You Didn’t Solve That

This is an incredibly minor political flub, but it makes me cringe. During a routine interview with the Washington Examiner in December, Mitt Romney delivered the following line:

I do believe in basic science. I believe in participating in space. I believe in analysis of new sources of energy. I believe in laboratories, looking at ways to conduct electricity with — with cold fusion, if we can come up with it. It was the University of Utah that solved that. We somehow can’t figure out how to duplicate it.

As someone who got very excited when the initial announcements came out about cold fusion, it really bothers me to hear Romney say that we just haven’t figured out how to duplicate it yet. The consensus is that Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann were completely off base, not in the least because they had ignored the previous literature on deuterium reactions.

I think this is just a stumbling misstatement derived from the fact that Romney never paid any attention to the supposed discovery and the following scandal. But if he’s serious about being a booster for science, then he needs to become aware of how scientific investigation can go awry.