Mary Yugo, Sniffex and the Blindness of Reactive Certainty

On LENR Forum, maryyugo bloviated:

When James Randi’s foundation exposed Sniffex as a fraud, he was sued. The suit was similarly dropped before independent technical experts could perform tests on the device. Strange how that works. You may recall that Sniffex was sold as an explosive detector but was really a dowsing rod which when tested by many different agencies, detected nothing. It and similar devices did and probably still do maim and kill many people who rely on them to detect explosives and IED’s, especially in S. E. Asia and the Middle East and IIRC Africa where they can still be promoted and sold. Amusingly, Lomax the abdominable snow man, still thinks these things have merit. I propose giving him one and turning him loose with it in a minefield so he can prove it if he thinks we are slandering the makers.

I know the Sniffex case and have researched it fairly deeply. Much of what Mary Yugo has claimed is not verifiable, but some is. It does appear that the Sniffex was a very expensive dowsing rod (about $6,000, though there are sources saying as high as $60,000).

However, dowsing rods can detect something, this is where Mary goes too far. What they detect is entirely another issue, I call it “psychic.” Meaning “of the mind,” not  meaning woo. A “psychic amplifier” or “sensor” will fail a double-blind test, the kind that Mary considers golden. However, in real life, there are often what are called “sensory leakages,” in parapsychological research. Information that comes through in ways that are not necessarily expected.

In medicine, there is the placebo effect, but, then, are there approaches which amplify the placebo effect? Clinical manner certainly would. Anything else?

I never claimed that the Sniffex “had merit.” This is Mary’s corrupt interpretation, radically misleading, like much of what Mary writes.

And I never claimed that Yugo was “slandering the makers.” Mary made all that up. Continue reading “Mary Yugo, Sniffex and the Blindness of Reactive Certainty”

Examples

CSICOP (now CSI) is, on the face, a skeptical organization, originally dedicated to the “scientific investigation of claims of the paranormal,” but which rapidly became a “debunking” organization with a very clear political agenda, not neutral and scientific. This can clearly be seen on RationalWiki, which is generally very sympathetic to CSI positions and treats them as, more or less, gospel. So, examples, listed under fields.

Diet

Searching for CSICOP-related pronouncements on the Atkins Diet, I found this Skeptical Inquirer article, by Reynold Spector. It’s quite good, though I wouldn’t agree with everything in it, and it uses “pseudoscience” rather loosely.

However, the fanatic skeptics at RationalWiki may not be reading Skeptical Inquirer. So, from the RW article on me, under “Diet woo,”

Lomax is an advocate of the Atkins Diet, a low-carb fad diet that most of the medical community have rejected as quackery.[34]

Spector is pointing out that the opinions of the “medical community” are largely based on poor research, he actually calls it “pseudoscience,” which is further than my major source, Gary Taubes, would go. Bad Science, is his theme. That something is “fad” has nothing to do with its scientific or pseudoscientific character, though usually fads have some kind of evidentiary basis, at least in practical experience, or it wouldn’t become a fad. That is not the same as “proof,” and ideas that are fads are not therefore factually-based. I don’t interact with “most of the medical community,” I interact with doctors and medical professionals that my insurance will pay for, and most of them are quite aware, and have told me, that “Atkins works.” The RationalWiki article itself covers this to a degree. After a shallow coverage of the Atkins Diet, it has:

The reality of low carb, higher protein diets

First of all, this makes a common error: an assumption that LCHF (low-carb, high-fat) diets are “higher protein.” That depends on the choices a follower of the food plan makes.

There is a two fold reality to truly low carb diets: 1) They work[27] 2) They are dangerous[28][29]

So perhaps I have generally followed an Atkins Diet is because it works, and certainly because it worked in my experience. (What does “works” mean? It means, for me, loss of unwanted weight and improvement of cardiac risk factors. Not to mention being able to eat my favorite foods, which, since childhood, were high-fat. I moved away from them many years ago because of the “low fat fad” that was promoted by the “mainstream.” Then I woke up!

Is Atkins “dangerous”? What is shown is very weak and unscientific, not based on actual research, just imagination. Woo, if you like, only carried and promoted by “authorities,” as described by Spector. (And, in far more detail, Taubes.)

The reality with any “Very high protein”(VHP)[30] or “Very low carbohydrate”(VLC)[31] is that they are helpful for short periods of time, but pushing the body into ketosis for extended periods, or asking the body to process high levels of protein leads to a variety of mild to major conditions, including: increased risk of heart disease; kidney dysfunction, liver dysfunction, bone density loss, arthritis, water retention, kidney stones and bad breath (ketoacidosis causes a fruity smell on the breath due to increased acetone in the body) and body odor[32]. So while it does work, it is something best done under the guidance of a physician or dietician (not a nutritionist) and only for short periods of time.

I have seen no evidence that extended ketosis is harmful. “Ketosis” simply means “burning fat,” i.e., as ketone bodies, which the body mobilizes from stored fat. There are cultures that eat very little carbohydrate, without apparent harmful consequences. The problems with a high-protein diet are known (I think). If one only eats protein, the body goes into the third metabolic system, burning protein for fuel. It can do that to survive, for short periods. But fat may be the primary system, largely not active when there is plenty of carbohydrate in the diet, i.e., the modern standard diet. “Bad breath” is culturally determined. So RationalWiki is giving unscientific advice, thinking that this is “rational.”

The other problem with high protein diets is that according to several studies, the weight is more quickly regained than with dieters who followed a moderate reduction in calories over a longer time, presumably due to the fact that the weight was lost under the body’s “duress”, and not simply because more calories were spent than eaten.

The real problem with science and diet and nutrition is the paucity of high-quality studies. Losing weight with an HFLC diet is not stressful, they made that up. It is easy and comfortable. Again, many studies are poor and poorly interpreted.

Atkins is sustainable as a long-term food plan because it allows highly satisfying meals, thoroughly enjoyable. If one stops following the food plan, the result is largely predictable: gain of weight. That is true for almost any diet. They have not cited sources for the alleged studies.

Granted, low-carb diets can be astonishly [sic] effective. But given their side effects, they can be suggested only when the overweight itself presents graver dangers to the health of the patient than the risks of the diet. Morbidly obese patients (weight index 38+) may benefit from low carbohydrate diets in order to normalize their body weight. Such diet should always be considered only as the means, not the end.

This is unencyclopedic fluff. Back to the point, that I “advocate” Atkins (I suggest people look into it) was used as evidence that I am a “woo” promoter. The paragraph above relies on assumptions that Atkins is dangerous (it was common for low-fat promoters — and low fat can be very dangerous, since fat is an essential nutrient — to say that Atkins might work, but has not been proven safe, which, of course, neglects that LCHF diets are very old and some cultures have eaten that way for very long periods of time; the alleged dangers, if they exist at all, can be monitored. For example, I used Ketostix to monitor ketone levels, which would reveal any dangerous ketoacidosis, even though that is very rare and not expected in my general health condition. I also more carefully monitored blood lipids and even got a cardiac CAT scan, since I had hypercholesterolemia, which sounds bad but which can also be simply familial and harmless. Atkins appears to be reasonably safe, compared to the dangers of the standard American diet.

So, that’s RationalWiki. Anything else?

Okay, Skepticblog. Not bad, but uninformed, makes ignorant assumptions to make unscientific recommendations.

Found a nice article by the Skeptical Cardiologist about the death of Atkins (i.e., it had nothing to do with his diet). The guy has some other interesting posts, such as there being no problem with saturated fats from dairy. An actual skeptic! Does he remember to be skeptical of his own ideas? (That is the acid test!) I don’t know, but he is a good writer.

While I found some skeptics spouting unscientific “knowledge,” I did not find an organized anti-Atkins effort, and quite  a bit of positive material that accepted at least part of what Atkins recommended.

Cold fusion

Here is a link to a page presenting a Randi video on cold fusion. Randi claims not to have a priori bias; however, what is shown here is his name-dropping of Carl Sagan, with whom he witnessed (and walked out of) a Martin Fleischmann press conference in which Fleischmann was evasive. This is all well-known, at that point, Fleischmann was under instruction from lawyers, apparently, not to reveal too much. It’s meaningless, but apparently Randi thinks it’s important. Then he turns to the topic of Andrea Rossi. This was November, 2011. Rossi is introduced by the interviewer as an “Italian physicist,” which was quite incorrect, Rossi is an inventor and entrepreneur with a shady past. By this time most LENR researchers had dismissed Rossi as unverifiable and very possibly a fraud. Randi’s predictions were not accurate, Rossi did not go to a public stock offering, and he has never sold stock. He did attract private investment, sale of licenses, based at least in part on something Randi did not anticipate: some real scientists appearing to confirm Rossi’s claims.

They had great fun with “University of Baloney.” The University of Bologna, according to the Wikipedia article, “founded in 1088, is the oldest university in continuous operation[2], as well as one of the leading academic institutions in Italy and Europe[3]. It is one of the most prestigious Italian universities commonly ranking first in national rankings.”

A skilled con artist can fool many regular scientists, including “skeptics.” Such an artist will also carefully avoid close examination by anyone with true expertise, and Rossi did that (Randi did predict this). Knee-jerk dismissal, however, and expectation of fraud was useless. What it took to truly and definitively expose Rossi was actual investment, by people who knew what they were doing (consciously taking risks). The result is thoroughly documented on this blog, the gateway is Rossi v. Darden docket.

Even this is not proof that there is no Rossi Effect. However, at this point, it is clear that Rossi is deceptive and that any demonstration that he can manage in any way is untrustworthy.

Carl Sagan’s real opinion was far more nuanced.

It is clear from his last quoted statement on cold fusion, however, that he was not informed. Claims of neutron production had been largely abandoned by then: if neutrons were being produced (and there is some evidence for that), the levels were a million million times down from the actual measured (and correlated with heat) product, helium. Further, his original idea that science would prevail was incorrect, he did not sufficiently realize the power of the information cascade. (That combined with the difficulty and unreliability of replication, the drastic variability of the effect, which, among other things, made commercial application remote and not yet attainable.)

In a book on Carl Sagan’s Universe, 1997, James Randi wrote about cold fusion.

People are still fussing about cold fusion, which in my opinion and the opinion of many of my colleagues probably just does not work, but it does work in one respect. It gets a lot of funding, at least from Toyota, who just gave them $7 million to pursue cold fusion studies. Wonderful! I must also announce a diistressing bit of news that I am currently arguing with my very good friend, Arthur C. Clarke, in Sri Lanka. I’m glad that he is a considerable distance from me. We might be in a fistfight, because he is quite supportive of cold fusion. He has spoken to the founders of this wonderful notion and is pretty well convinced by them, so I may have to go over and clast that icon too!

This is all personal and is actually the kind of thing that Sagan wrote against. Why does Randi’s opinion matter? What does he know? He was a magician, and could indeed be an expert on the generation of illusion. He will also be senstitive, from his predelictions, to possible fraud and delusion. So … who are his “colleagues”? Magicians? CSICOP members? He isn’t a physicist, but so-called “cold fusion” was not actually a physics topic, it was an experimental result in electrochemistry. The “them” he refers to would be Pons and Fleischmann, funded to continue their research in France. Is that about “cold fusion.” Pons and Fleischmann did not claim that what they found was “fusion.” They claimed it was an “unknown nuclear reaction.” They actually had no real “nuclear evidence,” only more heat than they could explain by chemistry (and they had been mistaken about low-level neutron radiation, later work completely deprecated that claim).

It was not until 1991 that clear nuclear evidence was found; before that, there were mysterious reports of tritium, never correlated with heat, unlike the 1991 work which found a clear correlation between anomalous heat and helium. By that time, cold fusion was already heavily rejected by “consensus,” which, of course, excluded contrary opinion, and, here, Randi talks about a strong argument with Clarke. Over what? Clarke was aware of the evidence, Randi was not, was operating on his own reactivity.

Randi’s opinion is totally nonscientific. However, he writes something else there I find remarkable, see Parapsychology, below.

Parapsychology

This is remarkable, James Randi saying that parapsychology is a legitimate science. This is in a book published on Carl Sagan’s Universe, in 1997.

I speak to a great number of lay audiences and academic audiences, and we have to get some terminology straight. Pseudoscience and crackpot science are differentiated in certain ways. Examples of pseudoscience in my estimation are things like homeopathy, which is diluting a medicine down to the point where you’re beyond Avogadro’s Limit, and there’s none of the original medicine left, but the vibrations are still there. …

I agree with Randi here, that the “explanations” of homeopathy are legitimately called “pseudoscience.” His description of what homeopathy is, however, neglects clinical practice and studies that show that homeopathy is an effective modality. Because the “explanation” which he focuses on, as if it were the entire issue, is truly “woo,” and disconfirmed, as far as I know, by double-blind studies, there being no discernable difference when the placebo effect is ruled out, homeopathic theory is not “scientific.” However, there remains an issue, the effect of the mind and human presence and interaction, and the possibility that some mythical modality might still be effective, amplifying, as it were, the placebo effect, the effect of language and thought. The “vibrations,” he demeans sarcastically, could simply be thought, the idea of the substance, that then has an effect on the practitioner and patient. This is not so simple to test! Is it “pseudoscientific”?  Unfortunately, I don’t know how to test it. Are we pseudoscientists if we propose untestable explanations? Only, I’d say, if we pretend that they are scientific.

In general, pseudoskeptics dismiss evidence that is other than peer-reviewed and confirmed blind studies; yet human beings routinely order their lives based on anecdotal evidence, and I have seen no evidence that refusing to do this is at all conducive to survival. Pseudoskeptics often reject what is ordinary, common human practice, as if “wrong,” imagining that they have the enlightened view and everyone else is stuck in darkness and ignorance. Randi goes on, my emphasis:

Some parapsychology, in fact, I think most of parapsychology, is also pseudoscience because of the way it is approached, but parapsychology is a legitimate science, no question of that, and it must be pursued.

Randi is obviously aware of the definitional problem ignored by the RationalWikians. Parapsychology is the scientific investigation — using the methods of science — of the “paranormal,” which essentially means phenomena that are not yet explainable by “natural physics” or the like. The term has come to refer to “psychic phenomena,” but that is interpretive. The core meaning of “psychic” is “of the mind.” From my point of view, it’s not clear that the mind exists other than in a realm of ideas and impressions. I.e., does the smile of Mona Lisa exist? It’s just some oil paint on canvas, in some patterns. The “smile” exists in our interpretation of those patterns. The idea that the mind is an illusion is very old. But we routinely trust in the reality of the mind. It is entirely possible to move beyond that, to something far more “grounded,” but pseudoskeptics, in general, are utterly naive about all this.

When Randi refers to “most of parapsychology,” he is referring to theories and the possible concepts of some students or researchers in parapsychology, not to parapsychology itself. In the end, his definition of “pseudoscience” relies on his own opinions and judgments, not an objective standard, from what I’ve seen. Genuine parapsychologists, like real skeptics, postpone judgment, possibly forever. Randi then argues practicality.

It is in an unfortunate positions. It’s been around for something like a hundred and twenty years, no necessarily under the name, parapsychology, but scientific research directed in that way has been around for that amount of time. When I speak to parapsychologists, they usually say, “Well, I still have a feeling there is something there,” in spite of the fact that they have not had one positive experiment yet, in more than a century, that has been replicated. Strange! It is very much like, in my estimation, being a doctor for 120 years, and everyone of your patients has died.

