Protecting the fringe allows the mainstream to breathe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Description

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reviews

 

RationalWiki had a wide reputation as a joke wiki, where skeptics and atheists — and adolescents — fully engaged in unrestrained snark. There are many reviews, but start with the Wikipedia article. It will be fun to compare that article to the favorite targets of the RatWikians and their allies, the Guerilla Skeptics on Wikipedia. Any socks there? Some much to research, so little time…. That one is for later. I immediately see POV-pushing in the editing….

This was reasonable, on the face, this was not, it involves synthesis, unless there is reliable source for the claim that criticism is because “beliefs” are challenged. That kind of claim is difficult even when reliable source can be found for it, it should be attributed … unless there was a formal study!

Lets start with a list of reviews. First, from Wikipedia:

http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/5597/4652

At first glance, this source is misrepresented in the article. (note 13). What the article has is synthesis from the source. The source does not actually say that.

  •  Smith, Jonathan C. Critical Thinking: Pseudoscience and the Paranormal. John Wiley & Sons, 2017, pp 77. 9781119029489
  • Shvets, Alexander (October 2, 2014). Filev, D.; Jabłkowski, J.; Kacprzyk, J.; et al., eds. Intelligent Systems’2014: Proceedings of the 7th IEEE International Conference Intelligent Systems IS’2014, September 24–26, 2014, Warsaw, Poland, Volume 2: Tools, Architectures, Systems, Applications. Series: Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing, Vol. 323Springer Publishing. A Method of Automatic Detection of Pseudoscientific Publications, page 533 et seq. ISBN 978-3-319-11310-4.

This is a conference paper, such are often not carefully reviewed. This is the sourced text:

In Intelligent Systems’2014, Alexander Shvets stated that RationalWiki is one of the few online resources that “provide some information about pseudoscientific theories” and notes that it attempts to “organize and categorize knowledge about pseudoscientific theories, personalities, and organizations”.

What RationalWiki does is to organize, not knowledge (Wikipedia does that), but snark, loosely based on very irregularly collected sources, often terminally weak.

This is a conference paper as well. The mention of RationalWiki is shallow, the authors do not appear to have done more than look at the stated purposes, and a hosted essay by Carl Sagan. The impression one would get from reading the article is not the impression I would see from the source.

  • https://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2014/11/rationalwiki_emamerican_thinkerem_is_a_wingnut_publication.html
  • https://www.cato.org/blog/ten-things-every-economist-should-know-about-gold-standard
  • Einspruch, Franklin (September 6, 2016). “Cultural Marxists Are Actually Pomofascists”The Federalist. Retrieved August 14, 2017

These are sources that mention a specific RationalWiki article to expose it or argue against it. No source so far is actually a review of the site, anything more than a passing mention. I’ll keep looking.

Dissertations are not generally considered reliable source, they would be primary sources. This dissertation simply mentions an idea taken from RationalWiki, and it describes the purpose of the site, with no analysis of whether or not the site actually accomplishes that purpose.

This went on with links showing that someone referenced RationalWiki in some way. Actual reviews? None (neither positive nor negative.)

Okay, I know to look at history. Did anyone attempt to add actual reviews? Wikipedia does not make it easy to search history. While that could easily be done from the database, no priority has been given it. Someone might take advantage of that and create a site with full-database search access. It would make certain kinds of wiki studies far easier!

I found a brief review that had been added and immediately removed, as it was a “blog” and thus “not reliable source.” This was only a superficial analysis of “site bias,” not actually controversial and not very informative.

There was an Articles for deletion discussion on RationalWiki. I find no assertion of source sufficient to establish notability. Passing mentions don’t count. It was kept, though there was much opinion to keep it as a redirect to the Conservapedia article. In the discussion I found these sources:

  • http://blastmagazine.com/2007/09/03/thoughts-on-a-conservapedia/
  • http://articles.latimes.com/2007/jun/19/nation/na-schlafly19/2 (page 2 is important. I couldn’t find this at first.)

Those are passing mention, really about Conservapedia. This was weak, but that’s Wikipedia. An admin takes a glance at a discussion, makes a snap decision, and unless someone cares enough to appeal it, there it goes, enshrined as a community decision (which it didn’t look like to me! Most wanted to see better sources. My own opinion as an inclusionist would do something very different…. )

https://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/the-rationalwiki-foundation/albuquerque-new-mexico-87106/the-rationalwiki-foundation-rationalwiki-rational-wiki-rw-rationalwikiorg-rationalwi-1143383

Not considered reliable source, but an actual review! With details! This report describes RatWiki as it was when I was active there. Some of that atmosphere is still there. the report was by “Rational Wiki Exposed,” not exactly an encouraging author if one is looking for neutrality. But it was fairly sober.

Okay, I found a genuine revert war, starting with [ this edit], adding a review.  The user, an SPA, was warned for edit warring and disappeared. The source:

RationalWiki guts a reader’s attempt to correct its article on female genital mutilation

This is another source that is based on “RationalWiki is wrong on X.” This happens to be a topic I know a great deal about. Many sources misrepresent the position of Islam on the topic. What upsets people so much is not what is allowed or approved, and the majority opinion is that the extreme practices are prohibited. But this is not our topic here. The RatWiki article on this topic is far from the worst there.

I round a reference to the RW article where they brag report about mentions.

That quotes from many mentions. Indeed, it quotes from the book mentioned above:

Smith, Jonathan. Critical Thinking: Pseudoscience and the Paranormal, 2nd Ed. John Wiley & Sons, 2017. 9781119029489. Lists RationalWiki as a logical fallacy library.

This is hilarious. I’m not really sure what the author intended. The instructions are to “select an example of a logical fallacy.” So RatWiki is a place to find the expression of logical fallacies. The training that I can imagine is to teach students how to spot logical fallacies. If a site is merely a list of logical fallacies with examples given, there would be little or no challenge. Rather, each of those sites, it is highly likely, expresses logical fallacies. The Nizkor.org site is not about logical fallacies, as such, it is political. If one’s political beliefs align with the beliefs of a source, one is far less likely to spot the fallacies.

Sound training will practice identifying logical fallacies in our own thinking or argument, or in the arguments and thinking of those we might agree with. I generally agree with the substance of what is on the Nizkor site. But there is at least one blatant logical fallacy on the home page. Can you spot one?

5.4 Group Exercise: Identify the FallacyIn this exercise, divide into two teams. Each team selects an example of a logical fallacy (from this chapter) from one of these websites:

Team 1 presents its example to Team 2. Team 2 has five minutes to identify it and explain it. If the explanation is acceptable to the moderator, Team 2 gets a point. Repeat for Team 2. Complete until each team has a chance to identify five logical fallacies. The team correctly identifying the most fallacies wins.

I have created a link for each site. How the exercise would be done is unclear. There is a form of logical fallacy, “straw man,” where one presents an argument that is allegedly the argument of another, but it is not actually what the other says, thinks, or believes. So if students pick a description of someone else’s argument, they would be explaining a fantasy. Much more interesting, I’d think, to identify logical fallacies presented as factual or logical, and RatWiki is full of those, it is practically the norm in some articles.  For extra credit, identify logical errors in the thinking of people you agree with, and for a doctorate, identify them in your own thinking, because everyone does this (at least until it is distinguished). A loglcal fallacy does not mean that the conclusion is wrong, set that right/wrong mess aside. It merely means that the conclusion doesn’t follow from the premises. Something may be missing.

from other sources:

This refers to the RW article, Michael Prescott

(If Mr. Prescott sees this and requests that the link be removed, I’ll do it. Links raise Google ranking. Unfortunately, to study RationalWiki and create something verifiable, I need to place links, but I can find less convenient ways to do it, on request. I have not yet studied the Prescott article, but I’ve certainly seen worse on RatWiki!)

The public comments are interesting…. I decided to look at who created this article.

This then led me to more socks…. another day, another set of socks documented. There are certain red flags, easy to see, sometimes. Some identifications are not so easy, and there are probably some errors. The Smiths have no monopoly on snarky defamation.

to be continued ….

SOS Wikipedia

Original post

I’ve been working on some studies that involve a lot of looking at Wikipedia, and I come across the Same Old S … ah, Stuff! Yeah! Stuff!

Wikipedia has absolutely wonderful policies that are not worth the paper they are not written on, because what actually matters is enforcement. If you push a point of view considered fringe by the administrative cabal (Jimbo’s word for what he created … but shhhh! Don’t write the word on Wikipedia, the sky will fall!) you are in for some, ah, enforcement. But if you have and push a clear anti-fringe point of view — which is quite distinct from neutrally insisting on policy — nothing will happen, unless you go beyond limits, in which case you might even get blocked until your friends bail you out, as happened with jps, mentioned below. Way beyond limits.

So an example pushed against my eyeballs today. It’s not about cold fusion, but it shows the thinking of an administrator (JzG is the account but he signs “Guy”) and a user (the former Science Apologist, who has a deliberately unpronounceable username but who signs jps (those were his real-life initials), who were prominent in establishing the very iffy state of Cold fusion.

Wikipedia:Fringe_theories/Noticeboard


Aron K. Barbey ‎[edit]

Before looking at what JzG (Guy) and UnpronounceableUsername (jps) wrote, what happened here? What is the state of the article and the user?

First thing I find is that Aron barbey wrote the article and has almost no other edits. However, he wrote the article on Articles for creation. Looking at his user talk page, I find

16 July 2012, Barbey was warned about writing an article about himself, by a user declining a first article creation submission.

9 July 2014, it appears that Aron barbey created a version of the article at Articles for Creation. That day, he was politely and properly warned about conflict of interest.

The article was declined, see 00:43:46, 9 July 2014 review of submission by Aron barbey

from the log found there:

It appears that the article was actually originally written by Barbey in 2012. See this early copy, and logs for that page.

Barbey continued to work on his article in the new location, and resubmitted it August 2, 2014

It was accepted August 14, 2014.  and moved to mainspace.

Now, the article itself. It has not been written or improved by someone with a clue as to what Wikipedia articles need. As it stands, it will not withstand a Articles for deletion request. The problem is that there are few, if any, reliable secondary sources. Over three years after the article was accepted, JzG multiply issue-tagged it. Those tags are correct. There are those problems, some minor, some major. However, this edit was appalling, and the problem shows up in the FTN filing.

The problems with the article would properly suggest AfD if they cannot be resolved. So why did JzG go to FTN? What is the “Fringe Theory” involved? He would go there for  one reason: on that page the problems with this article can be seen by anti-fringe users, who may then either sit on the article to support what JzG is doing, or vote for deletion with opinions warped by claims of “fringe,” which actually should be irrelevant. The issue, by policy would be the existence of reliable secondary sources. If there are not enough, then deletion is appropriate, fringe or not fringe.

So his filing:


The article on Aron Barbey is an obvious autobiography, edited by himself and IP addresses from his university. The only other edits have been removing obvious puffery – and even then, there’s precious little else in the article. What caught my eye is the fact that he’s associated with a Frontiers journal, and promulgates a field called “Nutritional Cognitive Neuroscience”, which was linked in his autobiography not to a Wikipedia article but to a journal article in Frontiers. Virtually all the cites in the article are primary references to his won work, and most of those are in the Frontiers journal he edits. Which is a massive red flag.

