The care and feeding of the Troll

Trolls, by definition, provoke, they “troll” for outrage. Their goal is to provoke their targets into sticking their feet in their mouths. Some people are complete suckers for this, because when “someone is wrong on the internet,” they must reply. There is a point to that, if what is being said is misleading on a matter of importance, but a skilled troll will work our “defender of truth” into such a froth that their responses become gibberish.

Kirk Shanahan — and certain other writers on LENR Forum — is a troll, among other roles. He also happens to be the last published significant skeptic on LENR, and some of his arguments are at least plausible. Yet when he joined LF, his second post was hyperskeptical trolling.

In reply to Jed R.:

No, F&P drew down the ire of the scientific world because they claimed to have found a way to “infinite energy”, but no one could reproduce it except by random chance.  […]

For the record, I believ they found a real effect, it just has nothing to do with nuclear reactions.

This was poking Rothwell. Shanahan would know, very well, how Jed would respond. Fleischmann and Pons did not claim to have found a way to “infinite energy.” The comment that no one could reproduce it (the experiment) except by random chance contradicts the “belief” he claimed. He’s not a scientist at heart, he forms beliefs without experimental confirmation — he wants everyone else to do the experiments and takes no responsibility for making them happen.

He is referring to an anomaly, unexpected “ATER,” At the electrode recombination. He ascribes an almost magical ability for ATER to fool electrochemists, without ATER ever having been demonstrated — other than by Shanahan’s legerdemain with calorimetric results, ignoring contrary evidence, etc. He is making an extraordinary claim but not providing extraordinary evidence, exactly what he accuses LENR researchers of doing. Yet there is extraordinary evidence for LENR, but it is still common that scientists are unaware of it.

And at the same time, many assume that if such evidence were discovered, surely it would be all over the news.

In any case, the occasion for my comment today is a flame war that arose on LENR Forum between Shanahan and others, most notably the very same Jed Rothwell that he poked in 2016. Some authors on LF have the bad habit of claiming that others said something really dumb, and don’t link to it. Then, when they person claims not to have said that, they claim the person is lying. Pushed, they go back and find quotes, and again, sometimes, still don’t link. The quotes don’t match what they had earlier claimed, but the quoter claims, then, that there were other comments they couldn’t find. And then the two call each other liars.

This is at least one person not knowing how to defuse stupid arguments . . . or someone really is lying or, on the other side, gaslighting, and possibly some combination. The moderators have been AWOL or have given up on these trolls or, on the other side, “dedicated believers.”

A thread was started by Rothwell on the Beiting report, which is certainly of interest. Shanahan looked at it, giving some initial concerns about the precision of the calorimetry. I intend to eventually cover the Beiting report, and at that time will study Shanahan’s objections. Rothwell attacks it with a superficial comment.

If there were an 8% shift, as Shanahan claims, much of the test shown on p. 20, the calibration runs, and the control runs would be endothermic. They would be swallowing up megajoules of heat. It would be a fantastic coincidence that the calibrations fell exactly on the zero line. This is impossible. Shanahan has a rare talent for inventing impossible physics.

For starters. Shanahan did not claim an “8% shift.” Jed does not read carefully. (The 8% figure seems to have come from Zeus46, who is also piling on Shanahan. Shanahan is doing his classic analysis, looking for possible calibration error. He did not assert that there was one. Shanahan is talking math, Rothwell is talking ad hominem. He writes:

Beiting has made a second, flow calorimeter that confirms the first one. Shanahan cannot explain this, either, except with his impossible hand-waving.

As far as is apparent, Shanahan has not begun “hand-waving.” He does that sometimes, but Rothwell is not responding to the real, present Shanahan actually writing in the thread.

I must say, Shanahan is learning to use forums. He skewers Rothwell, who had made an argument to authority. (I’m not claiming that Jed was wrong, but the claim he made was one easily set aside as unsupported. It is along the lines of believers in this or that making claims of support from “reputable professors.” It’s not necessarily wrong, but this is imitating the behavior of fanatic believers — or frauds. Pulling out and playing these cards in discussions with experienced skeptics is asking to be eviscerated.)

and the people at The Aerospace Corp. are world class. (See: http://www.aerospace.org/)

Out of curiosity, how do you measure that?

Rothwell misses the opportunity to respond with humor. The argument continues, ignoring the substance, misrepresenting what Shanahan has written in this thread. Jed is responding to older comments and ideas from Shanahan, not to the specifics here.

Shanahan’s hypothesis is even more unlikely because it is a magic problem that cannot be detected by calibration or any other test, and thus cannot be falsified.

I haven’t seen a hypothesis yet in this thread from Shanahan. He simply started to discuss the report and to consider calibrations. He has not actually asserted error, beyond this, about Beiting, but his focus by this time is Rothwell’s claim that the work must be good because Aerospace.

Shanahan had written:

He failed to compute the error of his calibration curve properly and he failed to take into account the proper chemistry in his sample prep and subsequent experimentation. There might be more if I study the paper more, but what I’ve seen so far is enough to class his efforts as ‘typical so-so CF community work’. And that isn’t ‘world-class’. With regards to other Aerospace people, no idea, don’t care.

I don’t know yet if this is valid, and the discussion is continually diverted from fact and attempted analysis, to ad hominem arguments and accusations.

There was a comment from stefan which addressed the error problem. His conclusion: Beiting may have done it right but doesn’t show this.

Back to Rothwell, and my emphasis on claims about what Shanahan allegedly claimed in the past (my emphasis below)

It only happens when there is a particular choice of metal, which cannot affect the calorimetry. There can be no physical explanation for such a thing. It resembles his claims that people cannot feel an object is hot by sense of touch, or a 1-liter object will remain hot for three days with no input power, or that a bucket of water left in a room will magically evaporate overnight. In other words, once again he makes claims that anyone should instantly recognize are preposterous. I doubt he believes these claims. I suppose he is trolling us, or hoping to fool people such as seven_of_twenty who apparently cannot tell that Shanahan is spouting impossible nonsense.

Yes, anyone could recognize that. If Shanahan actually wrote those things. Did he? I’ve been following Shanahan for almost a decade and he just isn’t quite that stupid. He does speculate on Rube Goldberg explanations that are highly implausible. Sometimes. But I’ve never seen him make such claims, so, knowing Rothwell as well, I suspect that he has done some interpretation, shifting what Shanahan actually said, converting it to classic straw-man argument.

Shanahan wrote:

JedRothwell wrote:

It seems unlikely that such people overlooked a problem that Shanahan found in an hour or so.

That is the nature of systematic errors. Or lack of training.

Rothwell’s response:

Invisible systematic errors that cannot be detected with a calibration, or by any other physical test. Unfalsifiable errors. Metaphysical errors that you alone, in all the world, believe. Perhaps you are delusional. Surely you are an egomaniac who thinks he knows better than a team of experts who spent years on this experiment.

Either that or you are trolling us.

Rothwell is being grossly uncivil, and not addressing the actual points raised by Shanahan. If Shanahan is trolling, it’s working, Rothwell is looking obsessed. He’s reacting to a ghost, the ghost of Shanahan past, I suspect. More:

You are saying the experts at The Aerospace Corporation are incapable of understanding the issues.

This went on and one. Shanahan made one comment worth reading for itself, about “working in the noise.” He’s correct, in substance. However, he overstates his case and uses his own historical ideas far too strongly. His conclusion:

Accurately determining error levels is the only way to avoid working in the noise.

This is, in fact, often missing from even some of the best work.

THHuxley wrote a cogent analysis of the discussion.

