Skeptopaths, cryptodenialists and saboteurs vs LENR
Skeptopathy is persisting in an erroneous disbelief in spite of logic and evidence to the contrary. Skeptopaths suffer from chronic, irrational beliefs that certain phenomena are not true, improbable or non-existent for the sole reason that they are unusual, controversial, novel or disruptive to a belief system or ideology. Skeptopathy is not a personality disorder or a mental illness - it is an intellectual weakness, an inability to think logically characterized by arguing-from-authority and the use of ad-hominems and logical fallacies to defend one's position, a position often borne out of the wish that something is not true. Cryptodenialism is a cloaked denial of facts for ulterior motives such as jealousy or opposing financial interests. A great majority of academics are skeptopaths. It has been suggested that skeptopathy arises as a consequence of trauma, suffered from having been forced to adopt a faith-based belief system (religion, homeopathy etc.) but we think that it is more likely that the more a person assumes they know (have been taught), the more rigid the belief that this "knowledge" is perfect. The more effort and resources spent on an education, the more resistance to abandoning the knowledge it yielded. Likewise with the more status the skeptopath has in his field, the less inclined he will be to undermine the foundations of his hard-won position.
A close cousin of the skeptopath is the magical thinker, the "believer", he who believes things merely because he wishes them to be true. A complication is that "believers" often have irrational reasons to believe facts that are however still true, and this aids skeptopaths and cryptodenialists in their public atacks on the veracity of those facts. Sometimes the believers' arguments are handed to them by cryptodenialists, so that they can shoot them down later as "proof" that the entire "conspiracy theory" or "crackpot hoax" is nothing but that.
George Hody/"Mary Yugo" in a photograph taken decades ago.
There is no sharp boundary between skeptopathy and cryptodenialism. Cryptodenialists often display skeptopathic traits. Where skeptopaths are mainly "stupid" (in spite of the fact that they can score very high on an IQ test and be lauded academics), cryptodenialists are mainly "evil" but these traits can occur in the same person, as we will discuss in the example of "Mary Yugo", the accidentally-revealed alias of George Lawrence Hody, who used to be the VP of Thermonetics Corp, a tiny company that made calorimetric sensors. George Hody as "Mary Yugo" has been a most vocal "eCat denier" from the day Andrea Rossi gave public demonstrations of his device to scientists. Mr. Hody has no competence in nuclear physics and is not a stakeholder in LENR, so he can be classified as a skeptopath.
Steven Krivit on the contrary is well-versed in LENR and can therefore be classified as a cryptodenialist. Krivit likely has an ulterior motive to attack Rossi, because he is in a position to accurately judge the technology.
Skeptopathy can seamlessly morph into cryptodenialism when the skeptopath's position becomes untenable also for himself. Just as some schizophrenics will eventually understand that the voices they hear aren't real (John Nash is an example), the skeptopath, when confronted with sufficient evidence, may also see the error of his ways but may turn into a cryptodenialist to avoid embarrasment, in the hope that meanwhile, the problem will go away. The cryptodenialist may be die or be forgotten before incontrovertible evidence to his misjudgment becomes common knowledge, or the object of his denialism may die, disappear or become marginalized.
Cryptodenialism can be regarded as an expression of sociopathy and is not too interesting to warrant elaborate discussion because it is well-known that unscrupulous counter-stakeholders will deceive. Skeptopathy however is a poorly recognized psychological phenomenon which continues to cause society incalculable damage. Skeptopaths are damaging enough by themselves, but they also serve as force-multipliers for cryptodenialists. Without skeptopaths, the world would be a vastly better place because the cryptodenialists would not have skeptopathic authority figures to hide behind.
Both skeptopaths and cryptodenialists won't hesitate to accuse their target of committing criminal offenses. Andrea Rossi is routinely called a fraudster by both categories. Cryptodenialists however usually make sure they remain on the side of caution, in the knowledge that knowingly falsely accusing someone of having commited a crime is in most jurisdictions a potentially prisonable offense. Cryptodenialists, usually being stakeholders, would make themselves guilty of the crime of aggravated libel: Libel with intent to do financial harm. Skeptopathic allegations originate in a feebleness of mind so they are more inclined to be less careful with their accusations. Cryptodenialists prefer to engage in covert sabotage instead, such as Gary Watkins who uses the alias "Gary Wright". Gary Watkins is the owner of the site shutdownrossi.com. He tried to use the authorities to shut down Rossi, as is evidenced in these emails. Mr. Watkins has spared no expense in his attacks, dedicating himself full-time to taking Rossi and his eCat down. His emails to authorities are structured like master theses, with 15 pages of supporting "evidence" backing up his claims. Gary Watkins reminds of Roger Helbig, who is paid by the Pentagon to spend a full working week on heavy-handedly suppressing all discussion about Depleted Uranium. It turns out that Mr. Watkins indeed is a full-time paid saboteur for everything promising in the cold fusion realm: He has spared no expense in time and money to try to get Papp motor research shut down. The Papp engine was a device that likely used cold fusion reactions triggered by a 400 KV discharge in a plasma of noble gases to explosively expand the plasma and run a motor this way - without fuel, without exhaust, without much noise and without the need for cooling. An apparently very intelligent person who spends enormous resources over the years in time, effort and money to do nothing else but sabotage cold fusion research in all possible ways - including legal bullying and spending money and apparently thousands of hours of his time to try to bury all forms of LENR commercialization likely is a paid saboteur. Amongst the many skeptics over the years that were shown the motor in operation was Richard Feynman, who called Papp a scammer and promptly disconnected the mains lead to the control unit. Papp's motor kept running for a couple of minutes but then started to make sputtering noises and Papp worriedly plugged the control panel back in. The motor exploded, one onlooker died at the scene, Feynman claimed Papp must have hidden a bomb in his motor "to prevent us from discovering his hoax" but the FBI did not find any trace of explosives. Feynman's Caltech and Papp settled out of court.