Who edited the article is a problem, but the identity of editors is not actually relevant to Keep/Delete and content. Or it shouldn’t be. In reality, those arguments often prevail. If an edit is made in conflict of interest, it can be reverted. But … what is the problem with that journal? JzG removed the link and explanation. For Wikipedia Reliable Source, the relevant fact is the publisher. But I have seen JzG and jps arguing that something is not reliable source because the author had fringe opinions — in their opinion!

What JzG removed:

15:48, 15 December 2017‎ JzG (talk | contribs)‎ . . (27,241 bytes) (-901)‎  . (remove links to crank journal) (undo)

This took out this link:

Nutritional Cognitive Neuroscience

and removed what could show that the journal is not “crank.” There is a better source (showing that the editors of the article didn’t know what they were doing). Nature Publishing Group press release. This “crank journal” is Reliable Source for Wikipedia, and that is quite clear. (However, there are some problems with all this, complexities. POV-pushing confuses the issues, it doesn’t resolve them.

Aron Barbey is Associate Editor of Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Nature Publishing Group journal.[14] Barbey is also on the Editorial Board of NeuroImage,[15] Intelligence,[16] and Thinking & Reasoning,.[17]

Is Barbey an “Associate Editor”? This is the journal home page.

Yes, Barbie is an Associate Editor. There are two Chief Editors. A journal will choose a specialist in the field, to participate in the selection and review of articles, so this indicates some notability, but is a primary source.

And JzG mangled:

Barbey is known for helping to establish the field of Nutritional Cognitive Neuroscience.[36]

was changed to this:

Barbey is known for helping to establish the field of Cognitive Neuroscience.[35]

JzG continues on FTN:

So, I suspect we have a woo-monger here, but I don’t know whether the article needs to be nuked, or expanded to cover reality-based critique, if any exists. Guy (Help!) 16:03, 15 December 2017 (UTC)

“Woo” is a term used by “skeptic” organizations. “Woo-monger” is uncivil, for sure. As well, the standard for inclusion in Wikipedia is not “reality-based” but “verifiable in reliable source.” “Critique” assumes that what Barbey is doing is controversial, and Guy has found no evidence for that other than his own knee-jerk responses to the names of things.

It may be that the article needs to be deleted. It certainly needs to be improved. However, what is obvious is that JzG is not at all shy about displaying blatant bias, and insulting an academic and an academic journal.

And jps does quite the same:

This is borderline Men who stare at goats sort of research (not quite as bad as that, but following the tradition) that the US government pushes around. Nutriceuticals? That’s very dodgy. Still, the guy’s won millions of dollars to study this stuff. Makes me think a bit less of IARPA. jps (talk) 20:41, 15 December 2017 (UTC)

This does not even remotely resemble that Army paranormal research, but referring to that project is routine for pseudosceptics whenever there is government support of anything they consider fringe. Does nutrition have any effect on intelligence? Is the effect of nutrition on intelligence of any interest? Apparently, not for these guys. No wonder they are as they are. Not enough kale (or, more accurately, not enough nutritional research, which is what this fellow is doing.)

This is all about warping Wikipedia toward an extreme Skeptical Point of View. This is not about improving the article, or deleting it for lack of reliable secondary sources. It’s about fighting woo and other evils.

In editing the article, JzG used these edit summaries:

  • (remove links to crank journal)
  • (rm. vanispamcruft)
  • (Selected publications: Selected by Barbey, usually published by his own journal. Let’s see if anyone else selects them)
  • (Cognitive Neuroscience Methods to Enhance Human Intelligence: Oh good, they are going to be fad diet sellers too)

This are all uncivil (the least uncivil would be the removal of publications, but it has no basis. JzG has no idea of what would be notable and what not.

The journal is not “his own journal.” He is merely an Associate Editor, selected for expertise. He would not be involved in selecting his own article to publish. I’ve been through this with jps, actually, where Ed Storms was a consulting editor for Naturwissenschaften and the claim was made that he had approved his own article, a major peer-reviewed review of cold fusion, still not used in the article. Yet I helped with the writing of that article and Storms had to go through ordinary peer review. The faction makes up arguments like this all the time.

I saw this happen again and again: an academic edits Wikipedia, in his field. He is not welcomed and guided to support Wikipedia editorial policy. He is, instead, attacked and insulted. Ultimately, if he is not blocked, he goes away and the opinion grows in academia that Wikipedia is hopeless. I have no idea, so far, if this neuroscientist is notable by Wikipedia standards, but he is definitely a real neuroscientist, and being treated as he is being treated is utterly unnecessary. But JzG has done this for years.

Once upon a time, when I saw an article like this up for Deletion, I might stub it, reducing the article to just what is in the strongest sources, which a new editor without experience may not recognize. Later, if the article survives the AfD discussion, more can be added from weaker sources, including some primary sources, if it’s not controversial. If the article isn’t going to survive AfD, I’d move it to user space, pending finding better sources. (I moved a fair number of articles to my own user space so they could be worked on. Those were deleted at the motion of …. JzG.)

(One of the problems with AfD is that if an article is facing deletion, it can be a lot of work to find proper sources. I did the work on some occasions, and the article was deleted anyway, because there had been so many delete !votes (Wikipedia pretends it doesn’t vote, one of the ways the community lies to itself.  before the article was improved, and people don’t come back and reconsider, usually. That’s all part of Wikipedia structural dysfunction. Wasted work. Hardly anyone cares.)

Sources on Barbey

Barbey and friends may be aware of sources not easily found on the internet. Any newspaper will generally be a reliable source. If Barbey’s work is covered in a book that is not internet-searchable, it may be reliable source. Sourcing for the biography should be coverage of Barbey and/or Barbey’s work, attributed to him, and not merely passing mention. Primary sources (such as his university web site) are inadequate. If there were an article on him in the journal where he is Associate Editor, it would probably qualify (because he would not be making the editorial decision on that). If he is the publisher, or he controls the publisher, it would not qualify.

Reliable independent sources
  • WAMC.org BRADLEY CORNELIUS “Dr. Aron Barbey, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – Emotional Intelligence  APR 27, 2013
  • 2013 Carle Research Institute Awards October 2013, Research Newsletter. Singles out a paper for recognition, “Nutrient Biomarker Patterns, Cognitive Function, and MRI Measures of Brain Aging,” however, I found a paper by that title and Barbey is not listed as an author, nor could I find a connection with Barbey.
  • SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE David Noonan, “How to Plug In Your Brain” MAY 2016
  • The New Yorker.  Emily Anthes  “Vietnam’s Neuroscientific Legacy” October 2, 2014 PASSING MENTION
  • MedicalXpress.com Liz Ahlberg Touchstone “Cognitive cross-training enhances learning, study finds” July 25, 2017

“Aron Barbey, a professor of psychology” (reliable sources make mistakes) Cites a study, the largest and most comprehensive to date, … published in the journal Scientific Reports. N. Ward et al, Enhanced Learning through Multimodal Training: Evidence from a Comprehensive Cognitive, Physical Fitness, and Neuroscience Intervention, Scientific Reports (2017).
The error indicates to me that this was actually written by Touchstone, based on information provided by the University of Illinois, not merely copied from that.

Iffy but maybe

My sense is that continued search could find much more. Barbey is apparently a mainstream neuroscientist, with some level of recognition. His article needs work by an experienced Wikipedian.

Notes for Wikipedians

An IP editor appeared in the Fringe Theories Noticeboard discussion pointing to this CFC post:

Abd is stalking and attacking you both on his blog [25] in regard to Aron Barbey. He has done the same on about 5 other articles of his. [26]. He was banned on Wikipedia yet he is still active on Wiki-media projects. Can this guy get banned for this? The Wikimedia foundation should be informed about his harassment. 82.132.217.30 (talk) 13:30, 16 December 2017 (UTC)

This behavior is clearly of the sock family, called Anglo Pyramidologist on Wikipedia, and when I discovered the massive damage that this family had done, I verified the most recent activity with stewards (many accounts were locked and IPs blocked) and I have continued documentation, which Wikipedia may use or not, as it chooses. It is all verifiable. This IP comment was completely irrelevant to the FTN discussion, but attempting to turn every conversation into an attack on favorite targets is common AP sock behavior. For prior edits in this sequence, see (from the meta documentation):

This new account is not an open proxy. However, I will file a request anyway, because the behavior is so clear, following up on the 193.70.12.231 activity.

I have private technical evidence that this is indeed the same account or strongly related to Anglo Pyramidologist, see the Wikipedia SPI.

(I have found other socks, some blocked, not included in that archive.)

I have also been compiling obvious socks and reasonable suspicions from RationalWiki, for this same user or set of users, after he created a revenge article there on me (as he had previously done with many others).  It’s funny that he is claiming stalking. He has obviously been stalking, finding quite obscure pages and now giving them much more publicity.

And I see that there is now more sock editing on RationalWiki, new accounts with nothing better to do than document that famous troll or pseudoscientist or anti-skeptic (none of which I am but this is precisely what they claim.) Thanks for the incoming links. Every little bit helps.

If anyone thinks that there is private information in posts that should not ethically be revealed, please contact me through my WMF email, it works. Comments are also open on this blog, and corrections are welcome.

On the actual topic of that FTN discussion, the Aron Barbey article (with whom I have absolutely no connection), I have found better sources and my guess is that there are even better ones available.

JzG weighs in

Nobody is surprised. Abd is obsessive. He even got banned from RationalWiki because they got bored with him. Not seeing any evidence of meatpuppetry or sockpuppetry here though. Guy (Help!) 20:16, 16 December 2017 (UTC)

This is a blog I started and run, I have control. Guy behaves as if the Fringe Theories Noticeboard is his personal blog, where he can insult others without any necessity, including scientists like Barbey and a writer like me. And he lies. I cannot correct JzG’s lies on Wikipedia, but I can do it here.

I am not “banned” from RationalWiki. I was blocked by a sock of the massively disruptive user who I had been documenting, on meta for the WMF, on RationalWiki and on my blog when that was deleted by the same sock. The stated cause of the block was not “boring,” though they do that on RW. It was “doxxing.” As JzG should know, connecting accounts is not “doxxing.” It is revelation of real names for accounts that have not freely revealed that, or personal identification, like place of employment.

“Not seeing any evidence of meatpuppetry or sockpuppetry here.” Really? That IP is obviously the same user as behind the globally blocked Anglo Pyramidologist pushing the same agenda, this time with, likely, a local cell phone provide (because the geolocation matches know AP location), whereas with the other socking, documented above, was with open proxies.)

Properly, that IP should have been blocked and the edits reverted as vandalism. But JzG likes attack dogs. They are useful for his purposes.

Joshua Cude

I came to suspect that Joshua Cude was Joshua P. Schroeder. The basic reason was that JC was the most knowledgeable allegedly skeptical writer on cold fusion anywhere on the internet. Most skeptics simply don’t know enough to make clear cases, and if they do write about cold fusion, display ignorance. Joshua often did that, but … was able to go far deeper, and was quite familiar with the arguments. Back in 2011 or so, I knew less about the history of Joshua P. Schroeder than I now know, but still saw him as the most knowledgeable critic of cold fusion on Wikipedia. The coincidence of first names, the unusual level of knowledge, and timing as well reinforced the suspicion.

Timing: Schroeder was indef blocked on Wikipedia, 21 January 2011. He had maybe over 35,000 Wikipedia edits at that point, which is high if one isn’t doing bot-assisted editing. Many high-contribution users, blocked, start socking, as he did, but as enforcement ramps up, such will often take up activity elsewhere. Did he do this? Where?

