Scientific knowledge — reliable but not certain

By Ken Perrott 31/05/2012

I find attempts to describe the scientific method in simple terms less and less convincing. And this goes for attempts by  both supporters of science, and those who oppose science. In reality science is a messy process and simple algorithmic flow diagrams can’t show that.

In the past I have mentioned Feynman’s  simple description of the scientific description of the scientific method as doing whatever it takes to avoid being fooled by reality.  Recently I came across another description – much longer – but it certainly gives the picture. It’s philosopher Susan Haack‘s crossword metaphor. She describes this in her book Defending Science-Within Reason: Between Scientism and Cynicism.

After concluding that science deserves its reputation for reliable knowledge, and describing how that knowledge is still provisional, open to change, and therefore not “certain,” she goes on to give this description of scientific method at the beginning of Chapter 4: The Long Arm of Common Sense: Instead of a Theory of Scientific Method “:

“Picture a scientist as working on part of an enormous crossword puzzle: making an informed guess about some entry, checking and doublechecking its fit with the clue and already-completed intersecting entries, of those with their clues and yet other entries, weighing the likelihood that some of them might be mistaken, trying new entries in the light of this one, and so on. Much of the crossword is blank, but many entries are already completed, some in almost-indelible ink, some in regular ink, some in pencil, some heavily, some faintly. Some are in English, some in Swahili, some in Flemish, some in Esperanto, etc. In some areas many long entries are firmly inked in, in others few or none. Some entries were completed hundreds of years ago by scientists long dead, some only last week. At some times and places, on pain of firing or worse, only words from the Newspeak dictionary may be used; at others there is pressure to fill in certain entries this way rather than that, or to get going on this completely blank part of the puzzle rather than working on easier, partially filled-in parts-or not to work on certain parts of the puzzle at all. Rival teams squabble over some entries, pencilled or even inked in and then rubbed out, perhaps in a dozen languages and a score of times. Other teams cooperate to devise a procedure to churn out all the anagrams of this chapter-long clue or a device to magnify that unreadably tiny one, or call to teams working on other parts of the puzzle to see if they already have something that could be adapted, or to ask how sure they are that it really must be an S here. Someone claims to notice a detail in this or that clue that no one else has seen; others devise tests to check whether he is an especially talented observer or is seeing things, and yet others work on instruments for looking more closely. From time to time accusations are heard of altered clues or blacked-out spaces. Sometimes there are complaints from those working on one part of the puzzle that their view of what’s going on in some other part is blocked. Now and then a long entry, intersecting with numerous others which intersect with numerous others, gets erased by a gang of young turks insisting that the whole of this area of the puzzle must be re-worked, this time, naturally, in Turkish-while others try, letter by letter, to see if most of the original Welsh couldn’t be kept …. I don’t mean to fob you off with a metaphor instead of an argument. But I do mean my word-picture to suggest, what I believe is true, that scientific inquiry is far messier, far less tidy, than the Old Deferentialists imagined; and yet far more constrained by the demands of evidence than the New Cynics dream.”

I like that metaphor. It’s certainly gives an idea of what scientific research feels like.

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0 Responses to “Scientific knowledge — reliable but not certain”

  • Some one has to keep you guys on your toes, seriously though they did do a lot of DNA testing on it “Early in 2011, a geneticist attempting to recover Starchild Skull DNA identified four fragments that matched with human mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). Comparing those fragments with matching fragments from human mtDNA produced an astonishing result. In every comparison, the Starchild presented many more nucleotide differences than are normally found among humans. In one comparison detailed in this report, the compared segments of human mtDNA came from one of its most highly conserved regions. Across 167 nucleotides in this segment, only 1 single variation is found among the 33 human haplogroups. In contrast, the same length of Starchild mtDNA has 17 differences!” And from the website again “Based on this partial mtDNA recovery result, which must be repeated many times before it can be considered fully reliable, the Starchild Skull is not from a human being”. But hey it is only DNA probably wouldn’t stand up in court.
    Over and out

  • Derek, what is the relevance of the video link to my post?
    You don’t explain and I very rarely bother with such links unless there is a reason I should.

  • The relevance is in the title. Scientific knowledge reliable but not certain. I am glad you said this because this is how I feel too. The relevance of the Starchild link, well reliably science tells us that we evolved from a puddle. However a not so scientific approach but still, quite valid is religion. There is another theory which involves an intellectually more advanced race, the evidence that supports this is with the first recorded civilisation. The Sumerian people were visited (and have lots of graphics and legends) by the Annunaki and they say taught them the arts of civilisation. As well as the many other references from ancient civilisations.
    So where does the starchild fit into this, well reliably we would trust DNA when it comes to Justice, but when it comes to challenging mainstream belief it seems to hold little weight. Everything from the skull seems to indicate we are not alone in the universe, still I am not certain.
    So reliability of a proven scientific method does not always equal certainty.
    To conclude none of these approaches to our being upon this rock is certain, I suppose at the end of the day it comes down to who do you put your faith in? Each has a valid argument. From what I know of life is nothing is certain and I can say that reliably.

