Wednesday, July 29, 2009

@DonOfScience calls Prime Numbers Slander, and that 1 * 1 = 2

@DonOfScience is a shill account on Twitter for to pimp one of many proported educational games for Nintendo, the "Professor Layton" series. Sadly the people running it aren't just stupid, but vicious law breakers. That's kind of par for the course these days, banks, health insurance companies, wars in Iraq. It's the world we live in. But sometimes, stupidity and legal vicious gets funny. He accuses me of slander, then he complains, gasp that I proved my point. And, OMG, I took the time to explain it. How dare I post the facts. Slander!

Well a few lessons. One is that slander is spoken. What he means is libel. Another, in the US anyway, truth, which I have, is an absolute defense against general defamation. I don't think I'm getting sued by whoever is pimping the game any time soon. Last lesson is this, when you phrase a puzzle, you have to not only include the right answer, but exclude other answers. Sadly for whatever pimple popping teenage intern is running the account, because anyone over the mental age of about 18 would know to be careful about slander accusations, since reckless accusations of that sort are, in themselves, grounds for law suit, they didn't check to make sure there were no good logical answers. Their "explanation" is the logical fallacy of a "red herring" 15 * 15 = 225, but 1 * 1 is not equal to 2. And at that point any number could have been the "red herring." In fact, it isn't hard to come up with brain teasers that make any one number the "wrong" number. 2 being 4 works well, there are several.

In puzzler design, usually the setting words don't mean anything, unless there is no easy answer, the clever words come into play. Also sadly, there are no fish on Mars, so "red" herring isn't logically forced. Sadly for the bozos that run Professor Layton's shill account on twitter, there was a perfectly good easy answer, namely nth prime plus nth square. Sadly, this doesn't yield 15 = 225, which is the answer they wanted to be true. Close enough for corporate shills isn't math.

And if it is an educational game, then the people making it, in fact, are claiming to help people get great scores on say, SATs, MCATs, and LSATs. I did, and it is pretty clear from the apoplectic response from Professor Layton's shill account, that he didn't. Had they wanted to put the question correctly, then they could have said "why is 15 225 on Mars?" That would have made people run around in circles enough. What happened with their woefully incompetent question design is that many people got the right answer for the wrong reason. The point of a "red herring" answer on a test is to catch the people who have some common misconception about the material. After all, there is no particular reason to think herring. 2 actually was the "red flag" that showed that squares was the wrong answer.

Maybe he works for the Senate Finance Committee's health care drafting team. That is the kind of math error we just got from them turning down the public option.

This is pure incompetence of question design. It also is pure incompetence of marketing. It is also pure incompetence of their legal department. It is pure incompetence of social media, because now, sigh, I have to respond to corporate defamation from some large impersonal money making machine, when he should have realized that there was a hole in his question, laughed it off, and moved on.

And make no mistake whoever is selling the game that is now guilty of defamation, because their statements about me are reckless as regards to the truth, and with the intent to get some kind of gain. That is, there are damages. Of course, real world check here, large companies don't get sued over stupid things that their interns say on Twitter, because there's no motivation for a lawyer to take the case. But next time you hear about "Professor Layton" and his games, realize that they are run by, written by, and backed by people who lie, defame, and just plain teach your kid how to get a bad grade on the SAT or other college admission tests.

To make it Google Friendly: Nintendo's corporate shills want your children to believe that 1 * 1 = 2, or they will threaten to sue. This is the lesson their Professor Layton game teaches. 1 * 1 = 2, or Nintendo will threaten to sue. It's kinda got a beat and you can dance to it.

[I'm told that@DonofScience has no connection to Nintendo. However, he links to the website of the game as his personal website. If he isn't attached, then Nintendo should sue him for using their corporate trademarks in a manner to confuse. However, there's nothing I can find that says he's not astro turf, and good evidence that he is.

In any event, @DonOfScience is deliberately trying to piggy back on the game, and courts have repeatedly ruled that people can't do that unless they have permission. That's why not everyone can market say, a Narnia game, or as a recent court case determined, publish a sequel to Catcher in the Rye. If Nintendo doesn't want defaming idiots being associated with their trademarks, then they can use the DMCA to make it go away. If they don't it amounts to approval.

I've written Nintendo's legal department, telling them the obvious, that @DonOfScience is using their trademark without attribution, and asking whether he has permission. Either way there should be a response in some reasonable period of time. My guess is that if he does work for them his chain is about to be shortened, and if he does not, then he is going to need another twitter account.]

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