Talk:Serge Lang

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Cause of death[edit]

Does anyone have a reference for

"Lang died of AIDS in 2005."?

mat_x 10:56, 13 October 2005 (UTC)

I have to assume it was vandalism. It seems really unlikely that he would be that old and die of AIDS, and it seems intended to make fun of his beliefs. Good catch. RSpeer 15:28, 13 October 2005 (UTC)

I asked my grandfather, who is a mathematician and personally knew him, and it was not from AIDS. His source was Stephen Smale, who told him, I don't think I have any right to say what he died of on internet, but I can assure it was not anything related to AIDS and that is something I think I should say since it's probably coming from people who want defame him in favour of their beliefs.--Espantalho (talk) 21:59, 2 December 2008 (UTC)

There must be a solid answer somewhere --Serge Zenin (talk) 03:20, 23 June 2012 (UTC)

Lang died on a visit to Berkeley from Yale during the summer and as a colleague on certain matters which kept us in mail and email contact after I interviewed him for OMNI (April 26 1993) I can state with absolute authority that he did not have "HIV/AIDS" or die from it. This claim is trivial sabotage of Wiki by persons who need to detract from Lang's reputation because he strongly criticized and himself adamantly rejected the orthodox claim that HIV causes AIDS symptoms, which they presumably support. The cause of Lang's death has always been unknown outside the family and close friends. - Anthony Liversidge Science Guardian Jul 21 2013. Signed in as "textgenie"

Category: Pseudoscientists[edit]

Please do not delete this category. A consensus was reached at the talk page of the category that AIDS dissidents are by definition pseudoscientists, and we MUST abide by the consensus of the community. So, I implore you, please do not remove the category. Revolver 23:45, 31 January 2006 (UTC)

Any consensus that classifies an eminent mathematician as a pseudoscientist due to one opinion he held is unreasonable. It is clear from that talk page that you don't actually agree with the supposed "consensus" -- which doesn't seem to have ever proposed adding this category to individual articles in Category:AIDS dissidents anyway -- so you're disrupting Wikipedia to make a point. Stop. rspeer / ɹəədsɹ 01:33, 1 February 2006 (UTC)

The name of the category is "pseudoscientists"! If you're putting that tag on a list of scientists, how on earth are you not saying that's what they are?? If they (or you) don't want to add the category to the individual scientists, they have no business applying to a list of them collectively. Revolver 05:38, 1 February 2006 (UTC)
I agree that they should not be tagged as pseudoscientists. Do you understand that you shouldn't do something you disagree with to make a point? It's one of the main policies of Wikipedia. rspeer / ɹəədsɹ 08:15, 1 February 2006 (UTC)
If a walking fraud like Bob Gallo is regarded as as "Sciencist", IMO it is much better to be under a different category like "pseudoscientist", in the good company of Peter Duesberg and Kary Mullis (hey!, a "pseudoscientist" with a Nobel Prize!, what a weird thing!) . —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs).
Consensus (among presumably unqualified wikipedia trolls/admins) doesn't determine reality. Anyone who reads Lang's work agrees that Lang does not have opinions... he states facts, shows evidence, and operates completely within the context of acceptable scientific discourse. It just so happens that HIV/AIDS is EXTREMELY political (as is made obvious by deliberately baffling reports by the NIH and subsequent articles in the Chicago Tribune). His claims are reasonable, proven with citation of primary source documentats, and important for progress in health sciences. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs).

The claim that Serge Lang was a "pseudoscientist" is laughable. No one had higher standards for evidence and reason than Lang, as his seminal book Challenges demonstrates. In fact his standards for scientific debate and for accepting scientific claims were the highest in the land. His accuracy is also reflected in his many textbooks on mathematics which are universally accepted and admired. To categorize him as a pseudoscientist is severely misleading and a corruption of Wiki seriously supported only by people who try to escape his critique of their beliefs, which was always mercilessly accurate. - Anthony Liversidge Science Guardian Signed in as "Textgenie"


I removed (again):

Enyclopedia typically don't use other encyclopedias as sources or give them as link for further reading. And another Wiki with just 71 articles and shorter article on Serge Lang as ours, don't need to apply. --Pjacobi 19:37, 16 April 2006 (UTC)

