LENR and Incompetence

One of the characteristics of the experimental pseudoscientist is that he considers only the phenomenon that he believes to exist and, when the results are just as he expects, he concludes that he is vindicated, applies for a patent and asks others for investment funds. However, taking a positive result to be proof of a theory is (and this will amaze laymen, schoolteachers and the lunatic fringe) a serious error in logic. Making such a mistake was also warned against by Bacon.  Those who think that anomalous heat is being generated by nuclear processes should go 150 years back into the scientific literature  and check out the work of Thomas Graham (then Master of the Royal Mint) and others. They observed some amazing outpourings of heat from electrolyzed metals and had a conventional explanation for their results. Being in full possession of the facts, and being cautious in the interpretation of results, are the hallmarks of  real scientists.  LENR conmen are but cheap ‘QVC’ imitations.

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2 Responses to “LENR and Incompetence”

  1. marc Says:

    What is Pseudoscience? All reseach done on things science does not have an answer on? For most scientists that seems the right answer to that question. I believe that real science is trying to find the answers on anomalies that cannot be explained by today’s science. This is what the LENR scientists try to do and those are the real scientists!

    • crackpotwatch Says:

      This is known as the ‘demarcation problem’. The funny thing is: physicists feel that they have no difficulty in detecting pseudoscience, whereas philosophers, sociologists-of-science, science-writers, journalists and laymen seem to ‘fall for anything that is presented in the right format’. Unless one is addressing another professional physicist, it is hard to explain the many subtle clues that scream pseudoscience. In the 19th century, P.G.Tait proposed a theory which pictured atoms as being different sorts of ‘knots in space’. This looks crazy to modern eyes, but it was not pseudoscience because it was an honest but misguided attempt. He did not proclaim that he had disproved existing theory, he did not rush to patent it or otherwise make money out of it. On the other hand, he later wrote a book (with B.Stewart) that was 100% loony (being blatant mysticism). The clues that you should be looking for, in the pseudoscientist, is an obsession with money, ‘development’ and publicity, outright denial of existing contrary theory, experimental data which are accepted only by similarly minded researchers and a generally over-aggressive reaction to criticism; all scientists are used to having their theories rubbished, but only pseudoscientists take it to be a personal insult. You should be more concerned for the rich (but scientifically naive) investors who get conned into backing these scams. Of course, they hardly notice the expense: but imagine what other, real, scientific projects that they might be aiding. Look at the history of cold fusion (LENR) and ask yourself what happened to the impressively bubbling vats which were first presented as evidence. Can you name any real scientific breakthrough for which the evidence has become weaker with passing time?

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