Talk:Learning civility

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An example[edit source]

I would like to offer myself as an example.

A few days ago, Abd started a review of a survey paper by Edmund Storms on the status of research in cold fusion.

I contacted the author and invited him to participate in the review and to help us resolve questions that came up in the review.

Most of the conversation is in E-Mail, but Storms did post a couple of responses on-wiki.

Here is his second contribution:

Here is my response:

Were the comments by Edmund Storms lacking in civility? Were my contributions to the review of his paper lacking in civility or with familiarity with science?

What would be the best practice here, to respond to Edmund Storms?

Caprice 13:38, 3 December 2010 (UTC)

My first thought here - was there any evidence that any parties were upset about the nature/manner (not the content) of the interactions? -- Jtneill - Talk - c 13:55, 3 December 2010 (UTC)
My first clue was in the third message from Edmund Storms, in which he wrote:
That's when I first began to wonder if he thought I was asking him "dumb questions" or "silly questions" of the sort that suggest to him that I am "ignorant of science."
Caprice 14:17, 3 December 2010 (UTC)
  • It seems to me more like the interaction is characterised more by intellectual jousting than incivility? (BTW - Did Edmund give permission to quote?) -- Jtneill - Talk - c 14:42, 3 December 2010 (UTC)
I have no objection to intellectual jousting. But what happens if one of the jousters beats the other guy's brains out? That's where things get weird.
I invited Storms to post his responses to me on-wiki. He posted some, but also said that he wasn't sure if everything he posted was correctly saved. It was clear to me he was not communicating privately. There were four other Wikiversitans on the copy-to list, including JWS and Abd.
Caprice 14:53, 3 December 2010 (UTC)
Dodging the question is more "incivil" in Wiki's twisting of it than most things people say. Real civility is defined as talking instead of using fists, by the way. Look at w:Wittgenstein's Poker as an example of civility breaking down amongst academics. So, to answer Caprice's question - yes and no. Ottava Rima (talk) 15:01, 4 December 2010 (UTC)
  • I've been wondering whether "dodging the question" constitutes a civility issue or an academic integrity issue. Perhaps it depends on whether a question is primarily avoided in order to cause offense per se or whether the question is avoided in order to avoid intellectual examination of the issue. -- Jtneill - Talk - c 21:48, 4 December 2010 (UTC)
It's clear to me that he was dodging the questions, which (to my mind) was more an issue of academic integrity than civility. But in the process of dodging them, he waved them off as "silly," "dumb," and a "waste of time," suggesting that only someone "ignorant of science" would ask such "trivial" questions. —Caprice 23:16, 4 December 2010 (UTC)
I would have to say that what passes as "civil" in a bar is different from that in a school. Context means a lot. Ottava Rima (talk) 15:25, 7 December 2010 (UTC)

Update: At the risk of making a nuisance of myself, I persisted in asking Storms how he conclusively falsified the Null Hypothesis (i.e. that nothing extraordinary was happening). Eventually his response boiled down to this succinct quote:

More than anything, I think the above difference in the way Storms and I construe and apply the scientific method explains why he comes to different conclusions from me (and other scientists who think like me) in terms of the scientific protocols of hypothesis testing. As I construe the protocols of the Scientific Method, the Null Hypothesis has not been falsified. Storms, on the other hand, simply discarded the idea of considering Null Hypothesis, asserting that doing so doesn't work in Chemistry or Cold Fusion.

Caprice 14:24, 6 December 2010 (UTC)

The challenges continue. I won't identify the correspondent in the next round of colloquies, but here are some problematic excerpts:

† Note: The pronoun "this" did not have a clear antecedent.

It's not clear to me how best to respond to such remarks, beyond noting that my correspondent has evidently concluded as many as four novel hypotheses without attempting to falsify the null hypothesis.

Caprice 01:58, 14 December 2010 (UTC)

Are you asking the Wikiversity community for personal advice about off-wiki correspondence? Hypotheses are not "concluded," they are proposed, by definition. It appears that these hypotheses touch upon your personal states. How aware are you of your personal states? Some are highly aware, some are not. Further, it appears that the above is personal conversation, not scientific discourse, and in personal conversation, a hypothesis will often be presented without proof, tossing a stone in the pond to see if there is a splash; the evidence may be readily at hand, but the quotations have extracted the hypotheses from the context, so we can't tell. That this was brought here suggests that there may be something disturbing about these hypotheses, a splash. Do you trust your correspondent? If so, you might try seeing what you could admit about the hypotheses, and, as to what you cannot admit (right or wrong), you can state that and ask for clarification. Complaining about the correspondent as being "unscientific" is a socially doomed approach. Most of the above would be radically inappropriate in, say, a scientific forum, but apparently it was not presented there, this was personal correspondence, correct? What was your goal in engaging in correspondence with this person? Above, it seems you may have been imputing emotional states, so did you get back what you had been doing yourself? Doesn't that often happen? --Abd 19:29, 14 December 2010 (UTC)
  • Are you asking the Wikiversity community for personal advice about off-wiki correspondence?
No. I have no evidence that the Wikiversity community at large is a reliable source of information, insight, or advice on solving problems in incivility. Rather I am proposing to the author(s) of this course that they consider some live examples and suggest how one might reason about them and devise a constructive response that enhances the process of learning civility.
  • Hypotheses are not "concluded," they are proposed, by definition.
In general, that is true. However, in the examples cited above, the four working hypothesis were evidently concluded by my correspondent (and apparently with little effort) to be correct theories, and boldly asserted as such.
  • How aware are you of your personal states? Some are highly aware, some are not.
In this case, I was immediately aware of being in a state of consternation and perplexity, regarding the challenge presented by having a correspondent conclude those four working hypotheses in the manner outlined above.
  • Further, it appears that the above is personal conversation, not scientific discourse, and in personal conversation, a hypothesis will often be presented without proof, tossing a stone in the pond to see if there is a splash; the evidence may be readily at hand, but the quotations have extracted the hypotheses from the context, so we can't tell.
"Tossing a stone into a pond to see if there is a splash" is an interesting metaphor (testing the waters). What comes to mind via that visual metaphor is seeing if one can get a rise out of someone by poking or provoking them. If I am not mistaken, that is one of the hallmarks of the kind of mischief-making that has also been called "trolling." Indeed, fisherman "troll the waters" to see if they can get a "bite."
  • Do you trust your correspondent?
Correspondents are not always sources of reliable information about subtle aspects of the world around them. However, they are generally reliable sources of information about their own interior mental states with respect to their beliefs, thoughts, feelings, desires, and intentions.
  • Complaining about the correspondent as being "unscientific" is a socially doomed approach.
If my correspondent were indeed an unscientifically-minded person, then I reckon a scientific approach might well fail. Perhaps the authors(s) of this course have some insightful ideas on approaches that are more suited to working with a correspondent who is not especially scientifically minded.
  • Most of the above would be radically inappropriate in, say, a scientific forum, but apparently it was not presented there, this was personal correspondence, correct?
This was offline (e-mail) correspondence in connection with (and in conjunction with) scientific and scholarly work.
  • What was your goal in engaging in correspondence with this person?
To compare notes in ongoing projects to study, understand, illustrate, and model the cognitive-emotive and meta-cognitive processes in play when one is engaged in scientific and scholarly research.
  • Above, it seems you may have been imputing emotional states, so did you get back what you had been doing yourself? Doesn't that often happen?
No. That's what perplexes me. I have been conscientiously and candidly disclosing my own cognitive-emotive states to the best of my ability, hoping that my correspondents will respond in kind. It astonishes me that my correspondents will posit and conclude haphazard models and theories of my mental states while coyly declining to disclose or affirm their own.
Caprice 14:41, 15 December 2010 (UTC)

Storms granted permission without restriction[edit source]

In my most recent round of e-mail with Edmund Storms, I asked him, "Do you have any objections if I extract portions of our conversations either to complete the review of your paper, or to help explain how scientists go about their work?"

He replied, "Extract anything you want."

What I think I have here is a good example of an exchange between two professionals which sheds some light on the meta-cognitive processes that we are interested in with respect to motivation, learning, and emotions.

Caprice 06:18, 4 December 2010 (UTC)