The earliest comment I have found from Cude was  Thu, 10 Feb 2011 11:51:14 -0800 on Vortex-l.

As well, Joshua Cude was highly knowledgeable about physics, and Schroeder was a PhD candidate in astrophysics (and did receive his doctorate). From the extensive contributions on various fora, documented below, he had a high interest in countering what he saw as pseudoscience. That such a person would not be active on Wikipedia, if not blocked there, would be unusual. He would, in fact, be welcomed there by the faction that supported JPS. He might get into trouble with his high level of incivility toward those with differing views, but JPS survived doing that and also was supported enough to become unbanned, 10 August 2013. I intend to look at the combined contribution history of both accounts, to find possible correlations (though studying the arguments is more important than “real identity.”

I have found no candidates for “Cude on Wikipedia” or “jps elsewhere.” Both lacunae would be odd. I have no proof, merely grounds for suspicion. The arguments of Cude, which I begin to examine anew below, are blatant pseudoskepticism that has a high knowledge of cold fusion claims, and, as well, a high knowledge of true skepticism, which he uses.

This is not relevant to Wikipedia, his activity elsewhere should not be mentioned there (unless he mentions it). Sometimes administrators and others I was dealing with on Wikipedia referred to my Wikiversity and Wikipedia Review activity; that was generally improper.

Sometimes Cude is debunking the comments of “believers” who don’t really know what they are talking about. He is often right in some way. That is, there is some fact behind much of what he says, but he also makes categorical statements, without evidence, or with misleading evidence, that are just plain wrong, and if one does not know the field, a reader may not know the difference.

I wrote about JPS and Joshua Cude on newvortex:

648 ScienceApologist and Joshua P. Schroeder Sep 15, 2013

I have many times mentioned that Joshua Cude is almost certainly Joshua P. Schroeder, who was ScienceApologist on Wikipedia. Joshua Cude appeared immediately after Schroeder was 
site-banned. The arguments were identical. The real Schroeder has never denied the identity.

This is no longer true. I recently emailed Schroeder and he responded. He did not actually deny being Joshua Cude.  Rather he wrote:

The fact that you think I’m “Joshua Cude” still is just more evidence of your continued paranoia. Stay in your lane.

This was a private mail in which I was attempting to cooperate with Cude. I still have reasons to think Cude might be Schroeder. As with any hypothesis, it could be wrong, but accusing me of “paranoia” is exactly what a troll would do. What I had stated was:

I have not been writing “long screeds” about you on the internet. I have written much more about Joshua Cude, which I do suspect is you from a number of evidences. That was old. Mostly he’s smart and relatively knowledgeable, like you. I said we have issues, and I’d hope we can talk about them and possibly come to some agreement, but if you prefer to maintain hostility, I don’t predict a good outcome.

He maintained hostility, so far. Maybe he will smell the coffee. Studying his Wikipedia contributions, what stands out is a maintained hostility, toward many. His problem, not mine.

As I wrote, I had written extensively about Cude, but only a little about jps. Occasionally I mentioned that I thought Cude was jps, but the long posts were about Cude and Cude’s arguments, so that Schroeder thinks it was about him shows a connection. I have seen similar with the studies on Anglo Pyramodilogist. A sock appears who claims I am doxxing him, but denying that he is Anglo Pyramidologist, a known sock master who is known to lie. It’s either about him or it is not. It is possible — barely — that he is one of the socks incorrectly identified as AP, which is possible. But I have direct evidence that this sock was connected with many others. If there was some confusion, it was far back, in around 2011 or 2012, on Wikipedia. Anglo Pyramidologist had specific interests, then. Recent AP socks have very much the same interests. Duck test.

Here I will be interested in the arguments Cude made, which may be also compared with those made on Wikipedia by JPS. I have studied Cude’s arguments extensively in the past, communicating with him on moletrap and other places. I documented the arguments on newvortex.

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/newvortex/search/messages?query=joshua%20cude

Joshua Cude’s record of comments:

vortex-l

first comment:

total comments: 933 for  Joshua Cude

last comment:

Tue, 04 Jun 2013 05:21:46 -0700 Re: [Vo]:Adding Energy to get Energy

moletrap

  • joshua cude 
  • Account Created Jan 12th 2012
  • Last Active Oct 29th 2014
  • Visit Count 283
  • Discussions Started 0
  • Comments Added 107

Most cold fusion pseudoskeptics are relatively ignorant. Cude was not. He was clearly aware of much evidence that most pseudoskeptics would not have seen. What he does is present a series of arguments that are true, or half-true, sometimes (or absolutely wrong sometimes), presented as fact, all in a particular implied or stated direction, which is a sign of pseudoskepticism rather than skepticism. I see that, in 2013, I thought he had maybe two posts after registering, then this,  joshua cude, Feb 3rd 2013, jumped in with this:

Posted by Abd:

Rather, heat/helium is the single replicable experiment that skeptics were demanding, for years, and it was first done almost twenty years ago.

Like most of what you’ve written here, your heat/helium account is a gross misrepresentation of the facts.

That is a variety of ad hominem argument. Is that a “gross misrepresentation”? My Current Science paper, published in February, 2015, essentially made that same claim. The reviewer, apparently a physicist, did not like the paper. I rewrote it to clearly address his objections, and he turned 180 degrees. Of course, that would be an argument from authority. Perhaps I did misrepresent, but Joshua had not shown that. Does he show it here? Or is he himself grossly misrepresenting the situation? Cude, often, lies with facts and concedes nothing.

A correlation between heat and helium is clearly an important and definitive experiment for cold fusion.

Indeed. Has it been done? Let’s start with the fact that before Miles, 1991, there was no attempt to correlate heat with any nuclear product. Many papers showed, however, that expected nuclear products that could possibly explain the heat were absent. Many of those papers though, didn’t look for heat at all, or didn’t see heat, so they did not test correlation. Correlation would only be measurable if there was a finding of anomalous heat (artifact or not). Correlation can cut through noise, i.e, measurement error.

And yet, the best you can point to is a review by someone who took (and possible still takes) Rossi seriously. Anyone who suggests Rossi’s demos represent evidence for nuclear reactions is not to be taken seriously.

This is pure ad hominem argument, and ignoring what another (jps) ignored on Wikipedia. Wikipedia looks for Reliable Sources based not on authors, but on publishers. First of all, taking Rossi “seriously” was done by many, including a physicist who was on the Nobel Prize committee (Kullander). He was also wrong, but being wrong does not then disqualify anyone from presenting opinions or research.

Joshua is here talking about Ed Storms, who did think it was possible that Rossi had something, even though he knew that the “demos” were misleading garbage. It’s a complex question. Rossi is probably insane, and a con artist, knowingly or instinctively. And that is completely irrelevant here beyond showing pseudoskeptical, dedicated debunking behavior. Having studied the lawsuit (Rossi v. Darden, documented heavily here) in depth, it is clear that there is no sustainable evidence for nuclear reactions in what has been published by or about Andrea Rossi. There was also, clearly, outright fraud, gross misrepresentation. And this has nothing at all to do with the topic here.

In Storms’ review, the most recent peer-reviewed results used to demonstrate a heat/helium correlation come from a set of experiments by Miles in the early 90s.

The review is Storms (2009). Cude is technically correct, but highly misleading, if one doesn’t notice the “peer-reviewed.” Most cold fusion work has not been published under peer review. The strongest heat/helium work was published by SRI International as an EPRI report. Both of these (SRI and EPRI) would qualify as reliable source publishers under a fair interpretation of reliable source rules, because of publisher reputation at stake. Miles went on and did more work.

In a review of the field, invited by the editors of a major mainstream multidisciplinary peer-reviewed publication, should Wikipedia rules for sourcing be followed? They are not. Writers of peer-reviewed papers often cite unpublished material, attributing it sometimes as “private communication.”

Reviewers of such papers decide whether or not to allow these sources, on behalf of the responsible publisher. Pseudoskeptics will often claim “there is no evidence,” when there is evidence. A genuine skeptic might point out weakness, but not deny that evidence exists.

Storms cites on, heat/helium. the work of

  • Arata and Zhang (1999; 2000)
  • Case (McKubre et al. 2000)
  • Bush, Lagowski et al 1991
  • Morrey et al.(1990)
  • Miles and Bush 1992; Miles, Bush et al 1994; Miles, Bush et al 1991)
  • Miles and co-workers (1990)
  • Chien and co-workers (1992)
  • Karabut and co-workers (Karabut, A. B. , Kucherov et al 1992; Savvatimova, I. ,
    Kucherov et al 1994)
  • Zhang and co-workers (1992)
  • Stringham (2003)
  • Aoki et al. (1994)
  • Botta and co-workers (Botta, E., Bracco et al 1995; Botta, Bressani et al 1996)
  • Takahashi and co-workers( Takahashi 1998; Isobe, Uneme et al 2000; Matsunaka,
    Isobe et al 2002; Uneme et al 2002;)
  • Gozzi and co-workers (Gozzi, Caputo et al 1993; Gozzi, Caputo et al 1993)
  • Apicella et al. (2005)
  • De Ninno and co-workers (De Ninno, Del Giudice et al 2008; DeNinno, Frattolillo
    et al 2004)
  • Miles and co-workers (1994)
  • Bush and Lagowski (1998) cited in Storms (1998)
  • McKubre and co-workers (McKubre, Tanzella et al 2000; McKubre, Tanzella et al
    2000)

(This list may include redundancies. The actual sources may be found in the Storms review paper.)

These were very crude experiments (by Storms’ and your admission) in which peaks were eyeballed as small, medium, and large, the small taken as equal to the detection limit (which seemed to change by orders of magnitude over the years). The correlation was all over the map, and barely within an order of magnitude of the expected DD fusion value.

Again, technically correct but highly misleading. The early helium work was indeed as described. Later work used more precise measurements. I am not here reviewing all the results from Miles, but Storms did so in the review for most of them. There is one outlier, probably calorimetry error, and there were two samples only that showed no measured helium but anomalous heat, which could be, again, calorimetry error, but those samples were from a palladium-cerium cathode which may behave differently with helium, if a surface layer is formed that resists helium escape. Huizenga, in his review of this, considered an order-of-magnitude correlation astonishing, but because of the lack of gammas, expected that Miles would not be confirmed. Miles was confirmed. In only two experiments, however, were efforts made to capture and measure all the helium, and that was McKubre, SRI M-4 and Apicella et al Laser-4. In those experiments, the ratio of heat to helium showed the theoretical fusion value within 4% (M-4) and roughly 20% (Laser-4).

There are difficulties in this work, and many problems, but my claim is that, at this point, the preponderance of the evidence is that the Fleischmann-Pons Heat Effect is the result of the conversion of deuterium to helium, exact pathway and mechanism unknown. And, for me, that conclusion leads to a suggestion for more research to measure that ratio with increased precision, and how to do that is indicated by the M-4 and Laser-4 results.

Cude points to the difficulties as if they are some kind of proof of bogosity — and that I’m being misleading, but my claim has been published under peer review and Cude could get a peep into a journal on this topic. There are outliers, to be sure, but no evidence sufficient to impeach the finding, so far.

Shanahan wrote a critique of a review of LENR in Journal of Environmental Monitoring that criticized the heat/helium results of Miles et al as reported by Storms in his book (2007). That critique completely misread the data, it was embarrassing. Shanahan acknowledged the error — eventually.

Miles results’ were severely criticized by Jones in peer-reviewed literature.

