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Old 22nd September 2006, 02:25 PM   #1
T'ai Chi
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What is wrong with what Steorn is doing?

http://www.randi.org/jr/2006-09/092206bad.html#i6

It sounds like they advertised to get independent scientists (not biased skeptical organizations or personalities) to test their product.
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Old 22nd September 2006, 02:28 PM   #2
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Who is not biased?

You don't have me on ignore, so you can answer this question.
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Old 22nd September 2006, 02:29 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by T'ai Chi View Post
http://www.randi.org/jr/2006-09/092206bad.html#i6

It sounds like they advertised to get independent scientists (not biased skeptical organizations or personalities) to test their product.
I know! I know! They don't use proper statistics! I know. I've seen them do it. Their maximum likelyhood estimators are all over the place. Messy bunch. Go get them!
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Old 22nd September 2006, 02:50 PM   #4
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Shall we just give it a little time to see what happens?
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Old 22nd September 2006, 02:58 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by T'ai Chi View Post
http://www.randi.org/jr/2006-09/092206bad.html#i6

It sounds like they advertised to get independent scientists (not biased skeptical organizations or personalities) to test their product.
The problem is, with thousands of people applying, if they're not honest about their belief in their results, but are instead frauds, they can select the ones most likely to either screw things up, or actually bias it in their favour. Without having a public list of who's volunteered, we have no way of knowing if the people they select are really the best to test their claims.

I mean, you read Randi's Commentaries, right? How many "scientists" has he profiled who accept any and all claims without reservation? I'm sure there's more than 12 of this sort in the list of volunteers. Free energy attracts them like bugs to a flame.

If I was them (and really believed I had something, rather than being a knowing fraud), I'd want the worst (and thus best) skeptics to be on the panel, and I'd want that to be public. That way, if they end up validating my claim, there wouldn't be nearly as many accusations that I had stacked the deck in my own favour. Because, as it is, any positive reports will be critisized in just this way. <---(can I claim that as a prediction for the Challenge? No? Oh, okay....)
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Old 22nd September 2006, 03:00 PM   #6
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Your attempted comedy aside, what is wrong with advertising for independent scientists to review a product, and ignoring a challenge by a skeptical organization/personality, known to be 'against' various claims, be negative in commentary, etc.?

It seems like Randi at times is saying 'Do science!... well, except if it means ignoring my challenge'.
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Old 22nd September 2006, 03:02 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Horatius View Post
The problem is: (...)belief in their results
...
Or is it?
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Old 22nd September 2006, 03:04 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by T'ai Chi View Post
Your attempted comedy aside, what is wrong with advertising for independent scientists to review a product, and ignoring a challenge by a skeptical organization/personality, known to be 'against' various claims, be negative in commentary, etc.?

It seems like Randi at times is saying 'Do science!... well, except if it means ignoring my challenge'.
[Insert generic quip about T'ai Chi's position to JREF Challenge here.]
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Old 22nd September 2006, 03:33 PM   #9
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I thinks it's pointless to speculate as to how genuine Steorn's "advertisement" is or isn't until we see which 12 scientists they choose.

Dr. Robert Park... I'd be impressed.

Dr. Gary Schwartz... not so much.
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Old 22nd September 2006, 04:18 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by T'ai Chi View Post
http://www.randi.org/jr/2006-09/092206bad.html#i6

It sounds like they advertised to get independent scientists (not biased skeptical organizations or personalities) to test their product.
Er, no. It sounds like they advertised to get something.

Whether or not they were looking for "independent scientists" or not -- and whether or not they get/use them -- time will show.
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Old 22nd September 2006, 04:59 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by T'ai Chi View Post
Your attempted comedy aside, what is wrong with advertising for independent scientists to review a product, and ignoring a challenge by a skeptical organization/personality, known to be 'against' various claims, be negative in commentary, etc.?

It seems like Randi at times is saying 'Do science!... well, except if it means ignoring my challenge'.
Well, I think I explained "what is wrong": they can bias the selection of the jury any way they want. Without a transparent process, we have no reason to accept that they're really trying to have an honest test of their technology.

So far, everything they've allowed to be published has been characterized by not telling the world anything useful. If they really cared about getting a proper test, they'd publish the whole thing, no reservations, and allow any lab, anywhere, to do whatever tests they wanted to, and let the results fall where they may. If they're correct, the science will show that.

The fact that they don't have the confidence to do this, indicates they're either not as sure as they claim, or they know they're full of it.

