San Bruno Memorial Commentaries

by various thinkers who are worth getting to know

This was net stuff in the early 1990's BEFORE WWW.


From: William Beaty <billb@eskimo.ocm>

To: vortex-l@eskimo.com

Here's something I quite enjoyed. If the below concept is applied to beliefs in general rather than beliefs about oneself, then it can

be applied to EITHER side of the CF or the overunity debate and the psychology involved becomes quite a lot clearer.

Skeptics are apparently using the Forer Effect to bash those with 'irrational' beliefs, yet they don't realize how much of their own knowledge is also based on systems of beliefs. Beware of the assumption that some misguided souls have a mental filter which distorts reality, and that you yourself do not! The same 'filtering' effect applies to the interpretation of experimental results throughout science, and to the large portion of modern science which involves the worldview of its practitioners rather than specific testable facts.

FROM:

http://wheel.ucdavis.edu/~btcarrol/skeptic/dict7.html#Forer

SKEPTIC'S DICTIONARY

the Forer effect (aka the P.T. Barnum

effect)

A type of selective thinking whereby one, when presented with

numerous general and specific claims about oneself or someone

one knows, ignores the inaccuracies while interpreting the general claims as accurate. Forer convinced people he could successfully read their character and amazed his victims at how accurate he was, though his personality analysis was taken from a newstand astrology column and was presented to people without regard to their sign.

P.T. Barnum, of Barnum & Bailey Circus fame, is known not only for saying that there's a sucker born every minute but also for noting that people are very selective in what they will believe about themselves. People will accept as true claims they know are false about themselves if they wish the claims were true. People will also give very liberal interpretations to vague claims about themselves or events in order to make the claims fit. People will also ignore false specific claims made by the "psychic" fortune teller, mind reader,etc., and by words or actions will actually provide the "psychic" with most of the information the client (i.e., sucker) thinks has come from the the crystal ball,

-Bill Beaty


From: Jed Rothwell <72240.1256@compuserve.com>

To: <vortex-l@mail.eskimo.com>

Subject: More on Conspiracies

I would like to satisfy Bill Page's curiosity, but this discussion group is not supposed to be about politics or even General CF topics outside of the sonofusion gadgets. I feel bad about posting a long off topic message. But since I wrote it, here it. Bill asks:

"I have never heard this reported before. I do not recall any public statements by P&F about contacting anyone concerning national security issues.

There never were any public statements about this, and there never will be. End of Story. :-}

"Also, suppose someone did contact someone who might have known something about the supposed conspiracy. How would you expect them to react? Dismissing it and playing it down would be a far better tactic than showing interest by taking some drastic action."

Ummmm. . . Let me just say that I know people in the government, and people who were formerly in Government, and people who were involved in

espionage during the Second World War, who are now mostly dead of old age. In my opinion, the government does not have the smarts to carry out a complicated plan or a concerted conspiracy. The CIA Ames case demonstrates the typical level of sophistication and competency in gov't agencies.

"It seems more likely to me that it [the conspiracy] was started and continued by the scientists who understood the implications of these early tests. But of course to continue it for such a long period must have required both great subtly and some luck. As the years past, of course, it probably got easier."

I think I have talked to most of the scientists in this world who understood the implications of the early tests: Pons and Fleischmann, Bockris, McKubre, Mallove, Oriani . . . I don't know of any other group of scientists in the government or the universities who are even conversant with the experiments. There are not many influential scientists and policy makers, after all. We know who has made decisions vis-a-vis funding and publishing CF work, and we know why they made these decisions. We do not need to invoke a conspiracy to explain a course of events which is well documented, or actions which were taken boldly and publicly, by people who will speak out today and proudly justify their actions. We know the members of ERAB panel, and what they think today. I just got video of an ERAB panel member explaining his position about CF at the SOFE conference. I am sure he means what he says.

Jed: "Over the years they have made no effort to suppress that information or any other information about CF.

Bill: "On the contrary, you yourself have often lamented the difficulties that researchers face in trying to publize their research . . .

