Fantasy rejects itself

I came across this review when linking to Undead Science on Amazon. It’s old, but there is no other review. I did buy that book, in 2009, from Amazon, used, but never reviewed it and now Amazon wants me to spend at least $50 in the last year to be able to review books….

But I can comment on the review, and I will. I first comment here.


JohnVidale

August 7, 2011

Format: Hardcover|Verified Purchase

I picked up this book on the recommendation of a fellow scientist with good taste in work on the history of science. I’ll update this, should I get further through the book, but halfway through this book is greatly irritating.

The book is a pretty straightforward story by a sociologist of science, something Dr. Vidale is not (he is a professor of seismology). There are many myths, common tropes, about cold fusion, and, since Dr. Vidale likes Gary Taubes (as do I, by the way), perhaps he should learn about information cascades; Taubes has written much about them. He can google “Gary Taubes information cascade.”

An information cascade is a social phenomenon where something comes to be commonly believed without ever having been clearly proven. It happens with scientists as well as with anyone.

The beginning is largely an explanation of how science works theoretically.

It is not. Sociologists of science study how science actually works, not the theory.

The thesis seems to be that science traditionally is thought of as either alive or dead, depending on whether the issues investigated are uncertain or already decided.

Is that a “thesis” or an observation? It becomes very clear in this review that the author thinks “cold fusion” is dead. As with many such opinions, it’s quote likely he has no idea what he is talking about. What is “cold fusion”?

It was a popular name given to an anomalous heat effect, based on ideas of the source, but the scientists who discovered the effect, because they could not explain the heat with chemistry — and they were experts chemists, leaders in their field — called it an “unknown nuclear reaction.” They had not been looking for a source of energy. They were actually testing the Born-Oppenheimer approximation, and though that the approximation was probably good enough that they would find nothing. And then their experiment melted down.

A third category of “undead” is proposed, in which some scientists think the topic is alive and others think it is dead, and this category has a life of its own. Later, this theme evolves to argue the undead topic of cold fusion still alive, or was long after declared dead.

That is, more or less the basis for the book. The field is now known by the more neutral term of “Condensed Matter Nuclear Science,” sometimes “Low Energy Nuclear Reactions,” the heat effect is simply called the Anomalous Heat Effect by some. I still use “cold fusion” because the evidence has become overwhelming that the nuclear reaction, whatever it is, is producing helium from deuterium, which is fusion in effect if not in mechanism. The mechanism is still unknown. It is obviously not what was thought of as “fusion” when the AHE was discovered.

The beginning and the last chapter may be of interest to those who seek to categorize varieties in the study of the history of science, but such pigeonholing is of much less value to me than revealing case studies of work well done and poorly done.

That’s Gary Taubes’ professional theme. However, it also can be superficial. There is a fine study by Henry H. Bauer (2002). ‘Pathological Science’ is not Scientific Misconduct (nor is it pathological).

One argument I’m not buying so far is the claim that what killed cold fusion is the consensus among most scientists that it was nonsense, rather than the fact that cold fusion is nonsense.

If not “consensus among most scientists,” how then would it be determined that a field is outside the maintream? And is “nonsense” a “fact”? Can you weigh it?

There is a large body of experimental evidence, and then there are conclusions drawn from the evidence, and ideas about the evidence and the conclusions. Where does observed fact become “nonsense.”

“Nonsense” is something we say when what is being stated makes no sense to us. It’s highly subjective.

Notice that the author appears to believe that “cold fusion” is “nonsense,” but shows no sign of knowing what this thing it is, what exactly is reported and claimed.

No, the author seems to be believe “cold fusion is nonsense,” as a fact of nature, as a reality, not merely a personal reaction. 

More to the point, where and when was the decision made that “cold fusion is dead”? The U.S. Department of Energy held two reviews of the field. The first was in 1989, rushed, and concluded before replications began appearing. Another review was held in 2004. Did these reviews declare that cold fusion was dead?

No. In fact, both recommended further research. One does not recommend further research for a dead field. In 2004, that recommendation was unanimous for an 18-member panel of experts.

This is to me a case study in which many open-minded people looked at a claim and shredded it.

According to Dr. Vidale. Yes, there was very strong criticism, even “vituperation,” in the words of one skeptic. However, the field is very much alive, and publication in mainstream journals has continued (increasing after a nadir in about 2005). Research is being funded. Governmental interest never disappeared, but it is a very difficult field.

There is little difference here between the truth and the scientists consensus about the truth.

What consensus, I must ask? The closest we have to a formal consensus would be the 2004 review, and what it concluded is far from the position Mr. Vidale is asserting. He imagines his view is “mainstream,” but that is simply the effect of an information cascade. Yes, many scientists think as he thinks, still. In other words, scientists can be ignorant of what is happening outside their own fields. But it is not a “consensus,” and never was. It was merely a widespread and very strong opinion, but that opinion was rejecting an idea about the Heat Effect, not the effect itself.

To the extent, though, that they were rejecting experimental evidence, they were engaged in cargo cult science, or scientism, a belief system. Not the scientific method.

The sociological understructure in the book seems to impede rather than aid understanding.

It seems that way to Dr. Vidale because he’s clueless about the reality of cold fusion research.

Specifically, there seems an underlying assumption that claims of excess heat without by-products of fusion reactions are a plausible interpretation, whose investigations deserved funding, but were denied by the closed club of established scientists.

There was a claim of anomalous heat, yes. It was an error for Pons and Fleischmann to claim that it was a nuclear reaction, and to mention “fusion,” based on the evidence they had, which was only circumstantial.

The reaction is definitely not what comes to mind when that word is used.

But . . . a fusion product, helium, was eventually identified (Miles, 1991), correlated with heat, and that has been confirmed by over a dozen research groups, and confirmation and measurement of the ratio with increased precision is under way at Texas Tech, very well funded, as that deserves. Extant measurements of the heat/helium ratio are within experimental error of the deuterium fusion to helium theoretical value.

(That does not show that the reaction is “d-d fusion,” because any reaction that starts with deuterium and ends with helium, no matter how this is catalyzed, must show that ratio.)

That Dr. Vidale believes that no nuclear product was identified simply shows that he’s reacting to what amounts to gossip or rumor or information cascade. (Other products have been found, there is strong evidence for tritium, but the levels are very low and it is the helium that accounts for the heat).

The author repeatedly cites international experts calling such scenarios impossible or highly implausible to suggest that the experts are libeling cold fusion claims with the label pathological science. I side with the experts rather than the author.

It is obvious that there were experts who did that; this is undeniable. Simon does not suggest “libel.” And Vidale merely joins in the labelling, without being specific such that one could test his claims. He’s outside of science. He’s taking sides, which sociologists generally don’t do, nor, in fact, do careful scientists do it within their field. To claim that a scientist is practicing “pathological science” is a deep insult. That is not a scientific category. Langmuir coined the term, and gave characteristics, which only superficially match cold fusion, which long ago moved outside of that box.

Also, the claim is made that this case demonstrates that sociologists are better equipped to mediate disputes involving claims of pathological science than scientists, which is ludicrous.

It would be, if the book claimed that, but it doesn’t. More to the point, who mediates such disputes? What happens in the real world?

Clearly, in the cold fusion case, another decade after the publication of this book has not contradicted any of the condemnations from scientists of cold fusion.

The 2004 U.S. DoE review was after the publication of the book, and it contradicts the position Dr. Vidale is taking, very clearly. While that review erred in many ways (the review was far too superficial, hurried, and the process allowed misunderstandings to arise, some reviewers clearly misread the presented documents), they did not call cold fusion “nonsense.” Several reviewers probably thought that, but they all agreed with “more research.”

Essentially, if one wishes to critically assess the stages through which cold fusion ideas were discarded, it is helpful to understand the nuclear processes involved.

Actually, no. “Cold fusion” appears to be a nuclear physics topic, because of “fusion.” However, it is actually a set of results in chemistry. What an expert in normal nuclear processes knows will not help with cold fusion. It is, at this point, an “unknown nuclear reaction” (which was claimed in the original paper). (Or it is a set of such reactions.) Yes, if someone wants to propose a theory of mechanism, a knowledge of nuclear physics is necessary, and there are physicists, with such understanding, experts, doing just that. So far, no theory has been successful to the point of being widely accepted.

One should not argue, as the author indirectly does, for large federal investments in blue sky reinvention of physics unless one has an imposing reputation of knowing the limitations of existing physics.

Simon does not argue for that. I don’t argue for that. I suggest exactly what both U.S. DoE reviews suggested: modest funding for basic research under existing programs. That is a genuine scientific consensus! However, it is not necessary a “consensus of scientists,” that is, some majority showing in a poll, as distinct from genuine scientific process as functions with peer review and the like.

It appears that Dr. Vidale has an active imagination, and thinks that Simon is a “believer” and thinks that “believers” want massive federal funding, so he reads that into the book. No, the book is about a sociological phenomenon, it was Simon’s doctoral thesis originally, and sociologists of science will continue to study the cold fusion affair, for a very long time. Huizenga called it the “scientific fiasco of the twentieth century.” He was right. It was a perfect storm, in many ways, and there is much that can be learned from it.

Cold fusion is not a “reinvention of physics.” It tells us very little about nuclear physics. “Cold fusion,” as a name for an anomalous heat effect, does not contradict existing physics. It is possible that when the mechanism is elucidated, it will show some contradiction, but what is most likely is that all that has been contradicted was assumption about what’s possible in condensed matter, not actual physics.

There are theories being worked on that use standard quantum field theory, merely in certain unanticipated circumstances. Quick example: what will happen if two deuterium molecules are trapped in relationship at low relative momentum, such that the nuclei form the vertices of a tetrahedron? The analysis has been done by Akito Takahashi: they will collapse into a Bose -Einstein condensate within a femtosecond or so, and that will fuse by tunneling within another femotosecond or so, creating 8Be, which can fission into two 4He nuclei, without gamma radiation (as would be expected if two deuterons could somehow fuse to helium without immediately fissioning into the normal d-d fusion products).

That theory is incomplete, I won’t go into details, but it merely shows how there may be surprises lurking in places we never looked before.

I will amend my review if my attention span is long enough, but the collection of objectionable claims has risen too high to warrant spending another few hours finishing this book. Gary Taubes’ book on the same subject, Bad Science, was much more factual and enlightening.

Taubes’ Bad Science is an excellent book on the history of cold fusion, the very early days only. The story of the book is well known, he was in a hurry to finish it so he could be paid. As is common with his work, he spent far more time than made sense economically for him. He believed he understood the physics, and sometimes wrote from that perspective, but, in fact, nobody understands what Pons and Fleischmann found. They certainly didn’t.

Gradually, fact is being established, and how to create reliable experiments is being developed. It’s still difficult, but measuring the heat/helium ratio is a reliable and replicable experiment. It’s still not easy, but what is cool about it is that, per existing results, if one doesn’t see heat, one doesn’t see helium, period, and if one does see heat (which with a good protocol might be half the time), one sees proportionate helium.

So Dr. Vidale gave the book a poor review, two stars out of five, based on his rejection of what he imagined the book was saying.


