To "Interuniversitair samenwerkingsinstituut Sociale Keuze Theorie"
(Members taken from the report 2000)

April 20, 2001
Concerning: Misconduct

Dear colleagues,

I think that it is useful that I inform you that there has been a collective misconduct on your part, something that goes against the integrity of science. I would advise you to consider my enclosed clarification, and I would gladly accept the group’s apologies, both to me and professor Donald Saari.

The issue is described in enclosed appendix.

Kind regards,

Thomas Cool

[Adres] Scheveningen, Holland

cc. professor D. Saari, professor R. Gill, and the chairpersons of Wiskundige Genootschap and American Mathematical Society, Internet

A note on the scientific misconduct of the Dutch working group on Social Choice Theory (SCT) ("Interuniversitair samenwerkingsinstituut Sociale Keuze Theorie") in relation to the 37th "Nederlands Mathematisch Congres" (NMC)

Thomas Cool, April 20 2001


  1. As a preamble, it is useful to restate that I protest against the abuse of power by the directorate of the Dutch Central Planning Bureau (CPB). As an econometrician, I held a position as a ‘scientific co-worker’ there from 1982-1991. In 1989/90 I developed an analysis on unemployment, of which a part deals with Arrow’s Theorem (for the social choice involved). The CPB directorate blocked my analysis from discussion, while as a scientist I should have the opportunity for internal discussion first before I would submit the analysis for publication by the bureau. The directorate abused its power by turning the issue into a labour dispute, and it used some lies to get me fired. The issue is still in court, and I am asking the academy of science (KNAW) to investigate te matter. Professor Richard Gill (RUU, KNAW) has taken an interest in the case, and supports my request at KNAW.

  3. Given this background, it must be obvious that I dislike disputes in general. I dislike what CPB directorate does, as I similarly dislike writing these lines. In particular since a dispute may cause people to hypothise that perhaps the CPB directorate had an issue. Yet in some cases, clarity is essential. In this case, I think that there can be some educational value to all persons involved, and the general public at large, that there are some costs when the integrity of science is not respected. E.g. Holland has had a needless but huge (hidden) unemployment for 10 years now (which can be generalised for Europe). I am sorry to report, in this respect, that economists tend to disregard my work and they tend to accept the abuse of power by the CPB directorate. Therefor, it is useful to call for the cavalry, and ask the other professions, and in particular the mathematicians, to investigate the case and to defend the integrity of science.

  5. Still in the preamble: Since 1990/91 I have hardly had time for research. Protesting against the abuse costs time, just as it costs time to write (and read) these lines. I have had various temporary jobs in different industries, and it took time to learn the different fields. Yet it was a great joy in 1993 when I discovered Mathematica, and since then I have been working steadily towards my major recent publication "Definition and Reality in the General Theory of Political Economy" (DRGTPE) (2000). I also have published "The Economics Pack, applications of Mathematica" (TEP) (1998, 2001) and this January I put out "Voting Theory for Democracy" (VTFD). All these can be ordered online at TEP has had a good review in the Economic Journal, it has sold about 100 copies and the software has brought me into contact with some fine economists. Clearly, part of my strategy is to use this quality software to also draw attention to my economic analysis and to my protest against the abuse of science by the CPB directorate.

  7. When I had written VTFD, this January, I contacted professor Pieter Ruys (KUB) again, who had been a contact person for me in 1990 on my analysis on Arrow’s Theorem. In 1990 he did not understand the analysis, and my hope was and is that VTFD will make a difference. Because I had seen a booklet on the subject by professor Harrie de Swart (KUB), I contacted him as well. Both professors were interested in the book, so I took the expense to send these to them. It also appeared that there existed some working group on Social Choice Theory, and to my surprise and delight, I was even invited to join.

  9. For all clarity: the 1990 paper on Arrow’s Theorem that the CPB directorate blocks from discussion (and eventual publication by the CPB) is part of VTFD, and only reordered since the book is about voting in general and not just Arrow’s Theorem.

  11. Leaving the preamble phase: On February 23 2001 I first met the SCT working group. It appeared that professor Donald Saari would come to Holland, and that there would also be a SCT session at the 37th Nederlands Mathematisch Congres (NMC). In that meeting of February 23 it was decided that I would present my book VTFD at NMC. I mentioned, then, that this would be very useful for Saari as well, since I have some useful comments to make on his work.

  13. I also had brought along some copies of my book. But nobody bought a copy.

  15. In the train back home I encountered Eliora van der Hout again, one working group member. She said that she would study the book. It also appeared that she was a room-mate of dr. Annemarie ter Veer - who I had met a few years ago - and who also appeared to be a member of the SCT working group. In that period, Annemarie was with the political party De Groenen, and this party had taken an interest in my economic analysis. In fact, a delegation of that party took me along to the CPB, to ask CPB to do some calculations on the analysis. Eventually, though, at some discussion with De Groenen, there was some political manipulation - not by Annemarie ! - and I decided that I would no longer advise this party.

