Cold fusion/The Wikipedia article/Comments on edits/Pathological science

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At present, the article says:

By late 1989, most scientists considered cold fusion claims dead,[8] and cold fusion subsequently gained a reputation as pathological science.[9]

and, deeper in the article,

In May 1989, the American Physical Society held a session on cold fusion, including many reports of experiments that failed to produce evidence of cold fusion. At the end of the session, eight of the nine leading speakers stated that they considered the initial Fleischmann and Pons claim dead with the ninth, Johann Rafelski, abstaining.[8] Steven E. Koonin of Caltech called the Utah report a result of "the incompetence and delusion of Pons and Fleischmann" which was met with applause. Douglas R. O. Morrison, a physicist representing CERN, was the first to call the episode an example of pathological science.[8][39]

Notes[edit]

The statement about "most scientists" is sourced by [8], an article on the APS meeting, Physicists seemed generally persuaded as the sessions ended that assertions of "cold fusion" were based on nothing more than experimental errors by scientists in Utah.

This was (1) not late 1989, and (2) was not "most scientists" but simply "most physicists," and not even most physicists, it would be most of those who attended the meeting. However, this source does cite Morrison as mentioning "pathological science." That term has a recognized usage, and the characteristics couldn't possibly be applied at that early date.

Source 9 does not mention "pathological science," but is a report of the coming 2004 U.S. DoE review. It begins with: Cold fusion, briefly hailed as the silver-bullet solution to the world's energy problems and since discarded to the same bin of quackery as paranormal phenomena and perpetual motion machines, will soon get a new hearing from Washington. This is a report in a reliable source, all right, but is fluff, general passing hyperbole, passive, with no attribution of who did the discarding.

Source 32 is not a reliable source, it appears to be a single individual's private account of the meeting, attending with a group from General Electric Research, and does not mention "pathological science" either. It contains the following information about Morrison:

Jones' data were challenged by Morrison of CERN, who said Jones had overstated the statistical significance of his data. (This was about Jones' independent report, not the Pons-Fleischmann effect. Remarkably, the observer considers it possible that there is some real effect, so this report contradicts what the Times reporter stated.)
A second Cold Fusion seminar was scheduled for the APS meeting on Tuesday 2 May 1989, at 7:30pm. The Tuesday session was to begin with "a general review with emphasis on European work by D.Q.O. Morrison, CERN." Unfortunately none of our representatives were able to attend; also, due to the rapid decrease in interest in last night's seminar after the Cal Tech talk, we did not believe the second seminar would generate much interest.

There is no mention of any severe criticism by Morrison, other than of the Jones work.

How did it come to be that these statements so poorly support the text? Why is a newspaper report of a conference proceeding given great weight, when conference proceedings themselves are not considered reliable source?

Looking back, 02:05, 30 December 2009 has the first text, but not the second. It has, instead, CERN physicist Douglas R. O. Morrison said that "essentially all" attempts in Western Europe had failed.[29] [29} is the 1989 NYT article, which does support the "pathological science" claim about Morrison as well.

"Most physicists in attendance," so to speak, has become, in the article, "most scientists." Cold fusion is a turf war between chemists and physicists, that's covered in reliable source.