Forbes: Is Cold Fusion Feasible or a Fraud? (Ethan Siegel)

Thanks to georgehants for posting a link to a new article on the Forbes website by Ethan Siegel titled: “Is Cold Fusion Feasible, Or is it a Fraud?” Link his here:

This is another article from an established media entity on the subject of cold fusion lately, so for some reason there’s more attention being paid in the editorial rooms. Siegel focuses on the work of Andrea Rossi and the E-Cat and testing results that have been published. He uses the example of the Mechanical Turk to show that some things that seem real actually turn out to be frauds and fakes, and suggests cold fusion could be something similar. He suggests a creative use of power meters in tests could be used to give false readings.

His conclusion:

This doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re lying, that LENR is impossible or that there’s fraud going on. But it isn’t the job of science to prove that someone is fooling us; it’s the job of a good scientist to prove to the world that we aren’t fooling ourselves when we make an extraordinary claim. As soon as that bar is cleared — and that starts with the people working on this making an extraordinary effort to demonstrate that bar is cleared — we can promote LENR or cold fusion to the realm of real, robust and incredible science. But until that day, we should all remain skeptical. In the words of Richard Feynman:

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself. And you are the easiest person to fool.

  • roseland67

    That’s what you called me about 5-6 years ago

  • Alan DeAngelis

    You have to admit that Siegel does have a gift for logic.

  • Obvious

    Leonardo DaVinci built a wind tunnel, understanding that moving air or fluid against an object is equivalent to an object moving through stationary air or fluid, and he understood the Bernoulli principle. He also calculated that bird wings flapping create mostly thrust, not lift directly.
    He was much closer to inventing manned flight than most realize. He realized and calculated that humans could not power a flight machine designed after the flight of birds. The internal combustion engine and ultralight materials like aluminum had yet to exist in his time. These were his impediments to flight.

    Without a mostly aluminum engine, the Wright brothers never would achieved flight either.

  • hum,
    there was reporters, people ready to testify what they have seen, but as we see for LENR , the autorities like SciAm pretended they have nothing.

    they had, but they said they did not have, thus they could pretend to be rational in denying reality.

    Jed made an article on Wright brother

    • Bruce__H

      The Scientific American report ended up asking for more information. Seems rational to me.

      Thanks for the link to Jed;’s article. I haven’t finished it yet but so far it is quite interesting. I begin to see, however , that the general whining and self-pitying tone of the LENR community has been in place for a while. I love the MFMP precisely because they have mainly dropped this tone.

  • Ciaranjay

    Yes, if the effect is not real then this merry-go-round could go on indefinately. Just as there are those who view LENR as rubbish and will not entertain any debate about it, so there are others who are convinced that the dream is true and will always find a reason to believe. Most people are somewhere in the middle of course.
    If you want an example of an effect that is not real see Orbo where it is now clear it was a scam but some still believe (because it can never be proved 100% it was a scam, there is always some doubt possible).

    As you can see LENR is one of those areas that promises so much that it generates a lot of hope and emotion.

    I agree that the scientific process is the best approach but there have been published papers and they are just ignored.
    Look up the recent DTRA release from Dr Pamela Mosier-Boss.
    As I said above, the science community is prone to the same human flaws as the rest of us. If something is out of favour then walls can be built.
    Of course if LENR is real then science will have to get involved to provide a deeper explanation and theory.
    The good news is of course that, through human curiosity, the truth will be found. Its just that it might take longer than we wish.
    I will stick around for a while to see what happens.

  • the question of a real effect is about “real”.
    They made plane fly and still sciAm was saying they were bunk.
    Only French Army and a naive audience in France make the evidence evident, and the “real” a “reality”.

    I have nearly no doubt LENR is real and not E-cat 350day test, but see how those respective evidence supported claims are denied by both camps .

    follow the evidence, but what is an evidence ?

