Cold fusion/Mainstream view of cold fusion
This examination is initially by Abd. Unsigned contributions here should be presumed to be by him, unless otherwise stated. (Other comments should be signed.) This is a discussion seminar, so any user may participate.
An RFC was conducted on Talk:Cold fusion on the topic of the mainstream view of cold fusion. The RfC was begun by a user with a clear point of view.
It has been said that who sets the questions creates the answers. This is a common problem with Wikipedia process. In normal deliberative process, no question is put to an assembly until the assembly has approved, by majority vote, the form of the question. Only rarely is this considered on Wikipedia. The questions here bias the poll, by artificially restricting choices and by incorporating assumptions about science that do not match reality.
Should the article state that the experiments reporting cold fusion are widely considered to be pathological science?
The question asks about the present state, i.e., "are widely considered", and there is, as well, a lost performative: "widely considered" by whom?
There is no doubt that cold fusion experiments have been called "pathological science." There used to be a peer-reviewed paper linked from the pathological science article by a social scientist Henry H. Bauer, Pathological Science is not Scientific Misconduct (nor is it pathological), which directly examined the claim that cold fusion was pathological science. That this link was removed is diagnostic of the Wikipedia situation around cold fusion. It was removed by an editor highly involved with promoting the "majority point of view" with regard to cold fusion. Nobody noticed.
However, how would we know what the present state of "wide consideration is? And whose views matter? The closer summarized:
- Cold fusion, or reports of cold fusion, may be said to be considered to be pathological science by the mainstream scientific community.
There is no Journal of Mainstream Opinion. There are a large number of journals which will routinely be considered reliable source on Wikipedia. Because scientific opinion changes, to know "mainstream" opinion, one would look at mainstream journals. These will be independent journals, satisfying reliable source standards, but, for science, the Arbitration Committee has pointed to "academic" publications (which includes academically-published books). Newspapers are considered reliable source for many purposes, but not for "scientific fact." Specialty journals in an emerging field may not be considered "independent," an example for cold fusion would be the Journal of Condensed Matter Nuclear Science, which focuses on cold fusion and related fields.
So, are there recent reviews of the field in independent mainstream journals? Yes. In 2010, I complied Cold fusion/Recent sources (which should be updated, there are many more since then). Reviews were bolded, there were twenty. This does not include J. Sci. Explor. (2009), which specifically covers fringe fields.
I have been unable to find any review of cold fusion in a mainstream journal which rejects the field as pathological. I know of at least one editorial from more than twenty years ago that has been called "vituperative" on the topic of cold fusion, and it was shamelessly so. That was not science, it was "scientific politics."
Because of complaint on Talk:Cold fusion, I submitted the issue of the reliability of the most mainstream review, in Naturwissenschaften (2010), to the Reliable Source Noticeboard, and, in spite of tendentious argument by some involved in maintaining the cold fusion article, the assessment there was that it was reliable source. The abstract there is directly contrary to the general position taken by that faction, and, while the article itself remains in the bibliography, all attempts to add material from it to the article were reverted.
So the article generally presents cold fusion as it might have been seen about twenty years ago, as if this were the present state of the field.
The question is asked without any consideration about how one would know the answer. So editors may answer simply from their own opinion. And they did, starting with the user who created the RfC:
- Yes - Generally non-reproducible, probably due to questionable experimental conditions, similar to polywater.
The claim of "non-reproducible" flies in the face of what was, at one point, 153 reports in peer-reviewed mainstream journals of confirmation of the Fleischmann-Pons Heat Effect. This user is stating an opinion, that is also often repeated in newspaper sources, when there is some news about cold fusion. For example, when SPAWAR announced they had found neutrons in what was clearly a "cold fusion experiment," newspapers would lead with a mention of the 1989 announcement, followed by "but nobody could reproduce it." In other words, they take something that has been said for 25 years in such sources, and repeat it without checking to see if it was true. It's how newspapers work. That claim was true for a short time in 1989. And then researchers began to see the effect. This is covered in the recent Current Science review by Michael McKubre, [http://www.currentscience.ac.in/Volumes/108/04/0495.pdf Cold fusion: comments on the state of scientific proof.]
Some newspaper editors even read Wikipedia and report what they see as fact.
None of those commenting noticed the problem of time. There was no consensus on the answer to this question. There would have been nearly complete consensus on a statement that was specific, sourced, referring to the past. The majority view was Yes, but really was answering the better question. I.e., there is reliable source calling cold fusion pathological, or noting that it is so considered. It is generally old, and is contradictory to how the field is presently treated in the journals. Unlike the commonly-compared polywater case, the originally reported major effect (anomalous heat) was never definitively shown to be artifact.
