"The case for experimental error is supported by the unreliability and lack of independent replication of key results. Furthermore, the nature of the complex systems and measurement equipment involved in 'cold fusion' research is beyond the range of expertise of most researchers involved.
"'Cold fusion' resembles the alchemy of the middle ages. The search for truth suffers now, in the quest to convert hydrogen into energy, just as it did 1,000 years ago in the quest to convert lead into gold. The allure of fame and wealth and the natural desire to believe in good news have been corrupting influences on scientific skepticism. So researchers working outside their main areas of professional expertise are even more likely to misinterpret experimental errors as positive results. And it is hard not to be skeptical about a revolutionary new discovery that would so conveniently have such tremendous and immediate economic value.
"I entered graduate school wishing to help solve our impending energy crisis, so I studied 'cold fusion' carefully and with an open mind in order to make a wise career choice. I learned that the critical positive results have not been reliably and independently reproduced, and many careful and thorough studies have yielded negative conclusions, although often these unexciting results went unpublished. It is probably impossible to prove that 'cold fusion' is nothing more than the result of misinterpreted experimental errors, but the probability of it being otherwise is low.
"Efforts to disprove 'cold fusion' remind me of the O. J. Simpson case--the evidence is clear enough that most people have firm beliefs, yet truly conclusive proof is elusive. But science is not law: when one puts a scientific theory on trial in an experiment, the existing theory is presumed guilty of explaining your observations until it is proven innocent by showing that only a new theory will fit the evidence properly. Large changes in well-established theories require a stronger body of evidence. 'Cold fusion,' if true, requires radical changes in our understanding of energy and matter, but even after eight years of intense effort costing tens of millions of dollars, the evidence remains weak--although apparently the cold fusion conferences in Hawaii, Monte Carlo and elsewhere have been quite lavish. I now doubt 'cold fusion' is really an easy alchemical solution to the world's energy needs.