  • Derek Symes.

    “However a not so scientific approach but still, quite valid is religion”
    ” I suppose at the end of the day it comes down to who do you put your faith in? Each has a valid argument”

    I think you have completely misunderstood the point of the book. Science is reliable because it is based on the accumulation and analysis of information, It incorporates methods to minimise bias, and is constantly reexamined to check for consistency.
    Most religions are based on beliefs which do not change even when the evidence shows they are wrong. This is not what one would reasonably call the basis for “valid arguments”

    The extrapolation of ancient art to mean that there are aliens and that we evolved from a more advanced race is flawed.

    If 1000 years from now archeologists discovered a pile of DVD’s (one of our current forms of art) they might hypothesize that we had super heroes, gods and mutants living in our society and that aliens constantly invaded Earth and were repelled by microbes or geeky computer experts, or men with machine guns.

    Throughout history humans have exhibited great imagination. To assume that every drawing or story they created has a basis in reality seems rather fanciful and naive.

  • Ken, I’ve started reading the book, because the analogy you mentioned is a great one but am finding the first chapter a bit dry.
    Does it get better?

    • I am glad you made that comment Michael as I found the same thing and hoped it was not just because my brain was tired.

      Perhaps the problem is that the book is really stitched together from articles written for other purposes. Certainly chapter 4 is much better where she talks about scientific method.

      But in other parts she seems to be writing for herself or for abstract philosophers who know thè material she refers to.
      A bit disappointing as I bought the book because I was impressed with her comments in an interview. And really she should have directed some parts of the book at a more general audience.

      But I will persist eith it (I am about half way through!) because there are good bits.

  • Yes, I know a title like “Reliable but not certain” will speak to all sorts of anti science cranks who see it as a space for their particular fantasy. But come on – surely the content provides the lesson for you – or should.

    It is extremely silly to say “reliably science tells us that we evolved from a puddle.” Or to baldly state religious answers are “valid” (if they were there would be no place for science).

    I am afraid I still can’t see what this fantasy of a Starchild is and your comments so far don’t encourage me to look further.

  • Thank you Michael for your point of view.
    In terms of evolution well surely there has been more than 1 puddle than the 1 we supposedly came from.
    Your comment ” Most religions are based on beliefs which do not change even when the evidence shows they are wrong. ” Is one that makes me think so now that Cold fusion has been validated when will the views of the main stream incorporate this into the theory. Is conventional theory flawed (an unsuccessful debunking)? Because from what I have heard from mainstream is they are still denying it (Junk Science). However the evidence is now stacking up in favour of Cold Fusion (LENR,CECR).
    I remember being told when I was a youngster ” the more you think you know, the more you realise you don’t know”.
    This again is a reference to scientific knowledge being not certain.

  • Derek,

    What evidence do you have to support your statement that cold fusion has been validated?
    Science is a cumulative process – as more evidence is gathered which supports a certain hypothesis (and no evidence is found to contradict it) then the hypothesis becomes stronger and may eventually evolve into that oft misused term, a scientific theory.
    At the moment I am not aware of any evidence which supports cold fusion, despite many failed attempts. Perhaps you could supply your source of evidence for this.
    On the other hand, there is plenty of evidence to support theories such as gravity, evolution etc.

    “In terms of evolution well surely there has been more than 1 puddle than the 1 we supposedly came from”

    I don’t think there is evidence to support this one way or the other. One could however suppose that if the conditions to create life were quite rare and unique then perhaps it only happened once. On the other hand, if such conditions were more common then it could occur more than once.
    I would prefer wait until there is evidence to support it one way or the other.
    Science does not work by starting with a theory and then simply gathering evidence to support it (and discarding evidence that does not)
    It is a repetitive process of gathering evidence, forming hypotheses/theories, and then gathering more evidence to either support or reject the hypothesis

  • If claims about DNA testing are going to be made, then I think this should be done through supplying scientific papers rather than youtube videos.

    Evolution explains the diversity of life, not the origin. In terms of this, then that evidence we have accumulated suggests a natural origin. This includes the common elemental ratios of the 6 macro-elements across all life and that the 8 amino acids that form most readily under abiotic conditions (including meteorites in outer-space) are the most common in proteins.

