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MSNBC vs Foxnews on cold fusion

Right-wing media offer more sensible stories than their left-wing counterparts

Try to compare these two articles about Andrea Rossi's cold fusion claims:

Italian cold fusion machine passes another test (MSNBC)

Cold Fusion Experiment: Major Success or Complex Hoax? (FoxNews)
These are two mainstream media outlets that superficially offer the very same story. But the difference is striking.

The left-wing MSNBC female writer reveals her gullibility (or an agenda) in the very title. The stuff passes "another test". The subtitle says
Despite a world of skepticism about E-Cat and other devices, proof is adding up.
Holy cow: scientists who reject cold fusion claims have become "deniers" as well. If the Italian crooks repeat the very same trick presentation 5 more times, I suppose that the proof will be incontrovertible according to MSNBC's "science" writers – unless the claim is already incontrovertible now.

On the other hand, right-wing FoxNews offers a fairer and more balanced story. While it does describe what Rossi and his folks claim, it also mentions a detail – completely hidden in the MSNBC text – that according to the actual science (and scientists), such processes are "patently impossible" since they "defy the laws of physics". It doesn't really explain the simple reasons why this can't work in much detail – and none of the articles really explains why the original Paneth-Peters claims from the 1920s were wrong. Paneth and Peters retracted their (palladium-hydrogen) would-be cold fusion claims in 1927 and admitted that the detected helium was due to background from the air.

What's remarkable is the 100% complete censorship of science by MSNBC. The scientists (those who know why cold fusion is pure rubbish) are labeled "skeptics" who try to deny a "piling up proof". Not a single sentence even suggests that this whole "research" could be wrong or fraudulent even though it almost certainly is: it is probably politically incorrect to say that Andrea Rossi probably is a crook or an incompetent charlatan. At least, MSNBC clearly wants you to think that it's politically incorrect.

There is absolutely no respect for science here – in analogy with the global warming catastrophes that science also shows to be de facto impossible, although the rigor in the proof is weaker than in the cold fusion case. While the details about Rossi's ludicrous claims mentioned by FoxNews may be excessive, you may still say that the conclusion "it's probably a big hoax" is the primary message that the readers are suggested to take away from the story.

The MSNBC article endorsing cold fusion is a template how the brainwashing with the global warming panic began a decade or two ago. Biased articles written by stupid writers that don't really want to allow the readers to think that it's just bullshit, that don't mention any previous science whatsoever, and that urge everyone to be receptive when it comes to the new preposterous claims about a looming climate threat.

I must add that it's not just FoxNews that confirms the superiority of the right-wing media in this episode of science journalism; The Daily Mail, a conservative U.K. tabloid, also tells you that according to science, cold fusion is impossible (even in the very title). On the other hand, AGI (the Agency of Giornalists in Italy) is left-leaning but its short story is pretty much uncritical with respect to Rossi.

In the past hour, I looked at Physics Stack Exchange where a crazy guy named Ron Maimon hysterically promotes cold fusion even though he must realize very well that as a guy with no physics education, he has no idea what he's talking about. He is the kind of "dumb activist idiots" who are routinely employed as "science journalists" by the left-wing media.

I am not claiming that this "edge" of the right-wing media in their stories on science is universal. But what I am totally certain about, after years of reading thousands of articles about science in various sources, is that the left-wing media surely don't have "more scientific" stories about science than the right-wing media. Every honest left-wing person – who also realizes that cold fusion doesn't work – should note similar differences and stop emitting comments about the left-wingers' being more respectful towards science. This is just another big and purely politically motivated lie.

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reader Anonymous said...

We can only hope the SCOAMF and the rest of the Democratic Party jumps on the Rossi bandwagon. I'd love to see Waxman and Kerry and Babble Botoxer and Lisa Jackson advocating perpetual motion.

reader Zurvan said...

Hi Lubosh:

You ought to see what the right wing Republican candidates for President say about science research and science as a whole. It is a disgrace.

reader w.w. wygart said...

