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The Seven Warning Signs of Voodoo Science

by ZapperZ
Tags: science, signs, voodoo, warning
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ZapperZ
#1
May13-06, 06:14 AM
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This is a good list to have in case you can't tell one way or the other.

:)

http://www.bobpark.com/Articles/SevenSigns.htm

Disclaimer: I am a fan of Bob Park.

Zz.
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Mattara
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May13-06, 06:37 AM
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Wonder if a website that has boring background color with poorly formatted text and problems with space and paragraphs could qualify as Voodoo Science?
Astronuc
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May13-06, 06:46 AM
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That's a good article.

I remember the Pons and Fleischman Cold Fusion fiasco! Our department was besieged with media and investors/investment companies asking about the discovery, while the price of palladium and platinum soared.

My first thought was, what detection methods were used, what neutron energies were observed, and what did the neutron and gamma spectra look like. No data were provided, so I was skeptical. Meanwhile, scientist PhDs were conjecturing QM theories as to how "cold fusion" could have occured, and some were trying to obtain patents on possible methods or processes.

ZapperZ
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May13-06, 07:19 AM
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The Seven Warning Signs of Voodoo Science

Quote Quote by Astronuc
That's a good article.

I remember the Pons and Fleischman Cold Fusion fiasco! Our department was besieged with media and investors/investment companies asking about the discovery, while the price of palladium and platinum soared.

My first thought was, what detection methods were used, what neutron energies were observed, and what did the neutron and gamma spectra look like. No data were provided, so I was skeptical. Meanwhile, scientist PhDs were conjecturing QM theories as to how "cold fusion" could have occured, and some were trying to obtain patents on possible methods or processes.
I have my own anecdote of the whole debacle.

When the whole story broke, I had just completed my Masters thesis research on adsorbed hydrogen on platinum catalyst. Now unlike palladium (which was the material Fleishman and Pons used) where the hydrogen was absorbed right into the bulk of the material, we found that hydrogen in platinum only tends to reside on the surface (thus the "adsorbed" part). This means that they are confined to within a certain thickness and thus, a greater likelyhood of bumping into one another.

I got contacted by someone who had a copy of the F&P manuscript that they had submitted to Nature (before it was rejected), gave me a copy of it, and asked if I would be interested in investigating the same thing but using Pt wires instead of Pd. Silly cow that was me said "No, I already had a job offer and not sure (at that time) if I wanted to continue in getting a Ph.D".

That was one of the few times that my impulsive reaction to something actually did me some good!

:)

Zz.
Astronuc
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May13-06, 07:55 AM
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I should have gone out the day it was announced and bought contracts in Pd and Pt, and then sold them the next day.

What got me is the ridiculous conjectures as to how Pd could permit fusion at such low temperature. People were talking about the complete 4d level and how deuterons could get close enough. It was mind boggling what some people in the scientific community were theorizing.


BTW, I am a fan of James Randi.

http://www.randi.org/

http://www.skeptic.com/
Doc Al
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May13-06, 08:10 AM
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Quote Quote by ZapperZ
Disclaimer: I am a fan of Bob Park.
No shame in that! Me too. I had the chance to meet him at a conference a couple of years ago; had a chat over breakfast and got him to sign my copy of Voodoo Science.

Great anecdote about cold fusion and P&F, Zz. I remember at that time getting a desk-to-desk memo all throughout the labs where I worked warning us in stern terms to not attempt to duplicate these experiments.

Quote Quote by Astronuc
BTW, I am a fan of James Randi.
Me too! Gotta love him.
ZapperZ
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May13-06, 08:36 AM
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Quote Quote by Doc Al
No shame in that! Me too. I had the chance to meet him at a conference a couple of years ago; had a chat over breakfast and got him to sign my copy of Voodoo Science.
Drat! I am so jealous. He's the one guy I would like to sign his book. I had Leon Lederman autograph his book "The God Particles", but I think I'm going to put it on e-bay some time soon. :)

I was planning on meeting him one time at the APS March meeting when they announced that he was going to be there, but then he had a strange "encounter" with a falling tree, and that was that. :)

Great anecdote about cold fusion and P&F, Zz. I remember at that time getting a desk-to-desk memo all throughout the labs where I worked warning us in stern terms to not attempt to duplicate these experiments.
Hahahaha....

