To live outside the law you must be honest

–Bob Dylan, Absolutely Sweet Marie (19 freaking 66)

This is a call for action.

Wikipedia Policy: Ignore all rules.

If a rule prevents you from improving or maintaining Wikipedia, ignore it.

Years ago, I wrote an essay, Wikipedia Rule Zero. When all my Wikipedia user pages were put up for deletion by JzG, in 2011, the essay was rescued. So I can also rescue it now. Thanks, Toth. (Those pages were harmless, — there were lies  — ah, careless errors? — in the deletion arguments. Why the rush? Notice how many wanted the pages not to be deleted, or at least considered individually.) Well, that’s a long story, and it just got repeated on Wikiversity without so much fuss as a deletion discussion or even a deletion tag that would notify the user. Deleted using a bot with an edit summary for most of them that was so false I might as well call it a lie.

The talk page of that essay lays out a concept for Wikipedia reform, off-wiki “committee” organization. This has generally been considered Canvassing, and users have been sanctioned for participating in a mailing list, a strong example being the Eastern European Mailing List, an ArbComm case where the Arbitration Committee — which deliberates privately on a mailing list! — threw the book at users and an administrator who had done very little, but the very concept scared them, because they knew how vulnerable Wikipedia is to off-wiki organization. However, it is impossible to prevent, and a more recent example could be Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia. 

It is quite obvious that GSOW is communicating in an organized way, privately. The Facebook page claims high activity, but the page shows little. And that’s obviously because it is all private.

I have spent a few months documenting the activities of Anglo Pyramidologist, the name  on Wikipedia for a sock master, with more than 190 tagged sock puppets on Wikipedia, and many more elsewhere. AP has claimed to be paid for his work, by a “major skeptic organization.” There are claims that this is GSOW.

Lying or not, the recent AP activities have clearly demonstrated that WMF wikis and others are vulnerable to manipulation through sock puppets and what they can do, particularly if they seem to be supporting some position that can be seen as “majority” or “mainstream.” They routinely lie, but design the lies to appeal to common ideas and knee-jerk opinion.

Recently, cold fusion was banned as a topic on Wikiversity, (unilaterally by the same sysop as deleted all those pages of mine), entirely contrary to prior policy and practice. It was claimed that the resource had been disruptive, but there had been no disruption, until a request for deletion was filed the other day by socks — and two users from Wikipedia canvassed by socks — showed up attacking the resource and me. So this became very, very clearly related to cold fusion.

However, the problem is general. I claimed years ago that Wikipedia was being damaged by factional editing without any claim of off-wiki organization — at least I had no evidence for that. It happens through watchlists and shared long-term and predictable interests.

Wikipedia policy suggests that decisions be made, when there is dispute, by users who were not involved. Yet I have never seen any examination of “voters” based on involvement, so the policy was dead in the water, has never actually been followed. It just sounds like a good idea! (and many Wikipedia policies are like that. There is no reliable enforcement. It’s too much work! When I did this kind of analysis, it was hated!)

So … a general solution: organize off-wiki to support generation of genuine consensus on-wiki. I will create a mailing list, but to be maximally effective this must not be, in itself, factional. However, having a “point of view” does not make one factional. People can easily have points of view, even strong ones, while still recognizing fairness and balance through full self-expression. Wikipedia, as an encyclopedia, is neutral through exclusion, but if points of view are excluded in the deliberative process, as they often have been whenever those were minority points of view — in the “local mob” — consensus becomes impossible. Wikiversity was, in the educational resources, neutral by inclusion. And the AP socks and supporters just demolished that.

These off-wiki structure must also be security-conscious, because all prior similar efforts have not taken precautions and were crushed as a result. In the talk page for that Rule 0 essay, I described Esperanza, a clear example.

This will go nowhere if there is no support. But even one person participating in this could make a difference. A dozen could seriously interrupt the activities of the factions. Two dozen could probably transform not only Wikpedia, but the world.

Wikipedia was designed with a dependence on consensus, but never clearly developed structures that would generate true consensus. Given how many efforts there have been on-wiki, my conclusion is that it isn’t going to happen spontaneously and through on-wiki process, because of the Iron Law of Oligarchy and its consequences. Reform will come from independent, self-organized structures. I will not here describe the exact details, but … it can be done.

I used to say “Lift a finger, change the world. But few will lift a finger.” Sometimes none.

Is that still true? Contact me if you are willing to lift a finger, to move toward a world where the people know how to create genuine consensus, and do what it takes for that. Comments left here can request privacy. Email addresses will be known to me and will be kept private for any post with any shred of good-faith effort to communicate.

Another slogan was “If we are going to transform the world, it must be easy.”

There will be participants in this who are public, real-name. I will be one. More than that will depend on the response that this sees. Thanks for reading this and, at least, considering it!

 

 

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Author: Abd ulRahman Lomax

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

12 thoughts on “To live outside the law you must be honest”

  1. I think the Wiki structure used in Wikipedia and Wikiversity is not well suited for academic disputes such as cold fusion. Such disputes are best conducted in traditional venues such as journals. They work best when there are two or more journals involved, representing all sides, and when an editor at the journals has control over the content. The editor can prevent the kind of sabotage that takes place in a Wiki. When Nature and Sci. Am. oppose cold fusion and the JCMNS is in favor of it, people on both sides will have their views fully explained and represented to their own satisfaction. It is unfortunate that Nature has so many more readers than JCMNS. But this arrangement is better than trying to reach a happy medium or trying to split the difference.

    There are many problems with Wiki structures, such as the anonymity of authors. You have described these problems in better detail than I could, because I know little about Wikipedia. Even though I do not know why, I can see the Wikipedia is not working, and I can see it is impossible to influence it, so I see no point to dealing with it.

    I know even less about social media such as Facebook, because I am not a member and have never looked at it. However, there have been a number of mass media articles recently about how Russian bots infest social media, and how people buy and sell fake members. See, for example, today’s article in the N.Y. Times:

    The Follower Factory

    https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/01/27/technology/social-media-bots.html

    These problems sound similar to the ones at Wikipedia. As I said, I wouldn’t know because I have not looked at Facebook, but I understand the techniques described in the Times used to make fake followers. They sound like automated Wikipedia “sock puppets” generated in the millions.

    There has been a lot of discussion about the larger problems of on-line media lately. See, for example, Sci. Am. Feb. 2018, “Toxic Online Discourse.”

    I think that until on-line discussion technology matures, we should stick to more traditional venues. And also to libraries such as LENR-CANR.org, which is simply an on-line version of the libraries at Los Alamos and Georgia Tech., where we got the papers in the first place.

  2. Abd – I had wondered about the reason for the lack of visible activity here, and it seems like you have been diving into the politics of Wikipedia. Somewhat of a time-pit. If you can fix the politics there, then maybe you can stop the promulgation of the viewpoint that LENR is pathological science and maybe thus change the attitudes towards research in this area. However, Plan B should also change those politics since direct proof of a real effect with significant people saying it is true (and staking reputations on it) will do much the same. Even if the USA continues to think that LENR is not worth looking at, there is a great need for such technology in Japan and of course the Chinese will most likely scale up their research once there’s some solid proof. Given the resources that China can bring to bear (a Manhattan-scale project would be pretty small-change for them) then I suspect that changing the attitudes in the USA is not really that necessary. Take a more global view….

    I also think that dealing with the bad attitudes on Wikipedia is going to be a game of whack-a-mole that will be unceasing. That small (in percentage terms) cadre of people who wish to impose their views on Wikipedia as a whole will find ways to change what is written there while the policy of anonymity is maintained, and given the way people can generate false personae on the net it just raises the difficulty a bit if anonymity is removed. The structure seems to be predicated on all the contributors being noble and aiming for the truest Truth they know, but real-world people aren’t actually like that in general. In the same way, scientists are supposed to use Scientific Method to try to disprove their own hypotheses, but instead it’s pretty obvious that most will fail to see their own errors and will stick to the background structures they “know” to be true. It takes a lot to change a paradigm, and so science progresses funeral by funeral.

    Personally, I’m more interested in getting the experimental evidence nice and solid rather than trying to change peoples’ minds about what is possible and what isn’t. That’s a more manageable size problem, after all. Convince people by showing them the reality of something that does what it says, rather than giving them the theoretical arguments – I’ve tried that and it doesn’t work. You need to show people something they can make a profit on, and Wikipedia is AFAIK non-profit and people work for free, so it will attract people who want to get their own viewpoint (that they know is correct) more widespread. There has to be some money involved to pay for the servers, but I’m not sure how that gets financed.

    I call it the power of the wallet. People will be interested once they see money in it for them, and otherwise it’s Meh! unless they can see some other benefit such as fame, or equivalently that their viewpoint is respected, so they can feel better about themselves. An appeal to altruism alone will generally fail. There needs to be a profit in some way in order that an idea succeeds.

    The world is driven by people who are sure they are right. Such people are mostly not amenable to change, and will continue to think they are right until something happens to change that viewpoint. A bit like someone who thinks he can fly like a bird, so jumps off a tall building with arms spread. 22nd floor and no problems yet…. I’m not as certain of what I know, and run experiments to find out what really happens.

    I hope you get more people to help, though I won’t be joining this project. I suspect that the structure of Wikipedia will need to be drastically changed, and that this is unlikely to happen. Again, there are all those people who are absolutely certain their views are correct and will find ways to subvert any new structure in order to get those views publicised. Though the trolls who just like an argument are a small minority, they also have a disproportionate effect on discussions. I can’t see a possible solution that does not rely on strong ethics and personal responsibility, and I don’t see a way to ensure that all contributors have those qualities – that takes at minimum personal knowledge of each person over a sufficient time. Of course, people may also hold the majority (right?) view on most things but be totally off-piste on something else, and you may not find that out until later.

    1. Abd – I had wondered about the reason for the lack of visible activity here, and it seems like you have been diving into the politics of Wikipedia.

      Not exactly. This began by defending Wikiversity, which had been very different from Wikipedia.

      Somewhat of a time-pit.

      Any effort rooted in evidence rather than simple expression of opinion can be so.

      If you can fix the politics there, then maybe you can stop the promulgation of the viewpoint that LENR is pathological science and maybe thus change the attitudes towards research in this area.

      This did not begin as an effort to “change Wikipedia politics.” Indeed, Wikipedia politics were not actually involved, except for some administrative cluelessness, that spilled over onto Wikiversity. The effort was only to defend Wikiversity, and originally cold fusion was not involved — except peripherally, in that the agents of impersonation and damage on Wikipedia and then Wikiversity were related to agents of such wrt cold fusion on Wikipedia. They had stayed away from Wikiversity, but I knew that interference was possible under some conditions. That possibility was realized and the Wikiversity cold fusion resource, which had not been disruptive or an excuse for disruption at all was unexpectedly deleted (it is now hosted on the CFC wiki), and how that happened demonstrates wiki vulnerability to factional coordination, combined with a clueless bureaucrat on Wikiversity.

      Fixing this could easily be considered impossible. But we don’t actually know that. It might happen.

      However, Plan B should also change those politics since direct proof of a real effect with significant people saying it is true (and staking reputations on it) will do much the same.

      Plan B is under way and is completely independent of this situation. Wikipedia has already demonstrated that it is highly resistant to what should be golden as “reliable source.” That is possible to change, but it takes far more sophistication than I have ever seen applied to the problem. The problem is not about cold fusion, and if the goal is only to “fix” coverage of cold fusion, it’s likely to fail, because Wikipedians will be concerned about thousands of topics where factional affiliation of editors (and especially of administrators) is a problem, and they will assume that en effort based on one specific cause is heavily biased. They will not study the topic.

      Plan B will, long-term, transform mainstream science, but will not affect the Wiki problem, which is little less than “The Problem of Scale in Democracy,” a book I have, and actually my long-term interest (before cold fusion).

      Factional editing can succeed, even though it is theoretically against policy. Bottom line, factional editing which appears to support “mainstream views” can pass as “neutral” following a “due weight” argument. To counter this normally requires actually studying all the sources, which doesn’t happen on Wikipedia (but which did on Wikiversity).

      I am not staking the future of cold fusion on what happens with the wikis. But if the wikis could be reformed such that genuine consensus is sought, rather than the faux consensus obtained by banning “fringe editors,” all fringe or allegedly fringe topics could be far better and more reliably covered. Wiki reform, with the existing structure, on-wiki, is extremely difficult, all efforts have been quickly crushed.

      All efforts of which I am aware have been naive, not disciplined, and so were easily crushed by the contrary forces.

