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Thomas F. Darden – Keynote address for ICCF-21
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00:00 . . . With this introduction even though it’s 00:01 a little unusual to do that.
Tom 00:03 Darden has a remarkable career. He got a 00:06 bachelor’s degree from the University of 00:08 North Carolina, and also Master in 00:10 Regional Planning, got his law degree 00:12 from Yale.
His 1976 undergraduate thesis 00:18 analyzed the environmental impact of 00:20 third-world development, and his 1981 00:23 Yale thesis addressed interstate acid 00:26 rain pollution.
So he’s had a long 00:28 history in things environmental.
He began 00:31 his career with Bain & Company in Boston, 00:33 ’81 to ’84, and then beginning in 1984 he 00:37 served for 16 years as the chairman of 00:39 the Cherokee Sanford group, which 00:41 curiously — i didn’t know this — is the 00:43 largest private brick manufacturing 00:45 company.
Okay so in brick and mortar, he 00:47 was on the brick side.
He began investing 00:50 personal capital and environmental 00:52 companies before he turned to raising 00:54 institutional private equity funds.
Since 00:58 the 1980s, he has invested in over a 01:00 hundred companies, and there’s a long 01:02 list here of green buildings and solar 01:04 energy, and all kinds of things, including 01:06 Industrial Heat LLC, which is, of course, 01:09 seeking to commercialize LENR. Tom 01:14 is the founder and CEO of Cherokee and 01:16 its predecessors.
Cherokee has raised 01:18 over 2.2 billion dollars, invested this 01:21 capital in the acquisition, cleanup, 01:23 development and sale of approximately 01:25 550 environmentally contaminated real 01:28 estate assets, in the U.S., in Europe, and 01:31 in Canada.
Tom does a lot beside his 01:35 business. He’s served and continues to 01:37 serve on numerous boards.
That’s a long 01:39 last year: Environmental Defense Action 01:42 Fund, WakeMed Hospital, 01:45 Helping Hand Mission, so he is into a lot 01:49 of things beyond the business side of 01:51 the world.
He was a chairman of the 01:53 Research Triangle Transit Authority, 01:54 served two terms on the North Carolina 01:56 Board of Transportation, through 01:58 appointments by the government and the 02:00 speaker of the house.
So it is my immense 02:02 and intense pleasure to welcome Tom 02:04 Darden
02:09 [applause] Thomas Darden:
02:14 okay i’d like to begin by thanking the 02:22 organizers stephen and david for their hard 02:27 work, and also for the honor of being 02:29 able to address the pioneers working on 02:32 this new form of energy.
I’m going to 02:38 take this opportunity to tell you the 02:39 story of why we do what we do, and how we 02:43 perceive the work that you heroes, are 02:45 doing.
Three years ago i had the 02:47 opportunity to meet many of you in Padua.
02:50 as i said that time i’m not a scientist, 02:52 i’m an entrepreneur, but we share a 02:55 common inspiration in our endeavors. 02:58
Business guru Peter Drucker once noted 03:02 that entrepreneurship is intended as a 03:04 manifesto, and as a declaration of 03:07 dissent. We see things that ought not to 03:10 be, or we see things that ought to be, but 03:13 aren’t, and then we dissent, but next, we 03:17 go to work.
Thank you for being the 03:20 dissenters against the doctrines and 03:22 institutions of the status quo. Our 03:24 mission, like yours, remains focused on 03:28 solving one of the world’s biggest 03:29 challenges of our time. We need energy 03:32 alternatives that don’t add to our 03:34 pollution problems.
That’s the reason 03:37 that we got involved in funding your 03:40 research.
Marginally reducing pollution 03:44 by being a little bit less bad is not 03:46 good enough.
We need to turn back the 03:49 clock. 03:49 we need a gestalt shift with 7.5 billion 03:53 people facing increasingly catastrophic 03:55 existential threats.
When we started 03:58 Industrial Heat six years ago, with our 04:00 mandate to bring serious funding and an 04:02 entrepreneurial spirit to your research, 04:04 we hoped there would be a way to change 04:06 the way the world’s energy needs are met.
04:08 in an ironic manner, we determined that 04:12 the potential promise of your research 04:14 was so compelling, that it would be worth 04:16 funding even if all we accomplished was 04:19 to somehow prove that 04:20 it was untrue.
We believed that we could 04:23 help change the way mainstream science 04:25 and business perceive this sector, and 04:27 help lead the way toward more 04:28 comprehensive environmental stewardship 04:30 for our planet.
