Pathological Science

September 10, 2007

Via science blogger Jennifer Ouelette at Cocktail Party Physics, I found the intriguing term “pathological science” to describe “a psychological process in which a scientist, originally conforming to the scientific method, unconsciously veers from that method, and begins a pathological process of wishful data interpretation.” Her post is about the continuing obsession with cold fusion among some benighted researchers, though the term also applies to ESP, polywater and N-rays — the first two of which I knew right off the bat because they were favorites of John W. Campbell, the wingnut editor of Astounding Science Fiction (later Analog: Science Fiction, Science Fact) and a pushover for all kinds of pseudoscience. (Along with nurturing the careers of such science fiction masters as Isaac Asimov and Robert A. Heinlein, Campbell gave L. Ron Hubbard the first platform for what would become Scientology — not exactly a shining legacy.)

Using the definition laid out in Cocktail Party Physics and Wikipedia, would the missile defense program (aka, “Strategic Defense Initiative,” “Star Wars,” “Aerospace Engineers’ Perptual Employment Act”) qualify as pathological science? Its success rate is certainly comparable to that of cold fusion research. Or does the political factor skew the definition?

Inquiring minds want to know. After all, with the Republicans committed to shoveling money down this particular rathole in perpetuity, we need some new terms of ridicule to describe it.  


6 Responses to “Pathological Science”

  1. Jed Rothwell Says:

    As a benighted researcher, I suggest you learn something about cold fusion before pontificating about it. See:

    You will find the full text from over 500 papers on cold fusion here, as well as a bibliography of 3,000 papers here, including hundreds from mainstream peer reviewed journals.

    You might also want to learn a little about polywater. See: Franks, F., Polywater. Cambridge, MA, The MIT Press, 1981. Only one group of researchers tentatively claimed they replicated polywater, and all claims were thought to be at very low signal to noise ratios. The instruments all pushed the state of the art. They were complex, novel and difficult to operate. Cold fusion, in contrast, has been replicated by hundreds of major laboratories at high signal to noise ratios: in some cases thousands to millions of times background for tritium and other nuclear effects. The calorimeters and x-ray film used to confirm cold fusion were developed in the 19th century and they are very reliable and well understood. Most of the other instruments such as mass spectrometers are also highly reliable. So cold fusion does not begin to resemble polywater.

    The only pathology in cold fusion is the pathological skepticism of people like Ouelette and you who know nothing about the subject, and who have not read a single paper about it, yet who persist in making up nonsensical claims about it.

    – Jed Rothwell

  2. Peter Says:

    An interesting book on Cold Fusion that may bring light back into the argument is Quantum Ring Theory: Foundations for Cold Fusion. Several of the theoretical proposals are currently being tested in various labs around the world with some encouraging results.

  3. I would like to say some words.concerning what said by the journalist Bob Weber:
    “Regardless of experimental results, one needs a convincing theory of CF”
    in the link:

    Before to understand cold fusion, we neeed to have a complete understanding of the nuclear phenomena. However we dont have it.

    In the Introduction of my book QUANTUM RING THEORY, it is written in the page 4:

    “Perhaps one would like to say that the foundations for cold fusion are the same of that proposed in Quantum Mechanics. Indeed, in Jan-2004 the cold fusion researcher Dr. Dimitriy Afonichev sent me an e-mail where he said the following:
    “I think that occurrence of cold fusion can be explained on the basis of the existing theories”.
    Truthfully his words transmit not merely a personal opinion, because actually several theorists those try to explain the cold fusion occurrence share his viewpoint. However such opinion is very intriguing, since the own academic community is agreeing that the existing theories in the branch of Nuclear Physics are unable to explain even the ordinary nuclear properties, as confessed by Eisberg and Resnick in their book Quantum Physics, where they say in the first page of the Chapter 15:
    ‘Though we dispose nowadays of a sufficient complete assembly of information about the nuclear forces, we realize that they are too much complexes, not having been possible up to now to use this acknowledge for building an extensive theory of the nuclei. In other words, we cannot explain the whole properties of nuclei in function of the properties of the nuclear forces that actuate on their protons and neutrons’.
    So, as the existing theories are unable to explain the nuclear properties responsible for the hot fusion occurrence (which occurs according to the principles of Quantum Mechanics), it’s hard to believe that such existing theories could explain nuclear properties that would be responsible for the occurrence of some so much complex as it is the cold fusion (which occurs by infringing the principles of QM). “

    For a layman to understand easily that said in the Introduction of my book, take for instance the interaction between two neutrons.
    Two neutrons have no repulsion. But in a short distance, they are attracted by the strong force. So, after interacting within a nucleus, two neutrons would have to form the 0n2, and would never separate anymore.
    But 0n2 does not exist in nature. Heisenberg tried to explain it with the introduciton of the concept of Isospin. Unfortunatelly the isospin is an abstract mathematical concept.
    Two neutrons tied strongly by the strong force cannot be separated by an abstract concept, because an abstract concept cannot produce a FORCE capable to win the force of attraction by the strong force.
    Only a FORCE of repulsion can win the force of attaction.
    A NEW NUCLEAR MODEL (that shows what is the force of repulsion between two neutrons in short distances) is proposed in my book Quantum Ring theory.