      Successful reform could have wide-ranging and highly salutary effects for humanity. It could, conceivably, have more benefit than successful LENR, by demonstrating how to achieve consensus on a large scale.

      To do this, however, from years of experience, requires creating consensus structures — or structures which promote consensus by creating wider diversity in participation — and by the terms of the problem I have been explaining, that’s not going to happen within the existing structure and policies as actually enforced. Thus it will be “outside the law.” Such structures could be used to harmful effect and, in fact, it is appearing that this has been happening (perhaps GSOW?). The structures themselves are not harmful, they are how people of like mind meet and decide on cooperative action. The harm can arise if it is not balanced.

      The Arbitration Committee feared the harm and so acted to crush a fairly simple interest group, the Eastern European Mailing List. They did not understand that the way forward was actually to encourage the creation of interest groups and ideally for membership in them to be declared, but for that to happen, there are intermediate steps to be taken before the highly conservative existing structure will allow reform.

      It may fail, but I am not suggesting some massive personal effort. I’m suggesting, in fact, modest action and fun, and the opposite of the massive disempowerment that prior reform attempts have experienced.

      I also think that dealing with the bad attitudes on Wikipedia is going to be a game of whack-a-mole that will be unceasing. That small (in percentage terms) cadre of people who wish to impose their views on Wikipedia as a whole will find ways to change what is written there while the policy of anonymity is maintained, and given the way people can generate false personae on the net it just raises the difficulty a bit if anonymity is removed.

      Simon, you seem to have no idea what actions I am actually planning or proposing. Present Wikipedia administrative practice is very much like playing Whack-a-Mole. The problem with anonymity was that it reduced personal responsibility, which is essential for reliable social structures. However, we will use anonymity as one tool to support consensus. We will not use — or at least I am unlikely to support — sock puppetry. The forces supporting factional editing do. That is what has been demonstrated in the investigations I undertook. The major editors involved do not themselves sock — as far as I know — but rather protect and support sock masters, using them, in effect, as attack dogs. When those “dogs” go too far, they get blocked and banned, but simply create more accounts. At one point, while I was active on Wikipedia, there was a sock master who bragged that he had several accounts, including at least one with administrative privileges. It was plausible. If one’s goal is to gain those privileges, it is not at all difficult. It’s just a piece of work, and a matter of avoiding conflict, anything that would trigger opposition. Once elected, the status is effectively for life, it is very difficult to remove the privileges. I succeeded with one administrator. Another, actually more disruptive, was only “reprimanded,” and understanding why speaks volumes about how Wikipedia became corrupt (in places and in certain ways).

      The structure seems to be predicated on all the contributors being noble and aiming for the truest Truth they know, but real-world people aren’t actually like that in general.

      The structure created in the early years of this century was naive. One of the major errors was that when “non-nobility” could be detected — or imagined — users were banned. Wikipedia is a demonstration of the failure of that approach to reform, banning the “bad people.” Anyone with a strong point of view, who expressed it, was banned — unless that point of view was that of a substantial faction, in which case they were protected, and allowed high freedom to insult and attack the “POV-pushers.” But any expert will have a point of view, so Wikipedia became famous for banning or attempting to ban experts.

      In the discussions involved, there was an imbalance of participation. Much of this resulted from a simple communications problem. Factions are powerful because many factional users watch certain hot pages and act coherently. Minority editors, without organization to support each other, fail in the long term. To compile the “sum of human knowledge” requires diversity; some of the early Wikipedians understood that. Slowly, they retired and disappeared, burned out by those who were highly intolerant, but enabled by the structure created.

      In the same way, scientists are supposed to use Scientific Method to try to disprove their own hypotheses, but instead it’s pretty obvious that most will fail to see their own errors and will stick to the background structures they “know” to be true. It takes a lot to change a paradigm, and so science progresses funeral by funeral.

      Yes. This is not, however, an argument for any position. In theory, Wikipedia would be flexible and would detect shifts in the “mainstream.” But it does not. Policies that would ameliorate the problem are simply not followed because enforcement structures are either missing or arcane, unworkable. The core Wikipedia problem, I would say, was intense inefficiency.

      Personally, I’m more interested in getting the experimental evidence nice and solid rather than trying to change peoples’ minds about what is possible and what isn’t.

      My goal is not to “change people’s minds,” except in one way: there is a common idea that “nothing can be done” about this and many other social issues. That idea is massively disempowering, and obviously so, guaranteeing what it appears to regret. The minds I would change, then, are the minds of those who might want social transformation, but who live in despair about it.

      The first transformation to create is transformation of self.

      That’s a more manageable size problem, after all. Convince people by showing them the reality of something that does what it says, rather than giving them the theoretical arguments – I’ve tried that and it doesn’t work.

      Plan B is not presenting theoretical arguments. It is not arguing at all! It is cooperating to create conditions for transformation, to supply what is missing. And “I’ve tried that” is a classic claim of those who have fallen into despair. To transform society requires not only some good idea, but discipline and training and action — and recognizing that our personal experience is limited. Simon, I am quite sure you have not tried what I have in mind.

      This effort is not about argument at all. It is about action and simple self-expression focused on standing for full consideration of issues to be decided. At the very least, if there is participation in this, there will be fuller consideration. It will not cause harm, especially when compared with the status quo.

      You need to show people something they can make a profit on, and Wikipedia is AFAIK non-profit and people work for free, so it will attract people who want to get their own viewpoint (that they know is correct) more widespread. There has to be some money involved to pay for the servers, but I’m not sure how that gets financed.

      The WMF receives donations from users and from charitable bodies and corporations, I think Google has given them much. Individuals can and do make profit in various ways. If one edits Wikipedia and does not disclose conflicts of interest, that is a violation of the TOS and the WMF may globally ban users discovered doing this. But consulting without personally editing is not contrary to policy, and can be lucrative. What is discovered on Wikipedia and banned is mostly naive.

      This effort requires little funding, if any, but … the workman is worthy of his meat. GSOW is apparently funded and the sock master I’ve confronted has claimed to be financially supported to do what he does. He has not named his paymaster, but there are reasonable suspicions. I’m not declaring fundraising at this time. This project would need to become massive before funding would be appropriate.

      I call it the power of the wallet. People will be interested once they see money in it for them, and otherwise it’s Meh! unless they can see some other benefit such as fame, or equivalently that their viewpoint is respected, so they can feel better about themselves. An appeal to altruism alone will generally fail. There needs to be a profit in some way in order that an idea succeeds.

      There is another possible motivator, fun. Simon, you have in mind heavy effort, such that people will actually need payment to justify the effort for their personal lives.

      The world is driven by people who are sure they are right.

      Indeed. Part of the problem.

      Such people are mostly not amenable to change, and will continue to think they are right until something happens to change that viewpoint.

      That change is not facilitated by attempts to convince them they are wrong. So what does create a shift, when it happens? There are people who study these things, and there is training in it. The skills have applications in every area of life. People do change their minds, but they change their own minds. Any effort to force it will meet heavy resistance, almost always. “Avoiding domination” is a basic survival behavior.

      A bit like someone who thinks he can fly like a bird, so jumps off a tall building with arms spread. 22nd floor and no problems yet….

      That level of commitment to “rightness” is rare, as stated. However, many people would indeed rather die than admit error. A common statement from marriage counselors: “Would you rather be right, or be married?”

      Letting go of being right does not mean being shamed into admitting wrong. It means letting go of the attachment, which is, in fact, essential to the scientific method. From my trained ontology, there is no such thing as “right” and “wrong,” they are both fantasies that do not exist in reality, in the world of “what actually happens.” So letting go of “being right” is letting go of an illusion, not replacing it with a contrary illusion. (That is dualist thinking, assuming that reality is one side of a duality, with illusion being the contrary side. No, reality is one, not two, not two worlds, one of truth and the other of error. Illusion is fantasy, invented, but it is not “wrong.” It simply is not reality, it exists only in the mind, as a concept.

      I’m not as certain of what I know, and run experiments to find out what really happens.

      Yes, but you are not applying this everywhere. To be sure, few do. To my knowledge, nobody applies this perfectly, but there is a condition called “velocity,” wherein the recognition of attachment becomes rapid. It has readily discernable signs, if one practices recognizing them. One can be “attached” to an interpretation that is plausible and may even be valid, but the attachment will still blind us; transformation, of the kind I am interested in, involves developing the faculty of seeing reality rather than mere interpretations. Again, there is no end to this.
      Generally, raw experimental results are reality or close to it. Attachment to interpretations of the results are what can blind us.

      I hope you get more people to help, though I won’t be joining this project.

      It is, naturally, your choice, whether or not to take this opportunity to stick your toe in the water.

      I suspect that the structure of Wikipedia will need to be drastically changed, and that this is unlikely to happen.

      The training is to focus on possibility, and to create inspiring possibilities and not reject them out-of-hand as “unlikely.” A truly unlikely possibility will not be inspiring. Is it “possible” that someone will hand me $1 billion to reform Wikipedia? In theory, yes! Could I do accomplish the goals with a billion? Probably. I would hire the best experts in all the relevant disciplines … including someone more competent than I to manage the whole process. My training in community projects requires identifying leaders and turning the project over.

      But I am not announcing the possibility of this project as obtaining billion-dollar funding. I am declaring as possibility something I know a handful of people could do, if they lift a finger toward the goals and take some reasonably easy actions.

      Wikipedia is vulnerable to factional editing, and this amounts to creating a faction that is biased toward genuine consensus, the only reliable standard for neutrality. The early Wikipedians thought of neutrality as a “thing,” and did not consider how neutrality could be assessed. Consensus process was extensively developed in the 20th century, but the Wikipedians were mostly ignorant of it, and instead went for what was “wiki,” i.e., “quick.”

      The “project” I am announcing is actually a toe in the water, not the full concept. If it works, and if we can show that, it will inspire imitation. I can strongly influence the specific project I start. I may or may not have broader influence, but the medium is the message.

      Again, there are all those people who are absolutely certain their views are correct and will find ways to subvert any new structure in order to get those views publicised

      Yes, they will. But you are assuming that when a new element is tossed into the mix that creates a contrary force, that those “certain” people will continue to succeed.

      Maybe they will and maybe they won’t. How would we know? Indeed, Simon, you seem to think you know. How do you know this? Yes, many people will try to push their views and to suppress contrary views. But what allows them to succeed in that is all the people sitting in despair, thinking they cannot do anything about it.

      Though the trolls who just like an argument are a small minority, they also have a disproportionate effect on discussions.

      What has been fascinating to me is seeing totally obvious trolls disrupt discussions, making what was simple into something that appeared complex, preventing the obvious from prevailing, when a decision-maker is himself confused and reactive to the mess, hating being confused. Skilled trolling, honed with years of practice!, manipulating administrators who have themselves been elevated above their competence!

      I can’t see a possible solution that does not rely on strong ethics and personal responsibility,

      You add an additional and unnecessary constraint. Leadership is rooted in integrity, so a project with a reasonable possibility of success requires leaders with integrity, and not what you set as if it were a necessary condition.

      and I don’t see a way to ensure that all contributors have those qualities – that takes at minimum personal knowledge of each person over a sufficient time.

      What you call “ensure” is a personal condition in an attempt to control outcomes. There is no way to “ensure” that others have full integrity, one can only stand for and seek one’s own integrity. In the training, integrity is called a mountain that has no top. One person with integrity can sometimes transform an entire society, there are plenty of examples. But there is no end to this process.

      Humans will decide whom to trust — and not to trust. It’s a choice made with or without adequate knowledge, and trust, if combined with a level of detachment, leads to the necessary knowledge. It can be brief, perhaps rooted in intuition, or it can be a life-long process. The proof is in the pudding. What actually results from such a trust — or such a distrust?

      Of course, people may also hold the majority (right?) view on most things but be totally off-piste on something else, and you may not find that out until later.

      What you are describing would be necessary for a “benevolent dictator.” It involves turning over all power to this allegedly “right” person. You also have a concept of “majority.” A true majority (absolute majority of all the eligible) is the bare beginning of democracy, with a local majority (majority of those voting) being more dangerous, and democracies satisfied with mere majority are long-term unstable and vulnerable. But this gets into collective decision-making process, and considering such process is largely premature when there is no collective to make decisions. (Yet many do this routinely, building dream castles with no foundation.)