There were some comments, that can be seen by following the Unreal arguments link.

postoak6 years ago
“Clearly, in the cold fusion case, another decade after the publication of this book has not contradicted any of the condemnations from scientists of cold fusion.” I think this statement is false. Although fusion may not be occurring, there is much, much evidence that some sort of nuclear event is taking place in these experiments. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VymhJCcNBBc
The video was presented by Frank Gordon, of SPAWAR. It is about nuclear effects, including heat.
JohnVidale  6 years ago In reply to an earlier post
More telling than the personal opinion of either of us is the fact that 3 MORE years have passed since the video you linked, and no public demonstration of energy from cold fusion has YET been presented.
How does Dr. Vidale know that? The video covers many demonstrations of LENR. What Dr. Vidale may be talking about is practical levels of energy, and he assumes that if such a demonstration existed, he’d have heard about it. There have been many demonstrations. Dr.  Vidale’s comments were from August 2011. Earlier that year, there was a major claim of commercial levels of power, kilowatts, with public “demonstrations.” Unfortunately, it was fraud, but my point here is that this was widely known, widely considered, and Dr. Vidale doesn’t seem to know about it at all.
(The state of the art is quite low-power, but visible levels of power have been demonstrated and confirmed.)
Dr. Vidale is all personal opinion and no facts. He simply ignored the video, which is quite good, being a presentation by the SPAWAR group (U.S. Navy Research Laboratory, San Diego) to a conference organized by Dr. Robert Duncan, who was Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of Missouri, and then countered the comment with simple ignorance (that there has been no public demonstration). 
Taser_This 2 years ago (Edited)
The commenters note is an excellent example of the sociological phenomenon related to the field of Cold Fusion, that shall be studied along with the physical phenomenon, once a change of perception of the field occurs. We shall eventually, and possibly soon, see a resolution of the clash of claims of pathological science vs. pathological disbelief. If history is any indicator related to denial in the face of incontrovertible evidence (in this case the observation of excess heat, regardless of the process of origin since we know it is beyond chemical energies) we shall be hearing a lot more about this topic.

Agreed, Dr. Vidale has demonstrated what an information cascade looks like. He’s totally confident that he is standing for the mainstream opinion. Yet “mainstream opinion” is not a judgment of experts, except, of course, in part.

Dr. Vidale is not an expert in this field, and he is not actually aware of expert reviews of “cold fusion.” Perhaps he might consider reading this peer-reviewed review of the field, published the year before he wrote, in Naturwissenschaften, which was, at the time, a venerable multidiscoplinary journal,  and it had tough peer review. Edmund Storms, Status of cold fusion (2010). (preprint).

There are many, many reviews of cold fusion in mainstream journals, published in the last  15 years. The extreme skepticism, which Vidale thinks is mainstream, has disappeared in the journals. What is undead here is extreme skepticism on this topic, which hasn’t noticed it died.

So, is cold fusion Undead, or is it simply Alive and never died?


After writing this, I found that Dr. John Vidale was a double major as an undergraduate, in physics and geology, has a PhD from Cal Tech (1986), and his major focus appears to be seismology.

He might be amused by this story from the late Nate Hoffman, who wrote a book for the American Nuclear Society, supported by the Electric Power Research Institute, A Dialogue on Chemically Induced Nuclear Effects: A Guide for the Perplexed About Cold Fusion (1995). Among other things, it accurately reviews Taubes and Huizenga. The book is written as a dialogue between a Young Scientist (YS), who represents common thinking, particularly among physicists, and Old Metallurgist (OM), which would be Hoffman himself, who is commonly considered a skeptic by promoters of cold fusion. Actually, to me, he looks normally skeptical, skepticism being essential to science.

YS: I guess the real question has to be this: Is the heat real?

OM: The simple facts are as follows. Scientists experienced in the area of calorimetric measurements are performing these experiments. Long periods occur with no heat production, then, occasionally, periods suddenly occur with apparent heat production. These scientists become irate when so-called experts call them charlatans. The occasions when apparent heat occurs seem to be highly sensitive to the surface conditions of the palladium and are not reproducible at will.

YS: Any phenomenon that is not reproducible at will is most likely not real.

OM: People in the San Fernando Valley, Japanese, Columbians, et al, will be glad to hear that earthquakes are not real.

YS: Ouch. I deserved that. My comment was stupid.

OM: A large number of of people who should know better have parroted that inane statement. There are, however, many artifacts that can indicate a false period of heat production. The question of whether heat is being produced is still open, though any such heat is not from deuterium atoms fusing with deuterium atoms to produce equal amounts of 3He + neutron and triton + proton. If the heat is real, it must be from a different nuclear reaction or some toally unknown non-nuclear source of reactions with energies far above the electron-volt levels of chemical reactions.

As with Taubes, Hoffman may have been under some pressure to complete the book. Miles, in 1991, was the first to report, in a conference paper, that helium was being produced, correlated with helium, and this was noticed by Huizenga in the second edition of his book (1993). Hoffman covers some of Miles’ work, and some helium measurements, but does not report the crucial correlation, though this was published in Journal of Electroanalytical Chemistry in 1993.

I cover heat/helium, as a quantitatively reproducible and widely-confirmed experiment, in my 2015 paper, published in a special section on Low Energy Nuclear Reactions in Current Science..

Of special note in that section would be McKubre, Cold fusion: comments on the state of scientific proof.

McKubre is an electrochemist who, when he saw the Pons and Fleischmann announcement, already was familiar with the palladium-deuterium system, working at SRI International, and immediately recognized that the effect reported must be in relatively unexplored territory, with very high loading ratio. This was not widely understood, and replication efforts that failed to reach a loading threshold, somewhere around 90% atom (D/Pd), reported no results (neither anomalous heat, nor any other nuclear effects). At that time, it was commonly considered that 70% loading was a maximum.

SRI and McKubre were retained by the Electric Power Research Institute, for obvious reasons, to investigate cold fusion, and until retiring recently, he spent his entire career after that, mostly on LENR research.

One of the characteristics of the rejection cascade was cross-disciplinary disrespect. In his review, Dr. Vidale shows no respect or understanding of sociology and “science studies,” and mistakes  his own opinions and those of his friends as “scientific consensus.”

What is scientific consensus? This is a question that sociologists and philosphers of science study. As well, most physicists knew little to nothing about electrochemistry, and there are many stories of Stupid Mistakes, such as reversing the cathode and anode (because of a differing convention) and failing to maintain very high cleanliness of experiments. One electrochemist, visiting such a lab, asked, “And then did you pee in the cell?” The most basic mistake was failing to run the experiment long enough to develop the conditions that create the effect. McKubre covers that in the paper cited.

(An electrolytic cathode will collect cations from the electrolyte, and cathodes may become loaded with fuzzy junk. I fully sympathize with physicists with a distaste for the horrible mess of an electrolytic cathode. For very good reasons, they prefer the simple environment of a plasma, which they can analyze using two-body quantum mechanics.

I sat in Feynman’s lectures at Cal Tech, 1961-63, and, besides his anecdotes that I heard directly from him when he visited Page House, I remember one statement about physics: “We don’t have the math to calculate the solid state, it is far too complex.” Yet too many physicists believed that the approximations they used were reality. No, they were useful approximations, that usually worked. So did Ptolemaic astronomy.)

Dr. Vidale is welcome to comment here and to correct errors, as may anyone.

Let’s Move the Needle with our Core Competencies

This post was inspired by Cole Schafer, a professional copy writer, and it shows.

We don’t need everyone to buy in , but if we open the kimono, we can attract a few good men. Ahem, scientists, people.

Empower the community with this bleeding edge technology, instead of drinking the Kool-Aid, that Rossi or Widom-Larsen will save us.

Put out some feelers and develop our human capital!

LENR has lots of moving parts, so, double-checking, get our ducks in a row, stop working in silos, and accept that it’s just business!

If we each give 110%, we will . . .

Take a nap, that’s my idea. Whew!

110%, 24/7! Let me sit down. I just cleaned up much of my office.

Continue reading “Let’s Move the Needle with our Core Competencies”

Russ George and the D2Fusion team

Laura Chao, 24. Nuclear researcher at D2Fusion, a Foster City company working on generating clean, renewable energy from solid-state fusion.

This page (October 1, 2006) was linked from the defunct D2Fusion web site.

Russ George has been popping up in LENR circles again, so I decided to check out the history (which I knew mostly as rumor from people he had formerly worked with, in circles where he had apparently become persona non grata), and I found the image above, which I put here as eye candy. Nice, eh? I hope her experience with cold fusion was not a total bust and that her life has been productive and worthwhile. I don’t see that she has been mentioned anywhere else on this topic. Great photo, though!

Some comments from the article on Chao:

75912  Posted 10.25.06

“Too bad Chao didn’t read the expose on D2Fusion in the May, 2006 New Energy Times. “

75913 Posted 12.19.06

“Too bad ‘75912’ was taken in by the New Energy Times attack on d2fusion.”

Laura later blogged about cold fusion (March, 2007) and about the fun she was having at work. And more.

And even more, an embarrassment of riches. “My professional life is not progressing as planned.”

She is a fantastic blogger. Her response to an actual question about cold fusion is priceless. And then:

Lies Lies Lies (September 1, 2007) (my emphasis added)

“Your CEO says that your lab is melting,” JB whispered into my ear.

For the purpose of the 7×7 Hot 20 Under 40 party, my company had printed me brand new business cards that read “Nuclear Physicist,” despite the fact that my official title was actually ‘science technician.’

In light of my situation, I decided to enlist support. Showing up with my friend JB, the CTO of Tesla Motors (who used to be a fusion researcher himself), would help me obtain the outrageous amount of publicity my company was expecting me to generate, and also satisfy the magazine, which had advertised me as the up and coming genius of the year. (Geez, no pressure.) My CEO, unfortunately, failed to inquire into JB’s past before lecturing him about our runaway success in cold fusion.

“Apparently, the fusion is so out of control,” JB said, barely able to hold back his laughter as he repeated my CEO’s claims, “that your laboratory instruments keep vaporizing. HAHAHAHAHAHA!”

I should have known right then that eventually (read: very soon) the company would no longer be a company.

The job has evaporated by December, 2007. (Laura Chao had a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.) I assume the CEO was George.

January 10, 2008, the link to her as a “D2F scientist” was still up. The D2Fusion.com site went “down for maintenance” February 10, and stayed that way, until it vanished after July 8, 2008. In 2012, Godaddy put the domain up for sale.  It’s now a strange spam-y site.

Laura Chao’s last blog post was in March, 2013. Brilliant, actually.

So … the New Energy Times “expose.”  Steve Krivit is a yellow journalist, it’s his shtick.  He’s also done a lot of work, and what he has written about Russ George appears to be well-supported.

So Russ George on LENR Forum. His own thread. 

Here is the very RAW geiger data one can see some excursions well above the long duration ‘background’ counts. Given the relative insensitivity of Geigers to gamma (or x-ray) photons the Androcles deuterated fuel mixture is doing something quite extraordinary as there is only a fraction of a gram of fuel mix, about the volume of 5-10 grains of rice. https://www.lenr-forum.com/attachment/5106-andro-may7-pdf/

What is immediately noticeable is that the “excursions” are occurring at 24-hour intervals. No evidence is presented connecting the counts with the fuel mix. The LF user who questions what had been done is banned on LF, by Alan Smith, who is sponsoring George’s current research. George reveals his thinking about Andrea Rossi:

seven_of_twenty wrote:

RussGeorge

Is the above cryptic statement intended to mean that you still think Rossi has demonstrated LENR? If so, why on Earth would you think it, given all the evidence to the contrary over the past 7+ years?

No number of blowhard armchair trolls is worth one iota of real data, so what is your point. Rossi has shown plenty of interesting data that speaks to those skilled in the art.

The art of the con, indeed. It takes one to know one.

Russ George took research possibilities and turned them into personal promotion, he was more blatant in this than Rossi. Both managed, for a time, to impress, in some way or other, real scientists.

There are real investors looking for opportunities to support cold fusion, and they tested Rossi’s claims, and his devices, to the hilt, and found nothing but lies, damn lies, and no statistics.

