The Experimental Investigation of the E-Cat HT, and Heuristics

Heuristic: relating to the general strategies or methods for solving problems

Recently an experimental investigation of possible anomalous heat production in a special type of reactor tube named E-Cat HT was carried out and published (“Indication of anomalous heat production in a reactor device containing hydrogen loaded nickel powder,” http://arxiv.org/abs/1305.3913 ).

Data was collected in two experimental runs lasting 96 and 116 hours respectively, and anomalous heat production was indicated in both experiments. Computed volumetric and gravimetric energy densities were found to be far above those of known any chemical source. Even by the most conservative assumptions as to the errors in the measurements, the result is still one order of magnitude greater than conventional energy sources.

Pretty strong words, this “sanity test” seems to have pretty conclusively proven that the E-Cat HT is everything Rossi has claimed. On the other hand, looking at the comments on various web articles on the subject, it hasn’t seemed to convince the “skeptics.” Why?

Apparently, the strongest criticism is that the tests were not independent, that the reactor was built by, controlled, and was ran in Rossi’s lab. Furthermore, since Rossi has told lies in the past, according to some critics, he can’t be trusted now. Finally, big claims need overwhelming evidence, which this investigation didn’t provide.

Hot Cat reactor coreIn the first of the two runs, a energy density of around 5 orders of magnitude was calculated, as well as a COP of nearly 6, which would make this tested device revolutionary. Many well respected scientists participated in this investigation. The methodology was straightforward, and even the second run demonstrated results far above those of any chemical reaction. Again, why aren’t the “skeptics” convinced?

A heuristic is a mental shortcut that allows people to solve problems and make judgments quickly and efficiently. These rule-of-thumb strategies shorten decision-making time and allow people to function without constantly stopping to think about the next course of action. While heuristics are helpful in many situations, they can also lead to biases.

Examples of faulty heuristics are “mental filter” (focusing on the negative detail and ignoring the big picture), “confirmation bias” (accepting only information that agrees with our conclusion), “emotional reasoning” (believing something because it feels true, ignoring contradictory evidence),“disqualifying the positive” (looking at only the negative information we have), “over-generalization” (drawing huge conclusions that don’t fit the evidence), “all-or-nothing” (seeing only the extremes in a situation), and “tunnel vision” (failing to see any positives in a situation).

Distorted thinking is recognized by its characteristics: narrow, resistant to change, biased toward negativity, and often irrational.

It is my premise that those “skeptics” that continue to believe that Rossi is a fraud, and discount the above investigative report, suffer from distorted thinking caused by faulty heuristics. I referred earlier to the investigative report as a “sanity test.” What I mean is that the experimental investigation was aimed at only confirming or denying if anomalous heat was produced by the E-Cat HT.

When “skeptics” claim that the tests weren’t independent, I believe they were using the mental filter faulty heuristic by focusing on the negative detail, and ignoring the big picture. No doubt the experimental investigation could have been more independent, but short of outright blatant fraud, the results prove that anomalous heat could not be explained by simply a chemical exothermic reaction.

Furthermore, if the “skeptics” are claiming outright fraud, especially given the credibility of the scientists participating in the experimental investigation, then I believe they are using the confirmation bias, and emotional reasoning faulty heuristics of accepting only information that agrees with their conclusion, and believing something is false because it feels false and ignoring the contradictory evidence.

When some “skeptics” say that Rossi has told lies in the past and therefore can’t be trusted now, so we ought not trust the experimental investigation, I believe they are using the disqualifying the positive, and over generalization faulty heuristics of looking only at the negative information that we have, and drawing huge conclusions that aren’t justified by the evidence.

Finally, when some “skeptics” say that big claims need overwhelming evidence which this investigation didn’t provide, I believe that they are using the all-or-nothing, and tunnel vision faulty heuristics of seeing only the extremes, and failing to see any positives in the situation.

In other words, I see those “skeptics” as having distorted thinking. In other words, their demonstrated skepticism is irrational. That is not to say that skepticism in general is irrational, quite the contrary. Skepticism is healthy, but is often cited to justify undue skepticism, which is distorted, narrow, and biased toward negativity.

To summarize, the recent experimental investigation of the E-Cat HT pretty conclusively proved that anomalous heat was produced that can’t be explained by any conventional energy source. Furthermore, this report didn’t satisfy the “skeptics.” My belief is that the reason those “skeptics” were swayed is that they are using faulty heuristics resulting in bias against the clearly logical conclusion that the E-Cat HT is everything that Rossi said it was. It is certainly true that those “skeptics” will view my paper as indulging in name calling, and my criticism of their heuristics as faulty. We’ll just have to agree to disagree. As Rossi has said, the time for talk is over, and the market will be the final arbitrator.

That is why this experimental investigation is so significant: it wasn’t conducted on some experimental device, it was validating a product that Leonardo Corporation will be selling in the very near future.

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7 thoughts on “The Experimental Investigation of the E-Cat HT, and Heuristics”

  1. nice analysis.

    what shock me about some critics is the precision of details discussed, the clear errors in reading, and beside that missing the human factors, the risk analysis of various actors, and the big picture…
    From far it may look like stupidity, incompetence, lowest emotional-quotient, but is is in fact simply distortion, and probably a mix of usual low-EQ quite common in some profession and huge bias, based on impression to be protected by consensus (impunity) and fear to look stupid to oneself (see the theory of roland benanou).

  2. “Distorted thinking is recognized by its characteristics: narrow, resistant to change, biased toward negativity, and often irrational.”

    I disagree with that assertion. Rationality is often more of an impediment than anything else. That is because it is nothing more than a notion rooted in commonly held viewpoints. Negativity and “resistance to change” are likewise irrelevant to what you term distorted thinking.

    Naysayers ( I applaud your putting skeptic in quotes) do have an underlying motivation but it is not based on what you’ve laid about here.

    1. Whath the model of Roland Benabou assume is a rational resistance to inconvenient facts.
      It is not inherently negative I agree, however it is in a way strong resistance to change… sometimes fleeing forward to deny more and more…
      Negativity is more often something egotic, valued in our individualist societies. A way to pretend be a rebel.

      complementing that article, and your remarks, the great article of beanbou
      may put things in persepective.

      denial is sometim just a way to escape the inconvenient realism, about unavoidable loss because others a in denial too… reinforced by the fact that since dissenters are siented, the few who are ready to accept fact doubt of their own eyes because they assume others are not enough stupid not to see that if it it true…

      the mathematical model is funny because it explain some observed strange facts…
      like the fact the the more the truth is becoming clear, the more violent is the violence agains dissenters.
      it explain also why subordinates seeing the truth better than their boss, follow their boss denial, by interest, because they cannot change their boss opinion.

      better feel happy and die, than feel stupid and die.

      read also that pamphlet about real case of denia like Challenger crash, Enron, Subprimes

      Benabou is a great author! too bad he is not more known.
      Benabou, Taleb and Kuhn explain LENR tragedy.

  3. It is clear the empirical evidence supports the claim of the excess heat production, while the theoretical basis is protected by trade secret. Those working for competitors would love to see the contents revealed, and would try to force this through selective ‘skepticism’, however because of the nature of the investigative panel and the duration of the tests it is also clear that no additional power source, hidden wires, or batteries could have been used. So they have simply determined that the Rossi effect is real. So, in spite of the skeptics I must now side with Mr. Rossi. The device operates as claimed, the world now needs to move forward with this.

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