All patients die eventually. Perhaps Randi has not realized this.

His essential claim here is that investigations of the paranormal have produced no results, which is nonsense. Some results have indicated, for example, that no effect of statistical significance was present in reports that earlier seemed to show some paranormal phenomenon. Those are parapsychological results, and they are of value. However, there are other results, claimed and published under peer review, that seem to show some paranormal effect, and some of these have been replicated. Randi simply denies that these exist. Parapsychology would continue to investigate these. As with cold fusion, above, it is not clear to me that Randi is aware of those claimed results.

I am not confirming or denying those claims. I simply don’t know enough, it’s quite a bit of work! I’m generally quite skeptical, and choose not to invest the time; however, what I actually did was stand for the right of those interested in parapsycholgy to create educational resources on the topic on Wikiersity, and that includes “beleivers” and “skeptics” and anyone else interested. In setting that up, I did write that parapsychology was, by definition, a science, and that was attacked by RationalWikians as being my “promotion” of pseudoscience, as if I believed in some parapsychological theory or hypothesis. I don’t. Some of the results I have seen are interesting, that’s all. I don’t draw conclusions from that, other than noticing knee-jerk rejection without actual consideration of evidence. I.e., the inverted kind of pseudoscience, practiced by those who imagine they are promoting “critical thinking” and “science.”

After the first thirty years, wouldn’t you get an idea that maybe you should seek a different line of work? …

That’s a choice for individuals to make. What is sometimes offensive from “believers” is a demand that others pay attention to what they believe. If a physicist thinks cold fusion is bogus and doesn’t want to pay attention to it, that’s his or her choice. What is offensive is when those who do actually pay attention, or actually invest time and resources in research, are attacked as “pseudoscientists” and “deluded believers.”

 

CSICOP

The SoS page, following, gets the current name not quite right. It is Committee for Skeptical Inquiry

Has CSICOP Lost the Thirty Years’ War?

This is the best article I’ve ever read on the history of CSICOP/CSI. The name change actually reflects the take-over that Truzzi objected to. “Scientific Investigation” — which would be, by definition, as a field, parapsychology — becomes “skeptical inquiry,” which, in practice, readily favors an unbalanced and unscientific, highly critical approach, even though CSI claims it “Does not reject claims on a priori grounds, antecedent to inquiry, but examines them objectively and carefully,” CSI activists and authors blatantly and sometimes explicitly do this, and CSI does not correct or balance this. This is common for ideological activists, they will quote their ideals as if those are evidence as to actual behavior.

I’m going to explore Examples on the subpage, from my own study. CSI, in general, attacks as unscientific or pseudoscientific, people and fields based on the alleged opinion of the “majority of scientists,” whereas it would be rare that the “majority of scientists” would be aware of the evidence involved. CSI activists often assert “there is no proof,” sometimes taking that down to “there is no evidence.” There is no “proof” is true of much of science, at the edges or “fringe.” Only in mathematics is proof abundant, and mathematics is ordinarily highly cautious about assumptions and logic. To say “there is no evidence,” however, is to completely neglect the most common legal evidence: human testimony. Pseudoskeptics commonly confuse evidence with proof, discounting evidence because they do not consider it proof. The reality would be “I have not seen evidence that convinced me,” sometimes shortened just to “convincing,” perhaps extending this to “me and my friends or those who think like me.”

This is often visible in Wikipedia editing. In the case of cold fusion, the position of cold fusion in the journals flipped many years ago. In the first year after announcement, “negative” papers — as assessed by Dieter Britz, a skeptical electrochemist — outnumbered “positive” ones. The next year they were about equal. After that, positive papers dominated and negative papers almost entirely disappeared. Pseudoskeptics claim that this is because “most scientists” no longer considered it worthwhile to even consider the subject. (There may be some truth to that).

However, years ago, I did a study of mainstream publications from 2005 on, and found not just primary sources, but many reviews, with critical response being rare to non-existent. Supposedly peer-reviewed secondary sources, i.e., reviews, are golden for Wikipedia articles on science, but uniformly and rapidly, citations of these were removed by the “skeptical” faction.

Somehow, authors on cold fusion were able to pass peer review, and in one case, one of the Wikipedia  editors called that “something strange.” Policy has not been followed. An editor there, Manul, shows up in my studies of an editor who appears to support extreme skeptical positions, and when his name was mentioned, that disruptive editor went totally ballistic, as if Manul had been attacked (which was not the case, he was merely mentioned) Manul claimed that he was being harassed off-wiki and had changed his user name (which is pretty useless), and that was mentioned, because he had filed sock puppet reports attacking a favorite target of the disruptive editor, and without that knowledge, it could be assumed that this was two independent editors. Manul has since disappeared, but what I notice here is the threat of reporting the editor he is arguing with for “personal attack.” This was a common tactic of the entire skeptical faction. I see here that Manul is actually a disruptive editor (I would have been blocked in a flash if I had behaved like that), but he has apparently retired, which, when attention might start to be focused on them, disruptive editors, especially those acting in collaboration with a faction, often do.

In one case, in a mainstream chemistry journal, which had published a review of the field of LENR or “cold fusion,” there was a critical Letter published, and one of the original authors and a phalanx of scientists in the field responded, and the critic was left sputtering that the journal would not publish his rebuttal. I find it fairly obvious that journals were refusing to publish knee-jerk pseudoskeptical rejection, and that the shallow (and blatantly incorrect, in a critical way) Letter was the best they got.

“Most scientists” would be completely unaware of this situation, so they would base their opinions on what became widely believed in 1989-1990, that it was all a mistake. I thought that until I actually started to review the field, not as a believer, but as neutrally skeptical (and understanding the theoretical reasons for rejection, they are rather obvious to anyone with knowledge of nuclear physics.)

Something is happening that we don’t understand. For people who have based their identity on “Scientism,” that is terrifying. In theory, humanists and skeptics don’t have a belief system, but in reality, humans do, and denial of it leads to much mischief.

And here is an example of how I learn by writing. To link to the Wikipedia article on Scientism, I needed to look at it, at least briefly. There I saw reference to Schumaker, A Guide for the Perplexed. (1977) And that, for me, immediately brought to mind a book by Nate Hoffman, A Dialogue on Chemically Induced Nuclear Effects, A GUIDE FOR THE PERPLEXED About Cold Fusion (1995). This was one of the first books I read on cold fusion.

(Schumaker’s title was itself a reference to a 12th century book by Maimonides.)

Hoffman has been excoriated by at least one “cold fusion believer” for being Wrong about this or that and probably hostile. However, the book is written from a genuine skeptical point of view, one that does not demand conformance to “expectations” and it actually skewers common pseudoskeptical arguments. Hoffman, I see now, was clearly referring to Shumaker’s book in his title, and skewering scientism in general, i.e., the smug, satisfied belief that challenges to orthodoxy (what “scientists believe,” generally neglecting diversity of opinion among scientists) can be a priori dismissed.

Skeptical about Skeptics

Skeptical about Skeptics 

Googling “pseudoskepticism,” I was presented with this image at the top of the results. I followed it, and found the site. On the face, this is professional-quality presentation. My interest: what is the content? Is it “believer” or “skeptical” or “pseudoskeptical”? It is possible to be a mixture, and some believers can also be skeptical at the same time, the words are not precise. And the site claims to be “skeptical about skeptics.” Or is it pseudoskeptical?

PSEUDOSKEPTICS REVEALED

Genuine skepticism is a virtue in science. Unfortunately, some self-proclaimed guardians of science are committed to conventional taboos against psychic phenomena, despite many promising lines of evidence. Although they call themselves skeptics, they are in truth fundamentalists who attack any challenge to their beliefs, even if it means contradicting the core scientific principles of paying attention to evidence and keeping an open mind. They assume psychic phenomena cannot exist, and remain ignorant of the relevant research. They are pseudoskeptics.

“Many promising lines of evidence,” unqualified, could be a “believer” comment. it is not qualified. Lines of evidence for what? Well, “psychic phenomena,” which means what? The term “psychic” can be used in many ways. The core meaning is “of the mind.” However, it comes to mean, in some contexts, “relating to or denoting faculties or phenomena that are apparently inexplicable by natural laws, especially involving telepathy or clairvoyance.”

There are “phenomena” that are called “psychic,” but by definition (the second definition), that is not a “natural” explanation, and I’m not sure that “laws” explain anything of weight, to depth. They allow us to make certain kinds of predictions; the core scientific question would be verifiability. From a study of conditions, can results be predicted?

The idea that phenomena (i.e., what can be observed) given the name of “psychic” cannot exist is obvious nonsense.

However, the “scientific investigation of claims of the paranormal” seeks causes, it does not deny the phenomena. So a cause of a “clairvoyant’s” surprising knowledge could be “cold reading,” a skill that can be trained, which might be a hypothesis. Testing this could be well-done or otherwise, but the investigation can certainly be scientific. The pseudoskeptics who are the topic of this web site claim otherwise and for this reason they are outside of science, themselves.

Skeptical About Skeptics examines their ill-informed attacks with articles by well-known scientists and thinkers, revealing their faulty critiques and the underhanded methods they employ. We highlight controversies in specific fields of research and shine a light on prominent pseudoskeptics and skeptical organizations.

We are pro-science, and we are in favor of open-minded inquiry.

First of all, are there “attacks,” as distinct from ordinary critique? Are there “underhanded methods” being used? I’ve been, the last few weeks, researching and handling the a family of sock puppets that impersonate their targets, to make impeach them and make it appear that they are disruptive fanatics and cranks, or to confuse deliberation on wikis and other fora. So, yes. That happens. In my study, I have not yet come to the case of Craig Weiler, who appears to be a principal at our topic web site, but he has certainly been a target, see his RationalWiki article, and, looking through the history of that and its talk page, and seeing how much his name is raised by these sock puppets, I see ample confirmation. (I’ve been documenting the “single-purpose accounts” — obvious attack sock puppets — who often create articles like this; see, here, the obvious Strawberry Smoothie and then the most recent editor, Marky — look at his contributions!

His article follows a common trope. If anyone presents evidence “for” some phenomenon being psychic, psedoskeptics will claim that “proof” is being asserted. This runs through many long-standing debates. for example, what really amount to atheist activists, those who are far to the right of ordinary non-believers, will say that “there is no evidence for the existence of God,” leaving out what would be crucial, what is “God”? “God” is a high-level abstraction that might actually mean something different to each person. I use the word as a personal name of Reality, along with many other such names. So, is there no evidence for the existence of Reality? What would that even mean? Pseudoskeptics reduce difficult issues, such as the demarcation problem, to sound bites and snarky comment, especially on RationalWiki. They are anti-science, reducing science, a method for developing effective predictability, to a body of “established knowledge,” while leaving behind the method that maintains and expands that knowledge. The RationalWikians are pretty explicit that they follow the “mainstream,” i.e., the majority of “scientists,” a rather fuzzily-defined group that excludes anyone with differing opinions, no matter what their individual qualifications.

If their targest have a view that seems to differ from the mainstream, they are “cranks” and “pseudoscientists.” Weiler is pouring out some of their own medicine.

As I have mentioned, I’m skeptical about claims of psi being not explainable consistently with known science (experimental results might require some unexpected explanation). It is clear to me, though that some attempted explanations are inadequate for at least one set of experimental results that I’ve looked at. This is far from “believing in pseudoscience,” or “promoting it.” On Wikiversity, I facilitated the formation of an article on Parapsychology, neutral by inclusion and editorial consensus, so far. The pseudoskeptics have no patience for that, the ones that have showed up want a quick victory or else they go away, to come again another day with some new twist, like bogus disruptive editing on Wikipedia.

This SoS article I found quite well-written: Zen … and the Art of Debunkery Or, How to Debunk Just About Anything

I have seen most of the tactics that he sarcastically presents. His lede:

“While informed skepticism is an integral part of the scientific method, professional debunkers — often called ‘kneejerk skeptics’ — tend to be skeptics in name only, and to speak with little or no authority on the subject matter of which they are so passionately skeptical.”

So, I have seen an undergraduate student, with some physics courses, actually considered the resident expert on RationalWiki, ridicule a theory paper on cold fusion by a physicist with over forty years of experience, a standard (hot) fusion expert, because the man used a term he had never seen. It was an ordinary term, “platonic solid.” That student had no understanding of what he was reading, but was certain that there was something wrong with it. The paper was simply an exploration of a possibility that nobody had calculated before, of multibody fusion, just looking at the math of quantum field theory.

I may review various articles on that SoS site as subpages here. I’m critical of some claims, but science advances through academic freedom (and civil discussion), not through ridicule and suppression of alternate views.

So what about homeopathy? After all, the theory seems ridiculous! The idea of some kind of structure in water, some kind of “water memory,” is not quite as ridiculous as it sounds, but water memory operating as claimed with homeopathic medicines seems colossally unlikely to me.

Here is a problem: There are clinical studies showing that the *practice* of homeopathy is effective, even if double-blind tests show that the remedies are not more effective than placebo. That may be challenged, there may be studies, and then there is the question of how to interpret them. This is not a task for fanatics of either kind!

I have used homeopathic remedies on occasion (because I trust in trust itself, which can be created, I’m actually trained to do that.) So I had an injury and someone gives me a remedy, with care and love, and it would be totally rude to reject it. And, in fact, I felt better, healed quickly, etc. Anecdotal, of course. Proves nothing.  I use words alone to accomplish those results, often without a “token.” It’s really about how the brain works).

Homeopathic practice includes training in the “law of similars.” It is entirely possible that a treatment modality based on something, that is not literally accurate, still works. I had this discussion with Andrew Weil in Tucson, something like 1974. It occurred to me that homeopathy might, through the nature of the study and practice, be amplifying the placebo effect. Skeptics generally stop with a finding that a medicine is no better than a placebo, but medicine is practically never prescribed or used without knowledge of what it (supposedly) is.

That could be called a “psychic phenomenon,” though it requires no unnatural explanations, only a possibly different understanding of what “medical practice” is — and how treatments are most effectively applied.

Is cold fusion a fraud?

In a recent post here, I documented the temporary ban of Ascoli65 on LENR Forum. As a result, there was discussion of this site, of Levi and UniBo, and of cold fusion, on fusionfredda.

As part of that, one user gave a series of arguments, ignoring what I’d written, that cold fusion was rejected by mainstream science (both true and stupid in context), and one user, after I pointed out that nobody understands cold fusion, claimed that, no, cold fusion was simply a fraud, representing that as an understanding. I’m not going to continue that conversation unless specifically invited. Because these arguments are old, and I haven’t written about them in quite a while, I’m posting this here.

Beyond that, I’m not concerned if some fanatics have weird opinions on a blog that is rapidly becoming obsolete, designed from the beginning to be useless except for transient bloviating that generates no enduring value. Continue reading “Is cold fusion a fraud?”