Those responding No included a Nobel Prize winner. Those responding Yes included at least one editor I recognize as neutral:
- Yes. Clearly pathological science. I hesitate to say pseudoscience, because it's not clear the fraud is always on the part of the experimenters; fraudent [sic] design may produce false positive results.
It's remarkable that "fraud" comes up. Fraud has little or nothing to do with cold fusion (except possibly with certain commercial claims which are not generally the subject of the article, fraud is sometimes alleged there.) The definition of pseudoscience is not "fraud." This is quite clear: this editor is not familiar with the research. And Wikipedia encourages this: editors edit piecemeal, and supposedly look at one fact at a time. Is the fact from reliable source? If so, it may be included.
In fact, though, users make overall judgments and this is most evident when assessing "due weight," which is subjective. Many attempts were made to classify cold fusion as pseudoscience, in the past, and they were always rejected. Pathological science was allowed because there was reliable source alleging it. Debate raged, then, over whether or not cold fusion was pathological science, a question that Wikipedia should not touch. Unless there is a peer-reviewed review with the statement.
One Yes voter referred to a study page created by a user who has long generally taken the skeptical position in editing the article: Pathological science. Several times, attempts were made to link to the Wikiversity resource on cold fusion, as a place where the topic could be discussed, research complied, etc. Those sister wiki links were always removed. Yet Wikiversity is covered by WMF neutrality policy, whereas user pages are not. I.e., I may, for example, create this discussion here, but cannot prevent others from critiquing it, and the overall presentation must be neutral.
On that page, the user points to Bauer. What Bauer shows is that cold fusion has been called pathological science, a point which nobody seriously contests. Bauer also denies that it is pathological. The user cites a source,  from 2005. The source is not about cold fusion, as such. It's in my list of sources, I did not classify it as a review of the field. This was the abstract:
- Believe it or not: It can sometimes be difficult to prove an idea is wrong once it has caught the human imagination. This situation is demonstrated for the two temporally separated cases of phlogiston and cold fusion. Although there are clear differences between the two cases, they both illustrate how difficult it can be to prove the non-existence of a conceived idea.
I reviewed this in detail in 2009: . The paper relies heavily on Simon (Undead Science) whose point is generally that the field did not die, but was rejected outside of scientific protocols.
So the issue is whether or not that situation continues. How is cold fusion seen today, and by whom? The RfC creator wants to say, not merely that cold fusion was considered pathological science, but that it is so considered now.
"Scientists" as a group have very little to do with what those who actually study a field might know and think. A paper of mine was included in the 34 articles just published in Current Science. It went through a preliminary view by two researchers in cold fusion, who were "guest editors," but then the article was submitted to an ordinary reviewer, someone not involved with cold fusion. The reviewer started by giving me the standard reasons for rejecting cold fusion (on theoretical grounds). To pass him, I had to convince him, with evidence. He ended up with a glowing review. This is how science works. It's not a perfect process. However, all the articles in mainstream journals had to not only pass peer review like this, they had to satisfy overall editorial consideration. Naturwissenschaften is published by Springer-Verlag, which is, I believe, the second largest scientific publisher in the world. They are not about to risk their reputation on "pathological science" or, worse, "pseudoscience."
The user addresses the issue of continuation. What he does is to cite opinions. And some of these are very strange. An example:
- "So far it hasn't been replicated to satisfy either the scientific community or the Department of Energy, leaving this type of fusion's future out in the cold for now." Scientific American, March 2009 
That would be a reference to the 2004 United States Department of Energy review of cold fusion. It's a misstatement of what that review concluded. The actual review conclusions were often placed in the article and then removed by the faction. Half the reviewers considered the evidence for the reality of the heat effect to be conclusive. The unanimous recommendation of the panel was more research. That was, in fact, from a one-day review, it was shallow. The panel clearly misread the evidence, yet that review was worlds apart from the reality of the 1989 review. The article has generally stated that the "conclusions were similar," because the actual recommendations were the same: no major billion-dollar federal program, but more research.
Somehow the gap between "pathological science" and a federal panel twice recommending more research is missed!
So: there is no doubt that reliable source exists calling cold fusion "pathological science." In addition, there are cold fusion researchers who have complained that the scientific community "continues to reject" cold fusion. I've been pointing out to these researchers that they are shooting themselves in the foot. In fact, cold fusion papers are being published in journals. Poor quality research is sometimes rejected, and then the researchers complain! And good-quality research is also sometimes rejected, for the old reasons. I give an example in my recent paper.
