Moulton Lava

Moultonic Musings

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Equal Time for Abd

Abd has responded, at length, to my trenchant, whimsical, and satirical commentary on Cold Fusion.

So, in the interest of Equal Time, here is Abd's lengthy rebuttal, posted on Wikipedia Review.

See what you think.

Posted by Abd on Thursday, Dec 23, 2010 at 6:07PM

This is long, about Barry Kort (Moulton), banned here and from most WMF wikis. Now I know why he's banned, more directly and personally.

I'd invited Moulton to help out with a Wikiversity Cold fusion resource, knowing he was skeptical about cold fusion, but I was unprepared for a full-on pseudo-skeptical, reject anything that contradicts "accepted models," assault, becoming very personal, attacking cold fusion scientists as "believers" and "deluded."

The scientific method was developed to move beyond "socially correct" opinion, by requiring that every theory be subject to falsification, at least to be accepted as "scientific." Moulton uses it, however, to defend orthodoxy, requiring no proof for "accepted theory," even when applied outside of experience, but demanding impossible standards of proof -- rejection of every "null hypothesis" no matter how preposterous, and criticism of published work for not addressing these preposterous hypotheses -- for any reports which falsify "accepted theory," i.e., which are the very kind of evidence that one should be searching for to expand the frontiers of science, to expose existing theories as limited (i.e., if they are "accepted," usually they have good explanatory power in previous experience, but may fail when confronted with a new realm, that was never tested. If they make predictions that fail in that new realm, should those experimental results be, therefore, rejected? That's what happened with cold fusion, in 1989, but the walls against publishing cold fusion research have fallen.)

But I was leaving to travel, among other things to see Dr. Edmund Storms in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Barry decided that my responses to his questions in the CF resources were not adequate, so he wrote to Dr. Storms directly, asking a series of Really Stupid Questions. Storms spent quite a bit of time in the correspondence, but did essentially say, "Do your homework."

Dr. Storms is probably the world's foremost expert on Cold fusion. He wrote the book, literally, Low Energy Nuclear Reactions, published by World Scientific in 2007. His solicited review in Naturwissenschaften is the most authoritative coverage of the field to be published to date, under peer review. Storms retired from Los Alamos National Laboratories in the early 1990s, to continue cold fusion research in his own lab, which I was able to see. Not too many people have two mass spectrometers and a scanning electron microscope in their basement.

If anyone is interested, the latest review, "Status of cold fusion (2010)" is available for reading, because someone paid Springer-Verlag the $3000 it takes to make it public.

Moulton, in his typical style, converted every discussion of cold fusion into a diatribe about how "believers" were fooling themselves, not "falsifying the null hypothesis," and on and on, not realizing, apparently, how much he was describing himself. He would cited papers in the field as if they proved his crazy "alternative hypotheses," when, in fact, the papers showed the opposite. These "alternative explanations," proposed as "null hypotheses" in an idiosyncratic mannter, were unique to him, no published skeptic ever proposed these preposterous explanations, and they were so bad that sometimes I've thought that it was deliberately stupid, just to be provocative.

As it had been pointed out to him that the strongest evidence that what is happening in these experiments is fusion was that the anomalous heat was ultimately found (many studies, no exceptions) to be produced proportionally to helium, at the right value for any kind of fusion that starts with deuterium and ends with helium (regardless of mechanism), he proposed that the heat and helium was the product of radon decay, and he'd noticed that the full radon decay chain produces roughly the same energy as two-deuteron fusion. He failed to notice that the radon decay chain, for that energy, would produce three alpha particles, not one, so the energy per helium would be one third of the expected value, the value that has been confirmed, amply, by experiment.

But, worse, his theory would imply that, because of the 3.8 day half-life of radon, at the time of packaging by the manufacturer, in order to produce a modest effect by the time the experimenter uses it, the heavy water would be so radioactive that it would vaporize quickly from the decay heat, it would be a very dangerous substance. What Moulton had done was to come up with an "alternative hypothesis" that would -- badly -- explain one experimental fact, but he had utterly failed to "falsify the null hypothesis," thus properly being hoisted on his own petard. He did this not just once but a number of times, and I've not seen him, ever, admit an error.

(As I was writing this, I checked on Wikiversity and Barry had just admitted an error. I'm checking outside to see if the sky is falling. It was a math error I'd pointed out. however, the more substantial error, the very reason why he was doing the calculation, no response on that yet. We'll see.)

Anyway, Barry likes to spread conflict, and he turned whatever page seemed handy on Wikiversity to a discussion of Abd and Dr. Storms, those crazy fanatics, he edited Wikipedia IP, signing it Moulton, with a diatribe about me, and, of course, we have been blessed with a song parody, so some good came out of this. Except he had the facts completely backward, of course. He really doesn't understand -- at all -- what Storms and I think. He assumes we are drooling over cheap energy. Storms might actually find some, from what I saw at his lab, but it's years away at best, and I'm not even looking for energy. Just a few neutrons, that's all.

Wikipedia contributions
Wikipedia edit.

