"Conquest of the Plane" (COTP, 2011)
re-engineers mathematics education. It uses the critique on traditional
mathematics education given in
Elegance with Substance
(EWS, 2009). The PDFs are on their websites.
Two book reviewers of EWS and/or COTP advised to read
COTP with an open mind. A “review” by Jeroen Spandaw (TU Delft) however
misrepresents the analysis and is slanderous. My suggestion to Spandaw to talk
about this was rejected.
A subsequent appeal to the TU Delft Commission on
Scientific Integrity resulted in their
verdict in 2012 that book reviews are
not at issue in the rules on scientific integrity, or alternatively that the
supposed breach was so minor that it didn’t justify an effort to look deeper
into the matter (with an actual investigation).
An appeal to the national supervising integrity body LOWI
of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences KNAW
confirmed this Delft verdict in
A somewhat later report by Christiaan Boudri
(Arnhem-Nijmegen) in 2013 reacted to Spandaw with the repeat advice to read with
an open mind. The integrity committees regarded this as too late, whence it had
It is amazing that the committees on integrity of science
think that reviews of scientific books are not part and parcel of science. When
scientists discuss the works of other scientists (listed in their references)
then there are standards of fair representation and common decency. Why would
those standards not apply to book reviews as well ?
Spandaw’s “review” is in Dutch. My discussion and protest
of June 11 2014 is in English.
At no time the freedom of
expression of a scientist is at issue here. If Spandaw is not convinced by COTP
he is free to say so. At issue is only that you don’t misrepresent and slander
and you don’t accept it from others.
The best approach remains that others read EWS and COTP.
It is unfortunate that there now is the added burden to have to think about
whether you support the misrepresentation and slander or not. All this might
perhaps be beneficial for the discussion on mathematics education. Mathematics
education might be better than in the year 0 but is rather dismal compared to
what is possible. More discussion of EWS and COTP will help to get an
Traditional mathematics educators like Spandaw think that
they defend quality but they close their minds to the wonderful results that are
possible when we re-engineer the traditional lores that we teach our students.
For researchers in the integrity of science, the complete set of documents can be made available when they indicate that they will respect the anonymous character of the LOWI procedure.