However, this is all symptomatic of the situation that Simon covers in Undead Science.
There is a contradiction here: It's true, I personally testify, that many people who are scientists continue to think that cold fusion was conclusively rejected many years ago, that it was never reproduced, and that it is completely impossible. However, with one exception, I have never found anyone like this who was familiar with the evidence. And when I have engaged in discussion with them, they did not want to consider the evidence until it was published in their favorite journal. And an editor of their favorite journal committed, over twenty years ago to never publishing another article on cold fusion.
There is an exception, someone highly committed, personally, to an extreme skeptical position; the fellow is a fairly young graduate student in astrophysics. Cold fusion is not a physics field, it is, at this point, entirely an experimental science, because there is no accepted explanation. What we know is that heat is being produced, correlated with helium, at close to the theoretical ratio if conversion were taking place, but that conversion is clearly not happening through ordinary fusion. The name cold fusion makes it look like the field is physics, so often people look to nuclear physicists as being experts. In fact, many nuclear physicists, at the time, opined that cold fusion could not be ruled out, because we don't know enough about the solid state to make accurate predictions.
Reading Taubes, it's clear that much of the rejection of cold fusion was based in the theoretical argument of impossibility. That argument depends critically on a reaction pathway. I.e., what was analyzed was the collision of two deuterons, could fusion from this result at room temperature? The answer is well-known: no. But where did the idea come from that cold fusion was this reaction? Pons and Fleischmann, in their first paper, claimed that the basic reaction was "unknown." Claiming that an unknown reaction is impossible is not science!
The RfC asked the wrong question. Wikipedia has generally ignored Bauer's position on "pathological science." Simon is used contrary to Simon's actual position. And the reality in the journals, for the last ten years, is completely ignored. Cold fusion is considered real science, in the journals, and it's obvious. The DoE considered it real science, though a field afflicted, we might way. What's it afflicted with? Very little funding! So researchers do with what they can manage. Major questions go unanswered. Credible results are not verified. Yes, there is still a widespread opinion that cold fusion research is not legitimate.
But is that the position of "mainstream science" or is it merely a social and political phenomenon? Is cold fusion a science article or is it about culture and history? Attempts to split this out, in the past, were vigorously rejected. If it's a science article, then what is in peer-reviewed reviews of the field, and academic publications, would be golden. Instead, that is rejected, and it is fascinating to review the reasons for rejection! Wikipedia policies are routinely ignored in favor of a point of view that is called "due weight," but that is not based on the weight of sources.
The user presents, on his Pathological Science user page, some interesting recent sources. Hence I will create a page here to study those (and I've notified him).
To which of the four categories defined in w:WP:ARBPS in principles 15 through 18 should the article say cold fusion is considered to be?
- 1. Almost universally considered pseudoscience.
- 2. Generally considered pseudoscience, but with a following, such as astrology.\
- 3. Widely accepted, but considered by some to be pseudoscience, such as psychoanalysis.
- 4. Alternative scientific theories or formulations.
This question was radically biased. The issue of cold fusion as pseudoscience had been considered many times. It was always rejected. There are many sources where cold fusion is called "pathological science." There are few that call it pseudoscience. Those who call the topic pathological science assert certain characteristics allegedly true for cold fusion (not true, actually, but these are widely believed, such as non-reproducible results and untestable claims).
In reviewing the responses, I see many familiar names asserting Category 2. Source for "pseudoscience"? I did not see any asserted in the discussion. This is very, very different from the "pathological science" label, there are many sources that can be used to support that cold fusion has been called pathological science. The commentary on this question was debate on facts about cold fusion, with the skeptical scientist Kirk Shanahan featured prominently. Dr. Shanahan is the last-published critic of cold fusion, in a Letter to the Journal of Environmental Monitoring. He later complained that they would not publish his continued response. Essentially, the extreme skeptical position is dead in the journals.
"Pseudoscience" is more than a disagreement about the interpretation of research, it is a denial that research is even possible. From the Wikipedia article:
- Pseudoscience is a claim, belief or practice which is falsely presented as scientific, but does not adhere to a valid scientific method, cannot be reliably tested, or otherwise lacks scientific status. Pseudoscience is often characterized by the use of vague, contradictory, exaggerated or unprovable claims, an over-reliance on confirmation rather than rigorous attempts at refutation, a lack of openness to evaluation by other experts, and a general absence of systematic processes to rationally develop theories.
- A field, practice, or body of knowledge can reasonably be called pseudoscientific when it is presented as consistent with the norms of scientific research, but it demonstrably fails to meet these norms.