    While a natural origin is supported, we don’t yet know whether this was done in ‘Darwin’s warm little pond” or some ‘paste’ in the ocean floor. In the last decade iron-sulphur reduction has been shown to form deoxyribonucleotides. It may be that both were steps towards early life. Likewise research is still trying to resolve whether life began via a protein route, or via a RNA route.

    In this sense, I would claim that research on abiogenesis, or the origin of life, conforms remarkably well to the conception of science outlined in Haack.

  • In terms of DNA this is the best I can find, which is a link to the website and explains differences between normal human DNA and the Starchild skull. It seems to follow scientific dogma and has the conclusion that the skull is not of human origin. Maybe you could look at this Chthoniid and give an objective, unbiased view point as to what this could mean.

    As for the Cold fusion validation is not very hard to find.
    “When guys from a U.S. Navy lab say they got results, and have material evidence and peer reviewed publications to back it up, I think it is time to be mildly optimistic.”
    If you want to believe it is true you will find the evidence. The alternative is to keep consuming fossil fuels and pay a carbon tax (which is where all this global warming talk seems to be heading).

    • Derek – it takes a lot of gullibility and wishful thinking to interpret your links as “validation” of cold fusion. They are far from that. Your conclusions are therefore completely unwarranted.

  • “If you want to believe it is true you will find the evidence.”

    And that is the problem with belief.

  • @Derek

    Honestly? An un-named geneticist at an unidentified lab allegedly followed the same protocols at the Max Planck Institute and produced a non-referenced report. This is waay up there with, well, “I read it on the internet therefore it must be true”. Just because a website uses sciency-words, doesn’t make it a valid scientific source.

    It’s odd that say the protocol at the Max Planck institute is to remove fragments of bone marrow from within a section of the humerus or femur. Can you identify which section of the skull was removed to obtain the sample of DNA?

    (It’s actually very easy to get DNA results that show anomalous readings. It’s called contamination. That’s a risk for specimens that are handled often and not stored properly).

    A casual inspection of the skull reveals human-like traits: the suborbital bone is enclosed, the eyes are forward-looking, the rostrum is broad & flattened, and the frontal bones are fused. To claim that this skull is not human-like (as the webpage does) is absurd.

  • I believe it, why do I believe it is possible ? Because I believe mankind is more intelligent than to have to resort to burning fossil fuels as energy. I also believe that science funding is subservient to big business. After Pons and Flieschmans initial break through in 1989, which was then ridiculed by scientists involved in the fission industry. Work was carried on by self funded research. I find all the hype on the environment and all the energy hysteria to be just that, hype and hysteria. Governments avoid looking at researching options which would solve the energy crisis, like the lack of funding for cold fusion. Direct suppression of Tesla, Moray, Schauberger, Papp engine, The geet reactor, MYT motor , John Keely,Rory Johnson,Yasunori Takahashi, Floyd Sweet and more.
    People I believe are being bred to be fat and stupid so they stay slaves to the corporate desires and consume energy at inflated prices, whilst the abundance of energy is denied through main stream media and is not taught at schools. Radiant energy is still not taught by mainstream but can be experimentally verified in your shed.
    So in my conclusion I will give you a link to what I believe is verification of cold fusion.
    If you read through this objectively and with an unbiased point of view and find something of merit in here please tell me.

  • Direct suppression of Tesla…

    If Tesla et al have been ‘suppressed’ then how is it that we have a rather good idea of what those scientists were doing. If there’s a Big Government conspiracy to hide it all, then I have to say that they’re not doing a particularly good job.

    ‘Radiant energy’ has been addressed (albeit not to electrickiwi’s satisfaction) on another thread.

    The pdf at that link is not a peer-reviewed paper. It’s got a lot of nice coloured powerpoint slides but there’s no actual description of methodology, which makes it pretty difficult to judge the claims being made. The conclusion states that “It is more probable than not that something other than a chemical process is providing the excess heat” which sounds a tad like magical thinking, especially in the absence of any suggested alternative mechanism. Scientific erification of cold fusion, it ain’t.

  • Derek – I think you provide the problem right here with your words:

    “I believe it, why do I believe it is possible ? Because I believe mankind is more intelligent than to have to resort to burning fossil fuels as energy. I also believe that science funding is subservient to big business. “

    You don’t provide any evidence, any testing. Your provide only wishful thinking and a political agenda. This enables you to make the most outrageous claims and slanders against science, science funding and education.

    Politicas and ideology will not make “cold fusion” possible.

  • Derek,
    When cold fusion was first “discovered” there was a lot of excitement in the scientific community, however when others tried to repeat the work and could not, there was great disappointment. Scientists are expected to be very sure of a breakthrough before they announce it.
    In your last comment you use the work “believe” five times. Science is not about belief, it is about carefully assessing the evidence in order to reach a conclusion.
    One piece of evidence you provide is a company report from a company selling one of these products. Such a report is typically full of bias as they are often trying to raise money.
    I also think that history shows us it is very hard to suppress any good idea. Hence I find your implication of coverups and government business collusions to be quite extraordinary.