One  LF user (Dewey Weaver) actually represents them (though not officially on that forum). These people have invested on the order of $70 million in LENR over the last few years, they literally put their money where their mouth is. They don’t talk much, in fact.

Russ George is a big talker, talking big, always sure of himself. And then there is Alan Smith.

McKubre!

In case anyone hasn’t noticed, I’m a fan of Michael McKubre. He invited me to visit SRI in 2012, and encouraged me to take on a relatively skeptical role within the community.

So I was pleased today that he sent me the slide deck for his ICCF-21 presentation, and, with the good quality audio supplied by Ruby Carat of Cold Fusion Now, his full presentation is now accessible. I have created a review page at iccf-21/abstracts/review/mckubre

There is, here, an embarrassment of riches, in terms of defining a way forward.

Yes, Virgina, there is a cabal

A link to this was posted here, and I didn’t see it until recently. By itself, this is only a rant of a disturbed fanatic skeptic, who is known to lie, but there are breadcrumbs, pieces that fit together over time, and this comment caused the picture to pop into view. I wrote in 2009, there is a cabal, presented evidence of de-facto coordinated editing on Wikipedia, by a faction. I did not claim that this violated policy, in itself, but the effect was a warping of Wikipedia process, and I wanted ArbComm to look at that. Unfortunately, ArbComm was infected by the cabal or the cabal point of view.

The cabal uses attack dogs to create a cloud of confusion that allows others to intervene to “prevent disruption,” blaming the target and the dogs, and the dogs don’t care, because there is an endless supply of dogs, a dog can be created from any non-blocked IP.


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From later research and evidence, this was Darryl L. Smith. The story matches information from his twin brother, Oliver D. Smith.

Takahashi and New Hydrogen Energy

Today I began and completed a review of Akito Takahashi’s presentation on behalf of a collaboration of groups, using the 55 slides made available. Eventually, I hope to see a full paper, which may resolve some ambiguities. Meanwhile, this work shows substantial promise.

This is the first substantial review of mine coming out of ICCF-21, which, I declared, the first day, would be a breakthrough conference.

I was half-way out-of-it for much of the conference, struggling with some health issues, exacerbated by the altitude. I survived. I’m stronger. Yay!

Comments and corrections are invited on the reviews, or on what will become a series of brief summaries.

The title of the presentation: Research Status of Nano-Metal Hydrogen Energy. There are 17 co-authors, affiliated with four universities (Kyushu, Tohoku, Kobe, and Nagoya), and two organizations (Technova and Nissan Motors). Funding was reportedly $1 million US, for October 2015 to October 2017.

This was a major investigation, finding substantial apparent anomalous heat in many experiments, but this work was, in my estimation, exploratory, not designed for clear confirmation of a “lab rat” protocol, which is needed. They came close, however, and, to accomplish that goal, they need do little more than what they have already done, with tighter focus. I don’t like presenting “best results,” from an extensive experimental series, it can create misleading impressions.

The best results were from experiments at elevated temperatures, which requires heating the reactor, which, with the design they used, requires substantial heating power. That is not actually a power input to the reactor, however, and if they can optimize these experiments, as seems quite possible, they appear to be generating sufficient heat to be able to maintain elevated temperature for a reactor designed to do that. (Basically, insulate the reactor and provide heating and cooling as needed, heating for startup and cooling once the reactor reaches break-even — i.e., generating enough heat to compensate for heat losses). The best result was about 25 watts, and they did not complete what I see as possible optimization.

They used differential scanning calorimetry to identify the performance of sample fuel mixtures. I’d been hoping to see this kind of study for quite some time. This work was the clearest and most interesting of the pages in the presentation; what I hope is that they will do much more of that, with many more samples. Then, I hope that they will identify a lab rat (material and protocol) and follow it identically with many trials (or sometimes with a single variation, but there should be many iterations with a single protocol.

They are looking forward to optimization for commercial usage, which I think is just slightly premature. But they are close, assuming that followup can confirm their findings and demonstrate adequate reliability.

It is not necessary that this work be fully reliable, as long as results become statistically predictable, as shown by actual variation in results with careful control of conditions.

Much of the presentation was devoted to Takahashi’s TSC theory, which is interesting in itself, but distracting, in my opinion, from what was most important about this report. The experimental work is consistent with Takahashi theory, but does not require it, and the work was not designed to deeply vet TSC predictions.

Time was wasted in letting us know that if cold fusion can be made practical, it will have a huge impact on society. As if we need to hear that for the n thousandth time. I’ve said that if I see another Rankin diagram, I’d get sick. Well, I didn’t, but be warned. I think there are two of them.

Nevertheless, this is better hot-hydrogen LENR work than I’ve seen anywhere before. I’m hoping they have helium results (I think they might,) which could validate the excess heat measures for deuterium devices.

I’m recommending against trying to scale up to higher power until reliability is nailed.

Update, July 1, 2018

There was reference to my Takahashi review on LENR Forum, placed there by Alain Coetmeur, which is appreciated. He misspelled my name. Ah, well!

Some comments from there:

Alan Smith wrote:

Abd wrote to Akito Takahashi elsewhere.

“I am especially encouraged by the appearance of a systematic approach, and want to encourage that.”

A presumptuous comment for for somebody who is not an experimenter to make to a distinguished scientist running a major project don’t you think? I think saying ‘the appearance’ really nails it. He could do so much better.

That comment was on a private mailing list, and Smith violated confidentiality by publishing it. However, no harm done — other than by his showing no respect for list rules.

I’ll point out that I was apparently banned on LENR Forum, in early December, 2016, by Alan Smith. The occasion was shown by my last post. For cause explained there, and pending resolution of the problem (massive and arbitrary deletions of posts — by Alan Smith — without notice or opportunity for recovery of content), I declared a boycott. I was immediately perma-banned, without notice to me or the readership.

There was also an attempt to reject all “referrals” to LENR Forum from this blog, which was easily defeated and was then abandoned. But it showed that the problem on LF was deeper than Alan Smith, since that took server access. Alan Coetmeur (an administrator there) expressed helplessness, which probably implicated the owner, and this may have all been wrapped in support for Andrea Rossi.

Be that as it may, I have excellent long-term communication with Dr. Takahashi. I was surprised to see, recently, that he credited me in a 2013 paper for “critical comments,” mistakenly as “Dr. Lomax”, which is a fairly common error (I notified him I have no degree at all, much less a PhD.) In that comment quoted by Smith, “appearance” was used to mean “an act of becoming visible or noticeable; an arrival,” not as Smith interpreted it. Honi soit qui mal y pense.

I did, in the review, criticize aspects of the report, but that’s my role in the community, one that I was encouraged to assume, not by myself alone, but by major researchers who realize that the field needs vigorous internal criticism and who have specifically and generously supported me to that end.

Shane D. wrote:

Abd does not have much good to say about the report, or the presentation delivery.

For those new to the discussion, this report…the result of a collaboration between Japanese universities, and business, has been discussed here under various threads since it went public. Here is a good summation: January 2018 Nikkei article about cold fusion

Overall, my fuller reaction was expressed here, on this blog post. I see that the format (blog post here, detailed review as the page linked from LF) made that less visible, so I’ll fix that. The Nikkei article is interesting, and for those interested in Wikipedia process, that would be Reliable Source for Wikipedia. Not that it matters much!

Update July 3, 2018

I did complain to a moderator of that private list, and Alan edited his comment, removing the quotation. However, what he replaced it with is worse.

I really like Akito. Wonderful man. And a great shame Abd treats his work with such disdain.

I have long promoted the work of Akito Takahashi, probably the strongest theoretician working on the physics of LENR. His experimental work has been of high importance, going back decades. It is precisely because of his position in the field that I was careful to critique his report. The overall evaluation was quite positive, so Smith’s comment is highly misleading.

Not that I’m surprised to see this from him. Smith has his own agenda, and has been a disaster as a LENR Forum moderator. While he may have stopped the arbitrary deletions, he still, obviously, edits posts without showing any notice.

This was my full comment on that private list (I can certainly quote myself!)

Thanks, Dr. Takahashi. Your report to ICCF-21 was of high interest, I have reviewed it here:

http://coldfusioncommunity.net/iccf-21/abstracts/review/takahashi/

I am especially encouraged by the appearance of a systematic approach, and want to encourage that.

When the full report appears, I hope to write a summary to help promote awareness of this work.

I would be honored by any corrections or comments.

Disdain? Is Smith daft?

The Russians stole the fuel!

On the private CMNS list, there was a post referring to an incident in which Andrea Rossi allegedly claimed that the fuel from a  dummy reactor (deliberately made with no fuel, but which had become confused with fueled reactors), which had shown the same apparent excess heat as the fueled reactors.
I realized that I had never covered in depth the implications of this event. The account is from a deposition of Thomas Darden.

Continue reading “The Russians stole the fuel!”

Fake facts and true lies

This a little “relax after getting home” exploration of a corner of Planet Rossi, involving Mats Lewan — but, it turns out, only very peripherally –, Frank Acland’s interview of Andrea Rossi just the other day (June 11), and some random comments on E-Cat World, easily categorized under the time-wasting “Someone is wrong on the internet.” Continue reading “Fake facts and true lies”

Ask ICCF-21 Questions Here

ICCF-21-detailed-agenda/

I am taking questions for conference presenters on this page. You may request that a question be addressed to a specific speaker or presenter, and I will communicate the question and I will bring answers back to this blog. The Conference is shaping up to be a breakthrough event. There is far more major CMNS activity under way than is generally publicly announced.

Comments below may be entered anonymously. All comments from someone who has not been approved before must be approved, so be patient, and I am very, very busy with the Conferencem there are hundreds of people to listen to and talk with. If a real email address is entered, it will not be published, and I will be able to communicate directly, and intend to follow up on everything, eventually.

ICCF-21 Detailed Agenda

IICF-21 Detailed Agenda =  (original on ICCF-21 web site)

SHORT COURSE SPEAKERS (Sunday 3 June 2018)

  • 10:00 Introduction and Issues, David Nagel
  • 10:40 Electrochemical Loading, Michael McKubre
  • 11:20 Gas Loading, Jean-Paul Biberian
  • 12:00 Lunch
  • 13:30 Calorimetry and Heat Data, Dennis Letts
  • 14:10 Transmutation Data, Mahadeve (Chino) Srinivasan
  • 14:50 Break
  • 15:10 Materials Challenges, M. Ashraf Imam
  • 15:50 Theoretical Considerations, Peter Hagelstein
  • 16:30 Commercialization, Dana Seccombe & Steve Katinsky
  • 17:00 (end)

REGULAR CONFERENCE PROGRAM

18:00 Reception

20:00 Lounge

 

From an altitude

Thanks to the generosity of donors to Infusion Institute, I’m airborne on my way to Denver, and while I’m a dedicated skinflint, and Southwest charges $8 for in-flight internet access, I decided to pay it, and gain three hours of work on the blog. I’m reading the ICCF-21 abstracts and will make short reviews as I slog through them ah, read them with intense fascination and anticipation. I’ll be at the Conference site tomorrow, all day. Some of those with large hairpieces (hah! big wigs) will be arriving tomorrow evening. I’ll be in the Short Course on Sunday. It is being guided by the best scientists in the field, this should be Fun! Yay,Fun!

The first abstract I’ve read is:

http://coldfusioncommunity.net/iccf-21/abstracts/review/afanasyev/

Cold fusion: superfluidity of deuterons.
Afanasyev S.B.

Saint-Petersburg, Russian Federation
The nature of cold fusion (CF) is considered. It is supposed that the reaction of deuterons merger takes place due to one deuteron, participating in the superfluidity motion, and one deuterons, not participating in the superfluidity motion, participate in the reaction. The Coulomb barrier is
overcomed due to the kinetic energy of the Bose-condensate motion is very large. The Bosecondensate forms from delocalized deuterons with taking into account that the effective mass of delocalized deuterons is smaller than the free deuterons mass.

etc.