No one is insisting that the Challenge is the only way we'd accept their claims. In fact, I'd prefer an open scientific process, as the Challenge is just one test, that they could potentially fake their way through. Not likely, but possible. There's very little chance they could fake out the whole scientific community.
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Old 22nd September 2006, 05:00 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by GzuzKryzt View Post
Or is it?
I have to honestly say, I have no idea what you mean by this.....Maybe I need to go to bed.
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Old 22nd September 2006, 05:26 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Horatius View Post
I have to honestly say, I have no idea what you mean by this.....Maybe I need to go to bed.
Scientific method plus "belief" = does...not...compute...does...not...compute...
error...error...error...bliep...bliep...bliep...er ror...error...error...
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Old 22nd September 2006, 06:02 PM   #14
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Randi's obviously a person of conviction and courage. He has seen enough of this type of nonsense to call it down with his mystical powers, in advance.

IMHO, what Randi is surmising is:
> They advertise for scientists, and will get numerous applicants attracted to the money.
> They can then profile and select the ones they want to put on their panel.
> Will they choose people whose credentials include fourteen published and peer reviewed papers on why their theoretical model is pure nonsense? I doubt it, and I think Randi doubts it.
> Will they choose participants more likely to support their ideas, or even more likely to work extra hard to agree because they money is good? I suspect they will, and I believe Randi has the same suspicions.

He already called it. They will come out with a panel report that says this is the greatest potential device in the history of inventing! And they will then go out and get loads of press, wherever they can, and float an IPO in the FTSE or NASDAQ, and watch the stock go up while they assemble their permanent staff, and then bail out when their own twenty million shares peak at fourteen bucks, and before they have to release their final results showing that the whole thing was bunkum.

Randi didn't say, "Let's get torches and storm the castle." He siad, "Let's see, but I think what I already can predict is......" (I'm paraphrasing - you guys read the article, too.)
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Old 22nd September 2006, 06:07 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by GzuzKryzt View Post
Scientific method plus "belief" = does...not...compute...does...not...compute...
error...error...error...bliep...bliep...bliep...er ror...error...error...
Ah, I see, a semantic problem. Comes standard with the English language, I think. Perhaps I should say instead, "confidence in their results".
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Old 22nd September 2006, 06:24 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by T'ai Chi View Post
http://www.randi.org/jr/2006-09/092206bad.html#i6

It sounds like they advertised to get independent scientists (not biased skeptical organizations or personalities) to test their product.
Once they work for Steorn they are no longer independant. Better to send it to twelve people at random than cherry pick them, somewhat like Joseph Smith and the Gold Tablets.
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Old 22nd September 2006, 06:27 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Horatius View Post
Ah, I see, a semantic problem. Comes standard with the English language, I think. Perhaps I should say instead, "confidence in their results".
Granted.

Semantics pose a problem in every language, Horatius, no doubt. (Try E-Prime: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-Prime for further reading http://time-binding.org/about/about-gs.htm or http://www.generalsemantics.org/about.htm )

If you'd please allow me some more nitpicking: "...confidence in the scientific validity of their results..." would satisfy me even more as a statement. Ivory tower, glass house, I know.

I very much guess though we sail the same waters, so no offense intended.
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Old 22nd September 2006, 11:18 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by T'ai Chi View Post
Your attempted comedy aside, what is wrong with advertising for independent scientists to review a product, and ignoring a challenge by a skeptical organization/personality, known to be 'against' various claims, be negative in commentary, etc.?

It seems like Randi at times is saying 'Do science!... well, except if it means ignoring my challenge'.
So, Victor Zammit's Challenge is valid?

Zammit also chooses his own "scientists" to review the evidence.
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Old 23rd September 2006, 05:18 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by T'ai Chi View Post
It sounds like they advertised to get independent scientists (not biased skeptical organizations or personalities) to test their product.
Why did they feel the need to do this? It would have been far cheaper to hire one scientist to test the device, write up a report and get it published.
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Old 23rd September 2006, 06:34 AM   #20
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So either Randi is claiming to predict the future re: Steorn's motives, or he is very negative about peoples' right to ignore his skeptical organizations' challenge and proceed via more standard channels of science.

Or both.
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Old 23rd September 2006, 06:47 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by T'ai Chi View Post
So either Randi is claiming to predict the future re: Steorn's motives,
So?

I predict the future regarding people's motives on a routine basis. So do you. The people who don't do that are called 'psychopaths.'

