Abd ul-Rahman Lomax <a...@lomaxdesign.com> wrote:
> Ah! That's one I hadn't thought of.
> This is my point, there may be a million things you haven't thought of.
Nope. That does not work. A good experiment cannot have a million possible
problems. If we had to think up a million ways that an experiment might be
wrong (or fake -- pretty much the same thing) then no experiment would ever
prove anything, and there would be no progress.
A bad experiment can have a large number of possible errors (or ways to make
The "skeptical" assertion that there might be an undiscovered error is
fundamentally at odds with the scientific method for the same reason. If we
allow this argument, then no issue will ever be decided, no experiment ever
conclusive. There has to be a statute of limitations on critiques. Quoting
Melich and Rothwell's comments on the 2004 DoE review:
Some skeptics claim that there might be a yet-undiscovered error in the
experiments. See the comment by Beaudette about this, above, "if the
measurements are incorrect, then an avid pursuit of the 'science' must in
due course explicitly and particularly reveal that incorrectness."
More to the point, the claim that there might be an undiscovered error is
not falsifiable, and it applies to every experiment ever performed. There
might be an undiscovered error in experiments confirming Newton’s or Boyle’s
laws, but these experiments have been done so many times that the likelihood
they are wrong is vanishingly small. Furthermore, skeptics have had 20 years
to expose an experimental artifact, but they have failed to do so. A
reasonable time limit to find errors must be set, or results from decades or
centuries ago will remain in limbo, forever disputed, and progress will
ground to a halt. The calorimeters used by cold fusion researchers were
developed in the late 18th and early 19th century. A skeptic who asserts
that scientists cannot measure multiple watts of heat with confidence is, in
effect, rejecting most textbook chemistry and physics from the last 130
As a practical matter, there is no possibility that techniques such as
calorimetry, x-ray film autoradiography or mass spectroscopy are
fundamentally flawed. It must be emphasized that although cold fusion
results are surprising, the techniques are conventional and instruments are
used within their design specifications. . . .
Flow calorimetry experiments similar to this, with boiling water or flowing
water, have been done many times. The potential errors are well understood
and their number is strictly limited -- unless you are aiming for the kind
of precision SRI achieved.
In an experiment with only 4 main parameters -- input power, inlet
temperature, outlet temperature and flow rate -- the number of potential
significant errors will small, and so will the number of ways deliberately
fake data can be surreptitiously introduced. When the method is complicated,
and the results close to the margin, with many parameters with, for example,
the possibility of recombination producing a significant error, then there
are many ways an error can creep in, and many ways to deliberately introduce
Complexity and a low s/n ratio invite error, misinterpretation or fraud.
This experiment is as simple as anything can be, and the s/n ratio is