Sunday, August 10, 2008

Fear and Loathing of Science in the EEStory

If the readers checks out the posts that are tagged by EEStor, he or she will note that over and over I call attention to what I call red flags. These are elements of the EEStory that should give any rational person pause. Given the power of the scientific objections raised by Andrew Burke, and John Miller, and the fact that EEStor does not seem to have guilt a successful "proof of concept" prototype, the weight of evidence seems to be strongly against the expectation that the EEStor technology will be successful. Some past statements of product delivery expectations by EEStor, have been followed by a failure to deliver a product within the stated time frame. Finally, EEStor CEO has stated that, in effect, the EEStor prototype, a "proof of concept" prototype, will also be the mature product which will require no further research and development to mass produce. Yet the EESU is extremely complex. In effect, it is 30,000 capacitors wired together. There is no evidence that the individual capacitors have been tested. We are told by Richard Weir that virtually no product development would be required and thus production will commence as soon as the prototype is finished. Give me a bottle of what ever Weir is drinking!

Perhaps what is most amazing about this story is the amount of coverage the EEStory is now getting in the media. EEStor was by reputation a secretive Austin business, but they have in fact managed to garner a great deal of attention. Richard Weir has been talking up a storm, with late night telephone conversations with bloggers, and interviews with Toronto Journalist Tyler Hamilton. Even my blog has attracted the attention of "Carl", who claims to be privy to Weir's future announcement. There is a Carl associated with EEStor. It is EEStor co-founder, Carl Nelson, Of course my visitor could be a ringer.

A subtext in all of this is the amount of contempt for science and common sense that a group of EEStor "true believers" evince and the extent to which the media stories to date have downplayed the skepticism of science.

One does not have to be versed in science to understand that elements of the EEStory are deeply flawed. The recent purity certification of materials used for electrical storage in EEStor technology, strongly suggests that EEStor lacked the materials to build prototype units up till now, given their own statement of how those prototypes were to be built. We can classify past statements about EEStor prototypes as vaporware. No further proof is required than EEStor's failure to deliver a prototype to ZENN Motors last year, despite an agreement between EEstor and ZENN.

Finally we have the issue of Richard Weir's belief that what will essentially be a proof of concept prototype will also be the first off of a commercial product.

Thus the EEStory does not hang together either as science or from the perspective of common sense. Journalists and bloggers should function as gatekeepers in our society, ferreting out bad information while letting the good through. Unfortunately even when attempting to achieve balance in a story, they may place to much weight on misinformation or disinformation, while giving far too little focus to logical flaws, and the weight of fact and scientific evidence.

An EEStory comment on the John Miller interview. "zawy" compared EEStor to "Cold fusion . . . You finally get a top-notch person who's been there 3 times and you still want to BELIEVE. Who do you guys think you are? Have you had any credible person tell you it works? What do you know about Richard Weir that didn't come from EEstor or Zenn."

"Nekote" responded, "zawy, Guess we better hope something like EEStor will happen . . ."

"Satya51" stated, "I look at all the work that went into the wet chemistry to produce the ultra high purity alumina coated CMBT and Weir is dismissed as clueless (doesn't he know that much energy can't be stored in CMBT?) and fraudulent (measurements in a patent signed by R. Weir). Quite a non sequitur. And does anybody think that Mort Topfer would waste his time on anything? It is all so confusing."

Finally "Daniel R Plante" noted, "A lot of people involved in the game, with a great deal riding on the outcome. Money, power, ego, emotional investments in a dream."

In any story in which "money, power, ego, emotional investments in a dream" are involved, science and clear thinking are likely to get shoved asside. The fundamental problem with public information in the 21st century then is the laziness of the gatekeepers, who believe they do their duty by "balancing" a story, or even worse simply structure the story with their own personal prejudice.

Thus science and common sense are discounted, and when the scientific evidence is brought into the conversation, it is quickly dismissed. "True believers", are ever ready to discount the findings of science and of scientists. "The Sovietologist" has pointed out an extremely obvious example the substitution of hostility to science for critical reasoning in a recent comment found on Joseph Romm's blog, Climate Progress:

"Joseph, Good post until you got to the nukes v. coal issue. While I assume you oppose both coal and nuclear power, Oak Ridge is not a credible source for this information, as it is heavily invested in nukes, though probably more as weapons than as energy. Just as you would not use a "study" by the KKK to determine whether racism was worse in the U.S. or Africa, it's equally illegitimate to use the study you cited for the purpose you did."

Romm did not rebuke or censor the poster as he does commenters who disagree with him. 'Wolverine" the commenter did not provide any evidence that Oak Ridge scientist had in fact made mistakes in their assessment of coal safety. The commenter simply assumes that Oak Ridge scientists are so are so "invested in nukes", as to not be "a credible source for this information". The report in question was published in "Science" the premier scientific journal for the United States. The Oak Ridge Scientists involved were part of the ORNL Environmental Studies Division, and were part of ORNL's pioneering studies of the carbon economy.

Thus skepticism about science is an increasing dodge from facing reality in our society. Beyond that skepticism, the EEStory brings skepticism about commonsense into play. It would appear then that the EEStory exists as a flight from reason.


randal.leavitt said...

Anything that appears to good to be true usually is.

Mark said...

The 2004 patent on pages 21/22 says that 100 layer proof of concept devices were made.

So either they are not telling the truth or they have a product.

They have indicated that they are in the process of building a production line for a mass produced product. The same patent gives an extremely detailed explination of each step including type of machine type of process and what the process does.

I can not reconcile the detailed informtion, the fact that the machines in some sort of production line exist and have been certified to produce at a quality that EEstor deems important. With the idea that they have missed out the basic science that it can not work or that this is some sort of scam.

That being said with such detailed information in the patent and a nearing production line why not show a working test unit ?


Charles Barton said...

Mark, My skepticism is based on the failure of EEStor to deliver a prototype to ZENN last year. Mark, no one has ever fudged on a patent application? Right? Can you patent vaporware? You are, in my view scamming yourself, by ignoring the red flags and developing rationalizations. Bill Gates told IBM he had an operating system for sale. He lied! Seattle Computer had the operating system. No third party prototype test means no real tangible evidence that the EEStory is true.


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