Cold fusion: Manual for the Compleat Idiot

There is a decent video by Jed Rothwell

Unfortunately it repeats some common tropes that can make an approach to understanding cold fusion more difficult (as they did from the beginning). Rather than take this apart, what would be a better introduction? I’m using a recent post by Jed Rothwell as a seed that may create one.

On LENR Forum, Jed Rothwell wrote: wrote:

So how do we establish that LENR has been replicated? We are surrounded by hyperskeptics, whom I have no real interest in appeasing because their standard, if it were applied to any other branch of science, would send us back to some kind of stone age.

I recommend you ignore the hyperskeptics. I engage with them here only to keep in practices, as an exercise in rhetorical target practice.

Great excuse! Someone is wrong on the internet! There goes countless hours. This is useful if one actually hones literary and rhetorical skills, but, too often, there is no genuine feedback, no objective standard or measure of success. What, indeed, is success? What I’ve gained from the engagement is familiarity with the issues. It enables me to speak cogently, off-the-cuff. We’ll see how effective that is!

We are not, however, “surrounded by hyperskeptics.” Where does Kev live that he thinks this way? Planet Rossi? If someone new is not skeptical about cold fusion, they don’t understand the problem.

I recommend you concentrate instead on trying to persuade open minded people who are sincerely interested in the subject. There are apparently a large number of such people. Although the numbers seem to be dropping off. See: statistics

I’ve been writing for years about this. A goal of “persuading” people can be disempowering. How about “inspiring” them? Short of that, “informing” them. Of what? Our opinions? wrote:

Aiming for an ordinary skeptic, it seems reasonable to me to accept the first hundred or so replications by the “who’s who of electrochemistry” as accepted, those >150 peer reviewd replications collected by Britz, > 180 labs, and the 14,700 replication

Putting on my skeptic hat, or taking off my believer hat — and does it matter which it is? — the word “replication” is being used very sloppily here. The figure from a Rothwell analysis of Britz data, as I recall, as of a certain date, was 153 peer reviewed papers that Britz considered “positive.” These reported many different effects and experimental protocols. Actual replication is relatively rare, and pointing to that figure, inflated as presented, is misleading.

[Jed Rothwell has commented below, giving a link to the paper. The compilation was of heat effect papers only. To address this more carefully will take more study, which is possible and which could be useful.]

I remember encountering that He paper with the high success rate; in fact, I think I pointed it out to Britz and Rothwell, it had been missed. I’m not quite sure what he was talking about, and the high numbers actually will put an ordinary skeptic off. “Believers” often have little skill at communication. Here, Kev shows he can’t — or at least doesn’t — think like a skeptic, and to communicate with people, one needs to be able to think like them, or at least to use their language.

Basically, if he thinks he is surrounded by “hyperskeptics,” he is probably pushing way too hard. Most people dislike someone trying to argue them into a belief.

People do not like to be told they have to read many papers to evaluate cold fusion.

Yes. One of the problems with the 2004 DoE review is that reviewers were given a large pile of papers to read. Without some careful guidance, and probably interactive education, in a live conference that included plenty of feedback, this was predictable to backfire.

(Instead the review paper was probably written to convince. How well did that work? A major problem is that those within the field are convinced by facts that leave someone outside cold. How can we find the possible connections?)

So I usually suggest they read McKubre, starting with his review, then one of his publications:

So I am creating a page here to study that paper. Cold Fusion (LENR) One Perspective on the State of the Science

and so also Isothermal flow calorimetric investigations of the D/Pd and H/Pd systems

These are well-written, and they are understandable.

Some readers may find parts of them difficult. We will address that.

They are easier to understand than, say, Fleischmann. Fleischmann presents stronger evidence of more dramatic effects at higher power, but his methods are harder to understand.

Definitely. His calorimetry may have been he best ever, but then he complicated it (at least in appearance) by the boil-off work, but that will take a separate study. The point here is simply that Fleischmann can be difficult to approach.

As I often say, McKubre presents the best evidence. If this does not convince you, the other papers probably will not convince you either, so you might as well drop the subject. I am not hiding any better evidence. I am not holding back more convincing papers.

