Thanks Ed, Dennis and particularly Abd for weighing in on this. I was contacted by Avra Michelson very early in November and did speak to her and her associate. They planned to have the interviews completed by mid December so Steve was one of, if not the last. I would guess that they had talked to enough “primary sources” (hands on scientists) by then to place his comments in the “opinion” category in their analysis. If she did not speak to any or all of you three then the methodology (a recommendation chain) is likely unsound.
I doubt that any on this list needs to be told this but neither I nor anyone else at SRI “fabricated” data associated with M4 (or anything else that I am aware of). We had occasion to reanalyze those data, found an error in the EPRI report (a private document at that point), and communicated that promptly to the only person who was aware or cared (in the mid-to-late `90′s) – the EPRI Program Manager. Later published reports in the open literature are (I believe) correct, and I have had no reason to doubt or refine them in the past dozen years.
People sometimes question the value a “traditional” scientific education but this case highlights one of its clear benefits. Poor Steve simply does not know what he does not know. His sustained semantic confusion about fusion (despite Ed’s many corrections) and failure to understand the issues surrounding helium mass balance, have spoiled his view, to which he is entitled, but for which he is not credentialed. I don’t want to pick a fight with Steve (“Never pick a fight with someone who buys his ink by the barrel” and share fully the view stated by Lew: “We all need to end the ‘war’ and behave more like scientists instead of polemicists”. I also don’t want to irritate or demean the many “civilian scientists” on this list who have contributed much, in many cases brilliantly. But to reinforce the point made by Dennis one must learn, primarily, from the primary sources. Interpretation of data without access to the lab notebooks and detailed knowledge of the procedures actually employed, is worse than fruitless, as this case demonstrates.
[New Energy Times has directly addressed each issue in McKubre's second paragraph above, in our letter "To Whom It May Concern, Dec. 21, 2011, as well as in our letters to SRI International and to EPRI. We show that each of McKubre's statements are inconsistent with the facts.]