      I’m tossing my hat over the fence here. I was banned on Wikipedia in 2011. I considered it a relief. I am now indefinitely blocked on Wikversity, for no offense at all and without a community discussion, all totally contrary to policies. Again, I could take this as a relief, and just move on. But there is one last project to undertake, and I am starting it. If nobody signs up, I have my answer, though there are steps I may take to create more participation. If they fail, if I fail, I get to move on. I learned years ago that if I became attached to “success,” it would literally drive me crazy.

      1. Abd – I’ve run off the end of the day here, so maybe a better reply tomorrow. Still, I get enough experience dealing with people who are sure they are right when my experience says they have made a mistake in their theory, and life’s too short to drink bad wine. This isn’t however despair, just a recognition that I have a limited time to do what I want to get finished, so doing something I’m not competent at (people skills) is not a good use of that time. Getting the Wikis re-organised to work better and reflect the true state of knowledge is a noble task, but not my task. All theories are in any case simply “the best we know so far” rather than being absolutely reliable, but as far as I can see not many of the science leaders understand that and it certainly wasn’t taught to me.

        There are a few small groupings I’m part of that are trying to improve energy cost and methods of propulsion. There’s a fair chance several projects will succeed. I’m better at doing things than discussions about how knowledge should be displayed. For that, you really need the vocation of a teacher. Of course, you have that, and I hope you can find others who share the same aims.

        1. Abd – another morning…. The spillover of the damage from Wikipedia to Wikiversity would seem to be more a matter of time. Evangelical people who think that only their explanations are correct, either because there’s a Book that tells them or because they simply can’t accept uncertainties, can be expected to weed out “wrong thinking” where they can. You see this too, where you say “Wikipedians will be concerned about thousands of topics where factional affiliation of editors (and especially of administrators) is a problem, and they will assume that en effort based on one specific cause is heavily biased. They will not study the topic.”. There is no such thing as a neutral viewpoint, and the best that can be done is to present all available viewpoints with their justifying data. Where people use the justification that “the science is settled” and thus that no argument is possible, then I see that as a religious viewpoint, since we can never be certain that our explanations, of why things happen the way they do, are actually the truth. However, people like certainty, and especially like thinking that they are correct in what they think.

          It is true that I have no idea of what you are planning. I have no experience in Wiki politics and thus no opinion about it either. I occasionally use Wikipedia to get the mainstream viewpoint, but for detail on anything I search out papers and doctoral theses where the information comes from experimental data. For LENR, back in 2011 when Rossi hit the news, I spent around 3 months reading papers in Jed’s library before I came to the conclusion that LENR was real but Rossi was most likely a fraud. I couldn’t however be absolutely certain of that until Lugano, and Doral was the clincher. The Quack X is simply fraudulent, and that ought to be plain to to anyone with lab experience. I have thus developed a POV on Rossi, and since this is a strong viewpoint (and backed with data) I suspect if I did put an article on Wikipedia then it would be banned. On the other hand, Alan Smith still seems to think that Rossi has had some successes, and I can see his reasoning since what Rossi is claiming to do has some logic basd on what we know. People doing what they think Rossi was doing therefore might actually succeed, whereas Rossi himself only produced an illusion of working (that is, if you squint and ignore the dissonances).

          Still, that’s getting too far off-topic for here, which is Wiki. I’m also not going to go in to theoretical arguments I’ve advanced, since as I’ve pointed out there I’m attacking something that “everyone knows is true” and so I see experimental evidence as the only way forward. Plan B is also the logical way forward for LENR, for the same reason – current theories say it is impossible and so the experimental data needs to be unimpeachable.

          As I’ve noted before, I am supported by a pension, so do not need other payment for my time. However, my time is still valuable and thus will be used in things where I see a payback. I’ve also coined the term “Heisenberg Syndrome” to describe my state of uncertainty, which allows me to question the foundations of what I’ve been taught. Some errors I see myself, for others I’m willing to look at what others have found. The interpretation of “why it happens” is always open for re-examination. I tend to not worry about consensus, but test a lot of “what if” ideas. I’ll take the consensus opinion as being the best option while I know I don’t know enough data, and if I have put the effort in to acquire the data then I will go against consensus if that is indicated.

          Where you say “You add an additional and unnecessary constraint. Leadership is rooted in integrity, so a project with a reasonable possibility of success requires leaders with integrity, and not what you set as if it were a necessary condition.”, this seems to be a restatement of my statement “I can’t see a possible solution that does not rely on strong ethics and personal responsibility” yet saying that I’m wrong. I suppose this depends on how you parse “integrity”. Whereas good people will tend to rise to the top, if we look at history we see that more sociopaths will rise to positions of authority because they will happily climb over others to get there. Yes, cream rises to the top, but so do turds. For this reason, a “benevolent dictatorship” will evolve into a repressive one. It’s not really that power corrupts (though it may reveal corruption that was there), but that the availability of power appeals most to people who want it, and that thus that those are the people who will inherit the power once the person of integrity releases it one way or another.

          Democracy is probably the least-harmful of the methods we’ve tried for government. The Wikis appear to be democratic but in fact have factions since people like to belong to one. The human side of that is that someone in a faction has enough people who agree with them to feel that their ideas can’t be far wrong. Standing as an individual, without a faction to support you, is always going to be difficult. In a war between consensae (assuming that is the plural on consensus) where only one will emerge, you need more people in your faction. You assume that there can only be one consensus, but I see that reality is that every grouping will have its own version that will differ in the details. In history, there have been a lot of bloody wars over those details between people who can be seen to be generally in agreement over the main points, and I expect that the Wikis will do much the same though with hopefully less blood spilt.

          As Jed notes, we’re entering an era where someone with enough money and desire can have a bot army putting the point of view they want and thus drive the public consensus in the direction they want. AI is approaching the point where it’s going to be hard to tell a human from a bot in a comment anywhere on the net, and it’s also possible to have a video conversation with one and not be able to tell. Turing test…. It won’t however be just Russian bots, but from any organisation or grouping of people who can afford them, and they’re going to be cheap. I’m not certain that the various Wikis are going to be the best target in future if your aim is to change the way people regard the available data. I figure that, as Vernor Vinge foresaw, people will regard the net as “the net of lies” where nothing can be taken at face value but it might be true. We need to take away the power of governments to control power, communications and transport, and the ability to starve people into submission – all things that have been used in the past. If each household has its own supply of low-cost power, then local indoor farming becomes viable and a large lever has been removed. That is thus a good first step to take and one I can contribute to, and I’ll leave it to others to sort out the information problem.

          1. You say a lot that is obvious to me, but there are some aspects of this that you miss.

            Abd – another morning…. The spillover of the damage from Wikipedia to Wikiversity would seem to be more a matter of time.

            Yes. That is quite what I thought, because I had seen incidents that demonstrated that the Wikiversity community (being quite small as to those active who would participate in central decision-making) was undefended and vulnerable, with inadequate support for academic freedom shown by the existing staff. It was not always like that, but that is where it had gone, and the Wikiversity structure that enabled better support was demolished by what may have been WMF intervention, and the Wikiversity community had become too weak to stand up to it. So I had abandoned creating new resources or significant amendment or addition to existing ones, because of the danger. That danger was realized. I’m still working on rescuing the content I had created. I have the cold fusion resource, the big one, and also the Parapsychology resource, which was useful as a demonstration of how to create a neutral resource, which it was. My user pages (which covered many topics and issues, with many incoming links) were deleted, however, by bot with no warning or discussion, basically no excuse at all. So Wikiversity administration has passed far beyond some reasonable positions into pure attack on anything deemed fringe and on me as a user, with no community finding at all of disruption. So it has become so outrageous that maybe, just maybe, the structural problems will be addressed. Or not. I will do what I can do, consistent with my own available time.

            Evangelical people who think that only their explanations are correct, either because there’s a Book that tells them or because they simply can’t accept uncertainties, can be expected to weed out “wrong thinking” where they can. You see this too, where you say “Wikipedians will be concerned about thousands of topics where factional affiliation of editors (and especially of administrators) is a problem, and they will assume that en effort based on one specific cause is heavily biased. They will not study the topic.”. There is no such thing as a neutral viewpoint, and the best that can be done is to present all available viewpoints with their justifying data.

            You are correct that there is no such thing as a “neutral viewpoint,” at least in a way. However, you have not considered the problem of creating an encyclopedia, and the problem the Wikipedians faced. They attempted to solve that problem, but failed to understand the consequences of the mechanisms that they developed. What does “present” mean? In the encyclopedia? Or in the process that determines what is including in the encyclopedia? The former is in conflict with the encyclopedia goal, which is to present the “sum” of human knowledge, which must mean, as it played out, the “essence” or, more accurately, “notable human knowledge.” Which means “verifiable” in what are considered “reliable independent sources,” “reliable” based on the nature of their business or practices. Most people and many wikipedians never realize the operational basis of the policies. Most people offended by Wikipedia practices do not understand why Wikipedia is the way it is, so attack the policies, which is a no-win strategy.
            The problem is that no structures were set up for reliable enforcement of the policies (or reliable consideration of exceptions to be made). There is, in fact, a standard for “neutral.” A statement is “neutral” if all interested parties accept it. That’s “100% consensus” — and consensus can change with new facts, arguments, and participants. The Wikipedians erred in thinking of neutrality as a characteristic of text, instead of as a human assessment, and they were unsophisticated in consensus process in the presence of significant controversies. They assumed that “rough consensus” would be adequate. They did not understand how traditional encyclopedias operated. Instead of seeing consensus as a value, something measurable, they thought of it as an absolute — which is the error some schools of Islam made, considering the “gate of ijtihad” being closed.

            Where people use the justification that “the science is settled” and thus that no argument is possible, then I see that as a religious viewpoint, since we can never be certain that our explanations, of why things happen the way they do, are actually the truth. However, people like certainty, and especially like thinking that they are correct in what they think.

            Yes. Feynmann called this “cargo cult science.” It is essentially ignorant. Yes, some issues are, relatively speaking, “settled,” but this is never an absolute.

            It is true that I have no idea of what you are planning. I have no experience in Wiki politics and thus no opinion about it either.

            I do, of course, so an issue here is whether I’m trusted or not. If I am not trusted, my efforts will be useless, and the sooner I find out the reality, the better. Personally, I trust reality more than myself.

            I occasionally use Wikipedia to get the mainstream viewpoint, but for detail on anything I search out papers and doctoral theses where the information comes from experimental data.

            Yes. The issue will be, in todays’ world, how you find those documents. A Wikipedia article that has been biased will lead you through the nose with cherry-picked sources. One of the more outrageous activities of the anti-fringe faction, particularly as it relates to cold fusion, was first the blacklisting of lenr-canr.org, thus making it difficult to point to convenience links where papers could be read, followed by a global blacklisting based on lies from JzG — if he believed what he wrote, he was radically incautious and ready to accept any argument he could imagine to get what he wanted — and it took me some years to get that lifted. Meanwhile I had gotten certain pages whitelisted. JzG tenaciously removed all the convenience links on phony arguments, that had been rejected when considered. Yet … he got away with that. Why? Looking at the history reveals why. It’s the strcture, stupid! But, in fact, there may be more than that. There is some evidence I am finding for off-wiki coordination to influence the wikis. That is more recent, I think.

            For LENR, back in 2011 when Rossi hit the news, I spent around 3 months reading papers in Jed’s library before I came to the conclusion that LENR was real but Rossi was most likely a fraud. I couldn’t however be absolutely certain of that until Lugano, and Doral was the clincher. The Quack X is simply fraudulent, and that ought to be plain to to anyone with lab experience. I have thus developed a POV on Rossi, and since this is a strong viewpoint (and backed with data) I suspect if I did put an article on Wikipedia then it would be banned.

            Not if you knew how to write Wikipedia articles, and articles are not “banned.” Again, Simon, you don’t know how wikipedia works. Yet, in fact, studies of Cold fusion and Parapsychology are now literally banned on wikiversity. and, again, how that came about is worthy of study. And action. (“Studies” are often banned on Wikipedia, except in user space. There are reasonably clear standards for Wikipedia articles. The Wikiverstiy ban is an entirely new invention of the bureaucrat who unilaterally declared it.)

            On the other hand, Alan Smith still seems to think that Rossi has had some successes, and I can see his reasoning since what Rossi is claiming to do has some logic basd on what we know.

            That is exactly how I would expect a fraud to behave! However, Rossi’s claims were, from the beginning, outliers, far beyond the state of the art. I agree, though, that it was not impossible that someone would find a way to do what he claimed. But the problem is that the evidence for him actually having done that always had serious flaws, flaws that would have been easily remediable but that never were. (or one flaw would be addressed by a new “demonstration” that created many more possible flaws, it was never fixing the single simple flaw with the same basic demonstration.)