Poster session

Just what we needed!! 28 years of theory formation has done nothing to create what the field needs. However, I consider that what the theoreticians are doing is practicing for the opportunity that will open up when we have enough data about the actual conditions of cold fusion. This paper, I categorize with Kim and Takahashi as proposing fusion through formation of a Bose-Einstein Condensate. Actually understanding the math is generally beyond my pay grade, and my big hope is that the theoreticians will start to criticize — constructively, of course — each other’s work. Until then, I’m impressed that some physicists with chops and credentials are willing to look at this and come up with ideas that, at least, use more-or-less standard physics, extending it into some unknown territory.

The standard reaction to BEC proposals is something like: You HAVE GOT to be kidding! BECs at room temperature??? The temperature argument applies to large BECS, small ones might exist under condensed matter conditions. But that is a problem for this particular theory, which, to distribute the energy and stay below the Hagelstein limit of 10 keV, requires energy distibution among well over a thousand atoms.

Nevertheless, there is this thing about the unknown. It’s unknown!  From Sherlock Holmes, when every possible explanation has been eliminated, it must be an impossible one! Or something like that. I disagree with Holmes, because the world of possible explanations is not limited, we cannot possibly have eliminated all of them. Some explanations become, with time and extensive study, relatively impossible. I.e, fraud  is always possible with a single report, and becomes exponentially less likely with multiple apparently independent reports. Systematic error remains possible until there are substantial and confirmed correlations.

 

Protecting the fringe allows the mainstream to breathe

Wikipedia is famously biased against fringe points of view or fringe science (and actually the bias can appear with any position considered “truth” by a majority or plurality faction). The pseudoskeptical faction there claims that there is no bias, but it’s quite clear that reliable sources exist, per Wikipedia definitions, that are excluded, and weaker sources “debunking” the fringe are allowed, plus if editors appears to be “fringe,” they are readily harassed and blocked or banned, whereas more egregious behavior, violating Wikipedia policies, is overlooked, if an editor is allied with the “skeptical” faction. Over time, the original Wikipedians, who actually supported Neutral Point of View policy, have substantially been marginalized and ignored, and the faction has become increasingly bold.

When I first confronted factional editing, before the Arbitration Committee in 2009, the faction was relatively weak. However, over the ensuing years, the debunkers organized, Guerrilla Skeptics on Wikipedia (GSoW) came into existence, and operates openly. People who come to Wikipedia to attempt to push toward neutrality (or toward “believer” positions) are sanctioned for treating Wikipedia as a battleground, but that is exactly what the skeptics have done, and the Guerrilla Skeptics (consider the name!) create a consistent push with a factional position.

There is increasing evidence of additional off-wiki coordination. It would actually be surprising if it did not exist, it can be difficult to detect. But we have an incident, now.

February 24, 2018 I was banned by the WikiMediaFoundation. There was no warning, and no explanation, and there is no appeal from a global ban. Why? To my knowledge, I did not violate the Terms of Service in any way. There was, however, at least one claim that I did, an allegation by a user that I had “harassed” him by email, the first of our emails was sent through the WMF servers, so if, in fact, that email was harassment, it would be a TOS violation, though a single violation, unless truly egregious, has never been known to result in a ban. I have published all the emails with that user here.

This much is known, however. One of those who claimed to have complained about me to the WMF posted a list of those complaining on the forum, Wikipedia Sucks. It is practically identical to the list I had inferred; it is, then, a convenient list of those who likely libelled me. However, I will be, ah, requesting the information from the WikiMedia Foundation.

Meanwhile, the purpose of this post is to consider the situation with fringe science and an encyclopedia project. First of all, what is fringe science?

The Wikipedia article, no surprise, is massively confused on this.

Description

The term “fringe science” denotes unorthodox scientific theories and models. Persons who create fringe science may have employed the scientific method in their work, but their results are not accepted by the mainstream scientific community. Fringe science may be advocated by a scientist who has some recognition within the larger scientific community, but this is not always the case. Usually the evidence provided by fringe science is accepted only by a minority and is rejected by most experts.[citation needed]

Indeed, citation needed! Evidence is evidence, and is often confused with conclusions. Rejection of evidence is essentially a claim of fraud or reporting error, which is rare for professional scientists, because it can be career suicide. Rather, a scientist may discover an anomaly, au unexplained phenomenon, more precisely, unexplained results. Then a cause may be hypothesized. If this hypothesis is unexpected within existing scientific knowledge, yet the hypothesis is not yet confirmed independently, it may be “rejected” as premature or even wrong. If there are experts in the relevant field who accept it as possible and worthy of investigation, this then is “possible new science.” There may be experts who reject the new analysis, for various reasons, and we will look at a well-known example, “continental drift.”

There is no “journal of mainstream opinion,” but there are journals considered “mainstream.” The term “mainstream” is casually used by many authors without any clear definition. In my own work, I defined “mainstream journals” as journals acceptable as such by Dieter Britz, a skeptical electrochemist. As well, the issue of speciality arises. If there is an electrochemical anomaly discovered, heat the expert chemists cannot explain through chemistry, what is the relevant field of expertise. Often those who claim a field is “fringe” are referring to the opinions of those who are not expert in the directly relevant field, but whose expertise, perhaps, leads to conclusions that are, on the face, contradicted by evidence gathered with expertise other than in their field.

With “cold fusion,” named after a hypothesized source for anomalous heat,  in the Fleischmann-Pons Heat Effect,  (also found by many others), it was immediately assumed that the relevant field would be nuclear physics. It was also assumed that if “cold fusion” were real, it would overturn established physical theory. That was a blatant analytical error, because it assumed a specific model of the heat source, a specific mechanism, which was actually contradicted by the experimental evidence, most notably by the “dead graduate student effect.” If the FPHE were caused by the direct fusion of two deuterons to form helium, the third of Huizenga’s three “miracles,” if absent, would have generated fatal levels of gamma radiation. The second miracle was the reaction being guided in to the very rare helium branch, instead of there being fatal levels of neutron radiation, and the first would be the fusion itself. However, that first miracle would not contradict existing physics, because an unknown form of catalysis may exist, and one is already known, muon-catalyzed fusion.

Evidence is not provided by “fringe science.” It is provided by ordinary scientific study. In cargo cult science, ordinary thinking is worshipped as if conclusive, without the rigorous application of the scientific method. Real science is always open, no matter how well-established a theory. The existing theory may be incomplete. Ptolemaic astronomy provided a modal that was quite good at explaining the motions of planets. Ptolemaic astronomy passed into history when a simpler model was found.

Galileo’s observations were rejected because they contradicted certain beliefs.  The observations were evidence, and “contradiction” is an interpretation, not evidence in itself. (It is not uncommon for  apparently contradictory evidence to be later understood as indicating an underlying reality. But with Galileo, his very observations were rejected — I think, it would be interesting to study this in detail — and if he were lying, it would be a serious moral offense, actually heresy.

The boundary between fringe science and pseudoscience is disputed. The connotation of “fringe science” is that the enterprise is rational but is unlikely to produce good results for a variety of reasons, including incomplete or contradictory evidence.[7]

The “boundary question” is an aspect of the sociology of science. “Unlikely to produce good results,” first of all, creates a bias, where results are classified as “good” or “poor” or “wrong,” all of which moves away from evidence to opinion and interpretation. “Contradictory evidence,” then, suggests anomalies. “Contradiction” does not exist in nature. With cold fusion, an example is the neutron radiation issue. Theory would predict, for two-deuteron fusion, massive neutron radiation. So that Pons and Fleischmann reported neutron radiation, but at levels far, far below what would be expected for d-d fusion generating the reported heat, first of all, contradicted the d-d fusion theory, on theoretical grounds. They were quite aware of this, hence what they actually proposed in their first paper was not “d-d fusion” but an “unknown nuclear reaction.” That was largely ignored, so much noise was being made about “fusion,” it was practically a Perfect Storm.

Further, any substantial neutron radiation would be remarkable as a result from an electrochemical experiment. As came out rather rapidly, Pons and Fleischmann had erred. Later work that established an upper limit for neutron radiation was itself defective (the FP heat effect was very difficult to set up, and it was not enough to create an alleged “FP cell” and look for neutrons, because many such cells produce no measurable heat), but it is clear from later work that neutron generation, if it exists at all, is at extremely low levels, basically irrelevant to the main effect.

Such neutron findings were considered “negative” by Britz. In fact, all experimental findings contribute to knowledge; it became a well-established characteristic of the FP Heat Effect that it does not generate significant high-energy radiation, nor has the heat ever been correlated (across multiple experiments and by multiple independent groups) with any other nuclear product except helium. 

The term may be considered pejorative. For example, Lyell D. Henry Jr. wrote that, “fringe science [is] a term also suggesting kookiness.”[8] This characterization is perhaps inspired by the eccentric behavior of many researchers of the kind known colloquially (and with considerable historical precedent) as mad scientists.[9]

The term does suggest that. The looseness of the definition allows inclusion of many different findings and claims, which do include isolated and idiosyncratic ideas of so-called “mad scientists.” This is all pop science, complicated by the fact that some scientists age and suffer from forms of dementia. However, some highly successful scientists also move into a disregard of popular opinion, which can create an impression of “kookiness,” which is, after all, popular judgment and not objective. They may be willing to consider ideas rejected for social reasons by others.

Although most fringe science is rejected, the scientific community has come to accept some portions of it.[10] One example of such is plate tectonics, an idea which had its origin in the fringe science of continental drift and was rejected for decades.[11]

There are lost and crucial details. Rejected by whom, and when? The present tense is used, and this is common with the anti-fringe faction on Wikipedia. If something was rejected by some or by many, that condition is assumed to continee and is reported in the present tense, as as it were a continuing fact, when an author cannot do more than express an opinion about the future.  Now, plate tectonics is mentioned. “Continental drift” is called “fringe science,” even after it became widely accepted.

Wegener’s proposal of continental drift is a fascinating example. The Wikipedia article does not mention “fringe science.” The Wikipedia article is quite good, it seems to me. One particular snippet is of high interest:

David Attenborough, who attended university in the second half of the 1940s, recounted an incident illustrating its lack of acceptance then: “I once asked one of my lecturers why he was not talking to us about continental drift and I was told, sneeringly, that if I could prove there was a force that could move continents, then he might think about it. The idea was moonshine, I was informed.”[47]

As late as 1953 – just five years before Carey[48] introduced the theory of plate tectonics – the theory of continental drift was rejected by the physicist Scheidegger on the following grounds.[49]

That rejection was essentially pseudoskepticism and pseudoscientific. There was observation (experimental evidence) suggesting drift. The lack of explanatory theory is not evidence of anything other than possible ignorance. “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”

The fact is that the continental drift hypothesis, as an explanation for the map appearance and fossil record, was not generally accepted. What shifted opinion was the appearance of a plausible theory. Worthy of note was how strongly the opinion of “impossible” was, such that “proof” was demanded. This is a sign of a fixed mind, not open to new ideas. The history of science is a long story of developing methods to overcome prejudice like that. This is a struggle between established belief and actual fact. Experimental evidence is fact. Such and such was observed, such and such was measured. These are truth, the best we have. It can turn out that recorded data was a result of artifact, and some records are incorrect, but that is relatively rare. Scientists are trained to record data accurately and to report it neutrally. Sometimes they fail, they are human. But science has the potential to grow beyond present limitations because of this habit.

