Sunday, October 9, 2011

Occam's Razor and the E-cat Test of Oct 6th

Occam's Razor is, as I understand it, a simplicity principle.  With respect to explaining something, the principle asserts that the simplest explanation is most likely correct.  After writing that, my understanding turns out to be incorrect.  Here's what Wikipedia says:
is a principle that generally recommends, when faced with competing hypotheses that are equal in other respects, selecting the one that makes the fewest new assumptions.

In the case of the Oct 6th test, what are the competing hypotheses?  I think that there can be only two: it works or it doesn't.

We have to assume that the conditions are what they are represented as being.  In short, there is no secret energy source that can escape the notice of the observers.  To postulate that there is one makes the assumption that this secret energy source can escape detection.  Therefore, the energy produced must come from the E-cat apparatus itself.

Secondly, the measurement apparatus is reasonably accurate for the purposes of this test.  This reason is self evident: if it was too inaccurate, this too would have been detected by the observers.  To assume otherwise violates Occam's Razor because it introduces a new assumption once again.

Finally, it has to be the case that nothing is up the sleeves of some tricksters.  This would require the assumption of some conspiracy amongst the observers to deceive everybody.  Such a conspiracy would entail a large group of people present to be able to keep the tricks a secret.  It seems unlikely to me.  The larger the number of observers, the harder it is to keep a conspiracy secret.  The more observers there are, the more likely that everything is as it appears to be.  To say otherwise would violate the principle of Occam's Razor, as it would add a new assumption of a conspiracy.

Unless the naysayers can come up with an explanation that doesn't require these new assumptions, or does not require some form of another assumption not mentioned here, then the test is as represented.

From where I stand, the test looks like a success.  The E-cat produces more energy than it consumes.  That makes it a successful test.  By the way, that is the simplest explanation too.  In other words, it is as it appears to be.


Didymus said...

"In short, there is no secret energy source that can escape the notice of the observers."

Despite all the careful weighing and calculation, there is a conceivable energy source that seems to escape nearly everyone's notice. Consider what one sees at an E-Cat demonstration. Water enters a "black box" and comes out hotter or partly vaporized. The hot output continues as long as the input is maintained.
Does anyone do a chemical test to check that what is flowing in is really just water? Does anyone reduce or increase the coolant flow rate to confirm that the output gets hotter or colder respectively?
Suppose the input liquid is water containing a little hydrogen peroxide and that the catalyst in the E-Catt decomposes it into water and some oxygen. This reaction significantly heats the water coming out. For example, the 3% solution available in pharmacies heats itself by some 20 C. At a reasonable flow rate this corresponds to an indefinite output of 2 kW with no obvious source. Use industrial strength (35%) peroxide and the output consists of steam and droplets of hot water. Sound familiar?
This subterfuge can be guarded against by sampling the input water and adding, for example, a pinch of potassium permanganate. The presence of hydrogen peroxide is demonstrated by the resulting effervescence. Changing the input flow rate will not produce a significant change in the output temperature, this is a function only of the peroxide concentration.
So what does Occam's Razor suggest, well-known 19th century chemistry or unknown 21st century physics?

Greg said...

"So what does Occam's Razor suggest, well-known 19th century chemistry or unknown 21st century physics?"

If it is well known 19th century chemistry, why assume those present don't know of it or don't think of it?

You also assume subterfuge. I don't. I can't see a motive. Who stands to lose by a fraudulent test? Rossi's customer? Who is that? Did his customer pay? Not that I know of. Who gains? Rossi? Again, he is spending his own money. He may gain from selling E-cats by virtue of this demonstration, but he still has to satisfy his customers.

I am assuming that the people there were competent enough to judge the matter for themselves. If there was subterfuge, I think we will hear about it. In any case, subterfuge is not a solid basis for business.

The odds are that the thing is what it appears to be.

Greg said...


What I've written thus far is not an endorsement of this product. It is not a recommendation to purchase this product. It is as an observer from afar--- I was not there.

I want the test to succeed. You can say on the basis of that, that I am biased in favor of it. It is also possible that those that were there were biased, but I don't know one way or another.

This test is probably not comprehensive enough, nor professional enough to convince everyone.

I'm giving the benefit of the doubt. I can understand those who don't, but I can't understand those who don't when they have no personal interest in the matter. That is to say, if you don't have any money at stake, it really isn't a matter that you have a stake in one way or another.

If you aren't harmed by it, nor do you have anything personal to gain by it, it is just a passing interest, so to speak.

I would consider a truly convincing test would be one in which somebody had to put their money on the line.

Rossi is putting his on the line.

Are his critics willing to do the same?

Didymus said...

Greg says that I "assume subterfuge." I felt that I was merely pointing out that one particular subterfuge had not yet been ruled out. I am acting no differently than every scientific witness since January. What is the purpose of all that weighing, measuring and looking for hidden fuel or batteries if not to assume and then eliminate subterfuge?
This is standard scientific practice when investigating anomalous claims and has been since the days of Michael Faraday. (Results published in peer-reviewed journals by university staff generally get a pass.)
It is not surprising that the witnesses have concentrated on the E-Cat itself. Judging by the blogs I read earlier this year, practically no one has considered the cooling water as a source of energy. This is a pity as it would have taken five minutes during a demonstration to eliminate it.
I see no reason to speculate about Rossi's motives. However, devices that promise to supply the world with endless low-cost or free energy crop up several times a year. Not one has ever worked.

Greg said...


Can you explain in detail how this "subterfuge" takes place?

Precisely how does this happen?

Please be as specific and as detailed as possible.