  17. A few days after the meeting, Harrie informed me that my presentation was annulled. Some people, anonymous to me, had contacted him after the meeting, and had said that they feared that my work would not be up to the standards.

  19. I hope that it is clear what happens here. (a) Since the objections to a presentation were not voiced in my presence, I have not been able to give answers. (b) See the psychological effect on Saari: If my book has been recently published and there is no session on it, such that Saari could attend, then he might think that the book has no relevance for him.

  21. One should know that I, through my work on Mathematica, have had some contact with Alex Tabarrok, and that I, through him, had learned about Saari’s work at an earlier stage. I have indeed tried to contact Saari a few years ago. In fact, both Tabarrok and Saari moved to California afterwards. Unfortunately, no contact with Saari was established back then. Given Saari’s importance for the field, one can understand that I think that it is important that we are in contact.

  23. Thanks to Harrie de Swart, two thinks happened: (a) He gave me an introduction to professor Saari by email, so that I could send him my book VTFD and so that he could look at it before he came to Holland. Saari replied with an email that he would be delighted to look at the book. (b) I was invited to give a presentation about my book for the working group. This presentation was on March 16.

  25. Present at my March 16 presentation were Ruys, Storcken, De Swart, Monsuur, Bosch, Rusinowska and some students who are unknown to me. Afterwards I got some applause, which sounded honest. Ton Storcken promised to study my book (of which I have taken the expense of sending him a copy as well).

  27. My problem with the meeting however was: (a) I was told that some people had decided not to come, since they thought that the presentation would not be up to their mathematical standards. The group officially has 28 members or so, my impression is that some 14 turn up regularly, but at my March 16 presentation only 6 turned up (excluding the students). (b) There was no further discussion about the issue of me and Saari.

  29. Hence, I wrote a letter to Harrie and Pieter to emphasise that the mathematical level of my analysis should not be underestimated, and that the analysis should deserve serious attention by the working group.

  31. There was a strange problem with dates. Harrie first announced that Saari would give a full day workshop on Tuesday April 17. Even though my work is of the highest quality, I still have no official Ph. D. title yet, and for the current universities in Holland that means that I cannot work at an university. Currently, I teach parttime at a professional college. When I applied for a leave, my new head decided, suddenly, that lecturers are allowed only one day of leave per semester. So I had to choose between a presentation on Webmathematica of April 24 and Saari’s lecture of the 17th. I arranged my leave for April 17. However, a week before the 17th, Harrie wrote an email in which he proposed a change of this workshop to the 18th. I wrote back that any change was OK, but that I needed to know this sufficiently in advance because I have to make arrangements with my school. When I tried to contact Harry what the final day would be, I could not reach him. Since it was quite uncertain on which day Saari would have the workshop, and since I could not take 2 days of leave, I cancelled the 17th. On the 17th (after Easter) it appeared that the workshop would be on Wednesday the 18th - but it was too late to make arrangements.

  33. It so happens, for Wednesday’s, that I give only morning lectures. So I could attend Saari’s Wednesday afternoon session. Due to a delayed train, I came in late just after lunch and just before the lecture started at 14:00 hours. Finally I met Saari, but thus severely handicaped in way of introduction.

  35. In the break of the lecture, Harrie told me that he had received my letter, and that he would take the time to really look at my book. I would have to wait till September before he could have a reaction, and he warned me that it even might be later than that. As such, I could only accept this, since I am happy will all real interest that people can foster.

  37. The workshop ended around 16:00 hours. Since I had no questions on this afternoon lecture, and since I missed the morning lecture, I considered it proper to remain silent on my views concerning Saari’s confusion, and thus I did not engage the whole working group into a discussion on that.

  39. When everybody appeared to leave, I finally had time to ask professor Saari whether he had looked at my book, what his schedule was, and whether he would have time to discuss issues. He said that he had been ill, and had had no time to look at my book.

  41. Thus: Given that Saari had had no time to look at my book, and given that I arrived only just before his second lecture, Saari had no way of knowing about my knowledge of his work. Thus Wednesday April 18th, Saari and I talked for perhaps an hour, but this was a talk with lots of misunderstandings on his part, while I felt at a great disadvantage since I had expected that he would have had a look at my book.

  43. It appeared that the AMS has put out a publication by Saari, "Chaotic Elections", 2001. The flyer of that book of course restates Saari’s confusions. The AMS flyer also states: "Saari’s book should be required reading for anyone who wants to understand what happened not only in the presidential election of 2000, but also how we can avoid similar problems from appearing anytime any group is making a choice using a voting procedure." Well, I think that the book would be useful reading - but it is my VTFD that is required reading. Which is why I think that protesting against these events in the SCT working group is so important as well.

