Saturday, June 02, 2007

Gone to the Dogs #1.2

Well, I wasted 20 minutes. Watched part of a Discovery Channel show called "Beyond invention" that dealt with 'the Hutchison effect'. Here's how I would have done it: Maybe 5 minutes background, followed by very carefully controlled test with excruciating detail on the test controls, and what alternate explanations they're designed to eliminate. Bam. Done. No conspiracy theories. No appeals to authority. No pretending that government interest means validity. No pretending that corporate interest means validity. No one claiming that maybe Hutchison is really using psychokinesis. Heck, why not just hand it over to the Mythbusters. They would have gotten it down pat, and we'd have some funny skeptical wisecracks along with way.

More foam below the fold.

What really annoys me is that they talk about a 'lack of interest by mainstream science'. Well, now that this crank's got some media coverage, why not apply for the Randi Challenge? Have Randi consult with one of those guys who levitate frogs and strawberries with magnets. If you're wondering how that works out, it should be noted that you non-metallic organic critters are very slightly diamagnetic: Repelled by magnetism. If something really freaky is going on, he should honestly test it under tightly controlled conditions, and I didn't see any controls in the footage they shot. All the nuts with the network's cameras did was drum up the conspiracy theories and let the psychic guy ramble.

Also had a thing on a 'zero point' battery that involves ground up crystals in a cylinder that can light up an LED and supposedly last forever. Got some gullible Japanese corporation interested, but they noted nothing's come of it yet. Gee, I wonder why. My guess: It's just a crude chemical and/or pietzoelectric battery, and it runs out. No signs of anything unexpected.

I can already hear some of the doggerel coming up. I suspect some will say that I'm afraid of anything weird. That's the problem though: This sort of crap is routine for me. Some videos shot under improper viewing protocols, a lack of desire to test when it matters, and rampant conspiracies to explain why we've only got sloppy movies. All to explain why the woo of the moment won't just take something simple like Randi's test, and that I should just take everything at face value.

Yeah, and the face value of the Earth tells me it's flat. Real science, done with incredible rigor, however, lets me know that it's really round, so I'm not one to take 'shocking' things at face value.


Tom Foss said...

Ye gods, the woos just love zero-point energy, don't they? I wish they'd realize that zero-point energy is the lowest possible energy for a system to have. It's not powerful, it's barely detectable. They might as well be harnessing the sounds of silence. Chances are that whatever crystals they're using actually have more than Zero-Point energy. Certainly they have greater energy stored up in their chemical bonds.

Berlzebub said...

IIRC, he also wouldn't allow any examining scientists to bring in equipment to test his "effect". That raised a red flag with me, right there.

Also, hooking up an LED to a standard battery will make it last a very long time. They're designed to use low voltage. I once worked on a project for a light, and we were looking at using those just for that reason. Unfortunately, to get the candlepower the manager wanted, we would have made the light huge to fit them all in. Granted, I might have figured out how to do it, but I'm an intelligent designer (and modest too).

Ryan said...

That's funny Tom. I remember over at Akusai's place some moron was trying to prove god using "zero point energy".

So god is the minimum amount of detectable energy in, uh, the universe I guess...according to one particular woo.

BD, if all these people need are videos with no controls, why don't they believe in Spiderman?