OT: Nutritional science

I have at various times mentioned Gary Taubes and the scientific initiative he started, NuSi. The relevance to cold fusion is that Taubes was the author of Bad Science, a book which contributed to the cold fusion rejection cascade; so it is ironic that Taubes, later, confronted a series of information cascades. Sometimes his work is thought of as a defense of the Atkins Diet. It is, far more, an indictment of Bad Science in the field of nutrition, and in this case, Taubes is exposing the dark side of public science, whereas with his book on cold fusion he was aligned with it.

Taubes, it is safe for me to say, is not informed on subsequent developments with cold fusion, and appears not to have been thoroughly informed as to developments even before he closed out his book; rather, he mostly focused on the early history, which was, let’s say, quite a mess, with mistakes made on all sides. I intend to engage Taubes when the field is ready. Not quite, not yet. (I have already communicated with him, and he wanted what he wrote to me to be confidential, but I believe, again, I can say that he was friendly, and gave me a fair bit of his time, and he was supportive of my work. The work he is doing with nutrition is extremely important, and I would not want to distract him from it unless the potential value were very high.

Some involved with cold fusion treat Taubes as … let’s say, “not nice.” My experience differs, but I am informed by his later work and his integrity with respect to it, I look back at his cold fusion work and frame it as that of a young, struggling writer, with a family to support and a tendency to put far more work into a project than he’s likely to be paid for. He needed to finish it.

There is a review of Taubes in Beaudette’s excellent book, Excess Heat (2002), page 319 in the 2nd edition. I agree with all or at least most of the criticisms; however, for the other side, he says:

“Taubes contribution was considerable. He did the heavy legwork needed to write the who-struck-John part of the story. Without his book, the history of the saga would have lost much.”

Where comments elsewhere are sufficiently off-topic of a post or page, I will move them here. If some agreement appears, I may update this page. Meanwhile, just a little background on the Atkins diet:

Wikipedia: Atkins diet.

The Atkins diet, also known as the Atkins nutritional approach, is a low-carbohydrate fad diet promoted by Robert Atkins and inspired by a research paper he read in The Journal of the American Medical Association. The paper, titled “Weight Reduction”, was published by Alfred W. Pennington in 1958.[1]

The Atkins diet is classified as a fad diet.[2] There is only weak evidence supporting its effectiveness in helping achieve sustainable weight loss.[3][4]

This is actually an outrageous bias in the lede, which should be rigorously neutral by consensus. A sign of this is the references in the lede; in theory, everything in the lede should be established in the body of the article, and supported there for verification, with no reference being necessary in the lede itself. However, the reality is that editors — including administrators — often are not adequately informed about the topic to understand the difference between neutral coverage and biased coverage, they may easily think that the bias is “factual.” I have not yet checked the references, but it should be fairly easy to find references to Atkins as a “fad diet,” because that is a fairly common opinion. Just as one can find references to cold fusion as “pathological science.” But it is offensive to refer to cold fusion as “pathological science,” because that is reporting, without attribution, an opinion, a judgment. They are claiming “is,” i.e., definition and it is not part of the definition of Atkins that it’s a “fad diet.” Fad is something that happened to the diet, not the diet itself. Notice that the passive “is classified” is used. Classified by whom? Yes, the reference should supply that, but cold fusion is classified as a scientific reality that was improperly rejected. By some. Fact, but certainly not appropriate in the lede of an article on cold fusion!

The issue of where Atkins got the diet from is too much detail for the lede. I’ll see if it is in the article. The “only weak evidence” ignores the massive evidence that Taubes amassed, and that there is even weaker evidence for alternative approaches to weight loss. “Weak,” then, can be misleading the reader. Atkins was a cardiologist. Is that relevant?

When I began following the Atkins approach, over a decade ago, I found general agreement among my own health care practitioners that the approach was effective, and my own experience confirmed that, and what I read — and because my health was at stake, I read extensively — also confirmed it. Yet some of my first edits on Wikipedia were to the article (or a related one) and that is where I discovered, for the first time, that Wikipedia administrators were overworked and underpaid, making snap judgments that did not actually understand the issues. So the notes:

[1] Pennington AW (1958). “Weight reduction”. Journal of the American Medical Association. 166 (17): 2214–2215. ISSN 0002-9955. doi:10.1001/jama.1958.02990170112033. Retrieved 2014-07-14.

Taubes goes into the history of seeing problems with over-consumption of carbohydrates, it’s actually quite old, and with carbohydrate restriction as a useful approach. I’d need to do more research into the history of Atkin’s ideas, but this would belong in the article, not in the lede. It’s hard to find good help.

[2] Thalheimer J (2015). “Ketosis fad diet alert: skip low-carb diets; instead focus on nutrient-rich choices like whole grains, fruits and vegetables”. Environmental Nutrition. 38 (9): 3.

This is not a journal article, Environmental Nutrition is a newsletter. That is why I could not find this article in Google Scholar. The article begins with:

The Ketogenic, Atkins, and South Beach diets. These diets are all examples of the trendy low-carbohydrate, high-protein eating plans that claim you’ll lose lots of weight in little time. If you are eating less than 20 grams of carbohydrate a day, you’re following a ketogenic diet. Carbs are the body’s preferred fuel, so if you aren’t eating enough, your body will create an alternative energy source called ketones. The goal of an extremely low-carb diet is to get your body into this state, called ketosis, which is thought to speed weight loss.

This is all shallow and assumes we know more about nutrition than we do. “Carbs are the body’s preferred fuel,” is established according to what standard? The fact is that most people have never experienced the alternate metabolism, burning fat, when it’s dominant. There are cultures where fat is the basis of the diet, and I have seen how desirable fat was in a third-world country. When I really looked at my own history of food preferences, I realized that my favorite foods were fat or fatty.

There are three basic nutritional pathways: we can burn carbs, fat, or protein. The protein pathway is for emergencies, as an alternative to starvation. It will burn our own protein stores, i.e., muscle, mostly. Very dangerous, but it could save one’s life, after the fat stores have been burned.

Carboyhdrates are generally digested into glucose in the bloodstream. The resulting high levels of glucose are toxic, but … insulin is released which catalyzes the storage of glucose as fat, thus eliminating the toxicity and providing a store of energy for the future. As long as there is sufficient glucose in the food, we will not burn fat. We will burn some at night, when there may be a prolonged reduction.

When one is not eating sufficient glucose to support ongoing activity, the body will shift to burning fat. When it does this, there is a side-effect, the generation of “ketone bodies” in the bloodstream, easily tested in the urine, and Atkins plan followers will often buy and use “Ketostix.” There are two reasons: the first is a confirmation that one is actually eating low-carb, and the second could be to avoid ketone levels rising high enough to be dangerous. “”Ketoacidosis.” I have never heard of this actually happening to someone from following an Atkins plan, but it could happen, I’d think, of someone tried to eat Atkins but also making it low-fat. The objection that Thalheimer makes in this article is a common one among those who have not actually studied the diet and how it affects patients.

Ketosis risks. People on ketogenic diets can lose weight, at least in the short term, although scientists aren’t entirely sure why. It’s thought that production of ketones may help control hunger or improve the breakdown of fat. But there are risks and side effects involved in losing weight this way. Ketones are meant to be an emergency back-up system for your body, not a long-term energy source. They increase the body’s acidity, which can lead to low blood phosphate levels, decreased brain function, and increased risk for osteoporosis and kidney stones. People on ketogenic diets report higher rates of headaches, bad breath, constipation, diarrhea, general weakness, rash, insomnia, and back pain.

He is simply displaying ignorance. First of all, he acknowledges the weight loss. He makes it out as “short term.” That could be based on studies that show return of weight among people that don’t continue the food plan. That should be a no-brainer: go back to the way you were eating that led to the weight gain, and you will regain the weight and maybe even more. Often more.

The behavior is like that of addicts: the problem is considered something that will go away, all it takes is “will power.” This does not work for any addiction. What works is to find alternate ways of living that are even more satisfying than the dysfunctional ways.

He hints at why the Atkins diet may work, but doesn’t realize the full significance, because his thinking is mired in beliefs about the way things are “meant to be.” I.e., high-carb diets. Those are actually quite modern. We are omnivores, we can eat different kinds of foods (though we, unlike ruminants, cannot digest fiber, which is considered a carbohydrate. Fiber intake is excluded from “carb-counting” in Atkins diets.) Which kind of food is “preferred.” That turns out to be culturally sensitive.

He says that “the production of ketones may help control hunger.” This is what I know from my own experience: if I eat fat and protein and fiber, any hunger than I might have is sated. Fat, in particular, is satiating. It is actually difficult to “eat too much.” What I’ve found with long-term low-carb is that this effect declines to some extent, and I am finding that it may be necessary to pay attention to quantity. I eat far less food, as to weight, than I would have been eating were I eating normal carbs (like bread or pasta). I am still finding weight loss to be very slow, and I suspect that the initial appetite suppression is not so effective any more. However, this is remarkable: I don’t actually get “hungry.” So I’m largely eating for pleasure. “Getting hungry”, some think, is largely  a product of being habituated to glucose, from the “insulin crash.”

“People on ketogenic diets” do report the side-effects mentioned. However, many of these side-effects will be reported in any population. “Bad breath” is a symptom of ketosis, and is generally harmless, and ketosis tends to fade as one becomes, long-term, accustomed to the diet. I must be in ketosis, from what I eat, but ketone test strips no longer show it. To be sure, I need to buy some more, mine are expired…. I have fewer of the symptoms than, probably, the general population. I’ve never met anyone for whom the sometime “side effects” have been a deal-breaker. Constipation? Getting enough fiber? Treating constipation also tends to be very simple and effective.

And losing weight isn’t the same thing as gaining health. Cutting carbs from your diet means cutting out (or drastically cutting back on) proven health-promoting foods, like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, and all of their vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and phytochemicals. Replacing those carbs on your plate means loading up on protein and fats, so low-carb diets often cause increased consumption of less-healthful red meats and saturated fats.

Of course losing weight is not the same thing as gaining health. It is more of a symptom, (and could also be a sign of some disease process). First of all, he is not distinguishing Atkins “induction phase,” from maintenance, when the diet opens up; his concept of Atkins is just the very low-carb initiation. Long term, the food plan will still restrict “grains,” but the eating of whole-grain products will be encouraged over the highly processed forms. It does mean loading up on fats. Is that healthy or harmful. If he knows the basis for “nutritional science,” he would know how shaky is the evidence on that, and how contrary evidence was largely ignored. Atkins is not a “high protein diet,” this is a common error. It’s high fat. Are “red meats” unhealthy? Again, the evidence? What there is was in cherry-picked epidemiological studies. Are saturated fats unhealthy? The original mantra became that fat was Bad. Then, gradually, it became more sophisticated, but still clung to the Big Fat Lie. The relationship between butter consumption and death rates has been studied. What did those studies find? Does he have any awareness of the science? He’s not showing a sign. Rather, he is an “expert” writing recommendations for others, but not based on actual study, just knee-jerk reactions and ideas.

The bottom line. Carbs are the best way to fuel your body

He assumes that this would be true for everyone, but he cites not one piece of evidence for it. There are effects of habitually fueling your body with carbs, and effects of fueling your body regularly with fat. What are they? What is his definition of “best”? No clue. He assumes the reader will know what he means. If you don’t eat carbs, you won’t get diabetes, or if you have it, the symptoms will tend to abate. That’s been known for almost a hundred years. Does he have any clue?

(I would not consider this article Reliable Source for a scientific topic. It’s just his opinion, this wasn’t peer-reviewed, I’d bet. An editor approved it, but this could never appear in a scientific journal, it’s a popular article. When I saw the reference, I assumed “journal,” and wasted time checking Google Scholar. The guy has papers on ketosis, particularly about it as pathology, but that is almost completely irrelevant to the Atkins diet, which leads to what is commonly called “Benign dietary ketosis.”

Before I move on, has this been discussed on the article Talk page? Years ago, there were extended edit wars on related articles. Yes. Useless, but you can read it.

Citation doesn’t support claim.

This appears to have resulted in an improvement, this study is cited now.  Information has, however, been cherry-picked from the study. Overall, the evidence does not seem conclusive at all. What is reported is synthesis (a common Wikipedia problem: contrary to policy, but Wikipedia also demands that material that is not quoted be paraphrased; this often results in the introduction of an interpretive bias.)

As to the second source now cited on this, there is vandalism in the reference, demonstrating that those who might have edited this article at one time are no longer watching. I edited the article in 2005, it was on my watchlist. I’d have seen the vandalism. But, of course, I’m banned. I proposed and demonstrated a method for banned editors to make useful contributions without complicating ban enforcement. It worked. It was then attacked, probably because Abd proposed it. This resulted in significant damage!

But anyone could fix the vandalism. So I looked for the edit. OMG! Impossible! Here is the edit.

This is not a vandal editor, it’s worse. Doc James was not only an arbitrator, but a good friend of mine. So is that the author’s real name? It’s not given in citations. I still think this was vandalism, but done by a child or young relative of James with access to his computer when he was adding the reference. I’ll let him know. (I’d congratulate the kid on knowing how to type “poo,” and ask him not to do it again! I actually dealt with a user somewhat like this on Wikiversity, as an admin there. He responded and eventually became … a WMF administrator at a ridiculously low age. Good one, too.

Meanwhile:

The entire gist of the article that the diet is a fad is incorrect has no proper source.

These all went nowhere because Wikipedia structure does not support the stated policies. People who know and understand the topic are often unwelcome as “POV pushers.” People who know how to use Wikipedia dispute resolution structure may get banned if they step on any admin toes. (Admins do not like to see their decisions reversed!). What was called “Wikipedia Rule Number One” is kept for nostalgia, “If a rule prevents you from improving an article, ignore the rule.” People who try that get stomped on, unless their actions are popular with administrators. (In the early days, it worked. What happened? Problems of scale, plus the Iron Law of Oligarchy.)

[3]  Gudzune, KA; Doshi, RS; Mehta, AK; Chaudhry, ZW; Jacobs, DK; Vakil, RM; Lee, CJ; Bleich, SN; Clark, JM (7 April 2015). “Efficacy of commercial weight-loss programs: an updated systematic review.”. Annals of Internal Medicine. 162 (7): 501–12. PMC 4446719 Freely accessible. PMID 25844997. doi:10.7326/M14-2238.

Yes. This is a review of studies that showed that Akins was as effective or sometimes more effective than common “standard” recommendations. None of these are actually conclusive, because of the problems noted.

[4] Harper A Poo; Astrup, A (2004). “Can we advise our obese patients to follow the Atkins diet?”. Obesity Reviews (editorial). 5 (2): 93–94. PMID 15086862. doi:10.1111/j.1467-789X.2004.00137.x. Despite the popularity and apparent success of the Atkins diet, documented scientific evidence in support of its use unfortunately lags behind.

“Poo” is some kind of vandalism. This study asked a practical question for physicians, and assumes that something must be proven before being recommended, which ignores that people have to eat something, low-fat diets was strongly recommended and pushed, and the avoidance of saturated fats is still heavily promoted (I know, because I just went through cardiac rehab, and nutritional advice was pushed that included this), but this was never conclusively established.

I have found that physicians are — sensibly — loath to recommend anything that is not “standard of practice,” even when they know much better. Any patient could die, that’s a standard risk of being alive, and the best advice can fail. If they have recommended standard of practice, they cannot be successfully sued. If they have recommended anything else, they can. To get better advice from doctors, I needed to be pro-active, because, even from the best, the first advice I’d get was standard. So I needed to research the issue and then ask lots of questions, and good doctors would answer the questions honestly. If a doctor didn’t do that, I got a different doctor! I’m responsible for my health, and I need honest advisors.

