Post by Jeff Barnett Post by Tom Russ
The best advice is "What to do when the trisector comes"
I have that book! I tried unsuccessfully to track Dudley down. I
wanted to encourage him to do another book on internet cranks and
offer to help gather raw material. He would be in his mid 80's now and
I could not determine even if he was still alive.
(I thought the book was called "The Trisectors" and "What to do when the
trisector comes" was the original paper in The Mathematical Intelligencer.)
It's a lovely paper, but from another era. The thing I remember most is
how quaint and polite it all was. Letters exchanged between professors
and retired admirals or deacons; that sort of thing. Widely publicised
meant writing to 100 people.
One curious difference (which may simply be down to what groups I read)
is that the modern targets are Turing, Gödel and Cantor, rather than
trisection, cube doubling and Fermat.
But the characterisation of the people who do this sort of thing remains
spot-on and I would be fascinated to know what Underwood Dudley would
think of the interactive Internet version of this phenomenon.
Post by Jeff Barnett
Perhaps Ben or
someone else with an interest will write that book.
Oh dear me no. I have experience of only a few and, sad to say, do not
follow what I know to be good advice. I see the interaction as a kind
of entertainment, an attitude that is both unproductive and morally
suspect. Every now and then I resolve that, if I reply at all, it will
be with a simple "there is a well-studied theorem that says that you are
mistaken", but the successful Internet cranks and the ones that have
discovered the right replies to goad people into engaging.