We had considered writing this post a week ago, then decided not to bother. Then, after Keith Devlin came up in conversation, we rereconsidered.
We’ve never much liked Devlin. He has written some things we like, including his excellent book on Fibonacci, but Devlin has always seemed loud and self-promoting, and not nearly as smart as he imagines himself to be. Devlin also happily assisted the American government to make their drones work better. One of those occasions when Professor Smarts might have thought a little harder.* Still, we have mostly just tried to ignore The Math Guy.**
About a week ago, at the start of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, House Republican Adam Kinzinger did his best to start WWIII, by publicly advocating for a no-fly zone:
Unsurprisingly, there were plenty of people not so keen on WWIII who were eager to push back. Devlin responded to the push back:
Devlin’s idiotic tweet was hammered, of course, after which Devlin dug down rather than up:
Of course Devlin is not by a mile the most dangerous or the most idiotic person commenting on or contributing to this appalling situation. But, Devlin is our idiot. And Professor Smarts really should learn when to shut the hell up. Some guy called Joe Donnelly said it best:
*) In 2013, we asked Devlin a question at the end of a talk he gave on, among other things, working on drones, politely querying the ethics of such work. It is fair to characterise Devlin’s response as weaselly.
**) Disclosure. Devlin wrote a brief criticism of our first ever opinion piece on maths ed. Our piece was definitely amateurish and Devlin has an important argument, but he seems to us to have been pretty selective and snarky.