Oh, I did not mean that. I mean there has been no organized effort to suppress the information because of national security or for some other reason. All of the difficulties are caused by overt, unorganized, publicly expressed opposition. The people at the APS and the Scientific American get a kick out of lampooning CF, and the hot fusion people denounce it because they are afraid their budget will be cut. People make fun of CF for the same reason I occasionally poke fun at the creationists or fortune tellers. They think it is unscientific bunk. They are angry and they suppress it for the same reason I would be upset if some guy tried to bring creationist textbooks into my daughter's public school biology class.

"Technology is not science.

So I've heard. Nobody has ever demonstrated to me where one ends and the other begins. It is kind of like saying that investment is not gambling, or love is not sex. As far as I can tell, it is a distinction without a difference.

"I think it is a fairly new development that purely scientific results

have begun to be to be advertised in the popular press."

I think you should go back and read popular journals and magazines from 1903 to 1945.

"I have always had the opinion that "real" scientists felt that such publicity was in very bad taste, even "un-professional" conduct. My impression of Martin Fleischmann is that he is very much such a scientist of this "old school" and that all the publicity that resulted from their announcement was an embarrassment to him. Why would he have been willing to subject himself to that?

Martin did not *willingly* subject himself to the Brouhaha of 1989! Good God No. It was a nightmare for him. He opposed it from the start, and he correctly predicted that it would be a fiasco. I sometime think that if it had been left up to Stan and Martin, they would still be puttering around getting ready to announce CF today. For that reason, I am glad that events got out of control and the University spilled the beans. I do not think that the nature of the introduction seriously hurt the prospects for CF. Yes, I know that many professors profess shock & horror at the idea of pandering and prostituting science in the pursuit of filthy lucre and mere publicity for the university. I watch the cable TV coverage of Congress. Every week some guy says that during funding hearings before the SS&T committee, as he maneuvers and horse-trades to nail down another $20 million. I have heard the lamentations and declarations that If Only cold fusion had been introduced according to the proper forms & traditions & rituals of science and published beforehand, it would have been fairly & impartially judged by its merits and quiet replication would have followed and bla, bla, bla. Sorry, I don't buy that. CF could have been introduced on a silver platter surrounded by a chorus of golden angels singing in five part harmony. It would have made no difference. A fiasco would have developed no matter how it was introduced, Pons and Fleischmann would have driven out of the country no matter what. There are dozens of recent similar examples from other areas of science. I have a growing collection in my filecabinet. Any scientist who discovers something that will cost other people lots of money has two choices: he can shut up, or he can watch his reputation get trashed and career go down the tubes. A week after the introduction of CF or any other controversial idea, the opposition will begin trashing it and publishing fake data to prove it is wrong. That's what people do. That's human nature. People's jobs are at stake. Billions of dollars millions in government funding are at stake. We are talking money, status, political power . . . People will not give those things up without a fight. The brouhaha surrounding CF is not about science or theory. It's about money.

Do not imagine that we live in a degenerate age in which academic freedom has been suppressed. It has always been this way. When it's Money versus Truth, truth usually loses. Perhaps we are at low ebb at the moment; perhaps our standards are particularly rotten, but I doubt it. You can find examples of the suppression of new ideas in every era, in every society. It is like any other social evil: crime, prostitution, sweat shop exploitation, antitrust violations, Wall Street corruption . . . These things are endemic. We can reduce the levels of social pathologies, but we can never eliminate them. The most dangerous attitude to take is to pretend that they do not exist. People who claim that science works only according to the just, objective, long established traditions of peer review and so on are dangerously deluded. That is *exactly* like thinking that Wall Street works according to the pure, unsullied laws of objective free market capitalism. It does to some extent, but it also has large doses of corruption, kickbacks, stock price manipulation, terror, and violent crime. That is true of science too, of course. It has to be. Science is done by people. Science rakes in a lot of money. There are evil people in every walk of life.

- Jed


From: little@eden.com (Scott Little)

To: vortex-l@eskimo.com

spfising (n) 1: endless bickering between two or more irreconcilable parties. 2: the transformation of something useful into something useless.



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