Making choices for public support may be challenging for policymakers when experimental evidence is complex or appears to be inconsistent as is the case for LENR. One way for researchers and policymakers to deal with this uncertainty is to employ commonly used concepts and terminology from the legal field. Applicable terms for EBP are defined as follows in Black’s Law Dictionary:
Preponderance of Evidence. The greater weight of the evidence, not necessarily established by the greater number of witnesses testifying to a fact but by evidence that has the most convincing force; superior evidentiary weight that, though not sufficient to free the mind wholly from all reasonable doubt, is still sufficient to incline a fair and impartial mind to one side of the issue rather than the other. This is the burden of proof in most civil trials, in which the jury is instructed to find for the party that, on the whole, has the stronger evidence, however slight the edge may be.
Clear and Convincing Evidence. Evidence indicating that the thing to be proved is highly probable or reasonably certain. This is a greater burden than preponderance of the evidence, the standard applied in most civil trials but less than evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, the norm for criminal trials.
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt. Where “reasonable doubt” is the doubt that prevents one from being firmly convinced of a defendant’s guilt, or the belief that there is a real possibility that a defendant is not guilty. “Beyond a reasonable doubt” is the standard used by a jury to determine whether a criminal defendant is guilty… In deciding whether guilt has been proved beyond a reasonable doubt, the jury must begin with the presumption that the defendant is innocent.
Loevinger investigated the topic of proof in the fields of law and science, including the relationship between standards of proof and probability1. Inference from Loevinger’s work indicates that the levels of evidence above may be interpreted in terms of probability as follows:
Preponderance of Evidence (POE): >50% probability (used mostly in civil cases)
Clear and Convincing Evidence (CCE): >70% probability
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (BRD): >90% probability (used mostly in criminal cases)
The levels of evidence for LENR reality may be inferred from continued research after the early rejection. It may be asserted that a preponderance of evidence (POE) based on the original claims of Fleischmann and Pons in the 1989 press conference and their subsequent paper. A POE level may be further supported by the four early experiments of Oriani, Miley, Huggins, and McKubre2.
Clear and convincing evidence (CCE) for LENR may be asserted based on the extensive research since the 1989 rejection, which has continued in several countries and by many investigators. Examples in the U.S. are the LENR work at NASA and at a number of U.S. Department of Defense entities, including the Defense Intelligence Agency and several elements of the Navy. A CCE level is also supported by the conclusion that skeptics’ criteria set forth by Langmuir, Sagan, and Shermer are met and that LENR is science and not pseudoscience3.
LENR reality beyond a reasonable doubt (BRD) may be suggested as a result of several recent developments, including establishment of a dedicated research entities at the University of Missouri and Texas Tech University. The prospect if reality at the BRD level is further indicated by a plethora of proposed new energy devices, such as Rossi’s E-Cat, Celani’s reactor, LENUCO’s LENR-Gen Module, JET Energy’s PHUSOR and NANOR, and Brillouin’s CECR technology4.
These proposed levels of evidence for LENR reality are, of course, subject to debate. The highest level of evidence is certainty, which would arrive when a practical device is introduced into the marketplace. The window of time before this occurs provides the opportunity for policy updates for LENR support.
The foregoing levels of evidence may be further interpreted for appropriate policy responses regarding support of LENR development. Five policy options appear to be available:
1. Discontinue Investigations (DI; not considered a viable option given the existing level of activity and interest).
2. Business as Usual (BU; continue marginalized research in conditions comparable to the existing situation)
3. Reinstate Legitimacy (RL; support along with other emerging energy technologies)
4. Increase Support (IS; such as on a par with hot fusion at levels of the past 50 years)
5. Crash Program (CP; extraordinary levels of support to realize energy benefits)
The four viable options (2 to 5) may then be evaluated in relation to the levels of evidence. The following policy responses are proposed:
If LENR exists beyond a reasonable doubt (BRD), a crash program (CP) would be indicated. If there is clear and convincing evidence (CCE), a CP response for its development would be increasing LENR support to a level similar to hot fusion (IS). If there is a preponderance of evidence (POE), an increase in support, IS, is indicated. Reinstatement of legitimacy (RL) is, of course, also appropriate at a minimum for POE. Given LENR’s high potential public benefit, it may also be argued that legitimacy should be reinstated even if the level is below POE
In summary, an appropriate policy response, based on the evidence of the existence of LENR, would be to reinstate LENR at a minimum. The level of evidence also shows that it should probably be supported on a par with hot fusion. Recent developments in the LENR field may even indicate the need for a crash program for its development.
1(Loevinger citation in progress.)
2(Citations in progress. Grimshaw 2008 Masters report.)
3(Storms and Grimshaw, 2010 citation in progress.)
4(CIEEP Task 1 report citation in progress.)