And there's little that's 'standard' about his approach. Advertising for experts instead of identifying them first and then talking to the individuals identified?
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Old 23rd September 2006, 06:48 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by T'ai Chi View Post
So either Randi is claiming to predict the future re: Steorn's motives, or he is very negative about peoples' right to ignore his skeptical organizations' challenge and proceed via more standard channels of science.
Advertising for a "jury" of 12 scientists is hardly the "standard channels of science".
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Old 23rd September 2006, 06:56 AM   #23
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What do challenges from the skeptical movement have to do with Science?
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Old 23rd September 2006, 06:59 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by T'ai Chi View Post
So either Randi is claiming to predict the future re: Steorn's motives, or he is very negative about peoples' right to ignore his skeptical organizations' challenge and proceed via more standard channels of science.

Or both.
You're doing it again, Justin. You're being deliberately obtuse. Did you miss Horatius' comment, or just ignore it?

Originally Posted by Horatius View Post
So far, everything they've allowed to be published has been characterized by not telling the world anything useful. If they really cared about getting a proper test, they'd publish the whole thing, no reservations, and allow any lab, anywhere, to do whatever tests they wanted to, and let the results fall where they may. If they're correct, the science will show that.
What Steorn is doing is not science, it is PR.
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Old 23rd September 2006, 07:00 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by T'ai Chi View Post
What do challenges from the skeptical movement have to do with Science?
Nothing.

What does what Steorn is doing have to do with science?

Nothing.

What point does Justin have?

...?
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Old 23rd September 2006, 07:01 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by T'ai Chi View Post
What do challenges from the skeptical movement have to do with Science?
What do challenges from the "skeptical movement" have to do with what may be wrong with what Steorn is doing?
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Old 23rd September 2006, 07:24 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by T'ai Chi View Post
What do challenges from the skeptical movement have to do with Science?
Relatively little -- but more than what Steorn appears to be doing.
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Old 23rd September 2006, 07:37 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by GzuzKryzt View Post
Granted.

Semantics pose a problem in every language, Horatius, no doubt. (Try E-Prime: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-Prime for further reading http://time-binding.org/about/about-gs.htm or http://www.generalsemantics.org/about.htm )

If you'd please allow me some more nitpicking: "...confidence in the scientific validity of their results..." would satisfy me even more as a statement. Ivory tower, glass house, I know.

I very much guess though we sail the same waters, so no offense intended.
Hey, no problem. This is just one of those things that comes up when you try to discuss science in a casual setting. If we spent the time needed to define all our terms, we'd lose everyone's attention before we actually said anything of interest.
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Old 23rd September 2006, 07:43 AM   #29
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It looks like Steorn is asking for independent scientists (not biased skeptical organizations) to review their work.

A few people are just suggesting it is only PR.

So what does one have against independent scientists reviewing work instead of paying attenting to a challenge from the skeptical movement?
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Old 23rd September 2006, 07:49 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by T'ai Chi View Post
What do challenges from the skeptical movement have to do with Science?
Not to disagree with the others who've said, "Nothing", I'd say such challenges are a good way for the non-science public to separate the wheat from the chaff. If a skeptic was to issue a challenge to a scientist who was promoting a breakthrough that, while seeming to violate our understanding of physics, was in fact a real breakthrough, he'd be able to meet the challenge and win.

It's the ones who have nothing and know they have nothing who would shy away from a challenge.

Consider two announced breakthoughs from a few years back: Cold Fusion, and High Temperature Superconductors. Both of them, if they were to be real, would involve serious changes to our understanding of some basic physics. Not as much change as "free energy", but certainly Nobel Prize level work.

CF went about their announcement is a manner very similar to Steorn - No formal publication, just press conferences will very little actual detail. HTSC published their work in traditional journals, with enough details that anyone with the right skills and a lab could try to reproduce their work.

Guess what? Cold Fusion was a bust. High Temperature Superconductors worked for anyone who tried it. In fact, in very short period of time, people were producing new results, new types of superconductors based on the inital work. That's how science works. If what they have is real, it'll work for anyone, not just them, and other labs will quite quickly start expanding on their new fields of understanding.

The fact that they're not willing to trust in the systems that have brought science so far, is pretty damning.
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Old 23rd September 2006, 07:50 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by T'ai Chi View Post
So what does one have against independent scientists reviewing work...
Nothing. If they wanted to "proceed via more standard channels of science", the normal approach would be to write the thing up and get the work reviewed by independent scientists before publication. But this is not what Steorn have done.
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Old 23rd September 2006, 07:56 AM   #32
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What I think people are overlooking, is that even if they choose scientists they believe are not critical (for example, ones not members of the organized skeptical movement), they will make their findings available freely to all, from what it sounds like.

So even if the scientists aren't members of the organized skeptical movement, it doesn't matter, as the results (ie. what is really important, not sidetracks on issues about personalities) will be made available for all to critique.
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Old 23rd September 2006, 07:57 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by T'ai Chi View Post
It looks like Steorn is asking for independent scientists (not biased skeptical organizations) to review their work.
Here's the thing - real independent scientists are skeptical, regardless of their membership in any particular organizations. They have to be, in order to avoid the very common problems of self-delusion that permeates every aspect of human life.