Rothwell again brought up the alleged Shanahan idiocies:

No test will refute Shanahan and other extremists because their objections are irrational nonsense. Shanahan says that sense of touch cannot distinguish between an object at 100 deg C and room temperature. He says that a 1-liter hot object will remain hot for 3 days, and that a bucket of water will evaporate overnight when left in an ordinary room. People who believe such things have no common sense and no knowledge of science. No demonstration, no matter how convincing, will change their minds. (It is possible Shanahan does not actually believe these things and he is trolling us, but in that case we can say he will never admit he is wrong or engage in a scientific discussion.)

Again, I doubt that Shanahan ever said those things. He said something that Rothwell remembers as that, because of his own extreme response. Shanahan does not believe what Rothwell claims. And he keeps repeating it, though this is actually irrelevant to the subject discussion (the Beiting report).

Let me remind you again that Shanahan is on record repeatedly claiming that an object heated on Monday and left in a room at 20 deg C will still be hot on Wednesday. Anyone who says things like that has zero credibility, to 5 significant digits. If you believe anything he says about physics, you are a naive fool who will believe any fanatic who claims the world is flat or Einstein’s theories are wrong.

What I’m seeing here is that Rothwell doesn’t understand what is in front of his face, or that which is easily verified, so what about his understanding of more complex issues?

The fact is that when we become attached, each and every one of us becomes relatively stupid. Rothwell is attached to his opinions, strongly, and he has long formed highly judgmental opinions of others. About an author, a scientist, whose book convinced me that there was something worth looking at in cold fusion, Rothwell has proclaimed that he was the “stupidest person on earth.” I’m not mentioning the name because he normally goes ballistic if I whisper it, and it’s not a pretty sight.

Shanahan finally replies:

What Rothwell thinks I say is totally in his imagination.

I’d disagree. It is not “totally in his imagination,” but what Shanahan actually said was very likely quite different from what Jed claims. What Jed does is to infer a cockamamie belief and then assert the belief as being what the person said. Thus, for example, a speculation, a looking at possibilities or brainstorming them, becomes a belief. It’s a classic error when people are arguing from fixed positions, not seeking to find any agreement. Shanahan continues replying to earlier Rothwell comments:

Let me remind you again that Shanahan is on record repeatedly claiming that an object heated on Monday and left in a room at 20 deg C will still be hot on Wednesday.

To all— This is one of Jed’s perennial lies. He can’t document that if he tried. What it shows is a) his inability to follow a technical argument, and b) the extent he will go to to try to discredit a skeptic.

My emphasis. That was a direct challenge. Jed tries and fails, but doesn’t accept the failure, though it is totally obvious, thus missing the opportunity to clear this up. No, Shanahan did not say that. In attempting to maintain the discrediting of Shanahan, he makes many errors in describing both the original Mizuno report — what this is about — and Shanahan’s comments about it. The Beiting thread was thoroughly hijacked, the substance ignored.

seven of twenty, apparently a pseudoskeptical troll, finally confronted Rothwell over that same comment:

Where exactly did he write that? You on the other hand, clearly wrote some time ago that Rossi had to be right on “prime principles” or some such, remember? Shall I dig up the quote?

seven of twenty is very unlikely to be new. This is very old, and a favorite theme of a certain well-known pseudoskeptic. Rothwell replied:

He wrote it many times, such as here:

And Rothwell linked to his own posts, quoting from them as they quoted Shanahan. The quotes do not support the silly claim attributed to Shanahan. (Links would be much better than earlier quotations without a link to the original context, because context matters. Rothwell has been and is still being quite sloppy.

Quoting Shanahan: 

I granted this given that you are referring to when they disconnected it from the heaters that had heated it up to the point it was too hot to touch.

It is unclear why Rothwell quotes this. It certainly is not what was asked about.

again

[Rothwell:] The thermocouple installed in the cell registered over 100°C for the first fewdays.

[Shanahan:] Malfunction.

Notice that this does not confirm the claim about a cell heated on Monday still being hot on Wednesday. And there was more like this. Not what he claimed. What I’m seeing is that Rothwell is taking old speculations by Shanahan and turning them into affirmative statements that Rothwell thinks are implied. He’s losing on this one. But he’s sure he’s right and is not about to listen to anyone on this, as far as I’ve seen.

He then claims that Shanahan is gaslighting. But Shanahan has, on this point about what he said, simply been truthful, and if he set Rothwell up to make him look like an idiot, he’s succeeding. This isn’t gaslighting, though, as far as anything I’ve seen.

(Shanahan, for his part, also becomes obsessed, having been successfully trolled by Zeus46. Zeus46’s response actually looks like gaslighting. Ah, I’m reminded of why I was happy to be banned from LENR-Forum.)

Jed uses his stretched claim in argument with seven of twenty. First, about his own cited error:

Ah, but I retracted that, admitted I was wrong, and explained why. Do you see the difference? When I make a mistake, I admit it frankly, correct it, and move on. Shanahan has never admitted he made a mistake about anything.

Rothwell does admit errors on occasion. Shanahan has, as well. In this case, though, Shanahan is at least technically correct, and Rothwell obviously erred. As far as anything I’ve been able to find. The truth behind Rothwell’s claims is obscured by his insistence that he’d correctly quoted Shanahan, when he clearly did not.

The truth is that Shanahan engaged in a series of speculations as to how what he calls the Mizuno anomaly. As an example, “Malfunction” (of the thermocouple) is a speculation, obviously. If he’d been careful, he’d have put a question mark after it, because speculating on possible artifacts is Shanahan’s long-term interest. He does not claim it as a fact, and this is generally true of his position. Behind that, though, appears to be a conviction that he’s right and the cold fusion researchers are wrong. Or at least that they have not “proven” their claims.  Rothwell is reacting to Shanahan’s overall concept, and is erring in asserting that Shanahan said X, when, in fact, he said Y, which Rothwell interpreted as X. So Shanahan is correct, as to fact, and Rothwell refuses to admit the possibility and claims Shanahan is gaslighting. Rothwell went on:

Now then, do you agree with Shanahan that an object of this size once heated will remain hot the next day? And three days later? Are you with him on that? Because that is what he said. He said it again and again. He denies he said it it, then he says it again, then again denies he said it. He is gaslighting you. Do you agree with him that two adult chemists might not be able to feel the difference between an object at 100 deg C and one at room temperature?

What he asserts as an assumed fact is not Shananan’s position at all! Shanahan never said that such an object will stay hot. He speculates that (1) the thermocouple may have malfunctioned, and (2) seeing the thermocouple reading, Mizuno may have imagined heat, and, therefore, (3) the object may not have been hot.

He did not speculate that “two adult chemists might not be able to feel the difference.” Rather, what he wrote is actually possible, and it is not about inability, but about transient error. It can happen, especially if one is afraid, and Mizuno was afraid, that’s part of that story. Is it likely? No. In the full context, very, very unlikely. But Shanahan does not require that some proposed artifact be likely, and will stand on possibility until the cows come home. That’s to be rejected by any assessment that cares about the preponderance of the evidence. In the real world, decisions are made by preponderance, not by absolute proof that everything else is impossible.  Here is what Rothwell had quoted:

[Rothwell] “[snip] A thermocouple malfunction cannot cause a cell to be too hot to touch, “

[Shanahan:] But it can precondition a human to believe that the cell is hot and even dangerous, which would result in misinterpreting sensory data. This impact of expectations on judgment (which is what was being done by ‘touching’) is a well-established fact. That makes any data of this nature highly suspect, and certainly not solid enough to conclude physics textbooks must be rewritten.