I think my own heat/helium paper from Current Science, 2015, is fairly convincing, if I say so myself. At least I’ve seen skeptics perk up their ears. I.e., actual and very specific science they can bite into. It’s not a perfect paper, but it was rewritten to engage a skeptic, the reviewer. It worked. That was fun. Maybe we will study that another day.

This is ordinary scientific research, published in peer-reviewed mainstream journals.

Jed is here talking about the second paper. The first is a conference paper.

If it were any subject other than cold fusion, no scientist on earth would question the validity of it. In my opinion, all opposition to cold fusion is either political or emotional.

Of course. Key word: “opposition.” It reeks of pseudoskepticism. “I’m not convinced” is ordinary skepticism, even though Richard Garwin took it to a hilarious extreme.

“They say there is no doubt. Well, I doubt.” No, Dr. Garwin, they actually say there is no reasonable doubt.

(Garwin’s “they must be making some mistake” was pure, unvarnished pseudoskepticism. But he was honest, that’s what he actually thought. I appreciate honesty, not as the highest value, but as a step toward it.)

There are no legitimate scientific grounds to doubt it. (I dismiss Shanahan as a crackpot for reasons I need not reiterate, except that for some reason he wants me to mention him every time I make this assertion, so I do this here as a courtesy.)

There is no need to dismiss Shanahan, and calling him a “crackpot” doesn’t impress genuine skeptics, even though the pot is obviously a little cracked. We will look in detail at Shanahan’s claims and objections, the last standing published skeptic deserves that.

Since there is no rational, scientific reason to reject cold fusion, we cannot hope that an appeal to rationality, science, evidence, replications, thermodynamics, or any other conventional evidence will convince the opposition. With regard to this subject, they are not playing by the rules, although they may when it comes to other subjects. So, I suggest we ignore them. Concentrate on convincing people who do play by the rules, and who do understand science.

To take this position is, unfortunately, tinged with arrogance, or at least may be seen that way. To engage deeply with skeptics, one must be skeptical, and examine the topic together to see what can be found. We must be ready to be in error, ourselves. Even if we think we are certain. The approach I recommend is to love reality, more than we love our ideas about it.

Based on the number and variety of readers at, I believe there is “goodwill, and latent support” for the field, as I describe here, on pages 5 – 7:

I haven’t read that paper. But I like the title, except I would substitute “Is” for “May be.” Why not? I’m not afraid to be wrong, and my training is to declare a future worth living into. Long ago, “beyond our wildest dreams.” it works to do this, I’ll testify.

There is another good reason to start off by recommending the McKubre review, as I do on the front page at LENR-CANR and in the blurb for my video. It separates the sheep from the goats. It takes no great effort to read this paper. Anyone with a scientific education can understand it. You may not agree with it, but it is easy to understand. When you suggest this, a person who is sincerely interested will say “thanks” and read the paper. Whereas the hyperskeptics and trolls will not read it. The Real Roger Barker will dismiss it. Mary Yugo will kvetch and moan that it is too ha-a-a-a-ard so it must be wrong.

We will see. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. But what if you run the horse into the pond? What if you jump in yourself?

I’ll be inviting Mary Yugo and others to comment. Let’s see how they do when faced with specifics. Of course, they could stay away. Darn! “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn!” What I’m saying is that everyone is welcome to help us develop clearer resources here, and even stupid questions will help.

These people are either uninterested or incapable of understanding cold fusion, so you need not waste time on them. When they ask the same stupid questions again and again, and they keep demanding you “give them proof,” feel free to say, “read McKubre” and leave it at that. (In other words, blow them off by saying Read The F**** Manual.)

People who demand proof can’t see it when it is their own hand in front of their face.

I don’t suggest blowing anyone off. It’s rude. However, it is quite possible and even reasonable to decide that a conversation isn’t worth the time to write it and the space to store it. I can make those choices, and do, and without censorship; I have the right to organize content, and someone who doesn’t like my organization can do their own organization. I might even link to it.

Thanks for all your work, Jed.



