Sunday, January 29, 2012

Jan. 29 - Feb. 4, 2012 Discussions

The (A) topic of my Sunday comment this week was about all the arguments I've been having with Anthrax Truthers on this blog. While the arguments sometimes seem to be a total waste of time, at other times they seem to be very interesting and educational. Even the arguments which are just repeats of old arguments can be beneficial when they force me to find new arguments to challenge their old arguments. And, of course, there's the added benefit of having a record of how Anthrax Truthers think.

It was also made VERY clear by last week's postings from Anthrax Truthers that the disdain they have for the FBI's "circumstantial evidence" against Ivins doesn't apply to the wildly circumstantial evidence they use in support of their own theories.

Lastly, my (C) comment on Sunday was about some additional "evidence" I noticed which seems to further indicate that a child wrote the anthrax letters. The way the writer wrote Y's is very odd. It appears he may have been drawing Y's with THREE STROKES. And, sometimes it seems he drew his Y's starting at the upper left and sometimes starting at the upper right. That is VERY childlike, and it is NOTHING like any example of handwriting we have from the 9/11 hijackers.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Anonymous #2 wrote: "It is so amusing that you keep ridiculing all the newspapers and peer reviewed publications that advance supported arguments and dismiss them as preposterous -- when it is your argument that a First Grader wrote the letters that is preposterous.

    It is extremely ironic that your ad hominem entire schtick applies... to you. .. and you don't realize it."

    I won't repeat the rest of the post because it was a vicious personal attack. That's why the comment was deleted.

    But, I don't mind having a True Believer arguing that I am the one who is a True Believer because I present facts while others present opinions and beliefs that disagree with me.

    That's one purpose of this blog: To show how True Believers and other Anthrax Truthers twist the facts to support their beliefs. They see something wrong with anyone and everyone who doesn't agree with their beliefs.


  3. You are attacking one of the world's leading anthrax experts, Martin Hugh-Jones, the author of that article. In contrast, you have no expertise whatsoever relevant to the true crime matter. You don't even read the relevant books or articles. The author you ridicule TAUGHT and MENTORED the FBI's key genetics expert in the early phases of the investigation. You served a purpose when you uploaded newspaper articles and court filings but none of your commentary is every correct or even close to professional.

  4. As for the editor of that Journal, as I vaguely recall, he was on the NAS panel. His predecessor is now Homeland Undersecretary for Biosecurity. You are too unqualified even to know that these people are experts in the field.

  5. Anonymous #2 wrote: "You are attacking one of the world's leading anthrax experts, Martin Hugh-Jones, the author of that article."

    Ah! I see what one of your many problems is! You think that because I disagree with someone's opinion, it's a personal attack upon that person.

    I difficult to imagine anyone thinking in such an absurd way, but I'm constantly surprised by the logic of Anthrax Truthers.

    Martin Hugh-Jones' expertise is in the area of veterinary medicine, plus he's an expert on anthrax as it appears in animals all over the world.

    That doesn't make him an expert on ANY of the subjects mentioned in the abstract for his article. He is NOT an expert on police investigations. He is NOT an expert on how silicon and tin might get into an anthrax spore. He is NOT an expert on the forensic value of determining the source of Bacillus subtilis contamination.

    The article is a re-hash of conspiracy theories and scientific nonsense. It appears that a couple of conspiracy theorists managed to get Hugh-Jones to front for them as the "corresponding author."

    "As for the editor of that Journal, as I vaguely recall, he was on the NAS panel."

    If so, that explains a lot. The authors of the NAS report seemed to lack any comprehension of what constitutes a legal case in court. Using their logic, it is totally possible that aliens from outer space prepared the anthrax in the letters, since there is no incontrovertible scientific evidence that can exclude aliens from outer space as suspects.


  6. Anonymous #2,

    Was Science Magazine "attacking" Martin Hugh-Jones when they wrote that he was just "speculating" that the powders in the letter may have been weaponized?

    Here are some quotes from the Science article:

    "The authors of the paper, led by Martin Hugh-Jones, an epidemiologist and emeritus professor at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, speculate that the anthrax may have been weaponized—made easier to inhale—by coating it with a silicon-based compound applied in the presence of a tin catalyst."


    "These are not new questions, and two of the paper's authors, Barbara Hatch Rosenberg and Stuart Jacobsen, both of whom have been vocal critics of the FBI investigation, have raised similar questions before."


    "Where did the tin come from? Sandia chemist Michael says it did not have to come from an additive, as hypothesized by Hugh-Jones and his colleagues."


    "In the new paper, Hugh-Jones, Rosenberg, and Jacobsen do not offer such a simple explanation. Instead, they speculate that the attacker or attackers may have used a process similar to one used in applying coatings in the manufacture of drugs. They don't cite any literature or documented methods for weaponizing anthrax but offer that a "procedure of this kind can be envisioned for encapsulating B. anthracis spores."

    Science is being more polite than I am. The article is NONSENSE. Hugh-Jones should be ashamed of himself for allowing his name to be associated with it.


  7. In that article you, without basis, attempt to ridicule, this world renown expert, who collected anthrax samples from around the globe -- and has the largest collection in the world -- addresses the subtilis contamination. It was a copy of his collection that was used to start Dr. Keim's collection (and you are no one to dispute him, especially in disparaging terms that don't even address the merits): He is the editor of PRO-MED, which I believe has 40,000 subscribers. Would you agree with me that he is a highly qualified expert on the subject of bacillus specimens from the environment for the purpose of analysis the origin of the sample? See his published articles on geographic origin.