This argument obviously drives Rothwell up the wall. However, it’s true, that is, such a thing is possible. But is it likely, looking at all the evidence, that this is what happened? No. It is highly unlikely. Now if we had conflicting evidence, we might need to look for an explanation like the effect of expectation on how we interpret our senses. But there is no conflicting evidence, and Shanahan’s final reason is diagnostic of cold fusion pseudoskepticism, the idea that the finding destroys our understanding of physics, that “physics textbooks must be rewritten.”

That’s a blatant error, only resulting from vague and unclear speculations. This error leads some to demand insane levels of proof for a finding of anomalous heat. Ordinary science would have moved on long ago. The 2004 U.S. DoE review, 50% of the panel found the evidence for anomalous heat to be “conclusive.” It would have been more, I suspect, except for that “physics textbook” belief, which is an obvious bonehead error in basic scientific process. By definition, an anomalous result proves very little, until it is reduced by controlled experiment to solid predictive theory. An anomalous result is an indication that there is something to be discovered and understood. Maybe. Some anomalies may never be explained.

Some are so offended by anomalies that they will believe in ridiculous Rube Goldberg explanations in order to avoid allowing the possibility that something of unknown cause actually happened. Others infer a contradiction to basic physics and loudly proclaim that the laws of physics have been overthrown. All this creates is a confused mess. The cold fusion fiasco was a perfect storm in many ways, and the damage caused has still not been cleaned up.

If Mizuno had allowed someone other than his coworker to see the cell, and it were considered proven beyond a shadow of doubt that the cell stayed hot, there would not be one sentence revised in a single physics textbook.

Anomalies do not, in themselves, lead to major revisions in understanding. The idea that LENR was impossible was not derived from basic principles of physics, but from an approximation, and the idea of utter impossibility already had a known exception, muon-catalyzed fusion.

So it’s possible, certainly, to deconstruct and dismantle Shanahan’s arguments, but misquoting him is a losing strategy, unless your first name is Donald. And we will see how well that works, long-term. Or pushing for a second term, as the case may be.

Rothwell continues to repeat his blatantly false claim, including the gaslighting charge.

Rothwell responds again, this time acknowledging fact, while avoiding any responsibility for his interpretations, and continues to claim gaslighting. He wrote:

seven_of_twenty wrote:

Where exactly did he write that?

Thanks for asking. Seriously, you spurred me to look for some of the quotes. It is a pain in the butt navigating this website, but I found some of ’em.

He still did not actually link to the original Shanahan comments. Yes, LF navigation can be a pain. But it can be done. Best practice, when quoting, link to the original. It can avoid a lot of stupid argument, and it makes what is being claimed verifiable. Mistakes do get made, stating what others have said.

Skeptics are suggesting scientific rigor is required in CF work. That is an excellent suggestion, and is actually necessary. I’m suggesting academic rigor in discussions of cold fusion. That’s probably not possible on LENR Forum, because moderation is hostile and at least one moderator routinely tosses gasoline on smouldering fires. There are good moderators, but that’s not enough. There must be an overall structure that supports clarity and clear discussions, and the structure there generally is not adequate for that. Discussions become insanely long, with good content buried in the noise.

I should have documented Shanahan’s statements in my intro. to the Fleischmann-Miles correspondence. If I update it, I will add links to this website, and actual quotes.

That would be a good idea, if this were actually relevant to the presentation of the correspondence. This is taking a personal spat with Shanahan and inserting it into something that should be about Fleischmann and Miles, not Rothwell and Shanahan. Because skeptics are mentioned by Fleischmann, apparently, some explanation would be in order, but as related to the mentions in the correspondence. This is far outside it, and is an attempt to denigrate and defame Shanahan by making him look ridiculous. Bad Idea. Pseudoskeptics do stuff like that.

As you see, Shanahan does not actually come right out and say “it remained hot for 3 days.” He says:

I granted this given that you are referring to when they disconnected it from the heaters that had heated it up to the point it was too hot to touch.

Which has nothing to do with the “remained hot” claim. Nothing.

But it wasn’t “given that.” In the chronology Mizuno said this event occurred 3 days after disconnecting it from electrolysis. I and other pointed this out to Shanahan. He refuses to address that fact.

Shanahan has addressed it, though only primitively and with high speculation.  Yes, electrolysis was turned off, but the heater (yes, there was a heater!) had not been turned off. Rothwell doesn’t understand the distinction between report and fact, that theme runs through many of his comments.

To make it very clear, there is this evidence that the reactor remained hot, when it was expected to cool.

(1) At “three days after electrolysis ended,” Mizuno assessed the temperature, not by touching, but by placing his hand close and feeling. This was a deliberate attempt to directly estimate temperature, and his report has him telling Akimoto, “That’s pretty hot, That can’t be 70 degrees. It has to be over 100 C. You can’t touch it with your hand.”

(The temperature was expected to decline to 75 degrees with electrolysis off, and only the 60 watt heater. This is an important aspect of the story: at this point, Mizuno was highly skeptical of excess heat claims, and was pursuing possible neutron generation. He had difficulty believing that the cell was actually over 100 C., so he checked with his hand. Carefully, as an expert. However, in any case, the cell would have been too hot to actually touch. This gets completely missed in Rothwell’s frenzy.)

(2) The thermocouple was, at this point, being recorded. Mizuno, afraid of a possible explosion (even though the cell was rated for 250 atmospheres), decided to turn off the heater, and moved the reactor). The temperature in the record, as reported by Mizuno from Akimoto, was “30 degrees over the calibration point,” i.e., that would be about 105 C.

(3) When he moved the reactor, and checked a day later, it continued to stay hot, and he again checked the thermocouple (manually, with a voltmeter). It was 4.0 mv —  or 100 C.

(4) Still concerned about explosion, he submerged the cell in a bucket of water. The temperature fell to 60 C. (This is an indication that the thermocouple was working.) He expected the temperature to continue to fall and went home.

(5) But “next morning,” the temperature had risen to 80 C., and the water had nearly all evaporated. (about 9 liters). He got a larger bucket and added  15 liters of water to it

(6) Over the next days, he found it necessary to add more water. Total water evaporated: “about” 41.5 liters. Obviously, to use this for calorimetry would need correction from natural evaporation.

(7) April 30, the temperature had fallen to 50 C. Evaporation apparently continued at about 5 liters per day. When he came back from a 5-day holiday, May 7, the temperature had fallen to 35 C (still warm!)

Because of multiple evidences, I conclude the report shows that the reactor stayed hot after all power was turned off and, at one point, the temperature rose . There was an internal source of power. However, all this is depending on the report coming from one person: Mizuno. We only have anything from Akimoto through Mizuno. Mizuno was never again able to replicate this, and, weirdly, it does not look like he actually tried. Instead, he pursued other approaches.

From the Mizuno account, Akimoto did not personally verify the temperature by touch. Again, Jed’s enthusiasm to refute and ridicule drove him into inaccuracy. Nevertheless, Shanahan’s critiques are, when all the evidence is considered, incompatible with the Mizuno report.

Jed continued with his diatribe:

He does this again, and again, and again. He dances around, he ducks, he evades, he waxes indignant with high dudgeon, he sorta, kinda says what he says in a way that could not mean anything else, and then at the last minute he pulls away. Then, when anyone points out that is the chronology, and what he said can only mean that a hot object stays hot for 3 days, he accuses that person of lying. This is classic “gaslighting” behavior.

The indignance I have seen has been only to being misquoted, and he was misquoted. Rothwell is applying his own logic to speculations by Shanahan, and then claiming Shanahan asserted what he speculates it must mean.

Shanahan claimed that the alleged quotations were Rothwell “fantasy.” That’s reasonably accurate. It  is not gaslighting to claim misquotation when there was misquotation. And “gaslighting” is highly reprehensible, it’s worse than lying, it is lying with an intention not only to deceive but to attempt to convince the person (the one telling the truth) that they are insane.