Author: Abd ulRahman Lomax


8 thoughts on “Cold fusion: Manual for the Compleat Idiot”

    1. Thanks. For the rest of the planet, Robert Crichton was the biographer of Ferdinand Waldo Demara, writing The Great Imposter (which became a movie.) Crichton continued to be a friend of Demara, but appears to have ultimately concluded that Demara was incorrigible, eventually writing another book, The Rascal and the Road. The story is told extensively in the recent book, The Confidence Game, by Maria Konnikova.
      One thing that Konnikova makes very clear is that popular conceptions of con artists (or compulsive liars, which can be related) can be wildly incorrect. As well, the first draft of The Great Imposter was apparently much darker, emphasizing the deception and crime aspect, and the publisher didn’t like it, so Crichton lightened it.

  1. Mary Yugo made the same arguments against a paper by Fleischmann that she made against McKubre:

    It is too ha-a-a-a-ard so it must be wrong.

    I haven’t read it so what does it mean?

    I’ll bet you (Jed) don’t understand it either. What does it mean, anyway? Tell me tell me tell me.

    You can see the exchange starting here:

    I submit this behavior proves she is not serious. This calls for polite dismissal, ignoring, or RTFM. In this case I responded because I would like to see others reading the forum to take interest in this experiment. Also to show that she is a troll. Alan Smith responded to her by saying:

    “Mary. Your faux incomprehension is wasting everybody’s time. At least I hope it is an act. If not you need to find a less demanding area of investigation.

    . . . If you don’t understand it, you cannot really deny it.”

    I suspect it is faux incomprehension. The paper is not that hard to understand. Granted, the math is challenging.

    1. I suspect dementia, Jed. Mary Yugo has long been unable to understand anything but “scam” and “crazy woo.” What is all that doing in “Rossi v. Darden aftermath discussions”?

      You already wrote that Fleischmann was not the place to start. Even McKubre has some math, which may be appropriate depending on the intended audience. Mary keeps repeating the story of how dumb Darden was, if only he had asked Mary for advice. We know what would have happened if Darden had followed that line of thinking: nothing. Yes, some investors (Darden was the biggest) would have saved $20 million plus legal fees, but they would have learned nothing.

      The Mary Yugo and Steve Krivit story were easy to understand. But not really, that is only superficial, that’s why it’s easy. I’ve been reading Konnikova, The Confidence Game. She is, herself, superficial in places, but makes some very interesting points. One of them is that people susceptible to cons tend to be happier people. Con artists prey on functional behavior. That is, behavior that usually produces benefits.

      If Darden had done what Mary would have told him to do, Rossi would have told him to go fly a kite. There would have been no major investment in Rossi. And then there would have been no Woodford investment. Mary doesn’t seem to be reading this blog, and makes all kinds of ignorant mistakes….

      Planet Rossi and Rossi himself claimed that the Woodford investment was based on being impressed by his technology. If so, why was that investment entirely in other approaches? No, Woodford was impressed by Darden. Mary Yugo has a primitive ontology that does not recognize how the human mind and human society operate. This ontology imagines itself “scientific,” but it is far from it, it is wrapped up in good and evil and right and wrong, which do not exist in nature, and science studies nature. We invent good and evil and right and wrong, sometimes with high consensus, but consensus or fringe doesn’t change reality, reality is reality, regardless of what we think about it.

      There was, previously, and as you know, a reasonable hypothesis that Rossi had a real technology, but was pretending to be a con artist, which would be partly paranoid and partly reasonable (just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean they are not out to get you). What Darden et al found, with a high degree of certainty because of years of patient effort, was that Rossi’s claims were defective, that scientists confirming them were in substantial error. He found and showed, beyond a reasonable doubt (in spite of screams from Planet Rossi that mostly avoid the issue), that Rossi’s claims are, at least at times, grossly deceptive, effectively and simply lies. From the sum total of his behavior, so far, I strongly suspect insanity. He must know he is lying in some ways at some times, but would justify it internally, think it “doesn’t matter.”

      By the way, I don’t think IH settled because of a possible “stupid jury.” They were heavily protected against a disastrous failure ($89 million times three!) by clear law, that the judge had failed to apply. Ah, that’s a story!

      Seeing the actual arguments in court, and being familiar with much of the evidence, I think that it is likely they would have prevailed, and maybe even would have recovered legal expenses, because of the FUDTPA. What was much iffier was recovery on the $11.5 million for the reactor and IP and License, it is there that estoppel would apply. They accepted the Validation Test; claiming fraud only years later after proceeding.. They had, in fact, made the choice to go ahead, knowing the risk.