Problem is that this was an exchange that, at the start, purported to be a student asking questions of a professional, probably the world expert on his topic, who then generously gave of his time. From the questions, the student had done little homework and was thoroughly ignorant of the topic, but was strongly asserting a position that was visible and immediately seen -- by anyone with familiarity with the topic -- as preposterous, so preposterous that it has never been notably proposed, even though with respect to a single characteristic, it seemed to explain the results of a series of reproducible experiments that otherwise are the strongest evidence for cold fusion, better than anything else I've seen proposed. It was the kind of idea someone attempting to refute that conclusion, but who does not know the other characteristics of these experiments, would come up with.
This was not an exchange between professionals, between peers. Barry is attempting to do research in the application of the scientific method, but is an amateur at that, not a professional, it appears. I've pointed Barry to published papers or books on the topic (application of the scientific method to cold fusion) he purports to be interested in, but, so far, he's shown no sign that he's read them, and he's accused me of sending him "walls of text." Sure. Thorough explanations, and if he wants to truly dip his toe in this field, he'll need to read and integrate far more than that. It took me about a year to come up to speed to the point where I could hold an intelligent conversation with an expert, and I'm a fast reader.
When the professional scientist literally told the student to do his homework, given that he repeated blatant errors again and again, even after they were pointed out (for example, he consistently made statements about the "cathode" in gas-loading work, or as if a cathode and electrolytic current were involved in all cold fusion experiments) this student cum self-declared "professional" then claimed that the "null hypothesis" had not been refuted. It is interesting, all right, but not so much as to the scientific method, it's interesting as to psychology and social process, and pathologies that appear in the same. --Abd 20:30, 14 December 2010 (UTC)
  • Abd, your indignation is duly noted. —Caprice 22:11, 14 December 2010 (UTC)
  • Indignation? Moi? --Abd 06:38, 15 December 2010 (UTC)
Here is a list of vocabulary terms for the names of affective emotional states. Feel free to pick those which best characterize your affective emotional state at the time you composed the above complaint. —Caprice 06:58, 15 December 2010 (UTC)
Amused, mostly, mixed with some sadness, and, as well, chagrin over possible waste of time. I like the word "flummoxed," but I'm not actually flummoxed, because I don't feel confused about what I'm seeing. I describe what I see, I've done this for many, many years, and people often project absent emotional states onto it. As to what emotions I've felt, in some contexts I also describe what I feel, but I'm not going to fall into inward reflection and disclosure here, as I do in many other places, Wikipedia Review, even, because I do not trust, any longer, Kort's intentions, and I've seen and observed the long-term patterns of interactions of many with him. I was engaged in an extended experiment, over the last six months or so, to test the conclusions of others on this point, to falsify their operational theory, a theory that I dislike seeing applied to people. As far as I can take it now, that falsification failed.
I read the list and picked. Now what? This is all quite transparent, Barry. You are visible. --Abd 04:30, 16 December 2010 (UTC)
  • Glad to achieve this high degree of consensus. Here. There, I'm not participating in that forum, though I did make some comments above on it. Next case? --Abd 06:07, 16 December 2010 (UTC)

This Case[edit source]

Now let's do an exercise in Information Theory.

In this case, Win = 166 and Wout = 578 (for Wtotal = 744).

  1. What is the ratio of Wout to Win?
  2. What was uncertain going in?
  3. What uncertainty remained, going out?
  4. What is the ratio of Wout to the net reduction in uncertainty?
  5. How certain are you that your calculus is correct?

Caprice 12:25, 16 December 2010 (UTC)

Motivation and Emotion[edit source]

Continuing conversations between myself and Edmund Storms have provided considerable insight into motivation and emotions that surface in the context of his 21-year journey to demonstrate the reality of Cold Fusion.

I may have a useful case study here to contribute as an example in one or more of your chapters. Let me briefly summarized what I've found.

Edmund Storms is an unabashed believer, proponent, and enthusiast of Cold Fusion. He feels that his efforts to demonstrate Cold Fusion are largely unseen and unappreciated, and he expresses significant levels of frustration, vexation, disappointment, anger, bitterness, and disdain at mainstream scientists and government agencies who have withdrawn confidence in and support for his research.

He expresses high levels of personal confidence that he is on the right track, and he exhibits high levels of hope and determination to achieve success at demonstrating Cold Fusion, which he sincerely believes to be real, and not a misconception arising from any failure to rigorously adhere to the protocols of the scientific method in the course of his experimental work.

My extensive interview of Edmund Storms (mostly in E-Mail) has provided me with an unexpected opportunity to examine how emotions such as confidence, surprise, confusion, perplexity, anger, disappointment, hope, and determination arise in the course of a difficult learning journey.

It appears to me that the emotions he expresses and the beliefs he espouses jibe with and illustrate the mathematical model of emotions and learning presented here.

Caprice 11:44, 6 December 2010 (UTC)

