Michigan State Professor Reportedly Strips Naked In Class And Screams “None Of It Is Real”

Michigan State University students had an unconventional math class this week after professor John McCarthy, 57, reportedly stripped naked in Calculus 1 class and began screaming that “there is no f—ing God” and “It’s all an act and none of it’s real.” In the age of laptop computers, the most surprising thing is that the students noticed and looked up from their computers. Presumably one student asked the standard question of “will this be on the test?”


Witnesses said that McCarthy was going through a routine derivative equation when he started to talk about his colleagues and how “they’re all actors.” He added that “It’s all an act and none of it’s real.”

McCarthy was arrested but not actually charged with a crime. He can certainly be charged with indecent exposure but I hope that he is not and that the police show a modicum of discretion. He obviously had a psychological meltdown. Brilliance sometimes comes with such mental issues as vividly shown in movies like “A Beautiful Mind.”

I would also hope that the faculty treats this matter as a mental illness and allows McCarthy to seek treatment rather than simply fire him. I realize it will be difficult for him to return to the classroom, but we need to treat mental illness like other forms of illness. Thus far the school has merely reassigned his classes. I expect that he is unlikely to return to teaching but in my view the school should treat this matter as an illness rather than misconduct. What do you think?

Source: NY Daily News

387 thoughts on “Michigan State Professor Reportedly Strips Naked In Class And Screams “None Of It Is Real””

  1. Otteray Scribe 1, October 16, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    Matt, the best way to stay out of the clutches of a forensic psychologist or psychiatrist, is to do nothing that will bring you to the attention of a judge who will order a mental exam. For most people that is not hard. For some, they cannot seem to avoid wearing bracelets made by Smith & Wesson.
    ——————————————————————————————-

    You are indeed a Scribe. I still invite you to try.

  2. OS,

    We can’t deny Gene his amusement, can we?

    It’s a good thing raff wasn’t with me tonight—I went to a sneak preview of a documentary on health care (which he would have liked) and had a very technical discussion on quantum computing with a physicist friend of mine (which might have necessitated the nice young men in their clean white coats giving him a huggy-huggy jacket and taking him to a comfy padded room…). Some interesting stuff about spin and the problems inherent in taking a digital look at an analogue machine…

  3. SoTB,

    Both Mac and Linux have character maps accessible from the utilities menu or in Linux you can open a terminal window and type “charmap” (if you’re using a GNOME desktop, I assume KDE and Xfice desktop environments have the same utility).

  4. Hey, you guys leave raff alone. I tried to explain the Fine Structure Constant to him and he had to go lay down. Any more and he will have to be sent to the Rest Home.

  5. SoTB, she bought her own pink S&W cuffs at the police store. Also bought her own tactical flashlight, a Streamlight DES/LED. 17,500 candlepower. She was not happy they only come in black; however, she wants pink grips on her pistol.

  6. @Otteray Scribe: “…For some, they cannot seem to avoid wearing bracelets made by Smith & Wesson.”

    Did you ever buy those pink ones for her yet? I still say thumb cuffs would be better received by her.

    @Malisha: Yes the COLOR TEST is fun to take. I automated it and that’s what got my areola mammae caught in a ringer (ouch) with Max. The good Dr. has not automated his yet. I think he still wants it performed on paper or something. I think a cool program would be an online Rorschach test. Unlike the color test Dr. Lüscher, Hermann Rorschach died in 1922. But Max Lüscher is still living. They both are Swiss.

    Well here is one: http://theinkblot.com/index.htm

    BTW if you need any type of SPECIAL characters; On your PC click START, RUN, type charmap.exe and press ENTER. They are all there including the umlaut. Don’t know how to do it on a MAC or UNIX. Even degrees is there i.e. 98.6º.

    Matt please take the test and let us know the results… I think it will come back as Hannibal Lechter but that’s too Hollywood huh? (LOL)

  7. @Slart: I am aware that “almost everywhere” is a mathematical term; I took the Foundations of Calculus in addition to the Calculus courses. We learned to prove the derivative rules for polynomials, exponential functions, and various special cases (like for rational functions), prove the chain rule, prove integration by parts, etc. I strive to learn the axiomatic roots of any tools I use. (Also why I think Leibniz deserves far more credit for inventing calculus than Newton.)

    That wasn’t recent, but some lessons did stick. The images stuck in my mind for “almost everywhere” are stair-step functions, functions with sharp points (like absolute value), etc. Which would include piecewise linear functions at the junctions.

    Slart: Do you think that I would argue about this? I’ve taught this stuff…

    I did not think it was worth arguing, but you took exception to my mention of it, so…

    Slart: when you have a term of second order or higher it isn’t linear anymore

    Of course it isn’t, I was just saying the same idea applies. The more general term is the splines you mentioned; parabolic, cubic, quartic, whatever. An advantage of higher order polynomials is that one can demand equality of first derivatives at the joints, so we will have a smooth differentiable function across the range.

    However, I think when one is starting with empirical data and does not KNOW the function is actually smooth, that might be assuming too much and over-complexifying the results. I work with quite a bit of empirical data, and in real life some measures are discontinuous because what is happening is a change of operational mode; a transmission switches gears, a piece of metal breaks, a moving plate hits its stop.