            People doing what they think Rossi was doing therefore might actually succeed, whereas Rossi himself only produced an illusion of working (that is, if you squint and ignore the dissonances).

            People investigating NiH at high temperatures might find something, that is not, to my mind, controversial as a possibility. Probability is another matter, but people are free to spend their own money and time as they choose. What I caution against is premature conclusions about unverified results. It is enough for me to mention “Parkhomov.”

            Still, that’s getting too far off-topic for here, which is Wiki. I’m also not going to go in to theoretical arguments I’ve advanced, since as I’ve pointed out there I’m attacking something that “everyone knows is true” and so I see experimental evidence as the only way forward. Plan B is also the logical way forward for LENR, for the same reason – current theories say it is impossible and so the experimental data needs to be unimpeachable.

            You state the common wisdom. However, in fact, “current theories” do not say that “it” is impossible, unless perhaps you specify what “it” is. A lack of precision on all this allowed the meme you have expressed to propagate. Current theory does predict that if straight d-d fusion generates helium, there must be a hot gamma generated, and that this would occur (is known to occur) even if some catalytic condition bypasses the Coulomb barrier. So, as to any theory that the AHE and helium production are caused by straight d-d fusion, there had better be a clear explanation, making verifiable predictions, before I’d give the theory the time of day.

            But the reaction was claimed, by Pons and Fleischmann in 1989, to be “unknown.” How can one predict the impossibility of an unknown?

            The idea that *any low energy nuclear reaction” is impossible is blatantly false, because such are known to exist (entirely aside from the FP Heat Effect).
            As I’ve noted before, I am supported by a pension, so do not need other payment for my time. However, my time is still valuable and thus will be used in things where I see a payback. I’ve also coined the term “Heisenberg Syndrome” to describe my state of uncertainty, which allows me to question the foundations of what I’ve been taught. Some errors I see myself, for others I’m willing to look at what others have found. The interpretation of “why it happens” is always open for re-examination.

            “Why” is a very human question, ultimately unanswerable except as we create the answers. “What” is what I’m trained to look for. What actually happens? An avoidance of examining that is common in everyday life, so wrapped up do we become in reactive reasoning. With nuclear reactions, we have little direct experience, so we depend on complex structures that have been, generally, collectively created. That collective creation is a major accomplishment, but it can become a prison if we do not maintain contact with the source, reality itself.

            I tend to not worry about consensus, but test a lot of “what if” ideas. I’ll take the consensus opinion as being the best option while I know I don’t know enough data, and if I have put the effort in to acquire the data then I will go against consensus if that is indicated.

            That is what I call a “heuristic.” It is a method of allocating resources, as to probabilities, not of determining truth.

            Where you say “You add an additional and unnecessary constraint. Leadership is rooted in integrity, so a project with a reasonable possibility of success requires leaders with integrity, and not what you set as if it were a necessary condition.”, this seems to be a restatement of my statement “I can’t see a possible solution that does not rely on strong ethics and personal responsibility” yet saying that I’m wrong.

            Sorry. My intention was to point to a restriction that I saw in your comment, an assumption that all participants must possess full integrity. That condition essentially defines the problem as insoluble.
            Doesn’t mean it’s wrong, by the way. Maybe the problem is insoluble! But I don’t think so, and some human institutions have found ways to handle individual fallibility by creating structures that are collectively far more responsible and cogent than the thinking and actions of individuals.

            I suppose this depends on how you parse “integrity”. Whereas good people will tend to rise to the top, if we look at history we see that more sociopaths will rise to positions of authority because they will happily climb over others to get there

            Right. Now, what floats to the top is a function of the structure. Most structures are vulnerable to the phenomena you see, ultimately, under some conditions, which tend to be those where the organization is large and controls substantial collective power, which will attract those people. Hence the Iron Law of Oligarchy. I think the Iron Law is, in fact, inexorable, but that does not mean that the problems relating to it are inevitable. Rather, the oligarchy can be harnessed. It is actually known how to do this, but who studies these things? Very few, let me tell you!

            Yes, cream rises to the top, but so do turds

            An environment where both cream and turds are rising to the top is already hopeless! Obviously, there are seriously defective structures that are failing to keep these elements distinct! The Qur’an speaks, indeed, of milk, coming from “between the feces and the blood,” i.e., from the body of cattle, but the structures of these sources maintain separation between the milk “agreeable to the drinker” and the elements considered unclean, i.e., feces and blood. Do we have any difficulty in distinguishing them? However, when we become insensitive to smell and vision, we might.

            So the question becomes how we build structures that use our instincts and understanding to manage the separation. Few of us have experience with these structures, but they do exist. Many years ago, I identified the problem. Democracy and consensus formation work very well in small groups. When an organization starts, it is small, and the members will commonly assume that they can continue making decisions in an informal way with everyone seeking the common welfare. If structures are suggested at that point that would handle the problems of scale, they are considered “unnecessary” and “too complicated, we don’t need this.” And they would be right, as to the small scale, but not about the future. If the organization waits until they are necessary, at that point the Iron Law is likely to prevent the formation of the structures. My conclusion was that those who could understand this could move us into the future by creating the structures ab initio. If they were complicated, that would probably be impossible. But they are not complicated at all. The basic concepts are very, very simple and the maintenance activity not a burden.

            And if it works, what has seemed difficult or impossible could become quite easy. And in non-coercive NGOs, which do not collect wealth and power for application by the exclusive decision of individuals in positions of power, experience would be developed and ultimately this could be applied to the ultimate problem, collective human governance on a large scale. Yet what I found (and I found this well over a decade ago), people, when they hear the ideas, may say, “What a great idea! I’m glad someone is looking at this.” End of topic! No personal action is taken to create the reality of what could be total representation consensus democracy. So far, anyway. this may be approaching a crisis point, where transformation occurs.

            For this reason, a “benevolent dictatorship” will evolve into a repressive one. It’s not really that power corrupts (though it may reveal corruption that was there), but that the availability of power appeals most to people who want it, and that thus that those are the people who will inherit the power once the person of integrity releases it one way or another.

            History shows this. Major revolutions were naive, imagining that the problem was the Bad Guys in power, so if we just get rid of the Bad Guys, everything will be fine. What actually happens is that power structures remain within what creates Bad Guys, because this is all that people know. The problem is not Bad Guys — who only responded to the opportunities in the structure, what the structure encouraged — but defective structure. Something missing.

            Democracy is probably the least-harmful of the methods we’ve tried for government.

            Winston Churchill, roughly. My response is that full democracy has never been tried on a large scale. I’ve been talking about Athens with a Greek scientist. That may have been the largest experiment, and to my mind, it ultimately fell because it did not create what might be called “responsible and responsive full representation.” Later thinking has been that the only form of democracy practical on a large scale is “representative democracy,” but then the actual forms have been primitive compared to what is known to be possible, and I find that political scientists often are not aware of possibilities beyond what they already know, so they have actually stated that representatives cannot actually represent their constituents, which is true, as existing structures are set up. The methods were never designed to create full representation, though it has been known since the 19th century how to do it.

            The Wikis appear to be democratic but in fact have factions since people like to belong to one.

            The problem is not exactly the factions. Wikipedia, by the way, explicitly denies being a democracy. There were possibilities in the wiki structure as envisioned and incorporated in policies, but reliable enforcement structure was never developed. My sense of the reason is that such a structure would be “bureaucratic,” which was a synonym for Bad among the early Wikipedians. Bureaucracies require rule of law to be effective, and rule of law was rejected as “instruction creep.” Thus all the protective mechanisms developed by deliberative democracy over the centuries were rejected by those who did not understand them and only reacted to them. WMF wiki discussions routinely violate the most basic rules of deliberative process, which, among other things, causes massive inefficiency — which then causes avoidance of those discussions by those who might actually contribute experience and knowledge, so they become dominated by a selected group.

            The Wikipedia community erred badly on this, over and over, but refused to recognize when they had taken a wrong turn. Simple example: WP:ANI, the Administrator’s Noticeboard/Incidents. The admin who created it later recognized it as a mistake, but it was impossible to change.

            This would be the equivalent in real life: your neighbor is trying to break into your house. You call 911 to get help. At the 911 office, there is a debate over who is right and who is wrong, and your neighbor is invited to comment, you are accused of causing the conflict by your own nastiness, and then, sometimes after a train wreck of a discussion, someone closes the discussion with a decision, and perhaps goes out to arrest someone.

            There is no neutral investigation (a few people had a habit of doing that, I was one, and I was sometimes able to actually resolve disputes, instead of deciding which side was right. But someone collecting evidence and presenting it, on Wikipedia, will be assumed to have an axe to grind, because who would do this if they didn’t have a strong personal motivation? What really happens there is that the community is allergic to anything they can’t read in a few words. They want polemic, in fact, not evidence.)

            Sometimes an administrator does do that investigation, so the approach does not always fail! Sometimes the administrator is actually neutral and will actually encourage genuine dispute resolution. But it is quite unreliable. And one should be able to ask for enforcement of policies without having to justify it. A real 911 will send an officer, ASAP. They will not prejudge the case. The officer is trained to keep the peace and enforce the law (we hope!). Similar could have been set up on Wikipedia, with ANI being a place to request an investigation, not to discuss it. In complex issues, formal evidence could be collected, with a manager of the investigation (perhaps an administrator who formally “takes the case.” All too “bureaucratic” for Wikipedia. In the end, anyone who has ANI on their watchlist is overwhelmed. There is no filter. So how do people find “open cases”? Watchlists. Anyone who is mentioned in an ANI filing is supposedly notified, and if you have friends — perhaps your faction? — they will see it. Likewise, factional editors will watch “enemies,” and will see a notice as well. So the larger faction creates the most commentary on ANI, most of which is accusations and claims and a Wikipedia trope, “!votes,” with little evidence, or a little cherry-picked evidence. There is no neutral investigation, it is quite rare. Again, I did it, and was accused of pushing a POV — before I actually had one!

            The human side of that is that someone in a faction has enough people who agree with them to feel that their ideas can’t be far wrong.

            Right. The tribal fallacy. Ancient, and actually functional in a tribal context.

            Standing as an individual, without a faction to support you, is always going to be difficult.

            Right. I do not advise confronting a faction without support. The more difficult situation is where one believes that there is a “silent majority” in support. That may or may not be true, and even if it is true, a “silent majority” is useless if it will not speak up or act. Ancient Wiki Wisdom: DefendEachOther — in the old wiki CamelCase.

            In a war between consensae (assuming that is the plural on consensus) where only one will emerge, you need more people in your faction.

            Yes. That’s called the “realm of survival,” and it assumes a binary choice, and a zero-sum game, so that if one side wins, another loses. That is not consensus negotiation, it is a struggle for dominance. Genuine consensus negotiation never assumes that there are only two possible outcomes. Those with experience negotiating consensus know that consensus, in the presence of strong opinions, will generally be found with some choice other than the two opposing positions. Pure revert warring is a conflict that shows up in two versions of a page that goes back and forth. There will often be another version acceptable to both sides. It is not necessarily some weak “compromise,” the best consensus actually pleases both sides. But the kind of faction that is a problem may want to thoroughly defeat the other side. However, in actual practice, when dispute resolution procedures are followed — the exception rather than the rule! — is that the extreme position of that faction will commonly vanish, because it is quite visible when the full process is undertaken, that it is not seeking consensus but something else that is contrary to clear collective ideals. So, mostly, the disruptive factions avoid full dispute resolution process, where they tend to lose what they so strongly desire.

            You assume that there can only be one consensus,

            Where do you get that idea?

            but I see that reality is that every grouping will have its own version that will differ in the details.

            Yes. Consensus is a developed quality of groups. The consensus that exists without investigation and deliberation is nothing other than the knee-jerk reactivity of the group. A group may have internal structures that allows it to move beyond that. Such primitive reactive consensus, if examined carefully, will often not be coherent. That is, the group will consist of subgroups with differing reactivity. What I would see as valuable would be for subgroups to negotiate, within the group, collective consensus, and the more that this consensus can be absolute (i.e., 100$) the more powerful will be the group’s support for a group position. The group can then be represented by a very few members, or even only one, in negotiations with larger groups. (And that representative, trusted, can take back ideas to further develop the group consenus and create larger agreement).

            In history, there have been a lot of bloody wars over those details between people who can be seen to be generally in agreement over the main points, and I expect that the Wikis will do much the same though with hopefully less blood spilt.