  45. Professor Saari and I may agree 98%, but the 2% difference is the difference between a human being and a chimpansee. I can explain the difference in a few statements, and I have done so for Saari, but one needs to think about it, and the statements apparently need their context before people understand them.

  47. Thus for example, professor Saari says that Arrow’s Theorem is caused by the lack of distinction between rational and irrational voters, he uses the same cause for Sen’s Theorem, and he uses this commonality as an argument for having identified the true cause of the paradoxes. Yet, in my analysis, the cause for Arrow’s Theorem is the confusion between ‘voting’ (fields of voting results) and deciding, while Sen’s Theorem is based on a confusion between personal and social choices. For both points, see VTFD. In both cases, we have paradoxical theorems, and it is proper indeed to look for causes why we think that these results are paradoxical. Both Saari and I accept the theorems as mathematical truths, but we reject their common interpretation. But since our causes are different, the implications are different. For all clarity, I also say, and discovered this independently from Saari, that Arrow’s Theorem (and the ‘axiom of pairwise decision making’ in particular) does not use all information that is available, yet this is not the cause for the theorem.

  49. Arrow’s wrong interpretation of his theorem has been confusing SCT for 50 years. It would be a real pity if Saari’s wrong interpretation would give us another 50 years of confusion. The danger of that is large, since Saari has presented some wonderful work in geometry, and has given some wonderful new tools. Mathematicians are in danger of embracing all Saari’s work, the tools and the interpretation, in one sweep - just as they did with Arrow. The effect of ingrained biases can be very strong. I have presented the proper analysis since 1990, and people, such as also the CPB directorate, have not treated this analysis with the proper respect. Criticising Arrow was ‘not done’. I am very grateful to professor Saari for creating room to be more critical of Arrow’s interpretation. But it would be wrong when Saari’s interpretation would cause people to stop thinking again. In fact, we could already see this happen at the 37th NMC.

  51. Thus, at the 37th NM Congres, Saari presented the main theme of his work in a noon lecture.

  53. I did not see Harrie de Swart before that lecture started, and thus I could not inform him that Saari had had no time to look at my book.

  55. At one moment Saari asked the audience how they would explain Sen’s Theorem. Since Saari and I had not discussed Sen’s Theorem, I raised my hand to offer my explanation. However, Saari rejected my offer, saying ‘We had a discussion yesterday’, and thus I was not allowed to speak. Clearly, Saari allowed his confusion about the two theorems to dominate the discussion. Well, at that moment he had the floor, so one should allow for this, and it is proper that people can hear what he thinks.

  57. At the end of the lecture, there was time for questions. The evening before I had decided that it would be proper for me to speak up. Thus I did. And I stated for the audience that I have a great respect for professor Saari, and that he has done some brilliant work, but that he entertains a confusion on some crucial points, and that it is important to study those points.

  59. Professor Saari gave the impression to be angered by my statement. He even said: "You say that I am wrong, but you don’t give arguments why." This apparently got approval with the audience, since, indeed, at that moment, it seemed as if I had not given any argument. Yet, it should be obvious that I have given my arguments - I had sent him my book - and that professor Saari only has had not enough time to properly consider them.

  61. Of course, I also can understand professor Saari a bit here. He will have encountered, as I have, lots of unspoken opposition to his criticism of Arrow’s interpretation. Perhaps my remark reminded him of that.

  63. Yet, of course, the proper reaction would have been to invite me to present my arguments to the audience. I had my sheets of my presentation of March 16 with me, and it would have taken only 20 minutes, which time was available. The audience could have voted on this, or only the interested people could have stayed - the others voting with their feet.

  65. After the lecture, I checked with Saari whether he was angry indeed, and it appeared that this was not the case. I also reminded him that I did have arguments.

  67. Harrie de Swart appeared unhappy with my remark, but I think that I have succeeded in explaining that I have only decent objectives in having made it.

  69. After these events professor Saari and I did not speak with each other again, though there seemed to be ample opportunity for that.

  71. The afternoon session of the SCT group had only two presentations, by Rob Bosch and Hans Peters. Again, there would have been ample time to allow me a presentation as well. But nobody invited me to do so. Rob Bosch in fact started copying Saari’s confusion.
Which completes my experience with the SCT working group in February, March and April this year.