And I reinstated (again): Since when is it Wikipedia policy not to link to other wikis? I have seen wikis linked to from Wikipedia. And since when is it Wikipedia policy not to link to other "encyclopedias", esp. if they have a different focus? I have certainly seen external links to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, e.g. and I'm sure I could easily find others. If you had bothered to read the article, you would have found that (a) it has a different focus than the Wikipedia article, (b) it contains both information and external links which are not available at the Wikipedia article (would you rather I cut and paste all this information into the article?? I think that would get more protest), (c) although it is shorter, it is better written, contains far less gossip and hearsay, and is more adequately referenced than the Wikipedia article. My only conclusion to draw is either that you failed to read the article itself, or that you have personal grudge against any kind of link to material of this kind, or both. In any case, neither of these is a good justification for removing the link. Revolver 19:03, 16 April 2006 (UTC)
Actually, the AIDS Wiki article is in fact slightly longer, so apparently you can't even figure that out correctly. Revolver 19:06, 16 April 2006 (UTC)
Actually, thank you for taking this ridiculous crusade of yours up, whoever you are (you failed to sign above). If you capitulate, I win. I you don't, you just provide further evidence to me that in order to obtain balanced treatment on HIV/AIDS on articles at Wikipedia, I'm forced to spend enormous time and effort engaged in the silliest and stupidest arguments whose resolution should be obvious to anyone on most any other issue. So, again thanks. Revolver 19:09, 16 April 2006 (UTC)
It's only linkspam for a third-class Wiki-project. The beef of the articles originates at Wikipedia itself ( This page uses content from the Serge_Lang article on Wikipedia, captured on 17 Nov 2005. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with the AIDS Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.). Link your Wiki elsewhere, but not in this biography. --Pjacobi 19:40, 16 April 2006 (UTC)
NB: Pjacobi, "linkspam" is a very serious (and very public) allegation. I really hope you have some evidence to back this up. The Wikipedia page on linkspam characterises it as either computer bots attacking hundreds of wikis at once, or else a concerted effort by humans to indiscriminately post links everywhere. As for the former, I really do hope you maintain that public accusation, because it is absolutely false. As for the latter, given that it is only myself and a handful of others who have really begun the wiki over the past three months or so, none of us has hardly had time for any kind of concerted effort, let alone an indiscriminate concerted effort. Whatever links we have put out in public have been anything but indiscriminate. Again, please provide whatever specific evidence you have for this public accusation, or publicly retract it. Revolver 23:18, 16 April 2006 (UTC)

The following do NOT come from the Wikipedia article[edit]

Life and mathematical career

Lang made fundamental contributions to many areas of mathematics, including complex analysis, differential geometry, algebraic geometry, and analytic number theory. He wrote a large number of mathematics textbooks which influenced a generation of mathematicians. Marco Mamone Capria wrote in an obituary, " is hard to find a single discipline in basic or advanced pure mathematics where Lang has not left his imprint, either by proving new theorems or by systematizing the matter in one of his treatises. And there is hardly one mathematician who had his education during the last thirty years and who has not profited from pouring over one or the other of Lang’s books." (Capria 2005)

Lang was critical of the "publish or perish" mentality of contemporary mathematics: "Our response should be flexible and daring, and we should create an atmosphere which allows young mathematicians to feel that they can make it in the academic world without having to write one mediocre paper every year or two." (Lang 1970)

AIDS activism

Lang was a vocal critic of the orthodox consensus on HIV and AIDS. He was particularly critical of the treatment of AIDS dissidents in major scientific journals, especially Nature and Science. He kept an extensive "file" on HIV/AIDS, which included many communications with the editors of these journals. Many of these files concerning HIV and AIDS can be found in the book Challenges (ISBN 0387948619) (Lang 1998).

Lang not only spoke out on the Baltimore affair and the controversy between Robert Gallo and Luc Montagnier concerning priority over discovery of HIV, he also advocated for funding of Peter Duesberg's drug-AIDS hypothesis and wrote a lengthy reply to Richard Horton's review of Inventing the AIDS Virus in the New York Review of Books. (Lang 1998)