    • Ciaranjay

      Thanks AlainCo that was an interesting read.
      Actually, taking the article at face value, I sympathise with Scientific American.
      They state that the claims are “sensational”, as indeed they were.
      The allegation that the Wright brothers want to sell their invention to the French seems bizarre and hard to understand and so does not help to engender trust in the story.
      Scientific American then claim the Wright brothers will not provide “substantiation” but they say they would accept the evidence from a professional reporter, but somehow no reporter has had sight of the experiments (as far as they are aware).
      In fact at the end they have not used the word “bunk” but rather than dismissing the story outright they finish with “We certainly want more light on the subject” which seems reasonable if skeptical.

  • Ciaranjay

    Hi Bruce.

    Arguing in retrospect is just providing an example that worked previously. Clearly the various parties believe they have a real effect. If someone produces a working LENR machine then that should be a
    clincher. Keep an eye on MFMP.

    Personally I am a big fan of the science process. But you should know the science community is not as simple as you are suggesting. There are clans in science, there is peer pressure, there is funding pressure. At worst there is bullying and the risk of being ostracized
    or having your reputation trashed.
    Look into the treatment of Ed Storms and Hagelstein. Some scientists do not want to debate and have open research, they want to shut down the research areas they don’t like. Asking nuclear physicists,
    who depend on massive funding for massive fusion projects for their opinion on LENR is a bit like asking a Vegan for their opinion on meat. Now I know that sounds like a slur and I am sure most nuclear physicists would openly accept LENR the moment they see good data.

    On the LENR side, yes there is a lot of anger and blame and the wagons have been drawn around.
    The whole Pons and Fleischmann debacle has poisoned the field so that some now label it “pathological science”.
    Conspiracy theories abound.
    The patent office wont accepting cold fusion patents, while at the same time, if it is real, it could be worth billions. So there is secrecy, there are accusations of fraud, there are court cases.
    The experiments are done with limited resources, giving rise to accusations of poor science.

    There is also failure. The ICCF has been meeting for 20 years, and have not yet produced anything convincing enough for the general scientific community to be impressed by.

    As I said previously it is too long to go into all the details of why we are where we are.
    The above is purely my opinion.
    Search Google for the Aeon essay from Huw Price.

    In conclusion after years of research we have nothing conclusive and yet many researchers are convinced there is something. Personally I think LENR is real, but there is no accepted theory and it seems difficult to master.

  • Bruce__H

    When you are working hard just to reproduce an effect that no one is sure really exists and has no empirical connection to underlying theory then you are not doing engineering, you are doing pure research.

    Critics should definitely be expecting peer-reviewed academic papers. All this talk about waiting for working machines is an unhealthy attitude that enables researchers who don’t have a handle on this thing to hide their lack of success. Fraud flowers in such an atmosphere.

    • Ciaranjay

      Well yes normally the critics want peer-reviewed papers.
      But because of negative peer pressure there is a major lack of researchers willing to do the research, and those that do have very limited resources and equipment.
      And because of negative peer pressure journals are reluctant to publish any papers.
      And the ones that do get published are widely ignored.

      Now it is too long to get into why there is negative peer pressure, there is plenty of blame to go around both sides.
      And it is unfortunate and I agree with you that fraud can flourish in such an atmosphere.
      But when the science process breaks down then some other means has to be found. As otto1923 says, the Wright brothers just built the darn thing, no more arguing.

  • Ciaranjay

    This is a good point.
    At the end of the day experiment trumps theory, as long as the experimental results can be replicated.
    Experimenters do the experiments, engineers do the making and theorists do the explaining. Sometimes the theory comes first and the experimenter confirms or sometimes the experiment comes first.

    Basically there are two routes to LENR;
    The science route means having a replicable experiment or a good theory, you do not need both to start with. Sometimes a theoretical explanation can take many years. Unfortunately it is difficult to get mainstream scientists to take LENR seriously due to unfortunate history and peer pressure.
    Alternatively just build a working device and sell it, as Rossi plans to do.

  • Eyedoc

    oh I’m sure they’re spending…….just not for public knowledge….big ‘dark’ budgets you know


      I know.

  • Ciaranjay

    Yes indeed. Freedom from the shackles for those able to think.
    And also true that young blood often allows a fresh point of view over what might have become rigid dogma.