I’m confident that you’re 04:33 going to succeed and that your work is 04:35 going to be accepted.
As we launch the 04:40 21st gathering of this tribe, we still 04:42 need a new paradigm.
Take a step back, and 04:45 think about why we’re here, and why this 04:47 has been such a challenging and difficult 04:49 journey.
04:49 why have some of you been chasing these 04:51 elusive phenomena for almost 30 years? 04:54 what drives that dedication, curiosity, 04:57 risk-taking, and willingness to sacrifice 04:59 in pursuit of what remains an evanescent 05:02 and intriguing effect.
Meanwhile why are 05:06 we so isolated, and has this isolation in 05:09 fact played a positive role in these 05:11 early stages of the paradigm shift?
When 05:15 we first looked into this sector, i was 05:18 warned that this was an alluring and 05:21 captivating pursuit, and that could 05:23 result in joining an isolated and 05:25 dedicated community.
We were warned about 05:28 catching CFS or Cold Fusion Addiction 05:31 Syndrome.
Humor aside, if we’re honest 05:35 with ourselves, we have to recognize that 05:37 peer systems have great influence on 05:40 what most of us believe and do.
We 05:43 observe others in our peer groups, and 05:45 learn their social code along with their 05:47 interpretation of the philosophical and 05:50 scientific fabric that evolves into some 05:53 version of truth, reality, and conformity.
05:56 this can be beneficial because it 05:58 allows us to create an affiliated tribe, 06:01 like our group here, but increasingly in 06:03 society at large, our social or work 06:06 communities lack diversity of thought, as 06:08 evidenced by the most recent us election 06:12 results, the map.
Once we perceive what 06:16 we’re supposed to think, we 06:17 subconsciously seek out, and then we’re 06:19 fed data that confirms our group opinion, 06:23 and we skillfully and deliberately 06:25 ignore contrary facts.
If we don’t do 06:29 this we impair our ability to benefit 06:32 from the culture 06:34 around us.
Socially, scientifically, 06:37 financially, or politically, there’s a 06:39 pressure to conform.
This sociological 06:43 conformity pressure applies to many of 06:45 our belief systems, making it difficult 06:47 for people to practice their pursuits 06:49 while being a part of a non-conforming 06:52 group.
Over time, the world has become 06:55 less tolerant of divergent beliefs, 06:57 making it difficult for new ideas to 06:59 gain traction.
Meanwhile some long-accepted 07:01 value systems have eroded.
Have 07:04 we lost a scientific rigor, self policing 07:07 and accountability, that carried the day 07:09 when atomic power, space travel, 07:11 supersonic flight, the computer, the 07:13 internet and recombinant dna were 07:15 discovered and harnessed for the 07:17 benefit of society?
Today, can an 07:20 independent thinker confront prevailing 07:23 scientific or cultural norms, without 07:25 risking job prospects, scientific 07:28 position, social status, and personal 07:30 relationship opportunities even.
Dan 07:33 Kahan, professor at Yale, refers to this 07:36 as cultural cognition, meaning that 07:38 society, as opposed to independent logic 07:42 or reality, drives our thinking.
He 07:46 focuses primarily on the realms of 07:48 science or technology that affect public 07:50 policy such as climate change or maybe 07:52 childhood vaccines.
Kahan states a 07:56 principal source of conflict over 07:58 decision-relevant science is the 08:00 entanglement of facts in antagonistic 08:03 social meanings, which transform 08:06 competing positions into badges of 08:08 cultural identity.
In other words, we 08:10 disagree because competing cultural 08:12 groups have decided to identify with 08:15 certain conclusions.
The correct answers 08:19 are not based on facts, but on scientific, 08:22 political or cultural identity.
When a 08:26 particular group gains power or control, 08:28 then opposing ideas face the risk of 08:30 marginalization.
Kahan tested subjects 08:33 for scientific intelligence and for 08:35 political identity, and then asked 08:37 science-based questions, both 08:39 right-leaning and left-leaning 08:41 respondents in the United States showed 08:44 similar tendencies to conform their 08:45 technical opinions 08:47 to the thinking of their 08:49 group affiliations.
For example most 08:52 left-leaning subjects answered that 08:53 nuclear power contributes to global 08:55 warming, even though that is logically 08:59 ridiculous.
.while nuclear energy has 09:02 drawbacks and reasonable people can 09:03 debate its pros and cons, there’s no doubt 09:05 of its global warming benefit.
Why do 09:08 even intelligent liberals say that it 09:10 causes global warming?