The above and Moulton's blog is a very strange presentation of a set of Moulton's reactions and imaginations disguised as descrptions of Dr. Storms. Here is my response to it, collapsed because this whole thing should be moved to the cold fusion pages, if it's to be kept.
response to Moulton (Caprice) re Dr. Storms --Abd 09:54, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
  • I find myself nonplussed by this as some kind of example of civility. I've been privy to the correspondence, and Caprice, above, radically distorts what happened. His conclusions about Dr. Storms are derived, it seems, more from his apparent belief that anyone who considers cold fusion "real" must be a "believer." I.e., that the consideration isn't based on evidence, but is more religious or emotional in character. Every piece of evidence that became available to Caprice was turned in that direction. His description of my own design and research efforts is similar. He writes, on his blog:
There is a curious chap named Abd Ul-Rahman Lomax, who I met online (at Wikipedia Review), who is into Cold Fusion. He is a true believer, proponent, and enthusiast who also wants to peddle kits to hobbyists who want to build Cold Fusion cells in their kitchen.
True believer. This is basically an insult. I've described my history with cold fusion; I was skeptical like about everyone else, I believed that cold fusion had been conclusively rejected in 1989. However, when I came across a problematic blacklisting of lenr-canr.org, a library of papers on cold fusion (positive and negative), I started reading about it and was astounded by what I found. Cold fusion is not a technology that will necessarily revolutionize power generation. It might remain a scientific curiosity. But it is real, the evidence is overwhelminingly strong, and that's why Dr. Storm's review, "Status of cold fusion (2010)" was published in September, in Naturwissenschaften, Springer-Verlag's "flagship multidisiplinary journal." NW was founded in 1913, SV in the 19th century. This is totally mainstream. But, yes, many physicists are in the position I was in. They haven't read the literature, they don't understand the evidence and are making certain assumptions. There is no good theory to explain cold fusion. But it's fusion, that can be shown, by a reproducible experiment that's been done enough times to be sufficiently certain that fusion is, by far, the most likely explanation.
proponent. I'm a proponent of objectivity in science, of review neutrality, of the avoidance of pseudo-skepticism, which assumes the primacy of established theory and which rejects everything unknown, automatically. I do propose that people interested in science become open to new possibilities, but I do not, for example, propose massive funding of cold fusion until and unless the basic science, the mechanism, is understood. "Fusion" is not a mechanism, in this case, it is a result. We don't know how it happens, though Storms says that there are now some "plausible" theories. Everyone who has reviewed this field, officially, has concluded that more research is needed to resolve the basic questions, particularly of mechanism, "theory."
enthusiast. I'm enthusiastic about everything I do. However, part of my job at this point is to restrain some true enthusiasts, political activists, who sometimes think that cold fusion is closer to practical realization than it is. It's pretty far away. There are people working in the field who are on tracks that might lead to something within a few years, becoming ready to start commercialization, but I'm not holding my breath.
wants to peddle kits. Someone else tell me if this is using deprecatory language.... What I want to do is to design and make available, for cost and a reasonable profit for my work and investment, certain kits. The purpose of the kits is primarily educational, and there is a secondary purpose to make a standard experiment available so that many single-variable experiments can be run. Right now, that is quite expensive to do. I plan to cut costs by as much as a factor of ten, and I'm interested in helping otherwise-isolated experimenters coordinate their work and share their results.
To hobbyists who want to build Cold Fusion cells in their kitchen. The initial market was high school students, a small number of whom might be interested in replicating an experiment done by the U.S. Navy, originally, which has already been replicated by a number of researchers, including one "hobbyist," (a retired physics instructor) in 2007, that was later revealed in a major-journal paper to be producing neutrons. Most cold fusion work is quite expensive to do, but this protocol was relatively simple. The neutron findings have not been confirmed, for when the original widespread replication effort was done, the Navy researchers did not yet have permission to reveal the neutron findings, for rather obvious security reasons, and so the replicators were not told how to look for neutron evidence. The level of neutrons, though, is so low that this isn't dangerous at all. The other major market is expected to be grad students, there are professors interested in having their students run this experiment, for publication.
Abd has struck up a relationship with one of the few diehard professionals still working on Cold Fusion Research.
I'd written some critical review of certain events in the field, on a mailing list, and I was honored to be contacted by Dr. Storms, who is probably the world's foremost authority on cold fusion; his monograph on the topic was published by w:World Scientific in 2007 and is the best reference in the field, and he was appointed Low Energy Nuclear Reactions editor for Naturwissenschaften at the end of 2009. He may indeed be a "diehard," but Caprice's view of the field is seriously out of date. There was a point, five years ago, where there was a reasonable fear that the leading researchers would all die before the field became recognized. These researchers had been senior researchers and professors in 1989; other scientists with careers to protect found it impossible to work in the field, so strong was the rejection. There are now many more younger people working in the field, all over the world. It's not going to die, and, in fact, as I see it, watching what is being published and what's happening with research and funding, the corner has been turned. I may or may not make any money on the kits, but it's science I'm selling, not "cold fusion," as such, and, in fact, the neutrons aren't produced, probably, by cold fusion itself, but rather by some secondary reaction, mechanism unknown. This is experimental science, purely, and not original with me except as to cost-optimization. Dr. Storms is doing original research, investigating materials that have never before been adequately investigated, using improved techniques and equipment, and it's possible he will come across something with commercial potential. When I visited him the other day, he seemed to be in no hurry, just setting up his equipment, monitoring temperature and pressure and the like, setting up his new, highly sensitive mass spectrometer, able to directly resolve helium and D2 without first scrubbing out the D2.... Slow, patient work.
Down in Santa Fe NM, a chap named Edmund Storms is the Branch Manager (and sole employee) of KivaLabs. Storms has been involved in Cold Fusion Research since its inception. He, too, is a true believer, proponent, and enthusiast.
Perhaps Caprice believes everything he reads on the internet. (As I recall, "Branch Manager" came from some hoax story written by some high school students.) Kiva Labs is Dr. Storms. It's the basement of the original home he built in the hills that overlook Santa Fe and Los Alamos. When he built his permanent home next to this, his wife got the top floor with the spectacular view for her studio, and he got the basement for his lab. He's also got stuff in the basement of the main house, how many people have a scanning electron microscope to play with? He seems to be having fun. Again, "true believer"? The man is a scientist, worked his entire career as a scientist, and happened to be one of the people to confirm the original findings of Pons and Fleischmann. He's thoroughly aware of the problems in the field. He's not agitated or upset about anything, as far as I could see. He just does his work. And writes about the field, on occasion.
Recently, Storms published one of his occasional papers surveying the state of Cold Fusion Research to date. Having nothing better to do for a week, I offered to contribute a review of this paper as part of a little project that Abd was setting up on Wikiversity.
Storms didn't publish the paper. It was published under peer review by Springer-Verlag, and it was an invited paper. He had, possibly after talking with me about the state of the field, and what was missing and underemphasized, written a paper on the fact that measured heat and produced helium, in cold fusion experiments, are correlated at the known fusion value for deuterium, and had submitted it to Naturwissenschaften, and the editor asked him to, instead, write a general review of the field, for they had apparently decided that the time was ripe for that. Dr. Storms asked me for comment, which I gave him, and he incorporated some of it, and credited me.
Caprice was indeed invited to comment on cold fusion, by me, though I don't recall it being specifically about the Storms paper. What he then did was a surprise to me, because I knew that Caprice was still very uninformed on the state of the field, and wasn't really ready to talk with a major researcher yet.
I ended up corresponding with Storms (via E-Mail) and learned quite a bit about the story of his 21-year journey through the field of Cold Fusion Research.
Storms took it all in good humor, and did patiently explain some of the problems with what Caprice was asking and claiming. Other problems, he didn't even bother or didn't have time. Caprice wrote voluminously.
He feels that his efforts to demonstrate Cold Fusion are largely unseen and unappreciated, and he expresses significant levels of frustration, vexation, disappointment, anger, bitterness, and disdain at mainstream scientists and government agencies who have withdrawn confidence in (and support for) research in his field.'
This is where Caprice completely loses it. He's got no idea what Storms feels. I sat with the man, during this period of correspondence, and we talked about it in person, as well as in email. I've read widely in the field. I know the history, what happened with governmental agencies and other scientists, various societies and publications, there is a huge amount of literature on this, academically published and otherwise. I bought and read all the books by skeptics, every one. So when Storms talks about what certain scientists did, or certain agencies did, I generally know the stories, I know what happened, and I know that Storms is simply describing what he knows. Caprice only had email and doesn't know the background, and if there is anything we should have learned from the last twenty years of email communication, it is that emotions can be easily misread in email. The description above, quite simply, isn't one of Dr. Storms. It is Caprice's imagination, perhaps how he would feel if he were to say what he thought Dr. Storms was saying.
Storms expresses high levels of personal confidence that he is on the right track, and he exhibits high levels of hope and determination to achieve success at demonstrating Cold Fusion, which he sincerely believes to be real, and not a misconception arising from any failure to rigorously adhere to the protocols of the scientific method in the course of his experimental work.'
What Caprice read from Dr. Storms was placed within the context of Caprice's own beliefs, starting with an opinion rooted in ignorance, a belief that cold fusion has not been demonstrated, and that cold fusion researchers are trying to prove that it's real. The field has moved way beyond that. Cold fusion is real, and they know that through application of the scientific method, indeed, through the use of control experiments, and, most notably and importantly, the use of correlation to refute the null hypothesis, which Caprice appears to misunderstand and translate into some vague assumption of "nothing to see here."
The basic theory, what is known, is that certain metal deuterides, under poorly-understood conditions -- but adequately reproducible -- produce anomalous heat and helium. This theory leads to a testable prediction, that helium and heat will be correlated at a particular value required by the laws of theormodynamics. This has been tested and confirmed many tims by independent researchers. Storms lists twelve research groups, and for the best estimate of the value, he relies on four groups which were particularly careful to measure helium accurately (some groups were just looking for raw correlation, i.e., if there is heat, is there any helium? If there is helium, is there any anomalous heat?) This is a reproducible experiment, it is apparently reliable: Attempt, with many cells, to produce excess heat, using the state of the art, i.e., techniques known to produce this anomaly. Measure the helium. Nobody has reported different results (correlation), ever. Groups that, early on, failed to find heat also failed to find helium.
If this were a medicine for cancer, with this level of evidence, there would be a massive push to produce the medicine for use.
But one thing must be understood. This is not -- yet -- a source of free energy.
Caprice, in his conversations with Dr. Storms, kept suggesting that Storms run his experiment by turning off the power, i.e., by stopping electrolysis, so that only produced power would be seen. What Caprice didn't understand, though I think he had materials in front of him, a paper sent by Storms, that would have given him a clue, was that this was not an electrolytic cell. For some time, Storms has been working with gas-loading, which is considered by most researchers to be more promising in many ways than the original P-F cells that start with long periods of electrolysis. There is no juice to turn off. There is a sample of material, which includes some palladium, it is nanoparticles, so it has high surface area. The cell is evacuated, then deuterium is introduced, and the cell heats up. It heats up normally, from the heat of formation of palladium deuteride. That heat of formation is known. Now, what is Storms looking for? From what he showed me, he's looking for heat, the apparatus is designed to measure heat to sufficient accuracy to be able to detect the excess heat over that of deuteride formation. But he also has two mass spectrometers, he was just installing one that could resolve D2 from He4, which is impressive as hell, since prior work required scrubbing out the D2 in order to avoid the massive peak it creates. (Storms' other mass spectrometer goes up to higher mass numbers, I think he said the new one just measures up to AMU 4. Helium or D2. Highly specialized equipment!) Storms also has extensive radiation detection equipment installed in this system. If there were radon contamination, for example, of his D2 gas, as Caprice kept harping on, he'd see it immediately and routinely.
Storms is working in a field littered with people who ran out of money. The research can be expensive, and, for background, hundreds of millions of dollars were spent, mostly by the Japanese, trying to figure out how to commercialize CF. They failed. It wasn't that they found that cold fusion didn't exist, they found that it was damn hard to scale up, and very difficult to get even, reliable results. Statistically, you can get results, but then you run into the fact that palladium is wicked expensive. I figure that with the heat reported from gas-loading by Arata, a very prominent Japanese researcher, $100,000 of palladium at present prices would suffice to build a modest home hot-water heater. And it might be necessary to reprocess the palladium periodically, like maybe once a month, because the nuclear active environment, which is not a simple as "pure palladium," seems to burn itself out, i.e., if this involves, say, cavities of some very exact size, the ones that exist get used and are destroyed. It's mechanical, it's not energetic, but .... it would still take energy to reconstruct that crystal lattice. Storms is experimenting with approaches that use a matrix of other elements to set up the reaction with a little palladium. So are others. I know that Storms will be successful at his work, because he is an experimental scientist, and there is no way to fail at experimentation unless one starts fudging results. He will find results; they will show that a material has promise, or they will show that nothing special happened with that material.
I very much doubt he's going to run out of money. He's not out on a limb.
He doesn't need to "demonstrate cold fusion." He's already done that many, many times, and so have many others. I intend to join that group within about two months, if I'm lucky. However, "she knows there's no success like failure, and that failure is no success at all." If I'm lucky, and if I get reproducible results (tracks caused by neutrons, clearly originating at the cathode, not present in controls of various kinds), I'll be making it possible for others to join that club for about $100. I was told when I first became interested that it would take about $8,000 minimum, and that it was very difficult. However, the Galileo project, which set up the protocol that I'm following, basically, told participants to expect to spend about $800. So that's what I'm doing....
Some cold fusion researchers do remain a bit obsessed with the idea of proving that cold fusion is real. It's understandable. But what I've been telling them is not to worry, it's over. Caprice doesn't understand that because he's stuck in a host of conceptions that are highly resistant to new information. And, frankly, I also don't care to prove CF is real to anyone. What I'll be offering people is a chance to find out for themselves. If they don't want to, they are totally free to sail along. Maybe -- this is an exciting possibility -- someone will buy one of my kits and expose the "trick." Please!
The early SPAWAR work was showing charged particle radiation, but this work was flawed by the pssibility of chemical damage causing some of the pitting found in their solid state nuclear track detectors. However, when they published their neutron results, those could not be caused by chemical damage, through any plausible mechanism that I've seen proposed. I intend to use an even more sophisticated -- but cheaper! -- arrangement of detectors, relatively immune to background, even though the SPAWAR results are already, easily, a thousand times above background.
Now, if someone could explain those results as being caused by other than neutrons, I'd love to see it, because then I might be able to design the cells to test this theory. Caprice is completely incorrect to imagine that I'm a "true believer." I'd be quite willing to publish proof that cold fusion -- or this particular claim of cold fusion -- was bogus, artifact. I just don't think that is a particularly likely outcome, given the evidence I've seen. --Abd 09:54, 12 December 2010 (UTC)


I'm happy to see Moulton inspired to writing his atrocious song parodies again, I was worried that he'd lost his touch. However, he got it a bit wrong. I and Dr. Storms did not discover cold fusion, and I believed that it was an error until last year. I don't get to exult.
Cold fusion chorus Abd 08:54, 13 December 2010 (UTC)

They found Cold Fusion! They found Cold Fusion!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! They found Cold Fusion!
They found Cold Fusion! They found Cold Fusion!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! They found Cold Fusion!

For the Excess Heat hath surely been measured.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Cold Fusion! It's Real!

For the Excess Heat comes with helium.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Cold Fusion! It's Real!

The truth of this word
Is become the truth of the world,
So I was wrong; and they were right;
And heat shall flow for ever and ever,

For ever and ever, forever and ever,
Heat is there, and Helium too,
Heat is there, and Helium too,
And Neutrons (a few),
And heat shall flow,
And heat shall flow forever and ever.

