Extraordinary claims

Under “scientific skepticism”, Wikipedia says, “extraordinary claims would require extraordinary evidence”.  So the question is, how extraordinary are Rossi’s claims?

A year ago, when Rossi introduced his technology to the world, it seemed that he was the only person ever to produce excess heat from nickel — well, except maybe that Piantelli guy who somehow remained in obscurity.

Rossi’s claim seemed to be of a new science, a science that was recognized as “pathological” by Wikipedia.  (They’ll never live that one down with me, even when they get around to acknowledging the LENR reality.)

This truly is an extraordinary claim!  This kind of claim calls for the most extraordinary of evidence.  Rossi provided some rather good evidence, some startlingly good evidence.  He allowed real scientists to poke and prod at his machine.  He allowed Dr. Levi to rewire its entire heat capture system.  He allowed NyTeknic to come down twice to test every one of the “hoax” theories that had been suggested to them.

But extraordinary claims call for extraordinary evidence.  This didn’t seem to be good enough for most.  Surely he should allow somebody to independently test it — that’d do.  (Despite the fact that history proved that hundreds of LENR papers had already been published, and Wikipedia continued to declare that LENR was “pathological science”.)

Next we began to discover that others, many others, notorious others had also achieved excess heat from Nickel + Hydrogen.  The list of replicators became 12 then 14 and 16 names long.  Some of these names were stellar.  It became clear that there were dozens of published peer reviewed papers discussing these successes.

Rossi’s claims became MUCH LESS extraordinary.  Now his claim seemed to be that he had produced a stable reaction that produced harvestable amounts of heat (COP > 3).  The difference in extraordinariness of these two claims seems to be missed on most.  “I have a new science, one that was discredited already” is VASTLY more extraordinary than “I have optimized a known science”.

But now Rossi’s claims have become even MUCH LESS extraordinary yet.  Now Defkalion claims to have a similar COP (> 30).  And JET Energy has demonstrated their system, showing a COP > 10.  They did their demo at MIT no less!  So there are now three who not only claim LENR, but who claim harvestable heat from LENR.  Rossi’s claim merely becomes that he was the first, not that he is the only.

This isn’t a very extraordinary claim, folks!  If extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, then unextraordinary claims should require unextraordianry evidence.   Its time to believe that Rossi really has what he says he has, even if he hasn’t yet produced the holy grail of extraordinary evidence, and even if he has proven to be a typical exaggerating entrepreneur.

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37 Responses to “Extraordinary claims”

  1. Iggy Dalrymple Says:

    Rossi’s biggest eye-roller is his connection with Sterling Allan.

    Rossi probably didn’t know about Allan’s reputation for hyping everything.

    • brucefast Says:

      I think Stirling’s theory is that if he jumps on every bandwagon he’ll find one that goes somewhere sometime. Maybe he will.

    • brucefast Says:

      He reminds me of the stock forecasters. The bulls are always bulls. Then they tell you about the bull rally(ies) way back when that they called. The bears, well, they are always bears, and they tell you about the bear market(s) that they called way back when. Neither the perma-bulls nor the perma-bears give you any useful advice.

  2. maryyugo Says:

    The problem with Rossi tests is that they were always done on his terms and in his lab. They also left out calibration of the whole system to be sure the measurement system actually did what Rossi claims it did. It probably doesn’t. It is probably biased to over-measure output energy.

    The problem with both Defkalion and Rossi is that they do not allow independent tests where they are not involved in providing input power and output power and energy measurements. The experiments also do not run long enough. Defkalion’s current proposal is inadequate in that it doesn’t allow flow calorimetry when it would be trivially simple to add it. Why would they do the tests in a defective and error prone way when a simple and totally adequate type of test is just as easily available? What do they wish to hide?

    If it takes place at all, which is still questionable, Defkalion’s testing will not be independent regardless of who is present because it will use their method and much of their lab and equipment.

