Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
The assertion that "a determined con artist" can do this or that
strikes me as inadequate. A con artist is not a magician capable of
changing the laws of physics or magically influencing instruments.
Uh, Jed, a con artist is indeed a magician, that is, someone skilled
at the art of producing illusion.
I meant a real magician, with supernatural powers. A mythical person.
A stage magician is indeed skilled in the art of producing illusions,
but these are optical illusions or sleight of hand tricks. They fool
people. They cannot fool instruments. There are no examples of such a
thing happening in the history of science, as far as I know. If you or
anyone else knows of an example, let's hear it. Otherwise, please stop
saying it can happen.
There are examples of con-men -- not stage magicians -- who substituted
fake instruments for real ones. There are also many, many badly designed
experiments that were either scams, or tantamount to a scam. I have seen
some. They did not fool me for a moment. I am nowhere near as
knowledgeable as Focardi, Levi or Gallantini. The notion that you could
set up such a simple, fool-proof first-principle experiment with them
and have it turn out to be faked strikes me as so improbable it is not
worth worrying about.
Here is an example of an experiment that could be faked. Dennis Cravens
proposed to use Pd-D powder to produce heat inside a thermoelectric
device that would light an LED. Now Cravens is as honest as the day is
long, and I would not accuse him of faking anything. But I told him that
in my opinion this experiment would not be convincing because it would
be easy to hide a tiny battery and thin wires in such a device, to keep
the LED glowing for weeks. The set up would seem suspicious to
intelligent people with a suspicious turn of mind. People such as Levi,
who described "prudential" checks for hidden wires and the like.
The point is, you can easily hide a thin wire to light an LED, but you
cannot hide a wire that carries 130 kW. The nature of the Rossi test
makes it impossible to fake. At least, that will be my opinion until
someone suggests a plausible method of faking it. Just saying "it might
be fake" does not make the case. Saying that stage magicians can fool
watt meters makes no case at all. They can't. You can dismiss that idea.
The kind of thing they do -- causing lions to seemingly vanish -- is not
like fooling a watt meter or heating tap water to 40°C as measured by a
thermocouple. Kidwell cited a display in Disneyland once of a hot tap
and cold tap water that produced an sensory illusion that a third tap
was at a different temperature than it really was. That would not fool a
Hollywood special effects people could easily make a fake experiment
produce hot water out of nowhere. But when you see their work up close,
on the stage set, without camera angles or video special effects, the
illusion vanishes. Their methods are blatantly obvious. Suppose you
visited the stage set of "2001 Space Odyssey." You would not be fooled
into thinking this is a real space ship:
Prudence and caution, that's all I'm suggesting. What's the rush to
judgment? Either way?
I am not rushing. I have been hearing about Rossi on and off for a year.
Focardi and others I trust have been working with him for 2 years or
more. I am all but convinced his claims are real. I have no serious
doubts left, after the 18-hour test. If he were the first person in
history to report Ni-H, I would have lots of doubts!
Every individual experiment might have been deception. It's the
combination, the multiple independent confirmations, that rule this
It is also the nature of the experiment. Some experiments are much
easier to fake than others. Some, such as the first nuclear bomb
explosion are absolutely impossible to fake. That was definitely not a
chemical explosion, or an optical illusion. Rossi's tests are on the
nuclear bomb end of the scale.
Curiously, many experiments that today are considered conclusive were
actually on the inconclusive or it-might-be-fake end of the scale. See
the book "The Golem."
(Hmmm . . . It would not have been difficult to fake the first nuclear
reactor, Pile 1 at U. Chicago. Most cold fusion experiments could be
faked by me with no difficulty. I guess you could fake Pam Boss's
neutron results with a neutron source.)
This is being demonstrated outside of normal scientific protocols.
There is a reason for those protocols. I'm also aware that Rossi has
his reasons, which may be legitmate, to keep this secret. But the
consequence of the secrecy is increased skepticism and suspicion.
That's simply natural.
It is natural. Also, his reasons are definitely legitimate. He has no
patent. He stands to lose a secret worth hundreds of billions of dollars
if the nature his material is revealed. It is hard to think of a better
He may have some illegitimate reasons as well. None that I am aware of.