I will note that the Wikipedia definition of pseudoscience has long, itself, been the subject of high controversy.
- Consensus is fairly conclusively that the article should state that experiments reporting cold fusion are widely considered to be pathological science. This was largely based on the fact that reliable sources do.
- Consensus is fairly clearly that this is a category 2 case.
The first result considers sources. The issue of "widely" and the use of the present tense was not considered, but that result was certainly not unreasonable. However, because science changes, such a decision only applies to the article at the time. It is obvious that a decision today cannot bind what might change in the future.
The second result was a classic preponderance of the votes decision. There is no reference to sources. If every editor of an article today agrees on something that is not reliably sourced, it would not bind tomorrow's editors.
The filer of the RfC proceeded to interpret it:
- The two-part RFC has now been closed. Cold fusion, or reports of cold fusion, may be said to be considered to be pathological science by the mainstream scientific community. Cold fusion may also be categorized in Category 2 as defined by the ArbCom in WP:ARBPS, areas that are generally considered to be pseudoscience but have a following. Any edits that differ with those conclusions are against consensus, and so are disruptive. Any questions that do not contain sufficient to be answered, or any edit requests that do not contain sufficient detail to be understood, may be ignored, but, if persistent, are disruptive editing, and can be dealt with by Arbitration Enforcement.
So what is the state of the article. It has a pathological science category tag on it, which has long been the case. It does not mention pseudoscience. The RfC essentially resolved nothing.
It has this, which has long been there, I think:
- Since cold fusion articles are rarely published in peer-reviewed mainstream scientific journals, they do not attract the level of scrutiny expected for science.
The reference is to Goodstein (1994) and Labinger and Weininger (2005). Notice that two sources, ten and twenty years old, are used to make a statement about the present status of cold fusion. Reviewing the Britz database (see Cold fusion/Recent sources, 2004 or 2005 were the nadir of cold fusion publication in mainstream journals. Research in the field continued, but was mostly presented at conferences. However, after that time, publication expanded dramatically, and the extreme skeptical position almost entirely disappeared.
Labinger and Weininger (2005) was not a negative review of the field. It considers the scientific question open. However, it does make the point of shallow review. Remarkably, though, it mentions Miles work on the heat/helium correlation, but implies that this was ignored. It was not ignored. Besides being published in mainstream journals, it was the subject of critique in those pages. Labinger and Weininger's article was not really about cold fusion but about the general question of "closure." Same as Simon. As to Miles, I wrote the most recent review of Miles: . Labinger and Weininger would clearly understand the point of that article, as did John R. Huizenga in 1993. Miles nailed it, and once Miles was confirmed, that the Fleischmann-Pons Heat effect was real, and nuclear in nature, was known through replicable experiment. Yet a lot of people kept repeating the same-old, same-old.
So what is a source for the "pseudoscience" claim? Lots of writers in various places are sloppy with words, so I don't doubt that one might find a source. However, that would only establish ArbCom Category 3, and that category assumes not just someone but a significant number of sources. What is the basis for Category 2?
And what difference does it make? Well, it could establish the application of Discretionary Sanctions. However, the decision cited was later amended to:
- Standard discretionary sanctions are authorised for all articles pages relating to pseudoscience and fringe science, broadly interpreted. Any uninvolved administrator may levy restrictions as an arbitration enforcement action on users editing in this topic area, after an initial warning.
Is Cold fusion "fringe science"? What is that? Cold fusion is not a "science." Rather, there is science that is applied to cold fusion, or that develops knowledge of it. There are theories of cold fusion (including the theory that all results are artifact or error of some kind). Yet cold fusion is a mystery. That is, there is anomalous heat -- that is established! -- and there is helium, a nuclear product, known through correlation, a basic method of dealing with chaotic or variable phenomena. From that, there is a basic theory that cold fusion involves a nuclear reaction, which was the original Pons and Fleischmann claim, made when the only real evidence they had was heat that, as chemists, they could not explain with chemistry.
However, the topic of cold fusion is certainly arguable as fringe. So discretionary sanctions would apply, and this was never in controversy. So what was the point of the RfC?
What was the point of the RfC?
This is what I see: there is a faction of editors who will readily point out that the article talk page is not for discussing the topic. Yet they discuss it! And they want to tell other editors, who suggest editing the article to reflect current scientific understanding, that they are wrong, cold fusion is bogus, rejected long ago, and they advance completely spurious arguments. And they want their position to be supported by "consensus."
