created 9/23/96, last updated 7/4/97 -this page accessible as http://www.phact.org/e/dennis14.html
Midway through September there was an expensive full page Inquirer Ad promising a free demonstration of amazing technologies which would wean our country off foreign oil once and for all. I received email from an out of state skeptic challenging PhACT to investigate. The night of September 23, PhACT members Jeff Rosenthal and Tom Napier (and friend Bob Mayer) and I (all engineers) went down to hear these amazing claims. One Dennis Lee (who had served time for questionable business practices) was giving what could best be described as a 'Home Shoppers Network' style presentation of Free Energy devices. 5 hours later after seeing laughable demonstrations, absurd political grand standing, huge gaps of reason, diety references, elementary science explanations, many distractions, endless rhetoric, many excuses and no convincing evidence - we called it quits. Apparently, he later signed up many groggy new "dealers".
The sight of hundreds of people clapping on queue in apparent belief of this animated ex-convict haunts me to this day. I wanted to both study and challenge this mass hysteria. By the next morning, I set up and started promoting an growing internet site ( http://www.phact.org/e/dennis.html ) dedicated to collecting and dissemating information concerning this bit of American fringe culture. The first of many questions I answered was 'Why doesn't the regular press look into such claims'. According to several members of the press 'claims that are too absurd just get discounted out of hand'. This upsets me, because when the press ignores a conspiracy theory - that's just more evidence that the conspiracy exists. Case in point, mainstream press won't respond to absurd claims that the holocaust is a fabrication and now a high percentage of the lessor educated population is sympathetic to holocaust revisionism.
News of my nascent web pages quickly traveled among the cyberspace free energy community and many conspiracy believers. One Lee investor told me of the government and oil company conspiracy to discredit Dennis Lee and accused me with the poignant question 'Who do you work for?' I responded with the same approach Philip Klass uses when accused of being a government agent: I created a web page titled 'Is Eric Krieg and agent of the government?' and filled it up with references that any one could follow to verify my independence and made an open offer for anyone to examine my unbroken record of pay stubs from high school to present. I found that touting my born again roots and right wing political history seemed to actually buy me some credibility with the lessor educated Dennis Lee followers. In my emailings, I try to take the moral high ground claiming that exposing fallacy among the myriad of free energy claims will allow attention to focus on posssible legitimate claims. I started opening up dialogue with many investors and would be investors by making an open offer to promote Dennis's device in University engineering departments nation wide if he would first prove it to me. On of my more popular pages is my open 300 year history documenting free energy frauds (apparently Dennis has targeted farmers just like the last 3 free energy 'failures'). I started getting floods of email along the lines, 'OK, you convinced me that Dennis is full of it - But what can you tell me about the new XYZ energy machine that someone else has' I'd usually offer a little bit of standard skepticism. Apparently, I had intruded into a well established 'free energy community' with its own lengthy periodicals, seminars, expos, patient investors and new claimant du jours.
In some of my conversations to very patient investors, I'd say, 'listen, as an engineer for 15 years, I've been helping many legitimate companies put working real products in the market place - we respond to intense job-threatening competition, not conspiracies. Rather than turn down free opportunities to have our products verified - we actually pay money to have our products independently verified'.
Free Energy claims have a Phoenix quality, if one 'inventor' goes to jail, it's just more proof of a conspiracy to the next free energy messiah.
I've noticed what I call "buy in mind lock" it appears that most people who have only invested some investigation time easily conclude from my pages that it's best to hold off. However, existing dealers tenaciously cling to the hope of making money. For them, it must be difficult to admit to circles of friends and family of having been taken. It may actually be pphacthologically easier for investors to borrow much more money to install machines than to admit they lost $10,000 Dealers are greatly discouraged from communicating with one another. Early investor money was put into an elaborate expensive nationwide tour to supposedly pitch the concept and politics to the American people. This has yielded a big payoff. I've heard accusations that recent investor money has been diverted to buy off the most impatient of investors from 8 years ago. Also, Dennis has started promoting what I call 'distraction technology' -other 'amazing' technology which I think confuses his investors (once passed midnight - most people are pretty groggy by the time they sign up) I think there's mindset among people shown a score of wonderful inventions , 'well shucks, even if that one will never work, one of these has got to make it big'. I keep explaining that I only focus on the energy machine. Another big distraction is Dennis's constant political rallying. The attendees should be concentrating on 'does the technology work' not 'are corporations and bureaucracies too powerful'. The neat thing about Dennis claiming that a conspiracy is out to get him is that lack of evidence in a conspiracy only is more proof of the conspiracies power He's got a ready excuse to refuse open testing and an excuse for constant delays. Among free energy believers I talk to is an element of what I call "energy men in black" - Someone makes a free energy box (they keep the contents secret so no one steals the idea) - but oh no! along come government agents who destroy the wonderful box and threaten the inventor. (I'm glad government agents on behalf of the powerful undertakers industry didn't destroy evidence for sulfa drugs!) It's fascinating getting reactions from people. Some have told me, 'anyone who trusts an ex con and invests in crack pot schemes deserves to lose their money' - kind of economic Darwinism.
Some 'open-minded' people who have tried to follow thousands of pages of documents on free energy devices over the decades see my test as being a valuable service. I've had to nicely refuse peoples requests that I read this obscure book or try to build my own that over unity machine. Being only one person in a relentless torrent of unreason, I must pick my targets carefully.
I made an open prize offer (inspired by Randi's offer) to anyone who could prove any free energy device and a prize to anyone referring a winner. I'm slowly negotiating with several inventors to test their devices in my garage - It will be a way that I never expected to use my electrical engineering degree. I'm open to any help that rational educated people can give me in this endeavor. At present, my Dennis web pages have gotten well over 4500 hits and actually bring in the majority of traffic hitting the PhACT (the Philly area skeptics) web pages.
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Comments can be sent to email@example.com I'm happy to publish critical responses to my claims.
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