& Changes: Sunday, August 24, 2014, thru Sunday, August 31,
August 31, 2014 - I keep thinking that there has to be some way to get the Anthrax Truthers to discuss things intelligently. But, I'm also getting close to simply giving up.
How many times can they bring up the same nonsense without realizing it is nonsense? How many times can it be pointed out to them that what they're saying is nonsense, without them understanding that it is nonsense. For example, this is the title of a new thread on Lew Weinstein's blog:
The Documentary Evidence Indicates That Flask 1029 Was Stored In Building 1412 In 1998-2000, Not In Building 1425 As The Prosecutors Claimed In Spinning The Theory That Bruce Ivins Was The Anthrax Processor And Mailer
Their "documentary evidence" is the Reference Material Receipt Record form that was created when the contents of flask RMR-1029 were created:
In the space marked "storage," which is circled in red on the above form, it says "room 115, Bldg 1412."
But, Bruce Ivins claimed repeatedly that the RMR-1029 flasks were "never" kept in Building 1412. It was the FBI who wanted to know if he was telling the truth or not.
In FBI document #847423, dated September 8, 2004, at the bottom of page 7 and into page 8 it says,
IVINS explained that RMR 1029 was maintained in two 500 mL flasks in suite B3. When material was needed for a challenge, IVINS would remove the volume of spores needed in the challenge and place this volume in a Gibco serum bottle. This Gibco serum bottle was then transported to building 1412 at USAMRIID, where it was aliquoted for use in the challenge. IVINS stated that the two 500 ml flasks that contained RMR 1029 were never taken over to building .
On page 9, Ivins says something similar:
As with RMR 1029, the main flask storing RMR 1030 was never taken from 1425 to 1412.
Six months later, on page 10 of the original version of FBI document #847444, dated March 31, 2005, and under a report section titled "Reference Material Receipt Record Inconsistencies Regarding Location of RMR 1029" Ivins says the same thing, but much more clearly and emphatically:
IVINS advised that the large flask of RMR 1029 was always stored in suite B3 of Building 1425. IVINS advised that the copy of the form indicating RMR 1029 was stored in room  of Building 1412 was wrong. "We never stored 1029 in the big flask in ," he said.
But, apparently later in the day, Ivins changed his mind - more or less. Page 93 of FBI file #847545 is a memo that Ivins wrote to the FBI on March 31, 2005. Ivins stated:
6) Where the flasks of RMR 1029 were kept. Since we had a lab (115) in Building 1412 at the time, and since the spores were intended for aerosols, it's possible that at least one of the flasks was kept in the lab refrigerator in 115 or in the 1st floor coldroom (much less likely) for a certain amount of time. We were eventually - I think it was probably before 2001 - "moved out" of the area by Aerobiology, and at that point may be brought RMR 1029 material back to 1425. I honestly don't remember, but it would make sense.
So, it was the FBI that determined that flask RMR-1029 could have been stored in Building 1412 for a period of time. (That would be required for Steven Hatfill to have access to it, since Hatfill worked in Building 1412.)
I recall this same argument from years ago, but it was probably in the posts of mine that they deleted from Lew's blog. That may be one reason they're bringing up the same nonsense again. In that discussion, I recall finding some evidence that indicated that RMR-1029 was originally planned to be kept in room 115 in Building 1412, but it never actually happened that way. Instead, Ivins was moved out of his lab in 1412 before the contents of the flask were created, and the actual storage was always in 1425.
When I get some time, I may go through all the posts I archived from Lew's blog and put them in a file that I can search.
But, I think the point is made that the FBI was NOT trying to claim that RMR-1029 was never stored in 1412. Bruce Ivins tried to make that claim, and the FBI's investigation showed his claim to be (apparently) untrue. Yes, that meant that the people working in Building 1412 (like Steven Hatfill) could have accessed the flask and thus also had to be investigated as possible suspects. But, it was already known that they had to be checked out, since aliquots from RMR-1029 were routinely sent to Building 1412, and an aliquot could possibly have been used to create the contents of the anthrax letters.
There's no sense in the Anthrax Truther's argument at all. Even more ridiculous is another discussion they are starting up once again in another new thread:
The FBI asked questions about olive oil, which in the past had been used at USAMRIID as an anti-foaming agent. And different anti-foaming agents were suspected of causing the silicon to appear in the coats of anthrax spores. But, the anthrax truthers can dream up endless other fictional reasons for inquiring about olive oil -- reasons which they can twist to support their beliefs about the FBI and about who actually sent the anthrax letters. Their reasoning is just plain nuts.
Looking at page 15 of FBI document #847408, which is dated 04/07/2004, I see it says,
XXXXXXXXXX in the past olive oil was used for aerosol challenges. The olive oil was used for challenges involving toxin proteins. Olive oil has not been used during challenges for ten (10) years. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX has not seen a bottle of olive oil at USAMRIID since the early 1990's.This appears to be just an example of the FBI trying to find every standard method for making anthrax spores in order to see if any standard method left behind the silicon signature that was found in the attack spores.
The above examples of "new arguments" from the Anthrax Truthers show why they never learn anything. They aren't looking for what actually happened, they are looking for new ways to argue that the FBI was doing things incorrectly because they believe the FBI is either incompetent or was involved in some criminal conspiracy to blame Bruce Ivins for an act of biological terrorism done by someone else.
In reality, it is the Anthrax Truthers who are incompetent and who are trying to blame someone else for an act of biological terrorism committed by Dr. Bruce Ivins.
August 30, 2014 - This is off topic, but someone might find it interesting. This morning I finished reading a hardcover edition of "Déjà Dead" by Kathy Reichs. Here is part of Kathy Reichs' bio:
Kathy Reichs, like her fictional creation, Temperance Brennan, is forensic anthropologist for the province of Quebec. She is Vice President of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, serves on the Canadian National Police Services Advisory Council, and is one of only fifty-six forensic anthropologists certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology. A professor of anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Dr. Reichs now divides her time between Charlotte and Montreal. Deja Dead, her debut novel, brought her fame when it became a New York Times bestseller and won the 1997 Ellis Award for Best First Novel.
"Temperance Brennan" is, of course, also "Bones" in the TV series of that name, which has so far been on the air for 10 seasons. (Kathy Reichs is a producer on that show.)
I found the hardcover copy at a used book store for less than a dollar. As I recall, I stopped watching the "Bones" TV series during season 4 or 5. I just got tired of Temperance Brennan's lack of ability to understand basic social skills, and the fact that each episode of the show seemed to try to involve a more gruesome death than the previous episode. But, I was curious about the books and how Kathy Reichs writes.
In "Déjà Dead," Dr. Brennan is a forensic anthropologist, but her personality is very different from the TV show. She's a divorced mother with a grown daughter, and her social skills are excellent. She works in Montreal, Quebec, not in Washington D.C.
The book has a lot of very gruesome details about bodies and how and why murders are committed. Early in the reading process, I almost gave up on finishing it several times because of all the grisly details. I stuck it out because Kathy Reichs is a very skilled writer of description and character, an ability I need to develop for my own books. And she writes in first person, which is how my sci-fi books are written.
So, now the question is: Did I learn enough from "Déjà Dead" to get back to work on my own book and try to make my descriptions and characters more interesting?
Time will tell.
August 28, 2014 - I see that DXer seems to have ended his "bloodhound evidence" rants. He's gone back to arguing the nonsense that Ivins' work with rabbits at the time of the anthrax attacks somehow proves Ivins couldn't be the anthrax mailer, and DXer found someone who agrees with him. So, he's as firm in his beliefs as ever, and there's clearly no way any facts could change his mind. He's also posting comments about how the FBI should have done their investigation in order to conform to DXer standards.
During the course of our "debate," I found a copy of "Bacillus anthracis comparative genome analysis in support of the Amerithrax investigation," the peer reviewed science article about how work with DNA helped find the source of the anthrax used in the anthrax attacks of 2001. It came out in March 2011, but, previously I'd only provided a link to the abstract and links to articles about the report. An example HERE says:
It took nearly a decade before University of Maryland researchers were allowed to talk about their work identifying the anthrax strain used in the 2001 deadly letter attacks. But now, they and the other key members of the high-powered science team have published the first account of the pioneering work, which launched the new field of “microbial forensics” and gave bioterrorism investigators a way to “fingerprint” bacteria.
Until last week, I didn't have a copy of the article in my files. I'm not sure why, but now I do. While reading it I noticed this statement:
The comparison of the Ames Ancestor genome sequence identified no differences compared with that of the Ames Florida isolate, an isolate obtained directly from the individual infected at the AMI building. This finding suggests that the variation in the Ames Porton isolate was most likely caused by years of laboratory culture and treatments to remove the plasmids.
That statement seems to indicate that the basic DNA of the supply of Ames anthrax used at Porton Down is/was no longer identical to the DNA of the original sample of "ancestor Ames" they obtained from USAMRIID. Nor, of course, does it match Ames Florida, which was taken from the body of Bob Stevens. It seems that, over the years, whenever Porton Down would start to run low on Ames, they would use their remaining supply to grow a new supply - sometimes using added chemicals. And, as a result, they bred a new variation of Ames. Ames Porton with the two plasmids pX01 and pX02 is genetically different from Ames Ancestor, and, of course, so is plasmidless Porton Ames. That seems to mean that if they supplied some other lab with a sample of "Ames Porton" (or if al Qaeda stole some of Ames Porton), the DNA of that sample would not be identical to "Ames Ancestor" or "Ames Florida." And, of course, it would not be a match to spores found in the anthrax letters.
If my understanding is correct, that means that any belief DXer might still have that al Qaeda could have obtained Ames Porton and used it to create the attack spores cannot be true. The DNA would not match -- even if they somehow managed to magically grow all four of the morphs that were in both the attack powders and in flask RMR-1029.
August 27, 2014 - Yesterday afternoon, probably in response to the comment I wrote here yesterday morning, "DXer" posted this comment to Lew Weinstein's blog:
The bloodhounds did not alert to Bruce Ivins.
The bloodhounds DID alert to Patricia Fellows, the lab technician spinning things against Ivins. (Willman, p. 200). The deployments occurred the latter half of 2002.
The FBI should produce to GAO the bloodhound canine report relating to Bruce Ivins showing that there not a positive alert.
It constitutes prosecutorial and investigative misconduct to withhold evidence tending to be exculpatory — whether from a judge, jury, the public, superiors — or the GAO..Okay, this time DXer provided a reference I can check out. Here's what it says on page 200 of David Willman's book "The Mirage Man":
As of January 2003, Lambert and his investigators knew that the dogs had alerted on at least one other scientist, Patricia Fellows, who formerly worked at USAMRIID but was implicated by no credible evidence. (20) A document that Lamert prepared for Director Mueller's personal briefing of Senators Daschle and Leahy in January 2003 said that bloodhounds had reacted to Hatfill and Fellows only, adding "however, she assisted with the initial processing of the Daschle/Leahy evidence." (21)
By this Lambert was suggesting that although the dogs' identification of Hatfill remained significant, their reactions to Fellows could be discounted because she had helped the FBI handle the anthrax letters in the fall of 2001 and imparted her scent at that time to the materials that were later presented to the dogs. Others within the FBI saw the bloodhounds' identification of Fellows differently: It was a strong reason to abandon all of the dog "evidence." (22)
David Willman explains some of the many problems with "dog evidence" on the previous page of his book (page 199), including cases where the "dog evidence" was wrong. Then he wrote,
Nonetheless, Richard Lambert persisted in making the dog evidence a pillar of the FBI's case against Hatfill. His approach raised concerns among some scientific specialists at the FBI. Said one of them, Agent Jenifer Smith, "Dogs work extremely well with explosives. They work really well with drugs. But a major investigation like this, you're going to suddenly start relying on dog technology? It was surprising to see those things used in an organization where we don't use psychics." (18)
The unavoidable problem with relying on the bloodhounds to pinpoint a killer or a rapist is that there is no way to know what scent or other factor a dog may be reacting to.
The bloodhounds supposedly sniffed scents (PLURAL) taken from the Leahy anthrax letter. No one knows what kind of scents were extracted from the Leahy letter by the STU-100 vacuum device. They don't know how many different scents there were on the envelope or to whom or what the scents belonged. The anthrax letters had been dropped in a mailbox, then transported to a post office, then run through postal machines, mixed with countless other letters, and handled by an unknown number of people, before the Leahy letter was finally recovered by the FBI.
For all that we humans know, the dogs could have been reacting to machine oil or wool clothing or a type of shoe leather or paper fibers or a brand of shampoo.
While many others in the FBI totally disagreed with him, senior FBI agent Richard Lambert was evidently convinced that Dr. Hatfill was the anthrax mailer. Lambert was apparently grasping at straws in an attempt to find evidence to support his belief (much as DXer is doing today in trying to show al Qaeda was behind the anthrax attacks). Special Agent Lambert's "dog evidence" was pure crap. Many others in the FBI knew it was pure crap. The fact that Lambert relied upon crap didn't change the fact that it was crap.
And now DXer wants that crap "evidence" to be used as exculpatory evidence proving Bruce Ivins was innocent. That is just plain ridiculous.
The GAO is undoubtedly aware that the bloodhounds didn't react to Ivins when they were searching for a scent taken from the Leahy anthrax letter. All it means is that the dogs probably weren't looking for Ivins' scent. No one knows what scent they were looking for, since the bloodhounds reacted to both Patricia Fellows and Steven Hatfill.
And no one cares. It was an investigative avenue that went nowhere.
Whether something is true or not is not affected by how strongly someone believes it. SA Lambert evidently believed all the conspiracy theorists who were pointing at Dr. Hatfill as being the anthrax mailer. Lambert was under extreme pressure to find the anthrax mailer. The bloodhounds provided him with some hope that he'd found some useable evidence to help prove that Dr. Hatfill was the anthrax killer.
SA Lambert evidently clung to that hope until he transferred off the case and was replaced by SA Edward Montooth.
It's difficult to figure out exactly what DXer is thinking when he endlessly argues about the bloodhound "evidence." But, this morning I see a whole new string of rants on the subject. Whatever he is trying to do, he is trying very hard to do it.
Late yesterday, DXer also ranted about polygraph tests. Here is his recommendation:
The FBI should rely more on hard science that has been proved by repeated, controlled experiments in peer-reviewed literature. Lead bullet analysis and hair analysis are just of the many fields that have led to false convictions.
Using the best possible methods not only helps avoid false convictions but helps make sure the perpetrator is caught — and the threat neutralized.Duh! Unfortunately, in our real world we don't have control over what evidence is found. And investigations are done by human beings who often make mistakes. Early in an investigation you can have ten different investigators with ten different theories of who did it. And each can have his or her own reasons for believing what they believe. But, the system doesn't work on beliefs. It works on evidence. And, gradually over a period of years, the evidence in the Amerithrax investigation began to point to Dr. Bruce Edwards Ivins as being the anthrax killer. Evidence that was initially ignored was reevaluated and added to the pile. Example: Testimony from Nancy Haigwood. And scientific areas where there seemed no hope of finding evidence turned out to provide some of the best evidence. Example: Microbial Forensics.
DXer is evidently grasping at straws in hopes of finding some way to convince people that he knows "the truth" and that the FBI was wrong. Trying to argue that the bloodhound "evidence" is somehow exculpatory of Dr. Ivins is an indicator of pure desperation.
If DXer wants to convince people that he is right and that al Qaeda operatives were actually behind the anthrax attacks of 2001, all he needs to do is provide BETTER evidence than the FBI has against Bruce Ivins. Is that too much to ask? Silly arguments over bloodhound evidence isn't going to convince anyone. Complaints that the FBI isn't following investigative tracks that DXer wants them to follow isn't going to convince anyone.
If DXer believes that Yazid Sufaat created the attack spores, that Mohammed Atta wrote the anthrax letters and that the anthrax letters were mailed by Adnan El-Shukrijumah, DXer should provide evidence to support those beliefs. DXer should provide meaningful evidence of exactly how Yazid Sufaat obtained anthrax from flask RMR-1029 and how and where Yazid Sufaat made the spores. DXer should explain how the handwriting on the anthrax letters matches Mohammed Atta's handwriting. DXer should explain how it is certain Adnan El-Shukrijimah mailed the letters. Complaining that the FBI should find the evidence for him just shows that DXer has no meaningful evidence to support his beliefs.
He's just arguing his unsupported and illogical beliefs against the solid facts found by the FBI which prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Dr. Ivins was the anthrax killer.
August 26, 2014 - This morning, I see there are several more posts by "DXer" to Lew Weinstein's blog on the subject of the use of bloodhounds in the Amerithrax investigation. I can't make much sense of any of them. One post even says,
Amerithrax represents the greatest counterintelligence analysis in the history of the United States.
Really? Or did "DXer" simply forget to include the word "failure," which he typically includes when he writes such sentences?
Another comment provides a good example of how "DXer" cannot and will not explain his own arguments:
When Scott Decker in his manuscript announces the use of carbon dating as pointing to Dr. Ivins’ guilt, the skeptical reader’s reaction should be: Hunh?
Why doesn't DXer explain how Scott Decker used carbon dating in this way? DXer not only seems incapable of explaining anything, he seems to deliberately write comments that require explaining before they make any sense. But, more likely he's just trying to say he has read Scott Decker's unpublished manuscript, and if anyone wants to know what DXer is talking about, that person should read Decker's manuscript, too. Until then, DXer's comment will remain unchallenged.
This is probably yesterday's most ridiculous comment by DXer:
Like the other science used in Amerithrax — to include the analysis of the ink, paper, toner, photocopier tracks, hair, fiber, digital forensics , chemical analysis of Flask 1029 etc, the evidence tended to be EXCULPATORY of Dr. Bruce Ivins.
There might be something genuinely interesting about bloodhound evidence in the files that DXer mentions, but none of it relates to the case against Bruce Ivins. DXer's absurd rantings about such things being "EXCULPATORY of Dr. Bruce Ivins" change nothing. So, there doesn't seem to be any reason to try to decipher any more of DXer's gibberish. He's evidently just on another one of his incomprehensible rants.
August 25, 2014 - It's difficult to be certain, but I seem to be having another indirect discussion with the conspiracy theorist/True Believer known as "DXer," where he posts his arguments to Lew Weinstein's blog, and I post my arguments here on my site.
In yesterday's comment, I pointed out that the bloodhounds used during the Amerithrax investigation had nothing to do with the case against Bruce Ivins. The bloodhounds were used in an investigation of a different "person of interest," Steven Hatfill. Later in the day, DXer posted what appears to be a response. I can't be certain it is a response, because it says nothing about my earlier comment. Instead, it presents what seems to be a totally different argument regarding the bloodhounds. Only this time DXer tries to show why he believes it is related to the case against Bruce Ivins. DXer wrote:
In her civil deposition in the Hatfill lawsuit against the United States, Virginia Patrick explained that the FBI Agents — one included Scott Decker — told her and her husband that the bloodhounds were the “smoking gun” that proved Dr. Hatfill was behind the anthrax mailings.
In the living room, agents told them they knew Hatfill was the mailer because of the “smoking gun” evidence. The entire news-reading world would soon know what the FBI suspected and what it claimed as the “smoking gun.”
She knew that the bloodhounds — who arrived just 5 minutes from when one of the agents called — had been waiting nearby. She describes the demonstration as involving someone with a handkerchief and taking it behind a tree — and then the bloodhound finding the agent.
This supposed “smoking gun” evidence pointed AWAY from Bruce Ivins.
The deposition of Virginia Patrick (the wife of William Patrick III) can be viewed by clicking HERE to access a pdf file, and then going to page 208 in that file.
Reading the deposition, the first thing that becomes clear is that it is unclear if the FBI agents ever actually used the term "smoking gun." Steven Hatfill's lawyer, Tom Connolly, asked a question answered by Virginia Patrick,
Q. Did the FBI agents say to you words to the effect that the FBI had smoking gun evidence to demonstrate that Dr. Hatfill was the anthrax killer.
Hatfill's lawyer uses the term "smoking gun" over and over. During the meeting with the FBI, Mr. and Mrs. Patrick did not accept that bloodhounds were as reliable as the FBI agents were claiming. Mrs. Patrick says she asked the FBI agents,
if this really proves that Steven did this why don't you arrest him
But, she doesn't recall what their response was.
The idea that the bloodhounds had provided "smoking gun" evidence is so ridiculous that no one believes it, then or now. DXer seems to be merely using it as some kind of desperate claim that it points away from Dr. Ivins. But, it doesn't really point anywhere. It's just nonsense. So, the question really is: Why did the FBI agents say such a thing?
Back on July 3, 2005, I wrote a long comment about the deposition of Virginia Patrick. As part of that comment, I wrote:
To me, the incident is further evidence that the real purpose for having the bloodhounds sniff around various locations was to determine where Dr. Hatfill had and had not been during the period when the FBI had lost their tail on him. If Dr. Hatfill had visited the Patricks that same day or the day before, and he gave Virginia Patrick a hug, he could have left enough of his scent on her for the bloodhounds to detect it.
It seems certain that, on July 31 and August 1, 2002, FBI agents were trying to find out if Hatfill had visited the Patricks during the period where the FBI had lost their tail on Hatfill. At the time, the conspiracy theorists who were out to lynch Dr. Hatfill for the anthrax attacks considered Bill Patrick to be a possibly accomplice. And, during that 2002 trip to Louisiana to interview for a job, Dr. Hatfill had apparently ditched the FBI's tail on him on the morning of July 31. (Dr. Hatfill told me on the phone that ditching the FBI at that Denny's restaurant in Louisiana was "unintentional".) To the FBI, when a suspect ditches his tail, that can be viewed as a serious indicator of guilt. But, more importantly at the time, if there had been another anthrax attack after the FBI lost their tail on Dr. Hatfill, it would have been disasterous to the FBI. It could have literally destroyed the FBI.
It seems obvious that the FBI gave the Patricks a line of bull about the bloodhounds as a way of getting them to let the bloodhounds sniff around their property without a search warrant. They were looking for Hatfill's scent. The FBI agents probably also wanted to make it clear to the Patricks that if they assisted Hatfill in any way, they might be tried as accomplices to whatever criminal acts Dr. Hatfill had committed or might commit.
There was no new anthrax attack during the time Hatfill wasn't being tailed by the FBI. The bloodhounds did NOT provide any "smoking gun" evidence for or against anyone. The statements supposedly made by the FBI to Virginia Patrick about the bloodhounds providing "smoking gun" evidence were in no way related to the DOJ's case against Dr. Bruce Ivins. And, anyone who suggests that the FBI agents' line of bull to the Patricks somehow points "AWAY from Bruce Ivins" is living in a fantasy world. End of story.
August 24, 2014 - Last week, for reasons that he almost certainly cannot and will not explain, "DXer" started posting bizarre and meaningless comments about bloodhound evidence on Lew Weinstein's blog. For example, this morning he posted this:
Is there a canine deployment sheet(s) for Dr. Ivins? How many deployments were there as to all subjects. What percentage of those deployments resulted in alerts?
And this is from a few days ago:
The mailed letters were used as the scent article. At Denny’s were the dogs alerting to olive oil used in connection with the mailed letters? Denny’s sells french fries.
French fries prepared in olive oil? Yech! The comment continued with this:
The bloodhounds were an important scientific method used in Amerithrax that served to seriously derail the investigation even though the method had never been validated.
Wha...? Here's another example of DXer's comments about bloodhounds last week:
In its report, GAO should set forth the facts relating to the FBI’s reliance on the bloodhounds and STU-100.
WHY!!??? I did some research and found that the STU-100 is a like a handy-vac designed specifically for forensic work:
The Scent Transfer Unit (STU-100) was specifically designed for Forensic Specialists, Investigators, Evidence Response Teams, Identification Departments and Scent Dog Handlers. The Scent Transfer Unit allows law enforcement to collect evidence from any item without destroying fingerprints on the item, collect trace evidence at a crime scene without contamination, collect scent evidence from hard to access places not accessible to a search dog and gives law enforcement a scent pad to store in scent banks for future use on repeat offenders
There is absolutely NO bloodhound evidence in the DOJ's case against Bruce Ivins.
The word "bloodhound" does not appear anywhere in the Amerithrax investigative summary. Nor does the word "scent." Yet, DXer inexplicably posted this:
What specific additional sourcing exists that the bloodhounds were “trained specifically to sniff out RMR-1029.” How would that be attempted? The FBI Agents should explain the method they relied upon for all those years in support of its “FBI’s Theory.” With 60 additional Scent Transfer Units purchased by the FBI in 2010 or so, if we don’t learn from mistakes, we are bound to repeat them.
I did a Google search for the quote "trained specifically to sniff out RMR-1029” and was surprised to find it came from The Washington Post. In her review of David Willman's book "The Mirage Man," Dina Temple-Raston wrote:
Willman writes that the FBI felt it had an unassailable source: a team of bloodhounds from Southern California. They had been trained specifically to sniff out RMR-1029.
The problem is: David Willman wrote no such thing in his book. At least not that I can find. (Bloodhounds aren't listed in the index, but they are mentioned on page 172.) The comment DXer relies upon seems to be some kind of bizarre misunderstanding by Dina Temple- Raston. Most of the time, the bloodhounds were looking for Steven Hatfill's scent. Other times, the bloodhounds were looking for a human scent extracted from the envelopes after the envelopes had been irradiated. Training bloodhounds to sniff out anthrax from RMR-1029 would be STUPID beyond belief, since trying to find anthrax spores by using a bloodhound would also mean that the bloodhound would probably die of anthrax if it found any.
I also did some quick research into the STU-100 Scent Transfer Unit and found an FBI web page which provides all the information that anyone probably needs to know about the subject. Here are a couple paragraphs:
The use of the STU-100 has been controversial in several court proceedings. A review of defense expert witness testimonies and the subsequent appellate court decisions highlight the misunderstanding of human-scent evidence (California vs. Flores 2000; California vs. Willis 2002; California vs. Willis 2004).
testimony, a defense expert in veterinary medicine testified, “We don’t
know what human scent is” (California vs. Flores 2000). Yet in a later
testimony, this same expert stated the method to clean scent from the
STU-100, “does not remove all of the odors reliably by any means.” That
he had never seen the STU-100 before the day of this testimony did not
deter the expert from opining, “It’s going to collect a sample that has
an unknown degree of contamination” (California vs. Willis 2002). These
types of unsupported opinions have cast an inaccurate and negative
light on a very useful tool. The notion that a scent pad collected by
any means contains only one scent is not realistic. That multiple
scents on a scent article render a positive outcome useless has been
scientifically proven wrong. All scent collection methods will create
pads with blended odors. Because
human scent is easily transferred, a positive trail or identification
resulting from any scent article only shows a relationship to that
article and must be verified and corroborated through other
Used with discretion, the information gained from human-scent-discriminating dogs can be a valuable tool for law enforcement. The ability of these dogs to establish a connection between people and crime scene evidence has been demonstrated through scientific study, practical experience, and confirmed criminal case results.
However, in the world of conspiracy theorists and True Believers, it appears that unless something can be certified as 100% reliable and 100% accurate, then it is totally and completely worthless. And even if a device like the STU-100 had absolutely NOTHING to do with the DOJ's case against Bruce Ivins, it seems the mere fact that the FBI used one during the course of the investigation somehow proves something to the Anthrax Truthers. What it proves, they cannot explain.
It's just more of their inexplicable, screwball nonsense.
Bloodhounds have been used to track scents for hundreds of years. Are they 100% accurate? Probably not. But they are still the best tool available for the work they do.
In another ridiculous post last week, DXer wrote this on a different subject:
Armed with additional exemplars of Atta’s handwriting, GAO has the expertise in-house to make its own comparison of the handwriting.
I have obtained from USAMRIID
uploaded numerous samples of Dr. Ivins’ handwriting — which looks
nothing like the mailed anthrax letters.
I have suggested that Atta’s friend, Adnan El-Shukrijumah, was the mailer of the Fall 2001 anthrax letters. He was with Atta in Florida when immigration forms were filled out. The GAO should obtain and state the conclusion of the FBI’s handwriting expert who compared Shukrijumah’s handwriting with the Fall 2001 letters. That same examiner concluded that Dr. Ivins probably did not write the letters.
Anyone should be able to clearly see that Mohammed Atta's handwriting does NOT match the handwriting on the anthrax letters. The only people who wouldn't be able to see that would be people who are obsessed with a theory that Mohammed Atta wrote the letters and/or people who cannot comprehend basic handwriting analysis. Besides, Adnan El-Shukrijumah was almost certainly in Afghanistan at the time of the mailings.
The GAO's job isn't to second guess the FBI's investigation and do an amateur criminal investigation of their own. That would be unbelievably stupid and irresponsible. Here's what the GAO says about their responsibilities on their web site:
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress. Often called the "congressional watchdog," GAO investigates how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars.
Our Mission is to support the Congress in meeting its constitutional responsibilities and to help improve the performance and ensure the accountability of the federal government for the benefit of the American people. We provide Congress with timely information that is objective, fact-based, nonpartisan, nonideological, fair, and balanced.
The primary job of the GAO is to look for waste and inefficiency in the government.
Did the FBI waste money during their investigation of the anthrax attacks of 2001? Probably. But, that doesn't mean it was "waste" that can be corrected by some finding by GAO accountants. Perhaps, while doing a criminal investigation, the FBI shouldn't investigate everyone who might be responsible for a crime, they should investigate only the person who was actually responsible for the crime. That would definitely save the taxpayers a lot of money. Of course, if the GAO knows how to do that, they would need to explain as part of their findings the technique the FBI should use to investigate only guilty people. However, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for that kind of "finding."
It's hard to imagine what the GAO will recommend in its review of Amerithrax. They certainly will not recommend that the case be re-opened and that al Qaeda be blamed until it can be proved that al Qaeda was NOT responsible. Nor will the GAO recommend that the FBI consult with conspiracy theorists on all controversial cases.
I'm looking forward to reading the GAO's review. I'm also looking forward to the reactions from the conspiracy theorists and True Believers when the review doesn't show what they want it to show. But I already know what the conspiracy theorists will be saying. They'll be saying that, because the GAO's report didn't show the FBI was wrong about who mailed the anthrax letters, that proves there's a government conspiracy going on, and the GAO is just another part of that vast government conspiracy.
& Changes: Sunday, August 17, 2014, thru Saturday, August 23,
August 22, 2014 - On Wednesday, I felt in the mood to read another thriller. I was specifically interested in reading "Two for the Dough," the 2nd book in the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. I'd already read the first and 3rd book in the series, and the 3rd book contained matters which seemed to indicate it would be more enjoyable for me if I read the Stephanie Plum books in sequence. For example, in the first book, a character named "Lula" was a prostitute who provided Plum with some information to track down a bail skipper. In the third book, Lula worked as a file clerk for the same bail bondsman that Plum worked for. How did that transition come about?
I didn't have a copy of "Two for the Dough," and neither did my library. At least they didn't have it on-line in e-book form. So, after lunch on Wednesday I decided I'd drive the 5 miles to the actual library to see if they had it available in paper form. But first, I thought I'd try a local used book store that's not very far from where I live.
I couldn't believe it. My jaw literally dropped open. They had only one Stephanie Plum novel on their shelves, and it was a paperback edition of "Two for the Dough." It was like Fate, or a Sign. So, I bought it for 89 cents.
I just finished reading it. Another enjoyable read. I have a copy of the 7th book in the series, and numbers 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 and 20. But, I need to find #4 to read next. That could take awhile. So, either I'll read another Jack Reacher novel, or one of the other thrillers I have available, by authors such as Jonathan Kellerman, Robert B. Parker, Brad Thor, Craig Johnson and Kathy Reichs. Or I'll work on my own novel and start the second draft. Reading "Die Trying" and "Two for the Dough" hopefully gave me some insights into how to make the characters in my book more interesting.
But, first I need to start working on Sunday's comment. Lew Weinstein seems to be on a real rant against the FBI. His latest absurdity:
FBI had, then tossed anthrax type … but they still insist Ivins was the one … they have no case … first they were stupid, then arrogantAnd "DXer" is ranting incomprehensibly about bloodhounds and handwriting, displaying a total ignorance of evidence that he's never displayed so well and thoroughly before.
Unless something more worthwhile pops up, I'll probably write something about those screwball posts in my Sunday comment.
August 21, 2014 - I noticed that "DXer" posted this comment early this morning:
Amerithrax represents the greatest lapse in counterintelligence analysis in the history of the United States.
I found it interesting because of the comment "DXer" wrote less than 3 weeks ago:
In order to encourage the FBI and DOJ to provide documents under FOIA in response to long pending document requests, I will ask Lew that this blog no longer use the phrase “dropped ball” or “biggest counterintelligence analysis failure in US history.”
Maybe DXer thinks that "greatest lapse in counterintelligence analysis in the history of the United States" is totally different from "biggest counterintelligence analysis failure in US history."
Or maybe someone realized that it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever for DXer to ask Lew Weinstein to stop using a term on his blog that only DXer uses. It makes even less sense than almost everything else they post. Check out this statement from Lew:
The FBI’s case against Dr. Ivins is clearly bogus: no evidence, no witnesses, an impossible timeline. The real questions are why the FBI persists in sticking to such a pathetic story and why it is taking GAO so long to issue its report?Mr. Weinstein seems very anxious to read a report that will almost certainly support nothing he believes about the Amerithrax investigation.
I'm also interested in reading the GAO review of Amerithrax. But, I'm not pacing the floor and yelling at the walls because the GAO isn't doing it as quickly as I want it done, which is what Mr. Weinstein seems to be doing. If he's upset now, imagine how upset he'll be when the review actually comes out.
I strongly suspect that the GAO review will be released around the 13th anniversary of the anthrax attacks -- which would be sometime between September 18, when the first letters were postmarked, and October 5, when the first victim died. That seems the "appropriate" time. Even if the review was already finished and printed, I'd probably wait until then to release it. With all the terrible things in the news these days about beheadings, a Middle East war, riots in the streets, ebola outbreaks, floods and fires, no one but a few die-hard Truthers and followers of the case would even notice if it was released today. People might not notice on the anniversary of the attacks, either. But, at that time the media will likely be looking for something related to the anthrax attacks to write about. And the GAO review would provide them with something to write about.
That's the way I'd do it.
August 20, 2014 - I spent the past two days reading "Die Trying" by Lee Child, the second book in his Jack Reacher series. That didn't give me much time to do anything else. I read the library book on my Kindle, where it is supposedly 577 pages. I read 32% on Monday and finished it at 6:15 p.m. on Tuesday, which included reading for ½ hour while on the treadmill and for 20 minutes while on the exercycle at the health club.
It's kind of a preposterous story, but enjoyable nonetheless. Jack Reacher just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time (or right place at the right time) when radical Right Wing extremists planning to set up their own independent country in Montana, kidnap the daughter of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (an FBI agent who also happens to be the President's goddaughter). Jack Reacher is kidnapped with her.
Writing a comment about this book isn't entirely off topic. At one point, Jack Reacher gets into a debate with a conspiracy theorist who thinks the U.S. government is corrupt and evil, and that government agents plan to control everyone by putting microchips in their brains. So, Reacher tries to get the guy to talk about other governments:
“You liked their systems?” Reacher asked.
“What systems?” Ray asked back.
“Their governments,” Reacher said. “Their laws, their liberties, all that stuff.”
Ray looked mystified. “Never noticed,” he said. “Never paid any attention.”
“So how do you know they’re better than ours?” Reacher asked.
“Who says they’re better?” Ray said.
“You do,” Reacher said. “Last night you were telling me how bad it is here in America. Got to be better everywhere else, right?”
Ray shook his head. “I never told you that,” he said.
“So is it or isn’t it?” Reacher asked.
“I don’t know,” Ray said. “Probably. Lot of things wrong with America.”
Reacher nodded. “Lot of things,” he said. “I agree with you. But I’ll tell you something. It’s better in America than everyplace else. I know, because I’ve been everyplace else. Everyplace else is worse. A lot worse. Lot of things wrong in America, but plenty more things wrong everyplace else. You guys should think about that.”
Ray looked across through the gloom. “You think we’re wrong?” he asked.
Reacher nodded. “I know you’re wrong,” he said. “For certain. All that stuff you were telling me is bullshit. All of it. It’s not happening.”
“It is happening,” Ray said. “Beau says so.”
“Think about it, Joe,” Reacher said. “You were in the service. You saw how it all operated. You think those guys could organize all that stuff and keep it a secret? They ever even give you a pair of boots the right size?”
Ray laughed. “Not hardly,” he said.
“Right,” Reacher said. “So if they can’t organize your damn boots, how can they organize all this other stuff Beau is talking about? What about these transmitters hidden in all the new cars? You think Detroit can do all that stuff? They’d be recalling them all because they didn’t work right. You a gambling man, Joe?”
“Why?” he asked.
“What are the odds?” Reacher said. “Against they could organize a huge massive conspiracy like that and keep it all a secret for years and years?”
A slow smile spread across Ray’s face and Reacher saw that he was losing. Like talking to the wall. Like teaching a chimpanzee to read.
“But they haven’t kept it a secret,” Ray said triumphantly. “We found out about it. I told you, Beau’s got the proof. He’s got the documents. It’s not a secret at all. That’s why we’re here. Beau’s right, no doubt about it. He’s a smart guy.”
Reacher closed his eyes and sighed.
Since there doesn't appear to be any way to get an anthrax truther or conspiracy theorist into any kind of intelligent discussion, I might try writing some fictional discussions for this blog. While I can't imagine them intelligently discussion their beliefs, I can imagine how such a discussion would go if they didn't just walk away or launch a personal attack when their beliefs are shown to be nonsense.
August 17, 2014 - I can't just keep showing - week after week - how absurd the beliefs and opinions of Anthrax Truthers are. It not only gets repetitious, but it might also start causing people to start feeling sorry for the Anthrax Truthers because I'm always "picking on" them.
However, I've seen no news about exactly when the GAO (General Accountability Office) will be releasing its review of the Amerithrax investigation (although everyone is hoping it will be next month or the month after). And it'll probably be more than a month before there's any further news on Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which also has a lot of conspiracy theorists waiting to say, "I told you so!"