This following takes the cake, from the RfC comments, in the "pathological science" discussion, between User A, who is a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, and mostly User B, who has long been involved with the cold fusion article. The discussion demonstrates what I might call the Wikipedia Problem: User B is one of those who has, for a long time, essentially "owned" the article.
- It isn't at all like polywater. With polywater a source of error was identified, realised to be the explanation for the claimed results, and very soon no-one worked on it any more. With LENR, it was rather the reverse in that reasons for failure were identified (e.g. insufficient loading). And with LENR people did not give up: a number of reputable people persevered and eventually achieved reasonable success rates. It is a fact of life that, in materials especially, because one does not have complete control over the conditions it may be hard to reproduce claims, so difficulty in reproduction should not be a reason to class claims as errors or pseudoscience. People should study the literature, e.g. the book of Storms, to get a clearer view of the situation, rather than take books written by deniers as gospel truth. And beware of taking lack of publication on the subject in journals such as Nature as indicators of whether or not the phenomena are genuine: some journals automatically return papers on the subject, so the fact that no published papers appear in them implies nothing. --[User A] (talk) 20:59, 23 June 2014 (UTC)
User A does know what he is talking about. It is radically misinterpreted. The issue of loading is very well covered in the article by w:Michael McKubre in Current Science last month. Dr. McKubre is probably the world's foremost expert on the topic of cold fusion and the loading ratio, having established the boundaries through many hundreds of experiments as an expert retained, through w:SRI International, to study cold fusion by the w:Electric Power Research Institute and others, such as w:DARPA.
- Um, if journals are automatically returning papers on the subject, isn't that an indication that the journals in question don't consider LENR research as valid science? Remember, we aren't being asked whether the science is 'genuine', we are being asked whether the relevant sources consider it genuine. [User C, long involved with related topics, but not as long as User B] (talk) 21:14, 23 June 2014 (UTC)
There are journals which automatically reject cold fusion-related articles without review. This is well-known and covered in reliable source. It is not all journals, the two largest scientific publishers in the world (Springer-Verlag and Elsevier) routinely publish cold fusion articles. Rather, the journals of automatic rejection are pockets remaining from what happened 25 years ago. I predict that there is work likely to be funded within the next year, that will be published in one of these journals, essentially confirmation of what I wrote the Current Science article about, with increased precision. There is at least one major academic institution gearing up to arrange this research, or to actually do it. They have money or can get it. (I'd estimate less than $500,000 for a thorough job involving multiple research groups.) In any ordinary field, it would be all over, there is already quite sufficient evidence. But cold fusion raises some major mysteries, and there are many myths about cold fusion that are widely believed. I was able to get through peer review with evidence.
- Um, again. Not a good argument IMHO, because there are reputable journals that do publish in this field. If journals such as Nature were to send papers on LENR out to referees as the journals I mentioned do, your claim would have some merit. But really all it shows is a policy adopted by the editors of such journals. We should not presume to know what they are thinking, as there may be other factors underlying what they do. For example, these editors are aware that their journal has a high reputation to keep up, and are probably fearful that they would be attacked for publishing papers on a subject that its readers might consider pseudoscience, and this may well be their primary motive. Editors of more ordinary journals don't have to worry so much, and are likely to feel they have an adequate defence against criticism if they have followed the usual procedures (which editors of journals such as Nature do not) of sending out papers to referees, and going by the judgments of referees who have studied the papers submitted in detail. It is also relevant that Nature and Science accept only a small proportion of papers that they receive, so rejection is not such a big deal for them and they may well adopt a rather kneejerk approach: there are almost certainly other papers that they don't send out for refereeing. Nature is a commercial operation and so all sorts of factors may influence their decision. --[User A] (talk) 22:10, 23 June 2014 (UTC)
Again, this is well-known. It's not controversial.
- I would love to see someone try to make the case at wp:RSN for discrediting the positions of Science and Nature on this, in favour of the lenr.org collection. I don't really expect it to succeed, though. [User B] come howl! 18:07, 24 June 2014 (UTC)
Straw man argument, and notice, the whole conversation has gone off the topic. There is no "position of Science and Nature," there is practice being alleged, and that has been documented in reliable source, and there were published editorials about their intentions. In fact, a major peer-reviewed review of cold fusion was taken to RSN, by me, in 2010.Wikipedia:Reliable sources/Noticeboard/Archive 77#Does .22fringe author.22 affect Reliable Source criteria.3F The extreme skeptical position exemplified by User B and others is "discredited" by the abstract from that paper. Nature and Science are not the topic of the article, cold fusion is. The point being made by our Nobelist is that the silence of a handful of journals is not definitive as to anything. Articles are being accepted by mainstream journals, see Cold fusion/Recent sources as of 2010, with many more after that. I will update that page; 34 more papers were being added to the Britz database (Britz is a skeptical electrochemist who has long maintained a cold fusion bibliography, with fair reviews of papers, as would be expected from a scientist) -- I know because Britz wrote me over how to abbreviate my name! I haven't looked at the database yet.