The only 09:12 explanation is that left-leaning 09:13 cultural leaders have decided that 09:15 nuclear power is negative, so it’s not 09:18 acceptable to say anything positive 09:20 about it at all.
09:21 of course right-leaning thinkers shows 09:24 similar conforming tendencies.
And by the 09:27 way level of education does not change 09:29 the results.
This is astonishing.
Kahan 09:32 found that higher iq people are just as 09:34 inclined to base their conclusions on 09:36 cultural conformity rather than 09:38 intelligent analysis.
This astonishes the 09:41 intellectual class, who think they use 09:42 their brains to seek truth, but it’s not 09:44 surprising at all to normal people who 09:46 have always felt that intellectuals 09:48 don’t have much common sense to go along 09:50 with all their brains.
Interestingly we 09:53 do see some situations where cultural 09:55 conformity fails to offer a safe 09:58 consistent opinion.
Old topics tend to 10:01 remain in their cultural containers 10:03 forever, such as gun rights in the us, 10:05 pro-life, vs. Pro-abortion positions, and 10:08 probably cold fusion relative to the 10:10 physics establishment.
But new topics 10:13 present dilemmas for group thinkers.
Will 10:16 right-leaners oppose government 10:17 restrictions on artificial intelligence, 10:20 or machine learning, or data mining, maybe 10:22 new energy sources. 10:24 why didn’t us left-wingers oppose 10:27 healthcare monopolies, and price-fixing 10:30 in the same manner that they’ve 10:31 traditionally opposed business 10:33 aggregation of other forms.
10:34 will conservatives take a laissez-fair 10:37 position regarding antitrust enforcement 10:39 against new economy monopolists, like they 10:42 did relative to old industrial 10:43 monopolists?
It seems that people are 10:46 willing to remain confused and silent 10:48 until their group forms an opinion, at 10:50 which time they will conform.
In an ideal 10:53 world, people would invite and welcome 10:54 divergent opinions.
Instead, we often see 10:58 vitriolic and demeaning attacks on 11:00 those who hold them.
For example, the 11:02 label “denier” has come to describe 11:05 people who disagree not only with 11:06 historical facts, but also with 11:09 subjective, unclear, social, technical, and 11:12 scientific beliefs.
It’s used to expand 11:15 the distance between two opposing moral, 11:17 scientific, or intellectual convictions, 11:20 or to ostracize the other side.
11:23 certainly there are times when we use 11:24 the term legitimately and intentionally 11:26 to create separation, as some do when 11:29 referring to holocaust deniers. They deny 11:32 an historic fact.
But what if someone 11:34 argues that climate science is not 11:36 perfect yet, or that the theory of 11:38 evolution needs to evolve further? Are 11:40 they deniers or are they just thinkers?
11:43 looking at this from another angle i’ve 11:45 served for over 25 years on the board of 11:47 an historically black university, where 11:49 i’m almost always the only white 11:51 person in the room.
Years ago, someone 11:54 mentioned getting pulled over by the 11:55 police for dwb, or driving while black, a 11:58 practice that i assumed had ended in 12:01 this civil rights era.
12:02 i mean it’s so ridiculous and you can 12:05 only laugh.
I innocently asked if this 12:07 was still a common occurrence, and i was 12:09 fortunate that the nice people in the 12:11 room politely smiled at my simplistic, 12:13 culturally-driven view.
I should note 12:16 that this event long predated dashboard 12:18 and body cameras, which have shown the 12:21 rest of us, sadly, what african americans 12:23 have known, have always known, and had to 12:25 deal with.
Sensitive topics such as these 12:28 often lead to shaming, and in a different 12:31 setting might possibly have evolved into 12:33 accusations of “racist denier” instead of 12:35 “naive enquirer.”
Environmental advocates 12:38 used “climate denier” to shame opponents 12:40 of bureaucratic legislation to reduce 12:43 carbon emissions.
An environmental public 12:46 relations program was built on the 12:48 concept — i was part of this — the global 12:51 warming science is indisputable, and 12:53 there could be no further discussion of 12:56 the topic.
I was raising my hand saying 12:58 “it just doesn’t sound right, even if 13:02 it’s true.”
Many who believed carbon 13:04 dioxide causes climate change were 13:06 nonetheless troubled by this dismissive 13:08 and vitriolic debate tactic.
If anyone 13:13 ever says the science 13:14 is settled, be careful.
The science will 13:15 never be settled, if we remain curious 13:17 enough to learn, while maintaining a 13:19 desire to seek truth.