    I think the same thing could be said of many business functions; one should not model a continuous function for a discontinuous environment; sometimes an outlet is closed, a factory explodes, a ship founders, the CEO has a stroke and retires, a brake press hydraulic cylinder fractures and takes a week to repair, and there will be spikes and steps in measured data. Or what should be spikes and steps, but may be “blurred” into dips and rises that look continuous but should not be modeled as continuous changes, because they are rare events, or even permanent changes.

  8. Malisha,

    Just find something with the umlauted character you want and copy and paste it into the editor window—I generally use Gödel (mostly because I’m usually looking for an umlauted “o” to use in Gödel’s name… yes, I am a math geek).

    Gene,

    Cool your jets—you’ll get your fight. I had to do some stuff for a thing tonight, but here’s a prologue…

    Tony,

    Thank you for clarifying your statement (it doesn’t satisfy my objections, but does allow me to be more precise and raises the probability of raff getting flustered which is always amusing… 😛 )

    In your next post, I am obviously not talking about pathological functions,

    Fine—I’ll go one better and only consider smooth function (infinitely differentiable)

    but functions with derivatives almost everywhere (save a few discontinuities, perhaps).

    You may not be aware that almost everywhere is a math jargon term, but, in any case, it is used correctly so no harm…

    If you can take the derivative of f(x) at a point, it is the slope of the tangent line; that tangent line can be found with the point slope formula using (f(x),f’(x)) and it will approximate f(x) for some range.

    I believe that I am familiar with the concept… 😛

    Meaning, given an epsilon, we can find a delta s.t. the line is within epsilon for f(x-delta) to f(x+delta). (If we are allowed to move to a parallel line close by, we can often extend that range slightly by allowing both positive and negative errors.)

    I’ll grant that you can find a piecewise linear approximation of any smooth function that is as close to the original function as you want it to be… if you promise not to bring up epsilon and delta again (what you said is not quite right [I know what you meant, though] in a way that is like fingernails on a blackboard to me).

    For business or engineering purposes, we can find a relative-error epsilon, meaning we can specify a tolerable percentage of error like 1%, or 0.1%.

    I’ll grant that you can pick a method to specify error and minimize it to any degree you like (to machine precision, anyway).

    The finer we make epsilon the more line segments we need; but in principle we can use line segments to piecewise estimate the function f(x) as close as we like.

    Do you think that I would argue about this? I’ve taught this stuff…

    In fact, since we want all the end-points of those segments to be co-incident,

    Technically, you are specifying a C^0 function that is piecewise linear (C^0 just means continuous but not necessarily differentiable).

    the obvious procedure is to start at one end or in the middle of the range somewhere as one endpoint, and extend in each direction to find the appropriate next end-point within the tolerance. A similar thing can be done with piecewise parabolic estimators, which I have seen done.

    My advisor once suggested I use cubic splines to estimate a function that I wanted to integrate numerically, but I was lazy and did quartic interpolation instead (it worked better and it was a lot easier…)—the problem with any of that (in the context of your original comment) is that when you have a term of second order or higher it isn’t linear anymore…

    Just so my statement is understood.

    I believe I understood exactly what you were trying to say, but if any of my inferences were incorrect, please tell me.

    Now that the formalities are out of the way, I will endeavor to explain to Tony why “a little bit non-banana” is like “a little bit pregnant”… 😛

  9. OS, I had a funny experience with a dumb judge. A lawyer made an oral motion for me to be evaluated by a psychiatrist and the judge said, “No, they’d probably say she was just fine.”
    HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!! (I think the judge had had a little experience!)

  10. Matt, the best way to stay out of the clutches of a forensic psychologist or psychiatrist, is to do nothing that will bring you to the attention of a judge who will order a mental exam. For most people that is not hard. For some, they cannot seem to avoid wearing bracelets made by Smith & Wesson.

  11. Otteray Scribe 1, October 16, 2012 at 11:12 pm

    Matt, the response to your statement is, it all depends. No one is going to make you take any kind of psychological test you don’t want to take.

    Except!

    If you ended up in my office, you would take whatever test I choose to give. Know why? Because if you were in my office, it would most likely be because some judge ordered you in for an evaluation. In which case, you would comply, unless you have a craving for jail food and lodging.
    ———————————————————————————–
    Bring it!

  12. Matt, the response to your statement is, it all depends. No one is going to make you take any kind of psychological test you don’t want to take.

    Except!

    If you ended up in my office, you would take whatever test I choose to give. Know why? Because if you were in my office, it would most likely be because some judge ordered you in for an evaluation. In which case, you would comply, unless you have a craving for jail food and lodging.

  13. Oh Hey, Sonofthunder, when my kid was seven, somehow I got ahold of a copy of the Luescher color test (I don’t know how to do the real umlauts, sorry) and I tested him and all his friends and they thought I was magic and they all had so much fun with it we would take it to parties and test everyone and they would all test us and each other and it was the best thing in the world! Strangely, all the kids tested as “somewhat immature”! I LOVE THAT THING! 😀

  14. Otteray Scribe 1, October 14, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    Matt, anytime you use copyrighted material of any kind, somebody has to get paid. Developing a psychological test can cost anywhere from the low six figures up well into seven figures.