Rothwell was not telling the truth, he erred, because of his general confusion between fact and interpretation. It’s a common ontological error, to be sure.

To recover from this is simple. He almost got there with “Shanahan does not actually come right out and say, “it remained hot for three days.”

All he has to do is admit he was interpreting instead of quoting. And stop claiming that Shanahan lies when he objected to the misquotation. Rothwell’s logic:

Either he thinks it stays hot for three days, or he thinks is a valid argument to arbitrarily replace “3 days” with “immediately after disconnecting” and no one should quibble with that substitution.

Shanahan does not think it remained hot for three days, period. That is not his idea at all. Everything he’s written is aimed at looking for flaws in that claim. As to the alternative Rothwell presents, I don’t find it intelligible. Attempting to force debate opponents into positions they do not hold and have not expressed is highly offensive.

In practice, reality is never confined to two invented options.  The “he thinks is a valid argument” is, again, mind-reading, and the difference between the two proposed wordings is obvious. No wonder Rothwell gets nowhere with Shanahan.

That outcome might not depend on Rothwell behavior, but my concern is with how people who support LENR appear in public discussions, and the full audience appears over the years. How will this flame war appear to that full audience?

This was all a distraction from the thread subject, the Beiting report. Take it out back, guys!

Either argument is nuts, in my opinion. What do you think? Is “immediate” the same as “3 days”? Or do you think it stayed hot? Do you buy either interpretation? Tell us what you think.

So, here, Rothwell is attempting to push seven of twenty into the same false choice. However, this is fascinating: my interpretation of the evidence is that the cell stayed hot, clearly. Somehow Rothwell has confused Shanahan’s position with what is very likely reality, that the cell did stay hot. Shanahan absolutely does not believe that. Rothwell has allowed himself to get so upset that he has become incoherent.

(Shanahan has not, with the Mizuno anecdote, attempted to show calorimetry error. He has really pointed to (remotely) possible error sources, and has not clearly shown belief in any of them. Yes, they are preposterous, given the full evidence, but he’s not lying. The ultimate argument about the Mizuno anecdote is simply that it’s an anecdote and an anomaly if the report is accepted. There has been no attempt to confirm the result. This is, then, a footnote, a detail of historical interest, and not useful except as the reported experience of one scientist. I’d love to see Akimoto’s account. Has anyone attempted to obtain it?

(Shanahan also objects somewhere to the reported temperature over 100 C, i.e., above the boiling point of water, he assumed. But this was a closed cell, run at substantial pressure. The assumed boiling point limit of 100 C. was an error.)

I told him that if he really thinks it was “immediately” and not 3 days later, he is saying Mizuno lied. He responded with fake high dudgeon, saying “I don’t accuse professional scientists of lying” when that is exactly what he just did. More gaslighting!

Again, he did not claim — anywhere that I have seen — that Mizuno lied, and his comment about his general practice matches my experience with Shanahan. He doesn’t accuse professional scientists of lying. He is, himself, a professional scientist. Rothwell is not. He is an opinionated amateur (though one with a lot of knowledge, from his long involvement with the field, his work as a translator, and as librarian for lenr-canr.org). Jed presented Mizuno’s talk at ICCF-21, something else I will be looking at carefully.

That Rothwell calls this “gaslighting” is, then, massively delusional. I also don’t think for a moment that Rothwell lies, but he can be in error, and in this case, it’s completely obvious and clear. He also claims that when he is wrong, he admits it, but he hasn’t done that here, other than in a way that continues to claim that Shanahan lies. So was Rothwell lying when he wrote that about himself?

No. He was mistaken. Some people do lie, which means intentionally misleading. In some common speech, “Lie” means “reprehensibly wrong,” and there is a territory that overlaps. To say something where reputation is disparaged, without taking caution about accuracy and truth and the distinctions I have pointed out, is a carelessness that can create what amounts to lies. Call it willful disregard of truth. It is still not, quite, lying.

But it can get us into trouble the same as lying. Again, the remedy is obvious: when people claim we are in error (or lying), look carefully at how they might be right. Where it is possible that they may be right, at least in some way (not necessarily overall) acknowledge it!

The people who are most to be trusted are those who are not afraid of being wrong and looking bad from some mistake, who do not attempt to deny the possibility. We have it backwards, often. To really look bad, in a deep way, let it be seen that one is attached to looking good and doesn’t care about reality.

Shanahan responds with re-asserting that not only did he not say what Rothwell had claimed — which is obviously true — but that the quotes Rothwell supplies don’t show Shanahan as saying those things — which is also correct. Shanahan then uses the occasion to tar with the same brush the entire LENR field:

But you, in your preferred MO, misconstrued that in the worst way anyone could, and then said that was what I said. All that proves it that you learned the ‘strawman argument’ technique from your heroes quite well.

And this is what Rothwell opens for himself — and the field — by his carelessness and contempt. How much damage is done by this? I don’t know. I know that LENR Forum, by allowing flame wars like this, turns discussions into massive train wrecks, nearly useless for education. But LENR Forum, like many on-line fora, is like a bar, like Moletrap, say.

Shanahan has long been invited to participate in coverage and discussion of his ideas. I invited him to explore his criticisms on Wikiversity, almost a decade ago. Instead, he supported my Wikipedia ban, and seemed to believe that his ideas being excluded from Wikipedia was my doing, when, in fact, I acted to preserve content he had created. He is still invited. I’d give him author privileges here, if he’d accept them and he could write pages on his ideas. Which would, of course, be critiqued. But he could fully express himself and could ignore the potshots and incivilities that would surely appear. The same with the copy of the Wikiversity cold fusion resource that is hosted on the cold fusion community wiki. See Skeptical arguments/Shanahan. (that page is still mangled with templates placed during the process where all “fringe science” was banned on Wikiversity, which happened early this year. Long story. Bottom line: the community did not defend the right to study alleged fringe science on Wikiversity. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. So I rescued all those deleted resources. And if nobody cares about them, there they will sit until the cows come home or I go home myself.

On LENR Forum, it gets worse: Jed wrote:

kirkshanahan wrote:

Yes, that’s sort of the point of me making that comment. Preconceptions can be very powerful. And by the way, I never referred to when the cell was wrapped in towels, we are talking about when it was in a bucket of water. The ‘towel’ thing is another of your misconceptions,

Regarding the towels, Mizuno and Akimoto held their hands over the cell, and felt the cell wrapped in towels (as with a potholder), prior to moving it from the underground lab. That is what Mizuno wrote. That is the “two people” I refer to here. Perhaps you have not read the account, so you did not know that.

The Mizuno report (his book, p. 66-70) does not have any mention of Akimoto touching the cell. Akimoto only looks at the log of temperature. Mizuno moved the cell wrapped in “rags and towels.” The cell at that point was at, from the thermocouple reading immediately after, 100 C. This is not very hot. It might feel warm through towels. Mizuno turned off the cell heater before moving it. Basically he disconnected everything. So without XP, the cell would have been at about 75 C at that point. This could also feel warm through towels.

Sure, Shanahan has probably not read the account. I only have it because I have the book. Rothwell’s introduction is available, it describes the event, but is not complete.

After the cell was placed in the bucket, only Mizuno checked it, not Akimoto. He checked it every day by sense of touch and by reading the thermocouple.

There is no mention of “sense of touch” in the accounts of the cell in the bucket of water. The temperature fell to 60 C. from the reactor being placed in the bucket, but later rose, and those are all thermocouple readings. The temperature did, by the next day, rise to 80 C. On May 7, the temperature was still 35 C., which is still anomalously high for a cell sitting in a bucket of water in a normal room, his lab. The report ends there.

