Glenn Doty writes:
I don’t think that cold fusion is a worthy discussion point – as its advocates do not adhere to the common discipline of science.
Whether or not a study can technically be classified within the empirically reductive philosophy that is “science” can be tested with the following questions:
1) Can this issue be investigated empirically?
2) Is there a relevant theory that this can be linked to?
3) Can this be tested directly?
4) Is there a coherent and explicit chain of reasoning?
5) CAN THESE RESULTS BE REPLICATED? and
6) Is the research disclosed to encourage professional critique from other researchers?
The stuff revolving around “cold fusion” fails on the second, the fourth, the fifth, and the sixth criteria. Hence: not science.
When fully disclosed research that yields reproduceable results that can be coherently explained by relevant theory starts to emerge… then perhaps the physics departments should be compelled to include these studies… but for now it belongs with seances, not sciences.
Thanks. “Seances, not sciences.” Wow, that’s good; I’ll try to remember that! And you’re not the only person who’s brought this up to me.
In the context of the survey, I was simply using cold fusion as an example of something that is not mainstream science currently, but could conceivably become so. Having said that, a couple of points:
All mainstream science was once science fiction. As Schopenhauer observed, “All truth passes through three stages: First, it is ridiculed; Second, it is violently opposed; and Third, it is accepted as self-evident.” Of course, that doesn’t make cold fusion true or real, but it prevents me from ruling out ideas simply because they don’t conform to my current mode of thinking on a subject.
James Garfield didn’t die from the bullet wound to the head, but from the infection that occurred from the doctors’ dirty hands and instruments. According to History House, “Unfortunately for the President, germ theory at the time was still widely ridiculed.”
A few years later, less than a decade before the Wright Brothers, the world’s leading physicist pronounced heavier-than-air vehicles to be theoretically impossible.
Having said all this, we need to see proof here, and our standard for that proof should be very high.
Yet it seems possible that it’s just an intellectual error on our part to assume that fusion can only happen at 10^14 degrees K in 10^-22 seconds. We’re saying that if we observe a phenomenon that doesn’t meet these criteria, it can’t be fusion. I’m reminded of the Londoners a few centuries ago who observed large black birds and said, “Well they can’t be swans because they’re not white.” A few years later, the study of genetics came along and they realized they were looking at black swans.
I’ll leave you with one final idea: the fact that the world seems to be in such a snit about cold fusion should, I think, make us all quite suspicious – along the lines of “methinks thou dost protest too much.” A good example is the story I quoted here. Why is so much effort being brought to bear to suppress the investigation of a subject that has no value?