As Storms pointed out:

Miles and co-workers(Bush, B. F., Lagowski et al 1991; Miles and Bush 1992; Miles, Bush et al 1994; Miles, Bush et al 1991) at the China Lake Naval Weapons Center (USA) were the first (1990) to show helium production in an electrolytic cell while it was making energy. Pyrex flasks were used to collect the gases (D2+O2+D2O+He) evolving from the cell but the resulting values for the amount of helium in the gas were crudely measured. Even so, a clear presence of helium was found when heat was produced and no helium was detected when heat was absent. Although many critiques (Miles and Jones 1992; Miles 1998; 1998) were offered at the time to reject the results, subsequent studies support their conclusion that helium is produced by a typical F-P electrolytic cell when it makes extra energy.

I have a copy of the Jones critique but it is not readily available, I may upload a copy here for review. Jones, S.E. and L.D. Hansen, Examination of claims of Miles et al in Pons-Fleischmann-Type cold fusion experiments. J. Phys. Chem., 1995. 99: p. 6966. Miles response would normally be on lenr-canr.org, but seems to be missing. I’ll see if I can fix that. Meanwhile, as I recall Jones ignored the correlation, and only critiqued the calorimetery and the helium measurements. Correlation generally confirms the measurements. That is we might be mistaken about heat, and we might be mistaken about light, but heat and light together and absent together demonstrates fire unless some independent mutual cause can be shown. Storms says about the Miles-Jones interchange (2007, p. 86):

This investigation was debated in a series of papers between Miles and Jones, in which Miles successfully defended his work.

That is in a book published by World Scientific. an academic publisher, and is not a passing mention or tertiary in nature. That does not prove that the conclusion is “true,” but it does establish notability, and all this points out that Cude is actually outside current consensus, as to what is being published in journals and academic publications. But if someone depends on “general scientific opinion,” which is not actually “expert opinion” but just sounds like it, one could think otherwise. As the author of Bad Science, the best critical book on cold fusion, Gary Taubes, later pointed out, “scientific consensus” can be formed by other than knowledgeable examination of evidence and can be dead wrong. Cude is finding whatever arguments he can dredge up to impeach the knowledgeable consensus. Back to Cude:

There was considerable back and forth on the results, and in Storms view (of course) Miles successfully defended his claims, but the DOE panel in 2004 agreed 17 to 1 with Jones, that there was no conclusive evidence for nuclear effects.

That is a deceptive summary of the review. Many times, many users on Wikipedia attempted to present the actual review results, and were frustrated by the anti-CF faction, which included jps, I think. I’ll be documenting that, I assume. First of all, the review did not consider the Miles results, apparently, and especially not the reported correlation, but rather the material in the Case appendix, which was misread and misreported. There were 18 experts in various fields on the panel. From the report:

The hypothesis that excess energy production in electrolytic cells is due to low energy nuclear reactions  was tested in some experiments by looking for D + D fusion reaction products, in particular 4He, normally produced in about 1 in 107 in hot D + D fusion reactions. Results reported in the review
document purported to show that 4He was detected in five out of sixteen cases where electrolytic cells
were reported to be producing excess heat. The detected 4He was typically very close to, but reportedly above background levels. This evidence was taken as convincing or somewhat convincing by some reviewers; for others the lack of consistency was an indication that the overall hypothesis was not justified. Contamination of apparatus or samples by air containing 4He was cited as one possible cause for false positive results in some measurements.

First of all, it was confusing to refer to the search as a search for D +D fusion reaction products. The helium reported is clearly not from D + D fusion, or if it is, the reaction is radically different from the known reaction, because of the lack of gamma emissions. Rather, the legitimate search was for any nuclear products that might be an “ash” from the reaction. The only one that has been found at significant levels is helium. It should be noted that the conversion of deuterium to helium is extraordinarily energetic, and only a little helium — close to background levels — would be produced to explain the modest levels of heat reported.

Secondly, the “results reported” were synthesized from the Case appendix, as “4 He was detected in five out of sixteen cases where electrolytic cells were reported to be producing excess heat.” That was an error. There were sixteen cells, and half were controls, producing no significant excess heat. They were not electrolytic cells, they were gas-loaded. So there were, if I have it correctly (this information was only presented very sketchily in that appendix) eight experimental cells, of which 5 showed excess heat. The excess heat results were not reported except for one cell. So the claim of “sixteen” cases showing excess heat, with only five showing helium, was a radical misunderstanding, and that this misunderstanding arose and was not corrected in the review process shows how defective that review was. From what would be, properly understood and explained, a strong correlation, was converted by the error into an anti-correlation, so of course any reviewer who made this mistake (it was easy to make, I had to read that Case paper several times to notice the reality, and then I found other references to that work confirming my view, and confirmed it with McKubre himself. What the anonymous review summarizer reported repeated the error of one reviewer and compounded it. The Case work, unfortunately, was done for a governmental client and was never formally published. It was a mistake to include it in the DoE review without first vetting it thoroughly, but that review was rushed.

Remarkably, the cold fusion community did not notice the error and focused on other issues. Assuming that the summary error was true, the review conclusions are remarkably favorable to cold fusion! My emphasis:

Evaluations by the reviewers ranged from: 1) evidence for excess power is compelling, to 2) there is no convincing evidence that excess power is produced when integrated over the life of an experiment. The reviewers were split approximately evenly on this topic. Those reviewers who accepted the production of excess power typically suggest that the effect seen often, and under some understood conditions, is compelling. The reviewers who did not find the production of excess power convincing cite a number of issues including: excess power in the short term is not the same as net energy production over the entire of time of an experiment; all possible chemical and solid state causes of excess heat have not been investigated and eliminated as an explanation; and production of power over a period of time is a few percent of the external power applied and hence calibration and systematic effects could account for the purported net effect. Most reviewers, including those who accepted the evidence and those who did not, stated that the effects are not repeatable, the magnitude of the effect has not increased in over a decade of work, and that many of the reported experiments were not well documented.

“Not well documented” is certainly true for some reports, maybe even many. It is not true for all. The general problem with “cold fusion” — a possibly misleading name — is that reproducing the originally-reported effect was very difficult, and many workers were unhappy with the low reported heat and attempted to “improve” the experiment, mostly failing, but sometimes still confirming some possibly related heat effect. Few actually attempted to “replicate” the original reports, given that those weren’t considered convincing, and certainly would not be an indication of possible power production. However the original DoE review (1989) pointed out that even a single incident of significant anomalous heat woudl be remarkable. Investigating “all possible causes” could take centuries. Rather, what has developed as known from, now, almost three decades of study, based on a preponderance of evidence, and what, then, remains to be tested and confirmed? By fragmenting the discussion into excess heat alone as a finding, the presence of correlations (helium is only one of several) was ignored. With correlations, a small effect can be confirmed. Without them, yes, one can speculate on noise and various errors, but few of those artifacts would create a clear correlation. Nevertheless, “split approximately evenly” is a vast shift from 1989, where it appears that very few reviewers thought the work was even worth the time of day.

Now, if one thinks that there is no evidence for excess heat, of course they would not think the origin of the non-existent heat was nuclear! The next finding should be seen in that light:

Two-thirds of the reviewers commenting on Charge Element 1 did not feel the evidence was conclusive
for low energy nuclear reactions, one found the evidence convincing, and the remainder indicated they were somewhat convinced. Many reviewers noted that poor experiment design, documentation,
background control and other similar issues hampered the understanding and interpretation of the results presented.

Cude translates all this into ” the DOE panel in 2004 agreed 17 to 1 with Jones, that there was no conclusive evidence for nuclear effects.’

They did not “agree with Jones.” Again, what Cude claims has some literal truth to it, if we include the word “conclusive.” That is not a clear and crisp claim, because what is conclusive to one is not conclusive to another. First of all, the reviewers were evenly divided on the heat evidence being “compelling.” Given the known physics, if one doesn’t find “compelling evidence” that there is excess heat, one will be unconvinced by evidence of low levels of helium. To have another opinion would require much more study. The general “scientific consensus” without personal study is that cold fusion was a big mistake, and “nobody could replicate.” With that background, then, reviewers randomly chosen would tend to be biased ab initio. The “nuclear” opinion would then be expected to be negative for half the reviewers from the lack of positive conclusion that the heat anomaly is probably real. So, then, what we have is about two thirds of those who accepted that the heat evidence was at least “somewhat compelling” did think the nuclear evidence was at least “somewhat convincing.” And that is with the misleading interpretation of the Case data standing in front of them.

Cude refuses to accept a preponderance of the evidence conclusion of reality for a nuclear effect as being at all plausible and attacks every evidence advanced. That is pseudoskeptical. If he is not convinced, that is within reason (though some supporters of cold fusion disagree with me on that). But his apparent certainty and dedication to accusations and debunking, that is clear pseudoskepticism. Further, as I recall the matter, Cude continued to advance misleading arguments over and over, in new fora, as if nothing had been explained. That is, again, characteristic of pseudoskepticism, it is resistant to evidence and to the finding of agreement. My goal has never been to “prove” that cold fusion is real, but rather to present the evidence — to be sure, with my own conclusion as to preponderance, which generally agrees with a major portion of the U.S. DoE panel in 2004 — and then to support and facilitate what they also recommended: more research. In particular, because it’s a replicable experiment (properly stated), replication with increased precision, the classic test of “pathological science.” Does the effect go away with increased precision?

Precision was, in fact, increased, and the effect did not go away but seems to have settled closer to the theoretical value. Again, this is testable, though Cude and friends will call it pseudoscience. At some point, that becomes a lie.

In any case, that kind of disagreement and large variation in such a critical experiment simply cries out for new and better experiments. So what have we got since?

Many experiments. He names one which was inconclusive.

A very careful set of experiments looking for helium by Gozzi, which was published in peer-reviewed literature in 1998, concludes that the evidence for helium is not definitive.

The only results since Miles that Storms has deemed worthwhile (i.e. cherry-picked) to calculate energy correlation come from conference proceedings, and the most recent of them from year 2000. Nothing that Storms considers adequate quality in this critically important experiment has met the (rather modest) standard of peer review. And they’re not good enough to allow Miles results to be replaced; Storms still uses some of Miles results, one assumes because it improves the average.

Again, “peer review” is desirable but evidence from outside of peer review is citable in peer-reviewed reviews.

The SRI work was, in fact, published under internal review, which would be as stringent or more stringent than normal peer-reviewed publications, and it was then passed on to EPRI members through that organization’s process. These were people with a need to know.

Mile’s extended work was the only work with enough experiments to look at more than an anecdote. It is not the best work, which would be SRI M-4 and Apicella et al (ENEA) Laser-4, where attempts were made to capture all the helium. In Laser-2 and Laser-3, there were

In writing my own paper, I considered compiling the results of all the experiments. It’s extremely difficult because of the varieties of work involved, results were not necessarily reported in ways that can be compared. Hence my hopes for the new work, using a hopefully maintained and identical protocol, taking steps to recover all the helium (variation in the recovery ratio probably explains the extant variation in results as to ratio — and Storms is emphasizing the general correlation, not the ratio itself, and all that work is general confirmation on that point, which Cude is ignoring —

Most of the results come from McKubre’s experiments, which Krivit claims to show (with considerable evidence) were cooked. McKubre has very little scientific cred anyway with his interest in the Papp engine and willingness to support cons like Dardik and Godes, and (if I recall correctly) Rossi.