It is frustrating to read this report. Mizuno could have left the reactor connected to the logger and heated, as Akimoto suggested. Akimoto realized this was an opportunity, but Mizuno was afraid, and I don’t think the full dimensions of that fear have been recognized. Mizuno did not take steps to create better confirmation of his data. He did not publish this report, though there was apparently a newspaper account. (I hope Jed will translate that, if he has it.) Most amazing, given that this is the best-observed Heat After Death incident at high power, Mizuno did not attempt to replicate.

The temperature anomaly was noticed first on April 22, 1991. That cell was tightly sealed. From what we now know, the cell atmosphere should have had helium levels far above ambient. But Mizuno didn’t talk about it. The opportunity was missed, and not from fear of explosion. His book, p. 60-70.

I have learned a valuable lesson from this experience. I am appalled at my own inability to completely shrug off the bounds of conventional knowledge. Weak as they were, I verified neutron production. I even detected tritium, although the figures  did not add up to tritium “commensurate” with the neutrons. But, in my heart, I still harbored he view that the excess heat phenomenon surely could not occur, and, for that reason, I had not made adequate preparations to measure it. When the heat did appear, I was totally ill-equipped to deal with it appropriately. You never know when this heat will appear; later I experienced it many times.

And then:

I did not report on the May 1991 excess heat burst I experienced after terminating electrolysis, because I did not have precise data. I described results from a subsequent experiment in a poster session display. Other reports were made of heat after electrolysis was turned off (so-called “heat-after-death’), an important point which I think indicates the effect is reproducible.

If he had been thinking clearly, he would not have removed the cell from the logger and would have left the heater on. HAD with external supplemental heat is better confirmed, but in this case the heat production was enough to overwhelm the normal cooling. He could have returned the cell to the original setup and continued logging. He could have had an independent report written by Akimoto. He could have gathered additional information for a report — analysis of cell contents being something obvious to us with hindsight. (He describes another event where he scrapes the “crud” off of a cathode that was active, not realizing that this could be a treasure trove of information.)

I see his behavior as rooted in fear, mostly fear of looking bad. His actual data, probably recorded in a notebook, would have been clearer and better data on excess heat than about any other report in the field. Still could be, though it’s pretty late. His precision would be as it was. He had calibrated the cell, apparently. He knew the input power record, I assume.

His reaction to the unexpected excess heat, I imagine him thinking: “I don’t understand this. Therefore it’s dangerous!” Indeed. But he’s also aware that this was not much of a real danger, that cell had been experiencing recombiner failure repeatedly, with “explosions.” It was designed to withstand them.

The unknown is dangerous. But not usually, in a context like this, and the risk was small of any actual harm. His most legitimate fear was of leaving the reactor running while nobody was around. So perhaps turning it off was a reasonable response, though, in hindsight, that may have amplified the XE, as the Flesichman and Pons explosion was preceded by turning the reactor off and leaving it. This was years later, and surely Mizuno knew about that event. Maybe he hadn’t believed it happened, or that it had been exaggerated or misinterpreted.

That event also boggles my mind. Pons and Fleischmann did not photograph the damage. They did not appear to have kept the detritus left for analysis. Why not?

Fear, quite similar to Mizuno. They were afraid that the university would shut them down. To continue with Jed’s continued mind-reading:

I do not think preconceptions could fool the sense of touch in two professional chemists. Apparently you think it can.

First of all, one professional. Second, it could. And third, given that there were three confirmations of elevated temperature, this is very, very unlikely. So Shanahan is right, it could. Rothwell is right, it didn’t.

Shanahan has not read the original, I suspect, and doesn’t put the pieces together, and, in addition, he doesn’t trust Rothwell’s report is accurate, because, after all, Rothwell errs in reporting what Shanahan has written, why not the same with Mizuno’s report? Of course, Rothwell knows Mizuno, but … I don’t trust Rothwell’s account as completely accurate, either, but it is possible that Rothwell knows more that Mizuno has told him, that is not in the book.

I will repeat this: as far as I’ve seen, Rothwell doesn’t lie. Nor does Shanahan. In court, testimony is to be accepted unless controverted, and sound court process will attempt to avoid contradiction in testimony, i.e., it will look for harmonizing interpretations. Impeaching sworn testimony is generally avoided, except that process will distinguish between eyewitness testimony and interpretation by the witness. (But a jury, based on observing the witness, may consider possible deception.) Rothwell continued to argue:

kirkshanahan wrote:
For the record, *you* are the one claiming I was talking about being fooled by a 100C object. I made no such assumption. I actually assumed it was a ‘hot object’ (remember that?) for *part* of my analysis and that when they were ‘touching’ it (in the bucket), they were in fact touching a warm object immersed in water with an attached, malfunctioning TC that said the object was much hotter than it was.

Shanahan becomes careless, though he does state his alternate hypothesis as an “assumption,” which is not the same as “believing” it.

He’s confused on the factual history from the Mizuno report, possibly because he doesn’t have a copy. Is there one somewhere? I’ve quoted from the published book. There is no account of Akimoto being involved with the cell after Mizuno took it back to his office and immersed it in water. “Much hotter” would be incorrect. There remains the water evaporation data. But the point for me, here, is that Shanahan has not assumed what Rothwell claimed.

The “part of the analysis” he refers to would be the “three days after electrolysis was turned off,” where the temperature was a bit above 100 C per the thermocouple. At that point, it was still being heated by the internal heater, and temperature was expected to be, from prior calibrations, about 75 C. The difference was stated as 30 C.

There is no report of them actually touching the cell directly. There was an attempt by Mizuno, rather, to confirm the thermocouple reading by holding his hand over the cell, as I would do with any object I suspect to be hot. And Rothwell is correct that a deliberate attempt by a professional who must make these judgments often is very unlikely to be drastically off, as with some quick deceptive “perception.”

So Shanahan is confused. From where is he getting his information about the anecdote? From Rothwell, of course. Now, my training is that if I attempt to explain a situation to someone, and they remain unclear about it, I did not explain well, something was missing in my work. Shanahan is not necessarily a good listener, but still, taking responsibility for outcome is empowering, blaming others for failure is the opposite. Given all the noise about “you said” what was not actually said, I don’t wonder that Shanahan is factually confused. [Rothwell:]

As I said, “they” (Mizuno and Akimoto) did not touch it in the bucket. That is a minor misunderstanding. Only Mizuno touched it in the bucket.

Maybe Rothwell knows this directly from Mizuno, but that’s not in the report in the book. Nobody is reported as actually touching the bucket. Mizuno obviously was close to the reactor, but it was not hot enough that his direct perception of temperature would be reliable as to distinguishing between 75 C and 100 – 105 C.  I would not assume there was direct perception (touch), and that actually seems unlikely (Mizuno actually reports saying “You can’t touch it with your bare hand,” but there still remain two major evidences: the thermocouple reading and the very unusual water evaporation, that slowly declined as the TC temperature declined. These pieces all fit together.

They touched it, and then Mizuno placed it in the bucket, 3 days after electrolysis stopped and it was disconnected.

This is clearly inaccurate. Sequence:

April 22, stopped electrolysis, internal heater remained on.

April 25, abnormal temperature noticed. Mizuno checks heater power supply, which is supplying 60 watts, same as for a “month.” From calibration, temperature should have been 75 C. Three days after electrolysis ended, the deuterium loading should have declined (he writes “nearly all should have come out of the metal. He checks the temperature manually, hand held over the surface of the cell. “That’s pretty hot. That can’t be 70 degrees. You can’t touch it with your bare hand.”

So he did not touch it. It appears that neither Akimoto nor Mizuno actually touched the cell. But, at this point, it was still being heated electrically.