Anomalies, observations that are not understood within existing scientific models, are indications that existing models are incomplete. Rejecting new data or analyses because they don’t fit existing models is circular. Rather, a far better understanding of this is that the evidence for a new idea has not risen to a level of detail, including controlled tests, to overcome standing ideas. Science, as a whole, properly remains agnostic. Proof is for math, not the rest of science. This does not require acceptance of new ideas until one is convinced by the preponderance of evidence. Pseudoskeptics often demand “proof.” “Extraordinary claims” require extraordinary evidence.” Yes, but what does that actually mean? What if there is “ordinary evidence?” What is the definition of an “extraordinary claim,” such that ordinary evidence is to be disregarded?

It’s subjective. It means nothing other than “surprising to me” — or to “us,” often defined to exclude anyone with a contrary opinion. For Wikipedia, peer-reviewed secondary source in a clearly mainstream journal is rejected because the author is allegedly a “believer.” That is editorial opinion, clearly not neutral. Back to the fringe science article:

The confusion between science and pseudoscience, between honest scientific error and genuine scientific discovery, is not new, and it is a permanent feature of the scientific landscape …. Acceptance of new science can come slowly.[12]

This was presented by formatting as a quotation, but was not attributed in the text. This should be “According to Michael W. Friedlander.” in his book on the topic, At the Fringes of Science (1005). He is very clear: there is no clear demarcation between “science” and “fringe science.”

Friedlander does cover cold fusion, to some degree. He hedges his comments. On page 1, “… after months of independent, costly, and exhaustive checks by hundreds of scientist around the world, the excitement over cold fusion cooled off, and the claim is probably destined to take its place alongside monopoles, N-rays, polywater, and other fly-by-night “discoveries” that flash across our scientific skies to end up as part of our folklore.”

He hedged with “probably.” On what evidence was he basing that assessment?  Cold fusion was not actually his primary investigation. On pp. 27-34, he reports the early days of the cold fusion fiasco, (with some errors), and doesn’t report on what came later. He doesn’t mention the later confirmations of the heat effect, nor the discovery of a nuclear product, published in 1993 in a mainstream journal (though announced in 1991, Huizenga covered it in 1993). He does not distinguish between the”fusion theory” and the actual report of anomalous heat by experts in heat measurement, not to mention the later discovery of a correlated nuclear product. He closes that section with:

To summarize briefly, the cold fusion “discovery” will surely be remembered as a striking example of how science should not be done. Taubes has compared “many of the proponents of cold fusion” to Blaise Pascal, the seventeenth century scientist who “renounced a life of science for one of faith>” [Bad Science (1993), 92] The whole episode certainly illustrates the practical difficulty in implementing an innocuous-sounding “replication” and points to the need for full and open disclosure if there are to be meaningful tests and checks. It has also exposed some unfortunate professional sensitivities, jealousies, and resentments. At least to date, the exercise appears to be devoid of redeeming scientific value — but perhaps something may yet turn up as the few holdouts tenaciously pursue a theory as evasive as the Cheshire cat.

I agree with much of this, excepting his ignorance of results in the field, and his idea that what was to be pursued was a “theory.” No, what was needed was clear confirmation of the heat anomaly, then confirmation of the direct evidence that it was nuclear in nature (correlated helium!), and then far more intensive study of the effect itself, its conditions and other correlates and only then would a viable theory become likely.

Cold fusion was the “Scientific Fiasco of the Century” (Huizenga, 1992) It looks like Friendlander did not look at the second edition of Huizenga’s book, where he pointed to the amazing discovery of correlated helium. There was a problem in cold fusion research, that there were many “confirmations” of the heat effect, but they were not exact replications, mostly. Much of the rush to confirm — or disconfirm — was premature and focused on what was not present: “expected” nuclear products, i.e., neutrons. Tritium was confirmed but at very low levels and not correlated with heat (often the tritium studies were of cells where heat was not measured).

Nobody sane would argue that fringe claims should be “believed” without evidence, and where each individual draws the line on what level of evidence is necessary is a personal choice. It is offensive, however, when those who support a fringe claim are attacked and belittled and sometimes hounded. If fringe claims are to be rejected ipso facto, i.e., because they are considered fringe, the possibility of growth in scientific understanding is suppressed. This will be true even if most fringe claims ultimately disappear. Ordinary evidence showing some anomaly is just that, showing an anomaly. By definition, an anomaly indicates something is not understood.

With cold fusion, evidence for a heat anomaly accumulated, and because the conditions required to create the anomaly were very poorly understood, a “negative confirmation” was largely meaningless, indicating only that whatever approach was used did not generate the claimed effect, and it could have been understood that the claimed effect was not “fusion,” but anomalous heat. If the millions of dollars per month that the U.S. DoE was spending frantically in 1989 to test the claim had been understood that way, and if time had been allowed for confirmation to appear, it might not have been wasted.

As it is, Bayesian analysis of the major “negative confirmations” shows that with what became known later, those experiments could be strongly predicted to fail, they simply did not set up the conditions that became known as necessary. This was the result of a rush to judgment, pressure was put on the DoE to come up with quick answers, perhaps because the billion-dollar-per-year hot fusion effort was being, it was thought, threatened, with heavy political implications. Think of a billion dollars per year no longer being available for salaries for, say, plasma physicists.

However, though they were widely thought to have “rejected” cold fusion, the reality is that both U.S. DoE reviews were aware of the existence of evidence supporting the heat effect and its nuclear nature, and recommended further research to resolve open questions; in 2004, the 18-member panel was evenly divided on the heat question, with half considering the evidence to be conclusive and half not. Then on the issue of a nuclear origin, a third considered the evidence for a nuclear effect to be “conclusive or somewhat conclusive.”

The heat question has nothing to do with nuclear theory, but it is clear that some panel members rejected the heat evidence because of theory. The most recent major scientific work on cold fusion terms itself as a study of the Anomalous Heat Effect, and they are working on improving precision of heat and helium measurements.

If one does not accept the heat results, there would be no reason to accept nuclear evidence! So it is clear from the 2004 DoE review that cold fusion was, by then, moving into the mainstream, even though there was still rampant skepticism.

The rejection of cold fusion became an entrenched idea, an information cascade that, as is normal for such cascades, perpetuates itself, as scientists and others assume that was “everyone thinks” must be true.

In mainstream journals, publication of papers, and more significantly, reviews that accept the reality of the effect began increasing around 2005. There are no negative reviews that were more than a passing mention. What is missing is reviews in certain major journals that essentially promised to not publish on the topic, over a quarter-century ago.

One of the difficulties is that the basic research that shows, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the effect is real and nuclear in nature was all done more than a decade ago. It is old news, even though it was not widely reported. Hence my proposal, beginning quite a few years ago, was for replication of that work with increased precision, which is a classic measure of “pathological science.” Will the correlation decline or disappear with increased precision?

This is exactly the work that a genuine skeptic would want to see.

I have often written that genuine skepticism is essential to science. As well, those who will give new ideas or reported anomalies enough credence to support testing are also essential. Some of them will be accused of being “believers” or “proponents,” or even “diehards.”

The mainstream needs the fringes to be alive, in order to breathe and grow.

Diehard believers have hope, especially if they also trust reality. Diehard skeptics are simply dying.

(More accurately, “diehard skeptic” is an oxymoron. Such a person is a pseudoskeptic, a negative believer.)

Podcast with Ruby Carat

Yay Ruby!

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax on the Cold Fusion Now! podcast

She interviews me about the lawsuit, Rossi v. Darden. Reminds me I need to organize all that information, but the Docket is here.

Wikipedians, that is all primary source (legal documents), so it can only be used with editorial consensus, for bare and attributed fact, if at all. There is very little usable secondary reliable source on this. Law360 (several articles) and the Triangle Business Journal (several articles) are about it. Although this was an $89 million lawsuit (plus triple damages!), I was the only journalist there, other than one day for a woman from Law360. Wikipedia is still trying to figure out what “walked away” means.

(As to anything of value, it means that both parties walked away. But IH also returned all intellectual property to Rossi, and returned all reactors — including those they built — to him.)

The agreement was released by Rossi, but the only source for it is from Mats Lewan’s blog. Mats was a journalist, and his original employer was Wikipedia “reliable source” — a term of art there –, but … he’s not, just as I am not. Mats Lewan is still holding on to the Dream.

I was and have been open to the possibility that Rossi was involved in fraud and conspiracy. But during the discovery phase of the litigation, it became obvious that the defense couldn’t produce any convincing evidence for this hypothesis. All technical arguments that were put forward were hollow and easily torn apart by people with engineering training.

It became obvious during the legal proceedings that Lewan was not following them and did not understand them. There were many circumstantial evidences where some kind of fraud is the only likely explanation, and then there were other clear and deliberate deceptions. There was about zero chance that Rossi would have been able to convince a jury that the Agreement had been followed and the $89 million was due. There was even less chance that he’d have been able to penetrate the corporate veil by showing personal fraud, which is what he was claiming. No evidence of fraud on the part of IH appeared, none. It was all Rossi Says.

Lewan thinks the problem was an engineering one. Lewan stated this in his later report on the QX test in Stockholm, November 24, 2017, about certain possible problems.

Clearly this comes down to a question of trust, and personally, discussing this detail with Rossi for some time, I have come to the conclusion that his explanation is reasonable and trustworthy.

Rossi is quite good at coming up with “explanations” of this and that, he’s been doing it for years, but the reality is that the test he is describing had major and obvious shortcomings, essentially demonstrating nothing but a complicated appearance. Rossi has always done that. The biggest problem is that, as Lewan has realized, there is high-voltage triggering necessary to strike a plasma, and there no measure of the power input during the triggers, and from the sound, they were frequent. Lewan readily accepts ad-hoc excuses for not measuring critical values.

What I notice about Lewan’s statement is the psychology. It is him alone in discussion with Rossi, and Rossi overwhelms, personally. Anyone who is not overwhelmed (or who, at least, suspends or hides skeptical questioning) will be excluded. Lewan has not, to my knowledge, engaged in serious discussions with those who are reasonably skeptical about Rossi’s claims. He actually shut that process down, as he notes (disabling comments on his blog).

The Doral test, the basis for the Rossi claim, was even worse. Because of, again, major deficiencies in the test setup, and Rossi disallowance of close expert inspection during the test — even though IH owned the plant and IP already — it was impossible to determine accurately the power output, but from the “room calorimeter” — the temperature rise in the warehouse from the release of heat energy inside it –, the power could not have been more than a fraction of what he was claiming. And Rossi lied about this, in the post-trial Lewan interview, and Lewan does not seriously question him, doesn’t confront preposterous explanations. Lewan goes on:

However, as I stated above, if I were an investor considering to invest in this technology, I would require further private tests being made with accurate measurements made by third-party experts, specifically regarding the electrical input power, making such tests in a way that these experts would consider to be relevant.

Remember, IH had full opportunity for “private tests,” for about four years. Lewan has rather obviously not read the depositions. Understandably, they are long! After putting perhaps $20 million into the project, plus legal expenses (surely several million dollars), IH chose to walk away from a license which, if the technology could be made to work, even at a fraction of the claimed output, could be worth a trillion dollars. They could have insisted on holding some kind of residual rights. They did not. It was a full walkaway with surrender of all the reactors back to Rossi. It is obvious that they, with years of experience working with Rossi, had concluded that the technology didn’t work, and there was no reasonable chance of making it work. (Darden had said, in a deposition, that if there was even a 1% chance of it working, it would be worth the investment, which is game-theoretically correct.).