Here's his latest Moulton Lava post. I find it truly amusing, because he gets the metaphor backwards. Ouroboros is an ancient alchemical symbol, and, should it be that I'm writing "poop", as he thinks, well, my eating it would be absolutely the way to find enlightenment. Thus he's confirming my claim that I learn by writing. Nobody requires him to read this "poop."

His dream was, surprise, a message for him. He'd be advised to consider himself as Ouroboros, and reread his own material and carefully digest it. Probably not yet, he should wait some time to allow some perspective to develop.

And he's suggesting that I need "a whack on the side of the head," or a "kick in the seat of the pants." With the whack, he cited the Creative Whack Pack. I wonder if Kort knows that the story there is one of my favorites. He quoted, on Wikiversity, again and again, Richard P. Feynman, also one of my inspirations. I sat with him for two years at Cal Tech. Barry is preaching to the choir what the choir knows and the preacher does not. He sees in others what he needs to recognize in himself.

Barry actually posted the same thing as his blog on Wikiversity. I'm not intending to try to get him banned again, but what I see is that Moulton is, indeed, the kind of old man who cannot change, I was shocked at the degree of it. (Moulton is about 64, I'm 66.) He'd ask a question about a issue, I'd give a detailed response, and then he'd complain about the length. He'd not respond on the substance, he'd not look up the citations or reflect on the issues.

He's not interested in discussing the subject, he wants to "expose" the people involved. Actual discussion of the topic is ... boring. He'd repeat the same errors, over and over, even though they'd been pointed out -- with evidence -- because he didn't read the responses, or if he did scan them, he was just looking for possible errors to attack.

What actually happened was that he got whacked, as to his facts. He was ignorant, but wrote confidently and aggressively anyway. Sticking one's foot in one's mouth is okay, it's a fast way to learn (I do this all the time!), but it only works if you actually read the responses and consider them, and check out alleged facts. This is how I came up to speed on cold fusion in less than a year, to the point that I was accepted into the community of cold fusion researchers, in spite of the lack of credentials or other qualifications. I'm still ignorant of many aspects of the field, these are senior researchers, professors, people with over forty years of experience in the sciences, and twenty years with cold fusion. But they will explain to people who actually want to know. And some of them have been debating arrogant idiots like Kort for twenty years. Most of them ignore the peanut gallery. They just continue to do the research.

Barry cannot tolerate debate with someone as smart or smarter than him. Today, he completely fell apart, it became purely personal attack. I intend to ask for expert review of the discussion, because I could have made mistakes, easily. But .... Kort didn't just stick his foot in his mouth, he ate it, excreted it, and ate it again. So to speak.

He used the phrase "battery charger," for cold fusion cells. His motives were transparent. A common and obvious critique of cold fusion would be that all that is going on is that a long period of electrolysis before the CF effect appears is simply concealing some small, accumulating error in calorimetry, allowing energy storage, and, then, this energy is somehow released, quickly, creating an appearance of excess energy. However, Barry wasn't, initially, examining this hypothesis, he was just trying to be irritating. Yes. Theory of mind. I'd bet on it.

When I did challenge the "battery charger" theory, which is massively defective (for starters, there is a whole class of CF experiments that don't involve energy input), he came up with "evidence" that proved it incorrect, but which was confidently asserted as if it were proof of the theory. When I pointed this out, that's when he came completely unglued, reduced to name-calling.

Anyway, Barry remains banned for every WMF project (globally locked). He's got an account at Wikiversity, Caprice, which was unblocked by Ottava as a kind of last gasp, motive unclear. It may have been "you're gonna miss me, take this!" or perhaps he had better motives than that. He's got an account at betawikiversity, under Moulton, because JWS there was protecting him and is a 'crat who could do the renaming trick. I worked for Barry to be unblocked at Wikiversity, though it was not nearly as easy as with Thekohser, who was cooperative. Barry wasn't. Barry seems to crave being blocked, I suspect he'll eventually engineer it at Wikiversity. He denies the right of communities to regulate participation.

My position had been that all communities have this right, it's intrinsic and necessary, but that it is not necessarily wise to exercise it when there are lesser remedies to a problem. However, sooner or later, Barry finds a way to provoke even the most patient of communities, it isn't quite so easy to be banned from Wikipedia Review, which he pulled off. I get his email diatribes about Wikipedia Review, and he was cc'ing his correspondence with Dr. Storms to everyone and their second cousin. Something is completely off about his sense of social appropriateness; it happens with some very smart people, especially as they degrade near the end.

Some of Barry's blocks had seemed excessive to me, but ... maybe it was intuition, maybe certain people, just as Jimbo, realized that it wasn't going to work. Jimbo tried to negotiate with Barry, back in 2008, and Barry basically pissed in his face.

This recent exchange was ironic. Barry had been attacked and run out of town by the ID Cabal, which is pretty much the same people who had, long-term, sat on the Cold fusion article -- and they still are --, excluding anything that smelled like "fringe" to them, no matter how reliably sourced, same people as the Global warming cabal, etc., and arranging for anyone inconvenient to that agenda to be banned. Even if they were civil and followed all guidelines. 'nother story.....

