Someone Else Being Wrong Doesn’t Make You Right

Cold-fusion-time I am preparing to speak to a major public power association early next week on the impact of disruptive technologies. Among other things, I will be discussing breakthroughs in solar, wind, biofuels, wave power, energy demand managment, and fuel cell technology. I will also being mentioning possible breakthroughs in the field of “cold fusion.”

The field has been held in very low regard since 1989 when other scientists could not reproduce the results of Martin Fleishmann and Stanley Pons. Humiliated by the scientific establishment, Fleishmann and Pons were forced to close their labs, flee the country and, basically, drop out of sight.

This was unfortunate because it highlights a behavior many of us must unlearn: Proving another person wrong does not prove us right. To wit, just because Fleishmann and Pons were not successful in achieving nuclear fusion at room temperature does not mean that it can’t or won’t be done sometime in the future.

Today, scores of researchers have now picked up the mantle of Fleishmann and Pons and are working on cold fusion. I don’t know enough about the field to say with any certainty if they will be successful but I’d remind skeptics that someone else’s wrong doesn’t necessarily make you right.


  1. Lonny Eachus says:

    A number of scientists over subsequent years have observed anomalous energy surges in rigs similar to that used by Fleishmann and Pons. Some have speculated that it may actually be “cold fusion” after all. But I am not aware of anyone yet being able to control the effect or make it appear on demand.
    So although we don’t appear to be much closer to controllable fusion using this particular technique, it may be that Fleishmann and Pons were right all along.

  2. Jack Uldrich says:

    It’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out. I won’t be surprised if Fleishmann and Pons are vindicated by history.

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