Again, a series of ad hominem arguments, with assumptions that “McKubre has very little scientific cred,” contradicted by the trust place in him by the Duncan project in Texas, and by EPRI over many years, and governmental organizations, and  that someone finds something “interesting” does not establish any kind of lack of scientific integrity, in spite of the fervent beliefs of pseudoskeptics, and then that Dardik and Godes are “cons,” which they are not, and as to Rossi, McKubre never “supported” Rossi. He found the Lugano test interesting (as did many) but also pointed out the glaring deficiency.

Cude clearly has a collection of strongly-held beliefs which he asserts in a farrago of arguments without actual evidence. (He accepts Krivit’s ignorant critique and yellow journalism, without any actual examination of Krivit’s “evidence,” which is mostly innuendo and sometimes dead wrong.) This is all libel, actually. Of course he wants to remain anonymous!

And then there’s this from the review: “The paper provided insufficient information to check the claimed values, so the values in Table 3 are based on detailed information communicated to Storms by Bush in 1998 (Storms 1998).” Translation: The results didn’t fit, so I called Bush up, and suggested adjustments, which he accepted. Talk about confirmation bias.

Lies. No, the results without Bush and Lagowski were fine. The claim that he “suggested adjustments” is libelous. These are scientists and that would be highly unethical behavior. What Storms reports asking for is “detailed information,” so the “adjustment” would simply be more information. So Cude presents asking for additional information as “suggested adjustments,” implying data falsification. Shame on him!

The error in the end result, even if you accept Storms’ cherry-picked, dubious analysis, which I don’t, is still 20%. On an experiment that removes the dependence on material quality. Heat, it is claimed, can be measured to mW, the helium, it is claimed, is orders of magnitude above the detection limit, and yet the errors are huge.

The major variation is in capture ratio, not in the heat or helium measurements themselves. If Cude were a genuine skeptic, he would see the actual problem.

One of the best sets of experiments is Apicella et al (2004). There were three experiments reported. (Unfortunately, ENEA has often not reported all results, only “positive” ones, which in my view is a serious error. McKubre has generally reported all experiments, so one can see the situation far better. But this is what we have.) In the first two, there was relatively substantial heat, and helium was reported at about 60% of the expected level from the 24 MeV/4He hypothesis. That is generally consistent with Miles and other work, including the first part of SRI M-4. With the third experiment, heat results were much lower. My sense is that in an attempt to stimulate heat production, they stripped the cathode (“anodic erosion”) which sometimes works for that. They found more helium released, the level came up to roughly the expected value, but the error bars would be about 20%, as I recall. Krivit did not understand what they did and made all kinds of accusations. What I noticed with SRI M-4, which also made attempts to strip the cathode, also more or less inadvertently, the helium levels rose as well, to within 4% of the expected value under that hypothesis. Hence I suggested that future work would also strip the cathode before completing. The hypothesis here is that helium is trapped in the cathode (which would be expected), that something more than half of the helium is not trapped), and that the rest is trapped near-surface, where only a thin etch will release it.

This is what passes for conclusive in the field of cold fusion.

The issue is not “conclusive.” It is “preponderance of the evidence.” According to whom? Cude? Lomax?

Well, sometimes, according to the editors of peer-reviewed journals, but even more significantly, those who make funding decisions for research. What I know is that I was promoting heat/helium research, encouraging replication with increased precision, way back. I was asked to write my Current Science paper by a physicist, at the end of 2014. But before the end of 2014, the project led by Robert Duncan at Texas Tech was funded, with $6 million from an anonymous donor and $6 million from State of Texas matching funds. The donor is known, and is no dope. This is exactly the kind of research that both U.S. DoE reviews suggested and I assume that, when complete, it will be published in the “journal system.”

This is good enough that no measurements of helium-heat in the last decade entered Storms’ calculations.

No, Storms considered all that. His figure for the heat-helium ratio is obviously an estimate, not a “calculation.” He gives 25 +/- 5 MeV/4He.

These are clearly pseudo-scientists, one and all. Real scientists obsess about details, especially in critical experiments like this. Any real scientist thinking there is anything to cold fusion would not rest until this error was nailed down. Millikan’s experiment was not accepted as good enough, but was repeated endlessly. Scientists are still toiling to reduce the limit of error on measurements of Einstein’s time dilation, and improve the value of the gravitation constant, and so on.

Cude has no idea. Cold fusion research and especially heat/helium research is expensive. Measuring helium at the predicted levels is difficult. Setting up the FP Heat Effect is difficult. But it’s being done. what Cude is more legitimately describing is not “pseudoscience,” but “pathological science,” at best. There is plenty of it around, sometimes supporting the “mainstream views.” That’s a long story, and coldfusioncommunity.net is telling some of it. Cude would actually be welcome to contribute, if he would tone down the pseudoskepticism and ad hominem arguments. There are real problems with many cold fusion experiments. One of the goals of the research I am supporting is to identify possible artifacts and test them. Pseudoskeptics are content to identify some “possible artifact” and then blame researchers for not ruling it out, but what is being demanded is more than available funding and time may permit. Until it is ruled out by controlled experiment, a “possible artifact” cannot be completely excluded.

What is offensive about Cude is not the criticism of some cold fusion work, but the general debunking rejection of all work, without discrimination, based on knee-jerk, unsupported claims of “con men” and guilt by association and all the other techniques of “debunkers.”

No, the pseudo-scientists are not pursuing it (or not admitting it) because they’re afraid that more careful results will be negative, and they would rather remain ignorant than to have to admit they wasted 2 decades of their life chasing wild geese.

Actually, my suggestions for confirmation of heat/helium were opposed by some in the field because they believed that work was already sufficient to establish the correlation, and scarce research dollars should not be spent on confirming what is already known. I disagreed, and, thankfully, funding sources also disagreed. A new result with increased precision should be publishable, and I would argue strongly for publishing results, if carefully done, no matter what they show. My trust is in reality itself, not in “cold fusion” or any particular scientist. Anyone can make mistakes. Bauer did a good job of deconstructing “pathological science,” but the pseudoskeptics on Wikipedia covered that up. It’s worth reading his paper.

I have argued for a long time that cold fusion researchers should publish all work, not just “positive results.” (If results are boring, fine, publishing on-line is enough.) Recently, I’ve been going over certain “replication failures,” they have been called. JCMNS has been publishing some of these. Real science is not about “positive” or “negative.” It is about actual results, and then careful analysis. “Replication failure” is usually a failure to replicate, not a proof of original error, but, obviously, it can raise some suspicion of that. Cude elsewhere calls cold fusion the same as “N-rays” and “polywater,” but with those, there was positive replication that, then, showed by controlled experiment that the original results were artifact. That never happened with cold fusion (other than as to some level of speculation, Cal Tech speculated that excess heat was the result of failure to stir, but that was shallow. Yes, with failure of electrolyte circulation, hot spots can develop and be mistaken for excess heat, with some forms of calorimetry. That the Pons and Fleischmann results, and other results using, say, flow calorimetry, were such artifacts was never shown. Heat/helium measurement cuts across protocols and should clearly distinguish between artifactual heat and helium and heat and helium as products of the same effect.

Instead of supporting confirmation, Cude attacked me and prior work. He was a pseudoscientist when it comes to cold fusion, asserting scientific belief without evidence. He attacked real people, real professionals, from behind a screen of anonymity. Which may have come unravelled, for which he blames everyone else, not taking responsibility for what he’s done.

Isn’t it an amazing coincidence that of all the possible products of nuclear reactions, the only one they claim to observe commensurate with the heat is the only one that is present in the background at about the right level?

As Huizenga pointed out, the experimental results are indeed amazing. However, the results show that this is not background helium. Miles was very careful about that. In the Case work, helium levels rose with accumulated excess heat, and continued rising in two of the experiments, showing no sign of slowing as they approached the background level and then exceeded it. So to explain it requires some hypothesis of sequestered helium, somehow released with the experimental conditions, rather Rube Goldberg, but I would not rely on the Case work, myself, because it was a gas-loaded protocol.  I used a diagram from Case in my Current Science paper because I was asked for “eye candy,” and it was the best thing I could come up with on short notice. I’d have preferred something more like the histogram that Storms later produced, showing results from many experiments. There are problems with that. There are problems with anything. The newer work, if I have any say, and I might, will address many of the old objections, but there is already enough evidence for what is important: a conclusion that either the preponderance of the evidence shows the heat/helium correlation already, or at least enough evidence to encourage new efforts to study it.

The within-the-field opinion contrary to this was based on another need: to develop a “lab rat,” a protocol that will demonstrate the FP Heat Effect with reasonable reliability. Long-term, this is very important, but my position was that as long as the reality of the effect was in serious question, as it is in the eyes of many, nailing that issue first would then open up and broaden interest and make more funding easier to obtain. Years ago, the genuine skeptic, Nate Hoffman, skewered the argument that because it was difficult to reproduce, cold fusion was therefore unreal, in his Dialogue book.

All the more plausible products that can be detected easily at levels orders of magnitude lower, are found, surprise, surprise, at orders of magnitude below the expected level. Nature is toying with them. (The transmutation situation is similar: all the precursors and products are stable, when of course, only a tiny fraction of radionuclides are stable.)

The FP Heat Effect produces heat and helium, the experimental evidence indicates, without those other effects. The other effects are reported, but at levels far below helium. The one most persistently reported is tritium. Often no attempt was made to correlate with heat, a mistake, in my opinion. That was because the levels were not “commensurate” with the heat, very far from it, but that reason depends on a theory of mechanism. Tritium is obviously not a major product, my standard rough estimate is that tritium is a million times down from that idea. And then neutrons are also reported at very low levels, which often gets people excited. A million times down from tritium. Basically, tritium, neutrons, and transmutations are generally a side-show, if real. The plethora of “nuclear effects” reported actually confused the entire field greatly. It is possible that there is more than one possible nuclear reaction under FP conditions. One of the benefits of improved heat/helium measurements would be setting limits on other reactions.

Deeper understanding will likely have to await the development of lab rats, so that various groups can be studying the same animal. Until then, the corpus of cold fusion research is largely, though not entirely, a collection of anecdotes, and anecdotes are properly indications for further research, not proofs of anything.

To sum up: An objective look at the heat/helium results does not provide even weak evidence for cold fusion. And given its extraordinary nature, that means it is almost certainly not happening.

Cude has not come close to an “objective look.” That summary conclusion, at variance with what has been published in not just one peer-reviewed review, but many, is clearly pseudoscientific and highly biased, relying on nonscientific argumentation and imprecation. This is typical. “Not even weak evidence” is obviously biased polemic. It is Cude believing in his own ideas — unless he actually knows better and is purely trolling.

I find no way to search moletrap for comments by joshua cude. Google for “joshua cude” site:moletrap.co.uk I get five hits. But cude has 107 posts made there according to the statistics. A search on-site for cude generates 77 hits, but only finds responses to him, not his posts. I can still compile a list, but it will be tedious. Maybe tomorrow, maybe never. 

disqus blogs

earliest post:

joshuacude November 6, 2011 11:32 AM

So what you’re saying is that the following people are total idiots;

that was a comment from cmoo, and the listed people were:

• Physicist professor Foccardi [sic]
• Physicist professor Levi
• Physicist professor Loris Ferrari
• Physicist professor Sven Kullander
• Physicist professor Hanno Essen
• Professor Roland Petterson
• Physicist professor Christos Stemmenos [sic]
• Professor Enrico Campari
• Professor Ennio Bonetti
• Professor Pierre Clauzon
• Chemistry professor Edward Jobson
• Matt Lewan (Physics Phd) [sic]
• All the staff and Board of Defkalion
• All the staff and Board of Ampenergo
• And finally most recently the scientist employed by the purchaser to oversee the latest test, Domenica Fioravanti [sic]

[sic] is for spelling errors that leap out at me. I don’t know all the names mentioned….

