[extropy-chat] Cold Fusion Survey

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Mon Feb 12 10:58:10 UTC 2007

On Mon, Feb 12, 2007 at 03:36:15AM -0500, Robin Hanson wrote:

> I find it fascinating that there has been such a long dispute here on 
> cold fusion (CF) without an attempt to clarify that anyone actually 
> disagrees about anything.   Please, disputants and interested 

I thought it's rather obvious what we're disagreeing with, in
so many words it took away half a Sunday I could really ill afford.
Talking about priorities...

> observers, offer (publicly or privately) estimates or bounds for 
> these four probabilities:
> 1A. The probability that CF excess heat is a real phenomena, as 
> opposed to misleading experimental technique.

The point is that the experiments are so bad we can't tell.

> 2A.  The probability that CF excess heat is a real phenomena, and 
> indicates fundamental new physics, as opposed to a new chemistry 
> detail, such as a unexpected molecular structure.

We don't know whether there's excess heat. If there really is
excess heat, in many experiments the power density claimed
is so high it must be of a nuclear origin. It cannot be
a chemical, or a physical (nonnuclear) effect. If the effect
is real, it is Big News (you probably remember the hullaballoo,
the excitement was palpable), and would deserve big funding.

> 1B.  The threshold probability for 1A that would justify further 
> research into CF.

The research is cheap enough that interested parties can continue
doing that, and if necessary, in their own literal garage or cellar.
I would not spend any of my time or money, because the experiments
are so bad we can't tell. There are thousands of other bad science
projects competing for funds, if we funded them all we couldn't get
anything important done. 

> 2B.  The threshold probability for 2A that would justify further 
> research into CF.
> Until you know your estimates or bounds for such numbers conflict, 
> you don't know you disagree.  The A disagreements are about facts, 
> while the B disagreements are more about values.

The chief point is that the science is so bad we can't agree on facts.

Eugen* Leitl <a href="http://leitl.org">leitl</a> http://leitl.org
ICBM: 48.07100, 11.36820            http://www.ativel.com
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