            There have been plausible threats of real-world violence around some of these Wikipedia issues. Those wars represent a communication breakdown, because the wars harm all sides. A common factor in such conflicts: a developed and declared belief that the “other side” is “evil.” I see that belief as representing a common belief in evil, that projects evil out onto others, when the only evil that can truly harm us, in a deep way, is within ourselves. The teaching is ancient, but still often ignored by some who profess adherence to ancient religions. When evil is projected onto others, it is granted full rein to create devastation.
            That understanding does not require that one become pacifist. One may still stand for the protection of one’s people, or, better, the weak and innocent, or even broader, all people.

            and, more to the point, an action group for wikis could stand for full consensus process, rather than simply one specific factional goal. A rising tide floats all boats. However, as a human organization, it might more specifically focus on specific issues, which might be factionally chosen, but if the overall goal is as I’ve stated, those processes will be supportive of that, not damaging to it. The goal would always be improved communication of evidence and issues, not dominance. An agenda of dominance could be self-defeating, arousing ever-stronger resistance.

            As Jed notes, we’re entering an era where someone with enough money and desire can have a bot army putting the point of view they want and thus drive the public consensus in the direction they want.

            Yes. Now, what can we do about this?

            AI is approaching the point where it’s going to be hard to tell a human from a bot in a comment anywhere on the net, and it’s also possible to have a video conversation with one and not be able to tell. Turing test…. It won’t however be just Russian bots, but from any organisation or grouping of people who can afford them, and they’re going to be cheap. I’m not certain that the various Wikis are going to be the best target in future if your aim is to change the way people regard the available data.

            Right. Again, how can we resist this domination? What it will do is increase noise, competition for attention. How will we filter the information? That is the fundamental problem that I started working on in the 1990s.
            I will point out that a bot is going to have difficulty meeting me in person, don’t you think? The “bot problem” arises when we trust faceless “accounts” or fake people, and why do we do that? We have reasons, I’m sure, reasons that make us vulnerable to manipulation.

            I figure that, as Vernor Vinge foresaw, people will regard the net as “the net of lies” where nothing can be taken at face value but it might be true. We need to take away the power of governments to control power, communications and transport, and the ability to starve people into submission – all things that have been used in the past.

            Notice how quickly the proposal is to disempower the bad guys.

            If each household has its own supply of low-cost power, then local indoor farming becomes viable and a large lever has been removed. That is thus a good first step to take and one I can contribute to, and I’ll leave it to others to sort out the information problem.

            Sure. And with pie in the sky, nobody needs to work any more. That is not actually a “step to take.” Unless you have a few billion dollars to toss in to that goal. I’m suggesting an actual step, though small. In this case, it would start with a decision to trust me, that I’m not going to waste your time. But as I’ve said again and again, that’s a personal choice, about which you are sovereign. I’m not arguing that you “should” take that step. I don’t believe in “should.”

            1. Abd – it’s pretty normal that I’d miss the intricacies of Wiki processes, since I’ve never been involved in it. It would take me quite a long time (years) to get a working knowledge.

              In exploration, new ground is found at the fringes of explored ground. In the same way, science makes progress in the centre ground where things are understood, but at the fringes there can be either big leaps in progress or the explorer can get mired in mud. Mostly the latter. A system that blocks access to the fringe, because some gatekeeper thinks it’s wrong or crazy, may help people think their thought-systems are safe from attack but also impedes the advances at the edges. Fringe theories may contain a better truth but need more people to add thoughts and to fix inconsistencies, and if those people don’t get to see the ideas then they won’t get sparked to add the missing parts. I think that the Wiki should thus publicise fringe stuff, though maybe with the notice that it’s fringe or very fringe. If the Wiki intends to show all human knowledge and thus to help advance it, then blocking access to the wilderness seems antithetical to that noble ideal.

              My point of LENR being considered impossible under current theories is an observation of what mainstream physicists say about it. Of course I know about muon-catalysis, but this is simply a low-temperature version of hot fusion with the same branching ratios and products. Defining CF as an “unknown nuclear reaction” doesn’t fix the problem. I’ve pointed out that since the conditions are very much different from the nuclear fusion we understand, then we ought to expect that there can be different rules, but that is not accepted by the mainstream physicists (I’ve discussed this with Peter Thieberger of Oak Ridge). What I’m pointing out is that such physicists continue to think that LENR is impossible and that there must be another explanation for the heat and the Helium, even if such explanation stretches the bounds of incredulity further than LENR does. See Shanahan as a case in point. He’s not alone in rejecting outright the possibility of LENR, just a bit more vocal than most. The existence of LENR attacks the basics of what they know to be true, so they reject any evidence – it must be experimental error.

              Here I’ll bring up the well-worn example of the Wright brothers, where several years after their first flight the media and scientists were still insisting it was impossible and thus a fraud. The attitude only changed when enough people had seen them flying. I think LENR will need the same sort of evidence, and that once people can buy a LENR generator at their local hardware store the last scientists will grudgingly admit that it is after all possible.

              Reaching a consensus where 100% of the interested parties can agree implies a single consensus. Until this point, I’ve only seen you talk about a consensus, not consensae. As I see it, such a single consensus will most likely be limited as to its usefulness, since anything contentious must be removed from it. What such a consensus gives is a basis that people think is correct, but of course in science it’s not what people think that’s actually important – it’s what actually happens that is important, and people can miss some important points because they simply can’t see them. For LENR, it’s a multi-body problem as opposed to the two-body interactions of standard fusion, so there are more degrees of freedom – seems obvious to me, but not to most. It would be surprising to me if the branching-ratios were not different.

              For the bots, note that paedophiles have been caught by an AI-driven video of a child responding to the advances of the paedophile. That’s why I was saying that over a computer link it’s going to become ever-harder to tell who you are talking to. People always have been vulnerable to manipulation of their emotions and intellect, and can believe some pretty weird things that don’t make sense to me. If something is repeated often enough, then more and more people will accept that it’s true because it seems like there’s a consensus. “If everyone thought that, then I’d be a fool to think any different, sir!”. The Emperor’s new clothes comes to mind, and of course organisations such as Wikipedia would suppress the voice of the dissenting little boy because he didn’t agree with the consensus.

              “And with pie in the sky, nobody needs to work any more”…. That’s a problem that will be on our doorstep very soon. In about half the states of the USA, there are more truck drivers than any other occupation. At this moment, self-driving trucks are being trialled. Given another 5-10 years, they’ll be in massive use because they are cheaper and safer. I’ve read that such trucks will be banned in India since the social consequences would be bad with so many people no longer having a job. Did the Luddites actually succeed? Depending on how it’s dealt with, this could either end in a lot of blood or could be a Golden Age where people can devote their time to creating new things. I figure that reducing the cost of electricity would go a long way towards ameliorating the problems that we’re going to see, so that has been my focus since I’ve gained the time and resources to be able to do the research.

              Fairly obviously, you think my work on 2LoT is invalid, and that I should thus do something more useful. In that, you’re in the vast majority (almost 100% consensus), since it seems very few people get the point I’m making about random processes and the ability of a conservative field to change the momentum vector without doing work. However, I’m either crazy and wrong or my experiences (and that essential uncertainty) have led me to see what others can’t because they haven’t examined what is meant by temperature, and consider it a valid measurement even though it is in fact an average. Average numbers hide the detail. If I’m crazy, then I wouldn’t be a good choice to help sorting out the Wiki system. On the other hand, if I’m right then it would be wrong to ignore the insight just because consensus says I’m wrong. A couple of days ago I reached the point of being able to make and measure a tunnelling-junction. Fairly soon, therefore, I should have some solid data to go on and either I’ll find that it doesn’t work or it does. Theory is nice, but it all comes down to the data and what Nature says happens. Again, a space drive that does not eject mass is perfectly allowed by current theory. Newton’s 3rd Law is modified in electrodynamics because the EM field transmits the momentum transfer at light-speed, and so it ought to be possible to design a drive that, though people would call it reactionless, actually dumps the momentum into the EM field. The EMDrive is thus not theoretically impossible using current theory, but as I see it is not anywhere near an ideal design. A friend will be doing most of the experimental work there, since he’s got more RF experience. I know I’m working at the fringe. It’s fun. Sure, I’ve so far found that the theory of tunnelling is a little wrong since it uses the difference of energy on the two sides as the energy rather than using the absolute energy, and that finding the absolute energy is a little difficult so I’ve needed a design-change, but that’s what the fringe is like. You find errors in understanding and fix them.

              1. Abd – it’s pretty normal that I’d miss the intricacies of Wiki processes, since I’ve never been involved in it. It would take me quite a long time (years) to get a working knowledge.

                Yes, to get a reasonably comprehensive knowledge, some years. However, one doesn’t need to have that knowledge to contribute usefully. The basic wiki editor is reasonably simple (though it took me months to notice how to sign a comment!). All one would need to do is show up. And in the ideas I have, one would be assisted. (Usually wiki editors are working alone, sometimes in a hostile environment.) Much of Wikipedia is not hostile, and many are fooled by that, i.e., they expect it everywhere and are floored when they meet with incivility and even lies, and then see this tolerated by administration. I got a small taste early on, my first edits were to the article on the Atkins Nutritional Approach (which I was just learning about at that time). There was a conflict. An administrator helicoptered in and made a decision, and clearly was ignorant of the topic and the issues, and did not take the time to become informed. That’s “wiki.” Then one can learn how to deal with that, there are ways.

                In exploration, new ground is found at the fringes of explored ground. In the same way, science makes progress in the centre ground where things are understood, but at the fringes there can be either big leaps in progress or the explorer can get mired in mud. Mostly the latter.

                I don’t know about “mostly.” It depends on the explorer’s approach. Detached explorers will, in my experience, always make progress. They will map that new territory. They will identify the bogs and quicksand.

                A system that blocks access to the fringe, because some gatekeeper thinks it’s wrong or crazy, may help people think their thought-systems are safe from attack but also impedes the advances at the edges.

                Yes. However, do thought-systems need protection? Some, yes. However, one who protects one’s own thought-system becomes frozen and disempowered, ultimately. In my training, “survival is a game you will lose.”

                Fringe theories may contain a better truth

                Ontological error, my opinion. Theories never contain truth. Truth cannot be contained, it is not confined by our thinking and analysis, which are effectively designed for prediction. Theories may differ in predictive power.

                but need more people to add thoughts and to fix inconsistencies, and if those people don’t get to see the ideas then they won’t get sparked to add the missing parts.

                Yes, of course. A good scientist, however, maintains a reserve, noticing his or her own knee-jerk reactions and detaching from them (without denying themn). If there is a new idea, something revolutionary — “extraordinary” — they will not focus on what is wrong with it (because progress does not lie there), they will look for what might be right. They will, if they have the inclination and opportunity, test it, striving hard to overturn their own developed “knowledge.” Not by denying it, but by expanding it, broadening it, and this was seen in the early days of cold fusion, many scientists of high knowledge and skill attempted to figure out how it might work. This was not based on a “belief in cold fusion,” as many pseudoskeptics pretend, but on ordinary scientific curiosity.
                The problem was too difficult! I read those early speculations and see that they simply did not have, yet, enough information. We still don’t have enough, we still don’t have any firm knowledge of the exact nature of the Nuclear Active Environment, which then does not allow the application of quantum electrodynamics to calculate fusion rates. At the same time, this makes reliable production of the effect difficult.

                I think that the Wiki should thus publicise fringe stuff, though maybe with the notice that it’s fringe or very fringe. If the Wiki intends to show all human knowledge and thus to help advance it, then blocking access to the wilderness seems antithetical to that noble ideal.

                This is a misunderstanding of the purpose of Wikipedia, and the approach developed to allow this with crowd-sourcing. Wikipedia does not exist to “publicise” anything. Anyone attempting to use it for that purpose is likely to get slapped down. How is it decided that something is “fringe” or “very fringe.” The issue for Wikipedia, as they often say, is “verifiability, not truth.” With fringe ideas of any kind, the issue will be the existence of “reliable secondary sources.” The meaning of that can be arcane to the uninitiated. It does not mean that the sources are reliable! Generally, it refers to sources which will have a motivation to be accurate. And then views are presented on Wikipedia according to their prominence in “reliable secondary sources.” Exactly how that is done is often the focus of conflict on Wikipedia.