There is an alternate explanation, that Rossi violated the agreement and did not disclose the technology to them, not trusting them. But having watched Rossi closely for a long time, they concluded, it’s obvious, that it was all fraud or gross error. (The Lugano test? They made the Lugano devices, but could not find those results in more careful tests, with controls, under their own supervision, and there is a great story about what happened when they became confused and were testing a dummy reactor, with no fuel, and found excess heat. Full details were not given, but at that point, they were probably relying on Rossi test methods. They called Rossi to come up from Florida and look. Together, they opened the reactor, and it had no fuel in it. Rossi stormed out, shouting “The Russians stole the fuel!”

Rossi referred to this because Lewan asked him about it. His answer was the common answer of frauds.

“Darden has said lots of things that he has never been able to prove. What he assures doesn’t exist. I always made experiments with reactors charged by me, or by me in collaboration with Darden. Never with reactors provided to me as a closed box, for obvious reasons.”

First of all, he has a concept of “proof” being required. It  would be required for a criminal conviction, but in a civil trial the standard is preponderance fo the evidence, and Darden’s account, if it were important, would be evidence. (As would Rossi’s, but, notice, Rossi did not actually contradict the Darden account. As has often been seen by Rossi statements, he maintains plausible deniability. “I didn’t actually say that! It’s not my fault if people jumped to conclusions!” Yet in some cases, it is very clear that Rossi encouraged those false conclusions.

It would be up to a jury whether or not to believe it or not. Rossi makes no effort to describe what actually happened in that incident. Then, this was not an experiment “made by” Rossi. It was IH experimentation (possibly of reactors made by Rossi, as to the fueled ones, and then with dummy reactors, supposedly the same but with no fuel). Again, this is common for Rossi: assert something irrelevant that sounds like an answer. He is implying, if we look through the smokescreen, that Darden was lying under oath.

Again, if it matters, at trial, Darden would tell his story and Rossi would tell his story, both under examination and cross-examination. And then the jury would decide. In fact, though, this particular incident doesn’t matter. An emotional outburst by an inventor would not be relevant to any issue the jury would need to describe. A more believable response from Rossi, other than the “he’s lying” implication, would be, “Heh! Heh! I can get a bit excited!” Rossi always avoided questions about the accuracy of measurement methods. With the Lugano test, he rested on the “independent professors” alleged expertise, but there is no clue that these observers had any related experience measuring heat as they did, and the temperature measurements were in flagrant contradiction with apparent visible appearance. Sometimes people, even “professors,” don’t see what is in front of them, distracted by abstractions.

Yes, Rossi always has an explanation.

Rossi never allowed the kind of independent testing that Lewan says, here, that he would require. Whenever interested parties pulled out their own equipment (such as a temperature-measuring “heat gun”), Rossi would shut tests down. Lewan’s hypothesis requires many people to perjure themselves, but this is clear: Rossi lied. He lied about Italian law prohibiting him from testing the original reactor at full power in Italy. He lied about the HydroFusion test (either to IH or to HydroFusion). He lied about the “customer,” claiming the customer was independent, so that the sale of heat to them for $1000 per day would be convincing evidence that the heat was real. He lied about the identity of the customer as being Johnson-Matthey, and the name of the company he formed was clearly designed to support that lie. He presented mealy-mouthed arguments that he never told them that, but, in fact, when Vaughn wrote he was going to London and could visit Johnson Matthey, Rossi told them “Oh, no, I wasn’t supposed to tell you. Your customer is a Florida corporation.” Wink, wink, nod, nod.

It is not clear that anyone else lied, other than relative minor commercial fraud, i.e., Johnson staying quiet when, likely, “Johnson-Matthey” was mentioned, and James Bass pretending to be the Director of Engineering for J-M products, and that could be a matter of interpretation.  Only Rossi was, long-term, and seriously, and clearly, deceptive. Penon may, for example, have simply trusted Rossi to give him good data.

Rossi lied about the heat exchanger, and there are technical arguments and factual arguments on that. He changed his story over the year of the trial. Early on, he was asked about the heat dissipation. “Endothermic reaction,” he explained. If there were an endothermic reaction absorbing a megawatt of power, a high quantity of high-energy density product would need to be moved out of the plant, yet Rossi was dealing with small quantities (actually very small) of product. High-energy-density product is extremely dangerous.

There are endothermic chemical reactions, Rossi was using that fact, but the efficiency of those reactions is generally low. Melting ice would have worked, but would have required massive deliveries of ice, which would have been very visible. Nada.

For many reasons, which have been discussed by many, the heat exchanger story, revealed as discovery was about to close, was so bad that Rossi might have been prosecuted for perjury over it. Lewan seems to have paid no serious attention to the massive discussion of this over the year.

On the page, Rossi makes the argument about solar irradiance being about a megawatt for the roof of the warehouse. Lewan really should think about that! If solar irradiance were trapped in the interior, it would indeed get very, very hot. “Insulation” is not the issue, reflectance would be. Rossi’s expert agreed that without a heat exchanger the heat would reach fatal levels. A heat exchanger was essential, some kind of very active cooling.

Lewan accepts Rossi’s story that he never photographs his inventions, and seems to think it completely normal that Rossi would make this massive device, with substantial materials costs, and labor costs, and have no receipts for either. It was all Rossi Says, with the expert merely claiming “it was possible.” Actually, more cheaply and efficiently, a commercial cooling tower could have been installed. And, of course, all this work would have had to have been complete before the plant was running at full power, and it would have been very, very visible, and noisy, and running 24/7 like the reactor. Nobody reported having seen any trace of it.

A jury would have seen through the deceptions. Pace, the IH lead attorney, was skillful, very skillful. The Rossi counsel arguments were confused and unclear, basically innuendo with little fact. The very foundation of the Rossi case was defective.

The Second Amendment to the Agreement allowing the postponement of the Guaranteed Performance test had never been fully executed as required, and it turned out that this was deliberate on the part of Ampenergo, the Rossi licensee for North America, whose agreement was a legal necessity, and it’s clear that Rossi knew this — he wrote about it in an email — but still he was insisting it was valid. The judge almost dismissed the case ab initio, in the motion to dismiss, but decided to give Rossi the opportunity to find evidence that, say, IH had nevertheless promised to pay (they could have made a side-agreement allowing extension, creating possible problems with Ampenergo, but they could have handled them by paying Ampenergo their cut even if it wasn’t due under the Agreement).

Lewan is a sucker. And so is anyone who, given the facts that came out in trial about Rossi and his business practices, nevertheless invests in Rossi without fully independent and very strong evidence. Sure: “Accurate measurements by third-party experts.” Actually, “third party” is only necessary in a kind of escrow agreement. Otherwise the customer’s experts — and control of the testing process by the customer, presumably with Rossi advice but “no touch” — would be enough. Penon, the “Engineer responsible for validation” was not clearly independent, he was chosen by Rossi, and Rossi objected strongly to any other experts being present for the Validation Test, leading to the IH payment of another $10 million. Later, Rossi excluded the IH director of engineering, violating the agreement with the “customer,” JM Products.

After the test, Penon disappeared. They finally found him in the Dominican Republic, after he had been dismissed as a counter-defendant for lack of service of process (so he was deposed). This whole affair stunk to high heaven. Yet, Lewan soldiers on, in obvious denial of fact, repeating Rossi “explanations” as if plausible when they are not. By the way, the Penon report depended on regular data from Rossi, and the numbers in the Penon report are technically impossible. This was screwed sixty ways till Sunday.

A person associated with Industrial Heat confirmed, privately to me, the agreement, as published by Rossi on Lewan’s blog. At the time of publication, the agreement had not actually been signed by all parties, but that did eventually occur.

There is a whole series of podcasts of Ruby Carat interviews, see http://coldfusionnow.org/cfnpodcast/

She said that she would be interviewing Rossi later.

Review of this podcast on LENR-Forum

abd-ul-rahman-lomax-on-the-cold-fusion-now-podcast/

(All the CFN podcasts in this series are linked from LENR-Forum and are discussed there, at least to some degree)

The first comment comes from Zeus46, who is predictably snarky:

So Abd doubles-down on his claim that IH is working with Swartz, and also chucks Letts into the mix. Someone from Purdue too, apparently.

Many Tshayniks get Hakn’d at Rossi v Darden. Also rumours are mentioned that Texas/SKINR are currently withholding ‘good news’.

Rumours that Abd requested the Feynman reference are possibly entirely scurrilous.

Remarkable how, in a few words, he is so off. First of all, Letts was a well-known IH investment, and there is a document from the trial where the other IH work (to that date, early last year) was described. It was Kim at Purdue who was funded as a theoretician. And I did not mention Swartz, but Hagelstein. I don’t recall ever claiming that IH was “working with Swartz,” but Swartz works with Hagelstein, which might explain how Zeus46 got his idea.

Rossi v. Darden, far from being useless noise, revealed a great deal that was, previously, secret and obscure. Those who only want to make brief smart-ass comments, though, and who don’t put in what it takes to review the record, will indeed end up with nothing useful. It all becomes, then, a matter of opinion, not of evidence and the balance of it.

No “rumor” was mentioned, but reporting what I said becomes a “rumor.” I reported what I had directly from Robert Duncan, which is only a little. They are not talking yet about details, but, asked if they were having problems creating the heat effect, he said “We have had no problem with that,” which I took as good news. Most of our conversations have been about the technicalities of measuring helium, which may seem straightforward, but is actually quite difficult. Still, creating the heat effect is beyond difficult, it is not known how to do it with reliability. But heat/helium measurement does not require reliable heat, only some success, which can be erratic.

“Withholding good news” — I certainly did not say that! — is a misleading way of saying that they are not falling into premature announcement. The minor good news would be that they are seeing heat, his comment implied. But the major news would be about the correlation, and I don’t know what they have in that respect, or where the research stands. I’m not pushing them. They will announce their work, I assume, when they are ready. No more science by press conference, I assume. It will be published, my hope is, in a mainstream journal. I’ve simply been told that, as an author published in the specific area they are working on (heat/helium), they will want to have me visit before they are done.

As to the mention of Feynman, Ruby asked me for a brief bio and I put that in there, because Feynman, and how he thought, was a major influence. It’s simply a fact, though. I sat in those famous lectures, and heard the Feynman stories first-hand when he visited Page House, my freshman year. My life has been one amazing opportunity after another, and that was one of them.

Now, there was a comment on the RationalWiki attack article on me a couple of months back, by a user, “Zeus46”.  Same guy? The author of that article is the most disruptive pseudoskeptic I have ever seen, almost certainly Darryl L. Smith, but his twin brother, Oliver D. Smith is up there as well, and has recently claimed that he made up the story of his brother as a way to be unblocked on Wikipedia. Those who are following this case, generally, don’t believe him, but consider it likely he is protecting his brother, who is reportedly a paid pseudoskeptic, who attacked “fringe science” on Wikipedia and Wikiversity and recruited several Wikipedians to show up to get the Wikiversity resource — which had existed without problems for a decade — deleted, and privately complained to a Wikiversity bureaucrat and later to the WikiMedia Foundation about “doxxing” that wasn’t or that did not violate WMF policy, lying about “harassment,” and also who created the article on RationalWiki as revenge for documenting the impersonation socking they were doing on Wikipedia. They have created many impersonation accounts to comment in various places, and will  choose names that they think might be plausible, and they had reviewed what Zeus46 had written — and what I’d written about him.

So I’d appreciate it if someone on LENR Forum would ask Zeus46 if this was him. If not, he should know that he has been impersonated. He is, to me, responsible for what he writes on LENR Forum, and, by being an anonymous troll (like many Forum users), he’s vulnerable to impersonation.  The goal of the Smiths would be to increase enmity, to get people fighting with each other. It has worked.