      I was somewhat disappointed with their choice to settle, but it’s growing on me. (And there was a palpable sense in the courtroom of relief, and I felt it strongly, in spite of that level of disappointment.) Consider the possibility, thin though it is: Rossi actually develops Quark-X and the damn thing works! (So a certain Swedish grad student is naive, so what else is new!) Net benefit to humanity: enormous. As well, settling as they did makes them seem safer to other inventors and researchers. IH is not going to sue if some mistake is made. They will give inventors every opportunity. They are not going to toss large sums about as they did before, but they will make reasonable investments and will be encouraging.

      (And there is a possibility that IH would still benefit through Ampenergo. I do not expect to see anything public on this, let sleeping dogs lie, but the settlement changes the License Agreement, and that is contrary to the provisions of the Agreement that require all parties to consent. The court did not order this (which could have overcome that provision). IH cannot assert a legal claim based on that, not directly, my opinion, but Ampenergo could, and there is the not-small matter of $5 million paid to Ampenergo. But none of this will stop Rossi from going ahead with his work, and if anyone is crazy enough to toss money at him, they will be free to do so, but the effective exposure of Rossi and his methods is not Steve-Krivit or Mary-Yugo yellow journalism, it’s a pile of clear evidence. Rossi is now on his own, creating whatever he creates through his behavior. IH is fulfilling the promise to support him to be successful, by giving him what he wanted: to be free of the License.)

      IH could have refused to sign that settlement agreement, they could truly have walked away, and my opinion is that they could not have been sued for this. But it appears that they promised to agree, and it appears that IH keeps their agreements. Even when it might seem foolish to do so: they paid, for example, the last payment to Penon, apparently, even though by then they knew it was, at best, for incompetent work and possibly worse. Because they had promised to pay.

      What about Fabiani? That’s a slightly different case: Fabiani willfully refused to turn over data that belonged to IH; they offered to trade the last check for the data. (All he had to do was turn it over, he wasn’t obligated to spend time analyzing it, I’d think.) Instead he destroyed it, on the flimsy (and circular) excuse that they hadn’t paid him that last payment — he would almost certainly have lost on that issue. Nevertheless, he got to keep a lot of money, what he had already been paid for three years, was it?

        1. I thought a while before approving this post. (Because I have now approved it, Pavitos, you may post immediately. Please don’t abuse that privilege.)

          I don’t want this blog to become a battleground where ad hominem reigns. I do not agree that the links given demonstrate dementia. Mary is a pseudoskeptic, and pseudoskeptics often play it safe, defending that status quo and attacking interlopers. I consider pseudoskepticism a form of high-level dementia. (Pseuoskepticism is a mirror of fanatic belief, just in the more socially acceptable direction, sometimes. It’s a belief in a certain stability. Pseduoskepticism is a topic here, but anyone can be pseudoskeptical at times. Anyone, just as anyone can be arrogant, and there is a relationship.

          I removed the real name of Mary Yugo because it’s not necessary and actually confuses issues, since the “Mary Yugo” we know is known by that name, and the “real name” is far less known. I will say, however, that the person Mary Yugo is a professional, has an advanced degree, and has written scientific papers. He is also getting older, like many of us, and we do get crankier, very often, as we age.

  2. You wrote:

    “The figure from a Rothwell analysis of Britz data, as I recall, as of a certain date, was 153 peer reviewed papers that Britz considered “positive.” These reported many different effects and experimental protocols.”

    That was a tally of reports of excess heat only. Other effects such as tritium were not included. Those papers were all for Pd-D and there were only a few different calorimeter types, so the papers were similar.

    Britz counted several papers as negative that the authors or I considered positive, and he also left many papers out of the database for reasons I consider arbitrary, so this is an underestimate.


    1. As always, thanks, Jed, for corrections. I’ll edit the page. Your correction weakens my point, but the general point remains: these are not, in general, “replications,” actual replication is relatively rare. Might be interesting to go over the list and see how many are replications, and of what. There were, as you know, early attempted replications that were poorly designed, possibly due to lack of information, possibly caused by intellectual property secrecy. Huizenga was right, “Scientific Fiasco of the Century.” He merely did not understand the full extent of it.

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