So, there's not much to write about today that's "on topic."
I don't know if anyone really cares or not that I've finished the first draft of my second sci-fi novel. It didn't reach the minimum of 40,000 words needed to be classified as a "novel" and not a "novella," but I shouldn't have any problem reaching and surpassing that number in the second draft. Here are the statistics for the first draft:
Chapter Pages Pgs total words wds total Start
1 8 8 1738 1738 June 15
2 10 18 2060 3798 June 17
3 7 25 1571 5369 June 17
4 10 35 2348 7717 June 18
5 8 43 1750 9467 July 27
6 9 52 1840 11307 July 27
7 8 60 1581 12888 July 28
8 8 68 1667 14555 July 30
9 8 76 1576 16131 July 30
10 7 83 1427 17558 July 31
11 7 90 1371 18929 Aug. 1
12 8 98 1591 20520 Aug. 3
13 9 107 1871 22391 Aug. 3
14 9 116 1786 24177 Aug. 6
15 9 125 1951 26128 Aug. 7
16 9 134 1850 27978 Aug. 7
17 8 142 1708 29686 Aug. 8
18 7 149 1498 31184 Aug. 8
19 8 157 1687 32871 Aug. 10
20 10 167 2095 34966 Aug. 11
21 6 173 1304 36270 Aug. 12
I may totally rewrite the last chapter before I even start thinking about beginning the second draft. The crime is solved in chapter 20. Chapter 21 is just about what happens to the main characters after the crime is solved. They don't ride off into the sunset. Nor does the book end with a kiss. It ends with the main characters trying to put their personal lives back on track after they've done their good deed for the day.
However, I feel I need more character development in the rest of the book in order to make the last chapter satisfying to the reader. So, rewriting that last chapter will be like writing the answer to a question before I really know what the question is. But, once I've got a good ending, it usually becomes relatively easy to go back to change events and steer discussions and personal interactions toward the ending I've already written.
My three main characters might be called "geeks." But, they're not like the "geeks" in the TV series "The Big Bang Theory." The female "geek" is more like Temperance Brennan (as played by Emily Deschanel) in the TV series "Bones." Temperance Brennan is a forensic anthrophologist. My female lead is a physicist. My female lead's father is a "geek" somewhat like Albert Einstein. And, the male lead (Kyle Rawlins) is a "geek" very similar to Clark Kent, except Kyle uses brain not brawn as his "super power." Plus, a secret invention created by the other two members of the "geek" team gives all three of them an ability to turn into super-detectives.
I've got a quote from the book "Geek Wisdom" that I keep wanting to use in a comment on his web site. I might as well use it here and now to show that Galileo Galilei was a "geek" who was more interested in what the facts meant than in what powerful and important people believed:
Never mind that there are geometric shapes in mineral crystals, fractals in vegetables, chaotic equations in weather patterns. We get all that. Galileo was onto something even deeper: the idea that nature itself could be read and encapsulated as a book or any other comprehensible source of information, rather than simply elided as beyond human understanding. This, of course, is what got him into trouble with the Catholic Church, which positioned itself as the defending champion in the age-old contest of the spirit versus reason—or, more precisely, politics versus facts. There is that indefinable something in the geek nature that rejects such distinctions as a false dichotomy, insisting that reason informs the spirit and politics should be rooted in facts. Sadly, society just isn’t that rational, as Galileo discovered after his prosecution and lifelong house arrest by the Inquisition. Yet it was Galileo’s geekish insistence that he was right, and his willingness to die to prove his rightness—and, mind you, the fact that he was right, which matters—that helped make the world a safer place for proper geekery. For this, as much as for his scientific accomplishments, he should be celebrated.
"Geeks" can be annoying and difficult to deal with. I gave up on watching "Bones" after the third or during the fourth season, largely because Temperence Brennan never seemed to be able to learn anything about how non-geeks view the world. I tried watching "The Big Bang Theory" when the first episode aired in 2007, but I just couldn't get into it. I generally don't like "laugh track" comedy shows, particularly if all the characters seem to do is shoot one-liner jokes at one another. "The Big Bang Theory" falls somewhat into that category.
But, it's also the #1 comedy series on TV. And, one of the ebooks I recently borrowed from my local library is "The Big Bang Theory and Philosophy: Rock, Paper, Scissors, Aristotle, Locke." Here's some info about that book:
This book mines the deep thinking of some of history's most potent philosophical minds to explore your most pressing questions about The Big Bang Theory and its nerdy genius characters. You might find other philosophy books on science and cosmology, but only this one refers to Darth Vader Force-chokes, cloning Leonard Nimoy, and oompa-loompa-like engineers. Fo-shizzle.
The book is actually kind of interesting. In some ways, it seems to be much more about psychology than philosophy. I've been reading it during breakfast and lunch (except for last Thursday and Friday, when I decided to read another "Stephanie Plum" thriller. I turned off my computer and read for hours at a time, including while on the exercycle at the gym. "Three to Get Deadly," by Janet Evanovich, was a very enjoyable read).
To complicate (or maybe simplify) matters, last weekend Best Buy had Season 1 of "The Big Bang Theory" in DVD format on sale. I couldn't resist. So, I bought the set for $16.99 (that's $1 per episode!). So far, I've watched 5 episodes:
The Pilot episode
The Big Bran Hypothesis
The Fuzzy Boots Corollary
The Luminous Fish Effect
The Hamburger Postulate
The series is actually "growing" on me. I'm starting to enjoy watching it. (But, not enough to buy additional seasons. And I don't do any "binge watching," which I'm tempted to comment further about, since it seems to be a relatively new 'phenomenon" in which some of my relatives appear to indulge.)
So, summing up the past week: I finished the first draft of my second sci-fi novel, but I may need to rewrite the last chapter before starting the second draft. I'll probably need to do a lot of thinking about character development (and make a lot of notes about ideas) before I actually start working on the second draft. And, I may read another Stephanie Plum novel (and/or a Jack Reacher novel) before starting on the second draft. One way to learn how to create more interesting characters is to study how the pros do it.
So much to do, so little time to do it all. But, it's all stuff I thoroughly enjoy. Plus, I don't have any deadlines, and I don't have anyone demanding that I finish any of it.
& Changes: Sunday, August 10, 2014, thru Saturday, August 16,
August 14, 2014 - There must have been over 60 junk email messages in my inbox this morning. I can put 2 and 2 together and figure that it's retribution for blocking those Chinese spammer sites (see my Aug. 5 comment), but the two happenings probably have no connection to one another.
The same can be said for the anthrax hoax letters they've been getting in Durban, South Africa. According to one news source:
Fifteen people, including five police officers, were treated in hospital on Wednesday for possible anthrax contamination after coming into contact with an envelope containing suspicious white powder.
In 2001 former mayor Obed Mlaba called in the National Intelligence Agency to investigate anthrax scares that brought to a virtual standstill the Durban office of the provincial Department of Education, Durban central post office and the Umbilo post office. Forty-two people were examined and seven quarantined after they handled envelopes containing white powder, feared to be anthrax.
There are several different ways to put 2 and 2 together to connect those hoaxes with the anthrax attacks of 2001, but I don't see any solid reason to believe any of the possible connections. I'll leave that to the conspiracy theorists.
Meanwhile, I've been discussing some medical news from Great Britain. It doesn't have anything to do with anthrax, but I found it interesting none-the-less. Most people seem to accept that John Travolta did the right thing in the 1994 movie "Pulp Fiction," when he gave Uma Thurman a shot of adrenalin (a.k.a. epinephrine) directly into her heart after her heart stopped beating. However, it now looks like that particular medical procedure might do more harm than good. Yesterday's news reports said they were going to do a study in the UK to see whether "doing nothing" is better than giving the victim a shot of adrenalin. The discussion I had was about the idea of giving adrenaline versus doing "nothing." No one is going to choose getting adrenaline versus the doctors doing "nothing."
However, according to a news source I found this morning:
The North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) is one of a number of ambulance trusts taking part in a new health trial, which will see paramedics giving cardiac arrest patients a placebo containing salt water instead of the standard injection of adrenalin, before carrying out CPR.
Ah! The original news stories just didn't explain things well. Giving the victim a shot of adrenaline is just one step in the first responder procedure for treating heart attack victims. According to another source:
There will be advertising campaigns telling patients how to opt out if they wish.
Around 50,000 people in Britain suffer a cardiac arrest outside hospital every year and only around six per cent survive.
Adrenaline injections have been given as part of CPR since the 1960s, but recently doubts have been raised over their effectiveness.and
“We know that a number of survivors of cardiac arrest suffer from brain damage due to a lack of oxygen. Developments in brain imaging are now suggesting that the use of adrenaline, whilst helping to restart the heart, may cause more harm than good, as it is known to cause brain damage in a number of cases."
He [Trust medical director, Dr Andy Carson] said CPR and defibrillation would still be used as normal in the treatment of cardiac arrest and patients with other conditions requiring adrenaline, such as anaphylaxis, would continue to receive the adrenaline that they need.
He added: "Equally, this study won’t alter the care of patients with heart attacks, as adrenaline is not used in their treatment.It's another example of the need to wait for a day or so for more news, instead of trying to figure out what the first reports are actually saying. No one is going to "opt out" of getting adrenaline if the alternative is for the doctors or medics to do "nothing." But, if giving a shot of adrenaline is just the standard first step in caring for a heart attack victim, and if it appears that that "first step" might do more harm than good, then omitting that "first step" makes a certain amount of sense.
However, now it seems unclear what you are "opting out" of when you "opt out" of the test. Does it mean the first reponders will give you adrenaline? Or does it mean you "opt out" of getting the shot, regardless of whether it is adrenaline or the placebo? I guess I'll have to read more news reports to see if those questions are answered.
August 12, 2014 - Last night and this morning, "DXer" posted two more messages using the same argument that Truthers have been voicing for years: The FBI was wrong in relying on evidence they found! They should depend up evidence that they did not find and can't even be certain really exists! That's what we Anthrax Truthers do!
Of course, DXer and the other Truthers didn't phrase it exactly that way. They said:
Another issue is the FBI’s method for collecting anthrax samples from U.S. and foreign labs to narrow the suspect list. Because the samples were subpoenaed and couldn’t be seized for multiple reasons, critics have said their submission amounted to an honor system in which the killer would have no incentive to participate.
What if the anthrax terrorist(s) got rid of their left-over anthrax the same day they got through mailing it?
After the crime had been committed, would the anthrax terrorist(s) keep some weaponized anthrax hanging around just in case the FBI might want to test it?
The evidence the FBI found points to Dr. Bruce Edwards Ivins as being the anthrax killer. Yes, it is possible that imaginary evidence they did not find might point to Lord Voldemort as being the anthrax killer. But it's really up to each Anthrax Truther to personally try to make a solid evidentiary case against their favorite villain. When Anthrax Truthers expect the FBI to make their case for them, that is definitely one fantasy too many.
August 11, 2014 (B) - This afternoon, DXer posted another message to Lew Weinstein's blog that seems to be another argument that the FBI’s genetic analysis of the possible sources for the Ames was "hopelessly flawed from the start." He quoted an article by Scott Shane in the February 22, 2002 issue of the Baltimore Sun. The article says,
Staff at Fort Detrick, records at Dugway draw new interest
25 sites have had spores
But even as investigators pursued possible links between military research and the anthrax-laced letters, they were learning of more laboratories that have had the Ames strain of anthrax used in the attacks. At last count, 25 such labs were identified, including facilities in at least five foreign countries - and investigators think there are more, said sources familiar with the work.
What the post shows is that DXer isn't really interested in finding out whether any of these claims are true. He's only interested in showing that people had opinions and beliefs that there were more than just three laboratories outside of the United States and fifteen inside the U.S. that had the Ames strain in 2001. And assuming those beliefs and claims are true, that means the FBI didn't find them all. Therefore, it's possible that al Qaeda somehow obtained a sample of Ames anthrax from somewhere and used it in the attacks. He has no evidence and no facts to support such a belief. He just has claims, beliefs and opinions. But, that's more than enough for him to continue arguing against the facts and evidence forever and ever.
August 11, 2104 (A) - Since I'm trying to write a novel while at the same time arguing about the anthrax attacks, I may sometimes avoid doing research on tedious anthrax questions posed by the Anthrax Truther "DXer." I did that yesterday when I simply wrote that a 2002 article by Italian scientists mentioned the anthrax attacks. I simply implied that the Italian study began after the anthrax attacks, so there was no reason to believe that Italian scientists had a sample of the Ames strain prior to the anthrax attacks.
This morning I awoke wondering if the article actually stated where the Italian scientists got their sample of Ames anthrax. Reading it, I see it says on page 5 that they used
the Florida isolate (the Ames-derived strain of the letter-based attack in Florida in 2001; GenBank accession number AE011190).
The Florida isolate? Following the link, I found that they used Bacillus anthracis Ames A2012, and according to the National Institute of Health:
This strain was isolated from one of the patients in the bioterror attacks in Florida in 2001.
Ah! Okay. It was Ames anthrax, but their sample wasn't obtained from USAMRIID or Porton Down. It was obtained from Bacillus anthracis bacteria taken from the body of Bob Stevens, the first identified victim of the anthrax attacks of 2001. That should make it clear to everyone that the Italian scientists did not have Ames prior to the attacks. They indirectly obtained their sample from a victim of the attacks.
Meanwhile, DXer now seems to be trying to argue that USAMRIID was supplying Ames to anyone who asked for it. And he uses as his source a November 25, 2001 article from The Washington Post which says:
Martin Hugh-Jones, an anthrax expert at Louisiana State University who maintains a global database of anthrax outbreaks for the World Health Organization, concurred that it was relatively simple in the past to obtain anthrax cultures from USAMRIID.
“They kept the stuff there, and if you needed a culture, you called up Art” — Col. Arthur Friedlander, USAMRIID’s senior military research scientist, Hugh-Jones said.In court, that's called 'hearsay." It's what Martin Hugh-Jones believed and the way he interpreted things. He implies that anyone could get a supply of Ames if they wanted it. But, Professor Martin Hugh-Jones had no personal knowledge of how many labs actually contacted Colonel Friedlander to obtain a sample. That was left to the FBI to figure out. It turned out to be 15 labs in the U.S. and 3 outside of the U.S.
August 10, 2014 (B) - Hmm. DXer on Lew Weinstein's blog evidently read my (A) comment for this morning, since he just posted a quote from an article by Peter J. Brown in the February 25, 2010 issue of The Asia Times that says:
The FBI says that only a small number of labs had Ames anthrax, including only three foreign labs. Yet a quick Pub Med search of papers published between 1999 and 2004 revealed Ames anthrax was studied in at least Italy, France, the UK, Israel and South Korea as well as in the US. By failing to identify all labs with access to Ames, the FBI managed to exclude potential domestic and foreign perpetrators;
The first question that comes to mind is: Between 1999 and 2004? I wouldn't be surprised if everybody and his brother was trying to study the Ames strain after it made the news in late 2001. But, where are these articles and what are their actual dates? Just show me ONE published prior to 2002 that involves work done with Ames in Italy, France, Israel or South Korea.
The L.A. Times article seems to be dedicated to reporting on what people believe, what they claim, and the screwball theories they might have that contradict the FBI findings.
I just did a PubMed search for Ames+anthrax mentioned in articles published from Jan. 1, 1999 through Dec. 31, 2003, and found 15 articles. 9 of the 15 are dated in 2003 and most mention the anthrax attacks of 2001 in their abstracts. One from 2002 was written by USAMRIID personnel. Another from 2002 mentions the attacks and appears to have been written by scientists at the CDC. A third article from 2002 was written by scientists in Rome, Italy, and also mentions the anthrax attacks. An article from 2001 was written by USAMRIID personnel. An article from 1999 seems to be written by British scientists. And the 15th article was written by USAMRIID personnel.
I'm not saying that there were no Italian, French, Israeli or South Korean articles mentioning Ames prior to 2002. I'm just saying I'm not going to believe it just because some reporter with an agenda says so in The Asia Times. Plus, I did a "quick Pub Med search" and found absoutely NO evidence to support the article's claim.
In another post by DXer, he appears to argue that Ames went by other names. But, the "evidence" he provides is a claim that Louisiana State University sent USAMRIID a sample sometime around 1994-1997 that they called "A0462," but which turned out to be Ames. But, even if true, it couldn't have been from flask RMR-1029, so it wouldn't be a DNA match to the attack spores.
DXer's third and fourth posts are too convoluted and muddled to attempt to decipher.
All four posts appear to be attempts by DXer to justify his beliefs. None holds water.
August 10, 2014 (A) - Last week, there were no new posts to my interactive blog by the Anthrax Truther who believes the anthrax letters and numerous hoax anthrax letters were all sent by a "criminal mastermind" who only he seems to be concerned about. It must have been a big shock to learn that his "criminal mastermind" wasn't behind some of the hoax anthrax letter cases the Truther blamed him for. Those hoax anthrax letters were actually mailed by a mentally ill loner who was not part of any criminal conspiracy.
Also last week, although the Anthrax Truther who calls himself "DXer" has indicated he wants to tone down his criticism of the FBI (see my Aug. 4, 2014 comment), he did post this comment to Lew Weinstein's blog on Friday:
DIA knew that Russia had virulent Ames. So why didn’t the FBI? The FBI’s genetic analysis was hopelessly flawed from the start because it assumed that samples would be provided voluntarily and samples could not be obtained from some foreign countries..
"DXer" constantly uses the term "virulent Ames" as if it has some significance. A check via Google indicates "DXer" may have used that term 1,920 times on Lew Weinstein's blog. What his use of that term seems to illustrate is a total lack of understanding of evidence. If some unidentified lab had a sample of "virulent Ames" that the FBI was unaware of, what would that be "evidence" of? What would it prove?
Identifying every lab which might possess "virulent Ames" wasn't critical to anything in the Amerithrax investigation. It was assumed that some labs might have obtained a sample of the Ames strain prior to 2001 and used up their entire sample. Missing one or two labs wouldn't necessarily change anything. The collecting of Ames samples wasn't done to verify everyone who ever had "virulent Ames" and who didn't. The collecting of samples was done to find out who had the Ames strain with the four morphological variants. Of 1,070 samples collected, only eight samples contained the four "morphs." The other 1,062 samples were probably all "virulent Ames," but, even so, they were not evidence of anything.
Porton Down in England created a non-virulent form of the strain, but those samples had nothing to do with anything in the Amerithrax case.
What is DXer's basis for arguing that "samples could not be obtained from some foreign countries"? Everyone knows the Amerithrax investigators obtained Ames samples from three foreign countries - Canada, England and Sweden. Which foreign countries refused to participate?
If you receive a subpoena to provide samples and information, is that really the same as providing the samples "voluntarily"? Does DXer have any evidence that some country ignored the subpoena and refused to supply samples?
DXer doesn't explain his reasoning, of course. As always, he appears totally incapable of explaining anything.
He says that Russia had "virulent Ames," but he hasn't stated how, when or where they got it. In one of his posts on Lew's site, DXer says,
Russia surreptitiously obtained virulent Ames from USAMRIID, according to [Ken] Alibek and [Sergei] Popov and Popov personally used it.
Dr. [Randall] Murch tells me he is not impressed with what I report on my correspondence with Al Qaeda anthrax lab director Yazid Sufaat. Does he at least credit what Dr. Alibek and Dr. Popov both told me and said publicly about their work with virulent Ames in Russia?
If Russia really had a sample of the Ames strain, did they use up the sample long before 2001? Or do they still have it? And, since flask RMR-1029 was created in 1997, and both Ken Alibek and Sergei Popov moved to the USA in 1992, how is it even possible for them to have worked with a sample of Ames that originated with flask RMR-1029? DXer evidently doesn't concern himself with evidentiary matters that disagree with his beliefs and arguments.
Searching for Ken+Alibek+Ames+Strain+Russia, I found an August 30, 2002 "news release" from Dr. Leonard Horowitz's Tetrahedron.org web site with this headline:
Investigators Conclude Russian Defector is Lead Suspect in Anthrax Mailings Case
One of the "investigators" mentioned in that headline was Dr. Horowitz, and their suspect was Ken Alibek. There were no investigators from the FBI or any other official government investigative agency involved. In other words, it's just the opinion of yet another bunch of Anthrax Truthers.
Another article I found is dated October 18, 2001, and had this headline:
Russian military suspected as source of anthraxIt's just another article in a hopeless hodge-podge of suspicions, beliefs, theories and just plain made-up crap from other Anthrax Truthers. DXer just continues to add to the steaming pile.
Although sorting through the nonsense can sometimes be interesting, it's becoming more and more difficult to find anything of even minor interest to write about. Showing over and over and over and over that Anthrax Truthers are just endlessly spouting nonsense has long ago become more tedious than interesting.
Yesterday, I received an email from Amazon.com that I found far more interesting than any recent anthrax argument or discussion. But, it was also way waaaayyyy off topic.
It was a copy of an open letter to the public that can be found on-line HERE. It makes rather interesting reading. It's also "the other side of the story" from the one I've been seeing on The Colbert Report from time to time. Prior to yesterday, I never had the time (or sufficient curiosity) to research "the other side of the story."
Basically, it's about how much e-books should cost. Amazon uses the "invention" of paperbacks as an example of how book publishers react to new ideas and to change:
Just ahead of World War II, there was a radical invention that shook the foundations of book publishing. It was the paperback book. This was a time when movie tickets cost 10 or 20 cents, and books cost $2.50. The new paperback cost 25 cents – it was ten times cheaper. Readers loved the paperback and millions of copies were sold in just the first year.Evidently, the reason you see paperbacks being sold in grocery and drug stores today is because book stores refused to sell paperbacks when they first came out in the 1940's.
And, today there are some major publishers who refuse to let their hardcover books be sold as e-books at lower prices.
Many e-books are being released at $14.99 and even $19.99. That is unjustifiably high for an e-book. With an e-book, there’s no printing, no over-printing, no need to forecast, no returns, no lost sales due to out of stock, no warehousing costs, no transportation costs, and there is no secondary market – e-books cannot be resold as used books. E-books can and should be less expensive.While I don't see it mentioned anywhere, there is also the major issue of WHEN a different version of a book is released. For example, they generally do not release the paperback edition of a book until a year or so after the hardback edition came out. Good hardcover sales generate high demand for the paperback version. Do they - or should they delay e-book sales until hardback sales have peaked out? I dunno.
It's probably a lot more complex issue than it appears. It isn't just about how cheap it is to "manufacture" an e-book, it's also about publicity. If you don't make the public aware of your book through advertising and other types of promotion, no one will know about it, and it won't make any difference what format it is in. If no one knows about it, people won't ask for it. Libraries won't order it. There is such a thing as "word of mouth," but even "word of mouth" really works best when a massive (and expensive) advertising campaign first gets everyone talking about the book.
And, if you are a first time author and not already a famous published author with a huge fan base waiting to buy your next book, publicity is everything.
I don't really have any strong opinions one way or the other on the prices of e-books. But, it will be something I'll probably have to think a lot more about someday.
I've been working on my new sci-fi novel all week. It's coming along fairly well, except for the fact that the first draft will probably end up being slightly less than 40,000 words. I don't think there'll be any problem with getting it to well over 40,000 words in the second draft. But, reaching my goal of 60,000 words could be difficult.
According to Wikipedia and Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America:
Here are the statistics so far for my second sci-fi novel:
Chapter Pages Pgs total words wds total Start Date
1 8 8 1738 1738 June 15
2 10 18 2060 3798 June 17
3 7 25 1571 5369 June 17
4 10 35 2348 7717 June 18
5 8 43 1750 9467 July 27
6 9 52 1840 11307 July 27
7 8 60 1581 12888 July 28
8 8 68 1667 14555 July 30
9 8 76 1576 16131 July 30
10 7 83 1427 17558 July 31
11 7 90 1371 18929 Aug. 1
12 8 98 1591 20520 Aug. 3
13 9 107 1871 22391 Aug. 3
14 9 116 1786 24177 Aug. 6
15 8 124 1806 25983 Aug. 7
16 9 133 1841 27824 Aug. 7
17 7 140 1645 29469 Aug. 8
18 6 146 1112 30581 Aug. 8
The first draft will probably have 21 or 22 chapters when done.
Then I'll start on a third book in the series. Once I've started on the third book, I'll try again to find an agent to help me get a publisher for the series.
That's the plan anyway.
& Changes: Sunday, August 3, 2014, thru Saturday, August 9,
August 7, 2014 - I only check the Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 web sites once or twice a week, but this morning I found an interesting comment on Duncan Steel's site:
So, the fact that no payment was received IS evidence of non-payment. The fact that the dog did not bark because it recognized its master IS evidence that the intruder was not a stranger. And, of course, an empty safe that should not be empty IS evidence of a robbery.
There is no "lack of evidence" in those instances. Eyewitness testimony would be presented in court as evidence that (1) payment was not received, (2) that the dog always barks at strangers but not at its master, and (3) that the safe was not normally empty.
I think the posting was the result of an argument that, because no debris was found anywhere the searchers looked in the Indian Ocean, that is somehow "evidence" that MH370 did not crash in the Indian Ocean. It's not. It just means that there was no debris in the places the searchers looked, at the time the searchers looked there.
August 6, 2014 - Although it has absolutely nothing to do with the anthrax attacks of 2001, nor with any conspiracy theory that I'm aware of, geeks around the world are very likely busy right now following the course of the European Space Agency's Rosetta probe. The probe just went into orbit around comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, which is about two miles wide and currently about two hundred and fifty million miles from Earth. No spacecraft has ever orbited a comet before.
Here's a picture of comet 67P taken by the Rosetta probe 3 days ago:
And, from a NASA web page, here's a close-up shot of the surface taken by Rosetta today (I think it's just under a mile from one side of the picture to the other):
Without its familiar tail, it looks nothing like a comet at this point, but according to The New Yorker magazine:
“After ten years, five months, and four days travelling toward our destination, looping around the Sun five times and clocking up 6.4 billion kilometres, we are delighted to announce, finally, ‘We are here,’ ” Jean-Jacques Dordain, the director general of the E.S.A., said in a prepared statement.
The New Yorker article also says,
During the next few months, the orbiter will inch closer and closer to the two-mile-wide comet, until it comes to within twenty miles. At that point, a secondary probe named Philae will detach from the main spacecraft and descend to land on 67P’s surface, another first. The landing is currently scheduled for November 11th. Afterward, while Rosetta takes measurements remotely, Philae will use ten instruments of its own to study the surface directly. The lander will drill about eight inches into 67P and extract a sample, which will be heated in a small oven so that the gases coming off the sample can be analyzed in detail.
and over time we'll probably see the familiar comet "tail" form, because
“Rosetta will ride alongside this comet right through its closest approach with the Sun, in 2015.”
This probably means nothing to the average person, but to geeks there's just one word for it: Cool!
August 5, 2014 - I don't know if this will be of interest to anyone except an analyst like me, but this morning I discovered that blocking someone from accessing this web site doesn't prevent them from "visiting" the site. What I mean by that is, even though they are "blocked," each attempt to visit gets recorded as 1 "visit." And each attempt to access a specific page or image gets recorded as 1 "hit." But they do not actually access the page or image or anything else on this web site. They just get a message that says "Forbidden," telling them that they are not allowed to view anything on my site. That "Forbidden" message seems to use between 574 and 580 bytes.
So, my daily statistics summaries still show the total number of "visits" and "hits," but the total Kilobytes of bandwidth that they use is just the amount it takes to send them the "Forbidden" messages. I set up the blocking at around 11 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 3. Therefore, half that day was blocked and half was not blocked. They were blocked all day on August 4. Here are the August totals as they appear on my reports:
IP address 22.214.171.124 used a total of 280,797 Kilobytes on the 1st and 2nd, or an average of 140,399 Kilobytes per day (or 140,398,500 bytes). On Aug. 4 that IP address used just 183 Kilobytes (or 183,000 bytes), the difference between Aug. 3 and Aug. 4.
Those four Chinese IP addresses combined used an average of 142,941.5 Kilobytes per day on the 1st and 2nd. But, together the four used only a total of 230 Kilobytes on August 4. So, the total daily bandwith usage for those four IP addresses dropped to less than 1% of what it was on August. 1 & 2.
What it means is the number of visits to this site really is on a steady increase, just as the graphs I used on Sunday indicated. The web sites I blocked in the past still record "visits" if they try to access my site. And the four Chinese sites above will continue to record as "visits" until some programmer or systems operator or computer program sees that they cannot get to information on my site and stop trying. So, the visits are increasing even though I'm blocking tens of thousands of IP addresses. (I blocked everything at IP addresses beginning with 183.60, which is a total of 256 x 256 unique addresses, or 65,536 individual addresses (183.060.000.000 through 183.060.256.256). So, if they try the next number in a set, it will be blocked, too. And the next.)
August 4, 2014 - In another post that seems to require some serious deciphering and explaining, this morning "DXer" wrote this on Lew Weinstein's blog:
Comment: In order to encourage the FBI and DOJ to provide documents under FOIA in response to long pending document requests, I will ask Lew that this blog no longer use the phrase “dropped ball” or “biggest counterintelligence analysis failure in US history.”
Who is using those phrases on Lew's blog other than DXer? When I do a Google search for "dropped ball," I find it was used 14 times on Lew's site, ALL by DXer.
Twice on August 1, 2012 HERE. The statement: It is important to understand that the dropped ball relating to anthrax relates to the same ball dropped in connection with 911.
On September 8, 2012 HERE. The statement: Why did the FBI limit the October 2001 subpoena of LSU Special Pathogens Lab to visitors after January 1, 2000?! That was a dropped ball.
On September 12, 2012 HERE. The statement: And maybe after 11 years, it is time for Army Intelligence and pick up the FBI’s dropped ball.
On October 25, 2012 HERE.
Twice on December 8, 2012 HERE. The statement: Who is responsible for dropping the ball? And then trying to turn that dropped ball into a victory bounce?
January 29, 2013 HERE. The statement: When you put the mosaic together you can see that anthrax leads are related to the same dropped ball where the NSA, CIA and FBI negligently allowed Nawaf into the country.
On August 22, 2013 HERE.
On November 17, 2013 HERE.
December 2, 2013 HERE.
Twice on January 14, 2014 HERE. The statement: Not merely a dropped ball but 4 years of dropped balls.
On February 11, 2014 HERE.
I couldn't find any use of the exact phrase "biggest counterintelligence analysis failure in US history" on Lew's site. But I found DXer used similar terms many many times:
On April 28, 2014 HERE: The phrase: Amerithrax seems the biggest counterintelligence analysis failure in the history of the United States.
On September 24, 2013 HERE. The phrase: Amerithrax is the greatest failure of counterintelligence analysis in the history of the United States.
On October 11, 2013 HERE: The phrase: As for the reasons they got away with it, it is just that Amerithrax represents the greatest failure in counterintelligence analysis in the history of the United States.
And so on and so on, maybe fifty or a hundred times, ALL by DXer.
So, is DXer trying to say that someone else is actually doing all the writing on those comments? Or is DXer just putting up a smoke screen to suggest that Lew Weinstein should try to prevent him from using the term in the future, because maybe that will help him get more cooperation regarding his endless FOIA requests? Who knows?
August 3, 2014 (B) - Hmm. Writing my (A) comment this morning made me wonder who was generating the most visits to this web site. So, I created a list of all visitors who visited over 100 times in July. Here's that list:
Visits Hostname July 2014
476 2.30% recenteracy.com (EXPIRED domain name?)
149 0.72% crawl-66-249-74-93.googlebot.com
109 0.53% spider-100-43-85-20.yandex.com
184 0.89% 126.96.36.199
184 0.89% 208-115-111-69-reverse.wowrack.com
267 1.29% b100100.yse.yahoo.net
407 1.97% 188.8.131.52 (CHINA)
399 1.93% 184.108.40.206 (CHINA)
382 1.85% 220.127.116.11 (CHINA)
285 1.38% 174-36-241-151.robot.spinn3r.com
246 1.19% 173-192-238-41.robot.spinn3r.com
246 1.19% 174-36-228-156.robot.spinn3r.com
245 1.19% 173-192-238-58.robot.spinn3r.com
235 1.14% 173-192-238-44.robot.spinn3r.com
181 0.88% 174-37-205-76.robot.spinn3r.com
106 0.51% ns239283.ip-192-99-147.net
122 0.59% 199-127-104-010.static-ip.arubanetworks.com
RecentEracy.com seems to be an expired domain name that doesn't belong to anyone, but the IP address (18.104.22.168) traces back to a Kansas City outfit that appears to be a front for Chinese spammers. So, the top FOUR visitors to my web site are all Chinese spammers. And that means I'll have to block them. Although they only account for 6.2% of the total visits for July, blocking them could have a significant effect on the number of visitors to this web site, which could mean there hasn't been any steady increase in visitors after all. (See today's (A) comment.) Nuts! (All the others on the list appear to be search engine robots. Regular human-type visitors don't typically visit over three times a day. But there's one exception. "DXer" appears to have visited 81 times using one IP address and 38 times using another. That's the reason he's not on the list above. My #2 top human visitor visited 68 times in July.)
August 3, 2014 (A) - I just noticed that last month I had more visitors to this web site than in any month since August 2008. Here's a graph showing the number of monthly visitors for the past 3 years (36 months):
Believe it or not, I hadn't realized that the number of visitors to this web site has been steadily increasing since 2012. I assumed that, since the anthrax attacks of 2001 were no longer in the news or on the average person's mind, that the numbers were probably steadily declining, even though I did notice an upward pattern in June 2010.
Last month, this site received 20,657 visitors, slightly more than the 20,597 visitors in October 2013, the previous high point. August 2008, the month when the news broke about Dr. Bruce Ivins being identified as the anthrax killer, still remains the record month, with 29,085 visitors. But, that August was unlike any other month ever, and the number of visitors was roughly double the number in any other month in 2008:
I also noticed that the average number of visitors per day last month was 666, but the average number of visitors in June was 680. However, there was one less day in June. So, although there were 257 fewer visitors in June, the average number per day was higher. I'm not sure what to make of that information - other than that the increase in visitors is gradual and not constantly upwards.
Of course, I'm also blocking a lot more visitors than I was back in 2008. I'm blocking dozens of Chinese, Russian and Ukrainian web sites. Some of the growth in visitors could be additional Chinese or Russian IP addresses that I should be blocking because they are not legitimate visitors, because they're mostly just looking for email addresses to use for spam. I just haven't had time to analyze my logs to find those IP addresses.
Possibly relatedly, I had a very small "surge" in book sales last month, too. I'm not sure why. (For me, if I sell more than one book in a month, it's a "surge".)
When the General Accountability Office (GAO) releases its promised review of the Amerithrax investigation, that will likely cause a lot more people to research the subject. So, there's a good chance of setting a new five year record within the next month or three. And, there are often more visitors in October than the average month in a year. That's because of all the news stories about October being the "anniversary" of the 2001 anthrax attacks. So, we'll see what happens then, too.
Meanwhile, it's becoming more and more difficult to find things to write about on this blog without repeating myself. Anthrax Truthers and conspiracy theorists can argue the same arguments over and over and over and over, but I can't write the same comments over and over. For example, I'm not sure what to say about this recent rant from "DXer":
The GAO oversight in the past five years has not even resulted in disclosure of all 20 of the labs that the FBI know had virulent Ames pre-911, let alone those labs had the x101 and x102 plasmids and avirulent Ames that combined could have been used in the Fall 2001 mailing.
The GAO has no teeth and faced with an agency such as the FBI unwilling or slow to make disclosures — and seemingly institutionally incapable of revisiting past mistakes — can only use jawboning as the years pass.
Meanwhile, Dr. Ivins is still dead and Al Qaeda still wants to kill New Yorkers in a mass attack that would end life in the United States as we know it.
This is not a time to brook a
in producing requested documents. Or not to request all relevant
Here's more of DXer's incoherent gibberish:
Given what is at stake, it is unacceptable for an investigator or scientist — even if he or she has retired — to be comfortable with an “Ivins theory” without personally having turned to read the documents relating to the reason Dr. Ivins had to be in the lab those nights and weekends.
For example, it relatedly is wrong to base a conclusion on hours spent in Building 1425 without understanding the effect of the two-person rule in January 2002 — which put an end to Dr. Ivins late hours that had continued into November and December 2001.
Anyone who has based their analysis on hours without having bothered to obtain and review the pattern of hours in Building 1412 seems not to realize the importance of getting the analysis of the available evidence right. The key card entry information for Building 1412 was one of the enclosures provided by the USAMRIID to the FBI in February 2002.
For all those with friends
family you love in New York City and Washington DC — or money invested
in the stock market intended for your retirement — it’s time that you
step up your game.
According to Friday's New York Daily News,
A massive anthrax attack will hit the city Friday — or at least that’s what 1,500 staffers from a dozen city agencies will hear first thing in the morning, setting off the biggest surprise emergency response drill the city has ever attempted.
Preparing for the possibility of a biological attack, the workers — aware they’re participating in a drill — will respond to calls starting at 5:30 a.m. and scramble to set up 30 sites around the five boroughs, handing out drugs to combat the deadly agent.
“We’re exercising a worst-case scenario,” said Dr. Oxiris Barbot, first deputy commissioner at the Health Department. “Whether it’s a released biological agent or whether it’s a naturally occurring disease epidemic, we want to make sure every New Yorker has access to life-saving medications.”
The city will simulate a
where anthrax is released in a crowded area, and people exposed to it
disperse to their homes and jobs, potentially spreading contamination
& Changes: Sunday, July 27, 2014, thru Saturday, August 2,
August 1, 2014 - Today is the 6th anniversary of the announcement that the man the FBI considered to be the prime suspect in the anthrax murders of 2001 had committed suicide. It's also the first of the month, which means I had to spend an hour or so doing backups of my various computer files. And, it's also a Friday, which means my security software had to be updated. So, while those programs were running, I looked around to see what the latest news was in the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.
According to the Australian government:
Two ships, Zhu Kezhen and Fugro Equator, continue to work in the southern Indian Ocean, surveying the sea floor in preparation for the deep-sea search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
Since 24 May 2014, the Zhu Kezhen, a Chinese PLA-Navy vessel has been conducting survey operations. The bathymetric data it is collecting will assist in characterising the sea floor topography. As of 30 July 2014, it has sounded over 25,000 square kilometres along the seventh arc.
