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"Cold Fusion": The Storytellers Got It Wrong
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Readers of New Energy Times know that a lot has changed since the news of "cold fusion" broke in 1989. But most other people don't. Many New Energy Times readers wonder why this gap exists.

The gap has resulted from continued communication of incorrect and outdated facts based on events that took place in 1989. At that time, critics dismissed the idea of "cold fusion" as junk, or pathological, science. But they dismissed it in error and for the wrong reasons.

Theories Guide; Experiments Decide
In 1989, critics saw "cold fusion" as a preposterous idea because it made no sense according to their understanding of nuclear physics. The phenomena turned out to be based not on fusion but on weak interactions and neutron-capture processes. But that didn't come to light until the Widom-Larsen theory published in 2006. When the critics dismissed the field on the basis of theory, they forgot a crucial part of science philosophy: Experiments, not theory, are the final arbiters of scientific validity.

You Can't Prove a Negative
Critics were also frustrated because, as was the case in many scientific conflicts, proving a negative was impossible. Additionally, their prejudice kept them from learning about valid experimental results that supported the claims.

The 1989 critics failed to follow correct protocol of scientific skepticism. Because they couldn't disprove the experimental phenomena, they used simplistic, often-irrelevant excuses to dismiss the field and depict its proponents as unscientific.

As the years went by, few people re-examined the field to see what information was new and what was outdated. As a result, the story that most people told was based on the viewpoints of these early critics. They got the story wrong. Here are just a few examples.


U.C. Berkeley / National Science Foundation
Professor John Cotton, Southern Methodist University
Professor Donald Olander, U.C. Berkeley
California Energy Commission