Heat is there, forever and ever,
Helium too,
Hallelujah! Cold Fusion!
And we shall know forever and ever,
Heat is there, and Helium too!
And we shall glow forever and ever,
Heat is there, and Helium too!
Hallelujah! Cold Fusion! Hallelujah! Cold Fusion!
Cold Fusion Is Real!

To be performed, perhaps, at the annual International Cold Fusion Conference in Chennai, India, in February. Barry is invited to be lead baritone. --Abd 08:54, 13 December 2010 (UTC)


A traveler in the countryside notices a kid playing in a haystack, while the farmer piles on ever more hay.

"Having fun?" inquires the bemused traveler.

"Yes," replies the farmer. "This is my boy. He's looking for a needle in the haystack."

"How come you are still piling on more hay?" asks the traveler.

"Because if he finds the needle, the game is over."

Montana Mouse 14:26, 14 December 2010 (UTC)

Great story, Mr. Mouse (this is Barry Kort, aka Moulton and Caprice, in one of his fascinating personalities). Now, the farmer in this story knows that there is a needle. Stories are generally told when they apply to a current situation. Who is the boy, who is the farmer, what is the hay, what is the needle, and why does the farmer want to prolong the game? I could explain, but I'd prefer to leave any first explanations to Mr. Mouse. --Abd 17:20, 14 December 2010 (UTC)
  • Lay out your hypotheses, Abd. What would be the Null Hypothesis here? What are the plausible Working Hypotheses that come to mind? Are any of your Working Hypotheses especially novel? How would you go about confirming, supporting, refuting, or falsifying any (or all) of them? What imaginable outcome would generate an exclamation of "Aha!" —Caprice 17:47, 14 December 2010 (UTC)
  • No, I'm not going to answer those questions, not yet. You brought the story here, Caprice, I'm asking you to tell us why, to connect it according to your intention, not mine. Are you the teacher on this page? Or are you the learner? Or what? About civility? Barry, may I respectfully suggest that your history indicates some kind of civility problem? If what I plan comes to pass, this whole exchange (here, on Cold fusion pages, and off-wiki where permission exists) will be organized, deconstructed and analyzed. for what public educational value it contains; probably here (WV), on pages where it's relevant. There are some important issues that have been brought up, such as how the scientific method is used and abused. Ultimately, I suspect that this will be of great interest and import, and, in fact, I'm planning a journal article out of some of the issues raised (and other related material). But we are in the middle of it, and this may not readily be visible to all. Time to settle and gain perspective is important, and most of us have Other Things To Do. --Abd 19:59, 14 December 2010 (UTC)
Take your time, Abd. There's no rush. If and when you are ready to disclose how you interpret and construe the metaphors, analogies, and parables, I reckon I can wait until then to learn how you employ these particular tools for thought. Model-based reasoning is not a very common or popular mode of reasoning, and I've learned to be patient while people wrestle with unfamiliar modes of reasoning. I can probably use the time to think about how Montana Mouse goes about constructing other fabulous stories. —Caprice 20:21, 14 December 2010 (UTC)

Back to the original suggestion here[edit source]

Kort (Moulton, Caprice), above, began with these assertions about Dr. Storms:

I may have a useful case study here to contribute as an example in one or more of your chapters. Let me briefly summarized [sic] what I've found.

This is classic Kort. Frequently, discussions with him turn into his exploration, exposition, creation of a "learning exercise," or "drama," -- or song parody -- about the other participants, much of it in places where it is apparently off-topic. He does not seek agreement or consensus. Combined with high intelligence, it's a killer. It is not without utility, but many "normal people" would not be able to derive value from it, because the "needling" -- his term from a recent edit -- is almost certainly designed, by someone experienced at it, to seek reaction and outrage, and given the usage of that word, this is almost certainly conscious. There is a term for this: trolling.

Edmund Storms is an unabashed believer, proponent, and enthusiast of Cold Fusion. He feels that his efforts to demonstrate Cold Fusion are largely unseen and unappreciated, and he expresses significant levels of frustration, vexation, disappointment, anger, bitterness, and disdain at mainstream scientists and government agencies who have withdrawn confidence in and support for his research.

Kort seems to have appeared on the WMF scene with a defense of Rosalind Picard, a colleague of his at MIT, against a kind of smearing by what was called the ID cabal, on Wikipedia. What is ironic here is that he's taking a position typical of that faction.

I've been in email communication and phone contact with Dr. Storms for about a year, and I just spent a day with him at his lab in Santa Fe. While "unabashed believer, proponent, and enthusiast of cold fusion" is not exactly untrue, it misses his primary function as an experimental scientist and analyst, and overemphasizes what is converted, typically, into a smear.

If someone begins with belief and then does research to prove the belief, they are properly called a "believer." But if they begin with curiosity or professional interest, do twenty years of work in a field, with controlled experiment and critical study of the work of others, and come to consider a position as probably correct, based on preponderance of the evidence, or, in this case, on high levels of statistical confidence, that's not belief, that's normal scientific process. But there is a set of pseudoskeptics who begin with a belief that cold fusion is impossible, they do no experimental work, all they do is find fault, apparent defect -- no matter how preposterous -- with the work of others, and then they call anyone who disagrees with them a "believer."

This is not about whether cold fusion is real or not. That's a scientific issue and is now, finally, being resolved where it should have been resolved in the first place, in the scientific journals through peer-reviewed publication and scrutiny. This is, instead, about the sociology of science, and there are papers and books written about it. Kort attempts to make everyone else his subject, but has missed the opportunity here, it seems -- it's never too late -- to come to understand better his own behavior, as well as what may be one of the most prominent examples of major scientific error that came, for a time, to be considered a consensus. For years, "cold fusion" was cited in tertiary and media sources as a prime example of "pathological science," as if it had been proven to be unreal, as if it were just like w:N-rays or w:polywater. Yet, unlike the situation with N-rays and polywater, there never was an identification of the alleged artifact underlying the original report of anomalous heat, nor underlying the thousands of independent reports of the effect. The qualities Langmuir identified as characteristic of pathological science were absent, for the most part, yet pseudoskeptics often assert them as if they are solidly based; claiming that "nobody could reproduce" Pons and Fleischmann's work is still quite common, as well as claims that increased precision causes the effect to disappear, when the reverse is obvious from the published literature.

There never was a true negative review published under peer review; what one will find in the peer-reviewed literature are early reviews that considered cold fusion to be unproven, with the evidence not conclusive. That was a quite reasonable position twenty years ago. By 2004, there was no such consensus, experts, selected by the U.S.. Department of Energy, were divided, and the recent Storms review is far more authoritative. The conclusions of Storms in that review are quite conservative, in fact. He does allow some speculation, but it's stated as such. Cold fusion, as a case, establishes that we still have much to learn, what we thought was well-understood wasn't. The scientific method was designed, in fact, to allow us to move beyond such misconceptions, to "challenge authority," and to do so with the natural authority of clear evidence and analysis.

From this, we may learn to be suspicious whenever experimental results are impeached solely because they are not as predicted by theory, to be curious about the source of such anomalies, and not wave them away merely because they carry surprising implications.

He expresses high levels of personal confidence that he is on the right track, and he exhibits high levels of hope and determination to achieve success at demonstrating Cold Fusion, which he sincerely believes to be real, and not a misconception arising from any failure to rigorously adhere to the protocols of the scientific method in the course of his experimental work.

Storms is already successful, and highly so. His detailed monograph on cold fusion, published in 2007 by w:World Scientific is the standard authority on the subject. Papers by him are published in mainstream peer-reviewed journals, and he was appointed the Low Energy Nuclear Reactions (LENR) editor at Naturwissenschaften in December, 2009. Naturwissenschaften was founded in 1913 and is currently published by Springer-Verlag, the second largest scientific publisher in the world, itself founded in the 19th century. Einstein wrote for Naturwissenschaften. Storms' lab at his home in Santa Fe is well-equipped, he has the often very expensive equipment he needs, he is clearly well-funded (he mentioned how his work is funded, but I'm keeping that confidential) and the only apparent limitation on his work is his own time; this work is painstaking. I see no sign of concern about funding or profit, his home is beautiful, stunningly so, in fact. He travels frequently to conferences around the world, and his recent review of the subject is, by far, the most authoritative work on cold fusion to be published to date.

(Some people have claimed that Storms approved his own work; that's a misunderstanding of the role of the LENR editor at NW. Storms reviews received papers to determine if they are worthy of being submitted to the actual peer-reviewers, and his own review of the field was (1) solicited, (2) reviewed by others, anonymously, as is typical, and (3) given the prominence assigned to the work by first page placement in the September issue, given the high level of controversy over cold fusion and the bold assertion in the abstract, it is obvious that this paper was approved by the highest levels of publisher management, or they'd have egg all over their venerable publisher face.)