Fugro Equator, an
Australian-contracted specialised survey vessel, has also been
conducting bathymetric survey work. As of 30 July 2014, over 43,000
square kilometres have been sounded by Fugro Equator.
On 6 July, the Government of Malaysia announced that its hydrographic survey vessel, the KD MUTIARA, would join the Zhu Kezhen and the Fugro Equator in August to continue the bathymetric survey work.
It is expected that the bathymetric survey work will be completed by September. The deep-water search is expected to commence in September following the appointment of a prime contractor through a request for tender process.
So, they are still
mapping the ocean floor to make it easier to program automated
submersibles to perform searches without risk of running into
underwater mountains. And, the actual continuation of the search
of the ocean bottom by those submersibles has been pushed to next
month. It's currently deep winter in the Southern
Hemisphere. September there is the equivalent of March in the
Jully 29, 2014 (B) - Checking on what motivated Hong Minh Truong to send out nearly 500 hoax anthrax letters, and what evidence the FBI and USPIS have against Troung, I found an article HERE that says:
Newly released court papers say evidence collected from Truong's computer and trash link him to the hoax mailings. Also, a motive might be found in police records revealing Truong has had a long running grievance with federal law enforcement.
Such evidence would be circumstantial evidence, of course. And, conspiracy theorists would probably argue that Truong's motive cannot be definitively proved. But, I suspect that the FBI, USPIS and DOJ feel they have a solid case nevertheless.
July 29, 2014 (A) - Hmm. When I turned on my computer this morning and did my regular Google search for anthrax+2001, a couple interesting articles appeared. The first was an article about this date in history. It said:
2008: Bruce Edwards Ivins, an Army scientist, commits suicide by swallowing two bottles of Tylenol. Ivins, a senior researcher at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, was about to be taken to court as the key suspect in the 2001 anthrax attacks, where five people died and 22 were infected when letters laced with anthrax were sent to media offices and offices in the Capitol.
And it will be 6 years ago on Friday that David Willman of the Los Angeles Times broke the news about the main suspect in the anthrax murders committing suicide. That also started six years of continuous arguing with conspiracy theorists who claim Dr. Ivins was innocent and who have other opinions and beliefs (but no meaningful evidence) about who they think "actually" sent the anthrax letters.
The second article that appeared this morning was about the FBI and USPIS arresting a suspect in the hoax anthrax letters cases that were mostly mailed in the Dallas, Texas, area starting in 2008. According to the FBI's press release:
“For almost six years, letters containing white powder—and believed to have been mailed by the same individual—have elicited law enforcement and public safety responses from numerous local, state and federal agencies. While it was determined that the mailings did not contain toxins or poisons, each incident required a field screening of the letter’s contents, which cost taxpayer dollars and diverted first responder resources,” explained Special Agent in Charge Diego Rodriguez of FBI Dallas. “We believe Hong Minh Truong is responsible for the hundreds of letters sent to locations worldwide, including U.S. government offices, aerospace companies, schools, daycares, and recently, hotels in the vicinity of Super Bowl XLVIII. The ongoing investigative work of the FBI and U.S. Postal Inspection Service is to be commended.”
On May 7, 2012, the hoax letters mailed from the Dallas area contained a white-powder substance and the following statement:
Al Qaeda back! Special thing for you
What the hell where are you Scooby Doo, Counter Intelligence, CIA, you do not know how to catch the triple dealer spy in your law enforcement. What the hell where are you Scooby Doo, Internal Affairs, FBI, you don’t know how to arrest the bad cop in your law enforcement.
You all flaming idiot, ignorant and arrogant, know nothing! How to protect this country! U.S.A
We are Al Qaeda, U.B.L FBI, Al Qaeda, SS Nazi FBI, working in your agency. We claim everything.Interestingly, according to one source:
In 2002, Truong came to the attention of the Dallas police, who interviewed him. He told officers that he hears voices in his head and that officers with federal and local agencies were after him and beaming radar into his body. Truong said the voices were telling him to do things that he did not want to do.
Truong was also responsible for some hoax anthrax letters sent schools in the Boston area. Those hoax letters contained a different text:
The letters to Boston schools stated: “We are terrorist victim from Al-Queada FBI, Communist FBI and Nazi FBI in Texas. We let you all know to aware. They have been forcing and controlling us to do something to harm the America. They conspire against the U.S.A. and attack anywhere to murder on many ways American people.”
And, inexplicably, Truong was also responsible for the hoax letters sent to hotels in New Jersey around the time of Super Bowl XLVIII. It appears that Mr. Truong is mentally impaired. According to a source on that topic:
Agents said one document discovered this month contained alleged threats, including, “Hijack airplane from Love Field airport and Dallas-Fort-worth airport to attack Nasa Center."
Truong’s wife claims the man has been suffering with mental illness for more than a decade. She saod Truong often claims he hears voices in his head.I never saw any connection between the Dallas hoax letters and the hoax letters sent to the New Jersey hotels. But the FBI wasn't then providing the texts for all the hoax letters. Using 20/20 hindsight, I would think that if I had seen all the texts that are now available, I would have figured that the letters were all written by someone who speaks with a heavy foreign accent - probably Vietnamese, but possibly Chinese. Or maybe not.
However, it appears that the language in the letters was one of the clues that led the investigators to Mr. Truong:
According to the complaint, law enforcement has identified more than 15 batches of similar letters sent from the Dallas area since December 2008, all but two of which contained a white powder. It said that the language in the letters and the method of sending them pointed to one person, Truong, as the mailer.
An Anthrax Truther who posts to my blog had a very different idea of who was behind all those hoax letters. He believed it was most likely the same criminal mastermind who he insists was behind the anthrax letters and many other hoax letters. I suspect he'll have no problem either adjusting his theory to simply exclude all the letters Truong sent, or incorporating Truong into the conspiracy as one of his criminal mastermind's minions.
Either way, I'm glad the FBI and USPIS finally caught the guy.
Added NOTE: This afternoon, I stumbled across a July 25, 2013 post to Lew Weinstein's blog where the Anthrax Truther who believes a "criminal mastermind" was behind the 2001 anthrax attacks says he thinks the Texas hoax letter mailer was one of the "criminal mastermind's" devious minions:
I agree that it’s the same mailer. That is to say “author”. By my lights it is the Amerithrax perp relaying through his South East Accomplice (SEA). When, a couple years ago, I started examining the mailings that emanated from Texas, I did data-base searches on both the SEA and the NEA (North East Accomplice). I found that the SEA had moved from Florida (his location at the time of Amerithrax and the general source of the St Pete mailings) to Texas. Sure, COULD be a coincidence. But that’s not my hypothesis.
There is no "coincidence." He was just putting 2 and 2 together to get 674,893.
July 27, 2014 - I'd hoped that "DXer" would have responded to the comment I wrote on Friday by sending me another email with another of his meaningless, insinuation-laden questions. But, he didn't. However, this morning I see a post by "DXer" to Lew Weinstein's blog that mentions Building 1412. I don't know if it is some kind of counter argument or not. Like almost everything he writes, it appears to be just meaningless blather:
With respect to the key card access records that were provided to the FBI by USAMRIID, they relate to both 1412 and 1425 because that is where work was done involving virulent Ames.
As Ivins’ assistant Friend explained, they did a lot of hot work in Building 1412.When reading that post, the obvious question becomes: So what? If that is some kind of response to my post, what does this information have to do with the case against Bruce Ivins -- or the case in general? DXer, of course, doesn't and won't explain. And, there doesn't seem anything in that post worth trying to interpret or decipher.
So, I'll have to write about something else for today's regular Sunday comment.
I was wondering if I should suggest to conspiracy theorists that they refer to me as a "geek," if they want to label or categorize me. "Government stooge" is certainly not valid, since I 've repeatedly demonstrated that I disagree with the FBI's case against Ivins on how the anthrax documents were written, and I state exactly how Ivins most likely made the anthrax powders, while the FBI just argues that Ivins had "the means." The term "Government shill" is equally invalid for similar reasons. I don't argue "the government's case." I argue MY understanding of the case against Dr. Bruce Ivins using evidence mostly gathered by the FBI, but with a lot of additional material I've gathered from other sources.
The reason I was looking for a mildly derogatory category term like "geek" that might be applied to people who look at the evidence and conclude that Ivins was the anthrax killer, is because conspiracy theorists really do not like being called "conspiracy theorists." They seem think it's a highly derogatory term. But, of course, if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, swims like a duck, then, chances are it's a duck.
After writing the last sentence above, I started to wonder what the exact phrasing of that "duck test" is and where it originated. So, of course, I looked it up. Wikipedia has various versions of it. They indicate that the first person to write about the "duck test" may have been poet James Whitcomb Riley. In the late 1800's, Riley wrote:
When I see a bird that walks like a duck and swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, I call that bird a duck.
Wikipedia lists another version which is more like a way to disprove the duck test. It shows how just having some similarities to a duck may be misleading:
If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck but it needs batteries, you probably have the wrong abstraction.
Clicking on the "abstraction" link above almost resulted in me going off on a week-long tangent that wouldn't likely have produced anything I could use in today's comment. But, I could easily create a version that shows how what may look and act like a duck may not really be a duck:
If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, but it can intelligently answer questions, then it probably isn't a duck.
Just change the word "duck" to "conspiracy theorist."
Returning to the Wikipedia page, I noticed a version of the "duck test" from author Douglas Adams:
If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have at least to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family Anatidae on our hands.
Reading that mention of Douglas Adams was interesting to me, because many years ago I really enjoyed reading Douglas Adams' book "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." However the quote above is from a different book that I don't recall reading. So, I went to Amazon.com and looked up "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency." It looks like a terrific book. Just my type of reading. So, I checked my local library. But, they don't have it except as an audio book.
That was about the fifth time in the past month I'd checked my library to see if they had a book I was interested in, only to find that they didn't have it except in audio book form. I think in my entire life I've only listened to one audio book. Many years ago, I was at my local library, and I borrowed the audio book on tape version of "The Di Vinci Code" by Dan Brown. As I recall, I used my stereo to listen to it.
A few weeks ago, I borrowed an audio book from the library thinking I could play it on my Kindle, but I couldn't find any way to do that without buying some software. And, even then I'm not sure it would work. I'm thinking that listening to an audio book while working out at the health club could be an excellent idea -- or at least an idea that seems worth a try. But, my Kindle is too big to carry around from machine to machine at the health club. So, first, I'll have to figure out what kind of device (and maybe software) I need to buy to be able to do it. However, right now, I've got other things to do, like finishing this comment, working on my new book, and maybe a thousand other things.
I guess what I'm trying to explain with what I wrote above is that writing a comment for this web site often becomes an interesting learning process. Whenever I need to check or research anything, I could easily go off on a hundred different research tangents. All the tangents are infinitely more interesting than trying to figure out a new way to explain to some Anthrax Truther that what he is arguing appears to be just a baseless theory - or meaningless gibberish.
"DXer" currently seems to be focusing on some kind of mysterious obsession with John Ezzell's 2001 project for DARPA which produced dried, dead Ames anthrax spores. That work was done in Building 1412. DXer also appears to have some obsession with all activities in Building 1412, as if he somehow believes Building 1412 contained the only labs at USAMRIID where the dried Ames anthrax spores used in the anthrax mailings could possibly have been created - maybe because it's the only place where dried Ames anthrax spores were KNOWN to have been deliberately made.
What is DXer' exact theory? Who knows? He won't explain anything, of course. If he tried, it would probably be a simple matter to show that he is totally wrong.
Yesterday, in his endless efforts seemingly intended to imply something sinister about happenings within Building 1412, he obtained another meaningless document which seems to contain only one relevant sentence. It's the last sentence in paragraph 1(a):
No dried live spores were prepared.
So, it has no meaning to the anthrax investigation. And his three rambling comments attached to that thread seem to be equally meaningless and nearly indecipherable.
Meanwhile, this morning during breakfast, I finished reading "Geek Wisdom" by N.K. Jemisin. Among other things, it brought this web site to my attention:
If you are afraid of clicking on the link because you don't want to know the answer, don't worry. The fact that you can worry should tell you the answer.
& Changes: Sunday, July 20, 2014, thru Saturday, July 26,
July 25, 2014 - Here's the entire text of an email "DXer" sent me while I was at the health club this afternoon:
Ed, can you upload Dr. Ivins hours in the B3 in Building 1412? Thanks.
Dr. Andrews in his deposition explained why an analysis based only on hours in the B3 in Building 1425 was misleading.Of course, "DXer" knows (or strongly suspects) I don't have Dr. Ivins' hours in Building 1412. So, the email is just another "Anthrax Truther game."
There's no claim from me or the FBI that Ivins needed to be in Building 1412 in order to commit the crime.
There's no claim from me or the FBI that Ivins' hours in Building 1412 had anything to do with the crime.
The only claim I'm aware of that relates to Ivins' hours in Building 1412 is the claim by DXer in his email that Dr. Andrews "explained why an analysis based only on hours in the B3 in Building 1425 was misleading." And that is a BOGUS claim. I see no such claim made by Dr. Andrews. Here's the exchange about Ivins' overtime hours from pages 72 and 73 of the Andrews deposition:
Q. The FBI also maintains that -- well, one of the reasons
for its conclusion that Dr. Ivins was the -- the
perpetrator of this attack was that -- among other things,
that he worked unusual hours, I'll call it -- I think
that's a term they use -- in the laboratory at night by
himself for -- in the weeks leading up to the two dated
mailings and in the time before the mailings, and that he
had no explanation for that.
Based on -- do you find that credible?
A. I don't find it unusual whatsoever that a
scientist would work after hours. In fact, most
scientists -- most dedicated scientists, if you'd look at
their activities over the years, have worked after hours.
I've pulled all-nighters myself in the laboratory.
And I certainly wouldn't -- if it was -- if it
was brought to my attention -- and I don't recall it was
specifically for those time periods that Bruce is working
after hours. But if it was, I wouldn't be surprised or be
A lot of scientists at USAMRIID were working
after hours. And I wouldn't also be surprised -- I would
not be surprised that other scientists were working
hour -- after hours during those days or over the course
of -- of the two weeks that -- that the FBI claimed that
Bruce manufactured and prepared the letter spores.
The time period, I believe, was roughly 20 hours
of after-hour work. I could be wrong. But regardless,
it's my opinion that in 20 hours, it would be absolutely
impossible to make the volume of spores that were
estimated to be in those letters collectively. I think
that the amount of time is off by -- probably by orders of
Note that there is no mention of Building 1412 whatsoever in that part of the deposition. Furthermore, Dr. Andrews readily admits he has no idea what Ivins was doing during his unexplained hours in his B3 lab in Building 1425. Plus, Dr. Andrews is falsely assuming that Ivins had to make the spores during the overtime hours he worked in Building 1425. Dr. Andrews evidently never realized that the attack spores used by Dr. Ivins in the anthrax letters were almost certainly grown on discarded plates in autoclave bags which lay in a corner of Ivins' lab day and night for weeks. Ivins' overtime hours had NOTHING to do with growing spores. Dr. Ivins had an ample supply of spores at hand.
But, since facts and evidence are totally irrelevant to DXer, he will probably argue that Dr. Andrews' opinion is of more value than that of an non-expert like me.
His email was just an attempt to create another argument where he can ignore the facts.
July 24, 2014 - Someone just sent me an article from tumbler.com titled "Count to ten when a plane goes down." In the article, the author explains how, in 1983, he screwed up and caused conspiracy theorists to go nuts and jump into full theory-generating mode over the disappearance of Korean Airlines Flight 007. The lesson apparently is: People make mistakes, so when there's a major news event, be patient and don't assume that there's some kind of conspiracy just because someone made a false assumption and no one fully understands exactly what's happening from the very first news bulletin.
Hmm. We've got another aircraft disappearance in the news today. Air Algerie Flight AH5017 vanished over Mali with "at least 116 people on board."
The Ouagadougou Airport statement claimed that Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro, was among those on board.
However, the National Center for Sexual Education in Havana, Cuba, which Mariela Castro runs, denied the reports and told CNN she was at an event in Havana. Castro subsequently told a Telesur anchor who interviewed her by phone, "I'm alive, kicking, happy and healthy!"So, as if to make the point detailed in the "Count to ten" article, we should let the news reports settle for awhile before we decide what "most likely" happened.
Meanwhile, I spent nearly all day yesterday reading the first 15% of a library book "From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time," by Sean Carroll. It's a very interesting read -- if you are interested in trying to understand space, time and spacetime, which I am. I was looking forward to reading more of it today. Then, I awoke this morning thinking about a terrific ending for my new sci-fi novel. That was my hang-up -- not "narrative drive." I didn't have a good ending to "drive" towards. Now I do. So, all plans have changed. I might try to read more of "From Eternity to Here" during breakfast and lunch every day while I'm working on my novel, but chances are it will require too much focus. If so, I'll go back to reading "Geek Wisdom."
Here's another full "chapter" from the book "Geek Wisdom" that I've highlighted:
“DON’T CROSS THE STREAMS. IT WOULD BE BAD.” —EGON SPENGLER,
GHOSTBUSTERS EGON’S WARNING TO his fellow Ghostbusters was perhaps the most casually deadpan mention of possibly accidentally blowing oneself to bits ever committed to voice. It’s typical, though. In the eyes of mainstream society, most geeks tend to get excited by all the “wrong” things. From raging battles over which is the best X-Man to the abject joy that ripples through nerddom whenever a new Hubble image is released, there’s no doubt that geeks are passionate people. Yet, all this passion for offbeat, unique things sometimes leaves little room in our cerebral cortex for getting excited about relatively ordinary things … like, say, the possibility of a violent horrific death. Death, after all, happens to everyone; there’s nothing especially unique about it. But a Goldilocks-zone exoplanet? Now that’s worth an exclamation point or two. Of course, this means that whenever a geek laconically suggests that taking a particular course of action “would be bad,” those passionate about their own continued well-being should probably pay really, really close attention.
Although I never thought of myself that way, I'm beginning to think that I'm a "geek." Yesterday, someone sent me an email with a link to an article about the movie "The Godfather." "The Godfather" is not one of my favorite movies. While composing a response, I decided to do a Google search for the favorite movies of geeks. One site contains a list of "Fifteen geek movies to see before you die." I've seen all on that list, but some of my true favorites aren't included. Then I found "81 movies for geeks that do not suck." Most of my favorites are on that list: "Groundhog Day," "Aliens," "Alien," "The Princess Bride," "Ghostbusters," "Star Wars," and I think I've got DVDs or Blu-Rays for about 70 of the 81. But, it has a few that I don't like at all (mostly zombie and Hobbit movies). So, like everyone else, there are probably no two geeks who agree on everything.
For some reason, I seriously doubt that any geek considers "The Godfather" to be one of his favorite movies. However, in an attempt to verify that thought, I went through a few more web sites which list geeks' favorite movies: HERE, HERE and HERE. None includes "The Godfather." I have no doubt that "The Godfather" is a favorite of countless non-geeks and many "movie nerds," but it's not a favorite of any true geeks. Maybe someday, when I have the time, I'll try to figure out why. (That's what geeks do. Non-geeks don't care, OR they get upset because you're just too "stupid" to appreciate what "most people" consider to be "one of the greatest movies of all time.")
July 22, 2014 (B) - Hmm. "DXer" on Lew Weinstein's blog must have read my (A) comment this morning, since he has also posted a comment about William J. Vollmann. He found a bizarre comment by Mr. Vollmann in the Sacramento Bee article that I failed to notice, but which "DXer" appears to consider an important statement worth repeating and quoting without explanation or comment:
“Thoreau always said that it’s important not to let our knowledge get in the way of what’s more important, which is our ignorance. I want to always keep my ignorance so I can be open to what people are saying.”
To me, that seems like a silly and preposterous thing to say. Mr. Vollmann wants to KEEP his ignorance? I cannot believe Henry David Thoreau (or any other intelligent person) ever felt that way. So, I did some Google searches to try to find out what Henry Thoreau actually said. I did searches through Thoreau quotes for the word "ignorance" and found next to nothing. Searching for the word "knowledge" found this from his 1862 book "Walking" (Click HERE for my source):
My desire for knowledge is intermittent; but my desire to bathe my head in atmospheres unknown to my feet is perennial and constant. The highest that we can attain to is not Knowledge, but Sympathy with Intelligence. I do not know that this higher knowledge amounts to anything more definite than a novel and grand surprise on a sudden revelation of the insufficiency of all that we called Knowledge before — a discovery that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in our philosophy.
However, I cannot see how that could be the source of Vollmann's claim.
Here's another quote from the 1863 book "Life Without Principle" where Thoreau seems to value knowledge very highly:
Knowledge does not come to us by details, but in flashes of light from heaven.
Here's another quote from that same book that doesn't contain either word but was next to a quote that did:
A grain of gold will gild a great surface, but not so much as a grain of wisdom.
Yes, there's a difference between "knowledge" and "wisdom," but ignorance won't produce either one. And who would find ignorance preferable?
Could this quote from "Life Without Principle" be the one Mr. Vollmann remembers? It doesn't use either word, but does include the word "important":
Not without a slight shudder at the danger, I often perceive how near I had come to admitting into my mind the details of some trivial affair, — the news of the street; and I am astonished to observe how willing men are to lumber their minds with such rubbish, — to permit idle rumors and incidents of the most insignificant kind to intrude on ground which should be sacred to thought. Shall the mind be a public arena, where the affairs of the street and the gossip of the tea-table chiefly are discussed? Or shall it be a quarter of heaven itself, — an hypæthral temple, consecrated to the service of the gods? I find it so difficult to dispose of the few facts which to me are significant, that I hesitate to burden my attention with those which are insignificant, which only a divine mind could illustrate. Such is, for the most part, the news in newspapers and conversation. It is important to preserve the mind's chastity in this respect.
Thoreau didn't say he prefers "ignorance." He merely prefers to avoid listening to gossip, rumors and "news of the street" which come from ignorant sources.
Here's a quote with both words that I found on a Thoreau quotes web site HERE:
True friendship can afford true knowledge. It does not depend on darkness and ignorance.
I'm pleased that "DXer" brought the quote from Mr. Vollmann to my attention. I would never have believed that an intelligent person would say such a thing. But, it's certainly understandable that "DXer" found it to be a statement from the article worth repeating.
July 22, 2014 (A) - This morning, when I did my regular daily Google search through the news for anthax+2001, up popped a link to a Sacramento Bee article about novelist, journalist, essayist, moralist William J. Vollmann which said,
Last year, he wrote a piece for Harper’s that told the chilling story of what he found in his FBI file after obtaining part of it via the Freedom of Information Act. He discovered that the FBI suspected him of being the Unabomber. Then, after Ted Kaczynski was arrested in 1996 for mailing bombs that killed and maimed people, the FBI considered Vollmann a suspect in the 2001 anthrax-by-mail attacks. The key suspect in that case took his own life in 2008.
I remember reading about that last year, but I didn't write about it. Apparently, I didn't see anything of interest in Vollmann's claim that the FBI considered him to be a suspect.
This morning, however, I was interested. So, I did some research. Mostly what I found was that it appears William Vollmann has been using his claim that the FBI considered him to be an Amerithrax suspect as a way of generating publicity for his books.
But I also found an August 2013 article from USA Today that says,
A “fellow citizen” eventually told the agency that Vollmann might be the Unabomber, the man eventually identified as Theodore Kaczynski and sentenced to prison for sending deadly mail bombs. The unnamed informant argued that the “anti-growth” and “anti-progress” themes in Vollmann’s books were evidence of a connection.
“This may seem like a small matter,” Vollmann writes, “but… in effect, his case relied on literary criticism. My mind boggled.”The story gets harder to believe. Vollmann notes the many tenuous, flat-out wrong assumptions and inferences made by the FBI. According to his file, Vollmann owns a flame-thrower, traveled to Beirut and is likely familiar with chemistry and explosives, all of which Vollmann says are false. One report tries to link the Unabomber’s moniker with the initials of one of Vollmann’s books. Even after the Unabomber is caught, Vollmann’s file shows him still in the FBI’s sights. A tip about Vollmann’s handwriting leads the agency to investigate him as a suspect in the 2001 anthrax case.
Ah! It appears that it is Mr. Vollmann who is twisting the facts to make a claim that FBI did something wrong in checking him out. And, of course, the Sacramento Bee is a McClatchy newspaper, so they simply print that accusation against the FBI. You have to do some research to find the full story.
If a private citizen gives the FBI a "tip" that Mr. Vollmann might be the Unibomber and supplies various items of "evidence" to support that theory, is the FBI "wrong" in checking Vollmann out? If the FBI gets another tip that Mr. Vollmann's handwriting matches the handwriting on the anthrax documents, is it "wrong" for the FBI to check him out? Does checking on a tip from a private citizen that includes "evidence" mean that the FBI considers Vollmann to be a suspect?
I see the answers to all three of those questions as one big, resounding "NO!" It's part of the FBI's job to check on tips supplied by private citizens, particularly if the tipster also supplies "evidence" to support the tip. And being a possible suspect is not the same thing as actually being a suspect.
It's routine for 99% of tips from private citizens in a major case to be total nonsense. But, the tips still need to be checked out in order to find that 1% that actually lead somewhere. In the Amerithrax investigation, Nancy Haigwood's tip about Bruce Ivins was probably just one tip in ten thousand. And even though it wasn't initially taken seriously by the FBI, it eventually proved to be correct and important.
It would be nice if investigators always knew the "truth" immediately and there was no need to actually accumulate evidence and sort through dozens of "potential suspects" to find a real suspect. But, if the world worked that way, there wouldn't be any need for "investigators." The work could be done by judges who could also pass sentence as soon as they found or were provided with "the truth." (I think I saw that movie.)
Meanwhile, on last night's Daily Show with Jon Stewart, they talked about what is probably the most absurd conspiracy theory related to the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17. The claim is that the Dutch staged the tragedy to embarrass the pro-Russian rebels. According to the theory, the Dutch allegedly filled an airliner with corpses and made it fly on autopilot over rebel territory where a bomb placed inside the plane was detonated. The theory is also in the International Business Times:
On Friday, Igor Girkin, the commander of rebel group, allegedly said to Russkaya Vesna, a pro-Russia Web site, the bodies found at the crash site in Ukraine were decomposed, drained of blood and believed dead days before MH 17 flew over the country's air space. Girkin said the shooting of the Malaysian Airlines was just staged to blame the separatists, saying Ukrainian authorities "are capable of any baseness."
I guess it just goes to prove that there is no conspiracy theory so absurd and ridiculous that someone somewhere won't totally believe it and repeat it.
July 21, 2014 - Yesterday, I finished uploading my Sunday comment at around 10 a.m. Feeling unable to work on my sci-fi novel because I haven't fully determined the basis for its "narrative drive," I decided to look at how some novels I had "borrowed" from my local library "hook" the reader. I started reading the first few pages of "Assignment New York" by E.C. Tubb, and the "narrative drive" hooked me. It's a hard boiled private eye novel written in the style of the 1940s. The P.I. is a "shamus," women are "dames," guns are "gats," criminals who carry guns are "gunsels," the hero smokes cigarettes constantly, and he wears a "fedora." (The author was an Englishman, so the hero would also park his car at the "kerb" when he had a flat "tyre.")
I read through lunch and then took a break to do some shopping. When I returned home, I read some more. I was about 70% done at 3:30 p.m., when I turned off the Kindle while I went into the kitchen to open a cup of yogurt and add granola to it. When I returned, the Kindle wouldn't turn back on! It was like the on-off switch didn't work!
"DON'T PANIC," is another item of Geek Wisdom. It's quoted from Douglas Adams' book, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." Sci-fi writer Arthur C. Clarke said those two words were "the best possible advice for mankind." Don't panic.
So, I didn't panic. I turned on my computer, connected it to my Kindle, and tried to see if my computer could access my Kindle. It couldn't. It was as if the Kindle wasn't even connected via the USB port. "Don't panic," I reminded myself.
Having turned on my computer, I saw that I had two emails from Google telling me that an Anthrax Truther had posted comments to my interactive blog that were awaiting moderation. Because I wasn't in a panic, I decided to read and respond to those messages before doing anything else with the Kindle.
The first message contained a totally bizarre statement that my hypothesis that a child wrote the anthrax letters was "unfalsifiable." The Truther phrased it this way:
Along with its primitive reductionism in the fields of first grade curriculum, graphology, vocabulary etc., the child-printed-it hypothesis is, in the way that Mister Lake presents it, fundamentally unfalsifiable.
Nothing could be farther from the truth, of course. Most other people who believe Ivins was the anthrax killer believe that Ivins disguised or "falsified" his handwriting by writing the way a barely literate Muslim (or a child) would write. The people who think a Muslim terrorist wrote the letters believe my hypothesis is false because they believe it's really the writing of a person who normally writes in Arabic. And the Anthrax Truther himself believes my hypothesis is false because he claims a criminal mastermind had one of his anonymous minions write the letters. I posted a response.
The second message was a claim that the U.S. Government was "lying to the public about the lyophilizer AND lying to the public about the handwriting comparisons." It's a a simple statement of belief which the Truther cannot prove or even verify. So, it was just his opinion. And I told him so. I have no desire to argue opinions versus opinions.
When I finished posting my responses, I went to Amazon's Kindle HELP page. One of the "frequently asked questions" was "My Kindle is frozen." Not really a question, but the advice was:
1. Make sure to unplug your device from charging.
2. Press or slide and hold the power button for 20 seconds (ignore anything that happens on the screen).
And there was another page with more details, including a count-down clock to help you measure out 20 full seconds.
I did as instructed, and PRESTO! The Kindle re-booted and everything was working again. (It occurs to me that I sometimes do the same thing to re-boot my Digital Video Recorder (DVR) when it acts up.) Any day you learn something new is a good day.
So, while it meant reading through dinner and during the evening news, I was able to finish reading "Assignment New York" at around 6 p.m. The book was only 206 pages long, so it wasn't like reading "War and Peace" in about 5 hours. But, it's the first time in years that I've read a novel cover-to-cover in a single day. And the book was a good demonstration of "narrative drive," so it wasn't a total waste of time.
July 20, 2014 - Last week, during breakfast and lunch, I was reading a library book "Geek Wisdom" by N.K. Jemisin on my Kindle. It's a perfect book for reading while eating a meal, since each "chapter" consists of about one page. Thus, I don't have to keep reading and reading to find a place where I can turn off the Kindle without being in the middle of some explanation or idea. A "chapter" consists of a quote from some source familiar to geeks, followed by an explanation of what that quote means to geeks.
Here's an example of one complete "chapter" that has relevance to my endless debates with conspiracy theorists, True Believers and Anthrax Truthers:
“A CONCLUSION IS THE PLACE WHERE YOU GOT TIRED OF THINKING.” —STEVEN WRIGHT
BEING A GEEK can be mentally exhausting; we totally get it. However, the collective short attention span we’ve inherited from the Internet age means that it’s all too easy to answer a pressing question by glancing at Wikipedia and calling it a day. Occasionally that’s all you need; it doesn’t take too many sources to corroborate the orbital period of Venus, for example. On the other hand, it seems vaguely disheartening that, with access to more information than ever before, so many Internet fights boil down to two people with violently opposing viewpoints attacking each other based on incorrect and incomplete data sets. It’s our responsibility as geeks to make sure we never stop learning, that we take little for granted, and that we look at every statement not as a conclusion, but as an invitation to more research.
(Steven Wright is a comedian familiar to geeks. To conspiracy theorists and Truthers that undoubtedly means that any quote from him cannot be taken seriously.)
I found the following quote from the author of "Geek Wisdom" to be particularly relevant while I was researching the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17:
"We can neither take part in the horror of man’s violence nor give in to it, but we must acknowledge it. In some way we must come to grips with what we’re capable of doing to one another. We are a beautiful, terrible, sleepless species. And sometimes we’re still animals. So it goes."
On a more positive note, I really appreciated that "Geek Wisdom" made me aware of this quote from Robert Heinlein's 1973 science fiction novel "Time Enough For Love":
“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly.”
It sometimes seems like every day we need to "analyze a new problem." Unfortunately, while we're doing that, there is always someone else who prefers to "pitch manure."
Here's another relevant quote from "Geek Wisdom" that would antagonize Truthers:
"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." -- Aldous Huxley
Anthrax Truthers seem to specialize in ignoring facts. And it doesn't seem to bother them one bit that they do not agree amongst themselves on who actually sent the anthrax letters. They simply do not want to argue the silly theories from other Anthrax Truthers. They only want to argue with the people who agree with "the government," people who accept that the evidence says that Bruce Ivins was the anthrax killer. Those people can be attacked as being "gullible government stooges" or "shills."
Last week, I tried once again to show an Anthrax Truther that he doesn't understand what constitutes "evidence" in a court of law. He argued that no one can testify that they recognized another person's handwriting unless they are certified handwriting experts. In another post, he argued that if there are lay witnesses who say that the handwriting on the anthrax documents resembled Ivins' handwriting when he disguised his handwriting, then the government probably manipulated those witnesses into saying that. And if I do not agree that they were manipulated, I must provide facts which show that the government did NOT manipulate the witnesses. In other words, I must prove the negative. Otherwise, I'm wrong. End of story.
Plus, in his mind, if Ivins' fingerprints were not found on the anthrax letters, that is "exculpatory" evidence showing that Bruce Ivins was innocent. And anyone who disagrees is wrong. End of story.
No attempt to discuss "evidence" with him can accomplish anything. He simply states his beliefs and then stops posting when I explain why the evidence says he's wrong.
I keep thinking I should create a set of "standard answers." Since conspiracy theorists and Truthers just argue the same absurdities over and over and over, it would save me a lot of time if I just copied and pasted a standard response. Like this:
To become evidence, an object, document or testimony has to be presented as supporting a claim. There is no claim that Ivins used a lyophilizer to dry the attack spores. Therefore all arguments that Ivins could not have used the lyophilizer to dry the spores are not about evidence, they are just arguments for the sake of arguing.
"NOT FINDING EVIDENCE" MEANS THEY DID NOT FIND EVIDENCE. It does NOT mean they found "exculpatory evidence."
The argument that a "typical" criminal would not use a child to write threat letters doesn't mean that Bruce Ivins wouldn't have done so.
The fact that postal employees handled, transported and delivered the anthrax-filled letters mailed by Bruce Ivins does not mean that the postal employees were accomplices in the crime. Nor does manipulating a child into writing letters make the child "an accomplice."
I already use this "standard answer" quite often:
The number of people who believe something has nothing to do with whether it is true or not. At one time nearly everyone in the world believed the earth was flat. That didn't make it flat.
And this should probably be standard answer #1:
The perpetrator of the anthrax attacks of 2001 has been identified. His name was Bruce Edwards Ivins. Unfortunately, he committed suicide before he could be brought to trial. But, the Department of Justice (DOJ) provided us with an Amerithrax Investigation Summary of the evidence against Ivins. It's available for anyone to view. For anyone who has bothered to look at the evidence, there should be no reasonable doubt that the case was solved correctly.
Unfortunately, that "standard answer" will usually require another "standard answer" to the argument that it generates. This would probably be standard answer #2:
A "summary" is NOT REQUIRED to include all the theories from conspiracy theorists or the names of all the possible suspects who were checked out by the FBI and the "evidence" against them. A "summary" CAN just be a summary of the evidence in support of the charge or claim that Bruce Edwards Ivins was the anthrax killer.
& Changes: Sunday, July 13, 2014, thru Saturday, July 19,
July 19, 2014 - Hmm. While reading the discussion about the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 on PPruNe.org, the Professional Pilots' Rumor Network, I noticed a link to an article HERE which says that someone within the Russian government has been modifying the Wikipedia article about flight MH17:
The original version of the Wikipedia article listing civil aviation accidents stated that MH17 had been shot down “by terrorists of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic with Buk system missiles, which the terrorists received from the Russian Federation.” Emphasis added.
The edits originating from the government-owned computer changed the article to read “the plane [flight MH17] was shot down by Ukrainian soldiers“. Again, emphasis added.The pilots on PPruNe.org also found pictures of what appears to be some of the damage caused by the BUK surface-to-air missile which has a proximity fuse that detonates the warhead as it approaches the aircraft, spraying the target with rod-shaped pieces shrapnel. The shape of the holes is probably a signature of that kind of missile.
It also occurs to me that the fact that about 2/3rds of the passengers aboard the airliner were Dutch citizens undoubtedly has a lot to do with the fact that the flight to Kuala Lumpur originated in Amsterdam, but it probably also has something to do with the fact that Indonesia was once known as the Dutch East Indies.
And that led me to realize that I wasn't certain which parts of that section of the world belonged to Malaysia and what parts belonged to Indonesia. So, I researched it.
No one can call me a "know it all." I'm learning new things every day.
July 18, 2014 - The news this morning has some different information about the shooting down of Malaysia Flight MH17 yesterday. News reports are now saying there were 298 people aboard, 283 passengers and 15 crew. Yesterday, the number was 295. Today, it's not known if there were any Americans aboard. Yesterday, most reports said there were 23 Americans aboard. The pro-Russian rebels are still claiming to have taken the "black boxes" from the wreckage. It will be interesting to see what they do with them. Multiple reports say that one of the black boxes was sent to Moscow for examination.
The two sides in the conflict are blaming one another for the shoot-down. However, one of the pilots on PPruNe.org makes a very interesting point:
Almost no chance it came from Ukraine military. The rebels don't have any planes, so they posed no threat from the air. No risk of shooting off a missile. The culprits are either Russia or the Russian-armed rebels.
Plus, of course, there are statements from a rebel leader saying he warned the world that they would shoot down airliners in their airspace. And there's a recorded phone call of a pro-Russian leader saying they downed the plane. But, they also have this rebel report:
"The B777 was shot down by the Ukranian military fighter jet, that attacked the airliner, it split in two parts and fell down. After that the fighter jet was shot down by our forces. Now we are looking for it on the ground."