  • Well I don’t think radiant energy has been explored properly and Dr Tesla lost all interest in Ac when he discovered radiant electricity and lest we forget Tesla lit the World with his 3 phase AC generator(more than Einstein ever did).
    We all know science and business go hand in hand.
    I get annoyed when I see potential solutions rubbished instead of explored.
    Lets burn more oil….

  • Derek,

    “Lets burn more oil …”

    I think you will find that it is science that has provided a range of sustainable options for energy generation – wind, solar, wave power etc.

  • . Solar and wind last millennium.Start talking cold fusion, radiant electricity, plasma physics and that is the future of science, that is what will interest the younger generation. Instead of telling them Junk science. There is too much evidence out now about cold fusion to deny it. Radiant electricity isn’t even talked about at schools. Plasma physics now that is exciting, plasma being the 4th state of matter.
    Science hasn’t provided us with wind or wave energy that was engineering. The 3 phase generator (Tesla) has been around for over 100 years. In 1883 the first solar cell was invented by Charles Fritz. and they have been tweaked since then but the technology is over 100 years old. So it is pretty much more of the same. In fact the only useful contribution to electricity generation by science mainstream made in the 20th century was fission and I don’t want to go there.
    “Politicas and ideology will not make “cold fusion” possible”. This is not in fact true as the politicians hold the purse strings for research.Cold fusion will be made possible by active research instead of burying our heads in the sand. There is still thinking in the community that you need temperatures of the sun for fusion, come on.
    To think we have all the solutions is naive. The inert gases were thought to be unreactable till the 60’s (with a couple of exceptions 1 being He). Then they had to rewrite the “laws” because some of the so called inert gases were not so inert (not that they told us that at school either).

  • Derek,

    Solar technology is developing quite rapidly. And as the sun is the major source of energy on Earth it would make sense to harness it’s energy more directly. Likewise, wind energy can provide a major source of energy for cities in appropriate locations.
    If cold fusion had been proved successful then by now it would have been commercialised and companies would be using it to make a profit. Similarly if there were potential with the 3 phase generator then it would have been commercialised by now. Big business certainly does not overlook science that enables it to make a profit.
    Engineering is applied science. The design and development of equipment that harnesses wind and wave energy owes a lot to science – polymers, alloys, calculations of torque etc.
    It seems to be much more sensible to rely of proven science to generate sustainable future energy than to rely on fantastical unproven methods of energy generation.
    There are a few groups who continue to investigate cold fusion and other methods such as plasma/fusion systems. If they can prove these methods are viable then they will be utilised. Until then their use is hypothetical

  • ” Similarly if there were potential with the 3 phase AC generator ” um really, what do you think a wind mill powers ? What do you think the hydro turbines power ? The steam turbines ? The reason we have power in our homes is because of the 3 phase AC generator. Please think about what I am trying to say.
    The problem with cold fusion is the purity of the palladium which effects if the reaction works properly or not. The purer the palladium the better the results. However Rossi uses Nickel with his system. Nickel was also used when Yoshiaki Arata successfully demonstrated cold fusion in Japan in 2008.Cold fusion technology has been around for quite a while at least since Flieschman and Pons in 1988 when it was dismissed and rubbished. My question to you is do you think there would be continued research and money and effort (24 years) put into a dead herring ? “Cold fusion has been replicated by hundreds of world class laboratories, including several in the Navy, Los Alamos and national labs in the U.S., France, Italy, China and India, and at dozens of corporations in including Mitsubishi, Toyota and Amoco. Hundreds of peer-reviewed papers in mainstream journals have been published describing these replications” Logic dictates that there is something in it using occams razor. Another question is ok then is NZ researching this or even educating people that this could well be possible ??????????? My presumption from this site is that we are doing nothing. Despite the continued hoopla over carbon emissions from fossil fuels causing global warming, we still deny it even being possible and tell the young people it is Junk science. WHY ???????? How much money is being generated by energy ? $200 Trillion.Occams razor is telling me something. How many people did Tesla make rich (I don’t have to list the companies do I?)?

  • “Cold fusion has been replicated by hundreds of world class laboratories, including several in the Navy, Los Alamos and national labs in the U.S., France, Italy, China and India, and at dozens of corporations in including Mitsubishi, Toyota and Amoco. Hundreds of peer-reviewed papers in mainstream journals have been published describing these replications”
    Please provide a citation for this rather sweeping quote.

