Monday, June 30, 2008

Scientific Fraud

Is there more of it than you think? This article seems to think so.

The data presented in the article were restricted to the US health and biological science, so it simply "extrapolated" into the rest of science. Now, even if this is true, that there are "... three incidences of fraud for every 100 researchers...", one needs to evaluate two important things as far as physics is concerned:

(1) were these part of important, high-profiled work and publications?

(2) did it get through to the stage where it was being used as a valid source?

The two instances mentioned in the article (the Schon and Ninov debacles) certainly fit #1, but this is out of how many high-profiled work? The thing we need to keep in mind here is that these high-profiled work, published in major journals, are usually highly scrutinized. So one certainly cannot get away with a lot of things, much less, fraudulent results, since someone is bound to try and reproduce your results. This is why it is still a major puzzlement why Schon did what he did, as if he didn't think someone was going to try and reproduce his results. So these important works in physics usually are not affected by frauds, because it is just way too difficult to get away with it.

Now, certainly such things are less scrutinized in lesser journals. But most of these very seldom become significant work that we rely on. And this brings us to #2. How many of these frauds actually made it "out" and into the stages where they were applied and used? I don't know of any. Why? Because if it is fraudulent, it would not work, no matter how much you try! That was the problem with the Schon results, no one could reproduce it! It could not get out of the scrutiny part and into the applied/application part.

The point here is that fraudulent work in physics hasn't made it out too far for it to mislead or fool enough people. (I'm distinguishing this from outright crackpottery such as the "hydrino".) If it doesn't work, it doesn't work, no matter how one tries to hide the fraud. Science, and certainly physics, is still a slave to Mother Nature.

Because the PRACTICE of science is a human endeavor, it is why we have peer-reviewed process, and then further scrutiny by others in the field. If not, why bother with all of the circus? The public and the media should be made aware of this, and this is why any results or discoveries should be given the proper "gestation period" for the system to work. The fact that something has been published isn't really the end of the story, but rather the beginning of a detailed, careful scrutiny. It is when the public and the media forget about this is when they are "misled".

Zz.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

An interesting article. However two things are not correct:
a) it is scientific not scentific,
b) hydrino is not a fraud, on the contrary it will solve many problems, including energy.
Please go to the BalcklightPower site and make your homework.
Peter Gluck
Editor of Info Kappa
http://info.kappa.ro
UPC Romania
peter.gluck@gmail.com

ZapperZ said...

First of all, it is "Blacklight", not "Balcklight". So be careful when you try to be picky about typos, because it will come back and bite you on your rear end.

Secondly, how is a reference to the same company that has been perpetuating this fraud proves that it is not a fraud? You might as well say that the Kinoki foot pad really works - just look at the informercial! Considering that all the Blacklight Power co. has managed to do all these years is get money out of its investors but has produced ZERO demonstration that it works is my sufficient proof.

In one swoop, you have just destroyed your credibility.

Zz.

Anonymous said...

If you are going to pick an idea to exemplify scientific fraud, I suggest you pick one that has a "worse" track record at predicting physically observed phenomena than the scientifically accepted one. Last I checked, hydrino theory accurately calculates molecular properties such as binding energy and bond angle for hundreds of molecules. Schroedinger-based models? Not so much.

ZapperZ said...

.. and where exactly did you "check" this? Wikipedia?

I'm not the only one, btw, who questioned this. Bob Park has had a series of entries on this hydrino debacle for years. So nothing that I'm saying here is anything new.

And what exactly are "schrodinger-based models"? Did quantum chemistry suddenly got simplified? Did someone threw out the density-functional theory?

Zz.

Anonymous said...

Something a little more reliable than Wikipedia actually - it's called a calculator. They're terrifically useful, perhaps you might consider consulting one sometime.

ZapperZ said...

Not a peer-reviewed publication, but a calculator.... right...

You're not making your case any less dubious, you know that, don't you? You should have stopped while you were ahead.

A "calculator"?! Really now!

Zz.

Anonymous said...

Now some might take this comment as evidence how badly off the rails modern "physics" has veered. You denigrate the use of a calculator in preference to a "peer-reviewed" journal. Tell me, to become a "peer" for one of these journals, is it a requirement to have a similar disdain for the lowly calculator?

ZapperZ said...

The "disdain" wasn't on the calculator. The "disdain" was on the source and reason you gave for the validity for what you consider to be more "accurate". Any moron can punch in numbers into a calculator. It takes no skill nor knowledge. But how do you know that the model you used to punch into the calculator actually is valid?

The fact that you can't produce a valid source that has been published is sufficient proof. If you think this blog actually is a forum to discuss unverified crackpottery, you have just wasted your time.

This topic is closed.

Zz.

Doug Natelson said...

Randall Mills (mr. hydrino) is, in physics parlance, willfully ignorant. I had the misfortune of being asked (I guess 12 years ago or so) to read his "theory". The guy doesn't understand electrodynamics, special relativity, or quantum mechanics. Seriously, the supposed calculations related to bond angles, etc., are based on mathematically and physically incorrect expressions. They give numbers for the same reason that epicycles can approximate the motion of the planets - they were designed to.

AA said...

You are wrong in one major point: it takes several years and work of tens of people to prove that some "discovery" is wrong. I know number of big "discoveries" which proved to be wrong after 2-3-4-5 years. In all these cases it was assigned to undeliberate mistakes or not assigned to anything at all. Just worng and that's it (or "poorly reproduced"). In all these case people who reported "discovery" (or may be fraud?) got significant profits in terms of romotions, financing etc. In sme cases, these people NOW distrubute grants in the same field where their major discovery (key to get on the top!) are proved to be wrong. Smart fraud (not too much of it abd possibility to sign it off to undeliberate mistakes) is generally very much REWAERDING and risk of doing it is rather limited. Actually, whictleblowers who try to expose this fraud take much higher risks compared to fraudsters. Also, there are fields of research where number of working professionals is very limited, there are not enough independent researchers who are able to prove that "discovery" is wrong. In that kind of field one powerful fraudster could keep things under control for tens of years. I am 100% sure that about 3% of whole research fields in physics are pure nonsence of that kind. In 99% fraud cases it is simply impossible to prove that mistake is DELIBERATE. Otherwise, anyone has right for mistakes, right?

Anonymous said...

I personally know some fraudsters with high profile publications. So what? I tried to whistleblower in one case and nearly lost my whole scientific career. Results? Paper in questions was retracted, all mistakes admitted as undeliberate and person who committed it continues to publish the same nonsence, extended financing of own "research" and generally has no problem. I got image of "agressive" guy and my name was wahsed with dirt in newspapers. More exposures? No, thanks, without me please... The whole point of investigation was : ok, this, that or that was wrong, but can you PROVE that these mistakes were "deliberate"? How can anyone anyhow PROVE it? memory lapses, mistakes in arithmetics , misplacement of samples etc can explain everything if necessary...

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Anonymous said...

It is a matter of perspective. Hydrinos are not about science (they have long since been superseded by doofusinos in any event). You may not be able to drive a car powered by hydrinos, but somewhere in New Jersey $50M is being spent. And spending money is fun. To take an idea on the intellectual level of a flat earth, and be able to milk it for $50M over a couple of decades, despite constant jeering, now that is human brilliance.

But isn't this why the long-suffering taxpayers have built prisons? Where are the NJ prosecutors? I hope they are keeping an eye out for any kind of public offering what with $140 oil.