    At the moment, Swartz’s tests suffer the same deficiencies. I have seen no description of detailed materials and methods, controls, calibrations, duration, method of calorimetry or who has independently duplicated and published the tests. Without those criteria being met, it’s just “Swartz says” or Rossi says or Defkalion says.

    And note: this was not officially endorsed by MIT. MIT only supplied a room for the lectures. It was not an official MIT class and was listed and described as non-credit.

    Even Rossi supporters such as Lewan, Kullander and Essen admit that independent testing is needed. Rossi instead offers only lame excuses for not doing it. And do you really believe he has the funding and resources to make a plant capable of robotically producing a million E-cats this year? In the US? With appropriate regulatory approval? For a nuclear reactor? Lots of luck if you believe that or any other part of this phantasmagoria.

  3. Josh Says:

    If you don’t feel that having international sales of a stable, useful, inexpensive, nearly-free-energy device, built by a not-yet-existing robotized factory, all in the next 12-18 months is extraordinary – I’d like to hear how you define it.

    PS, I don’t think that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” I do think that people who make extraordinary claims should provide extraordinarily persuasive evidence of their claim if they wish to be taken seriously by intelligent people.

    Many have provided enough evidence of LENR to investigate its usefulness further – Rossi has provided enough for those who are inquisitive to listen, but no where near enough to claim that he has changed the world. I hope he does, but that is irrelevant.

    • brucefast Says:

      Josh, “If you don’t feel that having international sales of a stable, useful, inexpensive, nearly-free-energy device, built by a not-yet-existing robotized factory, all in the next 12-18 months is extraordinary – I’d like to hear how you define it.”

      Do I think that Rossi will produce a million products in the next 18 months from a robotized factory? No.

      Do I think that Rossi demonstrated a device multiple times to multiple scientists that used input power and output heat approximately as described? Yes I do. Why? Because it is scientifically reasonable that he did. Because if he hoaxed something to the high grade crowd that he chose, he’s got balls of steel.

      • Josh Says:

        Glad you agree that Rossi is still making some pretty ‘unlikely’ claims.

        Do I agree that Rossi’s energy claims are scientifically reasonable? Maybe a stretch for me, but yes, they are in the ballpark of reasonable (or I wouldn’t pay any attention). Though – few with any type of reputation or independent documentation have claimed gains anywhere near what Rossi claims (I’ve yet to see anything independent [or from MIT for that matter] related to the recent MIT story). Though many with solid reputations have stated they believe useful LENR to be possible (e.g. NASA, et. al).

        I definitely agree that he’d have to have balls of steel to be a fraud in the manner he has chosen… but Bernie Madoff defrauded lots of intelligent (but greedy) financial types, so it’s not without precedent. That took balls too (and alledgedly his own sons were unaware of the fraud [Think Rossi’s respected, but mostly silent scientist partners]).

  4. Jonathan Says:

    The evidence you list doesn’t make the claim any less extraordinary. In terms of how extraordinary this is, I would say that if it is true, it is the greatest leap forward since we learned how to light a fire.

    The evidence I would like to see to be totally convinced – I want a respected scientist to test one of these devices in their own lab, without Rossi, Defalkion etc present. That should happen sometime next year when the devices start to ship.

    At the moment, with the evidence available to date, I would say it has moved to something that potentially works and is worth following developments, but still not proven. The fact that NASA is involved is for me the most important factor in all of this.

    Of course, even if LENR is real, that doesn’t mean Rossi will manage to develop a shippable product. His two previous ventures were based on sound science, but he didn’t manage to develop them into commercially viable products.

    • brucefast Says:

      Jonathan, “The evidence you list doesn’t make the claim any less extraordinary.”
      What part do you not understand.

      • Jonathan Says:

        The claim doesn’t become any less extraordinary just because it is proven right. An extraordinary claim is one that goes completely against our current understanding of things at the time it was made and revolutionises the way we live.

        I don’t think anyone can argue that an e-cat or similar device won’t revolutionise the way we live if it comes to pass. The science bit is the idea that you can overcome the coulomb barrier so easily.

