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

4 thoughts on “Challenge to Tim Harper’s (of Cientifica) accusations and name calling”

  1. Just progress from the material revolution that is already well established and whose progress is not in any doubt (carbon nanotube fibers several centimeters long and able to transfer 50 GPA strength to bulk material), superconductors, nanotube wire conductors, aluminum and metals with consistent nanograins -which are 10 times stronger than regular, reel to reel polymer solar panels, reel to reel ovonic computers, synthetic biology, $1000 genome sequencing, DNA nanotechnology will revolutionize the world. Large scale quantum computers, continued rapid progress with regular computers, optical computers and all optical communication, genetic engineering etc…

    I think historians will view the time from 1970 to about 2005 will mostly viewed as period when there was a large lull in major progress. When big changes were shaping up and foundation technologies were put in place from which the big tech emerged. Also, when bad choices were made and opportunities were missed or wasted. Advanced technology could have happened faster (not going nuclear in a big way, not using Project Orion etc…)

  2. I have read many articles by you, Frietas, Phoenix and others that put a pretty strong prediction of 2020 for DMS.

    Ok great, I say to myself, sounds neat. But these changes we are talking about are bigger than the industrial revolution, smashed down within a decade or so.

    Can we all be deluding ourselves? I certainly hope not.

    If you guys are right the next few decades will show humanity the biggest changes in history.



Leave a Comment