Kort has no qualifications to allow him to make authoritative statements about adherence to the protocols of the scientific method, which to him is a vague rejection of anything unexpected until it's absolutely proven. He is free, here on Wikiversity, to espouse and document his own highly idiosyncratic interpretation of the method, even though he's way out on a limb about it. But what is tantamount to an attack on an established researcher, striking at the very integrity of the research, pretending that it is not careful and cautious, is not acceptable. Just as it was unacceptable to smear Rosalind Picard. --Abd 16:02, 16 December 2010 (UTC)

  • ‎"The time has come," the Walrus said, "to speak of many things: abuse and snits and searing whacks, and clipping Abd's dings." —Gastrin Bombesin (talk) 12:41, 17 December 2010 (UTC)
Abd, Wikiversity has no requirement that any contributor have "qualifications" to participate here. I make no assumptions about your (or anyone elses) qualifications, and simply read the statements made on wiki and choose to comment, or not. His statements about the scientific method are hardly "idiosyncratic" and reflect the process by which a hypothesis can be objectively tested. Doubt and skepticism are critical hallmarks of the process of science, as desribed in the quote below. Questioning the details of an experiment is an integral part of the method by which science progresses and is far from an "attack" in any reasonable sense of the word. Storms' status as "an established researcher" is not a relevant criteria by which his work should be judged; if the work has merit it should stand on its own and be able to withstand critique. --mikeu talk 20:13, 18 December 2010 (UTC)
"The scientist has a lot of experience with ignorance and doubt and uncertainty, and this experience is of very great importance, I think. When a scientist doesn’t know the answer to a problem, he is ignorant. When he has a hunch as to what the result is, he is uncertain. And when he is pretty damn sure of what the result is going to be, he is still in some doubt. We have found it of paramount importance that in order to progress, we must recognize our ignorance and leave room for doubt. Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty — some most unsure, some nearly sure, but none absolutely certain. Now, we scientists are used to this, and we take it for granted that it is perfectly consistent to be unsure, that it is possible to live and not know. But I don’t know whether everyone realizes this is true. Our freedom to doubt was born out of a struggle against authority in the early days of science. It was a very deep and strong struggle: permit us to question — to doubt — to not be sure. I think that it is important that we do not forget this struggle and thus perhaps lose what we have gained." Richard Feynman, The Value of Science [1]quotation from Feynman added by mikeu with the above.
Mike, I'm puzzled. Nobody has asserted, to my knowledge, that any one must have qualifications to participate here. If I did, or if anyone did, would you please point it out? As to Kort's comments about "the scientific method," he is asserting an interpretation of the "null hypothesis," in case after case, without specifying it. There is no single "null hypothesis," yet it is asserted with the definite article, as if it were a single thing. The "null hypothesis" is generally paired with an "alternative hypothesis." Kort has asked, again and again, "Have you falsified the null hypothesis," but hasn't specified the alternative that is presumably being asserted. The usage Kort seems to be following is that the "null hypothesis" means "nothing of interest here, only artifact or error." That is not how the null hypothesis was framed in the paper you pointed me to, which stated the null hypothesis, in that case, in this way:
The original paper does not contain any discussion of the uncertainties in the final values that are put forward as support for the claim. Neither does it contain any statistical analysis of the experimental data that could serve as a test whether the null hypothesis (i.e., that cavitated and non-cavitated samples are drawn from the same distribution) can be rejected or not. In fact, Cardone et al. discuss no alternative explanation for their result whatsoever. We show in Ref. [4] and below that, both regarding the CR39 and the concentration data, the null hypotheses cannot be rejected.
There are many statements in the review by Storms that was under discussion. Each one could be framed as a hypothesis, with, then, a possible corresponding null hypothesis. Generally, "the null hypothesis" seems to be an hypothesis, that, if it can be proven, will demonstrate that the alternative hypothesis is false. Now, the example quoted uses null hypothesis in a way that is, in fact, found in the sources for Storms' paper, as to the most striking conclusion he presents, that what has been called cold fusion is, in fact, likely to be deuterium fusion. That statement could be true even without the strong statistical implications of the evidence Storms gives. Storms has, in fact, refuted the null hypothesis, all this talk by Kort is hot air. And the same "null hypothesis" refrain has been repeated again and again by Kort in response to any comment he doesn't like. As if it were necessary to prove every comment by thoroughly refuting the converse of it.
I'm referring to the original work by Miles that explored, with a consistent series of experiments, the relationship of P-F anomalous heat and measured helium. Are these variables correlated? This is the kind of question where I've seen "null hypothesis" used. Kort seems to use it to mean "has every imaginable or conceivable prosaic explanation been considered""? Given that there is an infinite universe of such explanations (drunk scientists? divine deception? gremlins? microwave energy beamed from another room by commercial rivals? contamination by this or that rare substance that would stand out like a sore thumb? error in recording data? and on and on), that is not a falsifiable "null hypothesis." Rather, the issue is normally, when two variables like this are asserted to be correlated, what is the probability that the variables are only randomly related, i.e., that the control and experimental results are drawn from the same distribution? In the case of Miles' work, where statistical correlation was asserted, the full experimental set was every P-F type electrolytic cell run in the series, and the control can be considered the set of experiments where heat was not found. The experimental set is then the cells where heat was found. Helium was measured for all cells, blind to the heat. Storms does not give the details in his review, he's got a lot of ground to cover. But the null hypothesis, i.e., that the correlation is random coincidence, has been quite adequately refuted. Note that Miles asserts a probability of 1/750,000 of the correlation appearing by chance. That is only based on his own work. Miles has been corroborated by many other researchers, with greatly increased precision, as reported by Storms, there is no contrary experimental research contradicting the correlation result, and no reasonable alternate explanation for heat/helium correlation has been advanced, anywhere, as far as I've seen.
Nobody is denying Feynman's "freedom to doubt." However, Kort is asserting delusion, he is not merely holding on to doubt. The work is statistically solid. Miles' paper, cited, above, contains the statistical analysis for his work, I'm not going to quote it. Kort has been using Wikiversity and his own blog, which he's linked here a number of times, to smear Dr. Storms and his work, without being specific or showing exactly what he's referring to, without any solid basis in the science, and it appears that the cause of this is that Kort asked, in the correspondence, a series of questions that showed, first of all, that he was ignorant of the field, which wasn't such a problem, but, then, that he wasn't paying attention to the responses, and kept re-asserting his misconceptions as if they were solid fact, gradually becoming more aggressive and demanding. When Storms again corrected him, Kort took no responsibility for his own errors, and when Storms finally turned from responding, after having put quite a substantial amount of time into it, Kort then claimed that Storms was "refusing to refute the null hypothesis." This is utterly outrageous behavior, and I'm shocked that you'd defend it, Mike. It is very similar to what got Barry banned not only on Wikipedia and here, before, but on Wikipedia Review. Tendentious argument, apparently intended to arouse anger.
Edit summary: needling Abd's noodle. Kort is presenting arguments that he thinks will upset others, and he's doing it regardless of relevance to educational purpose here; consider this whole sequence on this page. This is about "Learning civility"? His latest edit as I write this is [2], where he apparently followed my contributions to the talk page for a user who is interested in cold fusion, to post an irrelevant attempt, it appears, to show that the SPAWAR work I'm replicating is not notable. (SPAWAR doesn't generally refer to "cold fusion" in their work, so, naturally, the search was defective!) Like much of his ranting, it's rooted in misunderstanding other people. My point here is the attempt to irritate.
I'm not filing a "complaint." But I've seen Kort do this with editor after editor, time after time, for years. If he doesn't stop, it's sure to lead to a renewed ban. Not on my account, I don't care, though I'm concerned about possible effect on Dr. Storms, whom I was planning to invite here as an expert, and Storms was friendly to that. Kort has probably not ruined the possibility, Storms has been dealing with pseudo-skeptics for years, but this was not welcoming. --Abd 04:03, 19 December 2010 (UTC)
  • SPAWAR doesn't generally refer to "cold fusion" in their work
In U.S. Navy Report Supports Cold Fusion, Infinite Energy introduces the reader to the official technical reports (the first of which one can directly read for themselves). Even as Infinite Energy highlights in the Foreword by Dr. Frank E. Gordon, Head of the Navigation and Applied Sciences Department of the US Navy's Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center in San Diego, we read, "We do not know if Cold Fusion will be the answer to future energy needs, but we do know the existence of Cold Fusion phenomenon through repeated observations by scientists throughout the world." Indeed the capitalized label, "Cold Fusion," appears in four out of the seven paragraphs in Frank Gordon's Foreword — notably in the first two paragraphs and the last two paragraphs. Then, of the five technical articles in Volume 1 of the official report, the label, "Cold Fusion" appears in the title of two of the articles, notably the first and the last (as well as in the title of the appendix to Volume 1 of the report). (Volume 2 of the report fails to load from the Navy's site, but it discusses Calorimetry rather than Cold Fusion.) In short it appears to me that SPAWAR refers to "Cold Fusion" by expressly (and prominently) calling it "Cold Fusion." —Caprice 05:35, 19 December 2010 (UTC)
"In their work" means in their publications under peer-review, and specifically the recent work that was apparently being asked about. What Frank Gordon writes in Infinite Energy -- not an official SPAWAR publication, nor a peer-reviewed journal, or in that internal SPAWAR report -- when they are talking about the whole field, not their own work, I think -- is another matter. These people all know and have known for more than a decade that fusion is involved, they are quite familiar with the helium evidence, and, colloquially, they refer to the field as cold fusion, as does everyone else who isn't trying to make some special point. I'd don't think I've ever seen the phrase "cold fusion cell" (the more complete search term Kort used) in any SPAWAR publication, anywhere, it is a term that others use. The above is typical argument for the sake of argument, trying to prove I was wrong. Suppose I was wrong. The point would be? Why was that comment made on that particular page? --Abd 06:26, 19 December 2010 (UTC)
  • Frank Gordon didn't write that in Infinite Energy; rather Infinite Energy is quoting directly from the text of Gordon's Foreword in the official Navy report. —Caprice 06:49, 19 December 2010 (UTC)
I expected this response. Why cite Infinite Energy at all, then? If you read the "official Navy report," you'll see that "Cold fusion" is not a term used in the experimental reports. It is used in chapters that cover the overall field, reporting on history, etc. These are, generally, experimental papers, not theoretical ones, and they don't much care what the reaction is, except that it's nuclear in nature.
What is the purpose of this discussion here? It's not been made quite explicit. From how Kort introduced it, however, it would appear that he intended to use his discussion with Storms as an example of incivility. Or civility? What?
  • Of the five technical articles in Volume 1 of the official Navy report, the label, "Cold Fusion" appears in the title of the opening and closing articles (as well as in the title of the appendix to Volume 1 of the report). The term "Cold Fusion" is not only used in the reports, it's used in the title of the articles in the reports. —Caprice 18:16, 19 December 2010 (UTC)