When a scientist sees something that he can't explain, he first has to ask himself, "Have I really considered all the possible causes of this effect?" It's far to easy to just jump to the conclusion that you're seeing a new effect, or a desired result because that's the whole point of research. Any time you see somethng new, you've got to step back and re-consider everything.

I had just this problem myself when I was working on my Master's degree. I thought I had a good signal in my experiments, but then I had to throw out about 6 months work, when I realized that the signals were correlated with the control signals that controlled my apparatus - they had nothing to do with the physics. I had to totally re-design my system to account for that. It's frustrating, but that's what you have to do in science.
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Old 23rd September 2006, 07:58 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by T'ai Chi View Post
It looks like Steorn is asking for independent scientists (not biased skeptical organizations) to review their work.
No, it doesn't.

Quote:
So what does one have against independent scientists reviewing work instead of paying attenting to a challenge from the skeptical movement?
There's no evidence to suggest that the involved scientists will be "independent."

In fact, I question whether the reviewers will really be "scientists."
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Old 23rd September 2006, 08:03 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by T'ai Chi View Post
What I think people are overlooking, is that even if they choose scientists they believe are not critical (for example, ones not members of the organized skeptical movement), they will make their findings available freely to all, from what it sounds like.
Actually, that's exactly what it doesn't sound like.

Re-read:

Quote:
For the moment, our focus is to secure a jury of 12 scientists to independently validate our technology, which was the purpose of our advertisement in the Economist.

We will release further information on the technology, following completion of the validation process.
It says they will release "further information." Nowhere does it say that they will release all the results of analysis, nor that it will be released freely.

They could -- and probably will -collect a hundred reports and the "release" the two that support their findings. Possibly with significant post-editing.


Quote:
So even if the scientists aren't members of the organized skeptical movement, it doesn't matter, as the results (ie. what is really important, not sidetracks on issues about personalities) will be made available for all to critique.
If the results really will be made available for all to critique, I will of course withdraw my criticism. But I don't believe it will happen, any more than I believe that Tony Blair will declare war on the United States next Monday.

If that's "predicting the future," so be it.
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Old 23rd September 2006, 08:04 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by T'ai Chi View Post
What I think people are overlooking, is that even if they choose scientists they believe are not critical (for example, ones not members of the organized skeptical movement), they will make their findings available freely to all, from what it sounds like.
Originally Posted by Steorn's Website
What Happens After Validation?

The jury’s analysis will be published on the company's website where everyone can register to receive the results.
So, they won't be publishing the results in an independent journal, but on their own website. For someone who is so keen on "independent" scientists, you're pretty casual about accepting claims from a company that has shown nothing but a desire to exert complete control over the whole process. They chose the experts, they control access to the technology, they publish the results - why exactly should we trust them to do any of this in a honest manner? What have they done to show they can be trusted?
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Old 23rd September 2006, 08:20 AM   #37
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Only time will tell.

Better to reserve negative comments and insinuations until the facts are in.
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Old 23rd September 2006, 08:24 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by T'ai Chi View Post
Only time will tell.

Better to reserve negative comments and insinuations
... as well as credulist criticisms of well-justified suspicions ...

Quote:
until the facts are in.
Goose:Sauce::Gander:?
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Old 23rd September 2006, 08:31 AM   #39
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Originally Posted by T'ai Chi View Post
Only time will tell.

Better to reserve negative comments and insinuations until the facts are in.
Yes, ultimately only time will tell. Maybe someday one of these guys will actually be right, and will usher in a new day of plenty for all.

But.....

Let's look at the record, shall we?

They're engaing in exactly the same hide-and-seek peek-a-boo games that every other con artist who's ever claimed free energy from magnets has engaged in. If they really were the ones to have done it, after decades of charlatans claiming exactly the same thing, why wouldn't they act in some way as to distinguish themselves from the con artists?

If they really have something, why the games? If it's real, it will just work. No need for fancy "juries" and "validation plans" and what not. Just show it, already! They say they've been doing this for several years now. Why can't they just show it to us?

Maybe, just maybe, because they're just the latest con artists? How many cons do we have to sit through before we can rightly insist on more proof from the next claimant before we take them seriously?
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Old 23rd September 2006, 09:00 AM   #40
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How is directly stating what they are interested in, and what they will do, "evasive manuevering"?

One might not approve (of ignoring challenging from a few in the biased skeptical movement), but it is not being evasive, it is being pretty direct.
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