  • Wikipedia has what looks like a fairly balanced summary of the cold fusion research. Some low level research is going on, usually under a different name. It suffers from its promotion by cranks (some of the researchersd probably come into this class), lack of reporducability, inability to publish in good journals (while supporters may attribute that to bias it is at least partly due to lack of reproducable findings and unsupported conclusioins).

    reviews of this research are largely critical – they certainly don’t support Derek’s claims.

    Seems to me that despite the original publicity cock up there is some ongoing research and consideration – probably at the level it deserves. It certainly is not as fruitful as Derek claims

  • Derek,

    Ooops, my bad, when you spoke about a 3 phase generator (and not a 3 phase AC generator) as you later changed it to, I thought you were talking about something else.

    It seems to me there is an inconsistency in your argument. You talk about all of these “hundreds of world class laboratories” which have demonstrated that cold fusion works, yet then complain that no one is using the technology. That simply does not make sense. if hundreds of world class laboratories cannot make it work to generate electricity then what else is there to do? If hundreds of world class laboratories are working on cold fusion then surely there are plenty of people working on it leaving others to advance the human race in other areas – medicine, alloys, space exploration, better understanding of life etc.
    With these hundreds of world class labs working on cold fusion I will look forward to seeing such power generation in action ….

  • Derek,

    “My question to you is do you think there would be continued research and money and effort (24 years) put into a dead herring ?”

    Well homeopaths have been at it for the past 200 years, and there are still some people who invest in it. Unfortunately human beings seem to be very capable of self deception particularly when in search of a silver bullet or golden goose egg.

    If this research is so brilliant, then where are our cold fusion generators?

  • Michael is on the money, literally…

    Cold fusion / Free Energy machines are a favourite of scam artists. You can string gullible investors along for years promising that the big break through is just a couple of years away.
    That’s what Occam’s razor tells me, I think you’re using it wrong.

  • Ok i said 3 phase generator I didn’t think i needed to clarify Tesla and a 3 phase generator being AC. As far as I know DC is steady (ie not phases) it can be pulsed which is where research seems to be heading with electrolysis(HHO generators) and radiant energy research. It is funny that we think energy is not unlimited, I find it quite bizarre actually, when all the signs tell us it is unlimited, at the quantum level with vacuum (Lee and Yang Nobel prize 1957 broken symmetry) energy, look into the sky and see that bright burning star. Look at the power in a storm, I think you would have to be gullible to assume our energy needs to be brought. The thermodynamics law talks about closed loop systems where nature is an open loop. You tell me where does the extra energy come form in the collapse of the ballast coil for a fluorescent bulb when you put 240VAC in and get 700V out which lights the tube? Occam’s razor in the real world is called KISS (keep it simple stupid).
    Homeopaths have nothing to do with energy.
    We take everything that Tesla gave us for granted Power, Radio, Remote control, wireless transmission of energy, but laugh at his ideas of unlimited energy. Where do you think they got the idea for HAARP from ? So why not much of him at school, why so much Einstein instead. He didn’t even get a noble prize for his work.
    Cold fusion has not gone away, it has not been debunked.Plasma fusion again is another potential viable energy source.

  • Derek, V is a unit of potential not energy.

    Thermodynamic relations apply to any complete transformation – not just closed loops.

    The fact that a star is bright or a storm is extreme does not make the energy/mass involved infinite or unlimited.

    Cold fusion is still being research by a very few – it is not proven and the theoretical objections to it have not yet been overcome.

    Strong wishes or desires do not equate to reality.

    Some people are so enthralled with their naive versions of Occam and KISS they really do come across as stupid.

  • “all the signs tell us it is unlimited”,

    Care to clarify that? All what signs? If you start babbling about Tesla I’ll be disappointed.

    The ballast coil in a fluorescent light works by induction (see here, similar to a transformer. (For how a transformer works see here). Ignoring for the moment that I’m not sure tha balast coils does what you say it does, the energy for the increase in voltage comes from the current.
    Or perhaps you could say that voltage and current are interchangeable one goes up the other goes down. No mysterious addition of energy here.

  • “One of the broken symmetries proven by Wu et al. and published in 1957 is the broken symmetry of opposite charges, as on the ends of a dipole. That asymmetry is used by charges and dipoles for extracting and pouring out Electromagnetic energy from the vacuum, yet not one current Electrical Engineering or classical electromagnetics textbook mentions the energy implications of dipolar asymmetry. Nor do they mention that every charge and dipole freely pours out real observable EM energy continuously, with no observable energy input”


    Massachusetts Institute of Technology (cranks) highlighted NANOR, a cold fusion cell of JET Energy, in a short cause conducted earlier in the year.