    Books, tests, photos and software are all subject to royalties and use fees.
    ———————————————————————————————-
    I won’t pay the fees. Do you know why? I won’t take the test.

    The test is Hollywood.

  15. @Slart: Yes, I had bespoke suits. I understood that was what you are providing. Which was my point in elaborating on the “Situational” questions and learning whether your client has a technical background; if they do then you do not want to dumb it down too much.

    In your next post, I am obviously not talking about pathological functions, but functions with derivatives almost everywhere (save a few discontinuities, perhaps). If you can take the derivative of f(x) at a point, it is the slope of the tangent line; that tangent line can be found with the point slope formula using (f(x),f'(x)) and it will approximate f(x) for some range. Meaning, given an epsilon, we can find a delta s.t. the line is within epsilon for f(x-delta) to f(x+delta). (If we are allowed to move to a parallel line close by, we can often extend that range slightly by allowing both positive and negative errors.)

    For business or engineering purposes, we can find a relative-error epsilon, meaning we can specify a tolerable percentage of error like 1%, or 0.1%. The finer we make epsilon the more line segments we need; but in principle we can use line segments to piecewise estimate the function f(x) as close as we like. In fact, since we want all the end-points of those segments to be co-incident, the obvious procedure is to start at one end or in the middle of the range somewhere as one endpoint, and extend in each direction to find the appropriate next end-point within the tolerance. A similar thing can be done with piecewise parabolic estimators, which I have seen done.

    Just so my statement is understood.

  16. Matt & Malisha,
    OS said : “Matt, anytime you use copyrighted material of any kind, somebody has to get paid. Developing a psychological test can cost anywhere from the low six figures up well into seven figures.

    Books, tests, photos and software are all subject to royalties and use fees.”

    Once I posted Dr. Max Lüscher’s COLOR TEST on a public website and it became very popular among some folks in Russia for some strange reason. My hit count went up from the particular part of the world and I found an article in a Russian magazine about my website.

    Suffice it to say the website was taken down by me in short order. It’s my understanding that the good Dr. did not appreciate my use of it without permission.

    Here is another brave soul who evidently took my plagiarization and developed his own: http://www.viewzone.com/luscher/colortest1.html
    Don’t tell Dr. Lüscher… shhhh

  17. Sorry about the delay in responding—I suffer from SOS (Shiny Object Syndrome) and sometimes get distrac—what was that?

    Tony,

    As I tried to explain above, no one wants to see you giving me good advice and me respectfully taking it. Much of what you’ve said just reinforces previous advice I’ve gotten and nothing that I plan to do contradicts what you have said in the least. Rather than bore everyone by analyzing what you said to show that I understand and agree with it, I’ll just make a couple of points…

    First off, my company is intended to provide Bespoke services—what does that mean? Well, here is a definition that is printed on the back of my business cards:

    Bespoke – /biˈspōk/ (adjective) A product that is custom-made to the buyer’s specification with a high degree of customization and involvement of the customer in the production of the goods.

    This isn’t just a buzzword with me, but a quality (pun intended) I believe in deeply which is at the core of what I hope to do. To use your “pain” metaphor (which I was already aware of and agree with whole-heartedly), if I am a doctor trying to treat someone’s pain, I need to listen to them very carefully when they tell me about their symptoms in order to diagnose their malady and prescribe appropriate treatment. I believe that I have identified a significant and endemic disease for which I have developed an effective cure.

    Also, I would note that your comments regarding technical talk are correct as far as they go, but fail to capture some of the important nuances of my particular situation. To further extend your metaphor, if I offer a COX-1 preferential cyclooxygenase inhibitor to a researcher studying pharmacological methods of pain management (with a headache), they will grasp my specific meaning better than if I used the term “aspirin” (which has, at least to some extent, become a generic term for “pain killer”). The distinction which I see as important in dealing with clients (in particular, those to whom I hope to sell my biological modeling services) is which forms of jargon I can use and which I can’t. The unofficial motto of my company is “we do the math so you don’t have to”—if I attempt to explain the math or how I intend to use it to ease a potential client’s pain, that will just result in glazed eyes and no further interest. I can, however, utilize the client’s jargon—in fact I will need to in order to explain how my services will ease their pain.

    Anyway, like I said, this isn’t what the good people here payed to see—they want us meeting on the playground after school and engaging in bloodsports for their amusement. So thank you for the good advice and rest assured that I will consider it carefully and implement it in my situation as best I can, but in my next comment I’m going to address the (in my opinion) egregiously wrong things you said about “non-linear” vs. “linear” before Gene gets bored and wanders off… 😉

  18. Matt, anytime you use copyrighted material of any kind, somebody has to get paid. Developing a psychological test can cost anywhere from the low six figures up well into seven figures.

    Books, tests, photos and software are all subject to royalties and use fees.

Comments are closed.