Now, this is beautiful. From that article’s abstract:

Low-carbohydrate diets have been regarded as fad diets, but recent research questions this view.

This is what happens on Wikipedia with articles on controversies. Instead of building deep content, with the article being a neutral summary of deep content (which is what really happened with most paper encyclopedias), the article becomes patchwork pieces, often promoting some point of view or other, but typically not completely obvious about it, except to someone who actually knows the topic. Instead of seeing “POV pushers” as resources (someone with a POV, a Point of View, can be an excellent POV detector for differing points of view), Wikipedia decided to ban them because they could not, it was believed, be supervised effectively. This is the issue that I attempted to take to the Arbitration Committee. All attempts at Wikipedia reform went down in flames, or at least it was common. The structure became highly inflexible, in the name of flexibility.

How could Wikipedia be a summary? Where would the deep content be?

Wikiversity! Wikiversity was (and generally still is) neutral by inclusion, rather than neutral by exclusion, like Wikipedia. There was a question asked about the topic on that Talk page. Instead of giving the person a place to ask their question, they told the person they were wrong for asking it. It was behavior like this, all too common, that led my choice to abandon Wikipedia. I came to actively dislike too much of the community, and I saw that changes to structure that might stop enabling and encouraging abuse were opposed by an entrenched faction, with too few users realizing the issues, almost everyone just looked at the immediate case, and how it appeared, instead of looking at the structure, and when I pointed to structural defects, it was though that I was blaming the individuals.

When I tried to link the Wikiversity cold fusion resource from the Wikipedia cold fusion article, that was immediately removed, in spite of sister wiki links being normal. The arguments made no sense. Another Wikiversity admin attempted to add the link, it was immediately removed as well.

Yet anyone who attempted to discuss the article on the Talk page was slapped on the wrist. Sometimes the article and talk page were semi-protected to stop this. Nobody was ever told, as far as I recall, that they would be free to discuss the topic on Wikiversity, under the WMF umbrella, with a neutrality policy.

Nor were external links that were obviously useful allowed, again, on arguments that were not actually policy-based. (And that exclusion continues.) Whatever excuses could be dredged up were used. For a few years, lenr-canr.org was globally  blacklisted at the request of a Wikipedia administrator who was actually reprimanded for personally blacklisting it, and there was no legitimate reason for it. Eventually, I requested the lifting of the blacklisting and it was sanely granted, but I was, before the request was granted, I was banned from the topic for “writing too much.” Never mind that the comments there had been made necessary by bull-headed and repetitive argument from that same administrator…. who also was deeply involved in the bans of number of users who had exposed his ignorance. Even when they went about it civilly; indeed, the term “civil POV-pusher” was coined to refer to people like this.

Ah, Favorite Topic.

That review, though it is a bit old, directly questions what is reported in the article as if it were fact, i.e., “fad diet.” It is not difficult to neutrally present all this. Much of this is generic, about low-carb diets, not just Atkins.

My intention in pointing to the Wikipedia article was to point to some resources on Atkins and related diets, but, ah, I got hung up. It often happens when I look at Wikipedia, particularly where I have knowledge of the topic. “Poo” is pretty funny. These things are all over, actually. If vandalism is not immediately caught, it can often last for many years. What this shows is that few are actually reading the references! I remember a reference I caught about Attention Deficit Disorder, I think it was, where something seemed wrong to me about the usage of an article, but I could not find an on-line copy. So I went to a medical library. Sure enough, the article had been misunderstood, which commonly happens with Wikipedia editors, with or without an axe to grind. This is why “convenience copies” are important, when they exist, and that is why the legally hosted copies of articles on lenr-canr.org were useful to link.

The articles were reliable source (not lenr-canr.org). A host of misleading arguments to the contrary, that, by the time I was finished, had become lies, were presented and continued to be presented. They are not only still excluded, but that source for reading such papers, actually recommended in peer-reviewed papers, such as Storms (2010), was not allowed as an external link. Why not? Basically, a faction that includes administrators with a strong point of view, prevented it. And when that was actually confronted, the Arbitration Committee shot the messenger.

I worked for weeks, at one point, to get one single link approved, in the article on Martin Fleischmann. I set up consensus process, and strong consensus did appear, the link was used, and stood for years. It was eventually removed. Weeks of effort, pushing that boulder up the hill. The faction just keeps on and eventually pushes the boulder down the hill, or someone else pushes it, not realizing how much work went into it. The result is that working on Wikipedia can be a huge waste of time, and many long-time users have figured that out. (In theory, it should not be so difficult, but in practice, against an entrenched faction, it is extraordinarily difficult.) In this case, the reference was removed with the entire section containing it with this edit. Looks like nobody noticed. Again, I’d have seen this edit, but, of course, I stopped watching Wikipedia long ago. Heavily discussed content was removed with no reason given, no talk page discussion. The user appears to have an interest in electrochemistry. No user page.

The fact is that adding convenience copies to all or nearly all of the Fleischmann papers cited would be trivial. I only worked heavily on that particular one because, in it, Fleischmann explained their goals in doing what they did, that found an anomalous effect. It is not what is commonly claimed (without evidence, just conjecture).

So, some more links on low-carb diets or Atkins:

The Atkins Diet: Everything You Need to Know (Literally)

This is quite good, though some claims are overstated. Basically, the “as much as you want” is not necessarily true, because if we keep eating beyond natural appetite, we can still consume too much. What is true is that normally, appetite on an HF moderate protein diet will self-regulate. I never, ever feel deprived. But I can still eat too much! When I realize this, that I’m eating out of some kind of habit, and lower how much I eat, I am not left hungry!

They don’t really talk about what makes an Atkins program fail, but they give hints.

I found that I needed to make sure that I always had delicious foods that I would thoroughly enjoy, and I also learned how to create enjoyment. Both. Before I eat anything, I look at it and tell myself how great it’s going to taste. I start to salivate, just thinking about it. I won’t do this with cardboard, no matter how much good I think the fiber will do. I do it with foods that are *normally considered delicious or at least very decent.” And I use spices that I like, etc.

I think most Atkins diet failures (i.e., the people go off the diet and gain the weight back, as they mention) are due to people not having adequate coaching. Just handing someone a brochure isn’t enough. People tend to think of a “diet” as meaning deprivation. You can see claims that the Atkins diet is “boring.” OMG! For me, at least, it’s the opposite! I don’t need to eat a lot. Today, I took a chicken thigh and broiled it lightly, cut it up and tossed it in a pan with some butter and green beans (nuked from frozen in one of those microwaveable packages), and added a TIkka Masala sauce (moderate carb, high fat) and cooked it a little. It was absolutely delicious. I doubt I’ll eat anything else today but, of course, the heavy cream in my morning coffee, which I call “my fuel.” My guess is that I’ll lose a little weight today, maybe. I do the same basic recipe with Brussel sprouts or broccoli florets or asparagus spears. Or I use boneless beef ribs, very fatty and delicious, in this stir-fry.

I tend to eat cashews or almonds as snacks and can easily rack up too much food doing that. I don’t think “too many calories,” but that could be one measure of it.

Atkins Diet Plan Review from WebMd, generally reliable.

This is decent. It includes some “standard of practice” recommendations, like avoiding salt, which is apparently not necessary for anyone without established disease or special conditions. If avoiding salt harms appetite and enjoyment, I’d personally suggest going ahead and eating a salted food. Of course, if you have high blood pressure, all bets are off. Pay attention to your health and your unique needs! One size does not fit all.

My favorite foods as a kid were steak and baked potato with plenty of butter and sour cream. So, now, I rarely eat the potato, but once in a while (every few months, perhaps), I do. Atkins also did, with that butter and sour cream. And the skin, of course, the best part if crispy. (Fat slows down digestion of carbohydrates, apparently, as does fiber, so when I eat carbs, it is often with butter or the like. Coconut oil is fantastic!)

As the article notes, “Does bacon and eggs for breakfast, smoked salmon with cream cheese for lunch, and steak cooked in butter for dinner sound like a weight-loss menu too good to be true? If you love foods like these and aren’t a fan of carrot-filled diets, Atkins may be right for you.”

Bacon and eggs sounds great to me, but I’m a Muslim, so forget the bacon, unless it’s beef bacon or turkey bacon. I sometimes eat eggs with mayonnaise and maybe a little mustard, or with cheese, and stir-fried (fritatta style) with mushrooms or perhaps garlic or whatever I want to put in. Quick and easy, and I always have the ingredients in my refrigerator or on my kitchen shelves.

Smoked salmon with cream cheese? Darn! You mean I have to eat it? Please don’t throw me in the briar patch! Steak cooked in butter? I’m not Jewish, but I’d just skip the butter if I was, and use something kosher and delish, and choose steak with lots of fat (the best kind, and everyone knows that!), maybe just broil it, and not overcooked. The Keyes study that was used to claim Fat is Bad For You excluded France….

How about shrimp, lightly cooked, with some kind of sauce, maybe. Mayo with a little catsup is great (not too much, they put SUGAR in catsup. But don’t run screaming from the room. Atkins dieting need not be fanatic, and a tablespoon of catsup has about 5 g of carbs. Don’t eat too much!) Or I could use Tikka Masala sauce, the one I’ve found has 6 g of carbs in a 2 oz serving. Heh! I probably used twice that much with that chicken! The green beans I included would be 6 grams of carb minus the 3 grams of fiber. If I want a snack, I may eat two olives stuffed with bleu cheese. Less than 2 grams total and delicious.

I could make my own sauces without sugar, but today I’m still under 20 grams. No stress, no worry.

A relatively recent article by Taubes in the New York Times:

(Diet advice that ignores hunger).

 

 

 

 

What is scientific consensus?

Cold fusion debates often assert that there is this or that scientific consensus. What would this mean?

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/consensus

1 a : general agreement : unanimity • the consensus of their opinion, based on reports … from the border — John Hersey
b : the judgment arrived at by most of those concerned the consensus was to go ahead
2 : group solidarity in sentiment and belief

So what, then, is scientific consensus? Because consensus is about opinion or judgment, there must be someone with opinions or judgments. Who?

Well, “scientists,” of course! Just any scientist? Continue reading “What is scientific consensus?”

Ruby Carat releases Storms video on HYDROTON A Model of Cold Fusion

Edmund Storms HYDROTON A Model of Cold Fusion

Transcript at Storms 2017 video transcript.

Comments welcome. My commentary will be added.

This is an excellent video explaining Storms’ theory. Ruby, at the beginning, treats cold fusion as a known thing (i.e., will provide energy for a very long time, etc.) — but that’s her job, political. Cold Fusion Now is an advocacy organization.

Our purpose here, to empower the community of interest in cold fusion, can dovetail with that, but we include — and invite — skeptical points of view.

As to cold fusion theory, there is little agreement in the field. Criticism of theory by other theoreticians and those capable of understanding the theories is rare, for historical reasons. We intend to move beyond that limitation, self-imposed as a defensive reaction to the rejection cascade. It’s time.

For cold fusion to move forward we must include and respect skepticism, just as most of us want to see the mainstream include and respect cold fusion as a legitimate research area.

At this point, I intend to put together a review of the video, which first requires a transcript. Anyone could make such a thing. If a reader would like to contribute, I’d ask that references be included to the video elapsed time (where a section begins) … though this could also be added later. Every contribution matters and takes us into the future.

I have done things like this myself, in the past, and I always learned a great deal by paying attention to detail like that, detail without judgment, just what was actually said. So I’m inviting someone else to benefit in this way. Let me know!

(I did make a transcript, then checked my email a day late and found Ruby Carat had sent me one….)

(There is a “partial” transcript here. I’ll be looking at that. If someone wants to check or complete it, that would be useful.)

Transcript ( from YouTube CC, edited by Abd ul-Rahman Lomax)

Transcript moved to Storms 2017 video transcript.

Questions on that video may be asked as comments on that page.

How to shoot your credibility in the foot

Simple. Follow Alan Fletcher’s example. He hasn’t done the testing yet, he claims, but when I saw Alan’s announcement of the pool, my immediate reaction was “Ew! WTF?”

Missing in action: self-critique. What could be a problem with this? How could this pool create doubt regarding the work Alan has undertaken?

This obvious lack of self-critique is a prominent feature of the models of Rossi behavior that I use. Rossi seems totally naive about how his work would appear to others. If he is criticized, they are snakes and clowns. A simple desire to verify is full-on grounds for exclusion. Jed Rothwell wanted to bring his own measuring equipment to a demonstration (such as thermometers.) No, visit not allowed. Rothwell at that time was a strong supporter of Rossi. He didn’t take it personally, remained supportive, because he had friends who privately told him they had witnessed impressive tests, and he trusted them.

Fletcher seems to think that nobody could question his honesty. It is not that I’m questioning it, and the most likely source of mistrust would be from Planet Rossi. And I will explain below what I suspect may happen.

Continue reading “How to shoot your credibility in the foot”

How to beat the law

Don’t try to do it to often, don’t push your luck, but it’s actually easy to experience. Just buy lottery tickets (as a weak example, but easy to understand) until you win. Look at that transaction only: you beat the odds but you won. With some games, you might win immediately, you’ll have a net lifetime gain, unless you continue playing, having decided that you are lucky or smart or whatever. Then it becomes

Usually, anyway. This post is inspired by Simon Derricut’s defense of his ideas, and because he’s exposing some basic principles, worth looking at, and commonly misunderstood, I’m giving this a primary post here, instead of it merely being discussion on posts that aren’t on the point. So below is his last effort, responding to me:

(The Laws of Thermodynamics are statistical: they may be violated with isolated interactions, and this is all well-known, except that people forget and say things, quite commonly, that are inconsistent with that, giving impossibility arguments that are not actually the Laws as understood by those who know them well. This sometimes impacts LENR discussions.)

Take it away, Simon: (my comments are in indented italics): Continue reading “How to beat the law”

On desperation, genius, and developmental disorders

Learn something every day. Yesterday, I encountered Miles Mathis, from a post on LENR Forum.

I think Mathis is way cool, for the same reason my daughter, at 14, thought Donald Trump was way cool, or something like that. (And then she actually met Bernie face-to-face). Mathis is definitely thinking and investigating out-of-the-box. This is actually the evolved task of many or most teenagers, and some of us never grow up. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is considered a developmental disorder. It can also be seen as a genetic variation, an adaptation more successful in hunter-gatherer conditions than for a settled, agricultural and centrally structured society. From the post of Eli on LF:

The world desperately needs a new source of energy. (Governments, banks and energy companies, ARE AGAINST).

I already know where this is going from the first sentence. Desperation creates very poor thinking, where the associative power of the cerebral cortex is reduced to supporting the immediate demands of the amygdala, which routinely will confine that vast power to figuring out how to justify the emotional reaction, in this case, a sense of desperation and the wrongness and animosity of “governments, banks, and energy companies.” In other words, the collective; yet there is a paradox here, a different collective that is not organized, it’s fuzzy. Elisha wrote:

We need to unite us, share what we have, and open business opportunities to all!, United we are Strong!