It would be stone cold long before that. It could not be a warm object for any reason.

How does Rothwell manage to get this so wrong? It should have been at 75 C. Still too hot to touch! Rothwell makes this blunder because he is so focused on Shanahan’s alleged stupidity that he forgets to be careful, himself. That’s quite normal for untrained humans.  (Some people understand this more or less naturally, but many don’t.)

There is no chemical fuel in the cell except for the emerging hydrogen, and the power from that is so low it could not be detected, or felt. The total energy from it is about as much as 3 kitchen matches.

That depends on conditions. This is a closed cell and would have orphaned oxygen in it, but I don’t know how much energy would be available. Something very unusual happened with that cell. The water evaporation figures are the strongest evidence.

Right here, again, you are claiming that an object heated with electrolysis will remain hot (or warm) from April 22 to May 7, even though there is no source of heat in it. That is absolutely, positively, 100% certainly IMPOSSIBLE.

And, once again, Shanahan did not claim that “right here.” It’s simply not there, so Shanahan is correct, this is Rothwell’s “fantasy.”

kirkshanahan wrote:
But most importantly what I said is: Anecdotes aren’t science.

Tell that to an astronomer. But in any case, you are ignoring the fact that heat after death was demonstrated hundreds of times, reliably, by Fleischmann and Pons, often at power levels as high as Mizuno observed. No, you are not ignoring this. Wrong word. I and others have pointed this out to you time after time, but you pretend it did not happen.

Shanahan’s comment is slightly overstated. Science is a vast pile of anecdotes, but where possible, we look for independent confirmations, and, best of all, replication. In astronomy, that one person observes something is an anecdote. When many observe the same phenomenon,  that is a collection of anecdotes, but the observation has become confirmed. Science is a process, and it begins with the observation and reporting of anecdotes. From there, to confirmed and accepted knowledge, can be quite an involved process.

Fleischmann and Pons may have observed HAD many times, though “hundreds” is questionable. Maybe. What’s the report? I have not seen reliability data from them, and much of that research was never published, a tragedy.

I have studied the debate between Morrison and Fleischmann, though not yet completely. At this point, presenting it to skeptics as proof of something would be premature. Whether or not this confirms Mizuno is tricky and unclear. And this is all distraction from the major point, which is not actually Mizuno, Rothwell is claiming “gaslighting,” which is lying about the past to attempt to confuse. In fact, Shanahan didn’t say what Rothwell claimed, and that’s quite simple. What Rothwell does is to throw in arguments irrelevant to that, basically claiming that Shanahan is wrong about something.

But if we can’t agree about what is in front of us and accessible — the record of conversation — how could we hope to agree on something far more complex?

And that’s the bottom line here. Rothwell has asserted, many times, that he doesn’t care what skeptics think. He isn’t attempting to understand them, nor to communicate effectively with them. He is hostile and combative, and deliberately so. He does not speak for the CMNS research community, and certainly not for political outreach (i.e., Ruby Carat or, to some extent, me).

Shanahan is cleaning his clock, because of the obviousness of this.

Seven of twenty chimes in:

Just curious, JedRothwell if you believe that your arguments with Shanahan and anecdotes about water staying hot for days add substantial value to the probability that Mizuno can make 1, 10 and 100kW (or thereabouts) reactors based on LENR, as he has claimed.

Troll. Mizuno has not claimed that. Rather, it appears, some reactor designs were named with such figures. I’m not going to track it down, but assigning outrageous claims to cold fusion scientists is par for the course for pseudoskeptical trolls.  Seven of twenty is using Jed’s bad habit of getting into unwinnable arguments to attack the entire field. Obviously, that whole mess has little or nothing to do with Mizuno’s ability to do anything. IH did attempt to confirm some Mizuno findings, as I recall, and appears to have failed, but this happens in the field quite commonly. The most difficult aspect to LENR research is reliability, and an obsessive focus on More Heat, even though motivation for that is obvious, doesn’t help. So in the recent Takahashi report, we actually start to see what reliability study could look like. Too little, still, my view, but at least they are moving in a powerful direction.

The field is full of intriguing anecdotes, and is either afflicted with or looks like it could be afflicted with, confirmation bias.  Denying this is not going to convince anyone who understands the issues. There is work that carefully avoids this, but there is so much that does not, that an appearance is maintained of a systemic problem.

Basically, that there is poor research — or poorly reported research, the effect is similar — does not negate that there is solid research from which clear conclusions can be drawn. Bottom line, at the present time, analysis of research is not going to prove anything to people who are not listening, not following the research, except for a very few.

There are genuine skeptics who are listening, but some of us insult them, merely because they are skeptical. Skepticism is essential to the scientific method, and if one has developed a belief about something in science, the obligation the method prescribes is to become as skeptical as possible and attempt, vigorously, to prove the opposite of what we believe.

Shanahan is a pseudoskeptic, I’ll assert, but he is also a real skeptic on occasion, or can play one on TV, and does attempt to raise genuine issues. So Shanahan should be handled carefully. Attacking him can look like attacking skeptics in general, which is a “believer” behavior, to be avoided.

Yes, pseudoskeptics are not following the scientific method, but that does not mean that we should imitate them and fall down that rat-hole. In fact, we can use their ruminations and speculations.

Again and again, Rothwell repeats his error, and Shanahan rubs his face in it. He wrote:

JedRothwell wrote:

That is not even remotely similar to saying that two chemists might think an object is too hot to touch when it is actually stone cold. The physical sense of touch is nothing like an academic dispute. It is much harder to fool.

…says the Head Acolyte for the Church of Cold Fusion…

Shanahan is returning the favor of pure ad hominem argument. However, Rothwell has repeated clear errors. The object, at the time in question, would be expected to be at 75 C, not “stone cold.” Rothwell has forgotten about the internal heater, so sure is he that he is right, and that he knows the conditions of this event. That’s what we do when we allow ourselves to believe in the stupidity of others. It infects us, sometimes even more deeply than the others. And the “two chemists” did not touch the cell. One put his hand near it. The other only saw the temperature log and was in conversation with Mizuno, the only one actually using, not touch, but our ability to sense radiated heat without getting burned.

Rothwell is right that, as the usage is described in the report, it is very unlikely to be seriously deluded. Mizuno concluded that it was not at “70 C.,” but it was hotter. He would not touch it, then. I might use a “rapid touch, ” where the motion of a finger would only allow a very rapid contact, and I might wet the finger.  A little dangerous, but not very, on a metal surface. Observing the wet spot on the cell would have been a confirmation of “above 100 C.” I do that with the sizzle, in my kitchen. But that was not done.

The problem is that Rothwell continues to repeat his story of what Shanahan supposedly said, refusing to accept that something was off about it. He had the opportunity to recognize an error, a simple one, and take a step toward resolving the issue. Instead, he succeeds in making himself look worse and worse. And all of this is off-topic in that thread, so he’s is taking up time and space better devoted to actual exploration of genuine controversies and reports. Of course, the moderators of LENR Forum must bear some responsibility for tolerating this mess.

On the other hand, maybe they like it. Some people enjoy watching flame wars, it makes them feel superior. Shanahan wrote:

JedRothwell wrote:

Let me again advise you, however, that you must not admit the cell was even a little warm.

What do you not understand about the fact that I said *IF* what you wrote is true, we have an anomaly. The problem is that ONE EXPERIMENT NEVER PROVES ANYTHING. We don’t know why the TC read >100C for 3 days, but us conservative-types tend to opt for equipment malfunction. You fanatic believers opt for the opposite.