If the shoe fits…

Whether you want to call them idiots or not, it is clear that on the question of the ecat, they have demonstrated incompetence, and have failed to do their jobs, if their jobs were to extract a useful evaluation of the ecat performance. And you don’t have to believe maryyugo or anyone else to come to this conclusion. You only have to read a freshman physics or chemistry or thermodynamics text book, to realize that claims of nuclear reactions in the ecat are simply *not* supported by the evidence presented.

This was misleading, though, in fact, there was probably no nuclear reaction. There is no information in a those textbooks that would allow an a priori evaluation of such a claim. The issue with nuclear reactions is not possibility (they are possible) but rate. To calculate the rate, one must know the reaction and conditions, and with Rossi, at that point, the claimed reactants were not known and the conditions were secret. It was clear by this time (late 2011) that the Rossi tests were inconclusive, and it appeared to be very possible that (1) Rossi was a con artist or (2) Rossi was a real inventor paranoid about his invention being stolen and (3) Rossi was attempting to look like a con artist to discourage imitation. There was no way to truly distinguish these possibilities. By 2012, a group of investors decided they need to know, and it was worth risking a substantial sum to find out. They found out. Rossi lies.

But were all those people “idiots”? Well, Ampenergo was paid a lot of money for the investment they made. They may have made a profit. The goal of Industrial Heat was to facilitate the development of cold fusion in general, and their risk with Rossi — they knew it was a long shot — appears to have inspired an investment of $50 million for cold fusion research (not for Rossi!), so it paid off for them (not personally, that wasn’t their goal, this was all high risk, and they have reported nothing so far that would be an immediate commercial possibility (nor do I know of any such. Brillouin has some results, nothing spectacular, they have a long way to go, if they ever succeed. What I know is that cold fusion is, preponderance of the evidence, a real effect, nuclear in nature, but difficult to control, and without control, commercial possibilities remain elusive. So, anyway, Cude sits in his chair and condemns others for not immediately “knowing” that this was bogus, imagining that he has a better grasp of physics. He doesn’t. He is simply young and arrogant.

All but one of the semi-public ecat tests (including the megawatt test) rely on the claim that all (or nearly all) of the water passing through the ecat is converted to steam. However, credible evidence for this claim is never presented. That several of the named professionals accept visual inspection or measurements of relative humidity as evidence for complete vaporization, alone impeaches their competence on evaluating the ecat. Instead of looking for evidence for dry steam, they measure the temperature every few seconds, even though the temperature (always near the boiling point) tells us nothing about the fraction of liquid that is vaporized. Pure incompetence!

They were, in fact, outside their field. The relative humidity meter had a g/m^3 function, which some of those people named apparently assumed was measured. Quite simply, they did not know how the meter worked. That was simply a calculated reading from the humidity. Devices that can measure steam quality are very expensive and complex. Any steam engineer would know that. Rossi kept steam engineers far away from his demonstrations. He also rejected a visit by Jed Rothwell, who was quite sympathetic, because Rothwell said he would bring his own instruments. The last thing Rossi wanted! He was famous for shutting down demonstrations when anyone attempted to verify what he was claiming.

If you read a physics textbook, you will learn that when you pass water through a system, it takes a certain power to raise its temperature *to* the boiling point. You will also learn that (if you are starting from room temperature), it takes about 8 times as much power to convert all the water to steam.

All this is true and well-known.

None of those professionals seem the least bit bothered by the fact that the ecat takes on the order of hours to deliver the power required to reach the onset of boiling, but only a few more minutes to deliver 8 times that power to vaporize all the liquid.

And that could possibly be explained. (To produce the necessary power, the fuel must reach a certain temperature, and at a critical temperature, power rapidly increases and the problem is preventing runaway. Yes, it’s bullshit. Cude’s objection was reasonable. It’s an issue. However, mysteries prove little, this is the “how come” argument that pseudoscientists use to argue for, say, flat earth theory. Something unexplained is found that may imply the pseudoscientific theory.

One of the problems with Rossi is another unwarranted assumption. To attempt a fraud as Rossi was attempting, “he would have to be crazy.” He even sued his major investor, and his followers said, if he didn’t have a real technology, “he’d have to be crazy.” Well, he’s still alive, and didn’t go to jail, and he got to keep the money he had been paid. How crazy is he?

At this point, though, with all the evidence that is now available, someone who invests in his technology, thinking it is real, would “have to be crazy.” But we know that with high certainty now because some investors were willing to take the risk. They could afford it. These are people who invest $25 million in a long shot, commonly, and who only need to occasionally win the bet.

The reason that this is so easily accepted appears to be because both of those scenarios occur at the same *output* temperature.

That would explain acceptance by the ignorant, not those who know the basic physics.

But if you take a little time to think about it, then you should understand that the two scenarios require vastly different temperatures of the ecat heating element. In fact, the power transfer scales with the temperature difference between the water and the heating element.

It is obvious that the internal design of the e-cat, for it to mean anything, required substantial thermal resistance between the “heating element” (i.e., the fuel) and the cooling water. The fuel must be a lot hotter than the water. If we assume a constant thermal resistance (it might not be), then, yes, the transfer would “scale with the temperature difference.”

This kind of a discontinuous change in the temperature of the heating element is simply not plausible, given the time it takes to reach the onset of boiling.

We were allowed no information on the temperature of the heating element. We were allowed no information on the heating protocol. Perhaps, for example, the heating was slowly ramped up to approach a critical temperature. My own analysis was that the Rossi design practically required water overflow if the flow rate was constant. So was water overflow measured? No. Kullander and Essen did not look for overflow water, apparently trusting the humidity meter. Huge mistake. And to compound it, they never acknowledged the error. (And, later, the other so-called “independent professors” made huge mistakes in the Lugano test, and never acknowledged them.) All this was glorious idiocy for Cude. I’m somewhat sympathetic. But … apparently scientists are human.

What makes it even more implausible is that the discontinuous change in the heating element temperature is presumed to happen exactly at the onset of boiling. How does it know? That these professionals can believe this means the shoe fits.

Cude has not established that change. I agree that a detailed analysis wasn’t done.

Finally, the notion that power is so accurately regulated indicates that the output fluid is almost certainly a mixture of phases at the local boiling point. The variation in power that corresponds to the variation in temperature corresponds to about +/- 1 %, which seems a little rich, given the variations reported in the February run (that didn’t rely on steam), and from the fact that the various demonstrations give powers that are all over the map.

Something was always fishy about every Rossi demonstration. That was obvious by the end of 2011.

(By the way, the only semi-public test that did not rely on conversion to steam, claimed a much lower COP, and used an inexplicably indirect method to measure the water temperatures, which almost certainly resulted in errors in favor of the ecat.)

Rossi seems to have found many ways to create an appearance of significant power.

It is indeed surprising that so many scientists and engineers can miss these simple considerations. I think it speaks to Rossi’s skill at vetting the observers that he invites to the demonstrations.

Indeed. Rossi also strongly resisted the presence of independent experts as requested by his actual customer (in 2013), and they allowed that, because they knew that if they objected, I infer, Rossi would simply have pulled the plug, as he had many times. They wanted to give Rossi every chance to prove the technology was real by teaching them how to create the reaction. He never did. Always some excuse or other, and then he faked a megawatt plant. But …. he’d have to be crazy! How can you fake a megawatt?

You probably can’t, but you can create distractions and confusion and the appearance of expert testimony. In actual court, they were setting up to present the opening arguments when Rossi’s attorney suggested a settlement. Many critics of Rossi were disappointed that Industrial Heat agreed to a walk-away. My own analysis was that, legally, they would not be able to recover their original investment because of estoppel. They could have recovered as much as a few million dollars from the later 1 MW frauds, not enough to recover their legal expenses, and some level of risk that Rossi’s attorneys might have been able to sway a jury. I was there and I’d already seen the opening arguments and the jury and my opinion is that, no, IH would have prevailed, but at high cost. A month of trial with four or five high-paid attorneys sitting there. Not cheap. Was anyone ready to pay their legal expenses? I don’t think so.

In fact, what came out in the trial — it is all on this site — was quite enough to expose Rossi as a fraud. He is still continuing to snow some of his followers, but some of them are bailing.

Some of them of course are LENR advocates from before,

That is not true for almost all on the list. In fact, had they been “LENR” knowledgeable, they might not have been so vulnerable. The majority opinion among CMNS researchers was that Rossi was not at all to be trusted. Some were much more negative than that. Focardi is the major name who had done prior LENR research, and he was old and shortly to die. Nobody had every shown anything like what Rossi was claiming. It was outside the box. But if one had an existing opinion that LENR was real, from having seen it oneself, yes, one might be more vulnerable to thinking Rossi had something.

some have been associated with him for a long time (including the customer consultant in the megawatt test), and some have made public statements in support of the ecat.

there was no customer yet. Defkalion was the initial customer and bailed (and then fell into massive disrepute themselves). Rossi claimed to have sold many 1 MW plants. The only actual sale was to Industrial Heat in 2012, delivered in 2013, and returned, apparently as worthless, in the Settlement Agreement in 2017.

If Rossi really had confidence in his ecat, the invitees would include scientists on the record as being skeptical. For example, he could invite Steven Krivit to bring a few scientists of his choosing. Convincing them would carry some weight.

Rossi had already rejected Krivit as a “snake and clown.” The assumption here is that if the technology were real, Rossi would want to prove that in his demonstrations, by doing what Cude thinks he would do.

Cude does not consider an opposing argument, that Rossi had a real technology but also knew that someone else, highly motivated, seeing such proof and willing to put millions of dollars (or hundreds of millions or billions) could do what he did, and find it. So he would want to make it look like he was a con artist. So why have any demonstration at all, until he is ready for market? Well, perhaps to attract enough interest and investment to carry on until market-ready. This is what people who could see the problems were thinking in 2011. My personal opinion back then was that “fraudulent and insane” was more likely, but I could not rule out the possibility of “real inventor and insane,” i.e., paranoid. Everyone agrees, including Rossi’s friends, that he’s paranoid. A few think it is justified.

Storms apparently still thinks Rossi had something, but that he lost it. That has apparently happened in the history of LENR. Something works, they keep trying to improve it, and then it doesn’t work any more and they can’t get back to what works. Basically, some original condition was not recognized as important, the original materials that worked were lost and it never worked again. The Case material may have been like that. A particular batch of coconut charcoal. There are aspects to the history of LENR that might forever be mysteries. Or not. Until we know what the reaction actually is and know how to reliably create it, true knowledge is likely to remain elusive.

Of course, we could simply ask Joshua Cude, the authority, who doesn’t need facts but can assess truth through personalities and who supports what.

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Discussion on NetworkWorld  91 comments

Cude jumped in with this: Feb 17th 2016

Abd wrote:

No, what is needed, ordinarily, and even with something like cold fusion, is preponderance of the evidence. It is not necessary to prove every detail, and unless one has unlimited funding, it is probably impossible.

