Armstrong, H. L. Letter. Science 180 (June 15, 1973), p. 1119.

 

Armstrong, H. L. Letter. Science 180 (June 15, 1973), p. 1119.

This letter to the editors of Science is directed as a response to Westfall's "Newton and the Fudge
Factor." The author begins by suggesting that George Berkeley's Analyst be reviewed by anyone
who wants to understand Newton. Bravo!

Is it not likely that a time will come when some of the work of which we are most proud will be
seen to contain outrageous fudges? Our "renormalizations," for instance, may at some time be
called by a much less charitable name. It seems to be agreed that some of the early papers on
relativity contained actual mistakes which had the same effect as fudges.

"In one sense, we need not make too much of this. It would appear that ‘to fudge is human.'
Because of that very fact, we should be ready to admit the possibility that we may, perhaps
almost unconsciously, have committed a fudge, or overlooked one by someone else. Recently,
when Dingle and others suggested that there is something very wrong, call it a mistake or call it
fudge, with the theory of relativity, what they encountered could scarcely be described by any
term other than ‘persecution.' Earlier, O'Rahilly [no ref], who had rather similar experiences,
said that the heretic is treated worse in physics than in theology."