What Drives Steven Krivit?
The Two Faces of New Energy Times
New Energy Times (NET), under the charge of editor Steven
Krivit, is a web site devoted to "original reporting on
research in leading-edge energy technologies". It involves a curious
mixture. One part involves good reporting of research into the areas
indicated above, while the other, darker, side consists of articles
to discredit particular individuals or particular organisations. Such
articles exhibit an unusual level of
vindictiveness, well characterisable perhaps as 'a loving catalogue of
the faults of the individual or organisation concerned'.
Articles of this kind in principle have a role, in cases of
genuine roguery (the late Robert Maxwell comes to mind as an example of
someone who might deserve such treatment). However, Krivit's articles,
on close examination, turn out to involve a mere 'exercise in
blackening' supported by little substance and no little degree of
misrepresentation and error.
Since I was once chosen as target for such treatment (to which
reference should be made to understand the details in the following), I
am in a position to demonstrate Krivit's modus operandi in
detail. After this I will attempt an analysis of the underlying
Part of Krivit's modus
consists of leading the reader to
assume something to be the case without actually saying it, the
actuality being rather different from what the reader has been led to
assume. Look for example at §2 of the
newsletter concerned, headed Opinion: On the
Assumption of E-Mail Privacy. This quotes a letter by
one Horace Heffner, the essence of which is an attack on the
questionable practice of using a request for privacy to 'prevent the
recipient from publicly discussing things which he or she is otherwise
free to discuss publicly'. The quoted letter was preceded by a comment
that I had made a request for privacy to Krivit, naturally
leading the reader to assume that I had myself been engaging in such a
What was in the letter where I had requested privacy? A colleague had
written a letter to me which contained what I felt would be good advice
for Krivit, so I passed on to him that part of the letter. And why did
request privacy? Actually, I had no problem with this advice
being disseminated and I don't believe its originator would have
either. I was in fact mainly interested, in the light of past
correspondence on privacy issues, in seeing how Krivit would respond if
I did ask him not to pass on the contents of the letter. I, and the
original author, were rewarded with a remarkably abusive letter which I
will not reproduce here. Krivit also tried to get us to send him the
remaining, confidential part of the letter, on a different subject,
which request was naturally refused by both of us.
Steve K's 'Experience With a Nobel Prize Winner'
This is the title of Krivit's main attack on me, linked to
§2 of the newsletter.
Privacy and ethical issues relating to
publicising emails surface immediately here, with Krivit broadcasting to
world the fact that I had asked him for advice regarding d2fusion share purchases.
Normally it would be taken for granted that such enquiries should be
treated as private. I will let that pass however, since Krivit may
well claim that this information was relevant to establishing the
misdemeanours that he was describing. The problem is that in this case
Krivit got the facts wrong and there were in fact no misdemeanours. Let
us look at what actually happened.
Invitation to give a Lecture in Cambridge
As Krivit describes it, I had 'invited [Russ] George to Cambridge
University to give a lecture'*, which he finds curious since George
'didn't have much in the way of current research in his name',
a remarkably disingenious comment to make, since Krivit also 'doesn't
have much in the way of current research in his name', but has nevertheless given lectures
on cold fusion himself. The fact is that if someone has a good
knowledge of a
subject and is going to be visiting your university you naturally take
advantage of the opportunity and ask if he would like to educate people
by giving a talk.
Krivit's ignorance of how things happen in university
life shows itself up rather visibly here. Further, I did
George to Cambridge specially so he could give a lecture as Krivit's
text appears to suggest; rather, as indicated, his visit to Cambridge
was set up first, and my lecture invitation followed that. Here is a
typical example of Krivit
writing something convenient to making his case, rather than
ascertaining the actual facts.
Was the lecture used to promote Russ George's company, as the article might lead one to assume? I don't
think so; George did refer to his company, but only in ways that
would be considered quite normal by people familiar with scientific
lectures. As far as I know, nobody rushed out
to buy shares in his company following the talk, but it did raise awareness of
cold fusion among those who attended, as had been my intention in setting the lecture up.
*[paragraph added July 16] Here we see Krivit being typically devious. In his July 16 letter
he asserts 'Josephson states ... that he did not invite George to give
a lecture' [the word 'both' has been omitted for clarity here]. I did not
state this, as persusal of the above will make clear. We again see
Krivit writing something convenient to making his case, rather than the
Krivit misrepresents d2fusion's energy prospects
Krivit says in this article that he had talked to George and
that 'nothing George said gave me any confidence that his company had
anything more than 1/4 Watt of heat energy'. This represents a serious
inability on Krivit's part to understand what d2fusion was about. Their
basic approach consists of looking at all possibilities for fusion
energy to see which might form a suitable basis for practical energy
sources, developing those that seem most suitable. Certainly some
people (e.g. Stringham) had claimed considerably higher energies than
1/4 watt, and d2fusion could have tried these, but not published on
this since there was nothing new (or possibly they had significantly
developed the process, and for obvious reasons wanted to keep the
A further point that
Krivit seems not to have taken on board, but which George understood
very well, is that if say you can achieve say 50 watts in some way, and
want to market a
1kW heat source, you can simply install 20 of your 50 watt devices, and
simple arithmetic, you end up with a 1kW heat source.
I will take the opportunity here to correct an error of mine in the
CMNS group, where, as Krivit notes, I wrote "the key issue involved
certain pressures being put on D2Fusion to allow videoing of
commercially sensitive work, refusal of which was followed by a highly
critical article in New Energy Times". Evidently my memory was wrong
and Krivit did not get to asking to video the work (which I believe he
had done previous with another business about which he intended to
write an article).
Instead I should simply have written "the key issue involved certain
pressures being put on d2fusion, the refusal of George to accommodate
wishes being followed by a highly critical article in New Energy
Was the NET article on d2fusion a cause of d2fusion's demise?