    In 2002 the Infinite Energy magazine has published my paper “What is Missing in Les Case’s Catalytc Fusion?” , in which I have proposed some improvements to be addopted, in order to avoid the missing of replicability.

    In 2003 in the ICCF-10 Lets and Cravens exhibited their experiment, in which they have adopted the suggestions of mine in my paper published in 2002 by IE.

    In my book I propose an explanation for Lets-Cravens experiment, showed in paper entitled “Lets-Cravens Experiment and the Accordion-Effect”

    The Accordion-Effect is a nuclear property unknown by nuclear theorists, and it is responsible for the resonance that takes place between a nucleus (for instance Pd) and the oscillation of deuterons due to zero-point energy.

    After reading some of my papers, the late Dr. Eugene Mallove said in 2004: “Guglinski has interesting and intriguing ideas”.
    That’s why he suggested to put my papers on a book form, and to publish it.

    However, Dr. Mallove did not read my papers concerning the new nuclear model.

  4. Yesterday Jennifer Oullette deleted a comment of mine posted in her blog.

    So, Jennifer tries to avoid that people get acknowledge that cold fusion is supported by a new theory, developed through new foundations of Physics.

    The comment deleted by Jennifer is the following:

    The stronger reason why the scientific community neglects cold fusion is because its occurrence requires a neutron model n=p+e formed by proton and electron. However such theoretical model violates the Fermi-Diract statistics.

    A model of neutron n=p+e that does not violate Fermi-Diract statistics is proposed in the book QUANTUM RING THEORY (QRT).

    Two papers on the neutron new model n=p+e of QRT are available in the Internet.
    They are:


    Before to post here the two links, I would like to give some enlightenment on the paper NEW MODEL OF NEUTRON, as follows:

    1) When we analyze the mass of pions according to the current Standard Model, we arrive to contradictory conclusions about the mass M(d) of the quark down and the mass M(u) of the quark up.
    In the paper NEW MODEL OF NEUTRON it is shown that we arrive to the following two conclusions:

    CONCLUSION 1: M(d) > M(u)

    CONCLUSION 2: M(u) > M(d)
    2) Look at the chemical reaction Na+Cl->NaCl

    QUESTION: what is the matematical formalism underlying such a chemical reaction?

    ANSWER: No one. The chemical reactions have not been established through the mathematical formalism.

    The chemical reactions have been established based on the LOGIC, and such a procedure was viable because the chemists had the help of a property of the chemical reactions: the mass of the reagent elements does not change after the reactions. For instance, the mass of Na is the same in the two sides of the equation Na+Cl->NaCl.

    In the case of the high energy nuclear reactions the discovery of the equations became very complicated, for two reasons:

    1) Either particles can desintegrate by discharging energy, or particles can be created, by the transformation of energy to matter.

    2) In the model adopted by the theorists, the addition of spins is applied to all the reactons.

    However in the beta decay the addtion of spins cannot be applied (but there is conservation of the total angular momentun, because in the reactions there is creation of neutrinos and antineutrinos).

    Such anomaly in the addition of spins in the beta decay made the situation to be very bad, and the theorists could not apply the LOGIC for the discovering of the mechanic of high energy reactions, as the chemists made in the Chemistry.

    That’s why the theorists tried to solve the problems by the mathematical formalism, through the Lie symetries as SU(2), SU(3), etc.
    But the result was unsatisfactory, as one can understand easily. There are particles that does not fit to the theory, and that’s why Murray Gell-Mann felt the need of proposing ad hoc bandages, like the Strangeness.

    As the theorists did not discover the true cause of the beta decay anomaly, they impute to other cause the occurrency of that anomaly: they state that the parity is not kept in the beta decay.

    By addopting the “spin-fusion” hypothesis proposed in QUANTUM RING THEORY, it is explained the anomaly of the beta decay, and from such a way the high energy reactions can be explained through the LOGIC, in the same way as occurred in Chemistry for the establishment of the chemical reactions.

    The two links are:




    Yesterday I posted in Jennifer’s blog a second comment (the first one that we see in this blog posted in here in September 20th, 2007 at 8:30pm).


    As the two comments of minne deleted by Jennifer have as subject arguments exhibited through scientific papers , we realize that Jennifer has a pathological reaction of deleting everything that defies her scientific dogmas.

    So we can define the term “pathological loyalty do dogmas” to describe “a psychological process in which a scientist, originally conforming to the scientific method, CONSCIOUSLY betrays the method, and begins a pathological process of rejecting to face any reasonable argument that puts in danger everything that the scientist believes”.

  6. Chiron613 Says:

    With regard to “cold fusion”, it is fair to say that papers don’t prove anything. Cold fusion in general has not been shown to exist, much less to offer a practical means of energy production.

    The technology surrounding the production of cold fusion is difficult and error-prone. There are endless opportunities for contamination and mistakes. While some workers claim results, many others report no results. Until there is a better consensus, it is reasonable to state that cold fusion is not verified. In fact, no other claim is reasonable.

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