Obviously. We would be strong if united. However, we are already united in some ways, and this unity is manifest through governments and other organizations, but the writer here doesn’t see that; rather he sees and is talking about something else, an unorganized unity. Unity of what? Well, all right-thinking people, of course! People who think like us!

When such a unity does manifest, with sufficient motivation, it can and has created vast social tragedy. I immediately think of China and the Communist revolution there, which replaced the “bad people” — landlords — with “good people,” right-thinking, the “vanguard of the proletariat.” and then which purged all defective elements within itself, and on and on until the society finally vomited and began to actually create synthesis, i.e., what Marx would have predicted, instead of fixing itself in opposition. Or I think of Adolf Hitler, who appealed to the sense of some terrible conspiracy behind every perceived disaster, or, say, Donald Trump. And I am not comparing Trump to Hitler, except to note that both were populists, appealing to what was called the “silent majority.”

On the internet, it becomes easy to find others with whom we will agree, and thus the “social test of reality” becomes possible, putting off the “ultimate test,” allowing us to believe in a reality without substance, merely created by what is called “conspiracy,” in my training. Example of conspiracy: “My wife doesn’t understand me.” Conspiracy: “Yeah, women are like that!”

If science is simple, common, and accessible to all, that they can not suppress it. That is the advantage for the world, but the disadvantage for manufacturers, since anyone can copy it.

Again, I notice the polarization that does not characterize true inspiration with genuine transformative power. This is not Mathis writing, this is Elisha, who has apparently attached himself to Mathis-as-authority, which is ironic. The teenage me didn’t and doesn’t attach to anyone as authority, but … I did actually meet and spend substantial time with Feynman, and what Feynman inspired in me was not belief in his conclusions, but excitement over his approach, and his writing still does that for me.

Mathis is approaching physics, in some ways, like Feynman, but with something else that contaminates his work. It shows in his “polemic.” Feynman loved people, you can see this in, for example, his imitation of Italian, and many other stories. At the same time as he recognized and confronted “institutional stupidity,” he loved the people and maintained a high sense of humor.

The SECRET of LENR is this.

Nickel with monohydrogen, excited with Electrical current in one direction and Magnetic stimulation at Larmor frequency at or below 90 deg.

Aw, hogwash. Sure, there could be some effect, but the conditions described do not apply to the most basic and most confirmed LENR phenomena. First of all, there is, in gas-loaded work, no “electrical current in one direction” and how one would get “magnetic” Larmor frequency stimulation in a conductor (nickel and hydrogen) without induced AC current is beyond me. Larmor frequency stimulation is apparently used in the Letts dual-laser work, involving a teraherz beat frequency, but Letts dual-laser has not been confirmed and is clearly not related to the basic confirmed LENR results — and IH did apparently attempt to confirm Letts, and the Murray deposition implies that they had no success — except that they may have considered low XP findings “only low level,” which is scientifically irrelevant, if the XP correlates with a much lower laser power (as I think it does in Letts’ reports)

Elisha is not standing on science, but wants us to unite in science? What is wrong with this picture?

(Mathis is not responsible for the fawning extension of his idea into LENR.)

The polarization of nuclear spin axes with static magnetic field does not affect nuclear beta “decay” rates, but the addition of a perpendicular high frequency alternating field at the Larmor frequency, does. With maximum stimulation, does not occur exactly at 90deg nuclear spin precession, but at some angles a little below and a little above 90deg ….

This is the source: http://milesmathis.com/main2.pdf

This does not establish any connection with cold fusion. That’s Elisha’s idea. The source is Mathis’ praise of himself, reflecting his assessment of his communications with genuine scientists. Any genuine scientist is likely to appreciate and benefit from out-of-the-box thinking, it can be hard to find. However, that does not translate to “Mathis is right,” though Mathis himself seems to be promoting that idea. And what does he seek?

My new solutions to old problems are being talked about and seriously considered by working physicists. Do you know any other “internet crank” that can say that? I don’t.

Mathis’ ignorance of the range of human experience and behavior is not a proof of anything, it is hardly even evidence. Mathis is obviously an internet crank, which does not mean he is wrong on any particular idea.

If you want the real numbers applied to specific experiments, I guess you will have to hire me.

And someone might, and that will not prove anything other than possible curiosity and willingness to invest some resources in investigation (money or time). However, seeing this has the effect on me of suppressing interest in his ideas about physics. Caring about being paid is not what I’m accustomed to seeing from the real vanguard; rather, that arises with frauds and a certain kind of self-obsessed crank.

Our own joshg (Josh Guetzkow) wrote an article on “Mathisian physics.”

What will the advent of cold fusion mean for establishment physicists? Will they be able to bend over backwards with ad hoc band-aids to patch up the same theories that keep telling us cold fusion is “impossible?” Or will it require a massive overhaul of our understanding of the physical universe? In that case, we will need a new paradigm and new theories to rebuild it from the ground up. As it happens, someone already has rebuilt physics from the ground up. His name is Miles Mathis, an independent, self-taught polymath. I believe his revolutionary theories hold the key to a comprehensive explanation of all LENR processes, and I am writing this to explain why.

In the “believer community,” which overlaps the “cold fusion community” and the “CMNS community,” there is a concept that is shared with the “skeptical community,” they actually agree on it — and it is, rather obviously, false, and has been known to be false, by the best scientists, since 1989. This idea is that “known theory” somehow proves that “cold fusion” — what’s that? — is “impossible.” We see this idea over and over in Huizenga (1992 and 1993), and it is clearest in his second edition. Huizenga clear has a concept of what process must be occurring if “cold fusion is real.” Yet the actual claim, from the first FP paper, is of an “unknown nuclear reaction.” The analysis that Huizenga applies is to, not an unknown reaction, but a known reaction, or some alternative known reactions, such as d+d -> 4He, the direct and simple fusion by overcoming the Coulomb barrier between two deuterons.

Looking at the Miles results on the heat/helium correlation, he says, in the second edition that this result is amazing, and, if confirmed, would solve a major mystery of cold fusion (i.e., the ash, which was unknown until then, with only a few speculations that it might be helium). Then he says that he expects it will not be confirmed, “because no gammas.” The conversion of deuterium to helium almost certainly requires a high-energy gamma, known to be produced when this conversion occurs as a rare branch of normal hot fusion. The gamma appears to be required by conservation of momentum; but that is only true under two conditions: first, that this is the specific reaction, for if some unexpected catalysis allows, as an example, the fusion of four deuterium atoms to form one 8Be atom, this would generate no high energy gamma (which is what Huizenga expects, low energy photons, if nuclear in origin, are called “gammas” but those are not known to be missing, and would be difficult to detect, leading us to the second condition: that there are no halo states capable of storing the energy for what may only require something in the femtosecond range.

The point is not that multibody fusion is the explanation, but that the impossibility argument fails, as it must, and as was well-known in 1989, being well expressed by Schwinger and others.

What we call “cold fusion” is an “unknown reaction,” now known by a preponderance of the evidence, with very little contrary evidence, to be the conversion of deuterium to helium with no other major persistent products other than heat. (So tritium and transmutation evidence, which may relate to rare branches and secondary effects, can confuse).

There is no violation of “existing physics,” in this, other than the general idea, easily in error — and in error many times in the history of science — that if an “unknown reaction” possibility existed, it would have been observed. In fact, such phenomena are observed, often, but the observations can be missed because they are unexpected. There is a great example of this in Mizuno’s book, a major PdD heat event, before the Pons and Fleischmann announcement, that he passed over as one of those unexplained things that will never be understood.

Was that LENR? From his description, probably.

To examine the vast body of work by Mathis would be tedious. I watched two videos of his on the “Pi = 4” trope. He is crazy, that’s really obvious. That isn’t coming from a belief that pi is not 4, but rather from his redefinition of pi. Pi is used in certain calculations, and may then generate some incorrect results if the calculations do not take into account all relevant conditions. Mathis’ demonstration is blatantly flawed, which is covered over with poor explanation; essentially he assumes that two ball bearings with the same initial velocity, rolling in two tubes on a flat surface, will continue to move with the same velocity, when one tube is straight while the other is curved into a circle. What he finds, summed up, is that the ball bearing in the circular path takes longer than that in the straight path. This is utterly unsurprising and the unstated assumption underneath his argument is obvious: that the ball bearings will move with the same velocity in each case. What he does is only to show that the circular motion slows the ball bearing, as it must, from some simple physical arguments. But he assumes constant velocity to “measure” distance travelled. This is so obvious that I wonder about Mathis’ sincerity.

His explanation of the circularity of a rainbow is more interesting, and less easily punctured. His presentation of rainbows as being images of the Sun is interesting and supported by photographs. It is entirely possible to find long-standing explanations of things that are unreal. If anyone might do this, it could be Mathis. He’s smart, he actually is a polymath, but his conclusions, his personal attachments to being right, if he has them, as appears, are no more likely to generate wisdom than what he’s rejecting.

Feynman did what he did, often, by examining problems ab initio, not looking first for explanations from others. Doing so, he invented new approaches, he found things that had been overlooked. But he did not fix on himself always being right, and warned about attachment to being right. Mathis, if he could recognize his personal psychology as being rooted in a developmental “disorder,” — a misleading characterization for a possibly genetic variation that is called a developmental disorder because it can be disabling in some ways, but that also creates an ability to do things that “normies” don’t seem to be able to do — might be able to make far more progress, and might be far more useful for the development of science as a social phenomenon.

Ratwiki — as it is affectionately known — has an article on Mathis.

Rational wiki is a site dominated by pseudoskeptics, originally organized to ridicule Conservapedia.

Ratwiki is dominated by adolescent psychology, polemic, and the kind of pseudoskepticism, “scientism,” found among, say, “modern atheists” and those who came to dominate CSICOP, the “debunkers,” highly sarcastic and supremely sure of self. One will not find articles there that are overall, “objective,” and “rational.” They are having fun, ridiculing others. That’s the goal, not objectively and neutrality, which they strongly dislike.

I have admin privileges there, which is completely useless except it will allow me to read deleted content. They grant those privileges to almost anyone that any administrator likes in any way, and any admin can grant or remove admin privileges. It’s a formula for vast waste of time, if anyone is interested in confronting the “community point of view.” Been there, done that! Mostly, what I found useful there was in seeing how certain prominent Wikipedians actually thought, what they actually believed, which was much more visible there than on Wikipedia, where they would pretend to be neutral.

I just checked, I still have the sysop privilege, I could still waste my time at great length. Once in a while, I make an edit there. I haven’t in three years.

In any case, joshg ignores the Pi fiasco. His idea is that Miles may make some mistakes, but that his “physics” may contain the clues to LENR reality that the world needs. Joshg is free to discuss this here, but …. this isn’t what the CMNS community needs, to be associated with the radical fringe. It needs the opposite: it needs synthesis, integration, genuine and effective communication. If you believe that an entire community is wrong, you will be, almost certainly, unable to communicate with them. Effective communication requires understanding and sympathy, and that is why this blog welcomes genuine skeptics. Skepticism is rational, to a point. As is pointed out on Ratwiki, “Rational wiki is not rational.” It is almost a parody of itself (that’s the best thing about it.)

I just now went to Mathis’ mathematical “proof” that Pi=4. Proofs like this are familiar to anyone with substantial math experience, I was looking at these before I was a teenager. If anyone is tempted to accept this argument, comment and I’ll look at it and explain it in more detail, but the flaw is completely obvious, and that Mathis still defends it speaks worlds about his psychology, if he isn’t just pulling our chain.

Mathis assumes that a zig-zag path, with an obvious and stable path length, independent of step size, equal to the sum of the two directions, will approach the path length along the circle. In fact, the nifty videos linked below avoid something obvious: if you lay out the circular tubing along the straight tubing, it will not extend to four diameters, but to pi diameters. That is the ordinary meaning of path length along a circle. How much tubing is needed to create a circle with diameter D? Not 4 D, for sure.

This is pure confusion and fog, and Elisha apparently believes it. Zephir_AWT pointed to the Pi confusion, with photos he believed to be Mathis. He wrote:

Miles Mathis suffers with macromanic inventory delusions. He thinks Pi equals 4.0 and other crazy stuffs. This is what disease does with talented people.

The first source is a video by DraftScience, who is implied to be Mathis. (In fact, DraftScience is a critic of Mathis.) The second source does not explain “macromaniac inventory delusions,” whatever they are, but is simply the RatWiki article. The third link is to an article by Miles Mathis on Stephen Hawking being an imposter, fake, (and the original deeper source would be on milesmathis.com.) The last link is to Mathis’ art from google images, and that points to a mathis art page where one can find, for example, a bio of Mathis with photos.

Elisha was unfazed:

First, What is your contribution ?, since emotional critiques serve to entertain us, but they do not serve to advance in science.

There are relatively objective critiques on or linked from the RatWiki page.

Second, this man in not miles mathis. He is a follower of him.

Miles Mathis can be seen at the RatWiki article, taken from a book cover. This image is claimed to be roughly 17 years old. The image on LF is recent. Mathis writes this about the “man”:

ANNOUNCEMENT, added 8/25/16, some of my readers have been confused by a guy on youtube with a channel called DraftScience. They think that is me. It isn’t. He links to me and discusses my stuff a lot, apparently, although I haven’t watched more than a couple of minutes. I don’t know him, have never talked to him, and have no links to him. Although there is some resemblance, since he is about my age and blond, that is about it. His hair is much longer and less curly, he doesn’t sport a goatee, and he smokes. I don’t.

Here is Mathis’ “extended biography,” and it includes more photos of him. Unless these are fake — hey, if Stephen Hawing is fake, why not Miles Mathis? — Mathis is right, and so is Elisha, on this point. However, being right on one point doesn’t rub off on other points, even though the opposite, being spectacularly wrong on a point, and persistently so, does color everything.

Third, there is a experiment that confirm that pi is 3.14 and 4 this depend of the use case.

Now, first of all, we see these sweaty claims, frequently, and often from people whose English is extremely poor. What does the command of English have to do with one’s cogency? In theory, not at all, but in practice, poor English is associated with lack of care and caution, lack of concern for accuracy, lack of clear thinking, all that. When it is combined with arrogance, it’s ugly.

Elisha points to a video of the “experiment,” which does not do what it purports to do; rather it gives a result that will confuse those who make a basic unstated — and incorrect — assumption, that if a ball rolls with a particular velocity in a level straight path, it will roll with the same velocity in a circular path. That assumption would not, by itself, generate “pi = 4,” but no analysis is given of how linear momentum is converted to angular momentum, but it’s quite clear that converting the motion to circular would slow the ball, yet for the video to make any sense at all, the ball velocity must remain the same, since distance is being measured (marked off) by time.

This is not “skepticism,” it is straightforward and clear analysis, easily done by a careful child. The discussions on that video are appalling.

DraftScience comments on the proof video, imagining that the difference in velocity is due to friction. At least he understands that the velocity is different, but I doubt that the difference is from friction, even though friction would also slow the ball. His argument is incorrect, so if one understands it, that’s a clue one is confused.  Joshg shows up commenting there.