I don't think that piece of rabid propaganda has any chance of being believed by anyone except the pro-Russian rebels who benefit from believing it. But, another news report seems to be pushing a similar story.
And, of course, there's the question of why commercial airliners were flying over a war zone in the first place. It seems like an invitation to some nut case with power who might want to make some kind of point to the world.
I think the facts about this disaster will become very clear very soon. But, there will still be plenty people who will simply believe what they want to believe. The comments after a Newsweek article about the disaster show that conspiracy theorists are already hard at work twisting facts to fit their beliefs. My analysis of the disaster:
Pro-Russian separatists shot down the plane on purpose.
First, the pro-Russian rebels have no aircraft. So, there's no reason for Kiev to shoot at any aircraft. And, there's no logic behind any scenario where Kiev would do it and try to blame the rebels. That kind of insane action cannot be hidden in today's technological world.
Second, shooting down the airliner "by accident" seems unlikely. It was flying at a very high altitude, so it presented no imminent danger. The rebels would have to track the plane on radar in order to target it. And, the aircraft's transponder would tell a radar system what kind of aircraft it is.
Lastly, the conflict seems to be going against the rebels at the moment. That can result in a lot of desperation and unclear thinking. Shooting down a commercial airliner could make a point. The point would be: Either we are allowed to win or we'll kill everyone who failed to support us.But, I'm always open to new and better facts which would change my analysis.
July 17, 2014 (B) - Jeeze! Malaysia Airlines just lost their second airliner in about 4 months. It's another Boeing 777, with 295 people aboard, including 23 Americans. I don't see anyone arguing any conspiracy theories yet, but it's only been about an hour since the news broke. According to a graphic HERE, there were a lot of other planes in the general area, so it wasn't in any restricted area. Hmm. Maybe it's been longer than an hour. Wikipedia already has a web page about it HERE with 49 references.
July 17, 2014 (A) - Jerry Seinfeld was the guest last night on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He was promoting his Internet show "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee." So, this morning all I could do was watch episode after episode. Apparently they have two "seasons" per year, since the last time I mentioned "Comedians in Cars" was in June 2013 when they were promoting "Season 2." And now Seinfeld is promoting Season 4.
On topic, I've been thinking about writing something about the problems at the CDC where they keep finding that this germ or that germ was not properly handled. But, what can I write? People make mistakes. Even smart people. Duh.
I also noticed an article about Paul Keim getting fired from a biosafety advisory panel, supposedly because of the CDC crisis. It looks like a case of firing the people whose advice they didn't take but should have. But what can I write about that? People make mistakes. Even smart people. Duh!
I also highlighted an interesting quote from the library book I'm currently reading on my Kindle during breakfast and lunch, "Geek Wisdom" by N.K. Jemisin. Here's the highlighted passage:
THERE’S JUST NO TALKING TO SOME PEOPLE. Oh, you can try. You can form your arguments, bring your evidence, and go in with as open a mind as possible. But at some point you have to realize the other person isn’t interested in a meeting of the minds.
Been there. Done that.
Here's a Geek slogan from a T-shirt I'm tempted to buy:
“THERE ARE 10 KINDS OF PEOPLE IN THE WORLD: THOSE WHO UNDERSTAND BINARY, AND THOSE WHO DON’T.”
Click HERE if you don't get it.
Meanwhile, I'm going to watch some more "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee."
July 15, 2014 - I don't know if anyone is interested or not, but I'm now thinking that the reason I got bogged down in writing my second sci-fi novel is because I didn't write it in first person as I did with the first novel in the series. I had started writing it in first person, but then changed my mind. I thought writing it in third person would be easier and would allow me to generate more suspense in a story where the investigators more or less figure out whodunit in the first third of the book. Writing in third person didn't help, and it hurt my ability to add humor to what is essentially a very grim story. I need to work on the narrative drive. If whodunit is learned in the first third of the book (and that is something that cannot be avoided), I need to keep the reader reading by focusing the narrative drive on something else - like the dangers involved, the romance or whether they can catch the bad guy without exposing a top secret device to the public.
By the way, yesterday I finished reading the 21st Alex Delaware novel "Evidence" by Jonathan Kellerman, which is told in both first and third person, but mostly in first person. I'd started on it on Friday. While okay, I didn't enjoy it anywhere near as much as the previous novel I read. So, now the question is: Can I get back to work on my own novel, or will I end up reading another Janet Evanovich novel first? Meanwhile, I'm back to reading non-fiction during breakfast and lunch.
July 14, 2014 - Overnight, an Anthrax Truther posted a couple messages to my interactive blog which show how Truthers distort things and avoid looking at evidence.
The first posted message included a suggestion that the FBI/DOJ doesn't really have any lay witnesses who could testify about how the handwriting on the anthrax documents resembled Ivins' disguised handwriting:
The Amerithrax Investigative Summary talks only and exclusively about (unnamed) "witnesses" when talking about Ivins' printing. Naturally, such unnamed witnesses (read: informants) cannot really be questioned. On account of their being unnamed.
It would have been stupid and unethical to name witnesses in the Summary. All that such a breach of ethics and protocol would accomplish is make those witnesses subject to harassment from every nut case who has a different view of the case, and who would consider them to be "informants." In reality, anyone who is actually familiar with the case would know who the witnesses must be, based upon what the Summary says about how the witnesses received anonymous letters from Dr. Ivins.
In the Truther's second posted message, instead of discussing the real and solid evidence against Dr. Ivins, he suggested that the DOJ would have hidden the fact that there were avenues of investigation that led nowhere - like not finding Ivins' fingerprints on the letters, or not finding his DNA on the letters, or, of course, finding his handwriting did not match the handwriting on the anthrax documents.
The idea, apparently, is that if the Amerithrax Investigative Summary doesn't state that some avenues of investigation led nowhere, then the FBI and DOJ are hiding the non-findings from those avenues of investigation from the public, and the DOJ would certainly try to hide them from the defense lawyers during discovery. But, those non-productive avenues of investigation ARE mentioned in the Summary on page 11:
The spore powder, letters, and envelopes recovered during the investigation were exhaustively examined using traditional forensic methods, including hair, fiber, fingerprint, DNA, and handwriting analysis. In addition, Task Force agents interviewed witnesses, and later obtained pen-registers, executed search warrants, and engaged confidential sources. Using these tools, Task Force agents conducted preliminary investigations of 1,040 individuals and in-depth investigations of over 400 of them. In 2007, all of this evidence was supplemented with the groundbreaking scientific genetic analyses that conclusively identified the murder weapon. This revelation, and the investigation that followed, led to the conclusion that Dr. Ivins mailed the anthrax letters.
The Truther evidently wanted them to write at length about how Ivins' DNA was not found on the letters or envelopes, nor were his fingerprints. His claim is that the FBI found NO evidence showing Ivins was the anthrax killer, and to support that nonsense belief, he apparently wants the DOJ and FBI to ignore all the actual evidence that was found and write only about the avenues of investigation where NO evidence was found.
Perhaps it's a word game. If the DOJ and FBI had written "We found no DNA evidence to link Dr. Ivins to the anthrax mailings," and "We found no fingerprint evidence to link Dr. Ivins to the anthrax mailings," the Truthers could twist that to argue, "The FBI says over and over they found NO 'evidence to link Dr. Ivins to the anthrax mailings'."
It's a way to argue beliefs and opinions, instead of discussing actual evidence.
July 13, 2014 - Getting that U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) report in the mail on Wednesday, and my writing about it in my comment on Thursday, apparently upset both of the Anthrax Truthers who currently find a need to start arguments whenever I disagree with their beliefs. The report written by USPIS forensic handwriting expert Robert J. Muehlberger stated that Dr. Ivins' handwriting was NOT a match to the handwriting on the anthrax envelopes. Yesterday, the Anthrax Truther who argues on my interactive blog wrote:
The handwriting analyses were EXCULPATORY evidence.
That's exactly why they didn't present it publicly. But had a trial taken place, they (the prosecutors) would have been legally obligated by rules of discovery to present that evidence to the defense which, almost certainly, would have presented it, by calling as a defense witness that handwriting analyst(s), stressing the person's professionalism, experience etc. In an Ivins-acting-alone prosecution scenario, this alone would have provided reasonable doubt: 'He didn't print s[p]it, you must acquit' as a latter-day Johnny Cochran might say.
Otherwise you'd have a situation where:
1) 'match' indicates guilt=evidence.
2) 'non-match' indicates innocence=non-evidence
Doesn't that seem odd even to you, Mister Lake?
And when I disagreed that it was exculpatory evidence, the Truther wrote:
Then you don't get what exculpatory evidence is.
Exculpatory evidence is evidence favorable to the defendant in a criminal trial that exonerates or tends to exonerate the defendant of guilt. It is the opposite of inculpatory evidence, which tends to prove guilt.
"Tends to exonerate" fits. Especially since the government said that Ivins had no help whatsoever.
If that analysis (those analyses) had been a match, then it would have been inculpatory evidence:
Other Anthrax Truthers also claim that the finding by USPIS forensic handwriting expert Robert Muehlberger that the handwriting on the anthrax documents is NOT a match to Ivins' handwriting is "exculpatory evidence."
In a post to his own blog, Lew Weinstein wrote on Aug. 13, 2013:
What conclusions can be drawn from the DOJ/FBI failure to include evidence exculpatory to Dr. Ivins, which has happened often since the 2008 press conference where it was claimed that Dr. Ivins was the “sole perpetrator” of the 2001 anthrax attacks? … obviously, he could not be the “sole perpetrator” if he did not address the envelopes.
The above comment was in response to a March 8, 2007 letter written by that same USPIS handwriting expert Robert Muehlberger in which Mr. Muehlberger wrote:
Bruce E. Ivins probably did not write the writings appearing on the “anthrax” envelopes and letters.
In emails he sent to me, the Anthrax Truther who calls himself "DXer" also claimed that the finding that Bruce Ivins handwriting did not match the handwriting on the anthrax documents was "exculpatory."
As far as I'm concerned, the fact that the handwriting did not match Ivins' handwriting merely confirms my hypothesis that the anthrax killer used a child who was just starting first grade to write the anthrax documents. That hypothesis was first presented in late 2001, seven years before Bruce Ivins was identified by the FBI as the anthrax killer. At the time, the "most likely" suspect was someone who had no known access to children. In August 2008, the hypothesis was seemingly partly confirmed when Ivins was named as the anthrax killer, and it was made known that his wife ran a day-care center in their home. It was also confirmed by indications that Ivins' personality showed he would have had no problem with using a child that way. All the evidence fell neatly into place - except for the fact that the FBI wasn't looking at the evidence the way I was.
On pages 89 and 90 of the Amerithrax Investigative Summary, the FBI/DOJ had a different explanation for why the handwriting did not match Ivins' handwriting: The handwriting was disguised. The FBI had witnesses willing to testify that the handwriting on the anthrax documents looked like Ivins' block letter handwriting when he wrote anonymous letters to his female co-workers that he didn't want traced back to him.
So, is the lack of a match to Ivins' handwriting "exculpatory" or not?
The Anthrax Truther on my blog sees only two kinds of evidence, exculpatory (helping to prove innocence) and inculpatory (helping to prove guilt). The other Truthers seem to see things the same way. They do not ask the basic questions: How does "evidence" become "evidence"? What was it before it became "evidence"?.
From my point of view (and the point of view of the Justice System, as I understand it), FACTS are just FACTS, documents are just documents, verbal statements are just statements, UNTIL until they are presented in court in support of some claim - typically a claim of someone's guilt or innocence in a crime. Then -and only then - do those, FACTS, documents and verbal statements become evidence.
It is a FACT that Robert Muehlberger found that "Bruce E. Ivins probably did not write the writings appearing on the “anthrax” envelopes and letters."
The Summary report indicates that the Department of Justice (DOJ) did not intend to use that FACT as evidence in support of their claim that Bruce Ivins was the anthrax killer. Instead, they intended to use witnesses who would state that the handwriting on the anthrax documents appeared to be Ivins' disguised handwriting. The lay witness verbal testimony would be inculpatory evidence, helping to show Ivins' guilt.
There seems no way that Mr. Muehlberger could ever testify that it could not be Ivins' disguised handwriting. All Mr. Muehlberger stated was that the handwriting probably wasn't Ivins' handwriting. So, the handwriting finding could not be "exculpatory."
That means the finding falls into the middle ground where a FACT is just a FACT and is neither inculpatory nor exculpatory. It's no different from finding that a bullet removed from a dead man's body was not fired from a revolver owned by the suspect. It doesn't help prove innocence, it just means that the suspect didn't use his own gun.
To be "exculpatory," the handwriting would either have be be shown to belong to someone else OR it would have to be shown that it is not possible that Ivins could have disguised his handwriting in such a way that would prevent handwriting experts from making a match to his handwriting.
Ivins would have had to be very STUPID to use his normal handwriting when writing the anthrax letters and envelopes. Ivins wasn't stupid. He undoubtedly understood that he needed to make absolutely certain the handwriting on the letters and envelopes could not be matched to his handwriting.
In my book "A Crime Unlike Any Other," I show that Ivins probably spent over a year and a half figuring out the best way to prepare a threat letter containing anthrax. He had plenty of time to figure out a way to make certain there would be no match to his handwriting. It's not easy to do, but it's certainly not impossible, either.
The Anthrax Truthers also claim that the FBI/DOJ deliberately misled the public about the handwriting. The Truther posting to my blog wrote:
I maintain what I have always maintained: the Amerithrax Investigative Summary is a PR (public relations) document, first and foremost. If it were a true summary, then the truth about the printing comparisons, the (non-)availability of the lyophilizer in the fall of 2001 would have been in there.
What is the "truth about the printing comparisons" done by the USPIS? The "truth" seems to be that the USPIS experts found FACTS, but they found no evidence that was either inculpatory or exculpatory.
Meanwhile, the Anthrax Truther who sends me emails because I do not allow him to post irrelevant documents, nor do I allow him to post vile and disgusting personal attacks on my blog, wrote this seemingly indecipherable comment in an email he sent on Thursday:
You forgot to mention that this expert report was not only not disclosed in the Amerithrax Investigative Summary-- it was mischaracterized.
The USPIS report was "not disclosed" but it was "mischaracterized"? The Amerithrax Summary was claimed to be "inconclusive" but was in fact "negative"?
There's no point in asking "DXer" to explain what he means, since he seems incapable of explaining anything. The word "inconclusive" doesn't appear anywhere within the Amerithrax Summary.
Anthrax Truthers appear to have some bizarre misconception that the Amerithrax Investigation Summary was supposed to be a summary of all the arguments that Anthrax Truthers have started over the years, plus a summary of all the investigative avenues which led nowhere. They seem to feel that because it was simply a summary of the Department of Justice's legal case against Dr. Bruce Ivins, that is unfair.
I disagree with the FBI on how Ivins' managed to write the letters so the handwriting could not be traced back to him, but that disagreement doesn't alter the fact that there is overwhelming evidence that Ivins was the anthrax killer. The FBI/DOJ's evidence is summarized in the Amerithrax Investigative Summary. Mine is summarized in my book.
All the Anthrax Truthers' various arguments in support of their own various theories can all be summarized into one sentence: "I don't care what the facts say, I'm going to believe what I want to believe."
& Changes: Sunday, July 6, 2014, thru Saturday, July 12,
July 10, 2014 (B) - Someone just sent me an interesting article from today's Washington Post titled "Scholarly journal retracts 60 articles, smashes ‘peer review ring’." The "scholarly journal" mentioned in that headline is the Journal of Vibration and Control.
In 2013, the editor of JVC, Ali H. Nayfeh, became aware of people using “fabricated identities” to manipulate an online system called SAGE Track by which scholars review the work of other scholars prior to publication.
Attention focused on a researcher named Peter Chen of the National Pingtung University of Education (NPUE) in Taiwan and “possibly other authors at this institution.”
After a 14-month investigation, JVC determined the ring involved “aliases” and fake e-mail addresses of reviewers — up to 130 of them — in an apparently successful effort to get friendly reviews of submissions and as many articles published as possible by Chen and his friends. “On at least one occasion, the author Peter Chen reviewed his own paper under one of the aliases he created,” according to the SAGE announcement.The Post article also provides a link to retractionwatch.com, where there's another article on the subject, and the matter is also discussed by readers. Do the people at that site just watch for retractions in scientific publications? In some ways, that's as weird as the "peer review ring." Are there so many scientific journal retractions that a web site can be devoted to the subject? "Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process" seems to be their slogan.
July 10, 2014 (A) - Yesterday afternoon, I found an envelope from the FBI in my mail box. It was in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request I submitted on July 1, 2013. I'd totally forgotten about that FOIA request. The envelope contained a DVD with copies of two documents, both of which I've now put on my web site. The first (click HERE to view it) is a single page 302 report documenting the transfer of materials from the FBI to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service's (USPIS) lab in Dulles, Virginia. The second document (click HERE) is a 22-page report which appears to be a summary of the handwriting analyses done by USPIS handwriting expert Robert J. Muehlberger in support of the Amerithrax case as of November 12, 2004. Here's what the first page of the report looks like (click on the image below to view a larger version):
Three months ago, this document was the subject of a thread on Lew Weinstein's blog. I wrote about in my (A) comment for April 29, 2014. Mostly the Truthers complained that the FBI report didn't include a comparison of Islamic terrorists' handwriting. In my comment, I mostly wrote about what "DXer" on Lew's blog had to say about me, and how they distorted the facts. I didn't make many comments about the FBI document itself, since I didn't have a copy and they didn't provide a link to their copy.
So, now I suppose I should comment on the USPIS/FBI document itself.
I didn't count the number of line entries on the list, but it must be in the many hundreds. Probably over 98 percent of them show negative findings. Below are a few line entries that show there were also inconclusive ("inc.") findings and "Elim" findings, which I think means that the document was eliminated from the examination for some reason, NOT the writer of the document. All but one of the "Elim" lines says "Lab Report" in the Comments column. The exception (on page 14) has the comment "H/C to Dulles." Presumably, that means the Hard Copy (original) was or is being sent to the USPIS lab in Dulles for further analysis.
You will also note that page 10 shows the USPIS findings for Bruce Ivins' handwriting. The findings were "Neg", i.e., the handwriting on the anthrax documents did not match Bruce Ivins' handwriting.
That's no surprise to me, of course, since I've been saying for over a decade that the evidence says the anthrax killer used a child to write the anthrax documents. The FBI's position, as I figure it, is that the USPIS report only says the handwriting on the anthrax documents is not a match to Ivins' normal handwriting. It doesn't mean Ivins couldn't have disguised his handwriting the way he evidently disguised his handwriting when sending mysterious letters and packages to his female co-workers.
The Anthrax Truther who calls himself "DXer" claims this report is "exculpatory of Dr. Ivins." Of course, it is no such thing. It's no different from the fact that Ivins didn't leave his fingerprints all over the anthrax letters and envelopes. Ivins would have to have been a fool to use his own handwriting on such letters - or to leave fingerprints - or to lick the envelope flap and leave his DNA. If such evidence isn't found, it is NOT "exculpatory" in any way. All the USPIS report shows is that their handwriting expert did a very large number of handwriting comparisons, and he evidently wasn't able to find a match to the anthrax documents on any of the documents he checked. (Presumably, the "Inc." items were eventually resolved by other types of investigations.)
The report changes nothing. But it's kind of interesting, anyway. And it pointed out to me that I hadn't archived a copy of the Lew Weinstein blog thread about it, nor, of course, had I archived all the silly rants about me in that thread. Thanks FBI.
Added note: After he read the comment above, "DXer" sent me an email which said in part:
You forgot to mention that this expert report was not only not disclosed in the Amerithrax Investigative Summary-- it was mischaracterized.I can't make much sense of that. I think he's saying that the fact that Ivins' handwriting didn't match the handwriting on the anthrax letters should have been mentioned in the Amerithrax Investigative Summary. Why should it have been? The Summary was a summary of the case against Ivins. The handwriting report is neither evidence against nor exculpatory evidence for Ivins. Plus, the Summary says on pages 89 and 90:
In addition, a witness who had received a number of packages and cards over the course of several years in the late 1990s and early 2000s was shown copies of the letters and envelopes used in the anthrax attacks. The witness thought that the handwriting on the envelope addressed to Senator Daschle reminded the witness of Dr. Ivins’s writing. If the witness were to receive a package with that writing on it, the witness would think of Dr. Ivins. The witness noted that, in particular, the style of the block letters with alternating heights stood out, as did the slant of the writing. The witness said that this was the type of writing Dr. Ivins used when he disguised his handwriting as part of a joke. ... Another witness familiar with the handwriting of Dr. Ivins in many contexts said the same thing.
If Mr. Muehlberger had been asked to determine if the handwriting on the anthrax documents might be the disguised handwriting of the person who wrote each one of the handwriting samples, I suspect that the "FINDING" column on the report would have 98% "Inc." (inconclusive) instead to 98% "neg."
July 9, 2014 (B) - Someone just brought to my attention an on-line article from Channel 11 in Atlanta, titled: "CDC to create anthrax research database in Atlanta."
The CDC says it wants to develop the capacity to genotype B. anthracis at CDC. It hopes to determine and analyze the genomic sequence of up to 500 different strains.
"The establishment of a public database is essential in order to get data from around the world, particularly countries that have difficulty sharing strains, and is needed to make rapid/effective strain comparisons," the CDC says.I guess they don't want to have to rely on Paul Keim and the Northern Arizona University (NAU) to do strain typing. On the other hand, the CDC is looking for a "contractor" to handle the project for them, so maybe they're looking to hire NAU.
July 9, 2014 (A) - After reading my "plans"for today in yesterday's comment, I'm sure everyone is just dying to know what I did this morning. I didn't do anything I planned.
During breakfast, I returned to reading "The Amazing Story of Quantum Mechanics." Then, after breakfast, I decided to look at my archive of "Discussions the Anthrax Truthers Don't Want You To See." I was a little bit surprised to find that Lew Weinstein didn't just delete (at the urging of "DXer") all my comments from his blog, but there are some other complete threads that seem to be missing.
For example, I archived a thread started on July 24, 2011, that had this title:
* A detailed analysis of Laurie Garrett’s new book by DXer … linking Laurie’s writing to posts on this blog
But if you click on that link today, you'll get: "ERROR 404 - Not Found."
After doing a Google search of mentions of "Laurie Garrett" on Mr. Weinstein's blog, however, I discovered that the thread now has a different URL address. It can now be found at this link (the date in the URL is now July 27, instead of July 24):
* A detailed analysis of Laurie Garrett’s new book by DXer … linking Laurie’s writing to posts on this blog
The thread begins with a very long list of things (I lost count at 60) which, according to "DXer," Laurie Garrett failed to mention in her book. A couple examples:
She does not address the weaponized anthrax that Dr. Ivins says he had heard had been shipped to Ft. Detrick and then went missing.
I don’t see that she anywhere addresses that USAMRIID’s John Ezzell, the FBI’s anthrax expert, prior to 9/11, made a dried aerosol using Ames supplied by Bruce Ivins and sent to Johns-Hopkins Applied Physics. She never addresses whether those spores show a silicon signature.
The first posted comment in the original thread was, of course, also by "DXer." It's dated July 27, and it was about ME:
The New York Times today relies on Edward Lake today as the best authority authority [sic] it can find on position that Al Qaeda not being responsible or capable of being responsible–even though Ed has never addressed the documentary cited above or addressed the merits of the argument!
There were only 7 comments in the thread when I archived it, and none were written by me (since this was after I was banned from posting to their blog). There are 21 comments in the current version (one was added this morning, probably after "DXer" read an earlier version of this comment).
At first, I thought the Truthers might have deleted the entire thread just because of the New York Times comment. Then I thought they maybe came to their senses and realized the list of complaints reads like something a ranting lunatic might have written.
But, I was wrong on both counts. It appears something may have been deleted or changed in the text at the top of the thread, but in doing so they (probably unknowingly) changed the date in the URL - which causes people who linked to the original URL to get the error message. (The 7 messages in the original version seem unchanged in the current version.) It was an interesting morning as I figuring this out.
July 8, 2014 - This is totally off topic, but maybe someone will find it interesting.
While peddling a stationary bicycle at the health club this afternoon, I finished reading "One For The Money," the first novel in the Stephanie Plum series written by Janet Evanovich. It's undoubtedly the funniest book I've read in years. A real joy to read.
I became curious about the series when I noticed that the 21st and latest book in the series, "Top Secret Twenty-One" was briefly on the best seller list. I read and liked the preview of the first few pages, so I put the ebook version "on hold" at my library. (I'm currently #451 out of 619 on the waiting list. They have 7 copies.) Then, Sunday afternoon on impulse, I decided to check a local store that sells used books. I bought paperback copies of "One For the Money," "Three To Get Deadly" and "Seven Up" for 89 cents each. (Jeeze! New paperback novels cost $7.99 each!! The last time I paid retail price for a paperback novel, they probably cost about $1.25. Maybe less.)
I had been reading "The Amazing Story of Quantum Mechanics" on my Kindle during breakfast and lunch, and I'm about 25% done (having highlighted maybe a hundred passages). But, it's heavy going, and I wanted to read something lighter as it became more and more clear that my own novel is in major need of some heavy re-thinking. I need to add some more characters at the beginning of the book, and I need to make the characters I already have a lot more interesting. Plus, I need to re-think the ending. Maybe reading some fast-paced novels will help with that by showing me how other writers do things. That's the plan, anyway. Meanwhile, I'm #1 on the waiting list for "From Eternity To Here," which looks really interesting -- far more so than the Quantum Mechanics book. I'll find out tomorrow which book I actually read next. My mood will tell me. It will probably be "Three to Get Deadly."
July 7, 2014 - There was another email from "DXer" in my inbox this morning. He had evidently read my (C) comment from yesterday. The subject of the email was:
Ed, I don't doubt it was my idea to delete your posts -it's just that he could be more thorough
I interpret that to mean that it was "DXer" who asked Lew Weinstein to delete all my posts from Lew's blog. And, Mr. Weinstein agreed. Now it appears "DXer" regrets that he didn't also ask Mr. Weinstein to delete the threads or the text in the thread headings where my name is mentioned. (Yesterday, in my (A) comment, I listed and provided links to seven of those threads.)
"DXer" wrote this in the body of his email, first quoting me from yesterday's (C) comment:
"I take that to mean it was Mr. Weinstein's idea to delete all of my posts."
and then adding his own comment:
You, as they say, have a right to be forgotten.
Ah! So, "DXer" wants to pretend I was never allowed to post to Mr. Weinstein's blog. He's once again acting like an obnoxious 12-year-old. He doesn't say when he asked Mr. Weinstein to do those deletions. Nor does he say why. But, it was most likely done out of pure spite. And it probably happened after I banned him from my interactive blog because he repeatedly attempted to post vile and disgusting personal attacks. His actions pose another question: What about the hundreds of comments by others on Lew's site where people simply mention my name in their posts? If they want me to be "forgotten," shouldn't those messages be deleted, too? And maybe they should put a message at the top of their blog saying that people are forbidden to use my name. Of course, they can't mention my name in that warning. That's a problem. Maybe:
Thou art FORBIDDEN to write the name of the accursed one!
I don't recall exactly why I started taking my own backups of interesting threads on Mr. Weinstein's blog. I think it was because I wanted copies of their bizarre arguments in case they ever decided to delete them and then claim they never wrote such an absurd thing. Looking at the index for my archive, it says the folder contains 317 items from 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. But that includes some images and multiple copies of some posts (possibly different pages of the same thread). I was banned from Mr. Weinstein's site on March 13, 2011. Mr. Weinstein's explanation was:
I find that I not only disagree with much of what you say, but also that your unremitting and often illogical support of the FBI's unproven assertions is a distraction to continued serious study and analysis of those facts which the FBI has grudgingly released.
Maybe I should rename my archive folder:
Discussions the Anthrax Truthers Don't Want You To See
I find it highly amusing that Anthrax Truthers blatantly do exactly what they accuse the U.S. Goverment of doing: Hiding embarrassing material detrimental to themselves.
July 6, 2014 (C) - "DXer" evidently just read my (A) comment for this morning, since he sent me an email which says in part:
I suspect Lew was just using your sign-in as the means of deletion. I am sure he would also be glad to delete these threads if you want (given that they now do not present your side that a First Grader wrote the letters).
I take that to mean it was Mr. Weinstein's idea to delete all of my posts. Why anyone would think that I'd also want all the threads that mention my name to be deleted is unfathomable. I just used them in my (A) and (B) comments to point out the type of discussions the Anthrax Truthers do not want people to see.
July 6, 2014 (B) - Hmm. I apparently did have some intelligent discussions on Lew Weinstein's blog. For example, in a thread titled "55 flasks of anthrax prep ... now where can I hide these?" I had a fairly long, fascinating discussion with "BugMaster." The thread now shows only 72 posts, with "BugMaster" talking to herself in post after post. My archived copy of that thread shows 109 posts, with "BugMaster" and I discussing interesting topics for nearly a week, from Aug. 3, 2009 through Aug. 9, 2009. Since the Anthrax Truthers now apparently consider that discussion to be forbidden viewing, it's no longer available to people on the Internet. What a shame.
July 6, 2014 (A) - On Thursday, I was arguing with a conspiracy theorist on my interactive blog when the conspiracy theorist wrote a comment that included this:
maybe it's the posting 'style' that got [Ed Lake] into persona-non-grata status at Lew Weinstein's blog etc.
My "posting style" had nothing to do with me getting banned from Lew Weinstein's blog. It was 100% the result of me presenting facts that they did not want to discuss. If you disagree, look at my posts to Lew's site.
After writing that response, I decided to do a Google search for "Ed Lake" on Lew Weinstein's blog to check the kind of things I wrote there. I wanted to show how I would discuss things rationally and logically, and the conspiracy theorists would just present their arguments as if they were indisputable. The Google search found 344 mentions of my name. But none seemed to be comments I wrote on that blog. Checking the links, I was surprised to discover that all my posts to Lew Weinstein's blog have been deleted.
There are still a bunch of threads where my name was mentioned in the titles of the threads and in the texts written (presumably) by Lew Weinstein:
Ed Lake believes a child wrote the anthrax letters; which, if true, means the FBI was wrong in identifying Dr. Bruce Ivins as the sole perpetrator
Ed Lake does not distinguish assertions from evidence … he does not understand the grand jury process … nor does he believe that every person is innocent until PROVEN guilty
photocopy toner at USAMRIID … a fascinating interchange between Ed Lake and DXer … DXer concludes: There is relevant admissible evidence and that evidence, being withheld by the FBI, shows that there is no basis for the DOJ’s innuendo that the USAMRIID photocopiers were used. There has been a travesty at justice.
But none of these threads currently contain any posted comments from me, except for an instance where Mr. Weinstein included copies of posts from a debate between "DXer" and I in the text Mr. Weinstein wrote to start a thread. He called it "a fascinating interchange between Ed Lake and DXer." Click the last link above to view that thread. Here are a few of the comments as presented by Mr. Weinstein:
Ed writes: We don’t know that the photocopier examined by the FBI was the same photocopier that was there in September and October of 2010.” DXer responds: The way one would test the photocopy toner is to compare the documents copied during the Fall 2001 to the anthrax letters. Ed, have you read the literature relating to photocopy toner examination?
Ed writes: We don’t know that cleaning or replacing parts of the photocopier couldn’t have made the photocopier different from the way it was September and October of 2001.” DXer responds: Ed apparently has not read the literature.
Ed writes: Ivins could have used some other photocopier. The one at AMI wasn’t the only photocopier in the entire world, nor the only photocopier within a hundred miles. Therefore, Ivins could have used another photocopier.” DXer responds: Ah, yes, the acknowledgement that there is no evidence he used the photocopier — instead just the unsupported assertion he did. See also lyophilizer and a dozen other issues where the same approach is used.
Ed writes: “The fact that it couldn’t be proven that Ivins used the photocopier at Ft. Detrick proves absolutely nothing in the Ivins case.” DXer responds: Ah, but it does. You agreed we would consider the evidence against Dr. Ivins and on the photocopy issue, you agree that there is none to support the claim he is photocopied the letters.
If you look through the thread for actual posts from me, you'll see only the other sides of the discussions I was in. My comments have all been deleted.
Why would they delete all of my comments from Lew Weinstein's blog? Was it out of some kind of petty spite? Were they concerned that I had posted good arguments, and all they had posted was nonsense? Is it some kind of "payback" because "DXer" is no longer allowed to post to my blog after he resorted to posting vile and disgusting personal attacks that I deleted from the blog?
I don't see any explanation for their actions anywhere. I don't know when they did it. I didn't even know they'd done it until I did the search on Friday. To confirm that they had actually deleted all my posts, I checked my archives. (My archive of threads from Lew Weinstein's blog isn't even in my computer anymore. It's on the portable trillion-byte hard-drive I only use for backups.) Checking the archive, I found I'd saved that last thread on Feb. 13, 2011.
Looking at my copy, I see it has some VERY interesting posts. As usual, it's me presenting evidence and them saying they don't believe it, while also attacking me personally. The most interesting exchange was between me and the conspiracy theorist who was posting to MY blog last week and thereby brought the issue to my attention.
While my responses on Lew's blog have been deleted, the conspiracy theorist's posts are still there. Click HERE to view them. In one post, the conspiracy theorist made nine "points" in a critique of my hypothesis that a child was used to write the anthrax documents. I responded to each one of them. For purposes of illustration, here are just the first four "points" he made, along with my responses in italics (notice that all of his "points" are statements of beliefs, not topics or points for discussion):
1) in keeping with the
recipe of ‘Brother Jonathan’, you incorrectly use the term ‘uncial’. A
trifle but the first tipoff that actual ‘facts’ play little role in
That’s a meaningless comment without further explanation of what you mean. And it neither proves nor disproves anything.
2) the hypothesis PRESUPPOSES
uniformity of instruction throughout the United States at the first
grade level that simply does not exist. (That included the assertion
that ‘school begins in September’ (in my state it begins in August).
No, it doesn’t. It just uses general information about what happens in kindergarten and first grade.
3) the ‘distinction’ between
‘public school’ rendering of a capital R and a Catholic school
rendering of a capital R doesn’t jibe with my experience (all 8 years
of grammar school in a Catholic school) and seems to be based
EXCLUSIVELY on Mister Lake comparing notes with his brother-in-law.
Hardly a representative sample.
It’s the result of a LOT of research. I just used my brother in law as an example. I could use the USAMRIID scientist the FBI interviewed as another example. So, your experience is irrelevant.
4) Your points 3) and 4)
to write smaller” and “Learning when to capitalize and when not to
capitalize” posit an ABSURD rate of learning by a 6 or 7 year old; no
child is going to ‘improve’ or internalize those things in 3 lousy
weeks! (which would be, at most 15 class days).
In your opinion. I reality, in kindergarten they use unlined paper. In first grade, they use lined paper. Children learn to write smaller very quickly. They already have the ability, they just weren’t asked to do it. So, there really isn’t very much learning that needs to take place.
Since conspiracy theorists can only argue, they cannot discuss, the conspiracy theorist did not come back with further explanations to clarify his points. He just argued another and different point later in the day. My response, of course, has been deleted. Here's a summary of that exchange, again with my comments in italics:
Said another (high falutin’) way: the pragmatics of the social situation make using a child a high-risk stratagem. And an unnecessary one: short term one can fake certain elements of one’s printing/handwriting.
We have a different point of view about how to look at evidence. From my point of view, the FACTS say that a child wrote the letters. From your point of view, that’s not the way an intelligent adult would PLAN things.
about what the facts say in an actual crime.
When the facts say that a child wrote the letters, the questions become: How did Ivins manage to keep the kid quiet? Why did Ivins do things that way?
You don’t say: I don’t believe it because that’s not the way I would do things, nor is it the way I would expect anyone else to do things. That is ignoring what the facts say and going with your beliefs, instead.
And that was the end of it. There was NO discussion, of course. It was just a conspiracy theorist presenting his argument, me responding in hopes of having a discussion so the issue could be mutually resolved, and the conspiracy theorist simply ignoring my response. Instead of discussing my excellently phrased response, the conspiracy theorist merely ended the exchange. He presumably continued to believe what he wanted to believe, and nothing I said or wrote made any difference whatsoever.
The examples above are only a small part of a great number of interesting things written in that thread and in other threads. But, now the threads only show one side of the arguments - the side of the conspiracy theorists. And I'm probably the only person who has both sides of the arguments, since conspiracy theorists are clearly not interested in both sides of any arguments.
This appears to mean that when they can't discuss evidence or win an argument, they'll just try changing history so they can pretend no one ever disputed what they believe.
That would be hilarious -- if it weren't so childish and creepy.
& Changes: Sunday, June 29, 2014, thru Saturday, July 5,
July 5, 2014 - As a result of my comment on Thursday, the subject of "computer analyzed handwriting" is coming up in my emails and in posts on other blogs. I'm not sure exactly what people are driving at, but they seem to think that a computer should be able to do a better job of analyzing handwriting than a human. I find such reasoning to be unfathomable. It's probably because I was a programmer and a computer systems analyst for much of my life, and much of that part of my life was one long argument with non-progammers about what a computer can and cannot do.
When it comes to analyzing handwriting or anything else, a computer can only give "yes" and "no" answers. That is because a HUMAN programmer can only program the computer to give "yes" or "no" answers. A computer works with "bits" of information, and a "bit" in a computer can only be "on" or "off." A "Maybe" answer is just a programmed way of saying "NO, a complete answer cannot be provided."
The problem is that humans are not computers, and therefore they cannot do things exactly the same way over and over. Humans generally cannot even sign their name exactly the same way twice.
Here's an example of a signature written twice and then overlaying one signature with the other:
A human would look at the signatures and say, "Yes, they were most likely written by the same person."
A computer would only see that the signatures do not match. There are numerous differences. If you want a computer to determine that the signatures (and countless other variations) MIGHT BE a match, then some programmer has to program the computer to make that determination using only YES-NO reasoning. How exactly would a computer programmer do that? It's not "impossible," but it would certainly be EXTREMELY difficult.