    ” Energetics Technologies a New Jersey based company with research facilities in Omer, Israel
    • SRI International of Menlo Park, California
    • ENEA, the Italian National Agency for New Technologies
    Energetics Technologies pioneered the LENR process profiled on the program, which was then successfully replicated by both SRI and ENEA. One of the hallmarks of breakthrough science and technology is independent replication. Working closely with SRI and ENEA, our scientists have achieved that with historic results
    Brilluion energy, Ecat.
    “Dr. Miley’s earlier talk mentioned Eric Allin Cornell who is the first gentleman to actually produce a Bose-Einstein Condensate is now researching at Rice University on the Casimir-Polder Force. He started off a recent talk by saying that ‘If the zero point field is not real, he wouldn’t be here talking about the results he was presenting’”.
    Casmir force is again evidence of unlimited energy in an open loop system. To think energy is finite is delusional. Without energy there would be no universe.
    “The predicted energy density in quantum vacuum is given by an integral equation. But says Dr. White, “Although QED is one of the most successful theories, it’s also responsible for one of the worst predictions in physics.”
    60 Minutes obtained an internal document from the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, known as DARPA, which according to the broadcast, “concludes that there is ‘no doubt that anomalous excess heat is produced in these experiments’”.
    “We are proud that our company has achieved landmark and historic research that has been replicated by two of the most prestigious independent laboratories in the world, and reviewed by DARPA and the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. We face the challenge of finding new sources of clean, renewable energy.
    It’s important that the public know that great strides are being made in this exciting field of science.”

  • Quote soup again Derek?

    I’m no expert on quantum theory, but it seems to me that the first quote offered (from here originally it seems but re-quoted all over the crank-o-sphere) takes some liberties with the work on symmetry breaking.

    Care to more fully explain what you mean there Derek?

  • That guy Beardon is a crank -spouting mumb jumbo.

    Derek, where do you find these people?

  • As an off-topic side issue, when Derek raises the question of Cold Fusion in relation to NZ, I have to wonder whether such cold fusion devices, should they, in fact, exist, would fall afoul of NZ’s anti-nuclear legislation.

    In particular, I’m struck by the interpretation listed in s2 of the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament, and Arms Control Act 1987 for ‘Nuclear Explosive Device’ which seems strikingly inclusive with its “irrespective of the purpose for which it could be used”, as well as the prohibitions on aiding and abetting the acquisition of such listed in s5.

    Does this make fusion (Hot or Cold – personally, I’m partial to the modern variations on the Farnsworth Fusor) a dead issue in NZ?

    • Michael – Fusion, hot or cold, is realistically a dead issue for NZ and will be for some time. Because any possibility of a commercial fusion reactor is still some way off, especially anything we could afford. And as for cold fusion, current assessment indicates this to be very unlikely anyway ( no matter how attractive some people find it).

  • “Cold fusion, and quantum energy.,”

    What does that mean?
    Is that an answer to my question? If so which one? Could you spend sometime to actually engage properly and explain clearly.

  • Ken – Right, so it’s the technical issues that are the blocker, rather than the political ones?

    That’s more optimistic that I was afraid of. Thanks.

  • Beardon is not a quack, pleaser refer to the Bedini school girl motor make one, do the experiments before you comment. Explain cold electricity, radiant electricity ? Where is your MEG ( Motionless Electromagnetic Generator)? Am sorry but what have you contributed to energy science but negative words ?
    Cold fusion is not Fission( a nuclear explosive device). There are no harmful by products, therefore it should not be in the same category as fission, it is totally different.
    You don’t need millions of dollars to research it.The farnsworth (the guy who invented tv that no one talks about) fusor could be set up at every university in the country. If some one had the balls to do it.
    Radiant electricity explain it ? Acknowledge it . Teach it (No). It comes from the sky and is plain to see in nature but mankind ignores it.
    Still complain about emissions and the environment then and burn more oil.

  • At the risk of feeding the troll, given that he’s cueing off of keywords in my comment now.

    1) ‘Nuclear Explosive Device’, per the legislation I was quoting (see s2) is any device capable of releasing nuclear energy. Fission or Fusion, they both count.
    2) ‘harmful by-products’ of Cold Fusion, like any other fusion process can include (depending on exactly what you’re fusing) unstable fusion products (He, Li, etc) and free neutrons. The way I’m given to understand it, even in otherwise ‘clean reactions, these neutrons will eventually make your shielding radioactive, requiring that it be replaced and disposed of.
    Even Fleischmann and Pons were reporting Neutrons & Tritium.
    3) Farnsworth Fusors can be set up in people’s _garages_ let alone universities. That they support fusion I don’t believe is in any doubt. However, that fusion hasn’t been able to support them, as it were. There’s apparently a commercial Neutron source using the principle, but as Ken said, power generation is still well off. As it stands, Fusors, or the more modern “polywell” devices have their own problems that don’t need to be explained by conspiracies of ‘Big Science’.

