Hoisted from the comments, Rod says
You guys are much more blunt than I usually am (except with students . You’re also a lot more succinct.
This particular paper may be wrong, and the authors should be told that, but: as the field grows, and more engineers join, there are going to be more people who start with naive positions. The goal is not to run them off, but to teach them, so they can help us build these things .
To which, of course, I can only plead guilty, guilty, guilty. I mean no harm to engineers, that is for sure, especially considering the fact that I am surrounded by them And damn straight I know how important engineers will be in building a quantum computer, and that physicists all by themselves are more likely to be doomed in this endeavor (but I might add that D-wave or Transmeta might demonstrate that just having the engineering bravado isn’t necessarily enough. Damn straight sometimes those physics and theory people know what the hell they are talking about.)
In some ways, this whole question of how to respond to the paper like the one posted, is a bit like the framing debate which overran Scienceblogs recently. Indeed we might suppose that the majority of scientists in the world are skeptical about quantum computing. How best might we convince them that there are reasons to be skeptical, but not the ones they are most likely thinking about (quantum computers are analog computers)!
Now of course, whenever I see a paper which is blatantly wrong, the physicist in me rears up its egotistical head and wants to shout at the top of my lungs, “WHAH!” I have a similar visceral reaction to the movie “Expelled” where I want to tell each and every person who I talk to about the movie how horrible it is. But, of course, this isn’t a good way to earn friends or, more importantly, to convince those who are skeptical for all the wrong reasons to be skeptical for all the right reasons (or reasons not yet thought of.)
So what is the best way to sway the tide? One can give talks, write papers, start a blog, found a wiki, whatever, but will any of these things really convince large numbers of the quantum skeptical to forsake their wayward curmudgeoness? Are there examples which we can learn from, where a skeptical crowd was swayed to a well supported view? Or, as Planck put it are we doomed to wait the skeptics out:
A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it. – Max Planck