September 19, 2007

Challenge to Tim Harper's (of Cientifica) accusations and name calling

Tim Harper at cientifica has put up a name calling article with accusations that those who believe in mechanosynthesis are ignoring science

Here is his article:
The mechnosynthesis fans at places like the Centre for Irresponisble Promotion of Unfeasble Nanotechnologies always get a bit hot under the collar when criticised, and the first line of attack is always to quote Lord Kelvin’s famous 1882 remark that “Heavier than air flying machines are impossible.”

I am not convinced that this is a valid argument when looking at molecular nanotechnology as we have had almost twenty years of proponents saying that some kind of Utopian singularity is just around the corner - surely this would be also worth quoting as an example of a failed prediction?

Kelvin based his opinion on prevailing scientific opinion at the time, whereas the Drexlerians ignore scientific opinion in the same way that advocates of intelligent design and creationism ignore the evidence of the fossil record. That probably explains why they are given short shrift by the mainstream scientific community, and resort to dismissing two and half thousand years of science for the sake of a bunch of beliefs backed up with no evidence.

Perhaps this is a job for renowned sceptic and arch debunker Richard Dawkins?

Here is my response:
1. What relevant specific science has been dismissed ?

2.Here is a link to theoretical and experimental work that supports mechanosynthesis as a possible and promising approach

Also, molecular manufacturing is not and has not been only about mechnosynthesis. There were papers by Drexler and others about protein pathways and other means to achieve molecular manufacturing. This information is publicly available from the Foresight conferences and publications.

3. Certain predictions with dates attached may have been wrong. Open ended predictions that X is impossible are wrong when X happens regardless of when it is. A prediction that Y will happen is not wrong after Z years if there was no time limit attached to it. A Y prediction without date ranges and conditions like actual effort being expended to achieve Y are not that useful.

4. If the mechanosynthesis view is so obviously flawed, then come on Tim Harper, why do you need Richard Dawkins. Bring on your specific issues and criticisms. I, Brian Wang, am calling you out. Cite what it is that you believe are the "justifiable and worthy scientific predictions or projects".

I think your name-calling is without proper basis and justification. I think your accusation that science has been dismissed is false. I think that the belief that molecular manufacturing and mechanosynthesis is feasible has evidence.

I will return the name calling favor. I think that your site and organization should be call UNscientifica.

I think that if you cannot back up your accusations and then do not then retract them, that you are a useless name calling punk.

You call yourself one of the world's foremost experts on commercialisation of technologies [on his profile at this website]. We can put that to the test. We can put up a public bet on whether molecular manufacturing or mechanosynthesis of the type that you criticize gets commercialized. Certainly something that the "world's foremost expert" can handle.

Tim says the nanotechnology that CRN describes is unfeasible. Unfeasible should mean that it never will happen. So Tim should feel fairly comfortable looking at some minor milestones in the 30 to 50 year timeframes.

Note: I am perfectly willing to be polite, but since Tim has initiated the level of the discourse then he needed to get a taste of his own abuse. I wonder why he got hot under the collar from my criticism ?

Tim replied to my comment of his posting via email. He claims he does not want to publish "such histrionics" as were in my comment. My interpretation is that he only publishes his own histrionics.

I say that this shows that he can dish out insults but cannot take it.
I say that this also shows that he is unwilling to defend what he claims. He does not defend his own attacks against mechanosynthesis or molecular manufacturing or his claim to be one of the world's foremost experts on technological commercialization.

The only comment that Tim is willing to have is a link to his own articles He claims that he does not want to spend the time to engage in debate. He points to another one of his old articles which he calls a past debate on this which he does not want to spend more time. However, looking at that link we see that he took the time to toss around insults and accusations that have no evidence. So the pattern is that every so often Tim Harper decides to toss out insults and baseless accusations, but he has never engaged in a debate where he provides any scientific evidence to back up his claims of lack of science for molecular manufacturing.

BTW: Don't buy his nanoparticle drug delivery market study. Some simple online research can provide all of that information and save you $5000.

Abraxis Oncology, a division of American Pharmaceutical Partners, Inc. made the first nanoparticle drug delivery system.

The market leader in nanoemulsions, Elan Pharmaceuticals Inc., has developed a nano-crystallisation system for milling drug compounds to nanometre scale particles to improve biological uptake into patients. The system had been successfully applied to the Wyeth Pharmaceuticals Inc. Rapamune drug for use in immunosupression during transplant surgery and the Merck & Co., Inc. Emend drug for control of chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting.

AlphaRX has a TB nanoparticle drug delivery treatment

Google search on nanoparticle drug delivery

Nanotechnology in drug delivery

Drug delivery site

Drug delivery stocks

The 9th annual drug delivery symposium coming Dec 16-20, 2007 is only about $600 versus $5000 for the report


Loki said...

Tim is a troll. Trolls can be identified as follows:

- They make claims intended to generate emotions rather than debate
- They don't have supporting documentation
- They will not engage in meaningful debate

Trolls should be ignored.

bw said...

True Tim is a troll. However, some of them have a fairly high profile in the hijacked nanotechnology area.

Amazingly he won the 2003 foresight communication prize.

He won it for market research reports on various nanotechnology businesses and a weekly paid subscription set of reports on nanotechnology business.

Before 2003, he and his firm was fairly even handed. Then after 2003, starting in about 2004, 2005 he became troll like in his attacks on molecular manufacturing. I don't have evidence for the specific reasons for the shift. He does make his money providing research related to near term nanotechnology companies.

As a public service, I am launching some websites to cover some aspects of business markets and technology that overlap where Tim is charging $5000 per market report.

Snake Oil Baron said...

One can attract quite a following through name calling, throwing out unsupported claims and accusations and by projecting one's faults on those who you argue with - as long as you appeal to a preexisting sentiment. Harper ought to do quite well in his new chosen profession of being a pander bear.

It is amusing that he tries to paint you with the same brush as creationists since he is claiming that something is impossible without explaining why, claiming everyone agrees with him when they actually do not and attacking the proponents of the idea rather than the idea. I hope the creationists have not patented their business model or Harper could be in for legal trouble.

Loki said...


I wasn't aware of the history behind this. If he does have real influence, then countering it may be helpful.