  • To verify radiant electricity here is a you tube clip to show effects in a neon bulb creating plasma off 12VDC.
    Troll ? Personally I am a person that has researched energy done a few experiments and found anomalies in current energy science, so I have brought these to the science community and sought answers.
    I am also concerned at what the oil push is doing to the world, the wars and damage to the magnet we live on. Future generations will see our reliance on fossil fuels as stupid and naive. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2012[1] was signed into United States law on December 31, 2011, by President Barack Obama.[2][3]
    The Act authorizes $662 billion[4] in funding, among other things for the defense of the United States and its interests abroad. The Act also imposes new economic sanctions against Iran (section 1045), commissions reviews of the military capabilities of countries such as Iran, China, and Russia,[7] and refocuses the strategic goals of NATO towards energy security The focus of this statement is the last 9 words. I am afraid of world war 3 due to military intervention in Iran due to energy security.
    So energy to me is of vast importance and I seek answers if that makes me a troll then I am a troll
    .At least you Micheal have acknowledged Cold Fusion is happening. Rather be a troll than an ostrich.
    Perhaps you can explain radiant electricity to.

  • By Derek’s own admission he is not qualified in “current energy science” how he knows he’s found anomalies is beyond me.

    His previous comment also implies that only fission devices can be explosive, incorrect at the elementary level.

    “so I have brought these to the science community and sought answers.”
    Unless you have other activities that are more serious than those here, no you haven’t, what you have done is to derail comments and make a general nuisance of yourself. How about submitting the results of these “experiments” for publication?

    “So energy to me is of vast importance”
    And yet you eschew the methods of science and the education provided by recognised entities that could help you develop you knowledge and with it your effectiveness.

    You may deny being a troll if you like (and I admit the label has negative connotations) but your behaviour says otherwise. Cut and paste commenting, avoidance of questions, insults and accusations. That’s troll territory right there.

  • Derek – you claim “Personally I am a person that has researched energy done a few experiments and found anomalies in current energy science, so I have brought these to the science community and sought answers.”

    Please provide the evidence for this – links to publications.

    Please note that making nonsensical and rambling comments on a blog post is not bringing anything to the science community. We want evidence that you have done something more than that.

    If you haven’t surely you haven’t anything worthwhile to discuss .

  • ” nonsensical and rambling comments”. I disagree with you, my question is to the science community is explain radiant energy ?
    I have no publications (that I have produced) but can refer you to a website with 100’s of experimenters that verify radiant electricity (like I have, I even have photos of my rig )
    Build one yourself and then call it nonsense.
    It is worth discussion but you guys aren’t talking about it, in fact I may very well be the only person in New Zealand to have built one (but probably not). However how many scientists in New Zealand have examined this ? If this is not science then what is it ? An electric phenomenon that is not AC or DC and runs cold instead of hot. Negative energy explained by theories of Dirac (Dirac sea holes) and the Heavyside component. Why do I know about this stuff ? School never taught me it (and it still wont be teaching it).
    Cold fusion is not non sense and is a valid topic for science and energy and the more people that know it can be a potential energy source the better.
    I find your point of view arrogant in this topic.

  • Derek, if you have obtained significant results, especially ones that conflict with current scientific understanding, then you are morally obliged to publish them in a rational and systematic way. Put them up for peer review and consideration by the scientific community.

    The fact that you haven’t, and that instead you have made rambling and unsubstantiated comments here, indicates to me that you have nothing worthwhile. Nothing publishable.

    I am actually not in a position to pass judgement on your findings because you have not presented them at all. What I am calling nonsense is your nonsensical rambling, incoherent sciency sounding phrases, and your appeal to well known cranks.

    It s rather rich for you to accuse me of arrogance. You have come here to take advantage of my blog – I have not censored you. Yet you tell me to shut up until I have built some sort of apparatus you can’t even describe!

  • Don’t get me wrong every time I have brought this up on this site someone tries to knock me down. I have been insulted and treated like an ignoramous To make it clear the Bedini Monopole simplified school girl motor is what made me start asking questions as I have a 3 pole motor and it runs pulsing DC using a bifilar coil and harvests radiant energy . You must have missed the link which explains it all in detail (or failed to examine it). The link verifies what I am saying,
    Bearden explains where this energy is coming from. In addition to this experiment I have stuck a steel rod in the ground and a wire up to an antenna and measured free electricity (sure it wasn’t a high reading but it was there KISS)
    Radiant energy behaves different to standard electricity, it runs cold and is of high voltage but minimal current it is convergent rather than divergent. As you can see in the you tube video I posted it is an easy way to show Plasma.
    Mythbusters covered Bedinis motor in a show but their science was dismal they didn’t set it up properly and not once did they ask the inventor for help. It was a Goldberg machine. They never even put magnets in it.(It was done to discredit John)
    So to all the young minds out there who want to examine a so far unexplored part of science build a monopole motor and begin experimenting.
    I didn’t tell you to shut up, I didn’t use that stronger language.
    The Dirac sea is a theoretical model of the vacuum as an infinite sea of particles with negative energy.
    I still have no explanation for radiant energy from the community.
    To get back to cold fusion I believe it is a worthwhile subject.