      • brucefast Says:

        Jonathan, a claim of “new to science” is much more than a claim of “better than ever before” which is much more than a claim of “first”.

        Lets try it another way. A claim of “I have an antigravity machine” is a claim of “new to science”. Would require pretty heavy scrutiny, and be worthy of every skepticism. Ten independent scientists all claiming that they have an antigravity machine makes each claim vastly more believable.

      • brucefast Says:

        Let me come at this one again, after sleeping on it.
        I accept your definition of extraordinary, “An extraordinary claim is one that goes completely against our current understanding of things.”

        Now, if Rossi is claiming to have a technology that is totally unique to the world, that is extremely extraordinary. If proof that LENR, specifically Nickel + Hydrogen LENR is a phenomenon, comes from sources other than Rossi, that proof is, to a great extent extraordinary. However, the extraordinariness of that claim comes from people other than Rossi. In this case multiple, independent scientists.

        Once others prove the extraordinariness of Nickel-Hydrogen LENR, then in a way Nickel-Hydrogen LENR ceases to be extraordinary because it becomes the new current understanding independent of Rossi.

        Rossi’s claim of a better unextraordinary phenomenon is much less extraordinary than his claim of a phenomenon known to not exist.

      • Jonathan Says:

        I can kind of see where you are coming from with your argument.

        Let’s look at another extraordinary claim. Back in the 15th/16th century, Copernicus and Galileo Galilei suggested that the earth was round, and that it orbited round the sun. That was a very controversial claim at the time, but now it is so obvious that the term “flat earther” is used as a term of abuse for people who cling onto beliefs that go completely against all scientific evidence. They weren’t the first people to make this claim. The ancient Greeks managed to calculate the circumference of the earth pretty accurately.

        By your argument, it is no longer an extraordinary claim, and no longer requires extraordinary evidence. My argument is that the extraordinary evidence produced by people like Kepler is what made it a generally accepted.

        The extraordinary claim that Rossi and others are making is that the coulomb barrier, the repulsion caused by the two positively charged nuclei, can be overcome so easily, and although more than one scientist is saying this, it hasn’t made it into generally accepted scientific theory yet.

        Another extraordinary claim that is making the rounds at the moment is that neutrinos can travel faster than the speed of light. That has being doing the rounds for a while now, long before the most recent OPERA experiments in Sept and Nov 2011, but it was only after the second of those experiments that people are beginning to accept that it might be the case.

      • brucefast Says:

        “The extraordinary claim that Rossi and others are making…”
        Yes, the claim is not born by Rossi alone, but by “the others” as well. The move called for from science and society is still just as great. However, the chorus making this claim is significantly larger than Rossi. Rossi’s portion of this extraordinary claim isn’t that large.

        > The number of scientists claiming to have replicated LENR is larger than I intend to innumerate.

        > The number of people/organizations that report Ni + H = heat is being innumerated on “Replicators”, and currently stands at 16.

        > The number of people/organizations that report harvestable levels of return are now at 3.

        The only burden carried by Rossi alone is the burden of being the first to produce harvestable output from LENR. His claims aren’t particularly extraordinary.

        The claims of the entire community of LENR remains to be just as extraordinary. But the full body of evidence presented by the entire community is the evidence presented to make that claim, not just Rossi’s.

        I think we’re on the same page now, Jonathan.

    • Iggy Dalrymple Says:

      Rossi has to convince three groups of people, his financial backers, his customers, and the safety regulators. If he fails to deliver his product, so what? Most entrepreneurs do fail. That’s what free enterprise is all about.

      How many scientists approved the products of Edison, Jobs, Daimler, Ford, Wright, Fulton, Bell, Winchester, Goddard, Sikorsky, Tesla, Curie, Pasteur, and Bessemer?

  5. Anony Mole Says:

    Ugh! The suspense is killing me. And unlike Mr. Willy Wonka I do NOT hope it lasts. This controversy needs to be put to bed here soon or I’m gonna have a nervous breakdown. (Not really but crimminy, I hate it when things drag on an on.)