  • "As to my activism, some people have asked what it has to do with mathematics, which is my main activity in life. They seem surprised by a mathematician who shows some professional interest outside his narrower scientific commitments. But why should I not be interested in other aspects of intellectual or social activity?...There is something in me that makes me want to make others understand explicitly the assumptions under which they operate. I want to make people think independently and clearly. Is that not part of the educational commitment?" (Lang 1998)
  • "I am especially concerned when people who construct a reality askew from the outside world have the influence or power to impose their reality in the classroom, in the media, and in the formulation of policy, domestic or foreign. I find the situation especially serious when political opinions are passed off as science, and thereby acquire even more force." (Lang 1998)
  • "To an extent that undermines classical standards of science, some purported scientific results concerning 'HIV' and 'AIDS' have been handled by press releases, by disinformation, by low-quality studies, and by some suppression of information, manipulating the media and people at large. When the official scientific press does not report correctly, or obstructs views dissenting from those of the scientific establishment, it loses credibility and leaves no alternative but to find information elsewhere." (Lang 1994)
  • "I do not regard the causal relationship between HIV and any disease as settled. I have seen considerable evidence that highly improper statistics concerning HIV and AIDS have been passed off as science, and that top members of the scientific establishment have carelessly, if not irresponsibly, joined the media in spreading misinformation about the nature of AIDS." (Lang 1994)

See also

External links

Lang's writing on HIV/AIDS



General information


  1. Template:Refb American Mathematical Society, 1999. "1999 Steele Prizes", 1999. Notices of the American Mathematical Society, April 1999.
  2. Template:Refb Capria, Marco Mamone, 2005. "Serge Lang’s last file and the suppression of dissent in contemporary science", posted 19 October 2005.
  3. Template:Refb Lang, Serge, 1970. Rats in a Box.
  4. Template:Refb Lang, Serge, 1994. "HIV and AIDS: Questions of Scientific and Journalistic Responsibility", originally published in Yale Scientific, fall 1994, published in Challenges, Springer (ISBN 0387948619), p. 605
  5. Template:Refb Ibid, p. 613
  6. Template:Refb Lang, Serge, 1998. Challenges, Springer (ISBN 0387948619).
  7. Template:Refb Ibid, pp. 698-713, available at "The Case of HIV and AIDS"
  8. Template:Refb Ibid, p. 8.
  9. Template:Refb Ibid, p. 7.

Further reading

In other words, roughly half (at least) of the AIDS Wiki article is NOT a duplication of material from Wikipedia. AT LEAST.

Your characterisation of the article as "3rd rate" is more than patronising. I could just as well say this current article on Lang on "3rd rate" -- as I've pointed out, it is mostly based on hearsay, has numerous uncited anecdotes and gossip, is poorly referenced and poorly organised. Things that can't be said for the AIDS Wiki article.

Please discontinue your crusade. It is not in the spirit of Wikipedia to remove worthy links (a single goddamn line in the entire article!!) just becuase you have some kind of personal grudge. The external link more than complies with the policies, if you have even bothered or are able to read them. Remove it again and I'm taking this to RfC. Revolver 21:45, 16 April 2006 (UTC)

As the article there is under GFDL, we can just incorporate anything which looks worthwhile.
Oh, that's a nice out for you. I can see what would happen then -- the external link gets denied at RfC, and then when I try to add some of the info from the other wiki article here, it probably won't be deemed "worthwhile" (after all, it would make half the page about HIV/AIDS, and I doubt anyone would go for that). Revolver 23:04, 16 April 2006 (UTC)
In the mean time, your arguments are weak and your threats even weaker.
That's a gas. As I've pointed out numerous times, the Wikipedia article itself doesn't have any reference section and hardly any direct sources. What reliable sources do YOU have, besides the "authority of Wikipedia". The other article has numerous sources. That's pretty hypocritical and this part of your argument doesn't stand up. Revolver 23:04, 16 April 2006 (UTC)
  • The continue at Wikipedia:External links, with a special look at:
    • Links to normally avoid
      • (2) In general, any site that does not provide a unique resource beyond what the article here would have once it becomes an example of brilliant prose.
Can I take this as an admission that the eventual "brilliant prose" version of Serge Lang article at Wikipedia should include all the HIV/AIDS material at the AIDS Wiki article?? Yes or no, please. I want this on record. I don't want a bait and switch. Revolver 23:04, 16 April 2006 (UTC)
      • (3) Links that are added to promote a site. See External link spamming.
First you need evidence that the link is being given to "promote a site". Out of the 71 articles at the wiki, I believe there are perhaps 6 or 7 articles at Wikipedia that contain a link to the AIDs Wiki. Many of those contain information that was essentially written at AIDS Wiki (in fact, since Lang is primarily a mathematician, this is one reason we have this dispute. Harvey Bialy is primarily a biologist, so it has been possible for me to do as you mentioned above, incorporating material from AIDS Wiki into a Wikipedia article. But this is not the case here, unless, of course, you don't mind gads of HIV/AIDS stuff in the content of the article here.) The rest contain links when, like here, incorporating the information would be prohibitive or inappropriate. I hardly consider that "spamming". Revolver 23:04, 16 April 2006 (UTC)
      • (9) A website that you own or maintain (unless it is the official site of the subject of the article). If it is relevant and informative, mention it as a possible link on the talk page and wait for someone else to include it, or include the information directly in the article.
This is the ONE thing you possibly got me on. I failed to come to the talk page first. So, let's see what everyone (RfC) thinks. Is it really such a "weak" threat, given this is (basically) the only legitimate justification you have?? Revolver 23:04, 16 April 2006 (UTC)
Pjacobi 22:03, 16 April 2006 (UTC)

