Academic Spam

As an occasional bit-player in the world of Academia, I sometimes get special Academic Spam. Usually this is in the form of messages from arch-cretin Nagib Callaos inciting me to participate in his or her Serious Cybernetics Conference, or The Open Applied Mathematics Journal casually bombarding people with garbage. The irritating thing about these messages is that you at first think that you have been specially invited to contribute based on your reputation, and only later do you work out that it's a mass-distributed mail to all and sundry.

Well, I got another invitation yesterday, which had me puzzled for a while. It read as follows:

Dear Professor Dr. Anchor

The Scientific Committee of the Fifth International Conference of Applied Mathematics and Computing (Plovdiv, Bulgaria, August 12-18, 2008) kindly invites you to deliver an 30 minutes invited lecture during the Conference.

You will be accommodated in a room in a five stars hotel (with usual facilities: fully air-conditioned hotel, direct dial telephone, satellite/cable TV, internet access, etc.).

A member of Organizing Committee will meet you at Sofia airport. He will help you with the trip from Sofia airport to Plovdiv.

A little bit of rooting around for the website for this conference and for the conference for last year is enough to convince me that this is simply one of these rather dubious conferences where every submitted abstract is accepted (or "mathematics conferences" as they are sometimes known). The carefully worded CFP fails to mention that you will not be reimbursed for your travels. A check on the previous year's site fails to reveal any list of papers or program, which is a big warning sign.

Still, my paranoia runs deeper: what if this is actually a twist on the traditional con-trick of the 'internet pen-pal' scam, where the lovelorn sucker is fooled into flying off to some Eastern Bloc country to meet the woman of his dreams, only to be kidnapped, and extorted for his life savings in return for his freedom.

I can just imagine getting of the plane in Sofia to be met by "a member of the organizing committee", only to be bundled into the back of a transit van, and deposited unceremoniously in a darkened basement, to be greeted by the sight of a variety of other luminaries of the field chained up to radiators.

Well, no thank you, ICAMC. I think I'll sit this one out, if that's all the same to you.


jez said...

At least you and your fellow hostages could entertain each other with your prepared lectures. Maybe they'd even equip your basement with an overhead projector?

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