An article titled “The EM Drive, NASA’s ‘Impossible Engine,’ Highlights Our Greatest Failing” written by astrophysicist Ethan Siegel has been published on the Forbes website which seems to be an attempt to dampen the hopes and expectations of people who think that we might be on the cusp of technological breakthroughs that shatter old scientific paradigms.
You can read the article here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/startswithabang/2015/11/08/the-em-drive-nasas-impossible-engine-highlights-our-greatest-failing/
Siegel mentions in the article cold fusion, E-Cat, EM drive, perpetual motion, zero-point energy as examples of claims that he considers to be “extrordinary unlikely” (he won’t say impossible) that they will pan out in reality. His perspective is that whenever anyone claims to have found a way to overcome the known laws of physics there are only two possibilities: the claimant is either deluded or fraudulent.
Our greatest failing is that we, ourselves, simply do not have the resources and capacities to become experts in everything, and yet we do not trust those who have done exactly that. The EM Drive, the e-Cat, and all sorts of other “scientific impossibilities” will continue to excite our passions and imaginations so long as we fail to appreciate and respect the enterprise of science itself, and the scientists who legitimately practice it. Until that day comes, you can either be skeptical, or you can fool yourself to your heart’s content. But if you choose the latter option, heed the warning that Richard Feynman put out more than a generation ago:
For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.
Personally, I don’t think it is required that we need to have encyclopedic knowledge of the current canon of science to evaluate certain claims rationally. My own feeling here is that we must use our best judgment, clearest thinking and common sense when presented with claims that lie outside the mainstream of science. Certainly, I believe we should be cautious about unusual claims, but not automatically dismissive — and I do expect that as time goes on there will be surprising discoveries made that show that all accepted science accumulated to date is incomplete, and technologies that were previously considered to be impossible will become accepted as normal and routine aspects of our lives.