The end of the E-Cat saga – or maybe not

It’s been a lot of fun to follow Andrea Rossi’s E-Cat scam over the past five years.

Before Rossi, I had not been following cold fusion controversy for that many years though. The academic world pretty much forgot about it since the disaster devised by Fleischmann and Pons. At that time I was working for national radiation security in Finland and was very exited of  possibility of cold fusion, as were many others. Until it became clear that nobody could actually replicate what F&P claimed, so my interest vanished.

The interest was revived by one Italian “businessman” Andrea Rossi. I was amazed that Sven Kullander and Hanno Essén, two Swedish physicists, actually believed Rossi had something.

So I started following Rossi and occasionally wrote down my thoughts in my blog (in Finnish).

At one point, I got a comment from one AlainCo. I asked him not to comment my Finnish blog in English, because it would not serve any purpose; he clearly did not understand what I wrote (In Finnish) but did choose to comment anyway.

I admit that I was a bit offended by his aggressive mission to evangelize LENR, so you might want to thank him for waking me up to bug the cold fusion community.

I know many people are offended by my commentary around the Internet  and I cannot blame them. Though I think many people wrongly take critique against their views personally, I have not always been following good manners when writing what I think. That remains my shame only.

Now, I do not know if there is anything behind LENR/Cold fusion, maybe there is. But I am pretty sure it is nothing usable to energy production. Please do not ask me to investigate “evidence”, I have investigated and found nothing but scattered claims, wishful thinking, sloppy tinkering and downright lunacy.

Cold fusion seems to be similar to paranormal: there is only anecdotal evidence without repeatability. I fear many cold fusion researchers are not recognizing their failure to observe objectively. None of us can do that, we are human.

What comes to Andrea Rossi, no one sane should have any doubt:: His endeavor is a  classical fraud. And if he has something real, he has done a formidable job in making it look like absolute bullshit.

But he probably knows exactly what he is doing; he knows many won’t be able to see behind his smoke and mirrors and sleigh of hand.

Actually, I believe Rossi may weasel his way out of this and even get some more money [1]. Also, He will probably become a messiah for his believers, taking his great secret to his grave.

Who knows, its a weird world.

Some of the original Rossi fans like AlainCo and Jed Rothwell seem to see the light now, which is somewhat amazing [2].

Others are building they personal neverlands and turning into complete maniacs, like Torkel Nyberg of the Sifferkoll [3]. His writings have lately resembled nothing but musings of a madman. If Torkel is honest and actually believes what he writes, I feel sorry for him. But then,  given the fact that Internet is full of false prophets,  collateral damage is inevitable.

However, the most enigmatic person for me is Mats Lewan. He has recently closed the comments on his site and seems to be completely assimilated by the E-Cat cult by now [4].







I believe… the Internet simply makes you stranger

Several years ago I was out for dinner with a number of my colleagues.

They were mostly engineers, technical people, maybe one or two business weasels had joined the motley crew. Very intelligent and experienced people from Finland, Japan and America, if I recall the gathering correctly.

I remember making a rather long speech, I may not have been completely sober,  how I believe the Internet is the best thing ever happened to democracy.

But democracy has its limitations, that is, even the ignorant can have they say.  You can vote without knowing why you vote, who you vote, you can do this even without caring what you are doing.

I know this is not a politically correct statement, but how can you really avoid thinking about it: In a democratic election, all votes are equal whether or not you care, or understand what you are doing. How can it be so?

Internet should be the democracy of knowledge. That is fine.

But there is also intellectual ignorance, abundant in the Internet, people not caring what is true and creating they own realities. There is also intellectual terrorism in the Internet, people to are deliberately spreading false claims or outright lies, for one reason or the other,  usually for money.

We have vaccinations critics, we have alternative medicine, we have climate change denial, just to name a few. And it is not so rare that people who support one false idea, support also an other.

These things are not only incredibly stupid, they simply can kill.

Are the people who are promoting alternative realities ready to take responsibility of their actions? I don’t think so, at least it does not seem that way to me.

One phenomenon that is widespread in the Internet  is false expectations for technology, based on bad engineering, pseudoscience and wishful thinking.   And or course, lying for financial benefit.

Internet can make you think that technology and science are advancing to directions they are not. Sure, they are advancing fast, but not as fast as some would like to think.

And fairy-tales are not helping.

We have intellectual ignorance, cowardice, terror and the fairy-tales. What can we do? Of course, you can’t have intellectual dictatorship, or be required to have a license to think, no more than you are required to have a license to vote, in a democratic country.

We all just need understanding, how to learn to care what we think is true; and what, who, and why we want to vote.

I still think the Internet is the best thing ever happened to democracy. But all good things come with a price. The Internet is a powerful entity we have created, and we should take good care, that our children and grandchildren learn how to use it.

And learn it before they learn to read.

Happy New Year in the new, free thinking, democratic world. Lets be carefully out there.


Heat Ledger in “The Dark Knight”: Warner Bros. Pictures, 2008