Krivit's article about me quotes Storms as denying that an earlier NET
article was the cause of d2fusion's demise. I do not see on what
grounds such a statement can categorically be made; how do we know that
article concerned (based in part on misunderstandings as noted above)
had not been published then some backer, who could have been
investing in d2fusion on account of the misleading article, might not
appeared on the scene to save the company?
The Arata video
Let me begin with this quote:
A few weeks ago, another incident with Josephson surfaced.
I had obtained an exclusive copy of a video of a live demonstration of
a LENR experiment performed in Japan on May 22. For reasons which are
unclear to me, Josephson lobbied me to release the video immediately.
My plan, as I told him, was to release it as part of a news package
published in the July 10 issue of New Energy Times.
Josephson made multiple coercive attempts to get me to accede to his
demand. I was never clear about the reason for his urgency, why the
release, 28 days later, in our next scheduled publication, was such a
problem for him.
First of all, the 28 days quoted is an oddity: from May 22 to
July 10 is, by my count, 49 days not 28. And the real issue, I suggest,
is not my alleged urgency, but Krivit's lack of urgency: there was much
interest from people in seeing the video, and several weeks is a long
time by today's rapid-publication standards. Had he said he
would need to take say 14 days to do what was necessary to accompany
the video there would be little cause for objection, but Krivit refused
to speed the process up. Jed Rothwell, who was at the demonstration,
detailed report on June 6th. but regrettably did not have the benefit
of seeing the video before writing it since a copy was not provided to
The other point is that Krivit did not disclose the fact that he had
obtained an 'exclusive'**, so it was not in fact unreasonable for me to
try other avenues for getting it — had I known of the
would not have tried to get my own copy to post on the
internet myself, though I would still have criticised the
exclusivity. It appears in fact that there were even attempts
the fact of the existence of the agreement; while originally there
were suggestions that the Japanese
were going to post the video themselves, it was announced later that
there were problems doing uploading to the university server. I
therefore suggested uploading to Google Video instead. Instead of
quoting the agreement a different
excuse was then made for not doing this.
** [added July 16th.] In deference to Krivit's "nit-picking", I have
changed 'exclusive rights' to 'exclusive' in the above paragraph.
In his article, the comments made re my request to get a copy of the
video, as follows:
Josephson used one tactic after another to get me to
video sooner and, when they didn't work, to try to get a copy of it
Among his attempts were the following:
will seem amazing to those with access to the actual discussion in the
group. I said for example:
- Suggesting, in front of the CMNS research
community through messages to the CMNS list, that New Energy
Times' use of an exclusive news story was inappropriate.
- Threatening that, if I didn't comply with his
demand to publish/produce the video immediately, I somehow might lose
- Bad-mouthing me in front of the Japanese
researchers who provided me with the video.
- Circumventing New Energy Times
to attempt to get his own copy of the video directly from the Japanese
sources who gave it to me.
- Bad-mouthing and harassing the Japanese
contacts in front
of the CMNS research community when they declined to follow his
"advice" to give him a copy of the video.
- Suggesting to the CMNS research community that
I was technically unqualified to have the exclusive.
- Resorting to name-calling - that is, calling
me a "nonscientist" in a derogatory manner
I am disturbed at your [the Japanese] indication that the
preparing of the video is being left to a non-scientist. Even
more disturbing is the way this non-scientist appears to be presuming
to handle everything himself, not discussing relevant issues with
myself or any other scientist, in order apparently to gain kudos for
himself and for New Energy Times.
The reason for being disturbed about the preparation of the video plus
any accompanying exposition being left to a non-scientist is quite
simple: technical knowledge is needed to ensure accuracy, and Krivit
does not even have a science degree. He could have agreed to have his
report vetted in confidence by an expert but refused this.
not a matter of derogatory language, simply an assertion of how things
My 'bad-mouthing' and 'harassing' of the Japanese contacts was merely a
matter of trying a range of suggestions as to what might be done (in
ignorance of the existence of an exclusivity agreement, as already
noted) to get
the video online faster than Krivit's very slow timescale.
as regards 'gaining kudos', here is an email from Krivit that I quoted
in this connection:
"I am aware that you have been collaborating with Jon Cartwright of
Physics World. ... As I made clear to you in my last message,
most certainly interested in a scoop, that is my job, there is no
surprise about this. Because of your relationship with a competing
journalist, it is inadvisable for me to discuss this matter further
with you or to assist with your continued efforts to gain unpublished
and unreleased information."
That might be fine except this was not a case of getting
unpublished and unreleased information: this was an experiment which
had been shown publicly, and any issue for discussion would simply be a
question of gaining clarification regarding unclear details. Should an
experimenter be sworn not to answer questions regarding his public
demonstration, questions that might well have been asked at the time,
simply so that a reporter could have a 'scoop' some weeks later? The
idea is absurd!
Indeed, the whole article is absurd. None of the points in Krivit's
attack stands up to proper analysis; the facts that are correct are
presented or used in a misleading way, or are of no great significance.
How could such an article have been written? A common feature is this:
whenever someone blocks what Krivit wants to do, or objects to his
behaviour, his response is to attack, often in public, rather than
reacting in a responsible way and with respect. We can imagine that in
such a situation aggressiveness takes over, normal, measured behaviour
In recent years, such destructive, anti-social kind of behaviour,
coming from adults in the regular
community, has drawn considerable interest from psychologists. This is
my area of expertise, but it would be interesting to know what those
who are expert in this area would make of matters such as those
[And a final point: this issue of NET also contained an attack on the ISCMNS organisation falsely
alleging copyright violation. This content has since been removed from the site.]
July 14th., 2008 (links to NET updated Mar. 8th. 2012).