Re: A Braid of Several Threads

Anders Sandberg (
Wed, 30 Jul 1997 13:13:07 +0200 (MET DST)

On Tue, 29 Jul 1997 wrote:

> << If they really
> are on to something, it would be easy for them to produce some
> dramatic effect showing that significant energy is produced ("do this
> and the lab explodes") that would convince even the sceptics. >>
> According to Arthur C. Clarke it's for real. I beleive he said that there
> are working devices (hot water heaters) in use by the thousand in the former
> Soviet Union. I also heard that there was a widely publicized demo on one of
> the morning TV shows.

Yes, but why are there no papers in (say) Nature, Science or even
Scientific American if it works? While the big scientific journals
are admittedly conservative (they have to be), even they would
publish a paper that clearly demonstrated cold fusion in a correct
scientific manner, especially if there were prototypes already
working commercially (most likely preceeded by in Nature by a "news
and views" review by one of the harshest critics now claiming he was
for cold fusion all the time).

Clarke doesn't exactly count as a scientific authority (too bad), so
we cannot apply his first law to him ("When an old an respected
scientist says something is possible, he is probably right. When he
says something is impossible he is bery probably wrong"), and morning
TV is notorious of showing anything that would interest people. The
russian hot water heaters sounds interesting, but have all the
hallmarks of pure rumor (remote location, good story, no details
making it easy to check) and seems unlikely given that if cold fusion
could be commercialized that easily, it would be very easy to
demonstrate globally.

> Don't know myself...but from where I stand it appears as plausible as the
> explanations I've read concerning Quantum Mechanics. (Everitt
> universes...heh..heh)

There is a difference: quantum mechanics is a tried and tested theory
(you see proof of it just by using the semiconductors in your
computer), whose *interpretations* are a field of weird speculation,
philosophy and matter of opinion (at present). Cold fusion claims a
certain physical process occurs, but has not yet produced widely
available evidence.

> They didn't cover that in Truck Driving School...or I missed that day...or I
> wouldn't have beleived them anyway since it was run by the gubment and I
> mistrust EVERYTHING they say.

Yes, you probably missed the lesson in quantum philosophy, solid
state physics and applied epistemology, but it isn't mandatory :-)

I think it is a bit stupid to mistrust *everything* the government
says - one has to apply sceptical thinking here too. A sceptic
doesn't believe in what he hears, and he doesn't doubt it either. He
tries to find out if it is true or not.

Anders Sandberg Towards Ascension!
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y