I didn't deliberately make the signatures different. I just wrote them naturally. If I had deliberately tried to make the second signature identical to the first, a computer might then determine that the signatures are identical, but a human forensic handwriting expert would say that the second signature is "most likely" a forgery, since the human expert would see that it was not the writer's natural way of writing and the writing is too similar.
This is all basic to me, since I was a programmer for many years. But, maybe it's "new" to some readers of this blog. I hope so.
ADDED NOTE: Probably in response to my post above, "DXer" on Lew Weinstein's blog just posted (click HERE and HERE) some links to articles which explain what "experts" are trying to do to get computers to analyze handwriting. One such document from 2003 HERE uses envelopes from the anthrax case as examples (on page 4), but evidently nothing of value was learned about the writing on the anthrax documents. The key to understanding the article seems to be in this passage from page 8:
Research into computer methods in forensic document examination is still at an early stage. The research reviewed is only concerned with techniques and tools for the comparison of writing samples to identify authorship. There is considerable further research required to provide detailed scientific evidence of the nature of handwriting individuality.
Further research is also needed to provide scientific evidence and tools to identify disguised writing,forged handwriting and well as altered or modified writing.
In other words, it's all still just research, and after decades of such research, computers still can't even approach what a human can do in forensic handwriting analysis. But, because computers can do things far faster than humans, it seems likely that some day computers will be able to read envelopes going through a post office machine and spot envelopes which have very similar handwriting as some document provided as input. A human can then look at the envelopes to verify the match.
A different kind of article HERE from 2002 says the same thing using different words:
"This is the first time this workshop is turning its attention to the computer processing of handwriting not just for recognition, to read what has been written, but also for analysis, to determine who wrote it," said Srihari.
"In law enforcement in general that work still is being done by human analysts, but we now are beginning to use computers to do it. Teams at CEDAR and at other institutions that will be represented at the workshop are beginning to prove that automated analysis techniques can be quite successful."
There's no doubt that computers can do many important tasks faster than humans. That means computers could someday soon be a great help in searching through millions of envelopes for a match to some handwriting sample. But identifying "disguised writing, forged handwriting and ... altered or modified writing" is still just a research project in progress. And it probably will remain so for many years to come.
A 2011 document from the Handwriting Institute gives a good indication on how far computers have come over the years:
The HWAI [Hand Written Address Interpretation] software currently recognizes ZIP codes correctly in roughly 70 percent of handwritten addresses and has achieved full address recognition in 30 percent.
In human terms, computers are reading handwriting at about 2nd Grade level. Passing a college examination on forensic handwriting analysis is still decades away.
July 3, 2014 - Hmm. This morning, in a post to Lew Weinstein's blog, Anthrax Truther "DXer" mentioned a scientific magazine article titled "Automatic handwriting recognition and writer matching on anthrax-related handwritten mail." The article appears to have been printed in "Frontiers in Handwriting Recognition, 2002. Proceedings. Eighth International Workshop." Here's the Abstract for the article:
A handwriting recognition technique and a handwriting identification technique were combined and applied on anthrax-related handwritten mail. The HWAI (handwritten address interpretation) system interprets the address on the anthrax-related letters. The HWAI process can be modified to provide specific alphabet images which can then be used for writer identification. Micro-level feature values from segmented characters were extracted and an identification test was conducted. Preliminary results based on automatic handwriting recognition and identification are shown.
Evidently, "DXer" also found an opening paragraph somewhere:
1. Introduction This paper reports on an analysis of the writings in recent anthrax-related mailings using combination of HWAI (Handwritten Address Interpretation) system and Forensic Document Examination system. Scientists at CEDAR have been conducting research on computer interpretation of postal images for nearly two decades. Also, research on software for forensic analysis of handwriting has been conducted for over two years . The recent threat of anthrax mailings have called for combining techniques from the two areas for forensic purposes.
The article costs $19. I don't see how anything about computerized reading of addresses on the anthrax envelopes would be worth $19 to me, but I'm very curious about what the article might possibly have said. "DXer" seems to be trying to get the document for free via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, but it's very difficult to figure out what he's driving at when he just posts quotes and cryptic comments without explaining his purpose. He also found a pdf presentation by Sargur N. Srihari, one of the authors of the article. Click HERE. It's undated and only mentions anthrax once, on page 20, where it merely shows the four anthrax envelopes and this text:
Anthrax Letters written by the same person?
Do they match writership of known writing?
I think the "state of the art" in computerized handwriting analysis is still in the stage of trying to be able to READ human handwriting accurately. I seriously doubt a computer could produce anything worthwhile in the area of handwriting forensics that a human couldn't do much much better. But, if anyone has the article and is willing to share - or knows where I can get it for free, please let me know.
July 2, 2014 - Each morning, after checking to see if there's any news related to the anthrax attacks of 2001, I check to see if there is any news related to Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. This morning, someone on Duncan Steel's blog pointed to an Australian Broadcasting System TV report from May 20 about the flight. It's by far the best report on the subject that I've seen to date. It contains a lot of interesting details, although some of it is just personal opinions. There are also a lot of arguments from the reporter that, in a time of total confusion, everyone should have done things perfectly. But, the media seems to believe its job is to point out everyone's mistakes. Setting aside all the talk about who failed to do what quickly enough, the report is well worth watching.
July 1, 2014 - One of the conspiracy theorists who posts to my interactive blog made some rather bizarre comments this morning. He argued:
I don't 'argue'. I discuss. YOU argue .... No arguing whatsoever. That's your bailiwick ....As nearly as I can determine, for you to live is to......argue (!!!). For me that's incomprehensible.
Clearly, he doesn't understand the difference between discussing a subject and arguing about a subject. Rather than just explain the difference to him, I looked up the topic and presented this quote (from HERE):
A discussion is an orderly confrontation based on a mutual willingness to learn from one another. It involves the presentation of evidence by each party and then a good-faith attempt of the participants in the discussion to come to agreement.
Discussion presupposes some degree of rational disagreement between us or at least a lack of consensus. If I agreed with you already, we would have nothing to discuss. In a discussion, I do not primarily want to disagree: I want to know the truth. If I do not think that what you say is true, then I disagree, stating my reasons as clearly as possible and without animosity. The same is true for you: you present me with your reasons. By sharing our ideas freely, we hope to arrive at a deeper truth. In a discussion, disagreement is for the sake of agreement.
An argument (emotional, not rational) is a disorderly confrontation based on an unwillingness to learn from one another. Desire for victory takes precedence over love of truth, with the result that agreement becomes impossible.
Although they may have rational grounds for disagreement in the first place, all arguments include an element of bad faith — we are not, with all honesty, pursuing the truth together. Rather, in an argument I simply want my position to be the right one and you to agree with me. I am, indeed, looking for agreement, but on my terms, not in terms of objective truth. Instead of my following reason and leaving passion aside, passion is primary, and reason (if it has a role) works in the service of passion. Quite often, in order to end an argument, we agree to disagree.
And another quote (from HERE):
When you argue over something, it does not naturally follow that you will arrive at a satisfactory conclusion. When you discuss a particular topic, you will arrive at a conclusion. This is the major difference between discussing and arguing.
To open a DISCUSSION on who is "arguing" and who is "discussing," I pointed out that he refuses to discuss the evidence against Bruce Ivins because he argues that it is not evidence. And any attempt by me to discuss what constitutes evidence according to his standards just ends up with him arguing that what he believes is "evidence" is what constitutes "evidence" and refusing to discuss the subject any further.
Furthermore, he refuses to discuss the evidence he has against the person he believes is the anthrax mailer, because -- he evidently considers me too closed-minded to accept it. So, there can be no discussion of his evidence, because he won't present it. And he won't discuss the evidence against Dr. Ivins because he doesn't consider it to be "evidence."
In short, he cannot discuss anything. All he can do is argue.
I don't like arguing. I often refuse to argue with people who only want to argue their opinion against other opinions. Opinion versus opinion arguments are pointless. They never accomplish anything. On the other hand, I LOVE discussing subjects of interest to me. And the evidence in the case against Bruce Ivins is of much interest to me.
For example, I'd like to discuss the highlighted T's in the media letter. A different Anthrax Truther argues that the T in NEXT is not highlighted. Below are all the T's in the media letter. When I try to discuss which ones are highlighted and which ones are not, the Anthrax Truther just argues that my observations are meaningless because I'm not a certified forensic handwriting expert. Only his beliefs and opinions are of any value (to him). It's an argument that leaves no room for discussion.
Clearly, some above T's are highlighted more noticeably than others. There's no dispute that T's 1, 3, 5 and 8 are "highlighted" (i.e., the horizontal crossbar is traced over).
What about T #7? The Truthers seem to accept that it is also traced over.
Everyone seems to fully agree that T's #4 and 6 are not traced over.
That leaves only T #2 (the T in NEXT) in question. Obviously, the cross-bar is darker than the not highlighted cross-bars on numbers 4 and 6. It is definitely darker. It could be highlighted. If asked if #2 looks more like #7 than #4, the answer should be "yes." It looks more like it's highlighted than not.
An Anthrax Truther can (and would) then argue that he's still going to believe what he wants to believe. But, any discussion should end with an agreement that it's more likely that T #2 is highlighted than not.
An Anthax Truther can then (and would) argue that only absolute certainty is acceptable to him. But, just means nothing is evidence unless he considers it "acceptable" as evidence, and that leaves no room for discussion.
June 30, 2014 - In another example of the Lunatic Fringe finding interesting articles about the anthrax attacks of 2001 that I might otherwise have missed, this morning "DXer" provided a link to a relatively reasonable blogger article, dated yesterday, titled "The Aflac Duck Wasn't Quacking Anthrax!" The article says this about the Steven Hatfill "case":
Hatfill underwent a “trial by media circus” during the FBI investigation. Hatfill was a physician, virologist and bio-weapons expert. Dr. Barbara Hatch Rosenberg accused Hatfill of the poisonings, stating to journalists that Hatfill was the “most likely person.” She included her suspicions in a report to the FBI. After she gave an interview to the press, journalists pressured the FBI to do an intensive inspection into Hatfill’s personal and professional life.
At one point the author provides a link to a page on my web site, so it's reasonable to assume that he reads my site. That probably explains why he's so reasonable. :-)
The article says this about the case against Bruce Ivins:
The federal government ordered the FBI to release hundreds of documents in the case and stated they were “confident” Ivins was the culprit. “We regret that we will not have the opportunity to present to a jury to determine whether the evidence proves Ivins’ innocence beyond a reasonable doubt.” It insisted that Ivins was among only a “handful” of American scientists who knew how to process the anthrax spores. It also claimed to have found the flask in which the spores were originally held. Be that as it may, Ivins cannot be identified as the anthrax killer; without a trial or a plea, there cannot be a resolution to the case. I have to admit the FBI made some compelling arguments. It gets a lot of (a)flack for its investigations but it can’t be wrong all the time.
The author of the blog appears to be an Englishman, so it's understandable that he doesn't know that the FBI is the investigative arm of the Department of Justice, which the blogger refers to as "The Federal Goverment" in the paragraph above.
The article ends with this:
Did the FBI collar the right guy when it accused Ivins? Who knows? Who cares? The anthrax scare is over.
Whenever I see an article like this, I try to click on the links the author provides as sources, to see if they contain anything else I may not have seen before. In this article, there were a couple links to YouTube videos that I hadn't seen before.
The first link (HERE) is to part of a series of SIX videos where lawyer Barry Kissen is interviewed by the web site "Guns And Butter." Here's what "Guns And Butter" says about its radio programming:
"Guns & Butter" investigates the relationships among capitalism, militarism and politics. Maintaining a radical perspective in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, "Guns & Butter: The Economics of Politics" reports on who wins and who loses when the economic resources of civil society are diverted toward global corporatization, war, and the furtherance of a national security state.
In his interview, Mr. Kissen rants like a mad-man as he claims that the anthrax attacks were part of another government conspiracy just like the JFK assassination, the RFK assassination, the MLK assassination, etc., etc.
The second link (HERE) leads to an unidentified author telling his theory. However, the title of his book is mentioned ("9/11 Synthetic Terror"), so the author is almost certainly Webster Griffin Tarpley. Tarpley's bio says "He is a 9/11 Truth Scholar and activist."
Tracking those two links also led to a maze of conspiracy theory videos presented by Wackimedia3. The videos seem to be mostly just lunatic rants by conspiracy theorists who have no facts to support their theories, only an unshakable belief that the American government is plotting against them - and everyone else.
June 29, 2014 - From time to time, I check what the Anthrax Truthers are doing, because they occasionally find interesting documents which I haven't seen before. Last week, an Anthrax Truther mentioned a text book for intelligence analysts (it costs $56.47) titled "Cases in Intelligence Analysis; Structured Analytic Techniques in Action."
According to Amazon, this is the 2nd edition of the book, and it has not yet been released for sale. However, I was able to read the section about the anthrax attacks of 2001. It is on pages 21 - 41 of the book. To my surprise, that section doesn't mention Bruce Ivins - except as a scientist who analyzed some of the attack spores for the FBI. The section about the anthrax attacks is generally about the "case" against Steven Hatfill.
Checking the previous (2011) edition of the book, I found it doesn't mention the anthrax attacks at all. So, the section about the Amerithrax investigation was newly added.
Mulling this over, I think the fact that Ivins is only mentioned as an expert who provided the FBI with statistics might be an important part of the course. The student is supposed to figure things out based upon the information provided in the book.
Page 21 begins the section titled "The Anthrax Killer" and poses 3 "Key Questions":
1. Who was the main person of interest in the case, and why?
2. What is the evidence in the case?
3. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the government's case?
Next, the authors describe the opening of the Daschle letter in Senator Daschle's office. Then they go back through details about how the anthrax attacks unfolded with cases of cutaneous and inhalation anthrax showing up in Florida, New York, New Jersey, Washington D.C. and Connecticut. The book seems to deliberately scramble the sequence of events in order to make it a project for students to unscramble.
The book mentions the FBI's "Liguistic/Behavioral Analysis of the Anthrax Letters" released on November 1, 2001. It includes a section I probably haven't read since then:
Based on the selection of Anthrax as the “weapon” of choice by this individual, the offender:
That part of the "behavioral analysis" seems to be a total mismatch with Dr. Hatfill. But, looking back on Bruce Ivins' obsessions with his female co-workers and his obsession over being "wronged" by the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, the behavioral analysis now seems very much "on-target." (The "linguistic analysis" merely concludes that the letters and envelopes were all written by the same person.)
Annoyingly, the book glosses over all the efforts by conspiracy theorists to point the finger at Dr. Hatfill and, instead, makes it look like Hatfill became a suspect purely as a result of the investigation by the FBI. That is almost certainly untrue. There was no meaningful evidence in the investigation that pointed to Dr. Hatfill. It was only the finger-pointing by conspiracy theorists that made Dr. Hatfill a "person of interest."
To be fair, the book does mention Barbara Hatch Rosenberg and Don Foster in a long footnote on page 41, but the time-line is as jumbled on the Hatfill "investigation" as it was on the way the anthrax infection cases came to light. It's apparently the task of the student to unscramble the Hatfill sequence of events, too.
The book - specifically the section about the anthrax attacks of 2001 - is NOT about trying to determine who committed the anthrax murders, it's about general techniques for sifting through and analyzing evidence. The authors apparently used the so-called "evidence" against Dr. Hatfill as a way to illustrate how evidence can sometimes be misleading.
The section where the details of the anthrax investigation are described ends on page 34 with a quote from Dr. Hatfill:
"I especially object to having my character assassinated by reference to events in my past. ... I know nothing about this matter [the anthrax attacks]."
followed by a comment from the authors:
Investigators had reason to think differently. In their eyes, Hatfill's background, travel, scientific capabilities, and access most certainly made him a person of interest, if not yet a prime suspect in the case.
The above quotes are followed by a "RECOMMENDED READING" note which suggests the Amerithrax Investigative Summary to be something worth reading. The Amerithrax Investigative Summary first mentions Dr. Steven Hatfill in a section titled "The Elimination of Dr. Steven J. Hatfill as a Suspect" (on page 6) and then again (starting on page 19) in a section about "The Investigation Prior to the Scientific Conclusions in 2007." The Amerithrax Summary is about how the evidence gradually, eventually and undeniably led to Dr. Bruce Edwards Ivins as the anthrax killer.
But, I digress. On page 35 of "Cases in Intelligence Analysis," the authors write:
In this case, Steven Hatfill was identified as the FBI's main person of interest. In the following exercises, students put themselves in the shoes of FBI analysts who must unravel how events in the case unfolded, present the information to a senior policy maker in a succinct format, and analyze the evidence prior to a decision on identifying persons of interest.
And then the students are supposed to develop a chronology and a time-line of events along with a map of where things happened. (A "chronology" is a list of events in the order in which they happened. A "time-line" is a chart that looks at the same information like this (click on it for a larger view)):
As far as I am concerned, understanding the Hatfill chronology/time-line is absolutely critical to understanding how Dr. Hatfill became a "person of interest" in the case. And, if a student does a good job of developing a time-line, he or she is going to see that FBI analysts and investigators did NOT find Hatfill to be a "main person of interest" and advise their superiors of their findings. The opposite occurred. Outside pressures from conspiracy theorists caused "senior policy makers" to push DOWN on analysts and investigators to look harder at Dr. Hatfill and to make him a "person of interest."
Hopefully students taking this course in "Intelligence Analysis" will learn the right lessons from it: that intelligence analysts can get a lot of pressure to look at someone outsiders consider to be "most likely" the culprit, and the citizens may provide a lot of very weak circumstantial evidence to support their arguments. Yet, the analyst should be able to see that the evidence also shows the person could be totally innocent.
The fact that the authors recommend reading the Amerithrax Investigative Summary - and also mention it in numerous footnotes - suggest it's some kind of test to see which students actually discover that, while Dr. Hatfill may have been a "person of interest," he was NOT the person the FBI eventually determined to be the anthrax killer.
On page 37 the authors instruct students to use a technique called "The Premortem Analysis and Structured Self-critique." It says,
This process helps reduce the risk of analytic failure by identifying and analyzing the features of a potential failure before it occurs.
It seems the authors make the students look at Dr. Hatfill as a potential suspect while expecting them to dig a lot deeper into the case and do a more thorough analysis which will show that Dr. Hatfill was not the anthrax killer, in spite of what any "circumstantial evidence" might indicate. And their recommendation to the "senior policy maker" should be: Do NOT identify Dr. Hatfill as a "person of interest"!!!!
For me, perhaps the most interesting part of the book's section about the anthrax attacks is this chart of "Common Analytic Pitfalls" from page 37:
If it is not part of "Satisficing," the above list of "pitfalls" should probably include:
Moreover, the first four items on the book's list of "pitfalls" read like a description of how and why outsiders (conspiracy theorists, True Believers and many other people in the general public) got things so wrong about the Amerithrax case:
Analytic Mindset:Conspiracy theorists endlessly ignore new data inconsistent with their unshakable views.
Anchoring: Conspiracy theorists seem only able to see "information" which supports their own unshakable views.
Historical analogy: Conspiracy theorists endlessly point to past government conspiracies as proof that there must be a conspiracy behind this case, too.
Mirror imaging: People are endlessly arguing that they wouldn't have done things the way the facts say they were done, so Bruce Ivins wouldn't have done them that way, either. (Like using a child to write the anthrax documents.)
Looking at the Amerithrax Investigative Summary again also reminded me that it includes a list of unnamed potential suspects who one True Believer still believes were (or could have been) involved in the attacks instead of Dr. Ivins. From page 18:
* A foreign-born scientist with particular expertise working with a Bacillus anthracis simulant known as Bacillus subtilis, and against whom there were allegations that s/he had connections with several individuals affiliated with the al-Qaeda and Ansar al-Islam terrorist networks.
* A microbiology student who allegedly had associations with al-Qaeda’s anthrax program.
* A foreign-born scientist who published certain microbiology articles that were found at an al-Qaeda training facility in a foreign country.
* A foreign-born microbiologist in New Jersey who had allegedly made certain anti-American statements, and who lived and worked in close proximity to Princeton.
However, according to page 19 of the summary,
Each of these individuals was ultimately excluded as a suspect based on a number of factors, including alibi, insufficient ability, and lack of access to RMR-1029.
But, having an alibi or having no ability to make the spores or having no access to flask RMR-1029 means absolutely nothing to a True Believer who has an "Analytic mindset" which "Anchors" him to fantasies of finding "evidence" which will support his beliefs.
BTW, yesterday during lunch, I finished reading "Brilliant Blunders" by Mario Livio. It was a very interesting and enjoyable book. I must have highlighted hundreds of passages. The last passage in the book that I highlighted is on page 270 and might well describe how it will eventually be fully accepted that Dr. Bruce Ivins was the anthrax killer. It's a quote from physicist Max Planck:
"New scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it."
Most students reading "Cases in Intelligence Analysis" will probably be totally unaware that there are people who disagree with the FBI's conclusion that Ivins was the killer. Someday, everyone may have totally forgotten about the anthrax conspiracy theories. All people will remember is that the FBI determined that Dr. Bruce Edwards Ivins was the anthrax killer, but Ivins committed suicide before he could be brought to trial.
& Changes: Sunday, June 22, 2014, thru Saturday, June 28,
June 28, 2014 - According to Lew Weinstein and his blog, the General Accountablity Office's review of the Amerithrax investigation is now scheduled to be released in "the later part of the summer or early fall." I get the very strong feeling it will be released on the anniversary of the attacks, which would presumably be sometime between the anniversary of first mailing on September 18 and the anniversary of day the first victim died: October 5.
June 26, 2014 - The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has released a very interesting 64-page report summarizing their current understanding of where Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 most likely went down. Click HERE for the report. It's all very logical, and well explained. I wondered why they're not planning to search further in the area where the search ship Ocean Shield heard pings from the "black box," and the answer is simply: They searched that area and found nothing. I wondered how they determined the width of the new search area, and the answer is: It's assumed that one engine would run out of fuel before the other, so the plane would go into a slow turn and spiral down to the surface. So, they're going to look 30 nautical miles in front of the last satellite "handshake" location and 20 nautical miles behind that location. Plus, if both engines just happened to run out of fuel at the same time and the plane flew straight, it could have glided for another 100 nautical miles or more. That creates too large a search area. They'll assume the more likely scenario - that one engine ran out of fuel before the other - until the search shows the plane wreckage is not within the "smaller" area.
The priority area of approximately 60,000 km² extends along the arc for 650 km in a northeast direction from Broken Ridge. The width of the priority search area is 93 km. This area was the subject of the surface search from Day 21-26.
There are ships in the area currently mapping the ocean floor so that the underwater search devices won't be crashing into mountains when the start their search in August. Presumably, weather is also a factor. It's now winter in that area. The search will resume at near the end of winter.
The current evidence also seems to indicate that, while someone was almost certainly steering the plane when it turned around and flew across Malaysia into the Malacca Straits, the evidence also shows that the aircraft was "highly, highly likely" on autopilot when it flew south into the Indian Ocean.
An expert group has reviewed all the existing information and Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said it was now "highly, highly likely that the aircraft was on autopilot" when it went down.
"Otherwise it could not have followed the orderly path that has been identified through the satellite sightings," he told reporters.
Click HERE for the source of that quote.
I love a mystery. The MH370 mystery will keep me interested for a long time. Pilot suicide still seems to be the most likely scenario. The biggest remaining "mystery" in the anthrax case seems to be: When with the GAO release its review of the Amerithrax investigation? It's supposedly going to happen some time this summer.
June 25, 2014 - The Anthrax Truthers have come up with another good example of inductive reasoning:
1. Ivins didn't use a pen that could be traced back to him.
2. Ivins didn't use paper that could be traced back to him.
3. Therefore, Ivins must be innocent.
It's probably not the most ridiculous reasoning they've used, but it's close.
June 24, 2014 - Hmm. A new article in Forbes magazine has this title: "Higgs Boson Seems To Prove That The Universe Doesn't Exist." It says,
None of us should be here. In fact, the whole world, the stars and the galaxies shouldn’t be here either – according to a new cosmological study, our whole Universe should have blinked out of existence an instant after it was first created.
Research from British cosmologists at King’s College London (KCL) suggests that the Universe shouldn’t have lasted for more than a second after the Big Bang, according to the Standard Model that’s suggested by the Higgs boson seen in 2012 along with recent astronomical observations.
A similar article on the Mother Nature Network is titled "Universe shouldn't be here, according to Higgs physics." It says,
Physicists draw that conclusion from a model that accounts for the properties of the newly discovered Higgs boson particle, which is thought to explain how other particles get their mass; faint traces of gravitational waves formed at the universe's origin also inform the conclusion.
Of course, there must be something missing from these calculations.
"We are here talking about it," Hogan told LiveScience. "That means we have to extend our theories to explain why this didn't happen."
Interestingly, this is another bit of astrophysics that fits very well with the scientific concept behind my sci-fi novels. Without even knowing about this latest Higgs boson quandary, I provide an explanation for why the universe hasn't collapsed. It is the right explanation? The odds are against it. Do I believe it's the right explanation? No. Do I think it could be the right explanation? Sure. Why not?
June 22, 2014 - Last week, I looked through numerous news articles about the CDC lab error which exposed workers to anthrax. Of course, I was particularly interested in what they might also say about the anthrax attacks of 2001. As far as I could tell, none made any kind of overt suggestion that the 2001 anthrax attacks may have been committed by anyone other than Bruce Ivins. Here are some typical comments:
The FBI said Bruce Ivins, a civilian scientist at the U.S. Army's biohazard lab in Maryland, was the culprit. Ivins committed suicide before he could be arrested.
Anthrax created fear in 2001, when five people died and 17 others were sickened from letters containing anthrax spores sent through the mail. The FBI blames the attacks on a lone government scientist, Bruce Ivins, who committed suicide.
The handling of pathogens inside U.S. government laboratories has been a growing concern since 2008, when the FBI identified Dr. Bruce Ivins, a U.S. Army anthrax researcher, as the prime suspect in a series of anthrax letter attacks in 2001.
Conspiracy theorists might argue that none actually says Ivins did it. The articles only say that the FBI said so, the FBI blamed the attacks on Ivins, and the FBI indentified Ivins as the prime suspect. But no article says or implies that, contrary to what the FBI claims, there is "evidence" that shows someone else did it.
The conspiracy theorists' beliefs and claims might be fading out of the public's (and the media's) mind. I hope so. In a book I "borrowed" from the library last week and only browsed for a few minutes so far, I found an interesting and relevant quote. The book titled "Book of Science Stuff" contains this paragraph:
After Einstein fled Germany in 1932, 100 Nazi professors published a book condemning his theory of relativity. The book was creatively titled, One Hundred Authors against Einstein. When told of this book, Einstein said, "If I were wrong, one professor would have been enough."
If the FBI was wrong about who sent the anthrax letters, all it takes is one person to prove it. So far, no one has even remotely done so.
Related to that, in the book I'm currently reading ("Brilliant Blunders"), the story of Fred Hoyle is being told. He's the scientist who originally coined the term "Big Bang," as in the "Big Bang Theory" of the Creation of the Universe. Plus he figured out how heavy elements are created in supernovas, which resolved a lot of questions after it was determined that the "Big Bang" didn't seem capable of creating such elements.
However, in spite of all his brilliant scientific work, he may now be best known as one of the scientists who came up with the "Steady State Theory" of the Universe, where there was no "Big Bang" in which all matter and energy was created in one instant, there is just our universe which has always been here, and where new matter is created from nothing as the unverse expands. Most significantly, when more and more scientific evidence was found to show the Big Bang Theory fitted all the observed evidence, while the Steady State Theory did not fit the evidence, Hoyle kept dreaming up and arguing ways it could still be possible for the Steady State Theory to be the correct theory.
Here's a quote from page 211 of "Brilliant Blunders":
In spite of Hoyle's valiant efforts, beginning in the mid-1960s most scientists stopped paying attention to the steady state theory. Hoyle's continuing attempts to demonstrate that all the confrontations between the theory and emerging observations could be explained away looked increasingly contrived and implausible. Worse yet, he seemed to have lost that "fine judgment" that he had once advocated, which was supposed to distinguish him from "merely becoming a crackpot."
Hoyle evidently went to his grave (in 2001) still believing he was right and nearly every other scientist in the world was wrong. No mere evidence ever changed his mind. His "blunder" is somewhat unique in the book. While other top scientists mentioned in the book - Einstein, Pauling, Kelvin, Darwin, Hubble - made major blunders in their times, Hoyle was the only top scientist who never acknowledged he'd made a mistake and thus seemingly never really learned from his mistake.
The author of "Brilliant Blunders," Mario Livio, interviewed people who knew Hoyle to try to find out why Hoyle stuck with is Steady State Theory for so long, in spite of all the evidence which showed the universe had been created in a "Big Bang." The finding seems to be that no one ever proved to Hoyle that it was totally impossible for his Steady State Theory to be correct. So, he just chose to believe what he wanted to believe. It's conspiracy theorist stubbornness, but he wasn't a "conspiracy theorist." He either just felt he was the only scientist who had figured things out correctly - or he knew no way to admit he was wrong.
Incidentally, I also made an interesting discovery last week - although not quite as significant as the "Big Bang Theory." I had been deleting books from my Kindle after I finished reading them, since I didn't want to run out of room. Somehow, (probably through inductive reasoning) I assumed that you couldn't store very many books in a Kindle. Then, before downloading the six books I "borrowed" from the library last week, I wondered just how much room I actually had in the Kindle. It took awhile to realize that all I needed to do was to look at the Kindle "file" while it was connected to my computer and then right-click on "properties." It showed my Kindle was roughly 3% full. So, I've probably got room for over a thousand books in my Kindle.
Then I did a Google search for "How many books fit in a Kindle." I found a blog HERE which says:
the product description states: Up to 3,500 booksBut multiple other sources say about 1,500.
Unfortunately, that would mean I'd have to worry about losing or breaking my Kindle with a thousand books on it. The very idea scares me.
I don't know if anyone cares, but during the past week I managed to get started on a sequel to my sci-fi novel. Right now, it's just titled "Book 2." I'm in Chapter 6 on page 47 with 10,200 words done in the first draft. I've also stopped sending out query letters to literary agents regarding my first sci-fi novel. (No agent has so far asked to read it.) I think I'll be able to get more interest from agents if I have two or three novels finished in the series. I imagine it could very difficult for an agent to get a publisher interested in a first book in a series of books when the author is as old as I am. If I have two or three books already done, the situation might be very different.
I'm not totally certain that the current book will turn out to be of novel length, however. It might turn out to be a novella. According to Wikipedia:
The entire story takes place in a day, and about 90% of it takes place in about 6 hours. So, while that doesn't necessarily mean it will be too short to be a novel (particularly if my own standard says that I need at least 60,000 words to complete a novel), it's a definite possibility. If it turns out to be a novella, I plan to combine it with one or two additional novellas to make a full-size book.
I was also surprised last week to notice that about half the books on fiction best-seller lists are "series books." The Jack Reacher novels I've been reading are "series books." So are the "Richard Castle - Nikki Heat" novels and the Clive Cussler "Oregon" novels. Along with many, many others.
Because I was working on my new book last week, I didn't write more comments here about the differences between "deductive" and "inductive" reasoning even though I had the definite feeling I didn't explain it as well as I could have in last Sunday's comment.
I also didn't write about the bank robbery that occurred less than a block from where I live. Or the fact that the bank near where I lived as a kid was robbed twice last week. Or the nearby bank where I used to have some CDs that was also robbed last week. They caught the guys who did that last one -- and possibly the other bank jobs, too.
Oh yes, last week I also bought a DVD movie called "Covert One: the Hades Factor" for $2.97 at FYE. It's about a scientist working at USAMRIID who helps various other agencies stop a Muslim bioweapons attack upon the U.S. (SPOILER ALERT!) But a pharmaceutical company first kills a few thousand people with the same bioweapon in order to get a government contract for the vaccine. I suppose the DVD was worth $2.97, but definitely not a penny more.
One more thing: Last week, "DXer" sent me an email with the subject: "which brings us to your stupidity." The entire text consisted of one sentence:
You don't even ever address the documentary evidence -- and instead cite newspaper articles unrelated to the documentary evidence.I was thinking of writing something about how the irrelevant and meaningless documents he endlessly posts to Lew Weinstein's blog with questions instead of explanations are NOT the same as "documentary evidence," but I never got around to it.
The same with the latest news about Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370:
Sources close to the investigation confirmed to The Telegraph on Sunday that a deleted flight path had been recovered from Capt Zaharie's simulator which had been used to practice landing an aircraft on a small runway on an unnamed island in the far southern Indian Ocean.
The discovery leaves Capt Zaharie as the prime suspect in a crime which cannot yet be proven to have been committed – and Malaysian police have been careful in their public comments to stress that all leads are still being investigated and no conclusions have been reached.So, don't be puzzled if you start seeing fewer mid-week comments on this blog. I really want to focus on the new sci-fi book(s).
& Changes: Sunday, June 15, 2014, thru Saturday, June 21,
June 20, 2014 - The anthrax-related news story that was just breaking as I shut down my computer last night is all over the news this morning. The latest articles have the answer to a question I had: When the Reuters article I cited last night mentioned "live anthrax bacteria" and "live anthrax" over and over, were they actually talking about "live anthrax bacteria" and "live anthrax"? Or were they talking about inert spores?
This morning, the answer is clear. They were talking about both, just not distinguishing one from the other. I had assumed so, but now it's certain. In the counter-intuitive world of anthrax, inert spores are much more dangerous than "live anthrax bacteria."
According to The New York Times, the CDC was trying to use chemicals to kill anthrax spores:
The agency was testing a new way to kill anthrax [spores], which it discovered did not work as well as expected.
After the bacteria [i.e., spores] were chemically treated, samples were put on agar plates and incubated 24 hours. When no anthrax colonies [i.e. living bacteria] grew on them, the scientists assumed the bacteria [i.e., spores] were dead.
The supposedly dead bacteria [i.e., spores] were sent to C.D.C. laboratories that usually work with low-risk organisms, where workers are not normally vaccinated against anthrax and not expected to use advanced protective gear.
Six days later, when scientists started to dispose of the agar plates, they saw anthrax colonies [i.e., living bacteria] growing on them, proving that some of the bacteria [i.e., spores] had survived.
The bacteria were from the lethal Ames strain. [And, of course, so were the spores.]
There's something else that I failed to mention in last night's comment: Shouldn't all the conspiracy theorists who believe that the spores used in the anthrax attacks of 2001 were "weaponized" with silica be upset by this news story? After all, according to those conspiracy theorists, spores cannot simply dry themselves and aerosolize themselves.
Yet, according to the CDC's announcement:
The potentially infectious samples were moved and used for experimentation in three CDC Roybal campus laboratories not equipped to handle live B. anthracis. Workers, believing the samples were inactivated, were not wearing adequate personal protective equipment while handling the material.
Lab safety investigators also determined that, sometime between June 6 and June 13, procedures used in two of the three labs may have aerosolized the spores.
So, either the spores were not dangerous, or the CDC was "weaponizing" the spores. To become dangerous - according to conspiracy theorists - the spores first need to be "weaponized" with silica or bentonite using some secret and illegal U. S. government bioweapons lab. If spores can simply dry themselves and aerosolize themselves, then all the conspiracy theories about silica and illegal bioweapons are total nonsense. And so are all the claims that Dr. Bruce Ivins could not have made such dangerous spores.
June 19, 2014 (B) - Just as I was shutting down my computer for today, someone sent me an email with a link to a Reuter's article titled "Exclusive: U.S. says 75 government scientists possibly exposed to anthrax." The article says,
As many as 75 scientists working in U.S. federal government laboratories in Atlanta may have been exposed to live anthrax bacteria and are being offered treatment to prevent infection, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday.
The potential exposure occurred after researchers working in a high-level biosecurity laboratory at the agency's Atlanta campus failed to follow proper procedures to inactivate the bacteria. They then transferred the samples, which may have contained live bacteria, to lower-security CDC labs not equipped to handle live anthrax.Ah, how soon people forget! You need to be careful when working with anthrax.
June 19, 2014 (A) - Someone just sent me an article about a possible TV series based upon the book "Sex, Lies and Handwriting." Looking at Amazon.com's page for that book, I see a bunch of other books on "handwriting analysis." But they all seem to be mostly about discovering "inner personalities" from handwriting. I.e., graphology. None seem to be primarlily about showing patterns and differences between writing examples, telling a forgery from the real thing. I.e., forensics.
Would I even care what a graphologist or "handwriting profiler" says about Bruce Ivins' handwriting and what is shows about his personality? I don't think so. I've seen lots of total crap about the handwriting on the anthrax documents. Every "graphologist" saw what he or she wanted to see. If he believed that Islamic terrorists were behind the attacks, he saw signs of foreign schooling and pent-up hatred. If he believed that Right Wing terrorists were behind the attacks, he saw split-personalities and mental problems.
The only information I want from "handwriting experts" would be their opinions on:
1. What explains the change in the size of the handwriting between the media documents and the Senate documents?
2. What explains the difference in the way certain letters of the alphabet were drawn on the Tom Brokaw envelope versus the media letter?
3. What explains the lack of punctuation in the media letter versus the use of punctuation in the Senate letters?
4. What explains the lack of a return address on the media envelopes while the Senate envelopes had return addresses?
5. What explains the inconsistency in the way A's and T's were highlighted in the media letter?
Off hand, I don't recall any "handwriting expert" even noticing those key factors in the handwriting, much less providing a "expert" explanation for them.
Meanwhile, one Anthrax Truther needs an "expert" to tell him whether a sample of handwriting found in Kabul matches the handwriting on the anthrax documents. Apparently, until an "expert" gives his official opinion, the writings will be viewed as a "match" even though anyone with eyes should be able to tell that they do not match.
June 18, 2014 - Every morning, I do a Google news search for anthrax+2001 and this morning up popped a Newsweek article titled "Steven Hatfill's Strange Trip From Accused Terrorist to Medical Adventurer." The article is dated today, but when reading it, I get the distinct impression it was written in 2010. It mentions a lot of things Dr. Hatfill did and was doing in 2010, and nothing about what he's been doing since then.