Andrea Rossi with 1 MW eCat
An excellent contemporary example of a scientific field popular as a target for skeptopaths is Cold Fusion, also called LENR (Low Energy Nuclear Reactions). We could have chosen many other examples from the past, such as Ignaz Semmelweiss, who was ridiculed for his discovery that washing hands before delivering babies virtually eliminated infections suffered by the mother. He was locked up in a lunatic asylum and was beaten to death by the guards two weeks later. Ignaz Semmelweiss' "crazy delusion" was that some kind of infectious agent was responsible for the frequent lethal fevers associated with childbirth. Skeptopathic doctors would make a point in demonstrating their disbelief by doing deliveries with deliberately dirtied hands. Years after his death, Louis Pasteur confirmed Semmelweiss' theory of pathogenic microorganisms. Countless lives of young mothers could have been spared if it weren't for the pathoskeptics' sabotage of this important discovery.
Pseudoskeptics are by definition unpersuadable by proof and evidence that refutes their disbelief. When the Wright brothers flew an airplane for the first time in the presence of a crowd of journalists, those journalists refused to mention this feat in their newspapers. Instead, newspapers around the world would keep calling them scammers. In the years that followed, the brothers would fly higher, further and faster but it would take a full five years before the newspapers stopped calling them fraudsters. That was when the US Army awarded them a lucrative contract to build airplanes for them. The Wright brothers soon were mired in patent litigation.
Rossi's eCat device has been independently verified to work as advertized by a team of Swedish scientists, one of which the former President of the Swedish Skeptics Society. The Swedes, in breach of their promise to Rossi, disclosed every detail of the fuel used as well as other data they vowed to Rossi not to make public. It is not just scientists who seek to sabotage the commercial success of engineer-inventors: Unethical business partners will try to steal trade secrets, as happened in Rossi's case with the Greek Defkalion. Andrea Rossi spent a year in an Italian prison because the corrupt Italian government, pressured by the Mafia that controls most of Italy's waste disposal industry, made the storage of waste by unlicensed actors an offense. Rossi's oil-producing waste processing plants were declared environmental "crime sites" and access was blocked. This resulted in leakage after some years, since Rossi's company PetrolDragon was forbidden to operate, renovate or evacuate their plants. Rossi was charged with responsibility for the oil leakage and his one year in prison was spent studying the nearly 1200 publications in scientific journals on Cold Fusion, which he paid for and obtained via intermediation by the prison library. Rossi studied them so intensely and made so many notes that three hours before he was released, a fellow inmate stole them, in the assumption they must be valuable. Fortunately, they were retrieved unscathed.
Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann, discoverers of Cold Fusion.
Andrea Rossi did not want to end up like Martin Fleischmann, who, together with Stanley Pons discovered cold fusion, only to be sabotaged by MIT, which successfully replicated their experiment but publicly stated the opposite, presumably our of fear they would lose their multi-billion subsidies to fund their research into hot fusion. Fleischmann died before he could be vindicated by Rossi's research, which was also influenced by Sergio Focardi's work on Nickel-Hydrogen fusion. Focardi asked Rossi to publish his eCat results, because he would like to see public recognition of these efforts.
Focardi died not long after Rossi agreed. Rossi, like Pons and Fleischmann, suffered tremendous backlash for his intransigence in announcing a major scientific breakthrough, him not even being a scientist and clearly having commercial motives, which seems to be a deadly sin to academics. Like Pons and Fleischmann, Rossi intended to not just have humanity benefit from his hard work and financial sacrifices but he himself as well, so he kept the details secret, to the public dismay of pseudoskeptics.