Commenting on Revolver's interspersed comments:
* I've seen your entry at Wikipedia:Requests for comment/Maths, science, and technology (which did need and hot some editorial reformulation). As we both made our point of view clear, I hope, we should wait to see, what other editors think.
* Only one additional comment: Re (2): There are two, not one only, possibilities for the extra parts found at your site: (a) It's due to be included in a future version of our article or (b) it's not a usefull resource.
Pjacobi 23:22, 16 April 2006 (UTC)
Agreed, then. Funny, many of the RfCs I already saw there were just as "editorialised", no one seemed to care. I'm glad to hear you hear it's a "possibility" that the content might eventually find its way into the article. One of the main reasons I made it an external link is because I've had soooooo much experience doing that and having said content deleted, chopped up, or perverted beyond belief. As to your (b) possibility, you must have a strange definition of "useful resource", as I've said anyone who wishes to visit the article in question personally and examine it fully, will find it very neutral as to POV-pushing, factually accurate, verifiable, referenced, with external links and further reading. I spent an enormous amount of time on it, and I think it measures up at least as much if not better than 80-90% of articles at Wikipedia. So, I am really perplexed how a significant number of people would find it "not a useful resource". Chacun a son gout. Revolver 23:33, 16 April 2006 (UTC)

I looked at the link under dispute. I think it's ok to include it as an external link; it also has links and sources not mentioned in this article, so it has some utility. It appears well-researched also. As Revolver suggests, the AIDS Wiki article has a different focus, so only some info would be incorporable into the Wikipedia article without violating NPOV in some manner. --C S (Talk) 04:01, 17 April 2006 (UTC)

I agree with C S, for the same reasons. Hence, I added the link back in (with a short description of the POV of AIDS Wiki). -- Jitse Niesen (talk) 07:36, 19 April 2006 (UTC)

Need for citation[edit]

The article mentions a need for citation concerning the text:

According to one legend in circulation within the Princeton University math community during the 1970s, Lang typed one of his textbooks over a single weekend on a bet..[citation needed]

I was active in the math community at Princeton in the 70s and struck up a friendship with Professor Lang- Professor Lang was then a guest professor and avidly sought out contact with students.

I can confirm that this story was then in circulation, but I have no evidence to attest its veracity. In fact, many of the stories making the rounds of the Princeton Math Department were likely to be exagerations, more akin to urban legends than to sober, verifiable accounts. Although the entry provides an interesting (and probably representative) telling of Professor Lang's work style, I agree that it does live up to the requirements for an encyclapedia entry. I am removing the text.

--Philopedia 19:54, 16 April 2006 (UTC)

As it says, According to one legend in circulation, in my opinion, all we need is a citation that such a legend was around, not that the legend was true. John (Jwy) 20:22, 16 April 2006 (UTC)
I can "confirm" the accuracy of the legend from the best possible, but alas no longer in any way verifiable source. He also said "Of course, not with the exercises." Didn't seem to want to say anything more.John Z (talk) 08:15, 18 January 2009 (UTC)


From Wikipedia:External links:

WHAT SHOULD BE LINKED TO: 5. Sites that contain neutral and accurate material not already in the article. Ideally this content should be integrated into the Wikipedia article, then the link would remain as a reference, but in some cases this is not possible for copyright reasons or because the site has a level of detail which is inappropriate for the Wikipedia article.

