Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Cold Fusion Controversy

I came across this website and thought it may be worth linking to:

293) Jed Rothwell comments on some accusations

Some of this discussion can get rather tedious, but the last part sums it up pretty well, I think:
Lindley [ibid.] and many other skeptics have said that before they believe the experimental results, cold fusion researchers must first provide a complete theory to explain the phenomenon. This also violates a fundamental tenet of the scientific method, since there are and always have been countless unexplained phenomena which are unquestionably real (such as high temperature superconductivity and radium fission, as noted above). Cold fusion researchers feel that it is the job of science to explain anomalies rather than to dismiss them.

If anomalies are being dismissed, it is worse than a violation of scientific method.  There can be no science at all if anomalies are dismissed.  How can science even exist if someone won't even ask a question about a puzzling phenomenon?  A puzzling phenomenon is an opportunity for someone to make a discovery.  To turn your back on it is turning your back on science itself.   If science is about anything, it is about discovery. Those who turn their backs this way are not defending science, they are attacking it.


Here is an analysis of the cold fusion controversy in terms of rhetoric employed by the participants.  It concludes as follows:
The study concludes that Fleischmann and Pons followed an unsuccessful rhetorical strategy in their initial published paper, one that addresses of issue of existence, but their evidence was insufficient to convince as to the scientific reasonableness of the cold fusion claim. An alternative rhetorical strategy was available to Fleischmann and Pons, one in which they could have interpreted, rather than asserted, their evidence, thereby evoking a less confrontational response from the scientific community. 

Mistakes were made on both sides.  Rigid positions get taken.  Battle lines get drawn.  The first casualty of war is the truth.

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