As usual, the article doesn't mention the woman who was behind the campaign to point the finger at Dr. Hatfill as being the anthrax killer. It doesn't say anything about how the conspiracy theorists were pointing the finger at Dr. Hatfill for seven months before Attorney General John Ashcroft called Hatfill a "person of interest" and turned him into a house-hold name. But New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and "linquist" Don Foster are mentioned:
Nicholas Kristof spun out a series of columns in The New York Times that elliptically referred to Hatfill as “Mr. Z,” a cipher from the “shadowy world of counterterror and intelligence.” Don Foster, a “literary forensics” expert from Vassar, asserted in a 10,000-word Vanity Fair article that Hatfill was basically a “rascal” who palled around with bioterrorists.
A judge dismissed his [Hatfill's] case against Kristof and The New York Times, and an appeals panel upheld the ruling, saying Hatfill had “voluntarily thrust himself into the debate.” But in a $10 million libel suit implicating Foster and Vanity Fair he prevailed; publisher Condé Nast settled for a confidential sum, and the magazine printed a retraction (as did Reader’s Digest, which had adapted Foster’s essay).
The article also mentions some names I had long ago forgotten about: Harvard Medical School researcher Luigi Warren and South African radiation oncologist Dr. John Michie. I recall how John Michie frequently participated in one or more on-line email forums where I was a member, seemingly always pointing the finger at Dr. Hatfill. But, in my recollection, Luigi Warren mostly posted his theories to his own blog, "The Hatfill Deception," which no longer exists. He also called himself "The Great Satan" on a different blog. The way I remember it, some people seemed to think that Luigi Warren was the anthrax mailer.
The Newsweek article says,
Across a series of blogs and far-right message boards, someone going by the moniker of “the Real Luigi Warren” (a.k.a. “Luigi ‘Anthrax’ Warren”) had operated a lurid rumor mill about Hatfill for more than a decade—promoting, in particular, hearsay about the years he lived and worked in southern Africa during the throes of apartheid.
Hatfill sued Luigi Warren, but Warren turned the tables and showed Hatfill's lawyers that someone posing as "Luigi Warren" was doing all the posting.
In a quest to triangulate their way to the troll, whoever it was, Hatfill’s attorneys roped Google into the lawsuit. The company eventually cooperated, handing over the IP address behind the “Luigi Warren” blogs, hosted by Google’s blogspot. That numerical fingerprint — 22.214.171.124 — was traced to a computer in South Africa, at Stellenbosch University, where Hatfill had earned a master’s degree and completed a medical residency in the early ’90s. School officials reported that the machine in question belonged to a radiation oncologist named John Michie. The defendant agreed to a confidential settlement.
The Newsweek article is the first I've heard of that lawsuit. And, it's probably the first mention of John Michie or Luigi Warren I've seen in nearly a decade.
Doing some research, I found a link HERE which leads to a comment I made on this web site back on February 2, 2004. Here's the beginning of what I wrote ten years ago:
In a very enlightening demonstration of how the Internet has changed the way we get our news - and how we need to thoroughly examine and evaluate what news we get - a battle of opinions that apparently began in the relative privacy of the FreeRepublic.com discussion forum now appears at or near the top of the list when you look up "anthrax" on news.google.com.
Over the past many months, I've had various people tell me about this debate and how someone on the FreeRepublic.com forum who called himself "The Great Satan" was suspected of being the anthrax culprit. Evidently, in some message posted at some time in the past, "The Great Satan" wrote something that people interpreted as being a "confession". Since then, some True Believers seem to be able to talk about nothing else. Some have even been thrown off other forums because they wouldn't shut up about it and they are boring people to tears.
Ah, those were the good old days. No one knew anything, but everyone was certain about who sent the anthrax letters. Today we have solid evidence showing who sent the anthrax letters, but some people still have their own theories and continue to argue them. "DXer" was posting under a different name, but his arguments were virtually the same back then as they are today. And it wouldn't surprise me if there are some people who still think "The Great Satan" was the anthrax mailer. Certainly no mere facts will convince a True Believer to think otherwise.
June 15, 2014 (B) - The conspiracy theorist who calls himself "DXer" read the (A) comment I wrote this morning and just sent me an email with this subject, "You are very stupid and a liar." He didn't like the example of "inductive reasoning" I used which suggested that "one conspiracy theorist" concluded that because Muslim terrorists were behind the 9/11 attacks, they were also behind the anthrax attacks. "DXer" claims,
My reasoning is that Ayman Zawahiri's colleagues announced that he was going to use anthrax as a weapon,There is no such "documentary evidence," of course. Looking at his emails from late 2001 and early 2002, however, it now appears he was convinced by news reports from the very early days of the investigation, like the New York Post article from Oct. 24, 2001 titled "Osama bought a batch for 10G" which began:
Terror master Osama bin Laden bought samples of anthrax by mail from shady laboratories in Eastern Europe and Asia for as little as $10,000, a former follower has told authorities in Egypt.
The astonishing claim of how easily - and cheaply - the world's most wanted terrorist was able to acquire anthrax and other deadly germ agents was made in a 143-page confession of former extremist Ahmad Ibrahim al-Najjar at a recent trial of more than 100 members of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad.
Another news article dated the next day is titled, "Suspected hijacker may have transported anthrax." It begins with this:
German investigators are trying to determine if suspected hijacker Mohammed Atta received anthrax spores from Iraqi agents and then brought the germs to the United States, the mass-circulation Bild newspaper reported Thursday.
While very interesting, it's still just another example of false "inductive reasoning." However, since I appear to have been in error, and because I like this new reasoning a lot better, I have changed that section of this morning's (A) comment from this:
Muslim terrorists were behind the 9/11 attacks.
The anthrax attacks were terrorist attacks.
Therefore, Muslim terrorists were behind the anthrax attacks.
Muslim terrorists were behind the 9/11 attacks.
Muslim terrorists reportedly bought anthrax.
Therefore, Muslim terrorists were behind the anthrax attacks.
No "shady laboratories" in Eastern Europe and Asia had the Ames strain, and even if they had it, they wouldn't have a sample that matched the contents of flask RMR-1029. Nevertheless, using "inductive reasoning," the conspiracy theorist evidently reached an unshakable conclusion that Muslim terrorists were behind the anthrax attacks, and for the past 12 years he's been looking for evidence to support that belief, fantasizing over what he can find, while at the same time ignoring all the evidence that Muslim terrorists were NOT behind the attacks - including all the evidence that Bruce Ivins did it.
June 15, 2014 (A) - Last week was a very slow week. I must have made some good points with some of my comments on my interactive blog, since the conspiracy theorist who had been posting several messages a day suddenly stopped posting.
Meanwhile, I've once again concluded that reading just a few pages of a novel during breakfast and a few more pages during lunch is not an enjoyable way to read. To enjoy a novel, I need to be able to read for at least an hour at a time. So, I set aside "Heat Wave" by "Richard Castle" and went back to reading a hardcover non-fiction science book I bought last October: "Brilliant Blunders" by Mario Livio. On Friday, I saw it had some interesting comments about "inductive reasoning" on page 140. It says,
Everyone engages in inductive reasoning all the time, and usually it helps us make correct decisions based on relatively little data. Suppose I ask you, for instance, to complete this sentence: "Shakespeare was a uniquely talented _________." Most people would probably answer "playwright," and they would be perfectly justified in doing so. While there is nothing illogical with completing the sentence with "cook," or "card player," chances are that the word sought for was indeed "playwright." Inductive reasoning is what allows us to use our cumulative experience to solve problems through the choice of the most likely answer. Like experienced chess players, we do not typically analyze ever possible logical answer. Rather, we opt for what we think is the most probable one. This is an essential part of our cognition. Psychologist Daniel Kahnerman described the process this way: "We can't live in a state of perpetual doubt, so we make up the best story possible and we live as if the story were true." However, because inductive reasoning involves probabilistic guesswork, it also means that sometimes it gets things wrong, and occasionally, it can get things very wrong.
I've undoubtedly heard the term "inductive reasoning" many times before. But, I've never actually researched the term in order to fully understand it. So, it was time to do that and to understand the difference between "inductive" and "deductive" reasoning.
Here's how one web site that compares deductive and inductive reasoning explains how both deductive and inductive reasoning work:
Deduction: In the process of deduction, you begin with some statements, called 'premises', that are assumed to be true, you then determine what else would have to be true if the premises are true.
Example: All men are mortal. Joe is a man. Therefore Joe is mortal. If the first two statements are true, then the conclusion must be true.
Induction: In the process of induction, you begin with some data, and then determine what general conclusion(s) can logically be derived from those data. In other words, you determine what theory or theories could explain the data.
Example: This cat is black. That cat is black A third cat is black. Therefore all cats are black.
I consider myself to generally use "deductive reasoning" when discussing the evidence in the Amerithrax investigation. If all the premises are true, then the conclusion must be true. I understand that a specific premise might somehow be false, and I ask people to point out any such false premise so that I may correct it. But I also know the conclusion must be right if all the premises are true. Example:
A. There is overwhelming evidence pointing to Bruce Ivins' as the anthrax mailer.
B. There is no meaningful evidence showing Ivins to be innocent.
C. There is no meaningful evidence showing anyone else to be the anthrax killer.
Therefore, if A, B & C are true, Bruce Ivins was guilty of the anthrax mailings.
During my twelve years of arguments with conspiracy theorists, it has repeatedly been made abundantly clear that conspiracy theorists do not use deductive reasoning.
So, last week I started to wonder: Could they be using "inductive reasoning"?
A web site HERE provides these additional examples of "inductive reasoning":
Jill and Bob are friends. Jill likes to dance, cook and write. Bob likes to dance and cook. Therefore it can be assumed he also likes to write.
Jennifer leaves for school at 7:00 a.m. and is on time. Jennifer assumes, then, that she will always be on time if she leaves at 7:00 a.m.
All observed basketball players are tall, so all basketball players must be tall.
Suzy is a doctor. Doctors are smart. Suzy is assumed to be smart.
Jerry is a bartender. Bartenders are friendly. Jerry is assumed to be friendly.
The water at the beach has always been about 75 degrees in July. It is July. The water will be about 75 degrees.
All observed police officers are under 50 years old. John is a police officer. John is under 50 years old.
And here are some definitions of "inductive reasoning" with the sources of the quotes:
Inductive reasoning is the process where a small observation is used to infer a larger theory, without necessarily proving it. Source.
Inductive reasoning ... is reasoning in which the premises seek to supply strong evidence for (not absolute proof of) the truth of the conclusion. Source.
Unlike deductive arguments, inductive reasoning allows for the possibility that the conclusion is false, even if all of the premises are true. Source.
Inductive reasoning, or induction, is reasoning from a specific case or cases and deriving a general rule. It draws inferences from observations in order to make generalizations. Source.
"Induction is a major kind of reasoning process in which a conclusion is drawn from particular cases. It is usually contrasted with deduction, the reasoning process in which the conclusion logically follows from the premises, and in which the conclusion has to be true if the premises are true. In inductive reasoning, on the contrary, there is no logical movement from premises to conclusion. The premises constitute good reasons for accepting the conclusion. The premises in inductive reasoning are usually based on facts or observations. There is always a possibility, though, that the premises may be true while the conclusion is false, since there is not necessarily a logical relationship between premises and conclusion." Source.
Based upon my deductive reasoning, it appears that conspiracy theorists do use inductive reasoning, BUT they falsely assume that their inductive reasoning is unquestionably correct. They do not allow for any possibility that their conclusions may be based upon false reasoning or a false premise.
One conspiracy theorist's inductive reasoning:
Muslim terrorists were behind the 9/11 attacks.
Muslim terrorists reportedly bought anthrax.
Therefore, Muslim terrorists were behind the anthrax attacks.
Another conspiracy theorist's inductive reasoning:
The anthrax letters were intended to frighten people.
Hoax letters are intended to frighten people.
Therefore, the person who sent the anthrax letters also sends hoax letters.
A living person sent the anthrax letters to frighten people 13 years ago.
A living person sent hoax anthrax letters to frighten people last week.
Therefore, since Bruce Ivins is dead, he could not have sent the anthrax letters.
While in these cases the premises are true, there is no truly logical relationship between the premises and the conclusions that are drawn. But, conspiracy theorists seem to think that there is a logical relationship and that their conclusions are undeniable.
On my interactive blog, a conspiracy theorist recently argued:
You label what you and the Task Force have as "hypotheses" and/or "theories"; you label what your Internet interlocutors have as "beliefs" (this the fruit of your polemical typology, nothing else) but if you look deeply (ie semantically) they are really the same thing. Ed Lake and Ed Montooth have the belief that Bruce Ivins committed Amerithrax. Many intelligent people (Paul Keim, Claire Fraser-Liggett, Rush Holt, Senator Leahy etc.) either think that questionable, or think it untrue.
Interestingly, NONE of the people he names has stated that the FBI's conclusion that Ivins was the anthrax mailer is "untrue" or "false" or "wrong." They have only expressed doubts of one kind or another. But, there are "intelligent people" who have more or less stated that the FBI is wrong in naming Bruce Ivins as the anthrax killer. Examples: Henry Heine, Kenneth Hedlund, Paul Kemp. The inductive reasoning of such "intelligent people" is generally as follows:
The attack spores are believed to have been weaponized with silica.
Bruce Ivins didn't know how to weaponize spores with silica.
Therefore, Bruce Ivins was innocent.
I notice when people do strange things at USAMRIID.
I knew Bruce Ivins very well at USAMRIID.
Therefore, Ivins could not have done anything without me noticing.
People are considered innocent until proved guilty in court.
Ivins was never proved guilty in court.
Therefore, Ivins was innocent.
Of course, the attack spores were not weaponized with silica, Ivins was working alone when he made the attack powders, and guilty people sometimes get away with their crimes. Their premises are false, therefore their conclusions are almost certainly false. Plus, their conclusions are not logical progressions from their premises.
I've frequently said that Anthrax Truthers seem to begin with a belief and then ignore all facts which do not support that belief. Now I think that is not quite true. It now seems more likely they start with an inductive reasoning conclusion which they believe to be correct. Then they ignore all facts which do not support that inductive reasoning conclusion. Live and learn.
Like everyone else, I also use inductive reasoning from time to time. I may have used it when I started reading books on my Kindle and when I started "borrowing" ebooks from the library. My reasoning went something like this:
I enjoy reading fiction ebooks on my Kindle.
I enjoy reading non-fiction books in paper form, so I can highlight passages.
I cannot highlight passages on paper books borrowed from the library.
Therefore, borrowing non-fiction ebooks from the library would not be enjoyable.
Last week, as I was enjoying reading and highlighting passages in the hardcover copy of "Brilliant Blunders" I had purchased, I started to think about what I should read next during breakfast and lunch. As previously stated, I do not enjoy reading fiction in 10 or 12 page increments in the brief time I spend eating breakfast and lunch. So, I started looking at some hardback and paperback non-fiction books in my personal library. I also started thinking about returning to reading one of the free non-fiction ebooks I got from the Internet and put in my Kindle, perhaps finishing "Across China on Foot" or maybe starting "How I Found Livingstone" by Henry M. Stanley.
Then I suddenly realized I'd be reading the ebook "How I Found Livingstone" because it was free, but I might be able to read a much more enjoyable non-fiction ebook borrowed for free from my local library.
I checked with my local library and found a number of non-fiction books I probably want to read a lot more than "How I Found Livingstone." (And, of course, I can "highlight" passages in them in my Kindle, even if the process is a bit more complicated and time-consuming than simply wiping a yellow Sharpie over the text.)
So, even though it will probably be a month or so before I finish reading "Brilliant Blunders," I now have the following non-fiction ebooks in my Kindle:
"Bioterror & Biowarfare" by Malcom Dando.
"Global Terrorism" by Leonard Weinberg.
"Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden" by Peter L. Bergen.
"The Secrets of the FBI" by Ronald Kessler.
"Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA" by Tim Weiner.
"Uncle John's Bathroom Reader Plunges into Hollywood"
I'll probably try reading the last one first.
Added Note: Just out of curiosity, I did a scan for the word "anthrax" in the 2012 book "Bioterror & Biowarfare" I now have in my Kindle. It came up with only one mention related to the anthrax attacks of 2001. It's on page 93:
In late 2001, just after the attacks by hijacked aircraft in the United States, several anthrax-impregnated letters were sent to addresses around the country and the person or persons responsible have still not been brought to account. Some of the anthrax had been specially treated in order to make it very dangerous to humans if inhaled into the lungs.
Hmm. If that's all it says about the anthrax attacks of 2001, I think I've finished it and can return it to the library. (However, it will still be in my Kindle, in case I change my mind about reading more of it.)
& Changes: Sunday, June 8, 2014, thru Saturday, June 14,
June 12, 2014 - I'm in the middle of an interesting discussion with a conspiracy theorist on my interactive blog. The conspiracy theorist has been arguing that he has a list of "15 facts" which show that a specific person could be the anthrax killer, and, even though he doesn't believe in any way that person was the anthrax mailer, he couldn't see any reason why those "facts" weren't just a good as the facts against Bruce Ivins.
The answer is simple. His list did NOT include the STRONG FACTS which said that that person was innocent. It consisted only of "WEAK FACTS" suggesting guilt.
Example of a "weak" fact: It is a FACT that I was alive at the time of the mailings. So, it can be argued that it is "possible" that I was the anthrax mailer.
Example of a "strong" fact: It is a FACT that I have alibis for the times of the mailings. So, there is no reason to believe or argue that I was the anthrax mailer - even if it is "possible" that my alibis could have been faked somehow.
There are no "strong facts" which show that Bruce Ivins was innocent. The conspiracy theorists only have opinionated people who do not believe the evidence. The FACT that someone "important" or "knowledgeable" does not BELIEVE the evidence is a "weak fact." And, it would NOT be a fact that could be presented in court at Ivins' trial.
I expect that the conspiracy theorist will now start to argue that legal dictionaries to not have definitions of "weak evidence" and "strong evidence," therefore there can be no such difference to a judge or jury.
June 11, 2014 - Ah! Something interesting to write about! This morning I received an email containing a news release from theDepartment of Justice announcing "Cicero Man Charged with Mailing Fake Anthrax/Ricin Letters." The news release says,
SYRACUSE, NEW YORK - This morning, agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Syracuse Office, and the United States Postal Inspection Service, arrested BRIAN DANIEL NORTON, age 59, of Cicero, New York, on federal felony charges of mailing threatening communications and transmitting false information and hoaxes in violation of 18 U.S.C. §876(c) and 1038(a), respectively, according to United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian.
The charges relate to conduct by Norton in mailing 21 threatening letters containing white powder, alleged to be either anthrax or ricin to various addresses in the Syracuse, New York area and elsewhere beginning in about 1997 and continuing through 2012. Those receiving the letters included LeMoyne College and Bishop Ludden High School in Syracuse, as well as U.S. Senator John McCain, then - Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and former Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle. Later analysis of the powder contained in the letters proved that it was harmless.
Interestingly, I also noticed that "DXer' on Lew Weinstein's blog posted 8 messages last night and this morning related to the "Syracuse hoaxes." They're in a thread titled:
Here is a selection of stories about hoax attacks for just the last month or so. Would these be happening if the FBI had solved the 2001 case?
The answer to "DXer's" question would appear to be a resounding NO! The Syracuse hoax letters have absolutely nothing to do with the anthrax letters of 2001.
A news story on Syracuse.com this morning titled "How the FBI used garbage to solve a 15-year mystery of fake anthrax letters" shows some of the Syracuse letters.
The article says,
Authorities zeroed in on Norton after his fingerprints were lifted from two of the threatening letters. His prints were likely in the system from a 1976 Syracuse arrest for harassment. According to papers filed in U.S. District Court, that appears to be Norton's only criminal history.
Syracuse.com also has another article using the same image, dated yesterday, with the title "Who was terrorizing schools with fake anthrax-filled letters?"
Those images caused me to recall writing about them before. Checking, I found I did so at the end of my January 5, 2014 comment. At that time, "DXer" had written a post to Lew Weinstein's blog where he accused me of telling the FBI that he (DXer) had written the Syracuse hoax letters. At the time, I couldn't even recall ever hearing about the Syracuse hoax letters before.
Today, checking further because of the familiar images, I found I wrote several posts about the Syracuse letters in September 2012, when there were indications that an arrest was imminent. On Sept. 15, 2012, I even put together a compiliation of "all seeing eyes" images that were similar to those in the Syracuse letters.
But, I suppose what I found most interesting this morning is that this is another hoax letter case that has been solved, and absolutely NO connection to the anthrax letters of 2001 has been found. For a long time, I've been arguing with a conspiracy theorist on my interactive blog who seems to want to tie all sorts of anthrax hoax letters to his suspect in the Amerithrax case. And he sometimes seems to use Don Foster as his idol, even though Foster tried to falsely argue that Steven Hatfill sent a series of hoax letters AND the anthrax letters. So, now we have a solution to the Syracuse case, and it is clear it also has nothing to do with the anthrax letters case of 2001.
June 10, 2014 - I'm not sure what to say about the "conspiracy theorists" who killed three people in Las Vegas yesterday before killing themselves. Here are some quotes I found by doing a Google news search for Las+Vegas+conspiracy+theorist+shooting:
From The Washington Times:
The two shooters in the Las Vegas rampage that claimed the lives of two cops and a civilian in a Walmart have been identified as Jerad and Amanda Miller, a husband-wife team reported to be white supremacists obsessed with conspiracy theories.
Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is alleging that a shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada that left two police officers and another victim dead was "absolutely staged" by the federal government.
Emerging facts about the couple responsible for the Las Vegas shooting spree not only confirm the reality of domestic terrorism, but the fact that there is a large network of money and media enablers behind it.
Despite the Alex Jones’ propaganda machine’s wild claims that this is another false flag, facts show that right wing nut jobs who listen to Jones (along with Fox, Limbaugh and the standard right wing propaganda sources) were responsible for the Las Vegas shooting spree that left two police officers and an innocent bystander dead.
So, it seems we have a choice of conspiracy theories. Of course, each starts with a belief and then twists facts to make them fit that belief. Same-old, same-old.
Personally, what interests me most is that the two killers seem to be straight out of my sci-fi novel. Here's how rawstory.com describes them:
Las Vegas ‘revolution’ shooters ID’d as right-wing conspiracy nuts with a deathwish
But the Daily Beast uses a word I never heard of before:
The obsessively anti-government Hatriot movement moved from cultivating conspiracy theories to real killing on Sunday in Las Vegas.
I did a lookup for "Hatriot" and found it was the name of a hard metal music group, plus I found this definition on the Urban Dictionary:
Someone who claims to love America but hates the majority of the people who actually live there. Hatriots often romanticize small towns and rural areas, which they view as the "Real America", and they mistrust large cities, which are full of liberal elites, colored people, and the undeserving poor.
Sarah Palin was a hatriot when she said "We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working very patriotic, um, very, um, pro-America areas of this great nation."
So, it's a combination of the words "Hate" and "Patriot." A patriot driven by hate is a Hatriot. Live and learn.
Most of the conspiracy theorists I deal with aren't "Right Wing." If anything, they're mostly "Left Wing." But it's still just different varieties of paranoia.
June 8, 2014 - There were some very interesting elements in the arguments I had with a conspiracy theorist on my interactive blog last week. In a post on Wednesday, I told the conspiracy theorist:
If you feel an uncontrollable urge to do your own investigation, YOU NEED TO FIND YOUR OWN PROOF. You cannot expect the FBI to find it for you and turn it over to you.
And then you need to convince people that YOUR proof is BETTER than the FBI's PROOF. As far as I can tell, you haven't even convinced anyone that your "evidence" IS actually evidence. It appears to be a collection of meaningless statements based upon pure happenstance. It CERTAINLY isn't better evidence than the FBI's evidence against Bruce Ivins.
In a later post on Wednesday, I made that same point again:
To argue your point against the FBI's findings, you MUST provide BETTER EVIDENCE than the FBI has shown against Ivins.
The conspiracy theorist responded:
I'm not in competition with the FBI, who are no longer involved in the Amerithrax Case. I'm in competition with.... no one.
And my answer to that was:
You are arguing that the FBI was wrong and that you are right about who sent the anthrax letters. That means you are in competition with the FBI to prove who is right and who is wrong.
Why are you arguing your conspiracy theory here if it isn't to convince people that you have a better case against your criminal mastermind than the FBI had against Bruce Ivins?
And the conspiracy theorist responded with this:
That the FBI was wrong about Amerithrax isn't because I'm right, it's because they didn't properly utilize the co-best* evidence (the texts). They did have an opportunity to do so: (see, once again Foster's article on his time as a consultant: http://www.ph.ucla.edu/epi/bioter/messageanthrax.html
That response left me almost speechless. He was saying, in effect: The FBI isn't wrong because I'm right. They're wrong because they didn't do things the way I did them. They did their investigation the wrong way. I did things the right way.
And, what the conspiracy theorist had done was rely on an "expert" in "linguistics," Don Foster, who has been shown to be error-prone and full of baloney. Steven Hatfill sued Don Foster and Vanity Fair magazine over the article that the conspiracy theorist seems to feel the FBI should have relied upon. While the settlement amount hasn't been disclosed, it appears the Vanity Fair paid Hatfill many millions of dollars. (See my February 28, 2007 (B) comment.) Anyone could see that Foster's analysis was a crock. (When I first commented on it on September 7, 2003, I pointed out that someone else had been arrested for sending the Louisiana hoax letters Prof. Foster suggested were sent by Dr. Hatfill. My Jan. 10, 2004 comment is about that man's conviction. )
According to The Trentonian, here's how Hatfill's lawyer, Tom Connolly, responded to Professor Foster's theories:
It's this notion of Foster as a super-sleuth that makes Connolly laugh, especially after reading the Vanity Fair piece.
"It's impossible for me to comment," Connolly told The Trentonian. "The article is ripe with so many errors. The real story is what a fraud (Foster) actually is."and
"You've got a guy who claims he's got this incredible skill, textual analysis, but when you read the article you think, where is the evidence that Steven (Hatfill) authored these letters. There's nothing there."
So, what should I do when a conspiracy theorist suggests that the FBI should have totally relied upon "linguist" Don Foster instead of looking at the actual evidence in the case? I mean, other than laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh.
Inexplicably, the conspiracy theorist doesn't even believe that Don Foster identified the correct suspect when Foster pointed to Hatfill. The conspiracy theorist has his own suspect - a totally different person with no connection to Hatfill. Yet, he somehow feels that Foster's "linguistic" techniques are like holy writ. How can Foster's techniques be exemplary if Foster's conclusions were total nonsense? Prof. Foster was totally wrong in some of his "linguistics" findings - most famously, in his bogus claim that William Shakespeare wrote "A Funeral Elegy."
Maybe the conspiracy theorist needs to read Don Foster's most famous quote:
Recently, Gilles D. Monsarrat, a French professor of languages, stated that the true author of the poem “A Funeral Elegy” is John Ford. In 1995, Vassar Professor of English Donald Foster had named William Shakespeare as the poet — a discovery that became widely supported in scholarly circles. In a message posted on the Internet discussion group Shaksper, Foster wrote, “I know good evidence when I see it, and I predict that Monsarrat will carry the day. No one who cannot rejoice in the discovery of his own mistakes deserves to be called a scholar.”
Unlike Don Foster, the conspiracy theorist clearly does NOT know good evidence when he sees it. If he did, he'd be able to see how his "evidence" in the anthrax investigation is silly nonsense when compared to the FBI/DOJ's evidence against Bruce Ivins.
And, if all this is not bizarre enough, when the conspiracy theorist argues in favor of his own theory about who did it, he doesn't really argue "linguistics." He mostly argues handwriting analysis. Donald Wayne Foster is no handwriting expert.
In September and October, 2013, I put two lengthy descriptions of the conspiracy theorist's handwriting analysis findings on my interactive blog. They're at the start of the threads titled "Illogical Logic" and "Illogical Logic - Part 2." They are wild stretches of the imagination and would never hold up as valid evidence in any court.
And what is the other conspiracy theorist known as "DXer" doing these days? There's no way "Dxer" can show he has better evidence against Muslim terrorists than the FBI had against Bruce Ivins, so "DXer" is asking the General Accountability Office (GAO) to do his investigating for him. Here's what he posted yesterday morning to Lew Weinstein's blog:
GAO should addresses the Ames that Dr. Ivins said had gone missing from building 1412 and the autoclaving of samples there.
GAO should address the issue of the weaponized anthrax that someone says had been shipped to Ft. Detrick and then went missing — in particular, the date that it occurred.
GAO should address the view of experts that Al Qaeda had a viable means of rendering anthrax into a weapon.
GAO should address why the FBI was asking everyone whether they had seen olive oil in one of the aerosol rooms.
GAO should obtain and disclose the Enclosure from USAMRIID’s response to the subpoena about the dried aerosol work at USAMRIID.
GAO should disclose the pathogens or toxins that Egyptian Abu Khabab used in killing rabbits and other animals during the month before 9/11 at a camp outside Kabul.
So, the conspiracy theorist on my blog doesn't seem to know the difference between evidence and nonsense, and he wants the FBI to use his techniques to re-investigate the anthrax attacks. Meanwhile, "DXer" on Weinstein's blog doesn't seem to have any real evidence at all to support his conspiracy theories. He wants the FBI and the GAO to find the evidence that will confirm his beliefs.
As I see it, if any conspiracy theorist wants to convince the public that his suspect is a better suspect than Bruce Ivins, then he must start by showing that his evidence is better evidence than what the FBI/DOJ has. If a conspiracy theorist doesn't already have better evidence than the FBI/DOJ has, then why is he even arguing?
Answer: He's just mindlessly arguing his beliefs against the facts.
& Changes: Sunday, June 1, 2014, thru Saturday, June 7,
June 6, 2014 - For the record, and totally off topic: I've just finished reading "The Killing Floor," the first Lee Child novel featuring "Jack Reacher." Like the previous Jack Reacher novel I read, "Running Blind," which I finished on May 30, there are many totally unbelievable elements in the book. Some of it is downright absurd. But, when you read a Jack Reacher novel, you're not really interested in the plot. You're interested in reading how Jack Reacher figures things out, and bashes heads along the way. It's like watching a TV crime show. Who cares who killed the dead man? It's a work of fiction, not real life. All we are really interested in is watching how Patrick Jane and Teresa Lisbon, or Richard Castle and Kate Beckett, or Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson, or how Walt Longmire all by himself, or Detective Columbo all by himself, or Jim Rockford all by himself, or Thomas Magnum all by himself, or Peter Gunn all by himself, go about figuring things out while also dealing with all their various personal problems. We're interested in the characters, not the plot.
That point was hammered home in my brain for about the 20th time when I read the essay by Lee Child at the front of "The Killing Floor." Check my June 3 comment.
So, I'm going to try to get back to work on a sequel to my first sci-fi novel. The sequel may be a series of short stories, instead of a novel. Like an idiot, for the past couple months I'd been looking for the "perfect" plot for the sequel. I've got over a half dozen rejected ideas. Those rejected ideas might turn into a series of short stories where I focus on character and just use the plot as a way to write about the characters. If I find a plot that requires a novel instead of a short story, hopefully it will become the third book.
That's the plan, anyway. I considered reading "Heat Wave," which I have in my Kindle, but the first few pages didn't grab me, although I may try reading it during breakfast and lunch. Before reading "The Killing Floor," I read a few chapters from Clive Cussler's "Mirage," which is the 9th book in "The Oregon Files" Series. But, the first book in "The Oregon Files" series, "Golden Buddha" really continues where the Cussler's book "Flood Tide" finished. "Flood Tide" is the 14th book in the "Derek Pitt" series. So, if I want to go back to read the first book in that series, I'd have 23 books to read to get to "Mirage." I don't think I want to do that. I need to get back to writing.
That's the plan, anyway.
June 5, 2014 - For the past few days I've been in another long, silly argument with one of the regular conspiracy theorists who posts to my interactive blog. The argument has been appropriately taking place in the thread titled "Conspiracy Theorist Psychology." The theorist posted six messages on June 2, three on June 3, nineteen yesterday on June 4, and a half dozen so far today. His basic argument seems to be that if "experts" are not totally certain that Ivins was the anthrax killer, then that somehow validates his screwball conspiracy theory that a criminal mastermind (who he will not name) was not only behind the anthrax mailings, but also behind a whole bunch of hoax letter cases.
It's a classic example of conspiracy theory psychology. He's, in effect, saying what all conspiracy theorists seem to say at one time or another: "I don't need to prove my theory. I just need to show that there are important people who do not totally accept the FBI's theory. And that means everyone would believe my theory if they listened to it."
The conspiracy theorist won't explain his theory, except to say and show that it is based upon "linguistics." He indicates that someday he's going to write a book explaining his theory, and telling people all the details now would hurt the sales of his future book.
He cites a favorite "expert" of the conspiracy theorists. Here is how The New York Times reported on some well-known statements by Senator Patrick Leahy,
At a hearing of his committee, Mr. Leahy told the F.B.I. director, Robert S. Mueller III, that even if the bureau was right about the involvement of the scientist, Bruce E. Ivins, who killed himself in July before ever being charged, he thought there were accomplices.
“If he is the one who sent the letter, I do not believe in any way, shape or manner that he is the only person involved in this attack on Congress and the American people,” said Mr. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont.
“I believe there
are others involved, either as accessories before or accessories after
the fact,” he added. “I believe
there are others who can be charged
The conspiracy theorist also tried to argue that circumstantial evidence cannot be used in court. The fact that it is used in court every day to convict criminals doesn't seem to matter to him.
What I need to do, and I keep telling myself I should do, is create a blog thread where all the nonsnese arguments by conspiracy theorists are summarize one by one, followed by my responses, one by one. Then, when they start some old, silly argument over again, I can just copy and paste the response from the blog. And I can spend the rest of my time being more productive, but either reading a book or writing one.
June 3, 2014 - There was an email in my inbox this morning telling me that "Richard Castle's" first Nikki Heat novel, "Heat Wave" was available for me to download to my Kindle from my local library's web site (actually from Amazon.com). Yesterday morning, I had a similar email telling me that Lee Child's first Jack Reacher novel, "The Killing Floor" was available. So, I now have both in my Kindle. I had been reading "Mirage" by Clive Cussler when I received the notification about "The Killing Floor." I browsed through the first pages of "The Killing Floor" and found that the first 4% of the book is an essay by Lee Child explaining how he got started on writing the Jack Reacher series.
I found this very interesting, since I'm trying to get started on writing a second book in a sci-fi series. The essay by Child may have shown me where I was having a problem. Child explains that he wanted to attract an audience for his books, and he was part of that audience, since he wanted to write books that he would also enjoy. Specifically, he wanted to write a series of novels along the lines of the Travis McGee novels written by John D. MacDonald. He wanted his main character to be the toughest guy in the room.
First:Character is king. There are probably fewer than six books every century remembered specifically for their plots. People remember characters. Same with television. Who remembers the Lone Ranger? Everybody. Who remembers any actual Lone Ranger story lines? Nobody.
So, my main character had to carry the whole weight ... and there was a lot of weight to carry.
Second conclusion: If you can see a bandwagon, it's too late to get on. ... It's a crowded field. Why do what everyone else is doing?
So, I was going to have to do something a little different.
My sci-fi novel is told in first person, so character is (hopefully) somewhat built-in. The whole book is about what the character sees and does. He explains how he feels about everything and why he does what he does. Child's first Jack Reacher novel "The Killing Floor" is also told in first person. The first sentence is:
I was arrested at Eno's diner.
The second book in the Jack Reacher series is called "Die Trying," and the story is told in third person. The first sentence is:
Nathan Ruben died because he got brave.
The first mention of Jack Reacher is in the next section:
Jack Reacher stayed alive, because he got cautious.
I'm going to have to focus on character and try to turn my lead character into someone people want to read about. I think I may have had a problem getting started because I was trying to write the second book in first person, too. If I write it in third person, I'll have to show the character to be someone worth reading about. He won't be telling the story. The story will be about him. In the first book, he was more or less dragged into the events, and during the course of the book he becomes proactive. He can't be dragged into whatever happens in the second and third books. That just wouldn't be believable. He has to become proactive and initiate some of the action. And, for that to happen, I have to create a character who has more of a proactive personality.
I've sent out 20 query email letters to agents regarding my sci-fi novel. So far, I've received 5 rejection email letters. No one has yet asked to read the book. Having a second book in the series would help greatly. Having a third would help exponentially.
But, first I'm going to finish reading "The Killing Floor," then maybe "Heat Wave." And possibly "Mirage." All the while, I'll be thinking about that second book and how to make my main character someone who people will pay good money to read about.
June 2, 2014 - Jesse Walker, the author of "The United States of Paranoia," sent me an email this morning pointing out that, while he doesn't mention the anthrax conspiracy theories in the body of his book, he does mention one such a theory in one of the end-notes. Upon reading his email, I remembered underlining one use of the word "anthrax" somewhere within the book, but I didn't check what it said when I wrote Sunday's comment. It's on page 301, and it reads as follows:
"There's a tendency for people to say, 'First the World Trade Center, then the Pentagon, now something near me,'" the sociologist Joel Best remarked after the [9/11] attacks. [Note 4] Sure enough, after September 11 and the smaller anthrax attacks that followed, the country was dotted with terrorism scares. [Note 5]
Mr. Walker pointed me to Note 5 for Chapter 12. It's on page page 410 and says,
The anthrax attacks, in which envelopes containing anthrax spores were mailed to various politicians and media outlets, were almost certainly perpretrated by someone who didn't have anything to do with 9/11. At the time, though, they were widely assumed to have been the brainchild of the same conspiracy. The White House repeatedly pushed the FBI to prove that Al Qaeda was responsible for the anthrax mailings, but the Bureau didn't buy the theory. See James Gordon Meek, "FBI Was Told to Blame Anthrax Scare on Al Qaeda by White House Officials," Daily News (New York), August 2, 2008.
