There are two common responses that come from people who learn about Andrea Rossi’s energy catalyzer.
Many people who consider it to be a remarkable and revolutionary discovery ask why the mainstream media is not reporting on this subject — isn’t this hugely important news that could contribute greatly to solving our energy problems?
Those who are skeptical of Rossi’s claims point to the lack of interest from the news media and established scientific community. If this is such a great technology, why has it not been reported by a major news organization, or in a peer reviewed journal? Why is Rossi putting out his research findings on a homemade blog?
These two approaches are interconnected. Even though we live in an information-saturated world where anyone can be a publisher public opinion is still to a large degree swayed by the established media channels. What large media networks publish is often considered sound and important information — what they don’t publish is often ignored and considered unimportant and trivial. This can lead to a kind of vicious cycle: people who want to be considered authoritative will seek to find an outlet in the established media, and the media will not want to be considered foolish by reporting topics that are unpopular with established authorities.
Here’s an example of what I am talking about that has been published at Gizmodo of the typical skeptical response to Rossi’s technology. The title of the article is, “No, Italian Scientists Have Not Discovered Cold Fusion”. In essence the author is saying if it can’t be explained by accepted science we shouldn’t take it seriously.
When it comes to scientific reporting this can have a stifling effect on research and discovery. I thought a poster named “Henk” on Andrea Rossi’s web site put it very well:
If someone does not comply to the mainstream theory and the self imposed rigid rules, he/she and his/her work will not be taken seriously, will not pass peer review, will be cut off from funding and simply declared “useless for mankind.”
A prime example of this tunnel vision can be found in climate science where “the debate is over” and output from computer models is presented as real data and proof that the theory build into the models it true. Anybody who dares to merely question this is a denier and expelled as an outcast.
But if scientists are no longer allowed to challenge the mainstream consensus by doing some wild guessing upfront, and, by trial and error hone their thoughts into a new theory, it means that effectively scientific progress will come to a grinding halt.
Progress and breakthrough then will come from (financially) independent engineers like Mr Rossi, who dare to follow the old fashioned Gallileo way and are not ashamed to admit that they do not yet know exactly how it works. But heck, it seems to be working so let’s take it from here and see if it is any use for mankind. The exact theory will follow later.
If the E-Cat is proven to work (not by peer reviewed papers but by real customers),the most important side-effect will hopefully be a revitalization of science where people dare to go where nobody has been before.
I believe the fact that Andrea Rossi is working outside the scientific community is a very positive thing for his technology. He does not have to please his peers in order to continue to work, and he has the blessing of having financial means to continue his research. He is not arrogantly defiant of the scientific community, but is simply carrying on without them and publishing his research independently (for free). He doesn’t need mainstream science to be on his side. Rossi has always said that the marketplace will be his judge, and if successful he may prove to be a trailblazer for the many inventors and researchers who have new and interesting ideas which could lead to useful technology, but don’t have many options when it comes to getting attention or funding.
If Rossi’s technology works as he claims the mainstream media will eventually catch up. But there may be some interesting discussions in the editorial boardrooms about why it took them so long to pay attention to this technology. And there may well be some serious soul searching within scientific circles about how they deal with people like Rossi who come along shattering some long-established assumptions.
Meanwhile, the general public may have less trust in the authoritativeness of those they have trusted for so long to tell us what is really going on in the world.