Comments: 3039 • Responses: 31  • Date: 

SpiritualOne114 karma

Are you getting a lot of hate from Trump supporters for doing what you did?

rutledge204 karma

So far, effectively none. There might have been 1-2 snarky comments on my twitter feed, but if they are there, the intensity was sufficiently low that I didn't notice it.

EDIT: Here is the first, and it's from a Redditor

SpiritualOne50 karma

Thank you for answering :)

I have a follow up question for you, if you have the time to answer it: Do you personally not agree with Trump's politic or what was the motivation behind proving them lying?

rutledge321 karma

I do not agree with any of Trump's positions, and feel in particular that his anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, and racist rhetoric (such as when he alleged a Federal Judge was unfit to dispense justice, due to his parents' background as Mexican immigrants creating an inherent bias) are antithetical to American values.

However, my motivation for proving that the plagiarism occurred really came from Manafort's dismissal of the charges of plagiarism. Comparing the two passages directly, or watching the videos side-by-side, made Manafort's dismissal comical. I decided to put a number on it, since it was trivially easy to do so, based on the permutations argument.

ProfessionalDicker226 karma

Thank you for your contribution. My mother in law was heart broken.

It was beautiful.

rutledge191 karma

Thanks very much for your kind words. I'm sorry about your mother-in-law's heart.

kick628 karma

Why did you consider this worth your time?

rutledge110 karma

Because it took very little time.

ConfidentialUsername21 karma

Why is this IamA deleted? What's up with that?

rutledge41 karma

I think it's because the mods didn't consider the Facebook link convincing proof -- I thought it satisifed the requirements but I guess it doesn't.

I've now added a twitter mention on my feed and linked to it in the AMA header. If y'all could look at the proof above, and if I'm not satisfying the requirements, make recommendations about what I need to add in order to do so, I'd appreciate it.

Not_in_Sciences20 karma

Hi professor, I'm going a be a second year physics undergrad at McGill. Do you have any general advice for someone interested in experimental physics research? I hear a lot about the research that goes on at the graduate level, but not so much about stuff at the undergrad level

rutledge23 karma

Find a professor whose research interests you. Write up a CV which describes your skills. Write one paragraph describing what kind fo experience you would like to have in research (build things? do computer simulations? try analytic work?) and send both to the professor via email, with the time-range you would like to do this in (summer? during term?). Best of luck!

1900grs16 karma

Have you ever calculated the frequency of the most likely numbers to appear in the Mega Millions or Powerball lotteries?

rutledge114 karma

Yes. I just performed that calculation now. According to the published model of these lotteries, the probability function is a uniform distribution across all numbers within the sets employed for their respective lotteries, with no preference for any specific number within that set.

You're welcome!

Hahaimnotfunny10 karma

Hey Rob, whats your favorite food?

rutledge57 karma

I love a poutine!

In fact, I run a website MontrealPoutine.com and have been described by the New York Times as the de facto spokesman for poutine.

Samuel-pena5 karma

Hi Robert,

How long did your calculation take to get? Were you paid for the time you put into your calculations or just the information you got? Who are you voting for president? and finally, why did you choose your profession?


rutledge57 karma

Thanks for your questions!

How long did your calculation take to get? It depends on what you are including in "calculation". I watched the Convention Monday night, and when the tweet first came out alleging plagiarism, I saw it very early on, and a textual comparison was very convincing "by gut".

But the next day, Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort went on TV and dismissed plagiarism, saying "These are very common words and values.." meaning, "of course some of the words in the different speeches match, they're talking about similar ideals". It took me about 0.5 seconds to see the flaw in that argument -- the ordering of the words was very close, too. So I decided to do that calucation. That meant I needed to decide what words/phrases were "distinct". I had to think about that for about 5 minutes, pulling phrases out of Melania's speech which matched those in Michelle's speech, which were large enough to be complete and distinct themselves. I counted 14 of them. Then it's just a permutation calculation. That took a second on my calculator, but I re-did it by hand (14!) just to be sure.

So, depending on how you count, between about 30 seconds and 5 minutes.

Were you paid for the time you put into your calculations or just the information you got? Do you mean by the University? The University pays my salary, which is not on an hourly basis. No one else paid me in relation to this work (including for the column).

Who are you voting for president?

I supported Sanders through the primaries, but I will be voting for Clinton in the General.

why did you choose your profession?

Because I love math, and astrophysics poses questions which can be explored through experiment - I like to solve problems.

der_Stiefel3 karma

Do you have any thoughts on the fact (can you confirm the fact?) that the odds of the dem primary exit poll discrepancies being naturally occurring are very similarly nearly impossible?

rutledge18 karma

Unless you cite specific polls, and describe their methodology, it'd be difficult to comment on that in a useful way.

But, exit polling methodology usually involves voluntary participation, which, in part, measures voter enthusiasm. Sanders' supporters seem to be more enthusiastic about their candidate than Clinton supporters.

CuriousBob971 karma

What're your thoughts on The Big Bang Theory?

rutledge10 karma

I am not a fan of the show. It's a comedy, so it has to amp up aspects of character to produce laughs. That's fine, and I have no problems with that. But the aspects of character they mostly focus on are social awkwardness.

The most deeply brilliant people I've ever met are not socially awkward, at all.

I find the stereotypical characterization of scientists as socially awkward (even for laughs) deeply offensive, as I think it detracts talented people from the field -- including women.

[deleted]0 karma


rutledge17 karma

I think you are mis reading the article.

The calculation showed that it is highly unlikely -- about a 1 in 87 billion chance -- that Melania Trump's speach was not plagiarized. The conclusion is: the passages were plagiarized from Michelle Obama's speech with a high degree of certainty.

The speech-writer admitting to the plagiarizing confirmed that conclusion, about a day after I made it.

kpaxonite4 karma


rutledge9 karma

That's okay! I hope I see you on campus sometime!

Your_memes_are_bad-4 karma

Have you tried Trump fragrances?

rutledge10 karma

I have not. I make my own cologne, but I also wear Sauvage.

kemushi_warui3 karma

Stay thirsty, my friend.

drunkladyhitme-6 karma

Will you continue to use your astromathematical powers to fight the evil that is The Trump? Thankyou for your service

rutledge24 karma

It's not clear to me that astromathematics is sufficient to make a significant electoral difference in the election in November. Thank you for your comment.

EnayVovin-11 karma

As a scientist, would you agree that the most likely explanation for the result you found is that both Michelle and Melania purchased their speeches from similar, or even the same, sources?

rutledge23 karma

I agree that the most likely explanation for the result I found is that the source of both speeches (or, the passages in the speeches this calculation focusses on) is the same.

It has since been stated by Melania Trump's speechwriter Meredith McIver in a release distributed by the Trump campaign that Melania read those passages from Michelle Obama's speech out to her, and the speechwriter then wrote the passages into Melania's speech.

So that confirms that the source of the passages is the same.

fullonfacepalmist12 karma

I think EnayVovin was asking if the passages in Michelle Obama's speech and Melania Trump's speech were both plagiarized from some other common source.

rutledge16 karma

If you could provide that source, I could examine that hypothesis. But without such a source, I don't see a means to investigate that hypothesis.

Dalroc-38 karma

So you wrote a Facebook post that got a few hundred upvotes and you think that somehow makes you noteworthy? This is not just karma whoring, you're really fucking desperate to become known/semi-famous, even if just for a day. Pathetic.

rutledge9 karma

Thanks for your comments.