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Cold Fusion


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Scepticism is an essential part of science. It is important that the scepticism have a sound basis. That does not seem to be the case with several of the sceptical views posted in this thread. They seem to be based upon one or more of these points:

 

1. Previous claims of cold fusion were found to be faulty. This is irrelevant. All that matters is the rigour of the experimental method and the soundness of the logic.

2. No mechanism has been offered to explain how the cold fusion could occur. This is a very weak objection. Formation of hypotheses requires observation. Sound observations do not require, though they should ultimately lead to, explanations of the observations.

3. Posters are unable to imagine any mechanism that could be responsible. Arguments from personal incredulity have no basis whatsoever.

 

In consequence of these three points I find no reason to reject this latest research as flawed, which is what the majority of posters appear to be doing.

 

The main problem with cold fusion is that it goes against many previously established (with the same scientific rigour) ideas and beliefs. As such, it's similar to a proof that yields one equals two or some ridiculous result like that. One is more inclined to question the content of the proof (design and execution of the experiment) and the fallibility of the people involved before they put any stock in the validity of the data itself.

 

EDIT: I just realised I basically restated Sherlock's post. Oh well, I hope the analogy helps.

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True, but it still seems strange most physicists will dismiss these experiments as none sense without ever looking into their validity.

 

Yes, but its not like physicists have plenty of time on their hands. It might be a considerable amount of work for them to disect the data and discover where the researchers went wrong in the calculations. There might not be enough information available to prove where they went wrong in the first case. So a strong possibility exists that the scientist would spend a lot of time to show inconclusive results.

 

I'm not sure how forthcoming these people are with their data either...Would all the data be shared at all? If so, would the scientist have to sign a non-disclosure agreement to see the data? What strings are attached to this? If they can't find the error, would they have to publically state this? Wouldn't their name then be linked with cold-fusion? This would surely be a career-killer.

 

In short, there may be too little to gain and too much to lose by seriously trying to look publicly into the validity of the claims.

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Wouldn't their name then be linked with cold-fusion? This would surely be a career-killer.

 

In short, there may be too little to gain and too much to lose by seriously trying to look publicly into the validity of the claims.

 

The term "cold fusion" is just coming from the media as far as I can tell.. It sounds like the scientists aren't sure what is happening (?). There's not much information to go on...

 

 

But it's too bad most scientists are so concerned about their reputations, that they won't even look into a potentially new nuclear process. At the same time, if the experiments are valid and something new is going on, they could have a lot to gain if they figure out what is happening.

Edited by gre
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The main problem with cold fusion is that it goes against many previously established (with the same scientific rigour) ideas and beliefs.
Apparently. That is the word missing from your statement and it is the key word.

 

Good science begins with good, unpredjudiced observation. Dismissing observations and research because they do not generate the expected results is the surest way to halt scientific progress. There are three valid reasons for rejecting the results:

1)Demonstrated flaws in the method.

2)Demonstrated flaws in the interpretation.

3)Repeated failure by other researchers to duplicate the results.

 

 

One is more inclined to question the content of the proof (design and execution of the experiment) and the fallibility of the people involved before they put any stock in the validity of the data itself.
Absolutely. What I object to is the summary rejection of the results because they 'are likely to be wrong'. By all means subject the methodology and analysis to more rigorous scrutiny than normal, but do not prejduge.

 

Oh well, I hope the analogy helps.
:confused: I didn't see an analogy and I'm not quite sure what help you thought I needed. :)
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The main problem with cold fusion is that it goes against many previously established (with the same scientific rigour) ideas and beliefs. As such, it's similar to a proof that yields one equals two or some ridiculous result like that. One is more inclined to question the content of the proof (design and execution of the experiment) and the fallibility of the people involved before they put any stock in the validity of the data itself.

 

EDIT: I just realised I basically restated Sherlock's post. Oh well, I hope the analogy helps.

 

I don't think "belief" is the right word to use here, because it makes science sound like dogma. Missing neutrons, for example, is a valid criticism of some cold-fusion/LENR experiments. Conservation of Baryon number is well-established science, and not "belief" as the word is often used in fringe science discussions. If the neutrons aren't there, then the proposed reaction didn't happen, and that's not because it go against somebody's belief.

 

The (a?) funny thing about cold fusion is this: most science that has promise for some application gets easier to demonstrate as more knowledge and expertise is gained — the apparatus gets more robust, signal-to-noise gets better, etc. And yet summaries of cold fusion experiments still seem to have this hit-or-miss aspect to them of "sometimes we see X and sometimes we don't." Continually being on the very edge of perception is one of the signs of voodoo science, so well explained by Bob Park. http://chronicle.com/free/v49/i21/21b02001.htm


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Consecutive posts merged
Apparently. That is the word missing from your statement and it is the key word.

 

Good science begins with good, unpredjudiced observation. Dismissing observations and research because they do not generate the expected results is the surest way to halt scientific progress. There are three valid reasons for rejecting the results:

1)Demonstrated flaws in the method.

2)Demonstrated flaws in the interpretation.

3)Repeated failure by other researchers to duplicate the results.

 

That's quite right, but one must also recognize that there's a big difference between "we've seen something unexpected and unexplained, let's go investigate" and "This is support for one particular hypothesis." Scientists love the former — it's the stuff that interesting papers are made of. But shoehorning any and all results to support the model you're supporting isn't good science. Saying that "cold fusion is happening, dammit, and we're going to go to any length to prove it" stops being good science when you stop being objective about the evidence you gather, because you've already decided that the result, no matter what it is, will support your model.

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I don't think "belief" is the right word to use here, because it makes science sound like dogma.

 

Only to a presumptive ear. It is still a belief because while we don't know it to be absolutely true, it has held up in all experiments as true as the sun rising every day; and because of this, we live and act as though it is fact. What makes it different than dogma is that we would just as quickly abandon it if a substantial case was built against it. In context, such a case would perhaps be that cold fusion was shown to near-definitely be occurring by other observation but that there were still missing neutrons.

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