LENR, the Media and the Scientific Community: Conspiracy or Prejudice
Martin Fleischmann’s death earlier this month and the recent NIWeek conference have brought low energy nuclear reaction (LENR) some attention. Yet the recent developments including the public demonstration of cold fusion devices have not attracted much media attention.
Not even the public announcement by NASA that it was working on LENR and that NASA scientists think LENR space planes are possible attracted much attention.
It’s hard to say why the media does anything but one possibility is that reporters don’t like the idea of getting burned or made to look foolish. That’s exactly what happened back in 1989 when Pons and Fleischmann made their fusion announcement at the University of Utah.
Pons and Fleischmann had made an exciting discovery that raised the possibility of a new energy source. They didn’t actually discover a new energy source only evidence that a phenomenon that might point the way to one existed. Unfortunately this was blown all out of proportion. The reporters behaved as if Pons and Fleischmann were showing off a working LENR device they were not.
To make matters worse cold fusion quickly got caught up in scientific politics. Pons and Fleischmann were chemists and they dared to say that physicists might be wrong by pointing out the existence of phenomenon which physics could not explain. To make matters worse they raised the possibility of a cheaper alternative to hot fusion and the vast amounts of research money it brought into the Big Physics establishment.
The physicists won the debate largely because early LENR experiments could not be duplicated at the time. It took years of hard work and effort to duplicate LENR. The media went along with them because saying Pons and Fleischmann were charlatans was better than admitting that reporters had got the story wrong. Good men’s reputations were sacrificed on the altar of journalistic arrogance and scientific politics.
There was no conspiracy by oil companies to kill LENR back in 1989 just arrogance, incompetence, short sightedness, prejudice and ignorance on the part of journalists and scientists. That of course on some level is scarier than a conspiracy theory, the so called people of science and reason let their self-interest and emotion get in the way of science and truth.
Since then certain physicists have done everything in their power to silence any talk of LENR. Journalists have gone along with them because they don’t want to look wrong or silly.
The LENR story doesn’t show evidence of a conspiracy instead it simply shows the short comings of modern science and journalism. Both fields have become so politicized that progress and real achievement in either is difficult. In both fields an arrogant elite is able to dictate truth not because of any ability or intelligence but because they control access to the money. Anybody that dares question “authority” is cut off from the cash and denounced as a nut. A researcher that wants to look into LENR risks losing her job. A reporter that wants to write about it risks being exiled to the world of freelance blogging.
Perhaps it is time we started pressing for a major reorganization of both science and journalism. Both fields have lost their way and abandoned their core values. We need to look for ways to get politics out of both science and journalism. One possibility will be make both fields more decentralized and accountable to the free market rather than any sort of “authority.”