First of all, the cell at the point under discussion (“after three days”) would be at 75 C. with no excess power. So the premise is nuts. Shanahan is right about “proves,” but anecdotes create indications for further research, where possibilities like “equipment failure” would be ruled out — or supported. In this case, thermocouple failure is very unlikely, because of the consistent behavior of that thermocouple, particularly as cool-down proceeded. It’s too bad the logging was not continued or resumed, so we might have seen even more evidence on that.

Shanahan’s self-description as “conservative,” though, is self-serving. He isn’t conservative, scientifically, he is far, far too certain of himself and his own ideas. Here, he extrapolates from an example in a forum that attracts extremes, to all “fanatic believers.” Yet he himself is a fanatic believer, as to his behavior. That’s a long story, and the whole Mizuno affair, and “lies” and “gaslighting” were distractions from real issues. Shanahan took a look at the Beiting calorimetry, and the entire line of attack by Rothwell and others was intended, it appears, to disparage that without actually considering it in detail, through an ad hominem argument based on misrepresentation of what Shanahan had written. In a word, that sucks. Jed wrote:

kirkshanahan wrote:

Objects at about 54 to 55°C (130°F) will usually result in a sensation of warmth that is on the threshold of pain: it’s really hot!.”

Careful there! You must not admit that it might have been 54°C. If it were that temperature 3 days after disconnection, that means cold fusion is real. It would have to be 20°C, the ambient temperature in the underground lab. Stone cold. If it were even a little hot, enough to measure with the TC, that means cold fusion is real.

Again, Jed has allowed his internal incendiaries to confuse him. He thinks this is a gotcha! In fact, until the cell was removed from the underground lab, it was at over 100 C. by the thermocouple indication, and would have been expected to be at 75 C. from the 60 watt internal heater and the calibration. Mizuno is explicit about that. Jed should really study the report again. I read things like this many times. One reading can be quite inadequate to become familiar.

I also used to be interested in arguments that develop in meetings, where there was no record. So, one time, I taped a meeting where there were controversies and arguments. Later, I transcribed it. A lot of work. And I found that my memory was utterly unreliable. With training, some people can develop accurate memory, even to the point of being able to assert verbatim, what others actually said. It’s rare. Rather, we remember summaries, mostly colored heavily by emotional responses.

I have a friend and he complains to me about what his fiance said to him. What did she actually say? He often says, when I press him, that he can’t remember. But he’s upset about what he can’t remember? It’s obvious: At the time, he thought that she meant something or that her statement implied something that worried him or upset him. Under those conditions, the original statement, what she actually said, gets lost, and that, then, traps him into a fantasy (a made-up story, which may or may not have some basis in reality) that he repeats to himself, and it makes and keeps him unhappy. This is all boringly common!

You have to show that two people in an underground lab where it is 20°C year round felt a 20°C object and both mistakenly perceived that it was hot.

No, he doesn’t “have” to do that. First of all, the object with no XP would be at 75 C., above the threshold of pain. Second nobody actually touched it, and only one used “feeling” — our ability to sense the temperature of a hot object close to our hand — to sense temperature.

Then one of them put it in a bucket, and 17.5 L of water evaporated, but that can happen any time.

Again, this is taking a Shanahan speculation and turning it into a preposterous statement. Shanahan noticed what I also notice: There would be some normal evaporation. But how much? Rothwell has several times used the 17.5 liter figure. That is total evaporation since April 30, not total evaporation. Total evaporation after removing all input power and placing the cell in a bucket of water was over 40 liters. Suppose the temperature was incorrect, that the cell was actually at room temperature after initial cooling. (I find the possibility of error in temperature here to be very, very low. It simply doesn’t look like thermocouple failure.) The final “measurement period” was 5 days, and water loss for that period was about 7.5 liters. That’s 1.5 liter/day. Assuming all of that is normal evaporation, that gives us “normal evaporation” from April 25 to May 2, seven days, of 10.5 liters. That still leaves 33.5 liters.

The normal evaporation artifact speculation doesn’t work, and actual normal evaporation, I’d expect, would be lower than the figure used. Apparently, Shanahan also speculated that rats drank the water. I think he had the underground lab in mind, but the evaporation took place in Mizuno’s personal lab on the third floor of a different building. Shanahan was engaging in a “what if” brainstorming, it’s completely standard for him. “What if there was some artifact, some error? What could it be?” And then one can always come up with something. Much more likely than rats — which simply don’t drink that much water, I’ve lived with them — would be a practical joker.

That’s a generic possible artifact that cannot generally be disproven. But, one will notice me saying over and over, “conservative” analysis will look at such possible artifacts and will normally reject them immediately as unlikely, and cold fusion is not what Shanahan thinks.

If the Muzuno event was real, this would not — at all — require physics textbooks to be revised. That would only happen after the cause of such an event were determined, with strong evidence, not merely the fact of it happening, and if the cause, now demonstrated with clear evidence, then required revision basic concepts of physics.

That is very unlikely, though obviously not impossible. The problem is that the circumstances of LENR are extremely complex and not easy to analyze accurately. I consider it likely that no changes to basic understanding, truly fundamental physics, will be required. It’s simply a complex situation that allows something otherwise unexpected to happen.

From all the evidence we currently have, it is no longer anywhere near as anomalous as was originally thought. But the Mizuno event was still outside the envelope of what is common. Rothwell treats every cold fusion finding of excess heat as confirming the Mizuno event. That’s simply naive, involving a loss of specificity and assuming that all cold fusion reports cover the same phenomenon. They might, and they might not. Until we have reliability, it’s going to be very difficult to resolve this issue.

There are a few results that are quite reliable, and that’s where some discussions might be fruitful.

You are sure that can happen. Again, be careful! You must never put a bucket of water in a room to test your claim, because you will see that does not happen. You must stick to your story.

Shanahan has generally backed off from claiming that it “did not happen.” His position is, quite clearly, “anecdote, and therefore not probative.” Then, out of his usual habits, he speculates on possible artifact. That’s all. It is really not such a big deal.

(Elsewhere, Shanahan pointed to sources on evaporation, which will obviously vary with temperature, exposed surface, air flow, humidity, and other factors. Simply putting a bucket in a room would not establish the fact as to what happened in that particular room at that time. I’m not going through the math, but the evaporation reported is clearly outside normal. There is an upper bound to normal evaporation in the last five days, I covered that above. Because the cell was still warm at the end of the five days, that was likely still beyond normal evaporation at room temperature.)

Shanahan wrote:

JedRothwell wrote:

Careful there!

I’m always careful. You aren’t. For example, you missed the fact that I have cited a couple of sources that says the pain limit for physical temperature measurement is around 45-60C, not 100C. So, if Mizuno and Akimoto actually touched a 100C object, they would have been badly burned, Since they weren’t (i assume absent medical evidence to the contrary) they must have only approached the cell physically. Given their preconceptions that a) CF is real and they are proving it, and b) that the cell temp is >100C, the claim that they ‘felt’ it was that hot has no factual basis. They were fooled by their preconceptions, just like Blondlot thought he saw spots.

Nobody here is terribly careful. While one might have touched a 100 C object without harm — if donet just right — we actually have no report of actual touch. Rather, only one of them “approached the cell physically,” the report is clear, so Shanahan is correct on that point. However, “they were fooled by their preconceptions” is highly unlikely given the description. Shanahan is, himself, sitting in his chair creating possibilities out of his own preconceptions.

The Blondlot illusion was based on vision at the limits of perception, dark-adapted, where it’s quite noisy.

In the Mizuno report, this was an ordinary test of heat, in a context where Mizuno was quite surprised and wondering if he could trust the thermocouple. I get why Rothwell gets worked into a froth! Shanahan is actually outrageous, on that matter. But this had nothing to do with the Beiting report! The senseless debate continues:

Remember: if the cell was palpably hot to any extent, even a few degrees, three days after it was cut off, that means cold fusion is real. You cannot admit that! You must insist it was stone cold, right at ambient.