Zz.
Astronuc
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May13-06, 08:42 AM
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Quote Quote by Doc Al
Great anecdote about cold fusion and P&F, Zz. I remember at that time getting a desk-to-desk memo all throughout the labs where I worked warning us in stern terms to not attempt to duplicate these experiments.
Yeah, fortunately sanity prevailed for the most part , but not necessarily everywhere .

Boy was I in bad mood whenever people asked me about P&F and CF.
Tzemach
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May13-06, 09:33 AM
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A great article with which I wholly agree. Even when you develop a "new" theory and start to do some research you find yourself working in the footsteps of those who have gone before. Your original concept has been examined and discarded and you are then working on the same Darned problem as a lot of other people.

The public at large is not involved enough to understand this and if we are realistic we have to admit even science has historically been a bit reluctant to accept change. Poor Galileo was forced to recant his heresy and admit that the Earth did not revolve around the Sun. The French Academy of Science prudently decreed in the 1700s that meteors were bunkum, not worthy of study or further discussion. “Rocks do not fall from the sky!” They changed their minds in 1803, following a meteor storm, which showered a village with meteorites.

In 1959 a survey of leading United States scientists included a question asking them to estimate the age of the universe. Two thirds of the scientists who replied said, “there is no age – the universe is eternal”. In a period of less than half a century the view that we live in a static eternal universe (a view which had persisted since the days of Plato and Aristotle) has been shown to be false.

We should not be complacent enough to think that we will all be smart enough to instantly recognise the next big breakthrough, even Einstein was viewed cautiously until it became evident that his calculations accurately described the various pheomena.
Rach3
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May13-06, 09:43 AM
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Quote Quote by Doc Al
Great anecdote about cold fusion and P&F, Zz. I remember at that time getting a desk-to-desk memo all throughout the labs where I worked warning us in stern terms to not attempt to duplicate these experiments.
I don't get it?
russ_watters
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May13-06, 09:55 AM
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Quote Quote by Astronuc
That's a good article.
Good book too - A lot of that is excerpted or paraphrased from it.
Astronuc
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May13-06, 01:02 PM
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Park has a great disclaimer on his newsletter referenced in one thread by Zz.


Bob Park can be reached via email at whatsnew@bobpark.org

THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND
"Opinions are the author's and are not necessarily shared by the University, but they should be."
D@#* right!
Chi Meson
#13
May13-06, 02:23 PM
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Quote Quote by ZapperZ
Disclaimer: I am a fan of Bob Park.
I am also, as of now, a new fan. My students will be getting this read to them from now on!

and yeah, what's with the bad formatting?
franznietzsche
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May13-06, 02:48 PM
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I preferred Sagain's 'The Demon Haunted World' personally.
Doc Al
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May13-06, 05:00 PM
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Quote Quote by franznietzsche
I preferred Sagan's 'The Demon Haunted World' personally.
Another excellent book!
Ivan Seeking
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May15-06, 02:08 AM
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Quote Quote by Astronuc
BTW, I am a fan of James Randi.
That's a real shame. IMO, he can be as much of a crackpot as the people he debunks.
Doc Al
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May15-06, 07:50 AM
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Quote Quote by Ivan Seeking
That's a real shame. IMO, he can be as much of a crackpot as the people he debunks.
You've made similar remarks before about Randi. Care to explain?
Astronuc
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May15-06, 07:52 AM
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Quote Quote by Ivan Seeking
That's a real shame. IMO, he can be as much of a crackpot as the people he debunks.
Well someone has to do the debunking. Better him than me.

Note, I didn't say big fan, but I certainly appreciate his efforts, especially when it comes to religious fraud.

I don't expect Randi to be an expert in all areas scientific.

A lot of scientists have good comments/opinions about him - http://www.randi.org/jr/bio.html


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