Feb. 2, 2017 19:00
Irving Langmuir coined the term “pathological science” to describe the science of things that are not so. Being distinct from scientific hoaxes (Piltdown Man), deliberate fraud (Benveniste’s water memory experiments), or simple error (superluminal neutrinos), Langmuir described the case where reputable scientists, by lapses in judgment and experimenter bias, convince themselves that they have discovered a new phenomenon, which is, in fact, spurious. Other scientists replicate the experiments and often they also find the new effect, or think they have. In this talk I will describe some of the most famous cases of pathological science. Starting with the well-known case of Blondlot’s N-Rays, I’ll discuss cold fusion, facilitated communication, and the latest candidate, NASA’s EMDrive, which purports to deliver a thrust without an exchange of momentum.