  6. Miff Says:

    Sixteen replicaters mean nothing. Even scientists can self delude.

    A friend of mine was involved in testing Dowsers who claimed they could correctly locate a small gold ingot in one out of ten cardboard shoeboxes.

    Some of the Dowsers had University degrees and one a Phd.

    None could perform as claimed. There are tens of thousands of Dowsers in this world who are clearly similarly self deluded.

    There is not the slightest evidence that LEnR exists.

    If there was the huge energy companies such as Exxon would be public ally pouring a fortune into it.

    • Simon Derricutt Says:

      A long time ago I was told that oil companies use dowsers. I shall have to try to find more info on this as backup, but if true it would show that it’s worth their investment. Human bodies/brains may respond to microstimuli that we have not (yet) the instruments to measure. On a philosophical note, you cannot prove the absence of anything, only demonstrate that, as far as you have looked, it isn’t there. It may be somewhere you haven’t looked.

      Note also that Amoco have demonstrated LENR, but have not publicised any further experiments. See http://blog.newenergytimes.com/2011/12/27/amoco-oil-company-looked-at-lenr-in-1990/ for the details. Are you convinced when it’s Big Oil doing the work?

      I’ll quote from their report here:
      These data support the claims of several experimenters that anomalous heat and tritium are produced during electrolytic experiments using a hydrogen absorbing cathode. Further experiments are in progress to determine reproducibility and better define experimental parameters.

      There is not the slightest doubt that LENR exists….

    • brucefast Says:

      “Sixteen replicaters mean nothing. Even scientists can self delude.”

      Mitt, that is really dumb! While 16 replicators doesn’t mean everything, “means nothing” is not supportable. If 16 scientists means nothing then 16 million scientists means nothing.

      If 16 million scientist means nothing then there is a whole lot of stuff that you shouldn’t believe. For instance, I presume that you think that the stars are gazillions of miles away, right? (Abandon miles, we use “light years”, a term that mean about a gazillion miles.) How do you know this? How does anybody know this? Only because enough scientists have deluded themselves into buying into this theory.

      On dousing:

      “A friend of mine was involved in testing Dowsers who claimed they could correctly locate a small gold ingot in one out of ten cardboard shoeboxes.” Ok, so you believe his findings? Why, because he is a friend? One friend beats 16 scientists? You are narrow, aren’t you.

      “Some of the Dowsers had University degrees and one a Phd.” Was the Ph.D. in a relevant field? I wouldn’t say your argument was supported much if the Ph.D. was in literature.

      “None could perform as claimed. There are tens of thousands of Dowsers in this world who are clearly similarly self deluded.” Here you go again accepting your friend’s report as “established truth”.

      Let me challenge the dousing test, however.
      Could it be that as gold sits in the ground for a long time, it leaches off molecules of gold, micro-flecks.
      Could it be that dousing involves detecting these micro-flecks that have migrated to the surface.
      Could it be, therefore, that the ingot hadn’t sat in the ground long enough to be detected by dousers where an ingot that had been in the ground for 1000 years would have been detected?

      Mitt, how do you know what you know?

      • maryyugo Says:

        Dowsing for small items such as gold is trivially easy to test in an afternoon and it has NEVER been shown to work. Try it yourself with your favorite dowser. Put one gold ring in a small manila envelope with padding so as to hide the shape. Put plain steel or aluminum rings in 9 envelopes and arrange at random on the floor or wherever the dowser desired. Let him find the gold on the first try. Do it again. He will perform no better than chance.

        A similar experiment was done with a dowsing rod for explosives– a very dangerous thing — and was reported here:


        Sniffex and devices like it, have allowed the deaths of dozens or hundreds of people in Iraq and Thailand. Dowsing does not work. If you doubt it, try the experiment or one like it.

  7. Brad Arnold (@dobermanmacleod) Says:

    I’ve found that people generally don’t have very good skills differentiating between standards of proof. Furthermore, they don’t seem to understand that evidence tends to prove things correct or false, but that absolute proof (beyond a shadow of doubt) is seldom available.