So, Mr. Walker mentions the anthrax attacks in the context of the real conspiracy by Al Qaeda to attack the United States. Many people (including "DXer" and many in the White House) had a "theory" (or just assumed) that the anthrax attacks were part of the same al Qaeda conspiracy to attack America that brought about 9/11. But, the facts simply didn't support that theory. So, we have a real conspiracy by members of al Qaeda to perpetrate 9/11, along with a conspiracy theory that the anthrax attacks were also perpetrated by al Qaeda, a theory that has been thoroughly debunked.
As I said in my Sunday comment: I just hadn't been looking at things that way.
June 1, 2014 (B) - Someone just pointed me to a blog for "cruising people" where a blogger called "SaucySailoress" posted a description of what she saw on the night Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared. She was standing night watch alone on a sailboat going from Cochin, India, to Phuket, Thailand. She doesn't know if it was really MH370, but she tells a very interesting story. Check it out by clicking on the link.
June 1, 2014 (A) - During breakfast this morning, I finished reading "The United States of Paranoia" by Jesse Walker. I'd been reading it during breakfast and lunch off and on since I bought it last October. Here's what the Amazon.com ad for the book says:
Jesse Walker’s The United
States of Paranoia presents a comprehensive history of conspiracy
theories in American culture and politics, from the colonial era to the
War on Terror.
The fear of intrigue and subversion doesn’t exist only on the fringes of society, but has always been part of our national identity. When such tales takes hold, Walker argues, they reflect the anxieties and experiences of the people who believe them, even if they say nothing true about the objects of the theories themselves.
However, the "anxieties and experiences of the people" are unique to the individual, so each person has his own variation on any specific conspiracy theory, plus they'll buy into one theory about one subject (e.g. 9/11 or the JFK assassination) while totally dismissing conspiracy theories about some other subject (e.g. the anthrax attacks or MH370).
Walker tends to view conspiracy theories as falling into 4 categories: (1) The Enemy Above (the government is out to control you), (2) The Enemy Below (the lower classes are out to control you), (3) The Enemy Outside (foreigners are out to kill or control you), and (4) The Enemy Inside (your neighbor could be part of a conspiracy to control you). Walker makes a very good case for conspiracy theorists being wide-spread in society and active since colonial times.
If you have one conspiracy theory about the government based upon paranoia, I would suppose that it's very easy to have a second and third. It seems a near certainty that the people who believe the U.S. government was somehow behind the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 have had other conspiracy theories which also involved criminal acts by the U.S. government. It takes a very big stretch of the imagination to even see a way the U.S. government could be involved with the disappearance of a Malaysian aircraft filled mostly with Chinese people flying from Malaysia to China. The incident has no apparent connection to the United States at all. But, if you can dream up some sinster and criminal plot involving the U.S. government, that probably means it's NOT the first time you've dreamed up such a plot.
One thing Walker's book made clear to me is that people who believe that al Qaeda or other Muslim terrorists were behind the anthrax attacks are also conspiracy theorists. They believe al Qaeda is conspiring to kill or control them. And, they are right. I hadn't been viewing them that way. They spend all their time arguing about how the U.S. government is wrong, so I was looking for some way they could see a conspiracy in the fact that the U.S. government found Bruce Ivins was the anthrax killer, not al Qaeda. But, that's not where the conspiracy is. The conspiracy is "the Enemy Outside" working to kill or control Americans. The conspiracy theorists just feel everyone in U.S. government is too stupid to see it. And, if the government can't see that al Qaeda was behind the anthrax attacks, how can they see other plots al Qaeda might be working on?
They just cannot accept that the anthrax attacks were NOT the work of al Qaeda, and they don't care what the facts say. As we have seen from the rantings by "DXer," their reasoning is as follows:
Truther: This dime I just took from my pocket proves al Qaeda was behind the anthax attacks.
Me: How does a dime prove that?
Truther: Prove it doesn't. If you can't prove it doesn't, then it does.
Personally, I feel that most people can recognize a conspiracy theorist when they see and hear one, and they pay little attention. They know there's no way to change the mind of a conspiracy theorist, so they just smile and walk away. A more annoying problem is the conspiracy theorists in the media who peddle lame-brain conspiracy theories as a way to sell newspapers and magazines or to get viewers to a TV show. But, most people trust the media less than they trust conspiracy theorists they meet on the street, so I don't know if conspiracy theorists in the media are that big of a problem.
"The United States of Paranoia" doesn't even mention the conspiracy theories about the anthrax attacks of 2001. Sometimes I think that over 99% of the American public aren't even aware that there are conspiracy theories about the anthrax investigation. One percent of 313 million is 3.1 million. I don't think it would be difficult to find 3.1 million Americans who believe al Qaeda was behind the anthrax attacks. But, that would be because they never heard of Bruce Ivins or remember nothing about him. All they remember is that the anthrax attacks came right after 9/11 (or were part of 9/11). So, they assume al Qaeda was responsible. Technically, they're not "conspiracy theorists," since they have no specific "theory." They are either just ignorant of the facts or have faulty memories. They assume everyone believes al Qaeda was behind the attacks.
You could probably also find 3.1 million Americans who assume that the FBI was wrong about who sent the anthrax letters. Generally speaking, they don't trust the government -- especially the FBI. They probably have a specific theory of their own, a theory based upon a near total ignorance of the facts and faulty memories.
The only argument I was in last week was with someone called "Simon Gunson" in the comments following The Atlantic Magazine's article about Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. Mr. Gunson has somehow developed a theory that flight MH370 turned and flew east from the point where it was last in communication with Kuala Lumpur. All the official reports say the plane turned around and flew south or southwest. I tried to show him that his data was incorrect. And, this morning, to my pleasant surprise, someone called "Bill" did the same thing, but in a somewhat different way. He just asks Simon where he got his information, since it disagrees with what Bill has seen.
I've tried that same tactic with Mr. Gunson in the past. I've asked him to provide links to where he got his information. When I do that, he generally just stops posting. Then, a few days later he'll start the same argument over again as if no one ever challenged him on his facts. I suspect he has a conspiracy theory of some kind. He just doesn't want to tell anyone what it is, because he knows he'll be labeled as a "conspiracy theorist" and people will pick his theory apart, showing how absurd it is. It's better to argue some obscure point - like which way MH370 turned. Or, in the case of the evidence against Bruce Ivins, what role a test on rabbits had in explaining Ivins' unexplained overtime.
Conspiracy theorists cannot explain their evidence. Instead, they argue that the official version is wrong. They don't believe the official evidence. They believe their own "evidence" -- which they cannot explain or even show as being actual evidence that could be used in court. They want the FBI to believe as they believe and prove what they want proved. Until the FBI does that,
There’s still the possibility that the government was as wrong about Ivins as it was about Hatfill. If that’s the case, the anthrax mailer is still at large. And that means someone launched the deadliest biological attack in the history of the United States—and got away with it.
I.e., as long as there is a possibility that the FBI was wrong, they should be assumed to be wrong. Because thinking that way makes the conspiracy theorists seem right.
& Changes: Sunday, May 25, 2014, thru Saturday, May 31,
May 30, 2014 - This is totally off topic .... but what the heck.
This afternoon, after I finished reading Lee Child's 4th Jack Reacher thriller, "Running Blind," I went to my local library's web site to see what else they might have in the Jack Reacher series. They didn't have any immediately available for my Kindle that I hadn't already read, but I stumbled upon "Heat Wave" by Richard Castle. Huh? Richard Castle is a fictional writer (and I do NOT mean "writer of fiction") on the TV series "Castle," which happens to be one of my favorite TV shows. On the show, Nathan Fillian plays crime writer "Richard Castle" who works as a consultant for the New York Police Department. Castle writes novels about a fictional NYPD female detective named "Nikki Heat." And the first Nikki Heat book Richard Castle wrote was "Heat Wave." So, if you are totally confused, lemme explain: what someone has done is turned a fictional writer into a "real" writer of fiction. And Richard Castle has got a whole series of actual books for sale on Amazon.com. "Heat Wave," the first in his Nikki Heat series was not available at my library, but I put it on hold. The reviews indicate it is best to start with the first book in the series. So, that's what I'll do.
May 29, 2014 - Since I haven't been making any progress at all with getting started on writing a new sci-fi novel, and since it looked like the arguments over the anthrax attacks of 2001 and the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 had died down, I spent yesterday reading the first 41% of another one of Lee Child's Jack Reacher novels, "Running Blind." I was expecting to continue with it this morning, but then someone posted a new argument on The Atlantic's Web site attacking my reasoning (which is actually the reasoning of the "authorities" working to find flight MH30), and a regular to my interactive blog posed a question on Lew Weinstein's blog apparently asking me ("our ‘mutual acquaintance’") about the Dallas anthrax hoax letter case from two years ago.
So, first I had to write a long reply to the attack on The Atlantic's blog. Click HERE to view it. It basically just lists official facts against the MH370 Truther's beliefs.
The question about the Dallas hoax letters case involves the redacted parts of the FBI's 2012 letter describing what the hoax letters contained. Click HERE for a high-def view of the FBI document. The Anthrax Truther wanted to know if anyone has any idea what the redacted parts of the letter might say. Since I cannot post to Lew Weinstein's blog, I posted my interpretation of the redacted sections to my interative blog HERE.
The sudden surge in activity regarding the disappearance of Flight MH370 is largely the result of an opinionated "expert," Michael Dean, stating what he believes. The media, of course, immediately picked up on it to generate controversy, which will get them more readers and viewers. Here's what CNN reported under the headline "Navy official: Pings not thought to be from Flight 370's black boxes":
"Always your fear any time you put electronic equipment in the water is that if any water gets in and grounds or shorts something out, that you could start producing sound," Dean explained.
He said it is not possible to absolutely exclude that the pings came from the black boxes, but there is no evidence now to suggest they did.
However, a U.S. Navy spokesman called Dean's statement to CNN "speculative and premature."
"I am not saying that what Michael Dean said was inaccurate," the spokesman said, "but what we are saying is that it is not his place to say it."
The Navy is continuing "to work with our partners to more thoroughly understand the data acquired by the Towed Pinger Locater," according to the spokesman.
"As such, we would defer to the Australians, as the lead in the search effort, to make additional information known at the appropriate time," the spokesman said.Dean's opinion is just that: an opinion. Why he suddenly wanted the world to know his opinion is anyone's guess. But, it's evidently going to be a long time before we find out anything conclusive about the location of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. So, until then, a lot of MH370 Truthers will be quoting him and citing him as an "expert."
May 27, 2014 - Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 is in the news again. The Malaysian authorities just released 45 pages of the "raw data" (and 2 pages of explanation) that were used to calculate where Flight MH370 went down. Also, Australian experts are now saying that the last "ping" from the aircraft seems to have been sent because the plane ran out of fuel. According to The New York Times:
The final satellite transmission was an automated request from the aircraft for another so-called electronic handshake.
“This is consistent with satellite communication equipment on the aircraft powering up following a power interruption,” the Australian Transport Safety Bureau said in a separate statement. “The interruption in electrical supply may have been caused by fuel exhaustion.”Meanwhile, tomorrow the search ship Ocean Shield should finish its attempts to use the submersible Bluefin-21 to find MH370. Assuming that it does not find the plane on its last day, the search will then be turned over to private contractors with better equipment, who probably won't be able to start their search for several months.
May 26, 2014 - This morning I continued to poke through the Anthrax Truther "garbage dump" I found on Saturday and mentioned in my Sunday comment. Specifically, I looked at MediaRoots.org and two videos they have about the anthrax attacks of 2001.
The first video, dated Oct. 2, 2012, looks very professional. It has an attactive "on-air" host named Abby Martin presenting her views on a classy news set, just like on TV. The show is titled "US Surveillance State, Anthrax Attacks: An Inside Job." The anthrax part of the show begins at the 15 minute mark. It has some very interesting errors, the first being that they inexplicably say that Senator Russ Feingold received one of the anthrax letters. The second is that Abby Martin seems totally ignorant of the Amerithrax Investigation Summary. She repeatedly complains that the FBI still hasn't released the evidence against Ivins. Furthermore, she describes the anthrax powder in the letters as "highly weaponized, military grade, that could only have come from two military defense facilities in the U.S., Dugway in Utah or Fort Detrick in Maryland." Abby Martin then interviews her brother, Robbie Martin, who is described as a "journalist at MediaRoots.org." Robbie Martin provides the show's viewers with the jaw-dropping "information" that Bruce Ivins had flask RMR-1029 at home, and that's where the FBI found it after Ivins committed suicide. Robbie also says that private industry is now making and weaponizing anthrax for the government.
The second video is dated January 27, 2014, and is titled "American Anthrax." It's a compilation of news segments, eerie music, and on-screen text and graphics apparently put together by Robbie Martin. The biggest surprise for me in the video was that, at the 24 minute mark Robbie Martin inexplicably and without explanation uses parts of my video about the handwriting on the anthrax letters. Less of a surprise was that, at the 31:20 mark, a white text on a black background declares, "The National Academy of Sciences determined that the DNA connecting the anthrax letters to Bruce Ivins was not a match." I have no idea where Robbie Martin got bit of "garbage information" from.
Digging further, I found another video HERE where Abby Martin interviews her brother Robbie Martin about the "American Anthrax" video he created. It has Robbie Martin once again saying that Bruce Ivins had flask RMR-1029 in his home, and then Robbie repeats the nonsense from his video that the NSA found the spores in flask RMR-1029 and the spores in the attack letters were not a DNA match.
One would think that the Anthrax Truthers like James Corbett and Abby and Robbie Martin, who seem totally convinced that the U.S. Government was behind the attacks would somewhere be in heated battle with the Anthrax Truthers like Cliff Kincaid, "DXer" and others who are totally convinced that Muslim terrorists were behind the attacks. But, instead, they both just argue against the U.S. Government. One group argues that it's all a massive government conspiracy to cover up the fact that U.S. government agents sent the anthrax letters, the other group argues that the government and everyone in it are all just too stupid to see that Muslims sent the anthrax letters.
And I just shake my head in wonder over all the total nonsense both sides believe.
May 25, 2014 - Yesterday morning, I stumbled upon a large, steaming garbage dump of "information" about the anthrax attacks of 2001. I can't call it a "treasure trove," since it's mostly "information" supplied by Anthrax Truthers. But, there may be some true "treasures" buried in the garbage. I've only begun to poke through it.
When yesterday began, all I had to write about for today's comment was an opinion piece titled "Lies of the 9/11 'Truth' Movement," written by Cliff Kincaid for the Accuracy In Media (AIM) website. It was also reproduced on two other web sites HERE and HERE. The piece only mentions the anthrax attacks in a couple paragraphs, but in the course of writing about it, I found I needed to try to figure out if one of the "experts" who Mr. Kincaid seems to rely upon actually agrees with Kincaid that al Qaeda was behind the attacks. That "expert" is Dr. Meryl Nass. My recollection was that Dr. Nass thinks the anthrax attacks were a U.S. government conspiracy of some kind. So, I did a Google search for Meryl+Nass+anthrax, and, to my very profound surprise, I found an absolutely fascinating hour long podcast interview Nass did on "The Corbett Report" (no relation to "The Colbert Report") just last month (April 19, 2014) on the subject of the anthrax attacks of 2001. Here's what "The Corbett report" is all about:
The Corbett Report is an independent, listener-supported alternative news source. It operates on the principle of open source intelligence and provides podcasts, interviews, articles and videos about breaking news and important issues from 9/11 Truth and false flag terror to the Big Brother police state, eugenics, geopolitics, the central banking fraud and more.
James Corbett, who operates The Corbett Report has lived and worked somewhere in western Japan since 2004.
To my further surprise, it appears that Dr. Nass is a fan of James Corbett. The podcast interview with Dr. Nass begins with a comment from Mr. Corbett that Dr. Nass had contacted him because of a previous interview Corbett had done with someone named Robbie Martin who had also talked about the anthrax attacks of 2001. So, I made a note to find that interview and listen to it, too.
But, first I had to listen to the Dr. Nass interview. I found the podcast to be fascinating because Mr. James Corbett seems convinced that the evidence clearly shows that Bruce Ivins was the anthrax mailer (probably as a stooge in a large government conspiracy), but whenever Corbett lays out the evidence for Dr. Nass, she begins a long, meandering ramble on all sorts of vaguely related topics which never really answer the question (nor address the evidence) in any coherent way. And, very often, much of what Dr. Nass says is totally wrong.
And, surprise upon surprise, at the 3:30 mark, Mr. Corbett agrees that the anthrax attacks is an "under-reported" subject "even in the alternative media," and he says he did "a couple of podcasts" on it in the past. When I searched his web site for the word "anthrax," twelve podcasts were displayed as mentioning the anthrax attacks. The first was on Sept. 28, 2007, and is titled "Whatever Happened to the Anthrax Investigation. It's 40 minutes long. Some of it is absolutely fascinating, particularly when Corbett plays -at the 10:17 mark - part of a 2002 interview on the Charlie Rose Show where Rose and Brian Ross from ABC discuss Steven Hatfill, and Ross lays out all the "evidence" he sees which points to Steven Hatfill. At the end of that recording from the Charlie Rose Show, Mr. Corbett indicates he considers Brian Ross to be a stooge for the U.S. government who is paid to spread government propaganda when the CIA or FBI or some other government agency wants it done. Corbett refers to "Operation Mockingbird" as the master plan for this media-government cooperation.
I haven't yet had the time to go through all of the podcasts, much less the "garbage dump" of links that are provided on the pages where each podcast is presented. First I had to focus on last month's Dr. Meryl Nass interview.
Unfortunately, there doesn't appear to be any transcript of the Nass interview. So, if I want to quote from it, I have to create my own transcript. Here's one long quote from Mr. Corbett at about the 12:40 mark that seemed worth transcribing:
Well, you clearly have an extensive knowledge of this case, so I'm going to start by picking your brain on this. But, just to make sure everyone's on the same page, of course we're talking about the anthrax letters that were postmarked between September 8th and October 9th of 2001, although some of them were opened at a later date. They killed five and injured seventeen others, and they were targeted at ABC News, CBS News, NBC News, The New York Post and the National Enquirer, Senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy. And, obviously there's a lot to go through just in terms of the official story, but I think perhaps the best way to start interrogating the conclusions of the FBI investigation that this was Dr. Bruce Ivins working alone, I think what we should do is lay out that case that the FBI eventually came up with and the diffent pieces that support that, and you can tell us where this case goes wrong or which of these facts are not true.
So, for example, it is often argued that - well - Dr. Ivins was in charge of the "murder weapon" so to speak - the RMR-1029 flask which contained the mother spores which produced the daughter spores that were found in these anthrax letters. He was caught trying to destroy this "smoking gun evidence" by cleaning up the affected areas. He was a diagnosed sociopath. He had worked with Bacillus anthacis for over 20 years. He accessed the locked suite where the RMR-1029 flask was stored at the times when the
anthrax attacks would have been prepared. He was alone and unsupervised in the lab during the hours and weekends during which the anthrax would have been prepared. His overtime hours in 2001 showed that in August they began spiking to levels that were about three or four times his usual overtime levels, in September 2001 reaching over ten times the overtime levels he usually had. He had multiple motives for committing these attacks. He had no verifiable alibi. He had serious mental problems. And, I suppose there are others, but I think we'll leave it at that.
When Dr. Nass gets her chance to talk, she starts by saying that like most people, Corbett doesn't understand that the spores did not actually come directly from flask RMR-1029 - even though he'd just made that perfectly clear. Dr. Nass says,
Okay, I'm pleased to see that, in spite of your sophistication, you have already made a few false assumptions which the FBI case was designed to sort of inculcate into people's minds a lot of wrong thinking about the case. So, the first issue is: did the spores actually come from RMR-1029? And everybody believes that they had because the FBI said that they had a perfect match.
Then Dr. Nass rambles on and on and on onto vaguely related matters and all sorts of irrelevant details about each of those vaguely related matters until - after about five tedious minutes - she finally gets to her point:
The NAS reviewed the FBI's science and they said clearly that there is no proof of RMR-1029 being the parent.
Not true, of course. The NAS said that it couldn't be conclusively and scientifically proved that RMR-1029 was the parent of the attack anthrax. It is possible for some unknown lab somewhere to have produced Ames spores with those same morphs. The NAS should have (but didn't) add that the odds that RMR-1029 was not the source were about the same as aliens from outer space having produced the spores on Mars.
But, I digress. I was trying to find out what Dr. Nass's conspiracy theory was. The interview doesn't really provide an answer. But, near the end, at the 48:55 mark, this exchange takes place:
Corbett: My understanding is that Dr. Ivins was an immunologist, and these were silica-coated, electrostatically charged, 1.5 to 5 micron size spores that my understanding is that he would not have had the knowledge to have produced that -- certainly not working by himself. Am I incorrect in that assumption?
Nass: The vast majority of his co-workers said that he did not have the knowledge to do that and had never done it, and that he was a vaccine scientist. Now, it's true that he was a vaccine scientist, it's true that he did not use powdered anthrax in his experiments. They used liquid, and they used sort of an aerosolizer and would force small lab animals to enhale it. But Ivins was an intelligent man, so there is certainly the possibility that he could have figured out how to make some in this fashion. That's possible.
And there a much longer statement at the 50:00 mark where she explains that some of his co-workers think Ivins could have done it, but no one knows exactly how the spores were made, so, without knowing exactly how the attack spores were made, no one can state with absolute certainty that Ivins could or could not have done it.
While Mr. Corbett seemed to make a very good case that Bruce Ivins was the anthrax mailer, he clearly doesn't believe all the evidence against Ivins. At about the 35 minute mark he discussed the hidden message in the media letters and said it's the most "ridiculous" analysis he has seen in the case. One would think that Dr. Nass would fully agree, but instead she just says she doesn't remember all the details about the case.
At the very end of the interview, Mr. Corbett mentions there are relevant links in the "show notes." Checking the "show notes," I was stunned to find a long article on the University of Maryland's web site, written by Dr. Nass, dated February 2002, titled "In Search of the Anthrax Attacker" that I don't recall ever seeing before. But, I could have read it and just forgotten. It was written over 12 years ago. Reading it, I see it very clearly disagrees with Cliff Kincaid's view that al Qaeda was behind the attacks. Near the end of Dr. Nass's article it says,
The anthrax attacks were a heinous crime in a number of ways. First, they caused the deaths of five innocent civilians, who in military jargon might be considered "collateral damage." Second, they directly attacked the center of our government, and our free press. Third, they appear to have been motivated by the calculation that the country needed to be scared to death, in order to act in a way the attacker wanted. And so we have, allocating billions of taxpayer dollars for responding to and preparing for bioterrorism. That is not how decisions should be made in a democracy. Finally, biological attacks are a clandestine, cowardly method of attack, in which the perpetrator is usually difficult to identify.
If the attacker remains free, the attractiveness of future biological attack only increases.At the very end of the interview with James Corbett, Dr. Nass says that people can go to her blog and click on her picture to read her views on the FBI's investigation. This afternoon I found that page. It's titled "The FBI's Anthrax Letters Investigation: Points to Consider," it's dated November 30, 2010, and it shows how wildly ignorant Dr. Nass is of the facts of the case and how extremely biased she is against the FBI. Here's one key passage that illustrates her thought processes very well:
Bruce was under intensive, 24/7 surveillance by the FBI near the end of his life. The FBI almost certainly knew Bruce purchased a large amount of Tylenol on July 24, and probably also knew when he ingested it, and when he developed symptoms and eventually coma.
I have seen no report or evidence that the FBI informed anyone, especially Bruce’s medical providers, of his Tylenol ingestion. Doing so in a timely manner would have almost certainly saved Bruce’s life and allowed the FBI to bring its case against him to its legal conclusion. Nor did FBI intervene to hasten Bruce receiving medical attention after his ingestion.
Was the FBI’s case against Bruce too weak to withstand a trial?
Was Bruce’s death a precondition for closing the case?
I may find other things in this newly discovered "garbage dump" of "information" that is more worth commenting upon than what I've already commented upon, but right now I'm just totally worn out trying to find bits of real information in all the rambling tangential comments by Dr. Nass.
And, I suppose I should finish this comment with the material I originally wrote to begin today's Sunday comment -- before I got drawn away into the theories of Dr. Meryl Nass and James Corbett. Here's that original start to today's comment:
It has been a long time since I've noticed anything about the anthrax attacks of 2001 on the AIM site, whose slogan always gives me a big chuckle: "FOR FAIRNESS, BALANCE AND ACCURACY IN NEWS REPORTING. "
This is is an example of their idea of "fairness, balance and accuracy" from the new opinion piece about 9/11:
To make matters worse, this intelligence failure [9/11] was followed by another, when the post 9/11 anthrax attacks were falsely blamed on various U.S. scientists and not on members of al Qaeda, the likely culprits. One of those falsely blamed, Steven Hatfill, collected millions of dollars in damages from the U.S. government when the FBI tried to ruin his reputation and frame him.
The FBI tried to frame Steven Hatfill?! Really? Kincaid clearly has no idea of what really happened -- or he simply doesn't care.
The latest piece also quotes a previous opinion piece by Kincaid from 2006 which said:
if the Bush Administration carried out 9/11, a monumental undertaking of planning and coordination, why couldn’t it have blamed the post-9/11 anthrax attacks on Muslim Arabs as well, thus giving greater impetus to the alleged desire to go to war in the Middle East? In fact, there was evidence of a foreign or al-Qaeda connection to the anthrax attacks but it was glossed over by the FBI, which came under pressure from liberal Senators Patrick Leahy and Thomas Daschle to find a right-wing culprit, based on the mistaken belief the anthrax could only have been manufactured in a U.S. military laboratory.
One commenter says after last week's opinion piece:
Geez, Cliff, just where and when did any credible information surface, pointing in that direction..? Had there been ANY links to al Qaeda, don't you think we would have heard it repeated over and over again in the media?
Wondering if Cliff Kincaid ever wrote about Bruce Ivins, I did a Google search for Cliff+Kincaid+Bruce+Ivins+anthrax, and I found just one record with all five of those search elements. It's another AIM article that I had read before. It's dated March 24, 2010, and is titled "Obama Obstructs Oversight of FBI in Anthrax Case." In fact, I wrote a comment about it on March 25, 2010. It's a very interesting opinion piece because two of the "experts" Mr. Kincaid relies upon to support his beliefs are a well known conspiracy theorist and a well known True Believer. The conspiracy theorist is Dr. Meryl Nass. Here's part of what Mr. Kincaid wrote about her:
Meryl Nass, MD, another leading authority on the case (http://anthraxvaccine.blogspot.com/), says Ivins didn’t have the motive, means or opportunity to carry out the attacks.
She points out that retired colleagues of Ivins have said he did not have the equipment to make the quality of anthrax in the amounts required using equipment available to him at Fort Detrick, where he worked.
Kincaid's 2010 opinion piece ended with this opinion of his own:
If Ivins didn’t do it, as these analysts suggest, then the perpetrators are still free, America remains vulnerable to a biological weapons attack, and the FBI is clueless about the nature of the threat we face.
On top of this, President Obama doesn’t want Congress
to get to the bottom of what really happened.
The “inside job” theory of 9/11 is appealing to those holding a Marxist or anti-Semitic view that American foreign policy is secretly manipulated by “imperialist” or “Zionist” agents. On other occasions, the puppet-masters are “global elites” or members of secret clubs. These theories preclude serious thinking about why America is under attack and by whom. Facts and evidence don’t matter when a theory about sinister secret agents with no names makes more sense.
My recollection of Dr. Meryl Nass's opinions didn't include any claim that Muslim terrorists were behind the anthrax attacks. Her claim, as I recalled it, was that the attack spores were from some kind of secret and illegal U.S. government biological weapons program. So, I did some research to confirm that Dr. Nass disagreed with Cliff Kincaid about who was responsible for the attacks.
And, that research led me all the material I now have at the beginning of this comment.
Kincaid seems to be an Anthrax Truther, but is in total disagreement with 9/11 Truthers. James Corbett seems to be both a 9/11 Truther and an Anthrax Truther. Dr. Nass appears to be an Anthrax Truther, but I haven't yet figured out what her "truth" is.
& Changes: Sunday, May 18, 2014, thru Saturday, May 24,
May 23, 2014 (B) - If you are interested, YouTube.com has a video that can be viewed by clicking HERE which shows an Australian TV reporter Karl Stefanovic talking with Nigel Cawthorne, the author of the book "Flight MH370 - The Mystery." (See my May 19 comment.) The TV reporter slams Cawthorne for writing the book and says it's "disgusting" what he did. The comments following the video indicate that most of the viewers are more disgusted with the way the TV reporter invited the writer onto his show then attacked him. What surprises me is that it is NOT a self-published book.
May 23, 2014 (A) - The Australian has an article today that seems to have originated with The Wall Street Journal, and it sums up the current situation with the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 search very nicely.
1. The search ship Ocean Shield will only continue to search for another five days or so. Then it will return to port, disembark the people and equipment used in the search, and presumably go back to what it was doing before MH370 disappeared.
2. A Chinese survey ship Zhu Kezhen is mapping the ocean floor, since they don't want any future vehicle crashing into some underwater mountain, nor do they want the Bluefin wasting time in areas which are too deep for it to search.
3. Negotiations are underway to find the right ship and submersible to continue the search after Ocean Shield finishes its work.
4. All the data is being re-analyzed to see if the search area can be made more precise for when a new ship and a new submersible begin their work.
Professor Pattiaratchi said the Bluefin 21 had a multi-beam sonar system that allowed it to cover a swath of seabed with acoustic soundings.
“You can also get a reflection from the seabed,’’ he says. “So an acoustic reflection, let’s say, from a muddy bottom, and that’s what it would be out there, and solid metal would be very different.
“You can actually see something sticking out and you could then look at the acoustic reflection and say that’s just mud or no that is not mud, that’s a completely different material.’’
He said the submersible travels about 30m above the seabed, trying to maintain a constant depth, and covers 30 to 40m either side.
“And when it does maps it does an overlapping swath as well so it doesn’t miss anything,’’ he said, noting an analogy often given is someone mowing a lawn.
There are a limited number of vehicles around the world that can withstand the extreme pressure at 5000m.
“Another vehicle would be no different. It could obviously go down to a deeper depth. There are a couple, I think, which can go down to 6000m. But they do exactly the same work, the sensors are the same and everything.
“What you have to remember is it takes two or three hours to get down to that depth — two or three hours to go down, two or three hours to come back up. And also they only have limited endurance in terms of power so it’s a very slow process.’’
He agreed the search could take years said it was also a question of luck.
“You could go tomorrow and they say ‘Oh we’ve found it’,’’ he said. “It could take two years.’’
Meanwhile, of course, some conspiracy theorists believe that MH370 is really parked somewhere on the secret American base at Diego Garcia, and it will be transported to the Southern Indian Ocean when it's time to "find" it there.
May 22, 2014 - It's been a couple busy days since I last posted a comment, but nothing I've been doing was "earth shaking." The True Believer who posts to Lew Weinstein's blog as "DXer" tried to post about a dozen messages to my interactive blog, but, as promised, I deleted them all. Mostly they were just complaints that "DXer" doesn't like the way I do things. I summarized nine of them into a single sentence:
"Ed does everything wrong and doesn't correct his mistakes, and I do everything right."
The other messages he attempted to post were incoherent statements and screwball claims that I don't have the time or energy to decipher.
One reason I didn't have the time or energy to decipher "DXer's" claims was because I was putting all my time and energy into deciphering claims about Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 made by a guy on The Atlantic Magazine's web site. Here's his most recent claim:
MH70 never flew west through the Straits of Malacca. The proof of that is that MH370 spoke by VHF radio with MH088 and JAL750 after 17:30 UTC. VHF radio is line of sight and if MH370 dropped to 5,000ft to avoid radar, then it would have been much too far away to speak with JAL750
At 17:31 UTC JAL750 was at 011:55N, 108:43E flying at 32,000ft. Maximum range in voice mode for VHF between one aircraft at 32,000ft and another at 5,000ft is 306 nautical miles. The distance to IGARI was greater than that.
JAL750 was 398nm from IGARI, and MH088 was even further north.Deciphering that, I think what he's claiming is that Japanese Airlines Flight JAL750 spoke with flight MH370 at 1:30 am Kuala Lumpur time via VHF radio. JAL750 could not have done that if MH370 had been heading toward the Straits of Malacca as the authorities claim, because flight MH370 was last known to be at the IGARI waypoint, and if MH370 flew west from there and dropped down to 5,000 feet, MH370 would have been far out of VHF radio range from JAL750, since VHF is line-of-sight and MH370 would have been over the horizon and out of sight.
The first problem with his claim is that Flight JAL750 did NOT speak with Malaysia Flight MH370. JAL750 tried to contact MH370, but all they got was mumbling and static as if MH370 was just out of radio range. The second problem with his claim is that MH370 evidently did NOT drop down to 5,000 feet. According to CNN, they only dropped down to 12,000 feet. So, MH370 would not have been as far over the horizon as the guy on The Atlantic's web site assumed. The horizon from 12,000 feet is 131 miles away. From 5,000 feet it's 86 miles away. And, it's not known exactly when MH370 descended to 12,000 feet, so they could still have been at 30,000 feet or more.
While doing that, I was also trying to figure out how to show that the search ship Ocean Shield was once again at the crash area using the Bluefin submersible to look for MH370. The web site HERE provided this information:
So, at 9:11 p.m. on the 21st (local time), Ocean Shield was chugging along at 0.6 knots, which almost certainly means it was following the Bluefin's path underwater. And it was heading West Southwest (255 degrees). At 45 minutes after midnight the next morning, it was again moving at 0.6 knots, but on a West Northwest heading (295 degrees). Two hours later, it was about a mile and a half away to the west and was heading almost due south (179 degrees) at 2 knots. So, it's criss-crossing the search area, which is what we would expect it to be doing.
May 19, 2014 - Hmm. I would never have believed it if I couldn't verify it by checking the Internet, but apparently there's already a conspiracy theory book out about the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370:
Someone just sent me a link to an article about it. The article begins this way:
The search for MH370 in the Indian Ocean may have been a ruse to hide the fact that the plane was mistakenly shot down during a military exercise, a new book claims.
Flight MH370: The Mystery goes on sale today with the explosive theory, the first of doubtless many books to explore the disappearance of the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, which has confounded experts since March 8.
Written by Nigel Cawthorne, who states he may be Britain’s “most published living author” with 150 books to his name, the book canvasses the idea that the plane carrying 239 people was shot down by mistake during a US/Thai military exercise.If that isn't mind-blowing enough, there may also be a MOVIE in the works:
A movie about missing Flight MH370 is also in the works and could be in cinemas within months.
Rupesh Paul Productions is promoting The Vanishing Act, a film about the plane tragedy, among buyers at the Cannes Film Festival.
A poster for the movie promises to tell “the untold story” of the missing plane, but in an interview on Friday, the associate director of the movie, Sritama Dutta, said the only similarities between the thriller and the real-life disaster is that a plane is missing.
“It has got no similarities,” said Dutta, adding there have been so many developments with the actual case that it wouldn’t be practical to try to mirror it.
“We cannot keep up with the true facts, it’s changing every day.”
However the 90-second trailer for the film, posted to YouTube on the weekend, features a cast of terrified passengers aboard a turbulent MAS jetliner and recreates some of the dramatic scenarios that could have played out on board the ill-fated flight after takeoff.Click HERE to view the trailer for the movie, which apparently promotes the theory that the plane (or a plane like MH370) was hijacked. It looks very much like some movie producer is trying to use the tragedy of MH370 to help finance his movie.
May 18, 2014 - Last week, I noticed that "DXer" on Lew Weinstein's blog was endlessly ranting about some "manuscript" by Scott Decker, Ph.D.. At first, I didn't recognize the name "Decker," so I didn't pay much attention -- until it came time for me to write today's Sunday comment. After all, for weeks "DXer" has been endlessly repeating rants from years ago, none of which seemed worthy of a careful reading.
But, in order to write a comment for today, I first had to find out who Dr. Decker was and what his "manuscript" was all about. "DXer," of course, provides no links or explanations. He just rants and rants and rants. He did, however, provide the title of the "manuscript" he was ranting about: "Attribution: Inside the FBI’s Anthrax Investigation–An Evolution of Forensics."
I did a Google search for that title and found no manuscript on-line. But Google showed me the title was mentioned in a pdf file for the Stevenson University Forensics Journal.
And, when I looked at that Journal, I found that the manuscript title is mentioned in an "Interview with Scott Decker" on page 5. In the paragraph giving his biography it says,
He worked as a Special Agent and Supervisory Special Agent on the Amerithrax investigation from 2001-2007. .... Dr. Decker is currently writing a book detailing the Anthrax case titled: "Attribution: Inside the FBI’s Anthrax Investigation--An Evolution of Forensics"
.Ah! Of course! When I think of the scientist FBI agents on the Amerithrax case I think of Darrin Steele, Scott Stanley and Douglas Beecher, who are all mentioned many times in my 2012 book. But the other "Scott," Dr. Scott Decker is mentioned in only one paragraph on page 267:
They [Agents Montooth and Lisi] put out the word that they were open to whatever the evidence said. The two new leaders listened to the views of the agents who had been on the case for years, including Scott Decker who had been on the case from the beginning and was now overseeing the scientific investigation, and Postal Inspector Thomas Dellafera who had also been on the case from Day One. Decker explained the details about the morphs and how their DNA had invariably led to flask RMR-1029.
So, the "manuscript" which upsets "DXer" so much was was written by FBI agent Dr. Scott Decker, who was not only involved with the Amerithrax investigation, he was in charge of the scientific aspects of the case. Cool! It's no wonder DXer is so upset. Dr. Decker's manuscript is definitely NOT going to agree with "DXer's" beliefs. Nowhere in "DXer's" rants does he mention that Dr. Decker was an FBI agent on the case. You have to deduce it from word "inside" in the title of the Journal article.
It appears that "DXer's" rants are anticipatory rants based upon the Journal interview, even though, in a rant posted on Friday he wrote:
GAO should interview Scott Decker, PhD on the issues of his manuscript “Attribution: Inside the FBI’s Anthrax Investigation–An Evolution of Forensics” and then upload a transcript of his interview pursuant to its procedural rules.
Like Dr. Majidi in his
e-book, his draft does not
address the issues.