Listening further, DraftScience does recognize that the friction argument is missing something: bottom line, he’s “explaining” off the top of his head, a video blogger, and in this is like many bloggers who just blabber on without developing coherence. Further, DraftScience is not a “follower” of Mathis. Quite the opposite. So this whole conversation was bonkers. Rather, DraftScience realizes, at least in some ways, the error. However, he does not address the math, AFAIK.

The original math summary, again. RatWiki points to an allegedly clear exposition. It’s not wrong. The writer’s frustration is apparent. This is not coming from “belief in the mainstream” or any other such nonsense. It is coming from grounded common sense, easily verified experimentally. Mathis redefines words to confuse himself and/or readers. Instead of the “circumference of a circle” being a distance — representing, in practical terms, how much material one would need to build the circle, how much ink it would take to draw it using a compass, etc., like ordinary distance, it becomes a vastly complicated entity. Reality, ordinary reality, is much less complex than Mathis’ world, and that is why children can understand it. I derived most of this stuff as a child, I disliked memorizing formulae and wanted to understand directly.

Mathis creates a fractal, as pointed out, and then assumes that the length of a fractal is the same as the length of a curve that it seems to approach. However, fractals are imaginary structures that can have unlimited length in a confined space, and it would not be difficult to show this, by defining a structure (line) that zig-zags within that space which can be as small as one likes (i.e, as close as one likes to a defined curve).

This is diagnostic of Mathis’ delusions, and shows how dangerous belief in one’s own superior rightness can be. Again, that doesn’t mean that one is wrong, and I would never recommend that people give up what they think is correct, just because others disagree. Rather, what I recommend is an attempt to understand why they disagree, what’s the basis? For a nice little study of a kid who didn’t give up when ridiculed, I posted this early on: The Mpemba effect and cold fusion

Okay, I kept looking a little before publishing this, and found an actual child who demolished Mathis. Well, is an apparent high-school girl a “child”? Maybe not. Nevertheless, here it is: accurate, simple, easy to understand, and devastating.

Another video from her. Now, this young woman is going to change the planet. Or at least will continue to have fun, which, in the end, may be far more useful than being a sweaty, convinced he is right, “polymath.”

And another about Pythagoras. I’m in awe. There is hope for the planet, because she is the future.

Let’s just remove the outliers

Second of the series of posts I promised on the He/excess heat correlation debate, as noted by Shanahan and Lomax. And this one is a little bit more interesting. Still, I’m going to examine the many issues here one by one, so if you expect a complete summary of the evidence from this post or the ones that follow you will be disappointed.

Lomax here:

[Quoting Shanahan in italics] On the other hand, the energy/helium ratio does not have this problem. The independent errors in the He and power measurements are unlikely to combine and create a consistent value for this ratio unless the helium and energy both resulted from the same nuclear reaction.

Yes. Very unlikely, in fact. On the order of one chance in a million, or more.

As I have noted the value is not consistent, thus the quoted statement is nonsense.

The value is consistent within experimental error.

There is much more of interest in these comments than might first appear.

Continue reading “Let’s just remove the outliers”

Minds open brains not falling out?

First of a sequence of comments on Lomax’s recent blog here on Shanahan’s review of Storms posted in LENR Forum.

Lomax writes:

Ah, Shahanan, obsessed with proof, lost science somewhere back. Science is about evidence, and testing evidence, not proof, and when our personal reactions colour how we weigh evidence, we can find ourselves way out on a limb. I’m interested in evidence supporting funding for research, and it is not necessary that anything be “proven,” but we do look at game theory and probabilities, etc.

I agree with Lomax’s second statement here. Science is exactly about weighing evidence. And I understand the explicitly acknowledged bias: Lomax wants more research in this area. I disagree with the statement that “Shanahan is obsessed with proof”. It would be accurate to say that Shanahan, both implicitly and explicitly, is looking for a much higher standard of evidence than Lomax. There is no proof in science but when evidence reaches an amount that overwhelms prior probabilities we think something is probably true. 99.99% and we call it proof. The numbers are arbitrary – some would set the bar to 99.9999% but this does not matter much because of the exponential way that probabilities combine.

Let us see in detail how this works. Continue reading “Minds open brains not falling out?”

Loopy devices?

On LENR Forum, Jed Rothwell wrote:

Zephir_AWT wrote:

OK, I can reformulate it like “if you believe you have an overunity, just construct self-looped selfrunner”.

That would be complicated and expensive.

That depends on unstated conditions.

Zephir AWT’s original comment was better:

Accurate measurements are necessary only, when you’re pursuing effects important from theoretical perspective. Once you want to heat your house with it, then the effect observed must be evident without doubts even under crude measurement.

What is happening, rather obviously, is that general principles are being claimed, when, in fact, there are no clear general principles and the principles are being advanced to support specific arguments in specific situations. Some of these general principles are, perhaps, “reasonable,” which means that “reasonable people,” (i.e., people like me, isn’t that the real meaning?) don’t fall over from the sheer weight of flabber.

Let’s see what I find here.

  1. Science may develop with relatively imprecise measurements; in real work, by real scientists, measurement precision is reported. If an effect is being reported, then, how is the magnitude of the effect, as inferred from measurements, related to the reported precision? Is that precision itself clear or unclear? To give an example, McKubre has estimated his experimental heat/helium ratio for M4 as 23 MeV/4He +/- 10%. See Lomax (2015) and references there, and this is complicated. “10%” is obviously an estimate. It is not likely calculated from the assemblage of individual measurement precisions.  Nor is it developed from variation in a series of measurements (which is not possible with M4, it’s essentially a single result).
  2. Based on a collection of relatively imprecise results, under some conditions, reasonable conclusions may be developed, estimating (or even calculating) probabilities that an effect is real and not an artifact of measurement error.
  3. Systematic error can trump measurement error, easily. That is, a measurement may be accurate and real, but an accurate measurement of something being created by some unidentified artifact can lead to erroneous conclusions.
  4. “Unidentified artifact” is certainly a possibility, always. By definition. However, it is less likely that a large error will be created by such, and it is here that imprecision, combined with relatively low-level effects, can loom larger. There is a fuzzy zone, which cannot be precisely defined, as far as I know, where measurements reasonably create an impression that may deserve further investigation, but are not adequate to create specific certainty.
  5. There is a vast body of cold fusion research, creating a vast body of evidences. Approaching this is difficult, and to take the necessary time requires, for most, that the investigator consider the probability that the alleged effects are real be above some value. A few may investigate out of simple curiousity, even if the probability is low, and some are interested in the process of science, and may be especially interested in unscientific beliefs (i.e., not rooted in rigorous experimental confirmation and analysis), whether these be on the side of “bogosity” or the side of “belief.”
  6. For a commercial or practical application, heat cannot be merely in the realm of confirmed by measurements — or claimed to be confirmed –, showing “overunity,” but must be generated massively in excess of input power (or expensive fuel input, whether chemical or nuclear in nature).
  7. Demands for proof or conclusive evidence are commonly made without identifying the context, the need for proof or evidence. For different purposes, different standards may apply. To give an example, if a donor is considering a gift of millions of dollars for research, it may not be necessary that the research be based on proven, clear, unmistakeable evidence. It might simply be anecdotal, with the donor trusting the reporter(s). However, I was advising, before 2015, that the first research to be so funded would be heat/helium confirmation, because this was already confirmed adequately to establish the existence of the correlation, such that the research could be expected to either confirm the correlation, perhaps with increased precision as to the ratio, or, less likely, identify the artifact behind these prior results. Both outcomes could be worth the expense. To justify a billion-dollar investment in developing commercial applications, based simply on that evidence, could be quite premature, with some expected loss (for lots of possible causes).
  8. Overunity must be defined as output power not arising from chemical causes or prior energy storage, or it would be trivial. A match is an overunity device, generating far more energy than is involved in igniting it.
  9. What is actually being discussed is what would be, the idea seems to be, convincing in demonstrations. Demonstrations, however, in the presence of massive contrary expectations, are utterly inadequate. Papp demonstrated an over-unity engine, it would seem. Just how convincing was that? It was enough to create some interest, but in the absence of fully-independent confirmation of some “Papp effect,” it has gone nowhere.
  10. Overunity, self-powered, has been seen many times, for periods of time. In fewer cases, this has been claimed to be in excess of all input energy, historically. Jed is correct that “unidentified artifact” is not a “scientific argument, but so is “unknown material conditions usually causing replication failure.” Neither of these can be falsified. However, social process — and real-world scientific process is social — uses “impressions” routinely.
  11. “Self-powered”, if the expression of power is obvious, and if it is sufficient power to be useful, would indeed create convincing demonstrations. If a product is available that can be purchased and tested by anyone (with the necessary resources), that would presumably be convincing to all but the silliest die-hard skeptics.
  12. “Self-powered” is theoretically possible with some claims. The alleged Rossi effect is one. There are levels of “self-powered.”
  13. First of all, there tend to be fuzzy concepts of “input power.” Constant environmental temperature is not input power, at least not normally. Yet in studies of the “Rossi effect,” input power generally includes power used to maintain an elevated temperature. If it includes power that is varied, modulated, to cause some effect, that could be input power, but if it is DC, constant, there is no input power and it is theoretically possible to create “self-sustained” from even reasonably low levels of heat generation. All that is needed is to control cooling, to reduce the steady-state cooling to a low level, so that the temperature is maintained without input power. Because no insulation is perfect, there must still be heating power to create constant temperature, but … if this necessary input power is low enough, it may be supplied by internally generated power. If there is any.
  14. In a Rossi device, the reaction is controlled, it’s been common to think, by controlling the fuel temperature. Because the nature of the devices appears to have the fuel temperature be far in excess of the coolant temperature — there must be poor heat conduction from fuel to coolant — an alternate path to reaction control would be controlled cooling. Over a limited range, coolant flow would control temperature. Beyond that, other measures are possible.
  15. A standard method of calorimetry is to maintain an elevated temperature under controlled conditions, such that the input power necessary for that purpose can be accurately measured, and then measure the effect of the presence of the fuel on that required power. If it can be reduced significantly, that would indicate significant heat. Because we expect chemical processes in an NiH fuel, one of the signs of good calorimetry would be that this effect is quantifiable.
  16. If the goal is convincing investors, then the primary necessity (outside of fraud) is independence of those who can control the demonstration or experiment.
  17. Jed is correct that creating a self-powered demonstration, i.e., one that generates heat could be “complicated and expensive.” For standard cold fusion experiments, it would be outside of what they need to generate useful results. However, with some approaches, it could be cheap and easy, if there are robust results. Without robust results (even if the results are scientifically significant), it could be practically impossible.
  18. Yet consider an “Energy Amplifier.” It requires input power, but generates excess heat at some significant COP. If the COP is high enough, if the heat is in a useful form, then various devices could be used to generate the input power, and only start-up power would be needed, and that could be supplied by, say, capacitative storage that would clearly limit the total energy available. The big problem is that COP 2.0 would not be enough for this, given conversion efficiencies. Yet a COP 2.0 Energy Amplifier, if it were cheap enough, and if the total sustained power were adequate, could be used to reduce energy costs.
  19. For most cold fusion experiments, what it would take to be self-running would be a fish bicycle or worse.
  20. For some, particularly efforts claimed to generate commercial levels of power at COP of 2.0 or higher, achieving self-power should be relatively simple and might be worth doing. Key in demonstrations that could legitimately convince investors would be independence, with robust measurement methods. An inventor who places secrecy first may not be willing to do this.
  21. For this reason, I’d suggest avoiding such inventors. A secretive inventor who allows black-box testing, where independent experts measure power in and power out, showing energy generation far above storage possibilities, might allow an exception. The Lugano report shows the remaining hazards. Basically, the Lugano authors were not experts with regard to the needed skills, they were naive.

If I’m stupid, it’s your fault

See It was an itsy-bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka dot error and Shanahan’s Folly, in Color, for some Shanahan sniffling and shuffling, but today I see Krivit making the usual ass of himself, even more obviously. As described before, Krivit asked Shanahan if he could explain a plot, and this is it:

Red and blue lines are from Krivit, the underlying chart is from this paper copied to NET, copied here as fair use for purposes of critique, as are other brief excerpts.

Ask Krivit notes (and acknowledges), Shanahan wrote a relatively thorough response. It’s one of the best pieces of writing I’ve seen from Shanahan. He does give an explanation for the apparent anomaly, but obviously Krivit doesn’t understand it, so he changed the title of the post from “Kirk Shanahan, Can You Explain This?” to add “(He Couldn’t)”

Krivit was a wanna-be science journalist, but he ended up imagining himself to be expert, and commonly inserts his own judgments as if they are fact. “He couldn’t” obviously has a missing fact, that is, the standard of success in explanation: Krivit himself. If Krivit understands, then it has been explained. If he does not, not, and this could be interesting: obviously, Shanahan failed to communicate the explanation to Krivit (if we assume Krivit is not simply lying, and I do assume that). My headline here is a stupid, disempowering stand, that blames others for my own ignorance, but the empowering stand for a writer is to, in fact, take responsibility for the failure. If you don’t understand what I’m attempting to communicate, that’s my deficiency.

On the other hand, most LENR scientists have stopped talking with Krivit, because he has so often twisted what they write like this.

Krivit presents Shanahan’s “attempted” explanation, so I will quote it here, adding comments and links as may be helfpul. However, Krivit also omitted part of the explanation, believing it irrelevant. Since he doesn’t understand, his assessment of relevance may be defective. Shanahan covers this on LENR Forum. I will restore those paragraphs. I also add Krivit’s comments.

1. First a recap.  The Figure you chose to present is the first figure from F&P’s 1993 paper on their calorimetric method.  It’s overall notable feature is the saw-tooth shape it takes, on a 1-day period.  This is due to the use of an open cell which allows electrolysis gases to escape and thus the liquid level in the electrolysis cell drops.  This changes the electrolyte concentration, which changes the cell resistance, which changes the power deposited via the standard Ohm’s Law relations, V= I*R and P=V*I (which gives P=I^2*R).  On a periodic basis, F&P add makeup D2O to the cell, which reverses the concentration changes thus ‘resetting’ the resistance and voltage related curves.

This appears to be completely correct and accurate. In this case, unlike some Pons and Fleischmann plots, there are no calibration pulses, where a small amount of power is injected through a calibration resistor to test the cell response to “excess power.” We are only seeing, in the sawtooth behavior, the effect of abruptly adding pure D2O.

Krivit: Paragraph 1: I am in agreement with your description of the cell behavior as reflected in the sawtooth pattern. We are both aware that that is a normal condition of electrolyte replenishment. As we both know, the reported anomaly is the overall steady trend of the temperature rise, concurrent with the overall trend of the power decrease.

Voltage, not power, though, in fact, because of the constant current, input voltage will be proportional to power. Krivit calls this an “anomaly,” which simply means something unexplained. It seems that Krivit believes that temperature should vary with power, which it would with a purely resistive heater. This cell isn’t that.

2. Note that Ohm’s Law is for an ‘ideal’ case, and the real world rarely behaves perfectly ideally, especially at the less than 1% level.  So we expect some level of deviation from ideal when we look at the situation closely. However, just looking at the temperature plot we can easily see that the temperature excursions in the Figure change on Day 5.  I estimate the drop on Day 3 was 0.6 degrees, Day 4 was 0.7, Day 5 was 0.4 and Day 6 was 0.3 (although it may be larger if it happened to be cut off).  This indicates some significant change (may have) occurred between the first 2 and second 2 day periods.  It is important to understand the scale we are discussing here.  These deviations represent maximally a (100*0.7/303=) 0.23% change.  This is extremely small and therefore _very_ difficult to pin to a given cause.