    Instead, generally it is a community standard that is generally used to judge. Furthermore, a new word that popped up on the scene recently, “truthiness,” where truth is judged by your gut feeling. In other words, consensus reality and what is generally judged truth is more psychological than logical or evidencing in nature.

    The bottom line is that I don’t believe that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence is true. Instead, you try to judge based upon the available evidence and come up with a likelihood of it being true within a certain probability.

    Specifically, that is where many people have gone wrong trying to judge if Rossi is a fraud – they seem to think that if the evidence doesn’t prove within a shadow of a doubt, then he is likely a fraud (barring friends, family, or media telling them that Rossi is legitimate).

    Instead, convoluted frauds involving lots of parties is the least likely. So are groups of science observers too stupid to recognize an obvious fraud. Also, a BrianFast says, there are enough other NiH results which suggest a LENR reaction. Therefore, Rossi is likely legitimate, but he will prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt when those LENR home generators start pouring off his assembly line like sausages soon.

    • Simon Derricutt Says:

      Nicely put, Brad, though I would suggest that absolute proof is never available. It can good enough to work with, and that’s enough for me. The nearest we’ll get to absolute proof with Rossi is being able to buy one in the local hardware shop, plug it in and get warm. That will be good enough….

      Until that event, it seems extremely likely to me that Rossi’s machines do work at times, and overwhelmingly likely that LENR is real and exploitable. It is now a matter of time until the technology is released to consumers rather than remaining a scientific curiosity/bone of contention.

    • brucefast Says:

      Brad, if “generally it is a community standard that is generally used to judge” then we should all be Rossi rejectors until the day that Wikipedia removes the declaration that LENR is “pathological science.” This, of course, produces an extremely high threshold of change in belief. If Rossi himself held to this perspective, he never would have begun to experiment.

      So we have a choice, we can make things happen, watch things happen, or believe that nothing ever happens.

      I am not in much of a position to make this thing happen with the e-cat. (Though in a way with this blog, I am promoting, debating, helping the phenomenon get past its infancy.)

      Watching things happen is not just pleasure, it can be financially beneficial as well. That’s why I liked Antony Mole’s thread: http://nickelpower.org/2012/01/20/witnessing-and-participating-in-history/

      Believing that nothing ever happens is not for me. Hey, slow down. What other “unbelievable” thing have I ever given a rip about? I got into computers far before they became mainstream. That might count.

      Brad, “The bottom line is that I don’t believe that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence is true.”

      Hmmm. I dismiss stuff as poppycock all of the time. Is it the extraordinary evidence, or lack of it, that has me dismiss stuff? Sometimes. I have looked at my fair share of “free energy” devices. Usually a 30 second glance shows me the error. Sometimes it takes a bit longer.

      I’ve delved a bit deeper into a few topics and found them painfully wanting. A friend drug me into the “moon landing is fake” hypothesis. Nothing useful there. I snooped into the 9/11 conspiracy hypothesis. Plane hits building. Portion of building above the plane strike crumbles first, then the portion below crumbles. Data is consistent with the mainstream story. Next.

      I got a book on crop circles. Interesting. There’s some rather extraordinary evidence in crop circles — despite the activity of obvious hoaxers. The interesting stuff is in the details, that the blades of grass are often bent in the middle, not near the base. That the grass seems singed apart — very inconsistent with the plank and rope method.

      But it makes no difference to me. Why should I get all hot and bothered about crop circles, they are inconsequential. Rossi’s technology offers to transform my life.

      So we have a new axiom:
      Extraordinary value merits extraordinary attention.

      The reason I waste my time on Rossi is that the truth or lack thereof of his claims makes a real and substantial difference in my future. If the computer saga has anything to say, being in on the underground floor can make a huge difference also.