                My own opinion was that if an alleged fact is present in reliable secondary source, it should be included somewhere in the encyclopedia. However, the anti-fringe faction has its own strong opinions about what is fringe and what is not, and will claim that the presentation of some information that appears contrary to their position will “imbalance” an article, creating “undue weight.” So we end up with the paradox of articles depending on weak sources for an alleged “mainstream view,” and rejecting and not allowing strong sources, from the reliable source guidelines. However, flat earth theories may be presented fully, in an article on flat earth theories. When it comes to cold fusion, the faction has always resisted the formation of such articles, calling them “POV forks.” This is inconsistent with overall policies. So even though there is much reliable source on the findings in the field of cold fusion, much of that is missing from the project.

                When confronted, the anti-fringe position tends to lose, because it is obviously based on a “point of view.” But …. the faction has developed methods of avoiding that general scrutiny. Anyone who knows how to raise general attention and move articles toward neutrality will be targeted, and my general thesis is that wikis (in general) are vulnerable to organized factions (whether the organization is instinctual and “natural,” operating through watchlists, or consciously organized, as I suspect of Guerrilla Skeptics on Wikipedia).

                My point of LENR being considered impossible under current theories is an observation of what mainstream physicists say about it.

                Much confusion is concealed under that two-letter word, “it.” You are correct, that response is common. But it contains a fundamental error. To apply this in another area, many believe that the paranormal is complete bogosity, it doesn’t exist. But what is the paranormal? What pseudoskeptics do is to imagine what it would be and the reject their own imagination. That is what happened with cold fusion. It’s blatantly obvious in Huizenga wrt cold fusion. “It” is impossible because of conservation of momentum. With a clear definition of “it,” Huizenga was right. But “it” is not cold fusion, it is a concept of cold fusion that probably does not correspond to reality. We don’t know what “it” is, so we cannot apply existing theory. What is often called “existing theory” is actually a vague concept, not what is clearly known. The idea that cold fusion is revolutionary, will overturn existing physics, is an example. How could we possibly know that if we do not know the mechanism for the anomalous heat and helium production phenomena?

                Whether or not heat and helium are correlated in the FP Heat Effect is an experimental question, not a theoretical one, not in real science. It is measurable and verifiable.

                Of course I know about muon-catalysis, but this is simply a low-temperature version of hot fusion with the same branching ratios and products.

                Storms says that. It’s fuzzy. Fusion is not defined by branching ratio, nor is it defined by mechanism. It is defined by the result, a higher atomic weight nucleus. calling MCF “hot fusion” because the products are the same is crazy. The experimental work is done at temperatures close to absolute zero. It’s very cold! What MCF shows is (1) fusion is possible at minimal temperatures, high incident energy is merely one method of creating fusion, and (2) even when the incident energy is very low, the branching ratio for d-d fusion remains the same. Muons are not involved in cold fusion, as far as I have seen. Holmlid is out on a limb, unconfirmed, a serious problem.
                However, perhaps there is some sort of electron catalysis or other collective effect that lowers the Coulomb barrier. What MCF shows is that this is very, very likely to produce the same branching ratio. Given that, I’m suspicious of any “d-d fusion” theory. But wait! Isn’t that Krivit’s position? Krivit has confused “d-d” fusion with evidence that the fuel is deuterium and the product is helium. Something else is happening. If single d-d fusion were to take place, we would expect, in fact, that most of the released energy would be radiated as highly penetrating gammas. This is very inconsistent with what is observed.

                Defining CF as an “unknown nuclear reaction” doesn’t fix the problem.

                What problem? That was not actually a definition of CF, it was a description of the condition of knowledge. It was premature, by the way. Key is the term “nuclear.” If the reaction was truly unknown, how could it be known that it was nuclear? There was an obvious way, and it was missing in 1989, not supplied until 1991 by Miles. The ash. If the generated energy and the ash were correlated at a “fusion value,” then the reaction was nuclear, and this was quite known in 1989, but few expected helium to be the ash. Because of the missing gammas. (Huizenga says that over and over.) The logical error there was an assumption of mechanism. The production of gammas is mechanism-sensitive. If there is 4D fusion (two molecules), then the heat/helium ratio would match the energy/helium ratio for d+d -> 4He, but there would be no gammas necessary, momentum could be conserved without them. (Set aside the branching problem!) (There is then another problem, the “Hagelstein limit.” The energy does not show up as hot alpha particles, either. Takahashi suggests a BOLEP, or Burst of Low-Energy Photons, as a result of nuclear transitions down from excited states. All very iffy, but not necessarily impossible. Unknown in my book.

                I’ve pointed out that since the conditions are very much different from the nuclear fusion we understand, then we ought to expect that there can be different rules, but that is not accepted by the mainstream physicists (I’ve discussed this with Peter Thieberger of Oak Ridge).

                Nor is it accepted by me. It’s necessary to back up. “Rules” are of two kinds: fundamental and heuristic or approximate. The FP work, contrary to common claims by pseudoskeptics, was not intended to discover a new energy production method. It was to test the approximations used to predict fusion rates in the condensed matter environment. Pons and Fleischmann expected that the approximation was not fully accurate (which is generally true for approximations!), but the experimental question was “how accurate.” They actually thought it was probably accurate enough, that they would not see any effect. But then their experiment melted down…. and they could not explain that meltdown with known chemistry.

                What I’m pointing out is that such physicists continue to think that LENR is impossible and that there must be another explanation for the heat and the Helium, even if such explanation stretches the bounds of incredulity further than LENR does.

                That is pseudoskepticism, clearly, attachment to existing belief, disguised as skepticism.

                See Shanahan as a case in point. He’s not alone in rejecting outright the possibility of LENR, just a bit more vocal than most. The existence of LENR attacks the basics of what they know to be true, so they reject any evidence – it must be experimental error.

                Does “cold fusion” in fact “attack the basics of what they know”? I don’t think so. I think it confronts assumptions they make about the extent of their knowledge. Most cold fusion skepticism depends on ignorance of what has actually been found. I have seen discussions where the question is asked if anyone has looked for helium, and — assuming the answer — “why not?” The work that has been done is not widely known. It is still common to see in ordinary “reliable source” — for Wikipedia purposes — what has not been true since some point in 1989-90, “nobody could replicate it?” That is almost true with a very narrow definition of “replicate,” which excludes “confirmation,” i.e., showing a similar effect using a different protocol. If I’m correct, though, SRI did replicate, but, in the end, it doesn’t matter. There are many protocols that generate the anomaly, and some have been *exactly replicated.” And heat/helium correlation cuts through all that noise. Shanahan’s response to heat/helium demonstrates his attachment to his own ideas. His ideas are inconsistent with experimental results, so he must imagine ever more complicated artifacts.

                Here I’ll bring up the well-worn example of the Wright brothers, where several years after their first flight the media and scientists were still insisting it was impossible and thus a fraud.

                Even though the impossibility argument was blatantly stupid. Birds are heavier than air and fly. Squirrels glide. So what is “impossible”? The Wright aircraft was a glider with a means of propulsion. Both were obviously possible!

                In general, impossibility arguments are flawed and to be used with high caution. Pseudoskeptics apply caution only to the ideas of others, not to their own. Genuine skeptics are skeptical of all confident “knowledge” that is only inference, sometimes even weak.

                The attitude only changed when enough people had seen them flying. I think LENR will need the same sort of evidence, and that once people can buy a LENR generator at their local hardware store the last scientists will grudgingly admit that it is after all possible.

                It is obvious that the “Home Depot” argument will win, but it is very unlikely that we will see, as the first strong evidence that can shift the mainstream ideas about cold fusion, an appearance of a commercial product like that. Rather, what will do it is a lab rat. Ideally, a cheap one. It will not necessarily have any commercial value, other than as a demonstration of the heat anomaly, which then can be investigated by anyone without the incredible complications of actually setting up the FP conditions. This could be an attainable goal. The Home Depot idea is a variation on Plan A. (Some entrepreneur saves the day by creating a working commercial product.) Plan B, continued, includes the development of lab rats. That effort will, as a possible side-effect, identify the mysterious “artifact” that pseudoskeptics imagine has fooled so many. (Heat/helium, before that, will have driven a stake through the heart of that idea). The lab rat will allow wide replication.

                Reaching a consensus where 100% of the interested parties can agree implies a single consensus.

                “Implies” involves a lost performative. “Implies to whom?” There may be an unlimited number of consensuses (I looked it up!) In fact, “consensus” is not the content of the agreement, but the existence of agreement itself, and consensus can be measured. It is X% consensus if X% of the participants agree on it (or step aside). There are techniques for measuring consensus that can go beyond that, measuring the *strength* of agreement. The most powerful consensus will be enthusiastically supported by all participants. Being about the condition of the group, not about the proposal itself, a strong consensus may at any time be revised. Many consensus organizations have foundered on this and the practical issue. Once formed, what does it take to change a decision made by consensus? What actually happens, I have seen it: the group considers that consensus stands, until there is a consensus for change. What this does, then, is differentially empower a group (or even, in some organizations that require 100% agreement) that benefits personally or strongly wants the status quo. However, that problem is only creating by a misunderstanding of consensus as being a “decision,” rather than a desirable condition. If the majority of members of a group want change, the status quo obviously no longer enjoys any kind of consensus (remember, consensus simply begins with majority).

                Until this point, I’ve only seen you talk about a consensus, not consensae

                Simon, I think I clearly rejected the idea of “single consensus.”

                As I see it, such a single consensus will most likely be limited as to its usefulness, since anything contentious must be removed from it.

                Simon, do you have any experience with consensus process? There are organizations that seek total consensus, when possible, and will put considerable effort into it. Are these organizations disempowered? What is the actual effect of seeking to broaden consensus beyond mere majority? (or worse, majority of the local participants, or worse, an oligarchy). What you are talking about is an initial stage in consensus formation, where participants are reacting to held ideas and concepts. I have seen such an initial reaction expressed with “Over my dead body!” And then, later in the meeting, the group was actually unanimous in a decision quite contrary to that dug-in reaction. It took skilled facilitation. I actually married the woman who did that!

                What such a consensus gives is a basis that people think is correct, but of course in science it’s not what people think that’s actually important – it’s what actually happens that is important, and people can miss some important points because they simply can’t see them.

                Indeed. Human beings are like that.

                For LENR, it’s a multi-body problem as opposed to the two-body interactions of standard fusion, so there are more degrees of freedom – seems obvious to me, but not to most. It would be surprising to me if the branching-ratios were not different.

                With MCF, there is a third body. My opinion is that MCF shows that it is not enough if local conditions reduce the Coulomb barrier. There is something else, and the most obvious possibility is that the fusing elements are not two deuterium nuclei. Four is a nice number because it only need involve two molecules. Ah, but molecular deuterium does not exist in the lattice! The idea that the FP effect occurred in the bulk confused many. It is, in fact, a surface reaction, from where the helium is found. The evidence is strong that the effect does not take place in the bulk. If it did, helium would be trapped there.

                For the bots, note that paedophiles have been caught by an AI-driven video of a child responding to the advances of the paedophile.

                That may occur in a narrow-bandwidth simulation.

                That’s why I was saying that over a computer link it’s going to become ever-harder to tell who you are talking to.

                In my training, we were prohibited to coach by text of any kind (text messages, emails). The minimum was voice. Eventually, that could be simulated. Are we ready for that? When AI becomes adequate to simulate in-person presence, then we must ask what difference it makes? What is the difference between such a simulator and a human being? Frankly, it appears to me that the difference would be imaginary. In any case, we are not there yet.

                Human beings are also machines, merely wet (and very complex) ones.

                People always have been vulnerable to manipulation of their emotions and intellect, and can believe some pretty weird things that don’t make sense to me.

                Sure.

                If something is repeated often enough, then more and more people will accept that it’s true because it seems like there’s a consensus.

                That is how the mechanisms work. I suggest study of “information cascades.” Tiernan wrote some nice articles on it.

                “If everyone thought that, then I’d be a fool to think any different, sir!”. The Emperor’s new clothes comes to mind, and of course organisations such as Wikipedia would suppress the voice of the dissenting little boy because he didn’t agree with the consensus.

                The consensus, though, was false, the appearance caused by suppression. In fact, if people communicated directly, one to one, without fear of “spies,” they would know that the emperor actually has no clothes. So then, if they were loyal, they would work on the problem of communicating this to the emperor. A trusted advisor managed to do it, in the story. He was willing to risk his life in order to serve the emperor. That part of the story is not what sticks in our mind. We identify with the little boy, not with the skilled advisor. Why do you think that is?