  • Kort is correct that Gordon did not write the Infinite Energy piece. Sure, the term "cold fusion" is used in the foreword and in a chapter at the end on theory, but those are not the "work" of SPAWAR, they were presented for context. The author of the theory chapter is Scott Chubb, who isn't a SPAWAR researcher. "Cold fusion" is a theory, and the research group at SPAWAR is an experimental one. Now, why are we discussing this on Talk:Learning civility, I'll ask again? --Abd 03:30, 20 December 2010 (UTC)
Are you saying that SPAWAR is not developing or testing theories to explain, model, and predict the observations that arise in their experimental apparatus? In the scientific method, experiments are undertaken to test any given theory to see if predicted effects arise in accordance with any given model that purports to encapsulate a testable and falsifiable model with distinctive explanatory and predictive power. —Caprice 03:45, 20 December 2010 (UTC)
Caprice has an extensive background with the MIT labs, and I have seen enough of his interactions with related "hard science" to have confidence in his understanding of the scientific method. Ottava Rima (talk) 15:02, 19 December 2010 (UTC)
From my experience with Feynman, my more than fifty year interest in science, and my experience with Kort (Caprice), from my detailed review of his communications with me and with Dr. Storms -- who is a very careful scientist with an extensive publication history and wide recognition -- and from what is visible here, he has no real understanding of the scientific method, but only of a distorted version of it. I've invited him to explain his version, to create a resource on the scientific method. So far, he's only used "null hypothesis" as if were a club to "beat out the brains" of those with whom he disagrees. He has not proposed one true null hypothesis, he pretends that "null hypothesis" means "any other possible prosaic explanation," which is not testable. It's a form of pseudoscience. He is cordially invited to show otherwise.
Indeed, I invited his participation with Cold fusion here, imagining that he did understand the scientific method, for the reasons Ottava has explained, and knowing that he was quite skeptical (from discussions on netknowledge.org), and assuming that he'd be useful in the critical examination of the material. He's been useful, in fact, because a few of his questions have led to investigations of value to me, but he's also gone beyond limits, with his "beating out the brains" and "needling" habits. His ignorance of the field is to be expected, it's pretty esoteric, but his persistent ignorance was not expected, i.e., he continues asserting a position long beyond its exposure as error, such as the idea that cold fusion cells are "steamy," that there is a "cathode" and electrolysis in a gas-loaded cell, etc. In order to support his "steamy" concept, in spite of both Dr. Storms and myself previously correcting this error, he used flame temperature, today, to estimate a temperature of 3000 degrees C. in a cell with a recombiner, when, in fact, recombiners are room-temperature devices which catalyze oxidation of hydrogen or deuterium with no flame (as in a fuel cell). --Abd 16:49, 19 December 2010 (UTC)
  • My ignorance of Cold Fusion is inescapable, as scientific knowledge is encapsulated in terms of scientific theories with explanatory and predictive power. As there are no such scientific theories for Cold Fusion, I am inescapably ignorant of it (as is everyone else who encapsulates scientific knowledge in terms of theories and models with explanatory and predictive power). As to catalytic recombiners, what is the measured temperature at the surface of the recombiner where the oxidation reaction is underway at the rate of 60 K-cal/mole (250 KJ/mole or 125 mW/amp)? —Caprice 18:16, 19 December 2010 (UTC)
I have 12 graduate level credits in the "Scientific Method", the real, original method. At no time in my 3 years of friendship with Caprice have I felt that he did not know what he was talking about. Ottava Rima (talk) 16:59, 19 December 2010 (UTC)
Indeed, from my perspective of more than two decades of experience as a professional science educator I find that Caprice has a well above average grasp of the methods and process of science. I have found his questions and comments on the subject to be remarkably insightful and a cogent commentary on the topic. --mikeu talk 18:24, 19 December 2010 (UTC)
  • More to the point, I have 23 years experience teaching science at the Boston Museum of Science. Yesterday, at the Museum of Science, I had lengthy discussions with our program managers about explaining the scientific method to the public, to see if we can do a better job promoting understanding of how scientists employ the scientific method and adhere to Feynman's First Principle that the experimenter must not fool himself. —Caprice 15:19, 19 December 2010 (UTC)
Elsewhere, Caprice (Kort) makes a point of rejecting appeal to authority, but here we see that he is appealing to his own authority. Sure, he has that experience, but from what I've seen, I fear for his "students." Can he point to any materials on how to apply the scientific method to issues like the theory of deuterium fusion in "cold fusion experiments"? What is it that he is "promoting"? Feynman wrote, indeed, on the importance of avoiding fooling oneself, through attachment to some theory or result, but this cuts both ways (i.e., the theory of deuterium fusion, as is now being accepted by peer reviewers, and the old theory of fusion impossibility). I see no caution on Kort's part as to the possibility that he's fooling himself, over and over, for years, in many different areas. To him, it appears, the "scientific method" is something which others should follow, and he can "beat out their brains" if they don't, but his own lapses seem invisible to him, and he remains attached to his ideas, it seems, no matter what. I've yet to see a counter-example. And I could document all this, if needed. But WTF is this discussion doing here? It's a constant temptation to reply. So I'm stopping. If someone other than Kort wants me to comment here, ask me. Thanks.--Abd 02:30, 20 December 2010 (UTC)
  • Can he point to any materials on how to apply the scientific method to issues like the theory of deuterium fusion in "cold fusion experiments"?
The scientific method evaluates theories by examining and testing the explanatory and predictive power of the theory in question. So the first question that the scientific method suggests is to ask, "What is the proposed mechanism that explains the observations?" The second question is "What are the distinctive predictions that the proposed model implies over the space of parameters or variables that would differentiate the model in question from alternative models with different explanatory mechanisms, mathematical structures, or distinctive predictions? For example, the IR camera video shows clusters of "mini-explosions" on the face of the cathode. What are the proposed mechanisms to explain the "mini-explosions" and how are they predicted as a function of parameters and variables defining the real-time operating conditions of the cell?
  • What is it that he is "promoting"?
I am promoting the rigorous application of the protocols of the scientific method to develop and test scientific models with good explanatory and predictive power, along with carefully crafted experiments to test those models.
Caprice 03:34, 20 December 2010 (UTC)
I'm not intending to engage further here, but I did notice that Caprice had, in his flurry of posts scattered across many pages, some material that was more specifically discussing the scientific method, at Talk:Cold_fusion/Storms_%282010%29#Control_Experiments_and_the_Null_Hypothesis, as I requested be cited above. I have responded in detail there. One more comment, though: to "develop and test scientific models" and "carefully crafted experiments," one normally needs to know the field and prior work, and for someone with a couple of weeks of experience talking about cold fusion, and no actual experience with experimentation, and no depth in reading the literature, to imagine that he can do this better than those who have worked in the field for twenty years, with perhaps thirty years of professional experience before that, is a piece of arrogance.
The scientific method has been applied, in fact, in detail, and Caprice's criticisms have been rooted in ignorance, both of the experimental conditions and in prior work. Some of what he's proposed as "careful experiments" is preposterous, some has been tried and there are known results. It is just what would be expected from someone who is both ignorant and highly opinionated.
The questions are not the problem. The problem is an assertion, a hypothesis, confidently presented, that a highly reputable scientist, a long-term professional, widely published and probably the world's foremost expert in the field (in general) is somehow ignoring the scientific method, based only on the ignorance of the questioner of what has been done and what the results were. There is a cold fusion experimental approach with very high quantitative predictive power, widely replicated, with no contrary experimental results reported, and I've described it many times for Caprice, and he sails on as if nothing has been said. Complaining about how much I write.... --Abd 02:54, 21 December 2010 (UTC)
  • The scientific method has been applied, in fact, in detail, and Caprice's criticisms have been rooted in ignorance, both of the experimental conditions and in prior work.
Recall that we found two variants of the scientific method. Which variant was applied? Do you consider it a criticism to raise a question for which an answer cannot be found in the prior work?
  • The questions are not the problem. The problem is an assertion, a hypothesis, confidently presented, that a highly reputable scientist, a long-term professional, widely published and probably the world's foremost expert in the field (in general) is somehow ignoring the scientific method, based only on the ignorance of the questioner of what has been done and what the results were.
The problem, as I see it, is in obtaining answers to the questions that arise when one uses the variant of the scientific method as I construe it, given that those questions are evidently bypassed in the application of the scientific method as Storms construes it. The portion of the scientific method that he is bypassing is precisely the portion that he expressly informed me that he was bypassing.
My working hypothesis is that this bypass is what allows Storms to arrive at one set of conclusions relative to those who do not elect to bypass that element of the scientific method.
Caprice 06:32, 21 December 2010 (UTC)
One more comment: Caprice mentions, above, the "mini-explosions" reported by SPAWAR. That's a single result, not widely confirmed (though there is some independent evidence). Caprice has generally mistaken raw experimental report for some kind of "hypothesis," when, in fact, hypotheses are proposed to explain experimental results, and results often precede any theory. Shouldn't they? There are two major hypotheses to explain those explosions (which are known from three phenomena, the one widely confirmed is what appear to be melted holes in a codeposition cathode, which requires temperatures adequate to melt palladium, considered difficult to obtain in heavy water electrolysis, by ordinary chemical action, and the others are shock waves found by using a piezoelectric detector as cathode substrate, and IR imaging of an active cathode that shows "sparkles," indicating elevated temperature that is very transient at locations on the cathode. I consider none of these well enough established to make confident claims about the origin, the major hypotheses being that they represent fusion sites (probably well under a micron in size) or that they represent hydrogen-oxygen recombination. Not being expert in the chemistry and physical chemistry involved, and though my understanding is that those who are familiar with these fields reject the recombination theory, I'm not going to stand on that. It doesn't matter. This work is not at all central or necessary to understand or consider cold fusion, it's a detail. What is central is as Storms has noted as crucial in his recent review: the heat/helium ratio. Without that, but with the rest of the results, I'd be intrigued, but possibly not convinced. And this page is not at all the place to establish this. --Abd 03:08, 21 December 2010 (UTC)
  • The question I asked (for which I have not yet found a response) is whether anyone has worked out a model for the Heat of Formation of molecular D2 from atomic Deuterium at the surface of the cathode. The Heat of Formation of molecular D2 would presumably be a contributing factor to any localized warming or granular pitting at the surface of the cathode. Where is the analytical model working out the micron-scale granular distribution of this heat source as D2 is being formed from atomic Deuterium? —Caprice 05:46, 21 December 2010 (UTC)