Rothwell has forgotten what was actually reported. At the point where the cell was “palpably hot,” the temperature with no XP would have been 75 C. Not “ambient,” stone cold. He’s forgotten about the cell heater; only electrolysis had been cut off, not the heater.

(Why would they have a cell heater? Well, to increase possible reaction rates, that’s why!)

As to the later heat, there is no direct evidence in the report of feeling the heat after that single manual test on April 25. The later temperature record is from the thermocouple, and heat is inferred from evaporation, which was clearly higher than normal. But that’s a separate issue.

Shanahan is arguing — and quibbling — over trees, Rothwell is arguing about the forest, and forgetting details about the trees, inferring them from secondary records, i.e,. from talking about the talking and his ideas about the forest.

When Alan Smith made noises about trolling, Shanahan explained (more or less correctly), and added:

I thought the Beiting issue was quite simple. He miscalculated his error limits on his calibration. A better estimate leads to the conclusion that his apparent excess heat signal is potentially just noise.

Now, that’s a simple claim, and moderately simple to verify, but work to verify. It requires actual study.  This, by the way, is classic Shanahan. A key word is “potentially.” He does not actually claim that there is no excess heat, only that it is “potentially just noise.” Now, is that supportable? I don’t know yet, and I won’t have any real idea until I check Shanahan’s work, which isn’t necessarily simple, it’s reasonably sophisticated. Rothwell simply attacked it as arrogant, which is not acceptable. It’s a decent analysis or it is not. I’m going to look again. Did Rothwell or anyone actually show error in the Shanahan analysis?

Knowing Shanahan, there is a good chance there is some dead fish in his analysis. However, that is a very subjective and easily biased expectation.  Cold fusion deserves better than that. Just as the appearance of excess heat does not require that physics textbooks be changed, a defective error analysis in a cold fusion paper does not require a dismissal of the evidence found in it. The smell test at this point is from an appearance that Shanahan pulled possible error values out of a dark place. Did he?

I’m not seeing that Rothwell — or anyone — identified error or unwarranted assumption in Shanahan’s critique. Fundamentally, the discussion was extensively derailed by the ad hominem arguments.

THHuxleynew appears to agree with Shanahan on one point:

Kirk is claiming (correctly, AFAIK) that the reported results are 10X more sensitive to calibration error than you might think . . .

That is not the same as confirming that there is such error. Attention to objective measurements of error is crucial to LENR research. We need to clean up the field, to expect better work (with more extensive calibrations), and to expect clearer analysis and presentation of data, and more thorough study of possible artifacts. Part of this is respecting skeptical commentary, and, especially learning to distinguish and encourage genuine, constructive skepticism, from useless and provocative trolling.

People often behave as they are expected to behave. When a community fails to guide its members, it can fall apart. “Guidance” does not mean domination and control, it means taking responsibility for our own behavior, and expecting that of others. It means and requires deepening communication and the seeking of genuine consensus.

I end up being mentioned, by Zeus46. It’s pretty funny, Zeus46 puts up a non-functioning link.  This is all fluff, of the “who started it” variety.

The discussion continued to focus, so far, on more fluff and irrelevancies, and the real issue raised by Shanahan, originally, possible poor handling of calibrations and error statistics, is ignored. When I can get to it, I intend to look at the Shanahan critique as part of a study of the Beiting report, which is on the agenda for me, along with the rest of ICCF-21. There was a lot to digest there.

Update 2018-07-03

Zeus46 continued to troll Shanahan. However, Shanahan had declined to continue argument on the false quotations — which were indeed false, and continued deceptively as such, in the face of protest, by Zeus46.

As part of that intended refusal, Shanahan wrote:

Z is a troll and JR is a fanatic. They both seek to confuse what I say for their own personal reasons. In the process they resort to illegitimate argumentation tactics and finally to insults. I will seek from now on to avoid answering them. If they try to make some point that I feel misleads unduly I may comment, but I will try to minimize that.

As to Zeus46, Shanahan is probably correct, and LF moderation is woefully lax in that discussion (and often, elsewhere). Direct misquotation to defame is not only unfair argumentation, it is grossly uncivil and provocative. As to JR (Jed Rothwell), I don’t think he is seeking to confuse; rather, he’s confused himself.

Shanahan returned to focus on the issue of calibration and error propagation and real discussion ensued.

Update 2018-07-25

I put this up with a password and sent the password to Rothwell. He still insisted that he was right and that Shanahan was gaslighting him. He has, with dripping sarcasm, directly attacked me on a private mailing list for LENR researchers. Rothwell is a loose cannon, unfortunately, even though he has done much for the field (and supported me in various ways). I think that’s over. I have removed the password protection.

 

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Author: Abd ulRahman Lomax

See http://coldfusioncommunity.net/biography-abd-ul-rahman-lomax/

2 thoughts on “The care and feeding of the Troll”

  1. I did not made an “argument to authority.” (Also known as “Fallacious Appeal to Authority, Misuse of Authority, Irrelevant Authority.”) It would only be an argument to authority if the authorities I cited were not actually authorities (experts). Pointing to actual experts it not a logical fallacy. It is a valid argument. See:

    http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/appeal-to-authority.html

    People often mistakenly believe that citing any authority is a logical fallacy or an invalid argument. You have apparently made that mistake.

    1. There is difference of opinion on argumentum ad verecundiam. You have given only one position, citing one authority. Heh! And, in fact, that source adds some caveats, which you are ignoring.

      The Wikipedia article is actually pretty decent. From the lede, the core point:

      It is well known as a fallacy, though some consider that it is used in a cogent form when all sides of a discussion agree on the reliability of the authority in the given context.[2][3]

      From the journal comments linked by Note 2:

      In pragma-dialectics, an appeal to external authority is a sound strategic manoeuvre only if arguers agree, either in advance or in retrospect, i.e., after a sub-discussion, that this authority is acceptable and properly invoked in a given context—otherwise it is a fallacious argumentum ad verecundiam (van Eemeren and Houtlosser 2003)

      (and that whole paper is worth reviewing as to mainstream vs. fringe.)
      This is basically common sense. To provide expert testimony, a person must be recognized by the court. In a debate, by whoever will be judging the debate; in an on-line discussion, it is obvious that citing an authority that will not be accepted by the other participants is useless. You did use argument by authority, Jed, that’s clear. Your claim would be that it was “legitimate.” Again and again, you imagine that judgments of legitimacy are objective. They are only (relatively) objective if the authority is accepted by those with whom you are discussing.

      If you look at the context, you made a statement about the quality of calorimetry used by Beiting based on a claim that Aerospace was “world class.” Appeal to authority. However, calorimetry is outside their expertise. They may have done a great job, and they might even have brought in deeper expertise, but Shanahan has actually been published under peer review with his critique of calorimetry. You disparaged him on the basis that he was pretending to be smarter than the Aerospace people. That was, itself, an appeal to authority (claiming that an argument is wrong because the one arguing is not an expert is known as fallacious appeal to authority.)

      None of this means that there is a problem with the Beiting calorimety, only that your defense of it was logically defective — or at least questionable.

      Something is leading you to make a series of specious arguments, sometimes blatantly so. Maybe you are burning out, impatient, tired of dealing with so much crap? I would say that no response would have been far better than how you responded, which did not strengthen the understanding of the Beiting report. If I remember correctly, management at Aerospace was not impressed by the report and did not decide to fund further research. If that was the goal of the report, it failed. Why? I don’t know yet and prefer not to guess, not without much more experience studying it.

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