I'm not a physicist, so I cannot comment on the plausibility or implausibility of the E-Cat machine or what ever process is supposed to make it work. However I will point out that people in general, left and right wing tend to be more willing to 'buy in' to a story that tends to reinforce another dearly held belief. [they also seem to irrationally distrust the motives of their counterparts [this is called paranoia]] For instance from the MSNBC story:

"These cold fusion devotees believe that there is a little-understood physical process occurring in their machines that produces a safe, clean and endlessly renewable form of energy."

Seems to me like a writer who's entire world view might revolve around, "safe, clean and endlessly renewable form of energy[ies]", might tend to employ a less strong form of scientific skepticism than someone who does not spend their time trying to find support for that idea everywhere they look.

What I find most interesting is the that "the inner workings" of the E-Cat machine have [according to the MSNBC article] not been revealed because it has not been patented.

It must be understood that in order to patent an invention you must FIRST disclose the "inner workings" [or "Art" in patent speak]. In other words the disclosure of the "inner workings" of the invention is a precondition patent protection. The legal underpinnings of patent protection requires a "teaching" that will benefit society as a whole as the rational for protection of the invention from copying in the short term.

The fact that those involved with the E-Cat device seem to be unwilling to disclose the "inner workings" [Art] of their device seems to be sufficient cause [to me] to ratchet upwards the level of skepticism.

Maybe others thing the possibility is too important and we should give the non-disclosers a pass.

Where have we seen this before?


reader Ron Maimon said...

Hi Lubos, It's Ron Maimon.

I am not writing here to defend my sanity-- I will be the first to admit that I am not Mr. Stable. But I would like to set the record straight regarding my position on the e-cat.

The e-cat is a fraud, pure and simple. It is a cheap misting device, as I have consistently said. There is nothing nuclear going on inside, and the inventor is most likely a professional scammer.

But this scam, like many others, gets its legs from an astonishing suppressed truth, which is that Palladium/deuterium cold fusion is real. It has been reproduced hundreds of times since 1989, with predecessor work due to Paneth and Peters (1920s) and Filimonenko (1950s). The denial of this by the right wing is not much different from the denial of string theory three decades ago. It is the blind, brain-damaged, propaganda of the old guard in response to an unexpected new truth.

Before the internet, the right wing was very effective at killing ideas, no more. While the right still has its rewards, these come at the price of your soul. Given your scientific integrity, attested by many honest brave positions, I don't see why you aspire to join their damnable ranks.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Ron, thanks for your description of your attitude to different realizations of "cold fusion" - which leaves me utterly confused, anyway.

I am not sure why you seem to think that there's any better science surrounding cold fusion than what is represented by the Andrea Rossi example.

Your opinion towards right-wing ideas is a bit excessively oversimplified, isn't it? I believe in right-wing ideas because they seem right according to everything I know about the world and everything I have ever believed about the world, not because of any "ranks" or because of some unflattering yet unjustified caricatures.

reader Ron Maimon said...

The evidence for cold fusion is summarized in the hundreds of papers on The evidence SPAWAR gives for charged particle emission is 100% conclusive of something nuclear, as is the presence of unnatural isotope ratios in the active Palladium. McKubre's helium measurements and the trace tritium observations by several groups, are also conclusive. The gas-loading method of Arata has produced excess heat without electrolysis heat to muck up the measurements, so there is no doubt that energy is being produced. I will not repeat the arguments, they are up for all to see.

As for the right wing positions you sometimes defend, they are often laughable. Women have smaller brains? Short people have smaller brains! Does that make 'tHooft's work invalid? Do you suggest that only the opinion of the Masai is worth taking seriously? Global warming is a hoax? You can see it in New York state every winter! That the warming is due to human CO2 is easily calculable by a back-of-the-envelope estimate of heat trapping and confirmed by comparison with ice-core data. It is nonsense like this that makes it difficult for others to appreciate your honest position on technically demanding subjects like loop quantum gravity.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Ron, it's really impossible to talk to you as to an intelligent person if you think that the crackpot website contains "papers".