Again, this appears accurate. Shanahan is looking at what was presented and noting various characteristics that might possibly be relevant. He is proceeding here as a scientific skeptic would proceed. For a fuller analysis, we’d actually want to see the data itself, and to study the source paper more deeply. What is the temperature precision? The current is constant, so we would expect, absent a chemical anomaly, loss of D2O as deuterium and oxygen gas to be constant, but if there is some level of recombination, that loss would be reduced, and so the replacement addition would be less, assuming it is replaced to restore the same level.

Krivit: Paragraph 2: This is a granular analysis of the daily temperature changes. I do not see any explanation for the anomaly in this paragraph.

It’s related; in any case, Shanahan is approaching this as scientist, when it seems Krivit is expecting polemic. This gets very clear in the next paragraph.

3. I also note that the voltage drops follow a slightly different pattern.  I estimate the drops are 0.1, .04, .04, .02 V. The first drop may be artificially influenced by the fact that it seems to be the very beginning of the recorded data. However, the break noted with the temperatures does not occur in the voltages, instead the break  may be on the next day, but more data would be needed to confirm that.  Thus we are seeing either natural variation or process lags affecting the temporal correlation of the data.

Well, temporal correlation is quite obvious. So far, Shanahan has not come to an explanation for the trend, but he is, again, proceeding as a scientist and a genuine skeptic. (For a pseudoskeptic, it is Verdict first (The explanation! Bogus!) and Trial later (then presented as proof rather than as investigation).

Paragraph 3: This is a granular analysis of the daily voltage changes. I note your use of the unconfident phrase “may be” twice. I do not see any explanation for the anomaly in this paragraph.

Shanahan appropriately uses “may be” to refer to speculations which may or may not be relevant. Krivit is looking for something that no scientist would give him, who is actually practicing science. We do not know the ultimate explanation of what Pons and Fleischmann reported here, so confidence, the kind of certainty Krivit is looking for, would only be a mark of foolishness.

4. I also note that in the last day’s voltage trace there is a ‘glitch’ where the voltage take a dip and changes to a new level with no corresponding change in cell temp.  This is a ‘fact of the data’ which indicates there are things that can affect the voltage but not the temperature, which violates our idea of the ideal Ohmic Law case.  But we expected that because we are dealing with such small changes.

This is very speculative. I don’t like to look at data at the termination, maybe they simply shut off the experiment at that point, and there is, I see, a small voltage rise, close to noise. This tells us less than Shanahn implies. The variation in magnitude of the voltage rise, however, does lead to some reasonable suspicion and wonder as to what is going on. At first glance, it appears correlated with the variation in temperature rise. Both of those would be correlated with the amount of make-up heavy water added to restore level.

Krivit: Paragraph 4: You mention what you call a glitch, in the last day’s voltage trace. It is difficult for me to see what you are referring to, though I do note again, that you are using conditional language when you write that there are things that “can affect” voltage. So this paragraph, as well, does not appear to provide any explanation for the anomaly. Also in this paragraph, you appear to suggest that there are more-ideal cases of Ohm’s law and less-ideal cases. I’m unwilling to consider that Ohm’s law, or any accepted law of science, is situational.

Krivit is flat-out unqualified to write about science. It’s totally obvious here. He is showing that, while he’s been reading reports on cold fusion calorimetry for well over fifteen years, he has not understood them. Krivit has heard it now from Shanahan, actually confirmed by Miles (see below), “Joule heating ” also called “Ohmic heating,” the heating that is the product of current and voltage, is not the only source of heat in an electrolytic cell.

Generally, all “accepted laws of science” are “situational.” We need to understand context to apply them.

To be sure, I also don’t understand what Shanahan was referring to in this paragraph. I don’t see it in the plot. So perhaps Shanahan will explain. (He may comment below, and I’d be happy to give him guest author privileges, as long as it generates value or at least does not cause harm.)

5. Baseline noise is substantially smaller than these numbers, and I can make no comments on anything about it.

Yes. The voltage noise seems to be more than 10 mV. A constant-current power supply (which adjusts voltage to keep the current constant) was apparently set at 400 mA, and those supplies typically have a bandwidth of well in excess of 100 kHz, as I recall. So, assuming precise voltage measurements (which would be normal), there is noise, and I’d want to know how the data was translated to plot points. Bubble noise will cause variations, and these cells are typically bubbling (that is part of the FP approach, to ensure stirring so that temperature is even in the cell). If the data is simply recorded periodically, instead of being smoothed by averaging over an adequate period, it could look noisier than it actually is (bubble noise being reasonably averaged out over a short period). A 10 mV variation in voltage, at the current used, corresponds to 4 mW variation. Fleischmann calorimetry has a reputed precision of 0.1 mW. That uses data from rate of change to compute instantaneous power, rather than waiting for conditions to settle. We are not seeing that here, but we might be seeing the result of it in the reported excess power figures.

Krivit: Paragraph 5: You make a comment here about noise.

What is Krivit’s purpose here? Why did he ask the question? Does he actually want to learn something? I found the comment about noise to be interesting, or at least to raise an issue of interest.

6. Your point in adding the arrows to the Figure seems to be that the voltage is drifting down overall, so power in should be drifting down also (given constant current operation).  Instead the cell temperature seem to be drifting up, perhaps indicating an ‘excess’ or unknown heat source.  F&P report in the Fig. caption that the calculated daily excess heats are 45, 66, 86, and 115 milliwatts.  (I wonder if the latter number is somewhat influenced by the ‘glitch’ or whatever caused it.)  Note that a 45 mW excess heat implies a 0.1125V change (P=V*I, I= constant 0.4A), and we see that the observed voltage changes are too small and in the wrong direction, which would indicate to me that the temperatures are used to compute the supposed excesses.  The derivation of these excess heats requires a calibration equation to be used, and I have commented on some specific flaws of the F&P method and on the fact that it is susceptible to the CCS problem previously.  The F&P methodology lumps _any_ anomaly into the ‘apparent excess heat’ term of the calorimetric equation.  The mistake is to assign _all_ of this term to some LENR.  (This was particularly true for the HAD event claimed in the 1993 paper.)

So Shanahan gives the first explanation, (“excess heat,” or heat of unknown origin). Calculated excess heat is increasing, and with the experimental approach here, excess heat would cause the temperature to rise.

His complaint about assigning all anomalous heat (“apparent excess heat”) to LENR is … off. Basically excess heat means a heat anomaly, and it certainly does not mean “LENR.” That is, absent other evidence, a speculative conclusion, based on circumstantial evidence (unexplained heat). There is no mistake here. Pons and Fleischmann did not call the excess heat LENR and did not mention nuclear reactions.

Shanahan has then, here, identified another possible explanation, his misnamed “CCS” problem. It’s very clear that the name has confused those whom Shanahan might most want to reach: LENR experimentalists. The actual phenomenon that he would be suggesting here is unexpected recombination at the cathode. That is core to Shanahan’s theory as it applies to open cells with this kind of design. It would raise the temperature if it occurs.

LENR researchers claim that the levels of recombination are very low, and a full study of this topic is beyond this relatively brief post. Suffice it to say for now that recombination is a possible explanation, even if it is not proven. (And when we are dealing with anomalies, we cannot reject a hypothesis because it is unexpected. Anomaly means “unexpected.”)

Krivit: Paragraph 6: You analyze the reported daily excess heat measurements as described in the Fleischmann-Pons paper. I was very specific in my question. I challenged you to explain the apparent violation of Ohm’s law. I did not challenge you to explain any reported excess heat measurements or any calorimetry. Readings of cell temperature are not calorimetry, but certainly can be used as part of calorimetry.

Actually, Krivit did not ask that question. He simply asked Shanahan to explain the plot. He thinks a violation of Ohm’s law is apparent. It’s not, for several reasons. For starters, wrong law. Ohm’s law is simply that the current through a conductor is proportional to the voltage across it. The ratio is the conductance, usually expressed by its reciprocal, the resistance.

From the Wikipedia article: “An element (resistor or conductor) that behaves according to Ohm’s law over some operating range is referred to as an ohmic device (or an ohmic resistor) because Ohm’s law and a single value for the resistance suffice to describe the behavior of the device over that range. Ohm’s law holds for circuits containing only resistive elements (no capacitances or inductances) for all forms of driving voltage or current, regardless of whether the driving voltage or current is constant (DC) or time-varying such as AC. At any instant of time Ohm’s law is valid for such circuits.”

An electrolytic cell is not an ohmic device. What is true here is that one might immediately expect that heating in the cell would vary with the input power, but that is only by neglecting other contributions, and what Shanahan is pointing out by pointing out the small levels of the effect is that there are many possible conditions that could affect this.

With his tendentious reaction, Krivit ignores the two answers given in Shanahan’s paragraph, or, more accurately, Shanahan gives a primary answer and then a possible explanation. The primary answer is some anomalous heat. The possible explanation is a recombination anomaly. It is still an anomaly, something unexpected.

7. Using an average cell voltage of 5V and the current of 0.4A as specified in the Figure caption (Pin~=2W), these heats translate to approximately 2.23, 3.3, 4.3, and 7.25% of input.  Miles has reported recombination in his cells on the same order of magnitude.  Thus we would need measures of recombination with accuracy and precision levels on the order of 1% to distinguish if these supposed excess heats are recombination based or not _assuming_ the recombination process does nothing but add heat to the cell.  This may not be true if the recombination is ATER (at-the-electrode-recombination).  As I’ve mentioned in lenr-forum recently, the 6.5% excess reported by Szpak, et al, in 2004 is more likely on the order of 10%, so we need a _much_ better way to measure recombination in order to calculate its contribution to the apparent excess heat.

I think Shanahan may be overestimating the power of his own arguments, from my unverified recollection, but this is simply exploring the recombination hypothesis, which is, in fact, an explanation, and if our concern is possible nuclear heat, then this is a possible non-nuclear explanation for some anomalous heat in some experiments. In quick summary: a non-nuclear artifact, unexpected recombination, and unless recombination is measured, and with some precision, it cannot be ruled out merely because experts say it wouldn’t happen. Data is required. For the future, I hope we look at all this more closely here on CFC.net.

Shanahan has not completely explored this. Generally, at constant current and after the cathode loading reaches equilibrium, there should be constant gas evolution. However, unexpected recombination in an open cell like this, with no recombiner, would lower the amount of gas being released, and therefore the necessary replenishment amount. This is consistent with the decline that can be inferred as an explanation from the voltage jumps. Less added D2O, lower effect.

There would be another effect from salts escaping the cell, entrained in microdroplets, which would cause a long-term trend of increase in voltage, the opposite of what we see.

So the simple explanation here, confirmed by the calorimetry, is that anomalous heat is being released, and then there are two explanations proposed for the anomaly: a LENR anomaly or a recombination anomaly. Shanahan is correct that precise measurement of recombination (which might not happen under all conditions and which, like LENR heat, might be chaotic and not accurately predictable).

Excess nuclear heat will, however, likely be correlated with a nuclear ash (like helium) and excess recombination heat would be correlated with reduction in offgas, so these are testable. It is, again, beyond the scope of this comment to explore that.

Krivit. Paragraph 7: You discuss calorimetry.

Krivit misses that Shanahan discusses ATER, “At The Electrode Recombination,” which is Shanahan’s general theory as applied to this cell. Shanahan points to various possibilities to explain the plot (not the “apparent violation of Ohm’s law,” which was just dumb), but the one that is classic Shanahan is ATER, and, frankly, I see evidence in the plot that he may be correct as to this cell at this time, and no evidence that I’ve noticed so far in the FP article to contradict it.

(Remember, ATER is an anomaly itself, i.e., very much not expected. The mechanism would be oxygen bubbles reaching the cathode, where they would immediately oxidize available deuterium. So when I say that I don’t see anything in the article, I’m being very specific. I am not claiming that this actually happened.)

8. This summarizes what we can get from the Figure.  Let’s consider what else might be going on in addition to electrolysis and electrolyte replenishment.  There are several chemical/physical processes ongoing that are relevant that are often not discussed.  For example:  dissolution of electrode materials and deposition of them elsewhere, entrainment, structural changes in the Pd, isotopic contamination, chemical modification of the electrode surfaces, and probably others I haven’t thought of at this point.

Well, some get rather Rube Goldberg and won’t be considered unless specific evidence pops up.

Krivit: Paragraph 8: You offer random speculations of other activities that might be going on inside the cell.

Indeed he does, though “random” is not necessarily accurate. He was asked to explain a chart, so he is thinking of things that might, under some conditions or others, explain the behavior shown. His answer is directly to the question, but Krivit lives in a fog, steps all over others, impugns the integrity of professional scientists, writes “confident” claims that are utterly bogus, and then concludes that anyone who points this out is a “believer” in something or other nonsense. He needs an editor and psychotherapist. Maybe she’ll come back if he’s really nice. Nah. That almost never happens. Sorry.

But taking responsibility for what one has done, that’s the path to a future worth living into.

9. All except the entrainment issue can result in electrode surface changes which in turn can affect the overvoltage experienced in the cell.  That in turn affects the amount of voltage available to heat the electrolyte.  In other words, I believe the correct, real world equation is Vcell = VOhm + Vtherm + Vover + other.  (You will recall that the F&P calorimetric model only assumes VOhm and Vtherm are important.)  It doesn’t take much change to induce a 0.2-0.5% change in T.  Furthermore most of the significant changing is going to occur in the first few days of cell operation, which is when the Pd electrode is slowly loaded to the high levels typical in an electrochemical setup.  This assumes the observed changes in T come from a change in the electrochemical condition of the cell.  They might just be from changes in the TCs (or thermistors or whatever) from use.

What appears to me, here, is that Shanahan is artificially separating out Vover from the other terms. I have not reviewed this, so I could be off here, rather easily. Shanahan does not explain these terms here, so it is perhaps unsurprising that Krivit doesn’t understand, or if he does, he doesn’t show it.

An obvious departure from Ohm’s law and expected heat from electrolytic power is that some of the power available to the cell, which is the product of total cell voltage and current, ends up as a rate of production of chemical potential energy. The FP paper assumes that gas is being evolved and leaving the cell at a rate that corresponds to the current. It does not consider recombination that I’ve seen.

Krivit: Paragraphs 9-10: You consider entrainment, but you don’t say how this explains the anomaly.

It is a trick question. By definition, an explained anomaly is not an anomaly. Until and unless an explanation, a mechanism, is confirmed through controlled experiment (and with something like this, multiply-confirmed, specifically, not merely generally), a proposals are tentative, and Shanahan’s general position — which I don’t see that he has communicated very effectively — is that there is an anomaly. He merely suggests that it might be non-nuclear. It is still unexpected, and why some prefer to gore the electrochemists rather than the nuclear physicists is a bit of a puzzle to me, except it seems the latter have more money. Feynman thought that the arrogance of physicists was just that, arrogance. Shanahan says that entrainment would be important to ATER, but I don’t see how. Rather, it would be another possible anomaly. Again, perhaps Shanahan will explain this.