Barry was, really, on their side, as to how they read Science. I think he just dove in, originally, because a personal friend had been attacked by them. Philosophically, he's with them.

So there you have it. That's what Abd thinks.

(See also this "abrasive comment" from TungstenCarbide.)


Blogger John Schmidt said...

apologies to Hues Corporation (Rock the Boat)

Moulton, I'd like to know where you got the notion
to rock the boat. It is as easy as Abd:
don't rock the boat, Moulton
just stay in line and don't tip the wiki boat

Ever since your wiki voyage began
your questions have struck like the rush of the wind
and your persistence has riled up a rolling sea
is there any harbor safe from your stormy pee?

they say you pissed in Jimbo's face…an ocean
and filled his heart with banhammerabic devotion
So I'd like to know where you got the notion
to cause such a brouhaha and commotion

Up to now you sailed through every storm
we've always had your parodies to keep us warm
Cold Fusion is threatened by the piss that flows from you
Moulton, you are banned, don't you know you are through?

11:07 AM  
Blogger Moulton said...

Moar Song Parodies! :)

11:19 AM  
Blogger Abd ulRahman Lomax said...

No problem with the questions, even stupid questions let us grow.
The issue's firm debate upon
belief that has no flow of reason,
no grounding in experiment,
no trust in what Nature's sent,
only a certainty that's firm
that others are without sense and rhyme, that truth will not out with time, unless we "beat out their brains" with words, unless we ridicule the brave, who sail outside the bounds of what is known, who dare to point to naked kings and question lack of clothes.

3:52 PM  
Blogger Moulton said...

To be brave is to behave bravely when your heart is faint.
So you can be really brave only when you really ain't.
--Piet Hein

4:14 PM  
Blogger Moulton said...

Abd, like Cold Fusion itself, is Measureless.

In Fusion bold did Abd's plan
A lengthy dreadful tome decree:
Where Bleagh, the sacred drivel, ran
Through text walls measureless to scan
Down to a surly spree.

7:53 AM  
Blogger Moulton said...

On Dasher and Dander
On Drivel and Blitzen
On Twitter and Facebook
On Pasten und Schnitzen

8:32 AM  
Blogger Abd ulRahman Lomax said...

By special request.

Mouton, the trolling scholar, had a very shiny poop.
and if you ever saw it, you would even say it glows.

All of the other scholars
used to laugh and call him names.
They never let poor Moulton
join in any project games.

Then one foggy November's Eve,
Rima came to say:
"Moulton with your poop so bright,
won't you light the place tonight?"

Then all the scholars loved him
as they shouted out with glee,
Moulton the trolling scholar,
you'll go down in history!

10:19 PM  
Blogger Moulton said...

You have no place to go from there but up.

11:36 PM  
Blogger John Schmidt said...

Apologies to Stephen Sondheim and Jule Styne
(Everything's Coming Up Roses)

I had a dream, a dream about fusion.
It's gonna come true, we'll be cruisin'!
If you think that we're through
I'm here to give you a clue….
We'll be swell! We'll be great!
Gonna have the whole world on a plate!
Starting here, starting now,
Cold fusion is coming up roses!

Clear the decks! Clear the tracks!
We've got Abd Lomax.
When the skeptics piss or take a dump
We don't care we take our lumps
This is no time to act like cowards…
When Moulton gives you shit…plant flowers!
With the help of these shiny shit noses
Cold fusion is coming up roses!

12:50 AM  
Blogger Moulton said...

Hey! That's not half-atrocious.

Moar Song Parodies!

6:28 AM  
Blogger Moulton said...

See this new discussion thread on Wikipedia Review, started by Abd Lomax.

See also this related talk page thread on Wikipedia.

And finally, see this corresponding note on Wikiversity.

8:49 AM  
Blogger Moulton said...

Update: GlassBeadGame made good on his threat to move Abd's W-R thread to the junk yard.

4:54 PM  
Blogger Abd ulRahman Lomax said...

yeah, GBG is clearly operating on some agenda of his own, mostly "Don't mess with me." Thin skin, perhaps. Never should be a mod on something like WR. Not my problem any more, I don't waste time posting to sites that will do or allow that. Wikipedia never went that far with me. I haven't been blocked on WR, AFAIK, but I'm not blocked on Wikipedia either.

Strange. He clearly interpreted my later comments as anti-Moulton. I don't think you'd agree, eh? But whatever. WR was never structured to be truly effective for WP criticism, it's just the local bar, where you can pass on rumors, hints, sometimes effective for that, but not reliable.

As he says, "Moulton, may he enjoy the peace of the season." No problem with that! But he's placed it in the Tar Pit and Feather Barrel, though there is no tar and feathers in it. Unless for Kww. Would he be protecting Kww? Seems unlikely. More likely, GBG is simply stupid. I plan to watch a bit and see where this goes, if anywhere. Otherwise, I wasn't posting much to WR, this just lessens my traffic a little, I have better places to put it.

5:20 PM  
Blogger Moulton said...

See, it always comes down to the difficulty of falsifying the null hypothesis vs nullifying the false hypothesis.

This is just another instance of that perennially recurring problem.

5:49 PM  

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