Dr Johnson[edit source]

Because an old quote is used on "civility", I will provide some background on the definition relying on Dr. Johnson's dictionary: He defined civility as "freedom from barbarity" and barbarity as "inhumanity, cruelty". He also associated inability to speak intellectual or a lack of knowledge in the arts as part of barbarism in general. Ottava Rima (talk) 15:05, 4 December 2010 (UTC)

Great, I think it helps to explore how civility has been thought about and conceptualised by others, in other contexts. I've added DJ's definition of civility to the page. -- Jtneill - Talk - c 21:43, 4 December 2010 (UTC)

Another version[edit source]

I found this article interesting:

It should be otherwise; appearance correlates positively with civility. How often does a businessman attired in a suit explode with profanity? How often did Fred Astaire bar-room brawl or direct an inappropriate comment at Ginger Rogers?

The word "discriminate" has devolved into pejorative. Too bad, because "discriminate" still possesses positive connotations. If one has discriminating tastes, one has refined tasted. Fortunately, mores have evolved to where people are less inclined to discriminate based on genetics. Unfortunately, that non-discriminating attitude has extended to avoid discriminating what deserves discrimination.

Appearance for instance. The less neatly groomed and dressed one is, the more one is likely to display fits of anger. Tattoos are an outgrowth of this trend in casualism and exhibitionism and anger expression. Tattoos are displays of narcissism, and narcissism lowers civility. To be more blunt, tattoos are marks of imbecility, which is why they are so popular among the young. When we are young so much is desired, and the sooner the better. Patience is in short supply. Tattoos are as immediate as a text message. In the moment, tattoos are so profound, so inspirational, so embellishing. In the moment, remorse is impossible.

When I think of "civility", I think of the above, and I do feel that this is more of the real use than the "common" wiki use of it meaning "you upset me and I have more power than you so you are incivil" use. Ottava Rima (talk) 16:26, 12 December 2010 (UTC)

  • On the Internet, no one knows you are dressed and groomed in a manner reminiscent of a schmeggegy scientist like Albert Einstein. —Caprice 16:49, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
Well, I meant more of the "not cussing" part. I see cussing as incivil and never cuss. However, people have the opposite view and find cussing acceptable but calm disagreement nasty incivility. Ottava Rima (talk) 16:55, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
  • I guess what matters to me more than a labeling is the act of breaking off communication. I can usually communicate with someone who has different beliefs or practices from me, unless they decide not to communicate with others who have different beliefs or practices from them. —Caprice 17:04, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
Communication doesn't mean civility, though. Competence is always required. Ignorance is barbarity, which is the opposite of civility. Otherwise, civility should be replaced by "politeness", where politeness has no purpose in academia as telling someone they are wrong is "not polite". Ottava Rima (talk) 17:18, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
  • I'd like to think that even when confronted with a subject where I am largely uninformed, I have the competence to ask questions that, if answered, would address my confusion or uncertainty. I'm not really interested in memorizing answers supplied by an authority figure. I'd rather understand how to think it through to the end, to see if I can get the correct answer. —Caprice 17:26, 12 December 2010 (UTC)

Apparently wiki civility is unappreciated if the civility barnstar is any indication. -- darklama  17:12, 12 December 2010 (UTC)

Four options[edit source]

four-options2.gif -- darklama  16:50, 12 December 2010 (UTC)

Biblical incivility[edit source]

I was mulling this over so I would pose the question: what was the incivility - Cain's killing of Abel or his lying to God about Abel's fate? If Cain represents the Biblical origin of the truly fallen man (towards a life of pure sin instead of a life of just death), then it would seem that he would represent the origin of the barbarity of humanity. Ottava Rima (talk) 17:24, 16 December 2010 (UTC)

  • Annihilating your rival is not a very nice thing to do. I dunno if it makes sense to ask about lying to an omniscient being. Cain evasively answered a bothersome question with another question. That's not particularly incivil. After all, modern systems of government do not require self-incrimination, and one is constitutionally entitled in the US to invoke the Fifth Amendment. There are many lessons one can extract from the Cain and Abel Story. Here is one lesson that may not have occurred to many readers. —Caprice 17:40, 16 December 2010 (UTC)
You seemed to suggest above that evasiveness is part of incivility. Ottava Rima (talk) 19:16, 16 December 2010 (UTC)
  • No, just the opposite. Killing a bothersome character is arguably incivil. Avoiding them is hardly so. Recall that Cain was upset because God didn't look favorably upon him. Surely you don't mean to imply that God was being incivil by not beaming in delight at Cain's soggy platter of suffering succotash? —Caprice 19:34, 16 December 2010 (UTC)
Your statements now do not seem to match up with your statements about Storms response to you. I find that odd. Avoiding direct questions in which you owe an answer to someone is offensive at best. Ottava Rima (talk) 20:27, 16 December 2010 (UTC)
  • I don't consider his failure to answer direct questions incivil. It's when he answers by saying the questions are "silly" or "trivial" or "dumb" questions that reveal the person asking them is "ignorant of science." Look upthread, where Abd makes similar disparaging remarks. If he had simply not responded, that would not be incivil in my book. The issue in failing to respond in a scholarly manner is not one of incvility but one of adherence to a prior pledge of scholarly ethics. —Caprice 20:49, 16 December 2010 (UTC)
Did not Cain have a prior ethical obligation to respect God? One that was possibly far greater than one that Storms would have toward scholarly ethics? And did not Cain provide a false answer to God that was worse than dismissing the question as "silly"? Ottava Rima (talk) 21:15, 16 December 2010 (UTC)
  • That's an interesting question, because God was the role model. Depending on the translation, God did not have respect for Cain's offering (or simply did not look favorably upon it). One of the things we learn about the dynamics of respect and contempt is that it tends to be symmetric. As to Cain's answer, "Am I my brother's keeper?" that was more evasive than false. Obviously an omniscient God knows the story. So what makes the dialogue interesting is how Cain avoids giving a comprehensive, complete, and correct account of his brother's fate. Neither Storms nor Abd are obliged to give me a comprehensive, complete, and correct answer to my question, "How did you falsify the null hypothesis?" But having avoided (or evaded) it, one is left wondering how they know the null hypothesis is not the most likely explanation. —Caprice 21:40, 16 December 2010 (UTC)
Prior knowledge of an answer nullifies asking the question? Then why do we have teachers ask questions? Or are the only valid questions those that you do not yet have the answers to? And based on your rationale, you would be invalidating God acting in any way because omniscience would mean he already knows all that will happen so why bother? Unless he knew that he would be asking, that is, which would make the answer essential. Ottava Rima (talk) 23:11, 16 December 2010 (UTC)
  • It doesn't nullify asking it; it changes the reason for asking it. In one case, the asker is seeking information they don't already have. In the second case, the asker is comparing his state of knowledge to that of another, either to obtain confirmation or to diagnose any errors or misconceptions or deceptions. When I was a student in grammar school, and the teacher said something that I was pretty sure was wrong, I'd ask a question, as if I were confused and didn't understand. This allowed the teacher to correct herself. I did this because I didn't want my fellow students to learn something incorrect. Every once in a while it turned out that I was laboring under a misconception and the teacher's comment was not incorrect. If you are interested in how I think about conversations with God, here is an example of one that I imagined some years ago. —Caprice 23:27, 16 December 2010 (UTC)
Back to God - God is quizzing Cain. Cain deflects and inherently lies. Is that not incivil? Ottava Rima (talk) 23:51, 16 December 2010 (UTC)
  • My take is that Cain is fooling no one but himself. —Caprice 00:42, 17 December 2010 (UTC)
But not fooling someone and not breaking rules are two different things. Ottava Rima (talk) 01:05, 17 December 2010 (UTC)
Is fooling yourself part of incivility or is only fooling others? Ottava Rima (talk) 15:00, 19 December 2010 (UTC)
  • The mantra, "Be ye not deceived," is more a principle of how to be skeptical in an appropriate and civil manner when engaged in scholarly research or general studies. It is not incivil to be a Doubting Thomas, who is entitled to be shown the evidence firsthand, rather than to be told to obediently accept the word of an authority. —Caprice 15:28, 19 December 2010 (UTC)
Once Thomas saw the evidence firsthand, his doubt was dispelled, and he accepted the Nail Hypothesis. —Barsoom Tork (talk) 21:10, 21 December 2010 (UTC)
But the question is - is deceiving others incivil? Ottava Rima (talk) 15:31, 19 December 2010 (UTC)
  • Is Satan considered an incivil character? —Caprice 15:54, 19 December 2010 (UTC)
I'm of the opinion that you can be evil and be civil. People in the Wiki world tend to treat incivility as evil and have no tolerance for such. However, I think morality has nothing to do with an encyclopedia, only following the rules. Intent has no purpose here, hence AGF should really mean "assume nothing about intent as it doesn't matter". 1+1=2 regardless if I can benefit from "2" or not. Ottava Rima (talk) 16:08, 19 December 2010 (UTC)
  • I define Evil as an unhealthy combination of Fear + Ignorance + Ruthlessness + Power. If I, in the role of a student or scholar, ask a carefully crafted question that happens to expose a dreadful bit of ignorance, and the response is that some admin abruptly exercises power in a ruthless manner to silence me from asking such impudent and impertinent questions, have I just exposed some quantum evil? Is the act of exercising administrative power to silence those who sincerely ask such inconvenient questions a civil response in an authentic learning community? —Caprice 06:06, 21 December 2010 (UTC)
The serpent didn't seem to be afraid or ignorant. Ottava Rima (talk) 06:25, 21 December 2010 (UTC)
  • Can we surmise that the serpent may have been self-deluded, having propounded a novel hypothesis without bothering to falsify the prevailing one? Caprice 14:53, 21 December 2010 (UTC)
Only if we allow in the discussion the Gospel according to John Milton. Ottava Rima (talk) 18:27, 21 December 2010 (UTC)
  • He's probably not available for commentary. How about we put the question to Milton Roe instead? —Caprice 18:45, 21 December 2010 (UTC)
Odd how you merge an author with his work. Ottava Rima (talk) 01:26, 22 December 2010 (UTC)
  • Why is that odd? An author is (usually) the best subject-matter expert on his own work. When an author is not available, one has to find a surrogate subject-matter expert. Milton Roe is the only person I know who lays claim to being a subject-matter expert on John Milton. —Caprice 05:56, 22 December 2010 (UTC)