- "And [User B] seems to be confusing cold fusion research generally, where experimental details are published in the usual way, as has enabled replication by others on numerous occasions (admittedly not with 100% success), with the Rossi reactor, where for commercial reasons there hasn't been full disclosure. His vote seems to be based on a misunderstanding and he would benefit from studying actual research in the area, as for example collated in the lenr.org library.
- I might add, since people seem to be very slow in picking up the point, that lack of 100% success in replicating a claim doesn't mean there isn't a real effect: take cloning for example, where in the original animal cloning experiment eventual success was preceded by very many failures, and I should imagine LSD would have difficulty replicating the effect even if given full facilities. --[User A] (talk) 16:06, 24 June 2014 (UTC)
I'm not sure why User A made this argument here.
- The sordid history of link spamming to lenr.org by its proprietor, leading up to blacklisting, is in the archives if you choose to read it. "The usual way" as you put it is marginally better for CF than for BLP or eCat, but still has all the walled garden problems it ever did. We have to base our content on reliable, independent, secondary sources. It is that simple. My lack of skills in microbiology has no bearing on the matter, though I am puzzled why you might think it does. [User B] come howl! 18:07, 24 June 2014 (UTC)
User B radically misrepresented the "lenr.org" history. First of all, it wasn't link-spammed. That was a false claim made in the blacklisting process. Rather, the "proprietor" -- he calls himself the librarian, and the site is mostly a collection of legal copies of articles on cold fusion, generally preprints -- used to sign his IP contributions as "[Name], librarian, lenr-canr.org." They were not linkspamming because there was no link (blacklisting had no effect on these), and his posts were on-topic. An involved administrator, who had been skewered on more than one occasion by this user, blacklisted the site. That was protested on the Wikipedia blacklist, and was about to be removed, when he went to meta and asked for global blacklisting. He was a popular administrator, and the global blacklisting was immediately accepted (very much contrary to normal procedure, because "linkspamming" was not shown, but people who only read diffs might not notice that the signatures were not links). I took the administrator to ArbCom over this, and ArbCom confirmed that his actions were improper. (And I was warned that I'd probably be banned for raising the issue. That took a little while.) But meta is independent, not under ArbCom remit. It took me something like two years to get the blacklisting removed. In the removal request, that administrator appeared and made the same claims he had made before, that had been rejected in a number of places. I had, first, gotten pages whitelisted on Wikipedia, and the arguments were raised there and rejected.
I was again banned on cold fusion, and the reason given was the extensive argument presented on the meta wiki for delisting. Too many words, it was thought. (Normally, what is done off-wiki isn't relevant, but a major faction was exercising its power here.) When someone has created, in a few words, a list of false statements, crafted to appear reasonable to administrators, it was necessary to dismantle that, and the proof in the pudding was that the blacklisting was lifted, so links may, ever since, be made to lenr-canr.org. Many of the sources listed in the cold fusion article are available as preprints there. Are they referenced in the article as convenience links?
No. Those links were consistently removed, with the same old rejected arguments being repeated. That repeated removal, of what would ordinarily be accepted, demonstrates the long-term bias involved with the cold fusion article, and the ineffectiveness of ArbCom remedies, if there is nobody watching, to enforce them.
User B refers to "walled garden." Lenr-canr.org hosts all papers relating to cold fusion, skeptical or otherwise, if the authors permit. It is not a "walled garden" in that it will only host positive papers. However, the site is only, for most purposes, a "library." I keep telling cold fusion supporters not to send people there! There are over 3000 papers there, it is overwhelming. Rather, a source like the Naturwissenschaften review by Storms, "Status of cold fusion (2010)" is much better. And there are introductory articles. The Wikipedia article, at present, is pretty bad.
The most important question
Probably the most important question that would need to be addressed in any basic article on cold fusion is why cold fusion is considered to be real by those who study it, i.e, some scientists. There are, in fact, many different answers to this, but my Current Science paper addresses the most solid, the direct evidence.
Someone who has seen excess heat in their lab many times will have different reasons for thinking it is real, such as trust in their own calorimetry. Widespread confirmation of that calorimetry by others -- as has happened -- then adds to personal conviction. However, that is indirect evidence, and from the beginning, skeptics, very reasonably, wanted evidence as to product from the reaction. It was really the missing element, and the full history of this is amazing, but won't be covered here.