Most mainstream 13:22 physicists believe our science is 13:24 settled, in that low-temperature 13:26 energetic reactions, that were 13:28 researching here, are not possible.
13:30 followers of these mainstream opinion 13:32 leaders mimic their philosophies and 13:34 behaviors, further alienating those who 13:37 disagree, and spreading discord which 13:39 increasingly stresses our scientific 13:40 fabric.
This holds back potential 13:43 benefits that can change the status quo 13:45 for the benefit of society.
This cultural 13:48 conformity, by the way, applies just as 13:50 dramatically in companies.
Bill gates had 13:53 a habit of rocking back and forth in his 13:54 chair, when he was in meetings during the 13:56 early days of his startup.
After a while 13:59 subordinates began to exhibit 14:00 the same 14:02 unusual habit of rocking back and forth.
14:05 microsoft meetings became filled with 14:07 with conformist doing the same thing as 14:10 a boss, probably subconsciously.
While this 14:13 is a silly example we regularly see 14:15 accusations of discrimination against 14:18 new york investment banks, silicon valley 14:20 vcs and large tech companies.
Their 14:23 inherent discrimination is based on 14:25 cultural group think.
We all need to 14:28 contemplate and avoid this, as our small 14:30 sector continues to evolve and mature.
So 14:34 what does this mean to this gathering, 14:35 how do we interpolate and act based on 14:37 what we know about ourselves?
There’s 14:39 story after story of discovery, rejection, 14:42 perseverance, verification, replication, 14:45 and ultimately ubiquity: the airplane, the 14:48 automobile, the laser, space travel ,and 14:50 more.
The leading thought groups of the 14:53 day have consistently resisted new 14:55 invention, breakthroughs and change.
Now 14:58 it’s our turn to change our status quo.
15:00 how can we learn from others who 15:03 converted their rejection into 15:04 usefulness?
They were able to move 15:07 through stages of progression that 15:08 brought their discoveries into common 15:10 acceptance.
Mainstream academia, science 15:14 and government stall the first wave of 15:16 cold fusion discovery. Next march will be 15:19 30 years since the announcement that 15:21 launched this field.
We owe it to the 15:24 early pioneers, and to our planet, 15:26 to responsibly finish this work, and move 15:29 the discussion into the mainstream of 15:31 science, academia and industry.
How do we 15:34 move forward from our isolation? We need 15:36 theory that can direct basic, repeatable 15:38 and understandable experiments.
We need 15:41 experiments in papers that will be 15:42 replicated and accepted by mainstream 15:44 physicists and science communities and 15:47 publications.
We need to trust, but verify, 15:50 and commit to absolute honesty in our 15:53 research.
We need a new level of self-accountability, 15:57 as we prepare for a move 15:58 into the mainstream.
The universe may be 16:01 ready to share another layer of physical 16:03 and scientific mystery with those who 16:04 are willing to see and hear.
The barriers 16:07 created by our social and scientific 16:08 orders are going to be challenged.
First-principles 16:11 research needs to replace 16:13 incomplete and sometimes shoddy 16:15 methodologies.
With this we will overcome 16:18 the bias and barriers that have kept our 16:20 field from becoming useful to the planet.
16:22 we can fix this.
Before i close, i’d like 16:26 to thank the many dedicated and honest 16:28 researchers who have worked with us in 16:30 our quest to find the truth over the 16:31 last six years.
We thank you for trusting 16:34 us, and look forward to reaching a 16:36 starting point, where a broader community 16:38 can begin to understand this anomaly 16:40 that has the potential to eliminate 16:41 pollution.
We look forward to an ongoing 16:44 relationship with you, to living each day 16:46 with courage, to continue progress, mutual 16:49 accountability, and to eventual success.
16:51 to the group, let’s find ways to work 16:54 together let’s encourage replications, 16:56 and be willing to accept results in 16:58 datasets which fail to confirm a 17:00 replication.
In conjunction with any 17:02 proclaimed discoveries let’s also admit 17:04 our mistakes, and make data from failed 17:07 experiments available for others to 17:08 analyze.
With that, a broader trust and 17:11 credibility can begin to emerge.
Let’s 17:14 live each day with courage, learn from 17:15 each other, do the right thing, be 17:17 respectful in the process, talk less and 17:19 say more.
Be tough but fair, while we 17:22 strive to move this field beyond the 17:24 fringe with the conviction and common 17:26 goal of saving our planet.
Humanity needs 17:28 for us to succeed.
Thank you and God 17:31 bless.