  • Derek – you wrote to me ” refer to the Bedini school girl motor make one, do the experiments before you comment. ”

    That suggests an unwillingness to discusses the science.

    You have refused most requests for citation and only refer to crank groups and Internet pages which are scientifically incoherent.

    Your rambling avoidance and incoherent assertions really doesn’t make discussion possible.

    I can appreciate you get some enjoyment from your hobby but really you need to be able to make some coherent arguments before discusssion is possible. And advancing conspiracy explanations for the non-successor your projects really discredits you.

  • Am sorry why is John Bedini a crank ?
    And the monopole motor group unscientific ??
    I dispute your claims here

  • Well I don’t need to look at Wikipedia because I have built one of these motors and guess what ? They work..!! So how is it that you with no practical experience with an SSG can claim he is a crank ?
    Look on you tube you will see 100’s if not 1000’s of Bedini motors. Am sorry but no matter what words you use, you will fail to know what you are talking about when it comes to Monopole pulse motors. A Wikipedia quote just does not beat practical experience. An apology will be accepted once you have researched this phenomenon and not relied on other peoples quotes, because you guys wont let me do that. The real science involves building and testing this and experimenting. Now that is science.. (but I get the feeling you wont bother)

    • Derek, if you have made a breakthrough in physics research what about publishing your data and methods. We could all then make our own assessments. Personal confused assurances don’t count.

  • I do not claim to have made a break through. I have built a Bedini motor and found this technology to be very real as do 100’s of other people (it is not my fault mainstream denies this) I have told you twice already the site to go to if your interested. If you took the time to investigate what I am saying instead of trying to belittle this technology, you would see I am talking the truth. Your main interest seems to be telling people it isn’t possible, thus misinforming the general public. The reason it is called a Simplified School Girl motor (SSG) is because a school girl could build it.
    I am not confused I am sure,your denial is baffling. Why do you deny ? Build one like the school girl did. You will find radiant electricity. Science involves practical work a Bedini pulse motor will change your view on science. Like it did to me.
    A real skeptic would build one and then become a believer to. Or are skeptics lazy, arrogant and tend to think they know all the answers (of which they have none) and anything they can’t comprehend isn’t real.
    The data is already published on
    For a 3rd time…

    • Yes, Derek, I am aware of that discussion group. It however does not provide data or other evidence. Just a place for enthusiasts to get together. That’s not what one turns to for proof of a concept.

      I gather you are unable to produce anything better. So be it. No skin off my nose – but I am not going to bother trawling through such discussions or purchasing one of these fancy motors you can’t even coherently describe just because you assure me it violates the first law of thermodynamics!

      That law has always worked for me in the past, and in the absence if credible evidence, I suspect it will also in the future.

      Excuse me if I can’t be bothered following up all those cranks who claim such a violation and offer nothing more than their personal assurance.

  • No Ken it does not violate the first law of thermodynamics. It is usually formulated by stating that the change in the internal energy of a closed system is equal to the amount of heat supplied to the system, minus the amount of work performed by the system on its surroundings This applies to a closed loop system. The bedini motor operates on an open system and is based on Tesla’s one wire circuit. The proof is in the experimenters files on the website the data is all there calculated in joules of energy. Again the proof is in the experimenters files calculations of watts in and joules received to watts out and joules expended.
    Just a place for enthusiasts to get together. enthusiasts of what ? A crank concept ? 100’s of people ? Mate the truth is staring you in the eyes and yet you are blind to it. ocams razor, a jury of 100’s and you wonder why I talk about a conspiracy.
    The evidence is there once you look at it, build it.
    Still I find no satisfactory explanation of radiant energy from you.
    I can talk about dirac sea holes, The Dirac sea is a theoretical model of the vacuum as an infinite sea of particles with negative energy. It was first postulated by the British physicist Paul Dirac in 1930 to explain the anomalous negative-energy quantum states predicted by the Dirac equation for relativistic electrons. The positron, the antimatter counterpart of the electron, was originally conceived of as a hole in the Dirac sea, well before its experimental discovery in 1932. No explanations ? Nonsensical ramblings ?