle humming is to go out of your way
to look for evidence that contradicts, rather than supports, your views.
Further, start looking for that evidence immediately.

If you have an opinion about art, I'd love to hear it.  I will entertain
any and all opinions on these, because ultimately it's subjective and
the point of the discussion is not to better understand the world around
us but to better understand each other.  But if you have an opinion
about the physical world, well -- the standards there are different.

> I wondered why the same company that castigates me for being rude,
> or insulting allows one with a ¨real name¨ to disparage another
> member.

We are not our ideas.  Other human beings should be taken seriously: our
ideas, though, must *never* be taken seriously.  They must instead be
thrown into violent collision with other ideas, and we must not be shy
about saying, "this idea doesn't seem to work and/or there's no evidence
to support it, so I'm going to get rid of it."

People are important, precious, special.  Ideas are just ideas.

Venerating ideas and believing that all ideas, regardless of how
poorly-supported they are by evidence, leads you into situations like we
have in the United States where Creationists are trying to hijack school
science curricula.  They demand their ideas that contradict reality be
given equal time and respect to the reality-agreeing ideas of
conventional biology.  I believe these people deserve to be told,
clearly, firmly and politely, "Until your theory makes testable
predictions, I don't care about it."

Peter Segment has his opinions about why PKI adoption is so slow.  These
opinions are at odds with what we know about why PKI adoption is so
slow.  If he were to conduct an HCI study that gave results supporting
his theory, I would take his study and theory with grave seriousness.

But until then -- I don't care about his theory.

> Not a double standard at all eh? So yes, I was intentionally rude 
> with Mr. Hansen , (and only him afaik) as he was quite offensive to
>  Mr. Segment.. (Full Disclosure: I enjoyed it. Sometimes people
> learn with a taste of their own medicine.. )

And this, here, is the difference.

I did not smear Peter Segment.  I simply told him, bluntly and directly,
that I didn't care about his theory until such time as he had evidence
to back it up and show the existing literature was wrong.  Believe it or
not, most people on this list understand that this is not rudeness: this
is just the way progress in science and mathematics occurs.

You, on the other hand, deliberately employed ad hominem against me, not
against my ideas.  You openly admit that you enjoyed it.  And you seem
to not be able to recognize the difference between us.

I think that says it all, really.

[*] The name and its derivation is slightly changed to protect my
co-worker.  The person and this person's behavior is completely real,
but the object of blindered focus is something different.


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