  8. Anony Mole Says:

    Bruce, we may never get extraordinary evidence…

    Extraordinary claim: Man is descended from apes, who are themselves descended from ancient shrew like animals, who are further descended from reptiles, fish, … microbes. In a word – evolution.

    Extraordinary evidence: Um, well, none really. No irrefutable microbe to man evidence exists. Science has segments of the process identified and mapped into the sequence but no reproducible experiment has been performed to evolve germs into Germans, bacteria into Basques, amoebas into Americans. We’ve got fractional evidence of the process, e.g. Mendel, Darwin, Burbank, but no evidence I would consider “extraordinary.” There’s just a boatload of this circumstantial evidence that rational people assemble in their minds to create a highly probably “truth.”

    There will always be creationists. Let’s hope LENR doesn’t suffer, ultimately, from such vagaries. Only time will tell with this one;
    tick tock,
    the world’s in shock,
    LENR will knock,
    oil off its block…

    • brucefast Says:

      Presuming that LENR flows down the path we expect, I doubt there will be many who reject it as a form of heat, power, vehicular motion. However, I’ll bet my bottom dollar that no one theory of how it works will be accepted by all.

    • brucefast Says:

      (on evolution) “Extraordinary evidence: Um, well, none really.” I don’t know that this is true. While we have no single piece of conclusive evidence, we have an extraordinarily large volume of unextraordinary evidence from extraordinarily diverse sources (fossils, genetics, geology… ).

  9. jetmech Says:

    i do not doubt that lenr lanr canr cf produces some effect. having said that the problem is no has PRODUCED and or successfully TESTED a device that is economically feasible.
    Maybe one day Rossi or Defkalion will roll one out!
    I am still awaiting that day. ps SECRET customers do not count.

  10. Bob Norman Says:

    With all the labs being able to produce low energy levels, it is now proven that the affect is real. The key question is how much energy can you get out of the process. Will it be enough to be commercial in the short term, say 5 years. With the cat out of the bag and physics types pondering the issue, it will get resolved. The big unknown is if Rossi has found the way to get high energy. If he is, the technology is off to the races within about a year, if not then it will be studied and will evolve and in 5 or 10 years it may be feasible.
    The hardest thing to do is wait in life, but the answers will come and looking at the data, it hopefully will be sooner than later.
    With the lab demonstrations it mystifies me why big money has not jumped in and fund some decent research. They throw billion at Hot Fusion and seem so reluctant to do it for Cold Fusion.
    We all have our suspicions about motivations and time to will expose this. Sometime history is not kind.

  11. Chad Says:

    The search for a reliable method of producing energy from renewable resources is more urgent today than ever before. Did Nikola Tesla truly invent a “free energy device”?

    • Simon Derricutt Says:

      Chad – Tesla said he did, but the details were “lost” and since then maybe thousands have tried to replicate it without success. I think therefore that this is probably not truth.

  12. Iggy Dalrymple Says:

    Andrea Rossi
    March 23rd, 2012 at 8:13 PM

    Dear Philippe George:
    I want also to add that:
    1- the robotized line to produce the E-Cats is already in production
    2- the programs of the robots will be adjusted as soon as we will have the requirements from the certificators
    3- we already got the green light from all the competent Authorities, so far the certifications are done
    Warm Regards,
    Seems to be a conflict between claim #2 & #3.

    In #2, why does he say that the robots will be adjusted to suit the certificators, when in #3, he says the certifications are done….green light?

  13. Iggy Dalrymple Says:

    Walk, but not stand on liquid.

  14. Roger Bird Says:

    May I remind you-all that seismology and volcanology are very inexact sciences. Control is non-existent, and prediction is very poor in not non-existent. When I see an article about an earthquake and it doesn’t include the phrase “seismologists were surprised”, then I am surprised. Yet (here comes the punchline) these very same seismologists and vulcanologists are very intolerant of any new ideas that come from outside of the box. Just how much more intolerant are scientists going to be who specialize in an exact science with loads of prediction and control. I am looking for continued resistance right up to and perhaps even after the first LENR units are sold at Home Depot.

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