Arguably, it would not be good to integrate all the new (referenced, well-written) material from the AIDS Wiki into the Wikipedia article, not least because my tar would get feathered, but because it's off-topic of Lang's major aspect of his life, his mathematical work. The level of detail into his AIDS dissention is too great, there. But it is neutral and accurate material not already in the article, on a topic of his life which is relevant to him and his biography.

If this were ANY other topic, does anyone else here imagine I would have to go through this silliness??? Anyone watching/reading here?? Speak up. ONLY here. I KNEW this would happen. I left for 3 months to catch my temper, and I KNEW within 2 weeks some, stupid, silly, idiotic argument would drag me down. Well, fine, stick with your Wikipedia article on Lang. Stick with your lack of references, your mixed up, poorly written prose, your gossip and hearsay. I'll leave you people to your article here, in the meantime, I'll go work on my "3rd rate" piece of trash. Revolver 21:53, 16 April 2006 (UTC)

Jeez, guys, calm down. I respect both of you, I've seen your edits, and edited your articles, you are both very good and know what you're doing. Please try to find some accomodation that doesn't end with hurt feelings and anger! linas 05:50, 20 April 2006 (UTC)

Notation anecdote[edit]

Firstly, the anecdote is false, and I'm surprised that it is nevertheless put back in. I'd have expected that truth (or attributability, in our jargon) is essential for encyclopaedia articles. Secondly, the true version is not interesting enough (in my opinion) to be mentioned in the article. So Serge Lang got a T-shirt. What is the value of repeating the story here? That's why I removed the paragraph. -- Jitse Niesen (talk) 06:57, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

I sort of agree. Just don't like unmotivated removal. I would still keep the first sentence of the paragraph. I know on good authority that Lang was idiosincratic, loud and sometime abrasive. I think we should expand this section on that, adding more anecdotes if they can be found in the literature. Mhym 16:36, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
Yes, I agree about keeping the first sentence. but I did remove the anecdote. I'm not really against it, after thinking it over, but it does of course have to be correct. -- Jitse Niesen (talk) 08:41, 10 March 2007 (UTC)
I know on good authority that Lang was idiosincratic, loud and sometime abrasive. That may be. But I would never feel so confident about somebody's traits like this to boldly start adding such descriptions to articles, even if I knew them personally (probably particularly if I did!). If you can't source it, don't add it. If you can't find a source, there's probably a good reason for it. Let's not have the Serge Lang article devolve into a page of gossip. --C S (Talk) 16:44, 13 March 2007 (UTC)
How is what you are saying different from what I am saying? I said ...if they can be found in the literature. I am not in favor of unsourced claims, just want to encourage people look though the literature. Also, Lang is no Loch Ness Monster. My friends met him, friends of my friends met him... I heard one too many stories about him. They are bound to be written someplace if one looks carefully. Mhym 16:56, 13 March 2007 (UTC)
Eh...sorry! There's some stuff like that in the AMS Notices. --C S (Talk) 05:49, 16 March 2007 (UTC)

AIDS wiki[edit]

Ummm... in response to this revert, WP:EL actually does have a prohibition on linking to wikis without a "substantial history of stability and a substantial number of editors." The AIDS wiki does not have a "substantial number of editors". Yes, I know that User:Revolver, who incidentally is the creator of the AIDSwiki, defended its inclusion (which also violates WP:COI/WP:SPAM). Maybe you could explain why, in your opinion, the AIDSwiki is a special case or exception to the Wikipedia guideline? MastCell Talk 02:24, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

Having seen no response or explanation of how the wiki in question is acceptable under WP:EL, I have removed it again. Before reinserting it, please explain here how the link satisfies Wikipedia's external links guideline, and why it should not be removed under the prohibition on linking to small wikis. MastCell Talk 18:47, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
Sorry for the delay. Having a look at AIDS Wiki's recent changes, I agree that it should be treated as a personal website. Nevertheless, it's a useful resource for readers of the article that want to know more about that aspect of Lang's life. So, there is a conflict between the "what should be linked" part of WP:EL and the part that says that links to wikis / personal websites are normally to be avoided. I seem to remember that the last time a similar issue came up (i.e., whether to link to a website containing copies of documents), there was no consensus.
However, I won't contest the removal of the link. I don't think it's that important. -- Jitse Niesen (talk) 03:40, 28 March 2007 (UTC)


I am not sure if 16 was the usual age for leaving that school at that time or if Lang was very good academically. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:52, 28 December 2013 (UTC)