10. Entrainment losses would affect the cell by removing the chemicals dissolved in the water.  This results in a concentration change in the electrolyte, which in turn changes the cell resistance.  This doesn’t seem to be much of an issue in this Figure, but it certainly can become important during ATER.

This was, then, off-topic for the question, perhaps. But Shanahan has answered the question, as well as it can be answered, given the known science and status of this work. Excess heat levels as shown here (which is not clear from the plot, by the way) are low enough that we cannot be sure that this is the “Fleischmann-Pons Heat Effect.” The article itself is talking about a much clearer demonstration; the plot is shown as a little piece considered of interest. I call it an “indication.”

The mere miniscule increase in heat over days, vs. a small decrease in voltage, doesn’t show more than that.

[Paragraphs not directly addressing this measurement removed.]

In fact, Shanahan recapped his answer toward the end of what Krivit removed. Obviously, Krivit was not looking for an answer, but, I suspect, to make some kind of point, abusing Shanahan’s good will. Even though he thanks him. Perhaps this is about the Swedish scientist’s comment (see the NET article), which was, ah, not a decent explanation, to say the least. Okay, this is a blog. It was bullshit. I don’t wonder that Krivit wasn’t satisfied. Is there something about the Swedes? (That is not what I’d expect, by the way, I’m just noticing a series of Swedish scientists who have gotten involved with cold fusion who don’t know their fiske from their fysik.

And here are those paragraphs:


I am not an electrochemist so I can be corrected on these points (but not by vacuous hand-waving, only by real data from real studies) but it seems clear to me that the data presented is from a time frame where changes are expected to show up and that the changes observed indicate both correlated effects in T and V as well as uncorrelated ones. All that adds up to the need for replication if one is to draw anything from this type of data, and I note that usually the initial loading period is ignored by most researchers for the same reason I ‘activate’ my Pd samples in my experiments – the initial phases of the research are difficult to control but much easier to control later on when conditions have been stabilized.

To claim the production of excess heat from this data alone is not a reasonable claim. All the processes noted above would allow for slight drifts in the steady state condition due to chemical changes in the electrodes and electrolyte. As I have noted many, many times, a change in steady state means one needs to recalibrate. This is illustrated in Ed Storms’ ICCF8 report on his Pt-Pt work that I used to develop my ATER/CCS proposal by the difference in calibration constants over time. Also, Miles has reported calibration constant variation on the order of 1-2% as well, although it is unclear whether the variation contains systematic character or not (it is expressed as random variation). What is needed (as always) is replication of the effect in such a manner as to demonstrate control over the putative excess heat. To my knowledge, no one has done that yet.

So, those are my quick thoughts on the value of F&P’s Figure 1. Let me wrap this up in a paragraph.

The baseline drift presented in the Figure and interpreted as ‘excess heat’ can easily be interpreted as chemical effects. This is especially true given that the data seems to be from the very first few days of cell operation, where significant changes in the Pd electrode in particular are expected. The magnitudes of the reported excess heats are of the size that might even be attributed to the CF-community-favored electrochemical recombination. It’s not even clear that this drift is not just equipment related. As is usual with reports in this field, more information, and especially more replication, is needed if there is to be any hope of deriving solid conclusions regarding the existence of excess heat from this type of data.”


And then, back to what Krivit quoted:

I readily admit I make mistakes, so if you see one, let me know.  But I believe the preceding to be generically correct.

Kirk Shanahan
Physical Chemist
U.S. Department of Energy, Savannah River National Laboratory

 Krivit responds:

Although you have offered a lot of information, for which I’m grateful, I am unable to locate in your letter any definitive, let alone probable conventional explanation as to why the overall steady trend of increasing heat and decreasing power occurs, violating Ohm’s law, unless there is a source of heat in the cell. The authors of the paper claim that the result provides evidence of a source of heating in the cell. As I understand, you deny that this result provides such evidence.

Shanahan directly answered the question, about as well as it can be answered at this time. He allows “anomalous heat” — which covers the CMNS community common opinion, because this must include the nuclear possibility, then offers an alternate unconventional anomaly, ATER, and then a few miscellaneous minor possibilities.

Krivit is looking for a definitive answer, apparently, and holds on to the idea that the cell may be “violating Ohm’s law,” when it has been explained to him (by two:Shanahan and Miles) that Ohm’s law is inadequate to describe electrolytic cell behavior, because of the chemical shifts. While it may be harmless, much more than Ohm’s law is involved in analyzing electrochemistry. “Ohmic heating” is, as Shanahan pointed out — and as is also well known — is an element of an analysis, not the whole analysis. There is also chemistry and endothermic and exothermic reaction. Generating deuterium and oxygen from heavy water is endothermic. The entry of deuterium into the cathode is exothermic, at least at modest loading. Recombination of oxygen and deuterium is exothermic, whereas release of deuterium from the cathode is endothermic.  Krivit refers to voltage as if it were power, and then as if the heating of the cell would be expected to match this power. Because this cell is constant current, the overall cell input power does vary directly with the voltage. However, only some of this power ends up as heat (and Ohm’s law simply does not cover that).

Actually, Shanahan generally suggests a “source of heating in the cells” (unexpected recombination).  He then presents other explanations as well. If recombination shifts the location of generated heat, this could affect calorimetry, Shahanan calls this Calibration Constant Shift, but that is easily misunderstood, and confused with another phenomenon, shifts in calibration constant from other changes, including thermistor or thermocouple aging (which he mentions). Shanahan did answer the question, albeit mixed with other comments, so Krivit’s “He Couldn’t” was not only rude, but wrong.

Then Krivit answered the paragraphs point-by-point, and I’ve put those comments above.

And then Krivit added, at the end:

This concludes my discussion of this matter with you.

I find this appalling, but it’s what we have come to expect from Krivit, unfortunately. Shanahan wrote a polite attempt to answer Krivit’s question (which did look like a challenge). I’ve experienced Krivit shutting down conversation like that, abruptly, with what, in person, would be socially unacceptable. It’s demanding the “Last Word.”

Krivit also puts up an unfortunate comment from Miles. Miles misunderstands what is happening and thinks, apparently, that the “Ohm’s Law” interpretation belongs to Shanahan, when it was Krivit. Shananan is not a full-blown expert on electrochemistry — like Miles is — but would probably agree with Miles, I certainly don’t see a conflict between them on this issue. And Krivit doesn’t see this, doesn’t understand what is happening right in his own blog, that misunderstanding.

However, one good thing: Krivit’s challenge did move Shanahan to write something decent. I appreciate that. Maybe some good will come out of it. I got to notice the similarity between fysik and fiske, that could be useful.


Update

I intended to give the actual physical law that would appear to be violated, but didn’t. It’s not Ohm’s law, which simply doesn’t apply, the law in question is conservation of energy or the first law of thermodynamics. Hess’s law is related. As to apparent violation, this appears by neglecting the role of gas evolution; unexpected recombination within the cell would cause additional heating. While it is true that this energy comes, ultimately, from input energy, that input energy may be stored in the cell earlier as absorbed deuterium, and this may be later released. The extreme of this would be “heat after death” (HAD), i.e., heat evolved after input power goes to zero, which skeptics have attributed to the “cigarette lighter effect,” see Close.

(And this is not the place to debate HAD, but the cigarette lighter effect as an explanation has some serious problems, notably lack of sufficient oxygen, with flow being, from deuterium release, entirely out of the cell, not allowing oxygen to be sucked back in. This release does increase with temperature, and it is endothermic, overall. It is only net exothermic if recombination occurs.)

(And possible energy storage is why we would be interested to see the full history of cell operation, not just a later period. In the chart in question, we only see data from the third through seventh days, and we do not see data for the initial loading (which should show storage of energy, i.e., endothermy).  The simple-minded Krivit thinking is utterly off-point. Pons and Fleischmann are not standing on this particular result, and show it as a piece of eye candy with a suggestive comment at the beginning of their paper. I do not find, in general, this paper to be particularly convincing without extensive analysis. It is an example of how “simplicity” is subjective. By this time, cold fusion needed an APCO — or lawyers, dealing with public perceptions. Instead, the only professionalism that might have been involved was on the part of the American Physical Society and Robert Park. I would not have suggested that Pons and Fleischmann not publish, but that their publications be reviewed and edited for clear educational argument in the real-world context, not merely scientific accuracy.)

It was an itsy-bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka dot error

A comment today pointed out a post by kirkshanahan on LENR-Forum.

zeus46 wrote:

KShanahan. What’s that story about the time you were trying to dispute some ‘cold fusion’ findings by showing a non-correlation between two factors, but ballsed up the analysis, and ended up unknowingly proving it? Or something. Abd used to write about it. Never heard your side of it. Maybe something about a horizontal line on a graph?

In my 2010 J. Env. Monitoring paper, there is a slight error in my discussion
of a specific figure. Abd has tried to use that to discredit everything I write
in a ‘throw the baby out with the bathwater’ style. I replied to him here on
lenr-forum, but in brief… Continue reading “It was an itsy-bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka dot error”

Truzzi on pseudoskepticism

This is copied from the anomalist.com, under fair use, for purposes of education and critique. The anomalist credits Truzzi, writing in the Zetetic Scholar,  #12-13, 1987.  The Zetetic Scholar was copyright 1987 by Marcello Truzzi and that issue is available on the Internet Archive.


On Pseudo-Skepticism

A Commentary by Marcello Truzzi*

Over the years, I have decried the misuse of the term “skeptic”  when used to refer to all critics of anomaly claims. Alas, the label has been thus  misapplied by both proponents and critics of the paranormal. Sometimes users of the  term have distinguished between so-called “soft” versus “hard”  skeptics, and I in part revived the term “zetetic” because of the term’s  misuse. But I now think the problems created go beyond mere terminology and matters  need to be set right. Since “skepticism” properly refers to doubt rather  than denial–nonbelief rather than belief–critics who take the negative rather than  an agnostic position but still call themselves “skeptics” are actually  pseudo-skeptics and have, I believed, gained a false advantage by usurping  that label.

In science, the burden of proof falls upon the claimant; and the  more extraordinary a claim, the heavier is the burden of proof demanded. The true skeptic takes an agnostic position, one that says the claim is not proved rather than disproved. He asserts that the claimant has not borne the burden of  proof and that science must continue to build its cognitive map of reality without incorporating the extraordinary claim as a new “fact.” Since the true skeptic does not assert a claim, he has no burden to prove anything. He just goes  on using the established theories of “conventional science” as usual. But  if a critic asserts that there is evidence for disproof, that he has a negative hypothesis –saying, for instance, that a seeming psi result was actually due  to an artifact–he is making a claim and therefore also has to bear a burden  of proof.

Sometimes, such negative claims by critics are also quite extraordinary–for example, that a UFO was actually a giant plasma, or that someone in a psi experiment  was cued via an abnormal ability to hear a high pitch others with normal ears would  fail to notice. In such cases the negative claimant also may have to bear a heavier  burden of proof than might normally be expected.

Critics who assert negative claims, but who mistakenly call themselves “skeptics,” often act as though they have no burden of proof placed on  them at all, though such a stance would be appropriate only for the agnostic or true skeptic. A result of this is that many critics seem to feel it is only necessary  to present a case for their counter-claims based upon plausibility rather than empirical  evidence. Thus, if a subject in a psi experiment can be shown to have had an opportunity  to cheat, many critics seem to assume not merely that he probably did cheat, but  that he must have, regardless of what may be the complete absence of evidence  that he did so cheat and sometimes even ignoring evidence of the subject’s past reputation  for honesty. Similarly, improper randomization procedures are sometimes assumed to  be the cause of a subject’s high psi scores even though all that has been established  is the possibility of such an artifact having been the real cause. Of course, the  evidential weight of the experiment is greatly reduced when we discover an opening  in the design that would allow an artifact to confound the results. Discovering an  opportunity for error should make such experiments less evidential and usually unconvincing.  It usually disproves the claim that the experiment was “air tight” against  error, but it does not disprove the anomaly claim.

Showing evidence is unconvincing is not grounds for completely  dismissing it. If a critic asserts that the result was due to artifact X, that critic  then has the burden of proof to demonstrate that artifact X can and probably did  produce such results under such circumstances. Admittedly, in some cases the appeal  to mere plausibility that an artifact produced the result may be so great that nearly all would accept the argument; for example, when we learn that someone known to have  cheated in the past had an opportunity to cheat in this instance, we might reasonably  conclude he probably cheated this time, too. But in far too many instances, the critic  who makes a merely plausible argument for an artifact closes the door on future research  when proper science demands that his hypothesis of an artifact should also be tested.  Alas, most critics seem happy to sit in their armchairs producing post hoc counter-explanations. Whichever side ends up with the true story, science best progresses through laboratory  investigations.

On the other hand, proponents of an anomaly claim who recognize  the above fallacy may go too far in the other direction. Some argue, like Lombroso  when he defended the mediumship of Palladino, that the presence of wigs does not deny the existence of real hair. All of us must remember science can tell us what  is empirically unlikely but not what is empirically impossible. Evidence in science  is always a matter of degree and is seldom if ever absolutely conclusive. Some proponents  of anomaly claims, like some critics, seen unwilling to consider evidence in probabilistic  terms, clinging to any slim loose end as though the critic must disprove all evidence  ever put forward for a particular claim. Both critics and proponents need to learn  to think of adjudication in science as more like that found in the law courts, imperfect  and with varying degrees of proof and evidence. Absolute truth, like absolute justice,  is seldom obtainable. We can only do our best to approximate them.

*Marcello Truzzi was a professor of sociology at Eastern Michigan University. This article is reprinted, at the author’s suggestion, from the Zetetic Scholar,  #12-13, 1987.

No goal, no go, just drift

One of our best conversations here started with this commentary by THH on a blog post with a frivolous title, Touch and go at the Planet Rossi spaceport.

I’m interested in the U of Texas work. But there are many subtleties about how to eliminate mundane explanations. How sure are you that they are looking at this more rigorously than LENR typical?

Okay, one question or issue at a time. How sure am I? While Stuff Can Happen — even masters at a craft can make mistakes — there are, indeed, some masters involved, professionals, highly experienced, and fully aware of the history of LENR and, my sense, fully aware of what is needed for a LENR breakthrough. I’m a bit concerned about lack of recent communication, but this merely a reminder to self to make it happen. Continue reading “No goal, no go, just drift”

Demonstration of pseudo science and skepticism

This is a cautionary tale demonstrating pseudoscience and pseudoskepticism, a particular kind of pseudoscience that appears to be or is believed to be “scientific.” It is about the “Egely wheel” and human behavior. The application to LENR is that these responses are possible in this field. It is clearly possible to fake demonstrations and videos, to look totally convincing and to be, in fact, fraud, or, generally with a less convincing demonstration, mistaken, but it is also true that any clear fraud does not prove that all claims are fraud or error.

Rather, what can be derived from these is “possibility,” but translating that to “scientific reality” is a painstaking and endless process. As humans, we may need to make decisions by a certain date, but for humanity as a whole, there is no near-term and clear end date. We may sanely postpone decisions until they are necessary, considering all the risks and costs. To the case in point:

Continue reading “Demonstration of pseudo science and skepticism”