Moreover, this kind of evidence is simply not how you can argue in science. In science, if there's some evidence, one writes it in one paper, instead of claiming that it must surely be homeopathically distributed somewhere on 100 crackpot web pages of your fellow crackpot from Georgia.

Concerning your comments about the climate and brain size, you really prove that you are just a mentally defective man. First of all, the correlation of body size and brain size is limited (these things are mostly independent), but indeed, it may still be seen to be nonzero and to impact the intelligence as well. One may draw the IQ-height graph and show that they're not independent. This doesn't imply that 't Hooft can't be smart but it *does* explain why taller people will be somewhat overrepresented among the smart ones.

But this signal is vastly smaller than the gender signal. Women are "underrepresented" among mathematicians or physicists by a ratio exceeding 10:1 and the reasons are mostly biological. It doesn't mean that there can't be a Lisa Randall but it does explain why the ratio is safely different from 1:1. The most important underlying statistical fact that governs this asymmetry is the wider IQ distribution of men, by a factor of 1.1, relatively to women. It means that there may be smart men and there may easily be some very stupid men, such as you. The central value for men is slightly higher, too - but this plays a subleading role for the calculation of the percentage of men and women near the high-IQ tail.

It is complete bullshit that one may show on the envelope that "warming is man-made". One may only show on the back of an envelope that the no-feedback climate sensitivity is of order 1 deg C. But it may easily be 0.5 deg C or 2 deg C, too. These numbers have vastly different consequences. The first number would mean that CO2 played a very small relative part in the recent centuries.

reader RGCheek said...

There is nothing supernatural, extraordinary or defying th elaws of physics about LENR since room temperature fusion has been a known fact since at least the 1950s with muon-catalyzed fusion which is room tmperature also. It *can* happen, so the real question is whether there is any evidence at all that LENR works. I believe there is based on my experince with businessmen, engineers and scientists at various places I have worked as a software engineer. Scientists put priority on the theoretical most typically and seem to scorn anamolies that have no plausible theoretical framework as being mistakes or hoaxes. Engineers tend to retset, recalibrate and be more careful, theory be damned. Businessmen could not care less about theory or calibration. They only care bout the bottom line and take a very flinty eyed view of anything that is not redundantly demonstrated to them to their own satisfaction.
The scientists, engineers and businessmen who are behind Rossi's engineering and tests have far more credibility than arm-chair pathoskepticism with nothing at stake, no irons in the fire, nothing to gain or lose if the tests are acurate or not.
The disruptive nature of the e-cat is similar to that of other disruptive technologies and the hysteria in response is just as loud, confused, ill informed and dogmatic as was presented to the general theory of relativity, the Wroight Brothers, Darwins evolution theory, contenental drift, etc. These attacks are based on ad hominem smears, ignorance and cracker-barrel psycho analysis across thousands of miles distance of people the critics have never personally even met most of the time.
Bah, LENR is real. The debate is over, which responding to pathoskeptics is not any longer. It is plain that that ship has sailed.

reader Luboš Motl said...

I think it's tendentious to describe muon-catalyzed fusion as "fusion at room temperature".

The fuel may be initially at room temperature but the muons themselves are created at conditions that correspond to millions of kelvins (because the rest mass of the muon is 106 MeV, and this is really the excess energy above the equally charged electron) and the nuclei that are fused - by the help of muons or any other way - have a similar temperature, too. The only different from ordinary hot fusion is that the muon-catalyzed fusion is pretty much done with one nucleus after another so this allows one to keep the bulk of some matter cool. But the fundamental process is still the same, it is fusion, and fusion is always hot simply because whole megaelectronvolts of extra energy have to be given to the particles to behave in unusual ways.

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