Is compassion part of civility?[edit source]

And is the lack of compassion incivil? Thinking of Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice, it would seem that an argument could be made that not having compassion is incivil. In the story, Shylock's unbending form of justice (you screwed up, you owe me based on my terms, you grovel before me) is overturned by the community's compassionate form of justice that allows a person who is wrong to be spared. There is much to be said that Shylock does deserve what he deserves, but his pursuit of the harm of Antonio is his downfall. It would seem that Shakespeare implies a cold form of justice in which people are forced to submit to another, where forgiveness and compassion is lacking, and which people are harmed without regard for how they could benefit the community is conquered by a compassionate form of law and order. Ottava Rima (talk) 00:25, 17 December 2010 (UTC)

  • My take is that compassion is a feature of the Ethics of Care (as proposed by Carol Gilligan). Compassion is the Thummim in Urim v'Thummim. —Caprice 00:48, 17 December 2010 (UTC)
Is that a yes or a no? :) Ottava Rima (talk) 01:05, 17 December 2010 (UTC)
Shouldn't compassion be the true civility policy? How can a rule be called "civil" when it is used as a weapon of harm and hate? Ottava Rima (talk) 01:19, 17 December 2010 (UTC)
  • Compassion is part emotional intelligence, and part wisdom. You can't have a policy that requires people to manifest intelligence or wisdom. You can't even have a policy that requires people to learn, any more than you have have a rule that requires children to grow. The best you can do is be a role model for learning and manifesting learned behaviors like thinking or compassion. If we have a policy at all, it should be to encourage people to be the change they want to see in the world. —Caprice 02:55, 17 December 2010 (UTC)
You cannot require compassion but you can rule with compassion. Policies that are used to harm others and not help others seem to be the problem. Ottava Rima (talk) 03:03, 17 December 2010 (UTC)
  • You can lead with compassion, but the truly compassionate leader would not be a ruler. The truly compassionate leader would be a role model, not a ruler. —Caprice 03:20, 17 December 2010 (UTC)
He would be a ruler in the sense of one you measure you own worth by. Ottava Rima (talk) 03:30, 17 December 2010 (UTC)
  • There once was a great leader who, by profession was a teacher. One day, a rather arrogant bureaucrat asked this teacher if he were, in fact, a ruling authority. Now the bureaucrat's hypothesis was not quite accurate, since this individual was a leading teacher who didn't make or enforce rules. But the bureaucrat was not a student, and was not in a position to appreciate how his hypothesis was a bit off the mark. So the teacher (reportedly) said, "That's your hypothesis." And so the bureaucrat erroneously concluded that his hypothesis was correct and decreed it to be so. —Caprice 04:13, 17 December 2010 (UTC)
So, in your example was Pontus Pilate incivil? :) Ottava Rima (talk) 14:59, 19 December 2010 (UTC)
  • He was certainly unscientific, as he neglected to falsify the null hypothesis. He fooled himself into believing his novel hypothesis and then arrogantly acting on it in a manner that one might consider to be incivil and unjust. —Caprice 15:04, 19 December 2010 (UTC)
He gave the people of Israel the final choice and washed his hands clean of it all - why put the blame on him when his sole job is to make sure the people do not riot? Ottava Rima (talk) 15:31, 19 December 2010 (UTC)
  • Who decreed the inscription "INRI" on the crucifix? —Caprice 15:53, 19 December 2010 (UTC)
Which Gospel? :) Ottava Rima (talk) 16:06, 19 December 2010 (UTC)
  • Do the different gospels disagree on who decreed that inscription? —Caprice 18:32, 19 December 2010 (UTC)
Well, none of them say INRI, to put it that way. From John 19:19: "And Pilate wrote a title also: and he put it upon the cross. And the writing was: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS." "19 ἔγραψεν δὲ καὶ τίτλον ὁ Πιλᾶτος καὶ ἔθηκεν ἐπὶ τοῦ σταυροῦ: ἦν δὲ γεγραμμένον, Ἰησοῦς ὁ Ναζωραῖος ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων" As you can see, the INRI is Latin and not Greek (Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudæorum).
The closest Matthew has to this is Matthew 27:29 "And platting a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand. And bowing the knee before him, they mocked him, saying: Hail, King of the Jews." and 27:36-37 "And they sat and watched him. 37 And they put over his head his cause written: THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS." Not by Pilate and in Latin: Iesus rex Iudæorum. No mention of Nazareth.
Luke 23 has: "36 And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him and offering him vinegar, 37 and saying: If you be the king of the Jews, save yourself. 38 And there was also a superscription written over him in letters of Greek and Latin and Hebrew THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS." No mention of Nazareth and also done by soldiers.
Mark 15 agrees with Luke: "25 And it was the third hour: and they crucified him. 26 And the inscription of his cause was written over: THE KING OF THE JEWS. "
- Ottava Rima (talk) 18:49, 19 December 2010 (UTC)
  • So the gospels agree there was a mocking inscription, corresponding to the question Pilate had notably put to Jesus, but the gospels are vague on the precise details (e.g. the exact words). Still, even if the soldiers crafted the inscription, where would they have gotten their orders from? —Caprice 18:59, 19 December 2010 (UTC)
Soldiers were normally left to their own devices when it came to torture. Very rarely did management have hands on when it came to the dirty stuff. Ottava Rima (talk) 19:02, 19 December 2010 (UTC)
  • Would Roman soldiers have been literate enough in those days to craft an inscription? —Caprice 19:07, 19 December 2010 (UTC)
Centurions are not "commoners". They normally came from middle class types of families and were well educated. Remember, a centurion was the one who came to Jesus and said "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you". There were centurions present among the soldiers as even guards would have officers on duty. Ottava Rima (talk) 22:10, 19 December 2010 (UTC)
  • Do you have a theory, one way or the other, as to who authored the text of the inscription and/or inscribed it (or caused to have it inscribed)? Is this considered an open question (or even an interesting one)? —Caprice 22:20, 19 December 2010 (UTC)
I wouldn't think it would matter as its intent was to mock Jesus towards his death. The whole thing was put on for the mob, as the mob demands total humiliation before death. Ottava Rima (talk) 23:02, 19 December 2010 (UTC)

I wonder if there is a general recurring pattern here — that the intention to mock is associated with the adoption of a provocative hypothesis, without first bothering to falsify the null hypothesis. Let's see if we can observe either a recurring pattern or show that this instance was an unusual one-off event. —Caprice 23:13, 19 December 2010 (UTC)

Perhaps. I think mocking is part of venting an irrational hatred - the masses are projecting all they loathe about themselves upon the victim and demand his death in hope that their ongoing life means something more. Scape goating seems to be part of that. Ottava Rima (talk) 00:28, 20 December 2010 (UTC)
  • I don't know that hatred is quite as irrational as it seems at first. I model hatred as a mask for fear, which is a primitive and fundamental emotion that is processed primarily in the Amygdala and Hippocampus, often below the level of conscious awareness and largely without the faculty of spoken or written language to express it or process it. If that model is correct, then the drama of the Passion Story is revealing what happens when that fear drives collective mob behavior. Of course no bureaucratic ruler can impose or enforce civil laws that regulate the processing of fear deep within the R-complex of the human brain. The challenge of civility is to process and vent deep emotions like fear in a constructive and non-threatening manner. At one time in the annals of human history, scapegoating was the primary cultural ritual for processing fear. My avatar character, Caprice, is a reference to that ancient scapegoating ritual. Nowadays, we have better options for processing such dreadful emotions. —Caprice 11:39, 20 December 2010 (UTC)
Uh huh. —Moulton 12:03, 4 March 2011 (UTC)