I can conclude that the SCT working group collectively misconducts in the following way:

  1. There are biases against the quality of my work, and the group allows those biases to run affairs instead of that the group deliberately tries to get clarity. Fortunately, some individuals like Harrie de Swart and Ton Storcken in particular show good intentions, but apparently they also have busy agenda’s, and there is a large risk that they simple do not take sufficient time to get to the root of the analysis.
  2. The process of the selection of speakers for the NMC was improper - and it allowed those biases to grow worse.
  3. I told the group that they did not understand social choice theory, that they needed to study my book, and that it would be important that we tried to get the argumentation across to Saari. Just the same as I told in 1990. I might as well have said this to a wall. As a scientist, however, I must expect that if people disagree on a statement, that they give counterarguments. The group did not do this.
  4. The group created a situation such that I was forced to a make a formal statement at Saari’s NMC lecture - and such that Saari made the error of falsely accusing me. Various people in the audience, who are no regular visitors of the SCT working group, will have had a strange idea of what was happening.
Clearly, since there are lots of signs of good intentions, there is reason for some optimism. Also, there have been some unfortunate events, like Saari’s illness and the change of the lecture dates. Yet still, I think that the group owes an apology to professor Saari and me. Of course, at this moment professor Saari has not read my book yet, and thus he does not know how important the issue is. But eventually I can only think that he would agree.

My other suggestion is that the group now starts studying the book, that we have some sessions on it in September, and that we afterwards invite professor Saari again.

Appendix: Professor Saari's email about my book

>From mailnull Wed Feb 28 21:23:06 2001
Resent-from: "H. de Swart" <H.C.M.deSwart @>
Resent-to: cool @
Resent-date: Wed, 28 Feb 2001 21:22:26 MET
X-Sender: dsaar @
Date: Wed, 28 Feb 2001 12:18:27 -0800
To: "H. de Swart" <>
From: Donald Saari <>
Subject: Re: book by Thomas Cool

>Dear Donald,
>In our research group on Social Choice Theory, you will meet
>Thomas Cool, who has recently written a book "Voting Theory
>for Democracy", in which he also discusses your work.
>He has designed a Borda Fixed Point, which differs from your
>preference for Borda itself.
>He would be delighted to send you his book, so that you
>could read about his approach. If you would be interested,
>please tell me, so that I can tell Thomas that he can send
>you the book indeed. Otherwise, I'm sure that you will be
>able to discuss matters when you meet him.
>With kind regards and looking forward to see you, Harrie de Swart.
>H.C.M. de Swart e-mail:
>H.C.M.deSwart @
>Chair in Logic and Linguistic Analysis tel. (0031) 13 4662415
>Tilburg University fax. (0031) 13 4662892
>P.O. Box 90153
>5000 LE Tilburg
>the Netherlands

This would be delightful! If I have the book in advance, I
could (hopefully) have it read before I arrive so I could be more
informed in our discussions.

Either mailing address given below would suffice.



Donald G. Saari, UCI Distinguished Professor of Mathematics and Economics
Economics: 3295 Social Science Plaza, (949) 824 5894
Mathematics: 233 Multipurpose Science & Eng. Blg, (949) 824-7121
Mail: Either Department, University of California, Irvine,
Irvine, CA 92697, dsaari @

Appendix: My April 19 email to professor Saari on his false accusation

Dear professor Saari,

Today, at the 37th Nederlands Mathematisch Congres, held at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, I again informed you that you are on an off-track course concerning voting theory and the theory of social welfare. What your articles 'crucially' say about voting theory and social welfare is unwarrented, and your statements could be detrimental to democracy and social welfare themselves.

In reply to this remark of mine, you replied that I did not give any reasons to substantiate my statement. Your comment caused the audience to neglect my remark, at that moment.

However, your reply is improper, since I did send you my book, that contains this substantiation. You told me earlier - Wednesday, when we met for the first time - that you had been ill before, and that you did not have time to look at the book. Below email exchange shows that there has been some effort to get my book to you. I take your word for it that it has arrived. Thus there is a clear difference between the existence of my analysis and your lack of time to study it.

I would like to have it on record that I greatly appreciate your work.

Thousands of years hence, students will use your representations to understand voting paradoxes. You created a tool, in the same way as Descartes created analytical geometry. Your contribution to the subject is brilliant - and a proof of a determined intelligence trying to discover a hidden truth. Yet, there is a fine line, separating your true contribution from the 'off track' conclusions. On some aspects, you are too rash, and some of your conclusions are not valid.

I truely forgive you your remark, on my supposed lack of providing argumentation, since I know how hard it is to work on the frontier. Yet I also know that our colleagues are easily mislead. For 50 years they followed Kenneth Arrow, and now they might as well follow you - but also on you rash conclusions!

Currently, I am quite at a loss as to the current situation. The best thing probably is that you inform all people involved, that your statement, that I did not provide any substantiation, was incorrect. I please ask you to do so, though the damage already has been done.

My best regards,

Thomas Cool