My thanks to Shane for kind comments. Yes, it was relatively brief, by design. Ruby had actually interviewed me months before, and it was far too long. I thought I might write a script, but actually did the final interview ad hoc, without notes, but with an idea of the essential points to communicate.

Ruby is a “believer,” I’d say naturally. It’s well known, believers are happier than the opposite. So she is routinely cheerful, a pleasure to talk with. She is also one smart cookie. Her bio from Cold Fusion Now:

At first a musician and performance artist, one day she waltzed into Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and got a physics degree. Thinking that math might be easier, she then earned a Masters degree in Math at University of Miami in Miami, Florida. Math turned out to be not much easier, so now, she advocates for cold fusion, the easiest thing in the world. She has made several short documentary films and speaks on the topic. She currently teaches math at College of the Redwoods in Eureka, California and conducts outreach events for the public to support clean energy from cold fusion.

She is an “advocate for cold fusion,” and RationalWiki accuses me of “advocating pseudoscientific cold fusion.” In fact, I’m an advocate of real scientific research, with all the safeguards standard with science, publication in the journal system, same as recommended by both U.S. Department of Energy reviews.

“Cold fusion” is a popular name for a mysterious heat effect. The hypothesis that the effect is real is testable, and definitively so, by measuring a correlated product (as apparently Bill Collis agrees in another podcast, and I know McKubre is fully on board that idea, and that is what they are working on in Texas — and since the correlation has already been reported by many independent groups, this is verification with increased precision, we hope, nailed down.)

Commercial application, which is what Ruby is working for, is not known to be possible. But having a bright and enthusiastic cheerleader like Ruby is one of the best ways to create the possibility.

YES!

Going dark on a topic

(May 2, 2018) This is obsolete. Some pages are still hidden, being reviewed before being re-opened. The content here has been misrepresented elsewhere. Simple documentation has been called “attack.” If we are attacked by reality, we are in big trouble no matter what others say!)

I have been documenting the Anglo Pyramidologist sock puppetry and massive disruption. Because of what I have found, and the tasks before me over the next year, I am going dark. All pages in the category of Anglo Pyramidologist will be hidden, pending, and possibly some others. Some have been archived (often on archive.is) and will remain available there. If anyone has a need-to-know, or wants to support the work, contact me (comments on this post will be seen by me, and if privacy is requested, that will be honored, the comments will not be published. Provide me with an email and a request for contact and I will do so.)

The connection with cold fusion is thin, but exists and is significant.

Warning: documenting AP can be hazardous to your health.

As well, the next year’s journalism will need support, some of this may become expensive. I will be asking for support, to supplement what is already available or in the pipeline.

Sometimes reality comes to our door and knocks. Do we invite her in? Other times we need to search for her. Ask and you shall receive. She is kind and generous.

Don’t ask, and reality might seem to punch you in the nose, and you might be offended. In reality, you just walked into a lamp post. Who knew?

Summary:

The sock family known on Wikipedia as Anglo Pyramidologist is two brothers, Oliver D. Smith (the original Anglo Pyramidologist) and Darryl L. Smith, perhaps best known as Goblin Face, who continues to be highly active with the “skeptic faction” on Wikipedia. It is possible that there is a third brother involved.

They have engaged in impersonation socking, disrupting Wikipedia while pretending to be a blocked user, leading to defamation of the target user, and they have engaged in similar behavior elsewhere.

I was attacked for documenting the proven impersonation and other socking. My behaviot did not violate any policies or the Terms of Service,

The Smith brothers were able to coordinate or canvass for multiple complaints, (they have bragged about complaining) and it is possible that this led to the WikiMedia Foundation global ban, but those bans are not explained and the banned user is not warned, and has no opportunity to appeal or contest them.

Substantial damage was done to the long-standing tradition of academic freedom on Wikiversity.

Action to remedy this will continue, but privately.

In Memoriam: John Perry Barlow

A page popped up in my Firefox feed: John Perry Barlow’s Tips for Being a Grown Up

The author adds this:

Barlow was determined to adhere to his list of self-imposed virtues, and stated in his original post about the principles in 1977: “Should any of my friends or colleagues catch me violating any one of them, bust me.”

This was written in 1977 when Barlow was 30. It’s a guide to live by, and living by it can be predicted to create a life well worth living. I would nudge a few of his tips, based on more than forty additional years of experience and intense training, but it is astonishing that someone only 30 would be so clear. Whatever he needed beyond that, he would find.

Barlow’s Wikipedia page.

His obituary on the Electronic Frontiers Foundation.

I never met Barlow, but I was a moderator on the W.E.L.L. when he was on the board, and I’d followed EFF in general. This man accomplished much, but there is much left to do. Those who take responsibility are doing that work, and will continue.

While his body passed away, as all bodies do, his spirit is immortal, at least as long as there are people to stand for what he stood for.

We will overcome.

And, yes, “should anyone (friend or otherwise) catch me violating the principles of a powerful life, bust me.” I promise to, at least, consider the objection, and to look at what I can rectify without compromising other basic principles. There is often a way. Enemies may tell me what friends will not, and I learned years ago to listen carefully, and especially to “enemies.”

Farewell, John Barlow. Joy was your birthright and your legacy.

Bohring?

To me, not.

I had occasion to look up Einstein’s saying “God does not play dice with the universe,” and found Niels Bohr’s reply. What a joy! Bohr thought like me, only better. So, this post!

But first, what Einstein said:

Quantum mechanics is certainly imposing. But an inner voice tells me that it is not yet the real thing. The theory says a lot, but does not really bring us any closer to the secret of the “old one.” I, at any rate, am convinced that He does not throw dice. [Letter to Max Born, The Born-Einstein; Letters (4 December 1926) (translated by Irene Born) (Walker and Company, New York, 1971) ISBN 0-8027-0326-7.

Einstein himself used variants of this quote at other times. For example, in a 1943 conversation with William Hermanns recorded in Hermanns’ book Einstein and the Poet, Einstein said: “As I have said so many times, God doesn’t play dice with the world.” (p. 58)

My comment first would be that the idea of God playing dice with the universe would involve an intermediate mechanism, “dice.” What are dice? They are devices for preventing intention from influencing outcome. Behind the statement  is an imagination of a mechanistic universe with a random element introduced. God could still create what is intended through such a mechanism (the House creates profit while allowing random individual losses) but I share Einstein’s intuition that something is off about this. However, Bohr’s alleged response is more direct, cutting to the heart of the matter:

Don’t tell God what to do with his dice.

In the rest of this post, I will gloss God with [Reality]. The God concept is a personification of Reality. Put this another way people call Reality, “God.” That gets mixed up with particular ideas about the nature of Reality, but the core concept — and this is very clear in Islam — is that God is Reality, and lesser concepts are “gods,” rejected as being of human manufacture, with no actual power, unless as Reality permits.

So Einstein also said:

Subtle is the Lord [Reality], but malicious He is not.

And later:

I have second thoughts. Maybe God [Reality] is malicious.

Both of these comments stem from an idea that Reality is “good” from a perspective of not doing what we dislike. The Wikiquote page provides an interpretation: indicating that God leads people to believe they understand things that they actually are far from understanding

My own ontology has good and evil be of human invention; Islamic theology defines the good as “what Reality does.” There are atheists who have told the story of how they became so: something happened that was so horrible that they could not “believe in” a God that would allow that. It was easier to reject the idea of God, because then the event can be understood as random, not intentional. The ontological and theological error (in my view) is considering that suffering and death, especially of the “innocent,” are bad and wrong, without knowing the ultimate causes and ends of them.

As to Einstein’s later thoughts, maybe God loves a good joke. When we join in laughing about our own arrogances, we move into a higher realm, at least for a moment! So, now, to Bohr:

We must be clear that when it comes to atomslanguage can be used only as in poetry. The poet, too, is not nearly so concerned with describing facts as with creating images and establishing mental connections.

Isolated material particles are abstractions, their properties being definable and observable only through their interaction with other systems.

Poetry is of value because of what it inspires, as an expression, “images” and “mental connections.” This is a matter of “effect.” Bohr again:

For a parallel to the lesson of atomic theory regarding the limited applicability of such customary idealizations, we must in fact turn to quite other branches of science, such as psychology, or even to that kind of epistemological problems with which already thinkers like Buddha and Lao Tzu have been confronted, when trying to harmonize our position as spectators and actors in the great drama of existence.

Apropos of that, I was travelling in about 1980 with some followers of AbdulQadr As-Sufi (whom I had not yet met), visiting some remarkable people, and we were walking down the street in San Francisco, and there was Fritjof Capra, more or less the inventor of what they would call, on RationalWiki, quantum woo. I mention this not to praise Capra or necessarily to agree with him — that would have to be point-by-point and detailed –, but to indicate the qualities of some of the followers of AbdulQader, that they would recognize, then, Capra. I don’t recall the conversation.

It occurred to me to see if RationalWiki has an article on Capra. No, but he’s mentioned extensively in the article on Quantum Woo.

RationalWiki is generally interested in What’s Wrong with X. There is critique of Capra there, and some recognition of him as a physicist, but much of what is in the article is straw man. Essentially, a thesis is overstated, and then the overstatement is ridiculed. What is remarkable (a possible synthesis or correlation between quantum mechanics, and certain ancient concepts) is presented in the extreme. To be fair, this article also expresses more balance than I’ve been seeing in RW articles of late. RW wrings its hands when non-scientists don’t understand science, but few RationalWiki editors have a solid understanding, either.

Rather, RW tends to rely on rather vague statements about what “most scientists believe,” when, in science, “belief” is generally rejected…. except, of course, as a personal heuristic. “Most scientists” would be a far larger group than those expert on a topic, it is often not better than “most people.”

Opposites are complementary.

Opposition is a human invention, a product of our use of language. There are no opposites in Reality itself. However, we use language routinely in various ways, and a user of language who understands what language does — it invents “stories” that organize memory for efficiency of access, and also that fuel choice and motivation — then may consciously create language that will further choice, and black-and-white thinking is disempowering, because reality is far more complex than either-or. Being able to hold contradictory ideas simultaneously is a developed skill of high utility. Lewis Carrol (Charles Dodgson) says it this way, as the White Queen:

“I’m just one hundred and one, five months and a day.”
“I can’t believe that!” said Alice.
“Can’t you?” the Queen said in a pitying tone. “Try again: draw a long breath, and shut your eyes.”
Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said: “one can’t believe impossible things.”
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

It’s a bit of a trick, depending on ambiguity in “belief.” Alice imagines that possibility is a fixed thing, and belief then depends on one’s understanding of possibility. “Impossible” is not a quality of reality, it’s invented. We think it.

Impossibility arguments, in general, depend on a concept of the impossible thing, but no such concept could be accurate, by definition. So we imagine an impossible thing to reject.

The Queen knows what my trainers knew: we create possibility with language, and when we do this, it is just as valid to say that it is a “real possibility” as to say it is impossible. A “real possibility” (as a prediction) is not yet realized, it doesn’t exist yet! But as a possibility, by declaration, it has become real. “In the beginning was the Word ….”

To create something by saying it would often be considered magic. However, Arthur C. Clarke: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

The technology for creating the “impossible” is, as far as I’ve been able to tell, about how to use the brain. (or another way of stating it is learning how to let the collective human intelligence use us, because this is explicitly, in my training, interpersonal, not isolated.). In the training, we were asked at one point to do ten unreasonable things a day. The purpose of this, as I conceptualize it, is to learn what a straight-jacket the requirement that we be “reasonable” is.

An expert is a person who has found out by his own painful experience all the mistakes that one can make in a very narrow field.

It doesn’t have to be painful if one is not attached to being right. Well, okay, if I’m learning to use power tools and I cut off my finger, that will hurt. Key is not to cut off one’s finger too many times. Key to fast learning: take full responsibility for errors. Never say, “I could not have known.” We could have known! When we make excuses, we lose power and we prevent learning.

