Monday, July 25, 2005

Revisiting Escultura

I was browsing Alecks Pabico's article on Edgar Escultura when I came upon a letter that I wrote to the Manila Times regarding their news story about the good professor receiving the Carl Friederich Gauss Prize from the International Mathematical Union. I was not expecting them to again print a letter from me and I was distracted by the events then occuring in the Philippines that I did not see their response until now. My letter and the Manila Times response was copied by Jo Torres in the comments section of Alecks articles.

I mentioned in my letter that according to the website of the International Mathematical Union, the Carl Friederich Gauss Prize will be awarded for the first time in 2006 and I asked them to include this fact to amend their story.

Rather than directly refuting the fact, by for example, contacting the IMU directly and asking them to include the name of Mr. Escultura in the IMU website as a winner of the prize, the Manila Times published 2 letters from a John Gardiner supposedly from the International Mathematical Union with an e-mail address of and from a certain Imgul L. Bel member of the Deutsche Mathematiker-Vereinigung with an e-mail address at

The letters were addressed to Prof. Escultura advising and congratulating him on winning the said prizes. Unfortunately, like the letters that Mr. Escultura supposedly received from Andrew Wiles, that the Manila Times describes as e-mail, these supposed letters were also comments from Mr. Escultura's guest book which Abe of Don't Let Me Stop You has proven, can be easily spoofed.

And again, the Manila Times seem not to know how to operate a browser and/or a search engine. Let us deal with Mr. John Gardiner first. The top item if you search for "John Gardiner" in google belongs to Prof. John Gardiner, a professor of psychology. A search for "John Gardiner and International Mathematical Union" yields only the Manila Times story, a poor yield for the President of the International Mathematical Union. and the e-mail? belongs to Phillip A. Griffiths, Secretary of the IMU. Who then is John Gardiner and why is he using an e-mail that does not belong to him? He certainly is not the President of the International Mathematical Union, that honor belongs to Professor John M. Ball, Sedleian Professor of Natural Philosophy and Fellow of the Queens College at Oxford University.

A simple search, I did it in 20 minutes, could have informed the Manila Times that they may not be dealing with a real person here, maybe the search result of Professor John Gardiner, psychologist could have given them a clue?

Next, Imgul L. Bel, a google search yielded no results. Very paltry for a member of Yale University. Similar results were obtained when I searched the Yale University phonebook but not when you search for the supposed e-mail address of Mr. Bel. A google search for the e-mail, reveals that the e-mail belongs to, surprise, Scott Migdole - Chief Operating Officer of the Yale Behavioral Health program from the Yale Department of Psychiatry.

So again, the Manila Times had believed comments coming from Mr. Escultura's guest book. They believed that the
Carl Friederich Gauss Prize, is given through online transactions. They did not check the veracity of the supposed prize nor the reality of the commenters. If they did, maybe the links to known mental health practitioners would have given the Manila Times a clue that they are being played for fools.

I do not fault Mr. Escultura on this and previous matters, he is a harmless old crank who probably actually believes in his theories. The Manila Times however should know better, keeping to best journalistic practices should keep them safe from hoax letters. But they did not, and so they tarnish their reputation.


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Abe said...


"Imgul L. Bel" = "I'm gullible"

Evidently, the Times is, too. :-)

Sef said...

Just one more proof of how unprofessional our mass media has become...