I found it interesting that the Journal interview seems to provide some new details about the three "squads" that the FBI had working on the Amerithrax case. As I recall, that was another issue that endlessly upset "DXer." He argued that the three squads were "compartmentalized" so no one squad would know what the others were doing.
The Forensics Journal interview gives a very different picture of the three squads:
What was unique in the Anthrax case was the way that the FBI structured their investigative squads. There were three squads of FBI agents. The squad that I was a part of was responsible for the forensics and consisted of agents with scientific backgrounds such as Biology, Forensic Chemistry, Medicinal Chemistry and Genetics. This was unique because to my knowledge, this structure had not yet been utilized and has not been used since. All of the agents were required to have advanced degrees in their field of science and 3 years of work experience in their area of expertise. The other two squads consisted of agents with a variety of backgrounds including but not limited to accounting, engineering, and military officers. This squad was responsible for interviews, email searches, etc. Each of the three squads also consisted of several postal inspectors.
The interview with Agent Dr. Decker also shows why "DXer" appears to be already so upset by the "manuscript" and possible book. This paragraph in particular:
HOW DID THE CASE RESOLVE?
The samples were all shown to have originated from USAMRIID and were traced back to one scientist located there who was an Anthrax vaccine expert. Nine of the samples came from one flask which originally contained 1000 ml of Ames strain spores. The scientist named Bruce Ivins had contracted production of the spores for use in vaccine challenge studies, for which he was responsible in his duties at USAMRIID. The samples from the flask matched genetically with the samples taken from the mailed letters. At this time, an investigation ensued which included investigating his emails, computers, purchase history which showed some very incriminating evidence. Once it became clear that he was close to being indicted on terrorism charges that might include the death sentence, he committed suicide in July 2008.
That is why "DXer" was posting ranting comment after ranting comment about how his baseless beliefs and misunderstandings show someone other than Ivins was the anthrax mailer. He's even re-hashing arguments that were resolved over a decade ago. For example:
There was a chemical in the Flask 1029 that was NOT in the mailed anthrax. So why did they make it seem that it was the “murder weapon” when the one scientific truth that had been established was that it WASN’T? Wasn’t the approach to substitute SPIN and leaks for SCIENCE?
It's been known by the public since 2008, and by the FBI for nearly a decade, that Flask RMR-1029 was the source for the "murder weapon," not the "murder weapon" itself, because (1) there were no significant amounts of spores removed from the flask that were unaccounted for, and (2) the preservative chemical in the flask was not found in the mailed anthrax spores. Therefore, while Flask RMR-1029 was the source for the attack powders, the actual powders must have been made from newly grown spores which used seed material taken from RMR-1029.
"DXer" just goes on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on about how there are other possible ways to have obtained seed Ames anthrax spores with the same "genetics." And, if it's possible the seed material could have been obtained some other way, then in "DXer's" mind it has NOT been proven that Ivins obtained his seed material from RMR-1029 directly. "DXer" rants about one theory in particular, his theory that the seed material came from "sample 7738."
A comment HERE says,
Who was this 1998 transfer from? If it was from 7738, as I have suggested, it wouldn’t show up on the Flask 1029 inventory, would it? And isn’t that what the FBI used to approaching the question of the process of elimination?
Another comment HERE says:
Similarly, this peer-reviewed science pointed to samples such as 7738. The FBI says it does not know what happened to the anthrax in 7738, which was created from Flask 1029. The Amerithrax Investigative Summary says it could not determine what happened to the spores.
Of course, "DXer" doesn't explain anything about "sample 7738." But, I seemed to remember it was one of the nine FBI Repository (FBIR) samples that matched the anthrax letters AND also originated from Flask RMR-1029. After researching it, I found that was indeed the case. Here's that list from the files released by the National Academy of Sciences:
So, sample 7738 is the FBIR sample that was found in Building 1412's first floor cold room. And, in "DXer's" mind that's enough for him to argue that it is possible that some Muslim terrorist agent taking a tour of USAMRIID could have stealthily snunk into that cold room and removed a sample from that flask. "DXer" has absolutely NO evidence to support such a wild theory, of course. But the possibility is all he needs. If it's possible and supports his beliefs, then that must be what happened.
In a string of four posts beginning HERE and dated early this morning, "DXer" asks question after question that seem to indicate he has already read the manuscript, but almost certainly merely indicate he just assumes (probably rightly) that his questions aren't answered in Dr. Decker's manuscript. Two of his sixteen questions seem to be just one question related to sample 7738 and the Muslim terrorist agent who might (or must) have taken some material from it, but phrased two different ways:
Where does he addresses the Egyptian visitor in the B3 who worked alongside Bruce Ivins with virulent Ames and was the lifelong friend of a former Egyptian Islamic Jihad member, a schoolmate, recruited by Ayman Zawahiri.
Where does he address the fact that Dr. Bruce Ivins hosted one Egyptian visitor in the B3 who was the lifelong friend of a former Egyptian Islamic Jihad member, a schoolmate, recruited by Ayman Zawahiri and that the FBI not obtain the relevant documents until February 2005.
It's all kind of interesting in a way. It must infuriate "DXer" that a top FBI agent has written a book providing an "insider's" view of the Amerithrax case, and that book will either ignore or totally dismiss the theory "DXer" has been ranting about for 12 years.
Meanwhile, I look forward to reading Dr. Decker's book - whenever it comes out.
Before researching "DXer's" latest rants, I spent the better part of the past week on The Atlantic magazine's web site once again discussing the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. MH370 Truther arguments are amazingly similar to Anthrax Truther arguments. They all agree that the various governments involved must all be wrong, but when you ask them what they think really happened to MH370, virtually every one of the Truthers has a different theory. And, of course, as with Anthrax Truthers, no amount of evidence can change their minds about anything.
But, there are also a few who are mostly just trying to understand what's going on. So, as part of such discussions I have to make sure I understand various subjects if I want to argue and explain those subjects. I spent hours studying, researching and figuring out the graph produced by the Inmarsat satellite company so that I could discuss it with others who said they didn't understand it. In the process, I learned a lot and discovered some things I didn't notice before, including some things I still have to research to clarify. I also argued about how pings from aircraft black boxes are not easily confused with pings from devices that are sometimes attached to whales and large fish like tuna and sharks. As a result of that research, I now understand why radio messages cannot be easily sent between underwater sources, and I can explain it if necessary.
I also understand and can explain why I'm having such a hard time getting started on another sci-fi novel. It's because I can't focus on it while also researching things like the time difference between the Maldives and Kuala Lumpur and whether a Boeing 777 that took off from Kuala Lumpur at 12:41 a.m. local time could pass over the Maldives at 6:16 a.m. local time and still have enough fuel to reach Diego Garcia.
But, there were no new questions or arguments on the Atlantic's blog this morning, so maybe the debate is petering out and I'll be able to get back to what I should be doing.
& Changes: Sunday, May 11, 2014, thru Saturday, May 17,
May 13, 2014 - I keep telling myself I need to stop arguing about Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 and get to work on a new novel, but the arguments can be really really fascinating - and educational.
Yesterday, I was arguing with a conspiracy theorist who argues with questions, just the way a certain True Believer argues about the anthrax case:
Could it be that the Malaysian pilot was on a government sanctioned mini 9/11 suicide mission in the name of Allah? Could it be that his actions had a spiritual purpose when he turned that plane around and headed west across the Malaysian Peninsula towards the Indian Ocean and ... then continued west to the Maltives Islands and ... then turned south toward the Diego Garcia military base.
Could it be that the Malaysian pilot crashed MH370 into a strategic target on Diego Garcia or ... could it be the plane was shot down over the island by the US Military when it was realized an attack was imminent? Either way the implication is that the wreckage of MH370 is not in the ocean.
Could it be that that Britain/US and Malaysia have respective underlying political reasons to distract the world's attention away from Diego Garcia as the location where MH370 came out of the skies on the morning of March 8, 2014? Could the Australian PM be reaping benefits for his compliance in the cover up.Her beliefs are based upon the news articles which reported eyewitnesses seeing flight MH370 flying low over the Maldives on March 8. Here's what one such source said:
Several witnesses in Dhaalu Atoll (20 civilians) saw a plane flying North to South-East, towards the southern tip of the Maldives that bore the red stripe and white background of Malaysia Airlines planes at 6:15am local time on March 8th.
About the only way you can see doors on an airplane flying past is if the doors are open. And the doors would be very like be open on a search aircraft to provide the searchers with a better view of the search area. They wouldn't likely be open on a passenger jet.
As expected, of course, the conspiracy theorist just changed the subject and continued to argue her cause, now twisting the newest information which says that some of the pings heard when searching for the black box are now considered to be unreliable.
She views that as proof that the people doing the search are incompetent. And she distorts the information to argue that
the pings detected in the Southern Indian Ocean are determined not to have originated from the missing plane
It's deja vu all over again. Arguing with MH370 Truthers is virtually identical to arguing with Anthrax Truthers.
On the other hand, I got some very nice compliments and agreements from others who are just trying to figure out what happened, and who have no particular theory to sell. It's been a long time since that happened with the Amerithrax case.
May 12, 2014 - This morning, someone sent me a link to yet another on-line debate over Malaysia Flight MH370. The discussion at the link has a lot of back and forth between theorists, but a blogger called "Anonymous Coward" (which I'm told is the name given to all anonoymous posters to Slashdot.org) provides some really top-notch information, explaining why the "experts" cited in The Atlantic Magazine article "Why the Official Explanation of MH370’s Demise Doesn’t Hold Up" are "totally wrong" in at least part of their analysis. "Anonymous Coward" explains why the slow drift of the satellite over the equator does is NOT the only way to determine whether MH370 went north or south, as The Atlantic's "experts" argue. The flight direction was actually determined by the known fact that the plane was north of the equator (and north of the satellite) before it disappeared, then the plane turned and flew southwest, and the doppler shift in the ping data on Inmarsat's graph clearly shows that. And "Anonymous Coward" explains very lucidly how it shows that.
May 11, 2014 - Last week, I received two emails from the True Believer who calls himself "DXer." The emails contained nothing coherent. One was about something that happened years before the anthrax attacks, the other was about studies done years after the attacks. The emails contained no explanations, and no real attempt to relate the emails to the attacks. They were just the same-old, same-old incoherent and pointless messages which mean something to "DXer," so he evidently assumes they should mean something to everyone else. To me, they just show for the umpteenth time that he doesn't understand anything, therefore he cannot explain anything.
Meanwhile, during breakfast and lunch I've been reading "The United States of Paranoia" by Jesse Walker. The book makes a very good case for believing that there are tens of thousands of conspiracy theorists out there who believe that every company and every government institution in the world is run by either the Illuminati or by witches. The book makes no mention of the conspiracy theories related to the anthrax attacks of 2001, which seems to further indicate that it's "a niche theory" argued by only a few die-hard conspiracy theorists and one lone debunker.
Also meanwhile, although I made numerous attempts to get started on a new sci-fi book, I spent a big part of the past week arguing with people after The Atlantic magazine's web article about some "outside experts" who disagree with the official experts on how to locate where Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 went. And, related to that, a regular on my interactive blog wrote:
the fact that this [the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370] is now STILL a news story just amazes me.
Why anyone would think that one of the biggest aviation mysteries of all time shouldn't still be a news story just amazes me. The blog regular also wrote:
if you can't find a substantial chunk of that aircraft and/or something verifiably belonging to someone who was on the aircraft, there's no basis for a total novice like me to say 'yeah, they're searching in the right place' or 'they're looking in the wrong place'.
There may be no reason for a "novice" like him to say such things, but there are reasons for a "novice" like me to try to figure out who is right and who is wrong about where the plane went down. It's very educational. And it involves science. And, I'm a life-long science buff. Plus, for me, the mystery of Flight MH370 has nearly all of the same elements that caused me to become fascinated with the mystery of who sent the anthrax letters of 2001:
1. Countless theorists have countless theories - all different.
2. The conspiracy theorists are out in force arguing their various theories.
3. There are "outside experts" voicing opinions based upon IGNORANCE, and the media readily prints their theories without questioning them.
4. All the theorists and outside "experts" are arguing that it's taking "too long" to get an answer, therefore everyone involved must be incompentent.
5. The theorists and outside "experts" are working with beliefs and opinions instead of facts and evidence.
6. Any objective look at the facts and evidence seems to show very clearly that the authorities are MOST LIKELY correct and the theorists and "outside experts" are ALMOST CERTAINLY wrong.
7. But, the theorists and "outside experts" argue that if it is POSSIBLE for them to be correct, and if it's POSSIBLE for the authorities to be wrong, then their theories are better - because they believe their own theories.
If you enjoy sorting facts from beliefs, it can be extremely fascinating. The arguments about MH370 can lead into fascinating scientific areas. The claim that MH370 was detected under the Bay of Bengal off the coast of Bangladesh turned out to be a truly fascinating look at how an Australian company run by Russians and Ukranians can try to argue that a "science" ghost hunters use to hunt for ghosts has found MH370.
And another "expert" is arguing that the pings heard from the black box by the search ship Ocean Shield are just whale tracking devices which inexplicably use the same sound wave frequency. But, if you examine his claims, as they did on PPRuNE.org, the claims would require that whale tracking ships be coincidentally in the same area without anyone knowing about it or realizing it. The claims also ignore the fact that the whale tracking devices would show a doppler effect resulting from the whale moving relative to the Ocean Shield. Experts would notice that right away, since they're trained to separate black box pings from external noises. The black box would be motionless on the bottom of the ocean and would show no doppler effect (other than from the movement of Ocean Shield.) And, of course, the black box pinger sends out a unique pattern, one ping per second. The whale tracking devices would presumably have a different pattern -- unless the whale trackers are totally ignorant of black boxes.
And what about the "Merlindown" announcement from last week that debris from MH370 was spotted in the South China Sea? Click HERE and HERE for pictures of the debris. All that is required to accept this information is an assumption that any debris found anywhere near where MH370 flew must be debris from MH370. Are those shapes indicated by the red arrows in the image below the cockpit windows of MH370, or are Merlindown's "experts" just seeing what they want to see?
Click HERE to see the claim debunked. The satellite images were taken in 2005.
I could go on and on.
It also amazes me that people can argue that we should just forget about MH370 because it's costing too much money to find it.
If the authorities don't find out what happened to MH370, the authorities won't have any way to prevent it from happening again.
The latest news is that the search ship Ocean shield has completed its refit time in port and is now on its way back to the search area.
Captain Matthews says equipment will be used in the same area where sounds consistent with a black box locator were detected last month.
"They'll either find something or they won't, that's about all I can box in, but what you do is you go look at your best indications and you pursue them until they're exhausted," he said.
Captain Matthews says the Bluefin-21 vehicle will be deployed to do a site scan survey to look for "any non-normal items, any metallic items".
"That whole area has not been fully surveyed so they're continuing work there," he said.
"Concurrently there's a team in Canberra that includes ATSB, NTSB, Boeing and Inmarsat looking at the satellite data, just to take a fresh look, make sure they refine as much as they can the broader search area."
Captain Matthews says it is impossible to definitively say the signals detected last month were from a black box.
"It is certainly a man-made signal, but what it's from, I can't look at it and positively say 'hey that's an underwater locator beacon'," he said.As usual, the people with other theories are absolutely certain they are right, while the official experts are only following the best evidence they have, and they are always fully aware that there could be something totally unexpected going on.
And a big part of the public (particularly conspiracy theorists and True Believers) tend to conclude that the "expert" who exhibits the most certainty is the one who is most likely right, while history says just the opposite.
"Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd." -- Voltaire
“If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.” ― Francis Bacon
“I believe in intuitions and inspirations...I sometimes FEEL that I am right. I do not KNOW that I am.” ― Albert Einstein
“Certainty? In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.” ― Benjamin Franklin
“Positive, adj.: Mistaken at the top of one's voice.” ― Ambrose Bierce
“At the core of all well-founded belief lies belief that is unfounded.” ― Ludwig Wittgenstein, On Certainty
& Changes: Sunday, May 4, 2014, thru Saturday, May 10,
May 8, 2014 - This morning, The Atlantic magazine's web site has an interesting article misleadingly titled "Why the Official Explanation of MH370’s Demise Doesn’t Hold Up." According to the article,
Authorities have treated the conclusion that the plane crashed in the ocean west of Australia as definitive, owing to a much-vaunted mathematical analysis of satellite signals sent by the plane. But scientists and engineers outside of the investigation have been working to verify that analysis, and many say that it just doesn’t hold up.
If you read the article, you'll find that a comment near the end of the analysis provides a much more accurate description of what's the article is all about:
Until officials provide more information, the claim that Flight 370 went south rests not on the weight of mathematics but on faith in authority. Inmarsat officials and search authorities seem to want it both ways: They release charts, graphics, and statements that give the appearance of being backed by math and science, while refusing to fully explain their methodologies. And over the course of this investigation, those authorities have repeatedly issued confident pronouncements that they’ve later quietly walked back.
The "outside experts" cited in The Atlantic don't have any actual evidence proving that the "official experts" handing the investigation are wrong, they just don't have enough information to prove that there is no other possible way to interpret the data. They use possible ways the official experts could have misinterpreted things to enable the author of The Atlantic's article to argue "Why Inmarsat’s Analysis Is Probably Wrong."
The author of the article is an executive editor for The New Atlantis: A Journal of Technology and Society. Editor Ari N. Schulman's main gripe seems to be that the people doing the MH370 investigation aren't providing him with all the information he needs to verify that they are doing things correctly:
An Inmarsat official told me that to “a high degree of certainty, the proponents of other paths are wrong. The model has been carefully mapped out using all the available data.”
The official cited Inmarsat’s participation in the investigation as preventing it from giving further detail, and did not reply to requests for comments on even basic technical questions about the analysis. Inmarsat has repeatedly claimed that it checked its model against other aircrafts that were flying at the time, and peer-reviewed the model with other industry experts. But Inmarsat won’t say who reviewed it, how closely, or what level of detail they were given.
So, until the official experts give him the information he wants and needs, he's going to cite guesswork from "experts" who do not have all the information required to make any kind of authoritative judgment, but who disagree with the official version.
My view is that the official experts are working with very imprecise data to search a very large and almost inaccessible area, and it doesn't do anyone any good to argue that because, in someone's opinion, it's taking "too long" to find answers, that somehow means the investigators are incompetent and looking in the wrong place. I'll wait for the official experts who have all the data to finish their work before I'll listen to "outside experts" who don't have all the data and seemingly just want to argue that it's possible that the official experts could be wrong.
It's not that I have "faith in authority." It's that I have NO reason to trust or put faith in "outside experts" who do not have enough information to prove anything, but who still want to argue that the official experts could be wrong.
It's the same argument used by conspiracy theorists and True Believers: If it's possible for the theorists to be right and the official experts to be wrong, then that means the theorists ARE right until proven otherwise -- and probably even beyond that point.
May 7, 2014 - Feeling a need to write something, even though there is nothing new in the media to write about, I did a Google search for "conspiracy theorist." Google suggested conspiracy+theorist+psychology instead. The top item on the provided list was a 2013 article from Slate magazine titled "Conspiracy Theorists Aren’t Really Skeptics: The fascinating psychology of people who know the real truth about JFK, UFOs, and 9/11."
Here are some key sections from the Slate article:
Conspiracy chatter was once dismissed as mental illness. But the prevalence of such belief, documented in surveys, has forced scholars to take it more seriously. Conspiracy theory psychology is becoming an empirical field with a broader mission: to understand why so many people embrace this way of interpreting history. As you’d expect, distrust turns out to be an important factor.
The strongest predictor of general belief in conspiracies, the authors found, was “lack of trust.”
More broadly, it’s a tendency to focus on intention and agency, rather than randomness or causal complexity. In extreme form, it can become paranoia. In mild form, it’s a common weakness known as the fundamental attribution error—ascribing others’ behavior to personality traits and objectives, forgetting the importance of situational factors and chance. Suspicion, imagination, and fantasy are closely related.
The more you see the world this way—full of malice and planning instead of circumstance and coincidence—the more likely you are to accept conspiracy theories of all kinds. Once you buy into the first theory, with its premises of coordination, efficacy, and secrecy, the next seems that much more plausible.
Psychologists and political scientists have repeatedly demonstrated that “when processing pro and con information on an issue, people actively denigrate the information with which they disagree while accepting compatible information almost at face value.” Scholars call this pervasive tendency “motivated skepticism.”
Conspiracy believers are the ultimate motivated skeptics. Their curse is that they apply this selective scrutiny not to the left or right, but to the mainstream. They tell themselves that they’re the ones who see the lies, and the rest of us are sheep.
This would seem to apply to True Believers, also. True Believers tend to think they are the only ones who can see the TRUTH, and the rest of us are just ignorant sheep.
The second item on the Google list led me to a copy of the September 2013 issue of PSY-PAG (Psycology Post-Graduate Affairs Group) Quarterly, which is a special issue devoted to "The psychology of conspiracy theories." The 56 page magazine contains these articles about conspiracy theories and conspiracy theorists.
"An introduction into the world of conspiracy" - Christopher Thresher-Andrews
"Towards a definition of ‘conspiracy theory’" - Robert Brotherton
"A review of different approaches to study belief in conspiracy theories" - Anthony Lantian
"The psychology of conspiracy theories blog - http://www.conspiracypsychology.com"
"Has the internet been good for conspiracy theorising?" - Michael Wood
"The detrimental nature of conspiracy theories" - Daniel Jolley
The second PSY-PAG article, "Towards a definition of 'conspiracy theory'" poses an interesting question:
The claim that members of the US government were complicit in the attacks of September 11, 2001, for instance, is generally branded a conspiracy theory (e.g. Dunbar & Reagan, 2006; Grossman, 2006), yet the label is rarely applied to the claim that members of al-Qaeda secretly planned and executed the attacks. The two claims both postulate a successful conspiracy to commit the attacks. Why is it that, in popular discourse, the term conspiracy theory is applied to the former but not the latter?
One amusing answer is:
The situation has been likened to attempting to define pornography – a task which forced US Supreme Court Justice Potter Stuart to conclude simply, ‘I know it when I see it’ (Byford, 2011).
But, the more comprehensive and useful definition is in this statement:
I define conspiracy theory as an unverified claim of conspiracy which is not the most plausible account of an event or situation, and with sensationalistic subject matter or implications. In addition, the claim will typically postulate unusually sinister and competent conspirators. Finally, the claim is based on weak kinds of evidence, and is epistemically self-insulating against disconfirmation.
In other words, a "conspiracy theory" is typically implausible, sensationalistic, gives the conspirators super-abilities, is based upon weak evidence, and is so vague that it cannot be easily disproved.
The article also contains this:
Conspiracy theories are unverified claims.
Conspiracies have occurred throughout history, and occur in some form every day – in politics, organised crime, insider dealing, scams, and so on. Philosopher Charles Pigden points out that ‘if a conspiracy theory is simply a theory which posits a conspiracy, then every politically and historically literate person is a big-time conspiracy theorist’ (Pigden, 2007, p.222). However, this is not how the label is commonly used. The term usually refers to explanations which are not regarded as verified by legitimate epistemic authorities. The theory may be regarded as indisputably true by those who subscribe to it, but this belief is invariably at odds with the mainstream consensus among scientists, historians, or other legitimate judges of the claim’s veracity.
I couldn't have said it better myself. It certainly fits ALL the conspiracy theories related to the anthrax attacks of 2001 that I've heard during the past 12+ years.
The third item on the Google list was another article from 2013, this time from Scientific American Magazine, titled "Insights into the Personalities of Conspiracy Theorists." It begins with this:
Conspiracy theories and scientific theories attempt to explain the world around us. Both apply a filter of logic to the complexity of the universe, thereby transforming randomness into reason. Yet these two theoretical breeds differ in important ways. Scientific theories, by definition, must be falsifiable. That is, they must make reliable predictions about the world; and if those predictions turn out to be incorrect, the theory can be declared false. Conspiracy theories, on the other hand, are tough to disprove. Their proponents can make the theories increasingly elaborate to accommodate new observations; and, ultimately, any information contradicting a conspiracy theory can be answered with, “Well sure, that’s what they want you to think.”
And those are just the first three items on a very long list. But, I think those three are enough to confirm that I'm not the only one who views "conspiracy theorists" as outside of the norm. Conspiracy theorists tend to think of themselves as part of the majority, but, as I've written many times, they are just a fringe group that the vast majority of the public doesn't take seriously. I don't see anything in these articles that disagrees with what I've been saying about conspiracy theorists for 12+ years.
On the other hand, anarchist Alex Jones indicates he has a study which shows that conspiracy theorists are sane, and government dupes are crazy. I found it by doing a Google search for conspiracy+theorist+majority.
May 6, 2014 - This morning, a "regular" on my interactive blog asked two questions:
1) is the term ["conspiracy theorist"], IN COMMON USAGE, neutral (that is to say, merely descriptive) or is it pejorative?
2) what does a posited 'conspiracy' have to consist of in order to be labeled a "conspiracy theory"?
I responded that the term "conspiracy theorist" isn't "pejorative," since it doesn't express "contempt or disapproval" of the person. It's just a way of identifying people who develop conspiracy theories that are NOT based upon solid evidence. Such theories may or may not be viewed with "contempt or disapproval." They generally just cause frustration, because there's no way to prove or disprove their conspiracy theories.
1. Conspiracy theorists refuse to intelligently discuss their theories.
2. Conspiracy theorists provide no meaningful evidence to support their theories.
3. Conspiracy theorists ignore all the facts which say their theories are wrong.
4. Conspiracy theorists typically view arguments from others as personal attacks.
If you explain how the conspiracy theorist's beliefs are not based on facts and evidence, they will generally express contempt and disapproval of you personally instead of further explaining their argument or attempting to disprove the known facts and evidence by presenting better facts and evidence.
As far as the second question is concerned, that is very easy to answer: A "conspiracy theory " is no longer a "theory" when it is supported by solid evidence that would stand up in court. Then it becomes a "conspiracy" or a "proven conspiracy." And the person who uncovered the conspiracy is called "an investigator," not a "theorist."
Conspiracy theorists want others to do the investigating. They feel they already know all that is needed to be known. They feel everyone else is in the dark and such people need to investigate to learn the "truth" that the conspiracy theorist already knows. Conspiracy theorists feel there is no point in discussing anything until everyone else learns that "truth." Unfortunately, the "truth" as they see it, is a matter of beliefs and opinions. Solid facts are irrelevant to conspiracy theorists. They are not persuaded by any facts or evidence. You must convert the conspiracy theorist to a new belief.
May 4, 2014 - Last week, I noticed that Wikipedia already has a article page titled "Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 conspiracy theories." I suppose it's not surprising, since the conspiracy theories began appearing on the Internet almost immediately. And it's been almost 2 months since flight MH370 disappeared.
I also noticed that the first reference in the Wikipedia article is a Wall Street Journal video interview with Harvard Professor Cass Sunstein, who coincidentally has just written a book titled "Conspiracy Theories and Other Dangerous Ideas." According to the Boston Globe's review of the book, “Glenn Beck has described Cass Sunstein as ‘the most dangerous man in America’." Researching that comment, I found that Fox News confirms what Beck said. That probably means Sunstein's a pretty smart guy.
Prof. Sunstein's new book came out two months ago, on March 18, and it consists of 11 essays, only one of which is about conspiracy theorists. Nevertheless, its Amazon.com page has eight angry 1-star reviews from anonymous reviewers who absolutely hate the idea that Prof. Sunstein has written such a book. All eight of the 1-star reviews are variations on the same conspiracy theorist theme:
Typical of "debunkers" and propagandists, here all manner of Theories are
lumped together, and the Conspiratorial Type of Person is assumed.
This Person is flawed. Wrong. Incorrect. Crippled. Effed up.
We would like to figure out how these false ideas are spread among the Effed Up People.
This analysis is pathetic and inane.
"Here's a conspiracy theory for you: The brief bio of Sunstein that Newsday provides fails to mention, quite revealingly, is that Cass Sunstein served in the Obama administration as Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. He was hired a year after he and a co-author wrote this in a Harvard scholarly paper (aptly titled 'conspiracy theories'):
"Robbie Eisler" wrote:
This is a nonsensical approach to a subject that throws the baby out with the bathwater. It is a wholesale, hackneyed, down-the-line mainstream piece of propaganda that sophistically mixes clearly insane, paranoid conspiracy theories with certainly plausible ones.
We live in an age where the implausible and the outrageous unfortunately sometime turn out to be even more outrageous than one could have imagined. Sunstein, a Martha's Vineyard sycophant, has no time for these thoughts.
"Ralph Yates" wrote:
This book suggests the true facts about the Kennedy assassinations, TWA 800, and 9-11 were all nutty conspiracy theories all handily explained by Mr Sunstein who calmly attributes all those wicked events to perfectly reasonable explanations that all so happen to fit the government version.
"Allen Wood" wrote:
cass sunstein is a danger to the free world. a nut job who is shilling for the new world order and the end of freedom of speech. this book is pure propaganda and trash. Sunstein is dangerous.
Shortly after JFK was shot Life magazine came out with an article on Arlen Spector's "Magic Bullet Theory". I was 17 at the time and read the article with fascination. Anyone who actually takes the time to review how a single bullet could result in seven entry/exit wounds while turning midair in impossible directions knows that the Warren Report is fiction.
"Bulldust detector" wrote:
Read "Cognitive Infiltration: An Obama Appointee's Plan To Infiltrate the Truth Movement" , by Dr David R. Griffin if you want to get a handle on Cass "Nudge" Sunstein.
Griffin's books are available at Amazon and "Cognitive Infiltration" is one of his most important alongside "Debunking 911 Debunking: An Answer to the Media", in my opinion.
And "R. C. Lowe" wrote:
Good to see this tool getting little attention. Sunstein embodies the propagandist, and encouragingly about 50% of the country knows it. Even with all of the energy the ruling elites have thrown into bamboozling the common man/woman, they are finding out that they can't fool all the people all the time.
In summary, conspiracy theorists don't like being called "conspiracy theorists," they do not like having their personal theories grouped together with the personal theories from other conspiracy theorists, and they think the people who debunk conspiracy theories are "propagandists" for the government -- such people are "nut jobs" -- and the conspiracy theorists believe that 50% of the country agrees with them on that. And any survey which shows conspiracy theorists to be merely a small lunatic fringe group would be considered to be just more "propaganda" put out by "government lackies."
I seriously doubt that any of the 1-star reviewers actually read Sunstein's book. They just seem to enjoy attacking and creating problems for people who debunk conspiracy theories. Such people are viewed as being part of that same vast conspiracy.
On this web site, I previously mentioned Prof. Cass Sunstein on May 24, 2009 when he came out with a different book. And, I mentioned him on Feb. 17, 2013, when I discovered he'd written a 2008 article titled "Conspiracy Theories" which I download and quoted. At the time, I was pleased to find that I wasn't the only one out there fighting the conspiracy theorists.
I found Professor Sunstein's recent Wall Street Journal comments to be interesting. He seems to think that when flight MH370 is found, many of the conspiracy theorists will still find some way to continue to believe their conspiracy theories -- in spite of whatever evidence is found, and regardless of how conclusive it may be. They'll just assume that the new evidence is "phoney" or "planted" evidence, and they'll fit that belief into their conspiracy theory. I think he's absolutely right about that. In over 12 years of arguing with conspiracy theorists and True Believers, I've yet to see a single conspiracy theorist or True Believer reverse course and realize that what he's been claiming is baseless and just plain ridiculous. There's no way to get them to look at the evidence. To them, real evidence is NOT evidence. To them, ignorant opinions and screwball beliefs that would never be allowed in any courtroom are the only true evidence. Unfortunately, that means we cannot have any common framework for evaluating and understanding evidence. Thus, any meaningful communication is next to impossible. And that appears to be just the way the conspiracy theorists and True Believers want things to be.
& Changes: Thursday, May 1, 2014, thru Saturday, May 3,
May 3, 2014 (B) - This afternoon, I was reading the Dwight Adams deposition in the Steven Hatfill vs The Attorney General lawsuit that I downloaded from the U.S. Army's Medical Research and Materiel Command web site. I found it frustrating, since there would be missing pages just when things were getting interesting. So, I did a Google search to see if the full deposition was available somewhere else. To my surprise, I learned that the USAMRIID copies of the depositions come from "DXer." They evidently first appeared on Lew Weinstein's blog on January 30, 2010. However, I also find that I quoted a lot of material from Dwight Adams' deposition back in mid-2006. And my comments say I was reading the deposition. So, it's quite possible I have my own copy of the Adams deposition in my files, but I've lost track of where it's located. The docket for the case makes no mention of Dwight Adams. And I don't provide any links to it in my 2006 comments. However, if I write anything about the Hatfill lawsuit now, I'll very likely be repeating myself. Unless I can find the time to refresh my memory about what I was doing in mid-2006, it's probably better to just drop the subject.
May 3, 2014 (A) - This morning I received emails from two different people, both bringing to my attention an article in the Wall Street Journal titled "How the 'Jesus' Wife' Hoax Fell Apart." The article contains these statements:
On April 24, Christian Askeland—a Coptic specialist at Indiana Wesleyan University and my colleague at the Green Scholars Initiative—revealed that the "Gospel of Jesus' Wife," as the fragment is known, was a match for a papyrus fragment that is clearly a forgery.and
Mr. Askeland found, among the online links that Harvard used as part of its publicity push, images of another fragment, of the Gospel of John, that turned out to share many similarities—including the handwriting, ink and writing instrument used—with the "wife" fragment. The Gospel of John text, he discovered, had been directly copied from a 1924 publication.
I thought it was interesting that they determined the handwriting matched and was a forgery, since the handwriting very definitely uses "block letters":
And, of course, DXer once wrote:
Ed’s suggestion that a child wrote the letters (because block letters were used) has always been especially foolish. It is not difficult for an adult to disguise his writing (using block letters). There would be no reason to involve a child. Duh.
It appears that disguising one's handwriting using "block letters" is not as easy as DXer would have people believe.
May 2, 2014 - Someone brought to my attention the fact that the U.S. Army's Medical Research and Materiel Command web site now has a section for "depositions." All were added between April 15 and yesterday. And, for some inexplicable reason, those depositions include ones from the Maureen Stevens vs USA lawsuit, and many more depositions that were done as part of Steven Hatfill's lawsuit against the Attorney General. The Hatfill lawsuit depositions consist of 3,250 pages divided up into "8 volumes" in the form of huge pdf files:
Vol. 1 - 372 pages: Dwight Adams, John Ashcroft, Timothy Beres, Gary Boyd (SAIC), Tom Carey
Vol. 2 - 348 pages: Edward Cogswell, Barbara Comstock, Mark Corallo, Deborah Daniels, Darrell Darnell, Arthur Eberhart, James Fitzgerald
Vol. 3 - 490 pages: Bradley Garrett, Stephen Guillot, Van Harp, Steven Hatfill
Vol. 4 - 483 pages: Tracy Henke, Roscoe Howard, Michael Isikoff, Daniel Klaidman, Kenneth Kohl
Vol. 5 - 436 pages: Michael Kortan, Nicholas Kristof, Richard Lambert, Allan Lengel
Vol. 6 - 318 pages: Tony Loci, Robert Mueller, Peter Mueller, Virginia Patrick, Channing Phillips, James Reynolds
Vol. 7 - 431 pages: Brian Ross, Robert Roth, Daniel Seikaly
Vol. 8 - 372 pages: Bryan Sierra, James Stewart, Rex Stockham, Vic Walter, Debra Weierman
I've only had the time to look through a few of them, but so far I've found nothing of great importance in any of them. They're all image pdfs, so I can't do a search for a specific word. And there are vast numbers of pages that are missing. Many of the people being deposed are names I don't recognize - many seem to be reporters. The deposition of Daniel Seikaly (former Chief of the Criminal Division of the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia) is of interest only because it contains page after page of Seikaly "taking the fifth." Plus, it inexplicably jumps from page 1 to page 34, while a copy of that same deposition that I obtained many years ago HERE has those pages. I haven't tried to figure out why they're missing from one version and not from the other. The fact that the missing pages all have "UNDER SEAL" on the top of every page in my version probably has something to do with it.
The most interesting deposition I've read so far is the one from FBI Agent Robert Roth, who - together with Agent David Dawson - were lead investigators early in the case. Starting on page 160 of Volume 7 there's a very interesting explanation by Agent Roth for how the term "person of interest" was used in the Amerithrax investigation. The questions are asked by Hatfill's lawyer, Tom Connolly:
Q: Well, let's talk about clarity. What is a person of interest?
A: You know, it's just -- it's just a -- it's a classification of people -- a person who is under some level of scrutiny in the investigation. There was a -- there was a specific criteria of elements that we had that would typically get you on that list and if -- if you had two of the number or, you know, you had 80 percent of that number you were a higher priority POI. If you had, you know, 20 percent, you were a lower priority POI but it was just this --- it was a -- it was a list to keep track and -- of people in the investigation that were under some level of scrutiny.
Q: Had you ever worked a case before this one where there was a compilation of lists using the term "persons of interest."
A: No, it got invented there on Amerithrax. I can remember the -- I can remember when it happened.
Q: Well, tell me how it happened?
A: Well, we were sitting around the back of the room, the ground floor command post, and we were trying to come up with what we could call this list because he didn't want to say suspects list. That was too harsh. You knew that most of the people on it, the vast -- almost everybody on it, could be absolutely innocent.
So, you didn't want to -- you just wanted -- you just wanted some term that we could use that would classify people that were under some level of scrutiny in the investigation and that was an innocuous term and John Kerr said just call them persons of interest, and we said okay, that's -- that sounds useful enough. We'll use that.
I also found it very interesting that on page 185 Agent Roth characterizes the newspaper stories Nicholas Kristof wrote about Steven Hatfill as being "vicious." And Roth several times talks about how the news media was constantly printing inaccurate information about the case and about the FBI's view of Hatfill.
But, while it's all somewhat interesting, it's also "old news." And, from what I can tell, probably 98% of those 3,250 pages of depositions are "old news." The question is: Do I want to spend the time to hunt for the 2% that might be interesting "new news"?