In the late 1980s, scientists Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons told the world that they had a device that demonstrated the energy-producing consequences of a nuclear reaction, but at room temperatures. Since humanity had produced energy from nuclear reactions only at very high temperatures, this sort of fusion would have been cold (and more easily-produced) by comparison.
As it turned out, no one reputable could duplicate their efforts, and their astounding claim became an astoundingly embarrassing one. They had been noted scientists, but setting aside the caution that serious inquiry requires, they came to see the false results they undoubtedly hoped to see.
The natural order, not being impressionable of men’s dreams of fame and glory, was unmoved.
For Fleishmann and Pons, and those of their ilk, there’s this problem: once one blunders on the scale that they did, it’s hard to recover. They weren’t any less intelligent or educated the day after others rejected these erroneous claims. They were the same men, after all. Still, their claims were thereafter incredible to others.
Recovery from misunderstanding of evidence, however, is difficult. Recovery from fabricated evidence (a worse act that I do not understand either Fleischmann or Pons to have committed) is more than difficult; it’s almost impossible.
But people want things, want them so very much, for having them and for being seen to have them. Proper positioning, presenting, marketing, and selling depend on whether one seeks something through clear eyes, honest intentions, and accurate assessments.
Whitewater’s had – and still has – a problem with accurate and honest assessments of data. For us, at best, one may charitably call it a cold fusion problem. Occasionally, I’d guess it’s simply fabrication to sell something.
I cannot say why some local men have lived their public lives with a hucksterism so thorough that it’s made them small-town copies of Fleischmann & Pons, if not occasionally worse. It’s enough to know that they have, and that they’ve a powerful need to carry on that way before their own kind and all the city.
Their way won’t last, of course, but it’s not yet finished, either.