It did not take long before Rossi's discovery was independently verified and all details of a working cold fusion reactor put in the public domain by the Russian nuclear scientist Aleksandr Georgievich Parkhomov. His primitive "eCat knockoff" is a very simple device that can be replicated by an electromechanically apt hobbyist of average skill. His detailed instructions on how to build a cold fusion reactor are here. Rossi did not want to suffer the same fate as Fleischmann and Focardi so, when faced with the refusal of the EU and US patent offices to accept his patent application for his device, sold the rights for a symbolic amount (15 million dollars) to Industrial Heat LLC. He undoubdedly will receive royalties as well. Industrial Heat LLC has access to billions in investment capital and their CEO is a nuclear physicist. Without Rossi's involvement, they built an eCat from scratch and verified that it indeed works as claimed. They proceeded to obtain the IP rights and managed to patent the device in the United States. The eCat patent can be read here.
"Mary Yugo" has claimed that Tom Darden, CEO of Cherokee Investment Partners which spun off Industrial Heat LLC is some kind of naive schmuck who got scammed by Rossi. This could not be further from the truth. Mr. Darden is a well-credentialed, respected captain of industry with an impressive track record and is well-connected with key decision makers in the US government.
Tom Darden, CEO, Cherokee Investment Partners, discusses Transportation and Climate Change
We hope that it is clear that in light of the handful of independent verifications of the eCat technology by various truly skeptical scientists that continued vocal objections to Rossi and his invention must be based on either ignorance or malice, in other words pseudoskepticism. Since George Hody AKA "Mary Yugo" is not a conceivable stakeholder (the man is in his seventies, never researched cold fusion and his business is dissolved), his literally thousands of vitriolic and libelous attacks on Andrea Rossi over the years on forums and blogs - a fulltime activity, we can presume - can only be explained as the sign of his apparent skeptopathy. The real scientists don't dare to voice skepticism anymore. Nobel laureate Brian Josephson is on the record that he's certain the eCat is a nuclear fusion device and works as claimed. Wired.com was forced to tone down their rhetoric and admit that the number of independent verifications of the eCat are steadily increasing. Even the most vociferous eCat disbelievers have grudgingly said that "Even a kook, a clown and a criminal can invent something important". But George Hody keeps spamming his vile accusations of Andreas Rossi being a liar and a scammer.
It is a little known fact that Rossi, in the spring of 1970, ran 175 km in 24 hours in the town of Brescia. That's more than 7 full marathons in a day and a night. He set a new Italian record.
For more information on the personality traits of pseudoskeptics in the context of Rossi's eCat, read this interesting blog posting.
- Question everything and take nothing on faith, even from established institutions.
- Ask questions to try to understand new things and are open to learning about them.
- Apply critical examination and inquiry to all sides, including their own.
- Withhold judgment and do not jump to rash conclusions.
- Seek the truth and consider this their main goal.
- Think in terms of possibilities rather than in preserving fixed views.
- Fairly and objectively weigh evidence on all sides.
- Acknowledge valid convincing evidence rather than ignoring or denying it.
- Possess common sense and reason.
- Are able to adapt their paradigms to new evidence and update their hypothesis to fit the data.
- Understand the difference between the scientific process and the scientific establishment.
- Acknowledge that the scientific establishment is subject to politics, corruption, control, censorship and suppression and therefore must be critically examined and scrutinized, rather than taken on faith, especially in the light of contrary evidence to their claims.
- Will admit they are wrong when the evidence calls for it.
- Do not ask questions to try to understand new things, but judge them by whether they fit into orthodoxy.
- Apply "critical thinking" only to that which opposes orthodoxy or materialism, but never to the status quo itself.
- Immediately judge as false and "debunk" anything that contradicts their paradigm.
- Are not interested in truth, evidence or facts, only in defending their views.
- Cannot think in terms of possibilities, but see their paradigms as fixed.
- Are willing to lie and deceive to discredit their opponents.
- Automatically dismiss and deny all data that contradicts their orthodoxy.
- Are judgmental and quick to draw conclusions about things they know little or nothing about.
- Scoff and ridicule what they oppose instead of using objective analysis and examination.
- When faced with evidence or facts they can't refute, use semantics, word games, ad-hominems, straw men and denial to try to obfuscate the issue.
- Unable to adapt their paradigms to new evidence, and deny data which doesn't fit into them.
- View the scientific establishment as a religion and authority to be taken on faith and never questioned or challenged. Do not understand the difference between the scientific process/methodology and the scientific establishment institution.
- Assume that the scientific establishment is objective and unbiased and free of politics, corruption, control, censorship and suppression for no other reason than blind faith in authority.
- Will never admit that they are wrong no matter what, regardless of evidence.
- Have a tendency to deny, rather than doubt.
- Have double standards in the application of criticism.
- Make of judgments without full inquiry.
- Have a tendency to discredit, rather than investigate.
- Use ridicule or attacks in lieu of arguments.
- Label their proponents pejoratively.
- Present insufficient evidence or proof.
- Assume criticism requires no burden of proof.
- Make unsubstantiated counter-claims.
- Make counter-claims based on plausibility rather than empirical evidence.
- Suggest that unconvincing evidence is grounds for dismissing it.
Written on February 8, 2015 by Frank de Groot.