Bottom line, this direct evidence is covered extensively in peer-reviewed reviews of the field. It is covered (initially) by Huizenga in the second edition of his book. Yet it is almost completely missing from the article, which then goes around and about and back and forth about much weaker evidence.
So this is the current article's coverage of the direct evidence: . Let's start with the section header:
- Helium, heavy elements, and neutrons
Fusion products, perhaps. This is the reality: the levels of helium are a million times higher than those of tritium, and the levels of neutrons a a million times lower than those of tritium. Essentially, cold fusion in the work of Pons and Fleischmann produces heat and helium and practically nothing else. Other transmutations ("heavy elements") are lower than tritium, and while there are many reports of transmutations, there is no known consistent pattern.
These are tiny details. They have been thought very important because they are nuclear effects. And, allegedly, nuclear reactions are completely impossible at room temperature. That was an old error, it never was true, and there are well-known counterexamples I won't go into here. The cold fusion field, in fact, became obsessed with "nuclear evidence," thus contributing to the confusion.
Helium is very, very different. I find this diagnostic of the state of the Wikipedia article. It presents arguments against helium but does not present the very strong argument for helium. It is showing an argument against a claim that it does not allow to be shown, and it's not for trying, better coverage of the helium issue was inserted in the article, rigorously neutral, and was reverted and kept out through revert warring. And when enough editors appeared to stop this, the system was gamed, the article was full-protected, and then an admin banned me and reverted back to a version without the inconvenient information. He ultimately lost his administrative privileges, over that. But what was not addressed was the faction involved in suppressing article neutrality.
The direct evidence is the correlation. While arguments can be made that cold fusion calorimetry, in the hands of experts, is very good, and that the helium measurements, also in the hands of experts, are adequate, this is finessed by correlation. If calorimetry were poor and helium measurements were leakage, they would not correlate, and even more, they would not point to the heat/helium ratio characteristic of deuterium fusion (23.8 MeV/4He). Storms has the experimental value at 25 +/- 5 MeV/4He, which may be a bit seat-of-the-pants, but which is reasonable. It cannot be far from there. However, two experiments where efforts were made to capture all the helium (some is retained by the palladium) brought the figure even closer to the theoretical value, see my paper.
None of this is new. I went over the 2004 DoE review on Talk cold fusion years ago. The reviewers made several blatant interpretive errors, causing them to miss the correlation and to think that the results were not correlated. It's obvious. And can't be put in the article at this point, because not covered in a secondary source. I didn't address it in my paper. Drat! (Actually, I was not at all thinking about Wikipedia, writing that paper.) However, I did address Kirk Shanahan's gross error, in the last published critique of cold fusion, in a Letter to the Journal of Environmental Monitoring. See Note 20. Shanahan was very active in that RfC, strongly pushing his idiosyncratic and increasingly isolated point of view.
Correlation is mentioned in the Wikipedia article, though, but not in a way that one would notice the connection.
- In response to skepticism about the lack of nuclear products, cold fusion researchers have tried to capture and measure nuclear products correlated with excess heat.
This is standard pseudoskeptical presentation, i.e., it's framed as if believers are operating out of an attempt to refute skepticism, not as an attempt to simply measure what is happening.
 refers to Storms's book, which, of course, most cannot read. Rather, reference could be made to the more recent and complete peer-reviewed review by Storms, and a convenience link could be given to an accurate preprint on lenr-canr.org. Storms gives a lot of detail both in the book and in his paper. It is not about "trying," it is about succeeding. However, "nuclear products" are all mixed together. Entirely confusing.
 refers to the Hagelstein paper on limits on charged particle energy. Hagelstein does not address correlation. It is a review. It has this claim in the abstract: "Correlated with the excess heat appears to be 4He, with the associated energy near 24 MeV per helium atom."
So why doesn't the article state that? Storms states it, Hagelstein states it, that review was in Naturwissenschaften, a major multidisciplinary journal. Instead the source is only used to refer to effort. And the background assumption, which one can tell from the RfC is held by many active editors, is that the efforts have failed or results have all been error and artifact.
- Considerable attention has been given to measuring 4He production.
 refers to the Hagelstein paper submitted to the 2004 DoE review.
- However, the reported levels are very near to background, so contamination by trace amounts of helium normally present in the air cannot be ruled out. In the report presented to the DOE in 2004, the reviewers' opinion was divided on the evidence for 4He; with the most negative reviews concluding that although the amounts detected were above background levels, they were very close to them and therefore could be caused by contamination from air.
