The Seven Warning Signs of Voodoo Science

  1. ZapperZ

    ZapperZ 30,167
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  2. jcsd
  3. Wonder if a website that has boring background color with poorly formatted text and problems with space and paragraphs could qualify as Voodoo Science? :rolleyes:
     
  4. Astronuc

    Staff: Mentor

    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. :yuck:

    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. :rolleyes: :yuck:
     
  5. ZapperZ

    ZapperZ 30,167
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    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.
     
  6. Astronuc

    Staff: Mentor

    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. :rolleyes:


    BTW, I am a fan of James Randi. :biggrin:

    http://www.randi.org/

    http://www.skeptic.com/
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2006
  7. Doc Al

    Staff: Mentor

    No shame in that! :smile: 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. :rolleyes:

    Me too! Gotta love him.
     
  8. ZapperZ

    ZapperZ 30,167
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    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. :)

    Hahahaha....

    Zz.
     
  9. Astronuc

    Staff: Mentor

    Yeah, fortunately sanity prevailed for the most part :approve: , but not necessarily everywhere :rolleyes: .

    Boy was I in bad mood whenever people asked me about P&F and CF. :grumpy:
     
  10. 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.
     
  11. I don't get it?
     
  12. russ_watters

    Staff: Mentor

    Good book too - A lot of that is excerpted or paraphrased from it.
     
  13. Astronuc

    Staff: Mentor

    Park has a great disclaimer on his newsletter referenced in one thread by Zz.


    :rofl: D@#* right!
     
  14. Chi Meson

    Chi Meson 1,772
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    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?
     
  15. I preferred Sagain's 'The Demon Haunted World' personally.
     
  16. Doc Al

    Staff: Mentor

    Another excellent book!
     
  17. Ivan Seeking

    Ivan Seeking 12,535
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    That's a real shame. IMO, he can be as much of a crackpot as the people he debunks.
     
  18. Doc Al

    Staff: Mentor

    You've made similar remarks before about Randi. Care to explain?
     
  19. Astronuc

    Staff: Mentor

    Well someone has to do the debunking. :biggrin: Better him than me. :rofl:

    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
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2006
  20. Curious3141

    Curious3141 2,970
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    That's a rather sweeping statement to be making. In fact, in another thread, you were insisting Randi owes payouts to cortically blind people who could sense facially expressed emotions, claiming it was a paranormal phenomenon. I posted in that thread to explain why that obviously didn't qualify as anything approaching paranormalcy (is there such a word?).

    You obviously have some biases against Randi. I'd like to give you the benefit of the doubt and believe that those biases must have arisen from justified negative impressions formed in the past. I am curious what turned you so strongly against him, though.
     
  21. ZapperZ

    ZapperZ 30,167
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    Oh, you have GOT to read Bob Park's column this week if you haven't done so already - it's hysterical!!

    http://www.bobpark.org/

    Zz.
     
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