(“I could have known” — without knowing how, necessarily — is an example of a declaration — it is a stand, also expressed by Harry Truman as “the buck stops here,”  that is empowering when made, that doesn’t have to be “true,” or “reasonable.” The stand then creates the mindset that will create the development of power. This is practical psychology. It is an art, not necessarily a science, though some of this could be tested. I have tested it in my life and with others. It works, routinely.

People have asked me, about those declarations, “But what if you are wrong,” as if being wrong were some kind of disaster. And that is how we have been conditions: being wrong is terrible, it looks bad, and we should avoid being wrong, ever. But Bohr is here pointing out that being wrong, early and often, is how one learns a subject deeply. We learn far more by being wrong than by being right, being right may sometimes validate existing knowledge, but it doesn’t increase it. And then there is that pesky confirmation bias!

Hence the scientific method is to attempt to prove our ideas wrong, as thoroughly and as strongly as we can.

“Could not have known” doesn’t exist in reality. (Again, about all these things, we routinely imagine that our interpretations or stories are reality, and what is remarkable — Reality is laughing!, as we learn to do about all this — is that this is how we keep life from being truly satisfying, an experience of wonder after wonder.  Instead, we imagine that Reality is something like “Shit happens, and then you die! — and to those whgo believe that, anything different is stupid, Dr. Panglossian woo! And they would rather die in misery than be Wrong! If you want to learn rapidly, lighten up!

We are all agreed that your theory is crazy. The question that divides us is whether it is crazy enough to have a chance of being correct.

In my training, it is suggested that transformation is not found with what we know that we know, nor with what we know that we don’t know, but with what we don’t know that we don’t know, the realm of the unknown. The unknown will seem crazy; if it does not seem crazy, it is just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. pushing existing knowledge around. Bohr knew that much was missing from our knowledge, so much that, even with all the successes in predictive power — under some circumstances — something transformative like a new theory, will show the marks of being crazy, a stranger, not normal.

This is not any kind of proof that something is true because it’s crazy! Transformation in physics tends to arise when people who know it very well allow themselves to escape the restrictions of reasoning from the known to infer the unknown. That process can be useful, to be sure, but it is not where transformation comes from. (Einstein, if I’m correct, did that kind of reasoning and so was, to my mind, more conservative. Still a great thinker. He merely saw some consequences of what was known that were not usually noticed. At least that’s how I understand it. His inferences seemed very strange to many and were rejected on that basis. Time dilation? What?)

How wonderful that we have met with a paradox. Now we have some hope of making progress.

I was in my early twenties, and I had occasion to meet a Zen Master, the Abbot of Nanzenji, and I remember sitting in a small room packed with people. I was sitting on a window ledge above him, and I asked him a question: “People say that zen koans are paradoxes, but my understanding is that to the enlightened man, they are not paradoxes. Is this so?”

He looked up, and he saw me and I saw him. He said, “To the enlightened man, koans are not paradoxes.” I just looked up and recognized the name of the master, Shibayama Roshi, who died in 1974. I met him in roughly 1968 or 1969. From a book that recounts another meeting, by Pico Iyer, The Lady and the Monk, page 23, which is also where I found the name of the Roshi, he had an impact on others as well. (My meeting with him validated my insight, which was later confirmed by other masters. I did not “deserve” it, in the sense of investing the normal years of training, back then. My understanding also lacked depth in certain ways, a product of, then, being untrained. It was not easy to transmit, because I did not know how I had obtained it. It simply fell on me and I accepted it. I was very young.)

In the Rinzai school, koans are used to test insight for training purposes. Coming back to Bohr, a paradox is generally a sign that something is not understood, or more to the point, perhaps, something is “understood” that is not so or is incomplete. Hence the paradox is an opportunity. The “ordinary mind” will instead think that there is an error, and when it comes to comparing some new idea with older, established ones, the assumption is ready that the error is in the new idea.

Two sorts of truth: profound truths recognized by the fact that the opposite is also a profound truth, in contrast to trivialities where opposites are obviously absurd.

 It is the hallmark of any deep truth that its negation is also a deep truth

“Truth” in these comments must be understood as “statement.” There are statements we make where we can be certain of the truth, beyond any reasonable doubt. And there are interpretive statements, where this may not be so, and my ontology suggests that true certainty is not a legitimate quality of interpretive statements. As well, ordinary true statements are not, in themselves, “profound,” though they may support profound interpretations. “Profound” is is a human interpretation, associated with interpretations.

This may all seem quite abstract, but the distinction between “what happened” — true statements that can be reported with certainty — and “what we made it mean” — which includes the entire realm of emotional reaction and its impact on our thinking, often creating a feedback loop — has high import for deep learning about how to live powerfully and with clarity and peace of mind.

Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it.

No, no, you are not thinking, you are just being logical.

Bohr is aware of the non-logical or intuitive operation of the detached mind. Logic will be confined to what fits the held assumptions. The mind is capable of far more than that. Then begins the enterprise of science, which will not accept mere intuition but wants to test it. Sometimes this is possible, sometimes not, but that testing is extraordinarily valuable. Pseudoskeptics, however, reject intuition because it is “not logical.”

A more sophisticated approach understands what is logical, proceeding from accepted premises, and what is an idea or impulse from one knows not where or how. People with intuitive skill will simply “do the right thing” without knowing how. The common mind thinks of intuition as a thought we have, which can be intuition, but which is just as likely to be reaction, imagination, which can lead to obsession. Intuition does not worry if it is “true” or not. Intuition functions poorly with a worried mind.

I feel very much like Dirac: the idea of a personal God is foreign to me. But we ought to remember that religion uses language in quite a different way from science. The language of religion is more closely related to the language of poetry than to the language of science. True, we are inclined to think that science deals with information about objective facts, and poetry with subjective feelings. Hence we conclude that if religion does indeed deal with objective truths, it ought to adopt the same criteria of truth as science. But I myself find the division of the world into an objective and a subjective side much too arbitrary. The fact that religions through the ages have spoken in images, parables, and paradoxes means simply that there are no other ways of grasping the reality to which they refer. But that does not mean that it is not a genuine reality. And splitting this reality into an objective and a subjective side won’t get us very far.

Bingo.

I notice the realization that language may be understood by its effect rather than some presumed “truth” incorporated in it.

It is possible to lie with the truth (that is, to deliberately create a false impression by selective conveyance of cherry-picked fact), and it is possible to convey a truth with false statements, taken literally, that nevertheless lead the listener to a direct comprehension of truth. A myth may be literally false, but convey profound truth, connecting the listener with reality.

And then one disputed quote:

Of course not … but I am told it works even if you don’t believe in it.

(Reply to a visitor to his home in Tisvilde who asked him if he really believed a horseshoe above his door brought him luck, as quoted in Inward Bound : Of Matter and Forces in the Physical World (1986) by Abraham Pais, p. 210)

I could write a book about this one, but … not today…

To live outside the law you must be honest

–Bob Dylan, Absolutely Sweet Marie (19 freaking 66)

This is a call for action.

Wikipedia Policy: Ignore all rules.

If a rule prevents you from improving or maintaining Wikipedia, ignore it.

Years ago, I wrote an essay, Wikipedia Rule Zero. When all my Wikipedia user pages were put up for deletion by JzG, in 2011, the essay was rescued. So I can also rescue it now. Thanks, Toth. (Those pages were harmless, — there were lies  — ah, careless errors? — in the deletion arguments. Why the rush? Notice how many wanted the pages not to be deleted, or at least considered individually.) Well, that’s a long story, and it just got repeated on Wikiversity without so much fuss as a deletion discussion or even a deletion tag that would notify the user. Deleted using a bot with an edit summary for most of them that was so false I might as well call it a lie.

The talk page of that essay lays out a concept for Wikipedia reform, off-wiki “committee” organization. This has generally been considered Canvassing, and users have been sanctioned for participating in a mailing list, a strong example being the Eastern European Mailing List, an ArbComm case where the Arbitration Committee — which deliberates privately on a mailing list! — threw the book at users and an administrator who had done very little, but the very concept scared them, because they knew how vulnerable Wikipedia is to off-wiki organization. However, it is impossible to prevent, and a more recent example could be Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia. 

It is quite obvious that GSOW is communicating in an organized way, privately. The Facebook page claims high activity, but the page shows little. And that’s obviously because it is all private.

I have spent a few months documenting the activities of Anglo Pyramidologist, the name  on Wikipedia for a sock master, with more than 190 tagged sock puppets on Wikipedia, and many more elsewhere. AP has claimed to be paid for his work, by a “major skeptic organization.” There are claims that this is GSOW.

Lying or not, the recent AP activities have clearly demonstrated that WMF wikis and others are vulnerable to manipulation through sock puppets and what they can do, particularly if they seem to be supporting some position that can be seen as “majority” or “mainstream.” They routinely lie, but design the lies to appeal to common ideas and knee-jerk opinion.

Recently, cold fusion was banned as a topic on Wikiversity, (unilaterally by the same sysop as deleted all those pages of mine), entirely contrary to prior policy and practice. It was claimed that the resource had been disruptive, but there had been no disruption, until a request for deletion was filed the other day by socks — and two users from Wikipedia canvassed by socks — showed up attacking the resource and me. So this became very, very clearly related to cold fusion.

However, the problem is general. I claimed years ago that Wikipedia was being damaged by factional editing without any claim of off-wiki organization — at least I had no evidence for that. It happens through watchlists and shared long-term and predictable interests.

Wikipedia policy suggests that decisions be made, when there is dispute, by users who were not involved. Yet I have never seen any examination of “voters” based on involvement, so the policy was dead in the water, has never actually been followed. It just sounds like a good idea! (and many Wikipedia policies are like that. There is no reliable enforcement. It’s too much work! When I did this kind of analysis, it was hated!)

So … a general solution: organize off-wiki to support generation of genuine consensus on-wiki. I will create a mailing list, but to be maximally effective this must not be, in itself, factional. However, having a “point of view” does not make one factional. People can easily have points of view, even strong ones, while still recognizing fairness and balance through full self-expression. Wikipedia, as an encyclopedia, is neutral through exclusion, but if points of view are excluded in the deliberative process, as they often have been whenever those were minority points of view — in the “local mob” — consensus becomes impossible. Wikiversity was, in the educational resources, neutral by inclusion. And the AP socks and supporters just demolished that.

These off-wiki structure must also be security-conscious, because all prior similar efforts have not taken precautions and were crushed as a result. In the talk page for that Rule 0 essay, I described Esperanza, a clear example.

This will go nowhere if there is no support. But even one person participating in this could make a difference. A dozen could seriously interrupt the activities of the factions. Two dozen could probably transform not only Wikpedia, but the world.

Wikipedia was designed with a dependence on consensus, but never clearly developed structures that would generate true consensus. Given how many efforts there have been on-wiki, my conclusion is that it isn’t going to happen spontaneously and through on-wiki process, because of the Iron Law of Oligarchy and its consequences. Reform will come from independent, self-organized structures. I will not here describe the exact details, but … it can be done.

I used to say “Lift a finger, change the world. But few will lift a finger.” Sometimes none.

Is that still true? Contact me if you are willing to lift a finger, to move toward a world where the people know how to create genuine consensus, and do what it takes for that. Comments left here can request privacy. Email addresses will be known to me and will be kept private for any post with any shred of good-faith effort to communicate.

Another slogan was “If we are going to transform the world, it must be easy.”

There will be participants in this who are public, real-name. I will be one. More than that will depend on the response that this sees. Thanks for reading this and, at least, considering it!