                “And with pie in the sky, nobody needs to work any more”…. That’s a problem that will be on our doorstep very soon. In about half the states of the USA, there are more truck drivers than any other occupation. At this moment, self-driving trucks are being trialled. Given another 5-10 years, they’ll be in massive use because they are cheaper and safer.

                We’d better be ready, don’t you think? How will we get ready? Bottom line, how can we build a society that will be consensus-driven, because genuine consensus creates stability, far better than oligarchical control, which often fails, with disastrous results.

                I’ve read that such trucks will be banned in India since the social consequences would be bad with so many people no longer having a job.

                Again, what can the truck drivers do about this that will be effective. Yes, people need work, but it also needs to be meaningful work, or it will not be satisfying. I saw people doing make-work jobs. Deadly.
                Did the Luddites actually succeed? Depending on how it’s dealt with, this could either end in a lot of blood or could be a Golden Age where people can devote their time to creating new things.
                What will make the difference? The Luddites resisted change, apparently believing they could stop it with force. What would have been more effective for their real goals? (Not the obvious but transient goals of keeping their accustomed work. They had become attached to a means, not to the end.)

                I figure that reducing the cost of electricity would go a long way towards ameliorating the problems that we’re going to see, so that has been my focus since I’ve gained the time and resources to be able to do the research.

                I wouldn’t count on it. Obviously, there is social benefit in some persons, at least, exploring the fringes.

                Fairly obviously, you think my work on 2LoT is invalid, and that I should thus do something more useful.

                Well, I have pointed to analytical errors and what appears to be a misunderstanding of the Second Law. I have never said that it was not useful for you to explore your ideas. If you remain open, you will learn from the exploration (and others may as well, if you work carefully and completely). I have verified the size of the earth, personally. I did not need to believe that the earth was flat in order to do the experimental work. Rather, I needed to value experience over theory and even consensus.

                I am, however, suggesting that you might consider some level of activity in what is fundamental. I realized many years ago that there were millions of causes I could devote my life to. I saw many take up causes that were merely dealing with specific conditions, instead of looking for and at what creates those conditions. Symptomatic relief, not fundamental transformation. Hence I started to examine the foundations of collective decision-making. I asked a simple question, “what if we had a government we could trust?” What would be possible with that? And, then, how could we create that? What is “trust”? How is it formed? How does it work? Society is routinely based on a high level of trust, what is different from that is actually exceptional. There is a great book, The Confidence Game, by Konnikova. Confidence games are a form of parisitism that depends on normal human behavior. Konnikova comes up with some surprising conclusions.

                In that, you’re in the vast majority (almost 100% consensus), since it seems very few people get the point I’m making about random processes and the ability of a conservative field to change the momentum vector without doing work. However, I’m either crazy and wrong or my experiences (and that essential uncertainty) have led me to see what others can’t because they haven’t examined what is meant by temperature,

                Ah, but I have. Temperature is not a condition of space or location. It is a statistical concept. Storms misses this, by the way. What you “see” is not seeing, it is concept, and, so far, has appeared rooted in misunderstandings of temperature and statistical behavior. But if you can show experimental results that can be — and are — confirmed, I don’t actually care how you got there. Pons and Fleischmann were wrong about what they found, and much of the rejection was due to their attachment to their own misunderstandings. They were right, apparently, that a nuclear reaction was involved. It was not what they thought, and it was not taking place where they imagined, nor did they understand the conditions.

                and consider it a valid measurement even though it is in fact an average.

                Simon, I don’t think you have been paying full attention. I have pointed out that, as an example, what matters for a Bose-Einstein condensate to form is very low relative momentum of the elements involved. That is equivalent to an absolute temperature of those elements of close to absolute zero. It is thought that this is impossible at room temperature, but, in fact, such a “local temperature” must arise with some frequency. To calculate that frequency requires knowing the probability distribution of velocities under the relevant conditions, and that distribution is know known for the conditions of the FP experiment. I made the point that ice must be forming all the time in liquid water. I.e., water molecules have an *average velocity* — temperature! — that will not allow the molecules to bind to each other as in the solid state. But such bindings must occur, transiently. Significantly above the melting point — a bulk concept — such bindings, creating an “ice crystal” of minimum size, must be rare and only survive for a short time. But they must form if our general concepts of the liquid state are valid. The issue is rate and measurability. Detecting them could be quite difficult.
                So … does “ice” spontaneously form in liquid water above the melting point? Would that not violate the 2lot? No, it would not, but you imagine that those who support the 2lot would think so. The 2lot is statistical in nature, not absolute. When it is stated as an absolute, natural behavior has been overgeneralized.

                Average numbers hide the detail.

                Of course they do, if not understood as averages, but as an absolute condition. Our ordinary language encourages this. What is the temperature of the room? If we take the room as a defined location in space, the temperature is always the same: absolute zero. Ah, but the contents have a temperature, i.e., an average kinetic energy. Average is just that. “Average” means the sum of all the kinetic energies devided by the number of kinetic particles, so the “temperature” is a measure of the total kinetic energy, which conservation of energy requires be constant, unless there is a transformation to other forms of energy. That total does not restrict the individual kientic energies, which, in a heavily randomizing context like the air in a room, will display the Boltzmann distribution (which is calculable and which has been, if I’m correct, experimentally confirmed.) The distribution defines the frequency with which any given kinetic energy exists in the population of molecules.

                If I’m crazy, then I wouldn’t be a good choice to help sorting out the Wiki system.

                You are not crazy, and even if you were, you could help. As I said, “Lift a finger, change the world. But most people will not lift a finger.” And those people will have many reasons for not lifting a finger.

                On the other hand, if I’m right then it would be wrong to ignore the insight just because consensus says I’m wrong

                As is common with matters like this, you create a false dichotomy. Your choices are not restricted to those two. I would never suggest you ignore any kind of insight. My ontology does not recognize “wrong,” as a reality, at all, but you view what I’ve told you through a lens that apparently believes in right and wrong.

                A couple of days ago I reached the point of being able to make and measure a tunnelling-junction.

                Cool. Much better than “right”: Fun!

                Fairly soon, therefore, I should have some solid data to go on and either I’ll find that it doesn’t work or it does. Theory is nice, but it all comes down to the data and what Nature says happens.

                Yes, except Nature doesn’t “say,” at least not in that way. Nature simply is. We say.

                Again, a space drive that does not eject mass is perfectly allowed by current theory. Newton’s 3rd Law is modified in electrodynamics because the EM field transmits the momentum transfer at light-speed, and so it ought to be possible to design a drive that, though people would call it reactionless, actually dumps the momentum into the EM field.

                You create confusion by assuming the existence of an “EM field” without specifying it. I’m not going into details, but I would look at this alleged field and what creates and maintains it. Fuzziness on all this creates and maintains confusion.

                The EMDrive is thus not theoretically impossible using current theory, but as I see it is not anywhere near an ideal design.

                Before going there I’d want to see the experimental evidence that it works at all. The smaller an effect the easier it is for an unexpected artifact to creep in. If cold fusion depended on tiny effects, near the limit of measurement, I’d not be working on it. Yes, the signals are relatively small, often, but correlation handles this; key will be the precision of measurement of the heat/helium ratio. Currently the estimate is that the ratio is accurate to within about 10 to 20 percent. That is quite good enough to be confident, given the number of measurements involved, that this is a real effect, but I can also understand a maintained skepticism on that. Hence my support for an increase in precision. With pathological science the Langmuir criteria suggest that the effect would vanish with increased precision. Does it?

                A friend will be doing most of the experimental work there, since he’s got more RF experience. I know I’m working at the fringe. It’s fun. Sure, I’ve so far found that the theory of tunnelling is a little wrong since it uses the difference of energy on the two sides as the energy rather than using the absolute energy, and that finding the absolute energy is a little difficult so I’ve needed a design-change, but that’s what the fringe is like. You find errors in understanding and fix them.

                I’m confused by this. What is “absolute energy”? Energy varies with reference frame.

                1. Abd – again, a lot to answer. I’ll answer where it seems to need it and accept the rest.

                  The explorer at the fringe has less reliable information. The first thing, therefore, is to test the accuracy of the information that is available. Since my project requires knowledge of the actual trajectory and speed of a tunnelling electron, the standard calculations based on energy differences are not adequate, and neither is the assumption that the electron disappears on on side of the barrier and reappears on the other side in no time. It has a specific velocity and trajectory, and these need to be known. The absolute energy level needs to be known relative to that electron outside the material in a vacuum (the vacuum level) in order to be able to compare like with like. You probably will consider this as not absolute, but it is a reference level that is definable and common and thus allows me to also calculate velocities relative to my “rest” frame. The band structure in materials implies that the electrons are not actually localised and the probability function spreads throughout the material, but the standard explanations for semiconductors imply that we can mostly treat them as if they are localised, but there may be an odd gotcha that may bite. It’s thus necessary to test each step before moving forward. There may still be bogs and quicksand even then.

                  Mike McCulloch’s theory of MiHsC (now more easily named as QI) is one that seems to indicate a deeper truth than Dark Matter/Dark Energy when it comes to explaining cosmology. It gives a reason for various cosmological anomalies and puzzles without needing to invoke anything we can’t actually see and measure. With no adjustable parameters available, the calculations give answers that match observations, as well as some testable predictions. If people accepted the idea and worked to improve it, then of course those well-funded projects to find Dark Matter would lose their funding. Mike is on the fringe. He may also be basically right, and the implications of that as regards the structure of the universe are pretty profound.

                  There is always a gap between what we understand to be happening and what is actually happening – our story as to “why” needs to remain fluid since it is simply the best explanation we have so far. There is also a problem with language, in that all words are defined in terms of other words until we get down to things we can point at, for example a tree. Even then there’s a fuzzy line between a tree and a shrub. In general, people can read the same sentence and understand a different meaning depending upon their culture and background.

                  Yes, a lab rat, if it can be produced, will enable a lot more people to show themselves that LENR actually exists.

                  I have no formal training in reaching consensus or measuring it. For me, people agree or they don’t, and I’ve never had the wish to delve deeper into politics. That requires someone else with more people skills, and as such I regard it as Somebody Else’s Problem. As Dirty Harry said, a man has to know his own limitations. This lack of competence in person-management is not a problem for me since I work with things instead. Somebody has to do that.

                  For 2LoT, the derivations get the randomness and the tendency to disorder, which is why it has served us well in calculating what happens in daily life. However, it also misses the tendency of force-fields to impose order, and that when those force-fields are strong enough then there will be an overall tendency towards order. Normally, in the machines we build, we don’t use such strong fields (or don’t use particles that will respond to them) and so the tendency to disorder wins out. Because of the scale of the devices required, it’s only around half a century ago that we could achieve the manufacture of them, and since 2LoT can be used to explain the energy transfer the essential (to me) factor of imposing a direction on a random-direction collection of photon energy was not noticed and is still not noticed. Conservative fields can and do change the direction of the particles they can act upon, without changing the energy levels. If you insist on calculating work values at each point, then you’ll miss the fact that the energy-levels do not change and thus miss the point.

                  False dichotomy and right/wrong: I will continue to regard “right” as producing the predicted response and “wrong” as that the prediction is not borne out by experiment. This is practical stuff. It either works or it doesn’t. If working with people, then it’s probably useful to ignore the concept of “wrong”, but I’m working with things. A toaster is wrong if it doesn’t produce toast. If you want toast, you either fix it so it is right (i.e. it works and produces toast) or you buy another toaster that does work.

                  The EM field is well-known. I don’t expect to need to produce my own definition – see the Wiki. We can treat the EM field as photons or waves, or in the case of static fields as just fields except that their influence will spread at the speed of light. As to whether the EMDrive actually works, there is experimental evidence that you can either accept or not, depending on your background. Still, the information that the effect of switching one current-loop on will be limited to the speed of light means that the force on another current-loop will be delayed by the space-time difference between them. This is pretty obvious. When you’re working at microwave oven frequencies of around 2.5GHz, then the wavelength is around 12cm and the delay between emission of that wave and the effect on something else can be considerable relative to the period of oscillation. It is thus pretty obvious to me that some effect should be seen from this delay. The real question is how large we can make that effect, and will it be practically useful. Since the EMDrive depends on an exact dimensionality of the resonant cavity to maintain the Q of the cavity, and the cavity is heated by the microwaves and thus changes size, then I expect that it is not the best design anyway. Given what we know, we ought to expect that we’d see some effects that people will describe wrongly as “reactionless” at these frequencies. Unless the design is right, though, the force produced is likely to be below the normal measurement threshold and thus not noticeable. Photons (and the EM fields in general) do carry momentum, but we normally don’t notice the effects.