Cude did not link to the original, so here it is.

A preponderance of evidence is a legal term, but used descriptively, presumably it means that, based on the evidence, someone judges something to be more likely than not. You are saying, presumably, that in your judgement, the evidence indicates cold fusion is more likely to be real than not.

Yes. And from my study, that evidence is not weak and not merely circumstantial. To be sure, we need a definition of “cold fusion.” I use that to refer to the Fleischmann-Pons Heat Effect, and it appears that half the U.S. DoE review panel agreed with this in 2004. However, I go further. That review, as reported by the summarizer, did not understand the helium evidence and radically misstated it. The production of correlated helium is direct evidence that the heat is generated by a nuclear reaction, Pons and Fleischmann called it “unknown.” Calling it fusion was quite misleading. I use this term, instead of the more neutral LENR, because the helium evidence does indicate that the reaction is converting deuterium to helium, by unknown mechanism. That is a fusion result, so … until we know better, it’s like some kind of fusion. But it is very unlikely, for reasons Cude knows well, to be “D-D fusion.”

But you are not in a position of authority to make such a judgement for anyone else.

That is correct, unless I am placed in that position. I am a journalist, primarily, and an activist. My responsibility is to my readership. In general, I present evidence for readers to judge. I also disclose my own judgments, and I am responsible for them. However, this is a truly remarkable argument to make, I would call it trolling.

You don’t have a science degree or any experience in scientific research. Moreover, you have admitted that your advocacy has been paid for.

If I had such a degree, would it make any difference? Would I therefore be qualified to “judge for someone else”? I have an education, which has been disclosed. I have a great deal of experience writing for an expert audience (on the CMNS mailing list).

As to being “paid for,” that is a report that shows that Cude either doesn’t understand what he has read, he confuses his interpretations with truth, or he has believed trolls who make that claim. What actually happened that could be taken that way is that I wrote, in private email with a scientist, about Wikipedia and how it worked, the policies, and how it doesn’t work. There was someone on cc who then asked me to bill him. I told him that he could donate to my nonprofit, $50 or $100, it would be fine. He then asked me to bill him for a far higher figure, through the nonprofit. So I did. He did not pay for advocacy, there was one request, that I review a certain web site, but it wasn’t ready yet. I’ve still not been asked to complete that, and the review would have been for him, not for publication.

I have not been paid to advocate anything. Advocacy is my choice, and what I am advocating is not “Cold Fusion is Real!” but research; as part of that deciding what research is to be supported is important, and, years ago, I identified confirming heat/helium determination as crucial, as the only direct evidence that the Anomalous Heat Effect, it is also being called, is both real and nuclear in nature. Determining the value of the ratio is difficult, something Cude doesn’t seem to realize. Part of the problem is capturing all the helium, and then there are issues in the mass spectrometry, which is expensive. Etc.

Recently, I was also crowd-funded to report on the Rossi v. Darden trial, such that I actually met Rossi and Darden and Vaughn and other involved people. Because that trial settled unexpectedly on the fourth day, I have money left over, so I have funding for expenses and travel. Cude it attempting his classic move: ad hominem argument. It’s false and it is trolling.

Those who do have relevant expertise and experience, for the most part, are not convinced cold fusion is real, so that means that, in their judgement, the preponderance of evidence fails to make cold fusion more likely to be real than not.

And who is Cude to be making this judgment? I am known, I have a long public history, people can review it readily. Cude is an anonymous skeptic/pseudoskeptic/troll. His “for the most part” is a complex judgment. Is it based on evidence? What evidence, and when was that evidence collected? How would we know?

I was aware of the Pons and Fleischmann announcement in 1989, and knew the basic issues, but not the experimental details. In fact, nobody knew other than a few, at that point. When what we know of as early cold fusion history came down, I assumed that it had all been a mistake. Much later, I had become quite involved with Wikipedia, and came across an abusive blacklisting. I request that the administrator undo it. He blew me off. Eventually, this went to the Arbitration Committee and they confirmed my assessment and the admin was reprimanded. And then his faction came after me.

I had started to work on the Cold fusion article. I was not a “believer.” (It is still not fair to call me that and I consider it very possible that I will never see a commercial cold fusion device, it is possible –though perhaps unlikely — that such will never exist, so “wishful thinking” (Cude’s classic explanation for the belief of scientists and others “in cold fusion” — that is a radical insult to a scientist) has nothing to do with it. Because I realized the potential importance I bought all the major books, something I had never done before researching a Wikipedia article. Taubes is one of my favorites, for his historical research. Cude has no clue.

Genuine skeptics support what I’m doing. Trolls attack it.

Such experts are of course considering the copious and consistent and reproducible evidence from a century of nuclear physics that collectively suggests strongly that nuclear reactions would not happen in the context of cold fusion experiments.

That argument was known to be defective in 1989. (Teller, Schwinger, Cold fusion is not a “nuclear physics” topic, in origin. It was a finding in electrochemistry, of anomalous heat. The first and foremost question was the reality and origin of this heat. Not “is it theoretically possible,” that is a Cargo Cult question. Science does not ask if experimental results are “possible,” and a science that rejects experimental results in favor of its own theoretical construct has lost science and has become scientist.

(Experimental results are experimental results and are distinct from their interpretation.)

Yes. The heat was very much unexpected. Pons and Fleischmann were looking at a problem that I remember from Feynman: we cannot calculate the solid state, it is far too complex. They knew that certain simplifying assumptions were made to calculate fusion rates in the solid state. (i.e., in a material like PdD). They suspected that the actual rate might be different. This was ordinary science. They expected that there was a difference (that is practically inevitable), but they also thought they would probably be unable to measure it. Nevertheless, they decided to look. And then their experiment melted down. They spent almost five years attempting to create controlled experiments, and it was … difficult. They were not ready to announce. But Jones was actually investigating along the same line of thinking, and thought he was finding neutrons. That pushed the university into announcing, prematurely. The rest is history.

What happens when experts are charged with investigation and report? Cude is quite unspecific. He is asserting a vague consensus, as if it is fact. It is probably true that “most scientists” or “most nuclear physicists” think “cold fusion was rejected long ago.” This was mentioned in my paper and in other reviews in Current Science in 2015. That is what Tiernan called an “information cascade” (referring to the “scientific consensus” on fat in the diet and obesity and heart disease). It is an opinion that spread without ever being scientifically confirmed.

The most recent public expert panel was the 2004 DoE review. It does not support Cude’s idea of some massive scientific rejection. That review as brief and badly managed, I’ve written extensively about that. But it was a sea change from 1989. And 1989 did not conclude impossibility. It noted the theoretical difficulty, and, to my mind, both reviews focused far too much on theory. There is no satisfactory cold fusion theory as to mechanism. It’s an enormous challenge. There is a hypothesis, that falls out of the heat/helium work: the heat is from the conversion of deuterium to helium. That is testable. It does not require “reliable experiments.” It does require setting up the AHE, at least occasionally. It is known how to do that, but it’s still largely an art. There is no “lab rat” you can go out and buy or put together from instructions. But if one is determined, one can see the effect.

And that work is under way in Texas.

Next to this, the erratic, marginal, inconsistent, and irreproducible results associated with such experiments are far more plausibly explained by artifacts. Which is to say, in the mainstream view, the preponderance of evidence points to artifact, and by a vast margin.

Helium production correlated with anomalous heat is reproducible and has been confirmed many times by many groups. Cude knows this, so he is lying. Where does the “mainstream view” exist?

In the minds of some. In the Sixty Minutes report on Cold fusion, Richard Garwin is quoted, about SRI calorimetry, the work of experts, “They must be making some mistake.”

That is an understandable, though knee-jerk, opinion. There is a belief in the impossibility of “cold fusion”, but like many such beliefs, it requires a definition. How would we know that “cold fusion” is impossible? We would have to know what it is. Or we would have to have such thorough and deep knowledge of all the possible conditions that can arise to be able to claim, sensibly, that if it was real, we would already know about it. That assumption of adequate knowledge is common and ordinary, but … if accepted, such that experimental evidence is simply discarded because “impossible,” science could not advance beyond the limits of the already-known.

The basis of Cude’s position, then, is belief. Rational skepticism would sit with “I’m not yet convinced,” but not advance into the arrogant, confident, rejection of the work of others, that Cude so often indulges in.

“Scientific opinion” is properly, the opinion of the knowledgeable. Cude is more knowledgeable than any other skeptic I have encountered. Shanahan is actually published, but is common unable to see his hand in front of his face. Cude has collected an armory of arguments. I have collected these before, on newvortex, I’ll probably pull that in.

Cude is not, however, practicing science. He is not seeking to test his ideas. He advances arguments that appeal to some audiences, but that are not at all scientific, such as his obvious ad hominems.

He is dissmissing the work of hundreds of scientists as all “artifact.” He has elsewhere claimed that cold fusion is “N-rays” and “polywater,” but those were found to be artifact through replication and then a showing of artifact, not through simple claims and replication failure.

The work on those topics that led to rejection was actually replication first. Creating the artifact! So what happens when careful calorimetry is done? Many fail, that’s what Cude relies on, but he is ignoring that many have succeeded in seeing the heat. And then he is ignoring the extensive work showing helium correlation. Again, there must be some mistake, and it’s easy to postulate that the helium is from leakage. But that explanation does not fit well with the actual results. It’s just an idea without foundation in the experimental evidence. And, then, “artifact” does not fit well with the observed correlation. Wouldn’t helium also leak in hydrogen or other control experiments? Why does helium show up with heat, and not with no heat? The “heat” involved is not “higher temperature,” necessarily, or if it is higher, it is a few degrees C., not a major heating that could affect seals.

No, Cude is essentially ignoring any inconvenient evidence, or attacking it with pseudoscience.

Of course, absolute proof of anything is not possible, but something like cold fusion could surely be proved to arbitrary certainty if it were real, much as high temperature superconductivity was not doubted by any experts after the first publication became available.

Reasoning by defective analogy. I would say that “cold fusion” has been shown to be real by extensive experimentation by many different research groups. That it is not accepted as HT superconductivity was accepted is an issue for the sociology of science, and there are books on this. It is not about science, per se, but about people and how people behave collectively.

And what matters is not my opinion, or Cude’s opinion, but the opinion of those who decide on research funding. The DoE recommended modest research funding, but the only research we know of that was funded by the DoE was Shanahan’s Abortion. Why were there no fundamental projects funded? Probably, politics.

But there are other sources of funding. EPRI needed to know, and they funded McKubre’s work at SRI, and published it. Cude completely disregards that SRI was charged with sober investigation, by people who needed to know. DARPA needed to know, and also funded SRI. Others managed to continue research out of discretionary funds. I’m told that the SPAWAR program was shut down because a manager freaked out over Rossi. I just read the other day on E-Catworld a 20aa claim that SPAWAR was the “military customer” that Rossi pretended to have tthen. That might just have led to that program cancellation. It was completely false.

And, more recently? Industrial Heat needed to know, and was willing to put money into finding out. Their interest was LENR in general, and Rossi was depressing research. (Why fiddle with milliwatts or a few watts if Rossi is claiming kilowatts?)  They raised and invested in Rossi, $20 million.