- This was the report of an anonymous bureaucrat, in the 2004 DoE review who shows, in the report, that the helium evidence was not understood, it was directly and clearly misinterpreted. Is the argument given against the findings plausible? The prime argument -- correlation -- is neglected. Contamination would affect control experiments as well as it would the tests. It would not be correlated with excess heat. Further, there may be a confusion between measurement background and ambient helium. Leakage will not produce helium levels above ambient. The evidence presented was actually overwhelming, but the report was misread, i.e., it was thought that helium measurements presented were only for a few cells out of many that had been showing excess heat. In fact, it appears that all the helium measurements showing helium were from heat-producing cells, and all other cells, no-heat, had no helium. All conditions the same. Except that test cells were deuterium gas-loaded, and control cells were either hydrogen-loaded or had carbon catalyst without the palladium plating.
- One of the main criticisms of cold fusion was that deuteron-deuteron fusion into helium was expected to result in the production of gamma rays—which were not observed and were not observed in subsequent cold fusion experiments. Cold fusion researchers have since claimed to find X-rays, helium, neutrons and even nuclear transmutations. Some of them even claim to have found them using only light water and nickel cathodes. The 2004 DOE panel expressed concerns about the poor quality of the theoretical framework cold fusion proponents presented to account for the lack of gamma rays.
Absolutely. There is no "theoretical framework" that adequately explains the lack of gamma rays. Cold fusion is a mystery. The question is, though, is helium being produced commensurate with heat, and there is a clear experimental answer: it is. So, then, something is missing. For a start, one possibility is quite obvious: whatever reaction is happening is not "deuteron-deuteron fusion into helium." There are other possibilities, but none are fully adequate to explain cold fusion. This is a very old problem.
Notice: helium is lumped in with the other nuclear products, and then it's stated that "some of them" -- cold fusion researchers -- found "them" -- the list of products, with light water. That's completely false with helium. Light water controls, in fact, have been used (they generate no helium, always). Notice that this paragraph is mixing issues, creating misleading impressions. Yes, there are reported nuclear results with Nickel and hydrogen. None of them are confirmed on the level of heat and helium with palladium deuteride. However, that is where most commercial efforts are currently focused, because nickel and hydrogen are far cheaper than palladium and deuterium.
This is the paradox: when people think that cold fusion is impossible, for the well-known theoretical reasons, i.e., that the fusion rate for deuteron-deuteron fusion is very, very low, they then think that hydrogen-hydrogen fusion will be even more impossible, hence ridiculous. However, that is all based on an assumption that the reaction is known. There have been persistent reports of effects with nickel and hydrogen. The product is unknown. The current efforts are mostly commercial and secret. The well-known Rossi "e-cat" is not available for study, etc. And this has nothing to do with the original effect, and certain nothing to do with helium.
As an example of a helium-producing reaction that would not produce gammas, Takahashi has studied the behavior of possible Bose-Einstein condensates, and several theoretical physicists have done this. Takahashi found that four deuterons in what he calls the "tetrahedral symmetric" position will collapse within a femtosecond and fuse within a femtosecond. That is, essentially, two deuterium molecules, but confined somewhat more closely than normal. (The electrons must be included!) What would be formed is Be-8, which would -- again normally -- decay into two helium nuclei, i.e, alpha particles. No gammas. However, there is a problem. Above, the Hagelstein paper on limits to energy of charged particle production is mentioned. The Hagelstein limit is about 20 keV. The decay alphas would likely be up to 23.8 MeV. So Takahashi is looking at possible halo states that might hold the energy to be release in a BOLEP, a burst of low-energy photons (i.e., X-rays). It is all speculative.
And until more serious research funding is provided, my opinion is that cold fusion theory is likely to remain in an unsatisfactory state.
So, first question: is it real? The Wikipedia article may not be able to address this yet, though it is now being stated in peer-reviewed journals that the effect is real. But what has been available for use by Wikipedia for a long time is the direct evidence for reality, the heat/helium correlation. And it has not only not been given, it was actively excluded. Even though found in peer-reviewed reliable source.
Instead, we see focus on neutrons, for example, which, for most practical purposes, might be entirely missing.
X-rays, by the way, I recently learned in conversations with Miles, have been correlated with heat. However, the correlation was not quantitative. (X-ray films from heat-active cells were fogged, the cell with most heat was the most fogged. X-ray films in otherwise-identical cells remained clear.) X-rays are very widely reported, per Storms. Study has been inadequate. --Abd (discuss • contribs) 19:07, 11 March 2015 (UTC)