                  Looking at the recent comments, it does seem like few people are actually engaging here. As a CF resource it’s very good, ranking with Jed’s library. For Wiki stuff, well that’s your specialist subject. I hope you get someone else to help with your plans there, but I am not sufficiently-experienced and also don’t have a lot of interest – those are probably related. As regards getting a new form of government planned, again I don’t have the experience or interest – to a large extent I see government as better the less it actually does and that a strong system of individual ethics would be better if human nature would allow it. There may not be an ideal balance between individual freedom and government, since it will likely be different for each person. Probably the best we can do is to have something not too restrictive and deal with the cock-ups when they happen. Nobody will really like that, but for different reasons, but it will get along. In your terms, it would be around zero consensus but not actually failing.

                  1. The explorer at the fringe has less reliable information. The first thing, therefore, is to test the accuracy of the information that is available.

                    Well, not exactly first. There are two concepts being collapsed here: information and analysis. Information is a reflection of reality, not reality itself. Like reality, information is what it is. The first step with information, like reality, is to experience it. So and so reports that they measured the acceleration of gravity with such and such a method, recording such and such data, and coming to such and such a conclusion. The first part of that is experiential, then there is report, and then there is conclusion. In assessing the “accuracy” of these reports, what are we assessing and how? In fact, all we have is the report, generally. We can then do a similar experiment, but our results, in the real world, will always differ, unless we become more sophisticated an handle error, such that two reports may confirm each other even though the actual data differs. I’m just making the point to be very careful about assuming we understand the “available information.” Often we don’t.

                    Since my project requires knowledge of the actual trajectory and speed of a tunnelling electron,

                    Right off you require something that does not, in QM, exist. The “actual trajectory” — position path — and “speed” — for which I will read “velocity” — of the electron. That does not exist, that’s the radical assumption of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. Not on the scale of the electron! (and, in fact, at all scales, but the statistics become as if precise).

                    the standard calculations based on energy differences are not adequate, and neither is the assumption that the electron disappears on on side of the barrier and reappears on the other side in no time.

                    That is a misunderstanding of the standard “assumption.” The electron has a probability of presence (i.e, detectability) on both sides of the barrier, and the probability density shifts. It is not in “no time.” You made that up. To be sure, there may be popular explanations of quantum mechanics that imply this.

                    It has a specific velocity and trajectory, and these need to be known

                    Just so you are aware that you just denied the HUP. The HUP is crucial to understanding tunneling. (It is how tunneling was predicted, before it was found, if I understand the history.)

                    … the standard explanations for semiconductors imply that we can mostly treat them [you must mean the electrons] as if they are localised, but there may be an odd gotcha that may bite.

                    Indeed. Localization is an approximation that can work, but when you push the conditions to the edge, you cannot depend on that.

                    As far as what I’ve seen, you take a misunderstanding of existing physics and use it to make a prediction, which you want to test. That’s fine, that would be, in fact, how you could come to understand existing physics better. You might also stumble into something outside of existing physics. It’s possible, simply quite unlikely. You are not starting from an apparent anomaly, which is more reliably “lucrative.”

                    Good luck, and I mean it. I hope you find something or learn something, or both.

                    1. Abd – I said speed because I meant speed. This is related to the amount of energy, and the initial direction is not relevant. The trajectory can be known to enough accuracy, and I am not ignoring HUP but (mistakenly) assuming that you would realise that I take account of it. It’s very basic. In tunnelling electron microscopy, the tunnelling electron can be affected by an electric field (on the tunnelling path) which modifies the path. If the electron can be affected by the field, then in all likelihood it is actually there or at least its trajectory is modified as if the electron was passing through the material with a certain amount of energy. I’m not really that worried about whether theory says the electron is actually there or not, provided it responds to fields as if it were there, and this is experimentally found and is in use. Again experimentally, tunnelling is not instant but takes some time. I was taught that it was instant, but that was a long time ago.

                      Basically, here you’re reacting as if you are so certain that I’m mistaken that you don’t need to bother about the ability of a conservative field to change the direction of a particle with kinetic energy without changing the magnitude of that energy, and thus without doing “work”. We can see that in action in the orbits of the planets (and as Tom put a long time back, the hyperbolic orbit of a space object). Energy is conserved, momentum is conserved but your particle is going in a different direction on exit from the (conservative) field – in the case of a planetary orbit of course it doesn’t exit the field but the momentum direction keeps changing. It really is extremely simple when you see it, but obviously my explanations are inadequate. Given that explanations don’t convince anyone then I need to show this experimentally. If I could have convinced people, I wouldn’t have needed to put the work in on the experimental side. The principle is very simple, but it is not understood because people think heat can only move from hotter to colder, and thus that energy can only move from a higher to a lower concentration, and thus that the idea must be impossible. I’m not however saying that 2LoT is no longer applicable, just saying that it has a limited range when we use strong conservative fields the right way. There is a loophole, and I’ve just defined it.

                      In various standard works, the work function of Gold is taken as 4.8eV, 5.1eV, or 5.31eV depending on where you look. Other work functions are often effectively stated relative to Gold. Fermi levels suffer from the same problem. The range of possible “real” values is somewhat of a nuisance when I need to get matching to within around 0.1eV (and it also depends on crystal face). That’s why there is a lot of preparatory work to do to get good enough figures to work with.

                    2. Okay, basic physics, and this is related to a whole series of (mis)understandings you have expressed.

                      Abd – I said speed because I meant speed. This is related to the amount of energy, and the initial direction is not relevant.

                      Kinetic energy is a vector, and vectors vary with frame of reference. Energy also varies with the frame of reference. A cannonball in flight carries kinetic energy that can be applied to a target, but in the frame of reference of the cannonball, it has no kinetic energy at all.

                      In tunnelling electron microscopy, the tunnelling electron can be affected by an electric field (on the tunnelling path) which modifies the path.

                      Of course it can. You think of fields as static entities. This is simkliar to your thinking that the walls of a box do not do work on the particles of contained gas hitting them. Rather, each transaction does work, and with a box containing a gas, the sum of the wall vectors will be zero over time (at equilibrium). Thus it seems that the wall is not doing work, but if we examine such a wall very precisely, we will find that it is vibrating; this is essentially Brownian motion, it can be seen with a microscope. It does work, for a short time, in directions that cancel with time.

                      If the electron can be affected by the field, then in all likelihood it is actually there or at least its trajectory is modified as if the electron was passing through the material with a certain amount of energy.

                      The HUP upends our concepts of “there.” The electron is itself a field, the potential field affects the probability distribution that we experience as “an electron.” What you have in mind is a concept, you could call it an image, and it is well known that images can be inertialess and can travel at faster than the speed of light. You are manipulating your imagination. The electron that is “there,” from the HUP, does not exist, there is only a probability of detection at some position. Einstein didn’t like this, and neither do I. But … it appears that reality and our ideas of reality, formed from our common, ordinary, bulk experience, don’t match.

                      (What the HUP limits is measurement and control, i.e., the interaction of an observer with reality. It does not pretend to describe what might be called “absolute reality.” One interpretation of the HUP is that it asserts that absolute knowledge of reality is impossible, knowledge is only statistical in nature. Those who are into “quantum woo” run with this, and the pseudoskptics pretend knowledge that they don’t have. The way beyond this is to understand that the function of ideas (and language) is not to express truth, but to inspire, and my stand is that an inspired mind confers survival benefits both for the individual but even more for the species.)

                      (Einstein: God does not play dice with the universe. Looking this up to get the quote exactly, I was led to the Wikiquote page for Neils Bohr. OMG! I had come across some of these sayings, but never looked at a collection. Bohr thinks like me, only better. I will blog on Bohr. This is really fun stuff. Bohr’s answer to Einstein was one that I might have made, among many: In any case, this is what Wikiquote has, as a statement of doubtful provenance:

                      Stop telling God what to do with his dice.
                      A response to Einstein’s assertion that “God doesn’t play dice”; a similar statement is attributed to Enrico Fermi
                      Variant: Einstein, don’t tell God what to do.
                      Variant: Don’t tell God what to do with his dice.
                      Variant: You ought not to speak for what Providence can or can not do. – As described in The Physicists: A generation that changed the world (1981) by C. P. Snow, p. 84

                      I’m not really that worried about whether theory says the electron is actually there or not, provided it responds to fields as if it were there, and this is experimentally found and is in use. Again experimentally, tunnelling is not instant but takes some time. I was taught that it was instant, but that was a long time ago.

                      Basically, here you’re reacting as if you are so certain that I’m mistaken that you don’t need to bother about the ability of a conservative field to change the direction of a particle with kinetic energy without changing the magnitude of that energy, and thus without doing “work”.

                      If you think that, then I am failing to communicate. You are only seeing contradiction, which will never inspire you.

                      Indeed. This is fundamental physics, not some edgy imagination. You seem to think that these are ordinary statements of understood physics, when they are easily recognizable as defective. The field does work on the particle to change its direction. If you have only one particle and one field, the particle and the field exchange energy. The vector sum is constant.

                      Your thinking about particles is not founded in any modern understanding of physics. Yet you are using your own concepts to predict outcomes. You might get lucky and predict an anomaly, and anomalies can lead to new understandings, but you don’t think of this as an anomaly, merely as different from “standard understanding of the Second Law.”

                      Yes, this is clear to me, Simon. Do you understand whY? I assure you, it’s not personal.

                      I am not looking at the specifics of how you apply your (mis?)understanding. I’m looking at basics. You think of fields as changing the velocity of an electron without doing work, which is cmopletely contrary to not only basic physics, but also ordinary experience. I can move objects with a magnet, and I will feel, with the magnet, the forces exerted on the magnet by the interaction of the magnet with objects. That force is exerted on the field, which exerts forces on what maintains the field.

                      I suggest this, if you want to learn. Develop the capacity to explain basic physics in a way that will not contradict it, when reviewed by someone who knows physics and is aware of the issues. It is not necessary to “believe” this explanation, but simply develop the capacity. If you can do that, then there would be a basis for a claim that you understand basic physics. (The awareness of issues is important because it is possible that an expert will overlook a deviant explanation as being “good enough for popular understanding.” Yet I do understand there is another problem: you want to avoid biased reaction. However, again my suggestion: the bias to focus on most, for transformation, would be your own.)

                      We can see that in action in the orbits of the planets (and as Tom put a long time back, the hyperbolic orbit of a space object). Energy is conserved, momentum is conserved but your particle is going in a different direction on exit from the (conservative) field – in the case of a planetary orbit of course it doesn’t exit the field but the momentum direction keeps changing. It really is extremely simple when you see it, but obviously my explanations are inadequate. Given that explanations don’t convince anyone then I need to show this experimentally. If I could have convinced people, I wouldn’t have needed to put the work in on the experimental side.

                      I recommend carefully reading Bohr! If the goal of communication is to “convince” people, it will be experienced as a hammer, and people dislike being hit with hammers. Rather, a deeper understanding of the goal would be to inspire. It is will worth keeping that in mind.

                      The principle is very simple, but it is not understood because people think heat can only move from hotter to colder, and thus that energy can only move from a higher to a lower concentration,

                      That is your common straw man argument, based on many incautious statements you have read, I suspect. It confuses bulk behavior with specific behavior. The laws of thermodynamics have no effect on the behavior of individual particles. Remembering that energy is frame-dependent, energy can move from a colder region to a hotter region. But what is meant by “energy.” In that common statement, it is not specific energy, but a bulk behavior, sometimes called “useful energy.” The core thought-experiment is Maxwell’s Demon. We can start with a simple Demon. Just run the experiment once. If you are “lucky,” a hot particle (hotter than average) passes through, raising the temperature on the other side and cooling the side of origin, energy has moved from hotter to colder. In the thought experiment, no energy is involved in detecting the particle energies and in moving the shutter. That is, of course, non-physical!

                      Feynman and others have explained how the failure of quantum ratchets and similar thought-experiments can occur, but I’m not aware of any easy-to-understand explanation predicting failure other than by fiat. If you find one, let me know! The problem for me is that there is no clear basis for suspecting that such a device could actually be made, other than our habit of thinking imaginations are real.

                      Rather, the laws are experimental, with the bulk. The behavior of matter is observed to fit the laws, statistically. The concept of God playing dice with the universe imagines a clockwork universe that incorporates some random element. It’s a “Rube Goldberg machine.” That’s my concept neither of God nor the universe.

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