Woodford Fund investigated LENR and decided to invest. In Rossi? No. They gave Industrial Heat $50 million for LENR research, which was spent, maybe $25 million of it, on other LENR projects, with theory and experiment. One of the projects they supported for a time was the Letts work with dual laser stimulation, which I had also suggested as scientifically significant. (That work was unsuccessful, apparently, but inconclusively so, and it was stopped, apparently because IH needed to focus on the lawsuit. Rossi did a lot of damage! IH is mostly secretive, so I don’t really know what is happening now.(

And then, a major donor gave $6 million to Texas Tech for a project that featured heat/helium replication, to be matched by $6 million in Texas State funds.

Those are the people who need to look at “preponderance of the evidence,” and in some cases, even weak evidence might be worth investment. The reason for that is that cold fusion, if real, could be extraordinarily valuable. Sane investment does not require certainty. It requires a sober estimate of risks.

It is almost inconceivable that an energy density a million times that of dynamite, accessible at ordinary conditions could not be made obvious in 27 years,

The conditions of cold fusion are far from “ordinary.” He means “not at temperatures of millions of degrees.” That energy density is apparently in a thin layer under not-well-understood conditions. This paradox appeared in the attempts to replicate Pons and Fleischmann: the Japanese though that they should use the purest palladium. It flat-out did not work.

When people do see the effect, it’s often obvious. Cude knows that. The truth behind his claims is that it’s quite difficult to set up the conditions. He is demanding, not mere obviousness, but readily repeatable and reliable obviousness.

I proposed the new heat/helium work because it does not require that we have what Cude demands. If one experiment out of ten, say, with a confirmed protocol, were to produce XP (and some protocols have done much better than that), and then one were to run a hundred trials, producing 10 examples of excess heat, and one were to analyse the outgas from those experiments, what would it show?

From the history, I expect that heat and helium would  be correlated and if these are FP-class experiments, about 60% of the helium expected from the conversion of deuterium to helium for that energy release would be measured. And if the surface is stripped, dissolving palladium and releasing trapped helium, the rest would be measured. Within experimental error.

That would be as close to “proof” as I can imagine.

And then the focus can turn to creating the lab rat, because further investigation requires commensurability across the work of multiple groups.

What I have found is that genuine skeptics are interested and support this approach. Pseudoskeptical trolls attack my lack of a degree and my age and my alleged this and that.

but it is completely plausible that artifacts producing a variety of confounding effects that look like cold fusion if you squint would be too elusive to be nailed down in 27 years.

Plausible but not likely. There are artifacts that afflict the research, but there are also studies that were quite careful, where artifact is unlikely.

EPRI also funded Hoffman’s study, published as a book in 1995 by the American Nuclear Society, A Dialogue on Chemically-Induced Nuclear Effects, Guide for the Perplexed about Cold Fusion. Hoffman goes over the evidence that existed as he began. He does not mention the later Miles work, and I’m not sure why. But Hoffman was a skeptic, not a “believer,” but he knew that the question or reality was open. He considered the calorimetry, in general, to be sound.

So is the heat a chemical effect? The calculations of energy density, I do not find convincing. There are too many assumptions being made. (In fact, though, it appears that the effect is a surface one, and so the energy density is higher than estimated by Pons and Fleischmann based on their idea that the effect was in the bulk.) The problem is generally the level of the effect compared to some possible unexpected recombination.

Shanahan makes the general point that there is an anomaly, something unexpected, but he assigns it to chemistry, not a nuclear reaction. Shanahan’s ideas are rejected by experienced electrochemists, but … that would be an argument from authority, so we have been and will be looking at details.

But Shanahan’s chemical anomaly does not approach an explanation of correlated helium.

Many cold fusion students will also point to tritium (often found, but correlation with heat has not been studied), neutrons (found at extremely low levels, no far above background, at least not generally), and transmutations. I consider all this a distraction, mysteries that will become far easier to resolve with the existence of a lab rat. The main show is heat and helium and apparently almost nothing else being produced. No gammas, or if there are significant gammas, they are low-energy.

Cude went on to generate a total of 261 posts on LF. The last was July 16. 2016.

Skeptoid

On February 27, Cude dumped a huge text bomb on that blog….  There were followup posts. Nothing appeared like what was commented the first time.

Cold Fusion Now

March 12, 2012

April 12, 2013
“Your historical analogy is not accurate. The energy released by Ra-226 is not fission; it’s alpha decay.”
This is bizarre. As usual, Cude is half-right. The energy is from alpha decay. But alpha decay is obviously a form of fission, a special case. This is typical trolling. Cude’s argument was irrelevant. French was correct. All analogies are inaccurate in some way, so this objection was purely pedantic (and only correct within a very restricted use of language).

April 13, 2013
April 14, 2013

Mass Use of Cold Fusion in One Year – or Less


October 24, 2011
October 26, 2011
October 26, 2011
October 26, 2011

Letters to the Senate request hearings on DOE and USPTO.

Electron capture by a proton – Where would the energy come from?


March 18, 2013 (Except for the “attorney” comment, he is totally correct.)
March 19, 2013
March 20, 2013
March 19, 2013
March 19, 2013
March 20, 2013
March 18, 2013
March 19, 2013

Scientific American Attacks Cold Fusion Research with Twenty-Year-Old Claims

In this case, Jennifer Ouelette wrote a critique of cold fusion on her Scientific American blog, then left comments open and censored them without cause. It does appear that she deleted a comment by Joshua Cude, of which one line is quoted by Rothwell.

I’m not aware of a single major university that has expressed the opinion that evidence for the claims of P&F is overwhelming.

Ouelette refers to pro-cold fusion fanatics, as if these are the only trolls infesting fora.

That Cude statement is a great example of how Cude argues. I am not aware of such an expression either. Notice all the qualifications. “Major,” which then allows Cude to claim, if one points to a counterexample, that it’s not a “major university.” Then, universities rarely express opinions and then not opinions like that. Then, what are the “claims of P&F”? What claims? Some of their claims were erroneous. And finally, is the evidence “overwhelming,” presumably, “beyond a shadow of doubt”? — or is it merely convincing or even reasonably conclusive?

Jed responded with his own hyperbolic polemic:

Professors at universities and at other institutions express that opinion. For example, the Chairman of the Indian Atomic Energy Commission said that, as did the world’s top expert in tritium at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (NSF p. 13-3). In 1991, The Director of the Max Planck Institute for Physical Chemistry in Berlin wrote: “. . . there is now undoubtedly overwhelming indications that nuclear processes take place in the metal alloys.”

Hundreds of other distinguished experts in nuclear physics and other related disciplines have said they are certain cold fusion is real. They know this because they have conducted experiments and detected the reaction at high signal to noise ratios, and their experiments have survived rigorous peer-review. That is the only way anyone ever knows anything for sure in science. Replicated, high sigma experiments are the only standard of truth.

He has not read the Cude comment carefully, so he responds to a different claim, and I could suspect that Ouelette recognized this and thus dismissed his comment, which is unfortunate. As is not uncommon with Jed (there are many examples in the discussions I have been linking to in studying Cude), his comments overstate the case. Usually the ‘case’ would be reasonable, but not the details of how he presents it, so a troll like Cude can take it apart, and a pseudoskeptic like Ouelette can dismiss it. Jed’s response to critique on this point is often “I don’t care what skeptics think.”

That is where we differ. I do care what genuine skeptics think, and will also attempt to carefully address even some pseudoskeptical arguments, because the boundary between pseudoskepticism and genuine skepticism can be obscure. In the end, my target is ultimately decision-makers (for funding, publication, and other issues), who will properly be skeptical.

Jed gives three references.

  1. A BARC publication. 8 pages. I searched it while having migraine symptoms. So maybe I missed it, but I found nothing in that publication that supported the claim of “overwhelming evidence.”
  2. EPRI publication. 13-3 (pdf page 266) does not support the statement. This is not looking good.
  3. This reference is a note from Bockris about Gerischer, about a shift in Gerischer’s position that took place in the Como Conference, 1991. A fuller quote than Jed gave:

In spite of my earlier conclusion, – and that of the majority of scientists, – that the phenomena
reported by Fleischmann and Pons in 1989 (3) depended either on measurement errors or were of
chemical origin, there is now undoubtedly overwhelming indications that nuclear processes take
place in the metal alloys. The early publications were so full of errors in measurement technique and
in the interpretation that the euphoria to which the discovery gave rise was rapidly replaced by
disappointment when it turned out that the laboratories with the best equipment could not reproduce
the results. Only very few groups found similar effects, but even these groups could not find
reproducibility in their own laboratory.

And then:

AN EVALUATION OF THE RESULTS OBSERVED SO FAR

Although there are many discrepancies in the reports which are at hand, and although there
are many open questions, there now lie before us several indications that fusion reactions do occur
between deuterides in metals. This gives rise to a new situation. It is entirely an open question
whether such processes could be used as the source of energy but this, of course, can only be
decided if the processes which have been revealed in the work discussed here are researched and
given a theoretical basis. In any case I consider it absolutely necessary that these phenomena are
systematically researched and the conditions for their reproducibility cleared up. That a nuclear
reaction can be stimulated by interaction with a solid lattice and made to take another path from that
which it would take in the plasma, is an entirely unexpected discovery with possibly wide-ranging
consequences. It demands confirmation and further experimental evaluation. In the following a
number of experimental and theoretical questions are raised which are at the present time entirely
open.

That “evaluation” shows what was already reasonably concluded from what Jed quoted. There are “indications.” Jed synthesizes it into “that opinion” (what Cude claimed did not exist, perhaps correctly), and then goes on to consider it, probably, as an example of what he then claimed about hundreds of scientists, “they are certain cold fusion is real.” Gerischer didn’t say that and did not mean that.

As Jed well knows, there was a rejection cascade, where an unscientific scientific consensus appeared, and incorrect or misleading opinion became common. It is not fair, but to counter this requires extraordinary evidence, and those who seek to transform any broad consensus need be particularly careful. If you are going to shoot the King, don’t miss.

Jed became cynical, and just expresses his opinion, without that caution. The “certainty” expressed, if that is the actual position, and without being careful about what “certainty” means, would be pseudoscientific. There is no successful cold fusion theory. There is no lab rat allowing wide and ready confirmation. Gerischer points out the problems, he does not think they have been solved. His actual claim is that the “indications” are strong enough to justify further research. This is not, as Cude claims in his “poetic” post (great catch, Ruby!) N-rays or polywater, where controlled experiment revealed the artifact under the original claims. But it is not the confident conclusion Jed imagines.

So, in a discussion that will be read by a general audience, including those who are ordinarily and reasonably skeptical, but perhaps they are not aware of the developed evidence, as Gerischer became, and you make a claim that appears to contradict what they thought was commonplace, what “everybody knows,” you have made a major accomplishment, if they bother to check your sources (most won’t!). But if the sources do not clearly show what you claimed, you have completely blown the opportunity, poisoned the well, and they may think the same about anyone else who makes the same claims. They won’t even look. They will think, with Garwin, “They must be making some mistake.”

Pogo: we have met the enemy, and he is us.

An Impossible Invention

Aleklett’s blog

misc

http://scienceblogs.com/startswithabang/2011/12/05/the-nuclear-physics-of-why-we/

Mats Lewan’s blog

Cude also acknowledged writing as “popeye”. (lovely comment, by the way, on Skeptoid. If Cude/Schroeder ever wonders why some might be motivated to document his activity, he could look at that.) Retrieving posts from ecatnews.com may be difficult or impossible. It has also been claimed that “fact police” was Cude. I found a post on E-Catworld, but the user did not create a profile. While this could be Cude, it is far from obvious.

 

 

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.)