    He writes:

    "A bacterial contaminant that could be an important institutional
    “fingerprint” was found in the attack powders in the NY Post and
    Brokaw letters, but not in the more highly purified material in the
    letters sent to the Senate104, which were mailed later. The genetic
    sequence of the NY Post contaminant had 98% genetic similarity to
    B. subtilis 168105, a standard laboratory strain, but it was not identical
    to any presently recognized strain of B. subtilis, based on assays for
    three genetic markers106. The Brokaw B. subtilis contaminant has never
    been sequenced, but its similarity to the NY Post contaminant was
    demonstrated at 23 genetic loci for which multiple PCR assays were
    developed107. An environmental sample from the office of American
    Media, Inc. (AMI) in Florida –the only AMI sample for which any
    analyses have been reported –contained bacilli that were phenotypically
    (i.e., observationally) indistinguishable from the B. subtilis in the NY
    Post and Brokaw letters108. Cell suspensions of the B. subtilis and B.
    anthracis isolates from the AMI environmental sample were prepared
    in 2006 and sent for genetic analysis109, but evidently they were never
    analyzed; in 2011 the FBI told the NAS Committee verbally that the
    U.S. Attorney’s Office advised that further characterization of those
    samples “would not be undertaken110.” No explanation for this decision
    has been offered.

    Samples submitted to the FBI repository by all known possessors
    of B. anthracis Ames appear to contain no B. subtilis contamination
    that perfectly matches that in the NY Post powder, as shown by
    negative results in assays for ID65111, one of three rare markers in
    the NY Post strain112. An FBI subpoena, issued in 2002, had required
    that samples submitted to the repository must be taken from stock B.
    anthracis cultures, which are usually handled with great care to prevent
    contamination. Thus it is surprising that 30% of the 1070 repository
    samples tested positive113 in a genetic assay for sboA, a pan-B. Subtilis-
    specific marker used by the FBI as a common marker for B. subtilis114.
    On the basis of the ID65 results on repository samples the FBI
    concluded, and the NAS concurred, that the B. subtilis contaminant did
    not provide useful forensic information115.


    "The FBI should have collected environmental and
    other samples from all laboratories that were potential production sites
    of the letter spores—i.e., laboratories known or suspected to possess B.
    anthracis similar to the attack anthrax."

  8. Anonymous #2,

    The article was SPECULATION, not science. There was no new science in it. It was just theories and opinions and speculation, most of it UNINFORMED and CARELESSLY PRESENTED.

    So, it's irrelevant what Martin Hugh-Jones' credentials are. Even Albert Einstein made stupid mistakes.


  9. Martin explained in the Princetonian that is precisely the point. The article contains hypotheses subject to testing and he invites the FBI to do so.

    Would you agree that Dr. Ivins provided the FBI an article he had been given about bacillus suspensions and how silica is added to the spore coat -- and that Dr. Ivins did not use the method? But that the authors of the article(s) on the issue had? And would you agree that if you never bothered to obtain the article and thus don't know what it said?

    Would you agree that years ago on this very issue you were in contact with Martin and relied upon as an expert in support of your position on the issue? You are argued that it was ridiculous to think that the silica was used to fluidize the anthrax -- you reasoned that it would make the anthrax heavier.

    And would you agree that numerous published articles explained the use of silica and you simply were unaware of them or would argue that the authors were mistaken?

    You simply are not qualified to discuss these issues and instead should rely on experts such as the Lawrence Livermore experts Velsko and Weber who say that the silicon signature is potentially highly probative and warrants further exploration.

    So by all means, quote the relevant independent expert of your choice but don't presume to address it yourself. You were horribly and fundamentally wrong on silica for 8 years and have no business addressing it.

  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  11. Anonymous #2,

    You have been claiming for ten years that Muslims were behind the anthrax attacks, and you continue to do so, even though the FBI has been saying for ten years that the evidence shows that Muslims were NOT behind the attacks. Over three years ago, the FBI stated that Bruce Ivins was the anthrax mailer and he acted alone, yet you continue to argue that Muslims were behind the attacks.

    And you lecture me on ignoring evidence??? Really?

    I argued that it didn't make sense to put a coat of silica on spores the screwball way it was described in Gary Matsumoto's article in Science magazine. It didn't make sense. It was ridiculous.

    Yes, I also stated that a silica coating would make the spores heavier, which seemed to make no sense if they objective was to make them more easy to aerosolize.

    When the process used by the U.S. government to coat spores with silica was disclosed in March 2008, it turned out that they did indeed coat spores with silica, but NOT in the way described in Matsumoto's article. The coating DID make the spores heavier, but the added weight was negligible when offset by the benefit of preventing the spores from sticking together.

    As soon as I saw the article explaining the process, I accepted that I was wrong and even created a web page explaining the process and how it was nothing like what had been described in Science.

    Of course, the way the weaponized spores were coated with silica had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the attack spores. In fact, it was more evidence that the attack spores were NOT coated with silica or silicon. It was an undeniable illustration of how easy such a coating would be to see under a scanning electron microscope.

    Yet you and the "expert" behind the Science article continued to argue that the attack spores were coated with silicon. The Hugh-Jones article talks about "microencapsulation," which is absurd. The other theories in the article are equally absurd.

    I've consulted at length with scientists who have examined the attack spores, and the silicon got into the spores as the spores were being formed inside the mother germs, so any notion that silica or silicon was added AFTER the spores were formed is a fantasy that goes CONTRARY TO ALL THE FACTS. If Martin Hugh-Jones believes it, he believes something that is CONTRARY TO ALL THE FACTS, and he should know better.

    You are hardly the person to lecture me on what the facts are. I've changed my points of view many times when new facts were presented. You just stick to your disproved beliefs regardless of what the facts say. And, you've been doing it for ten years!


  12. I deleted another one of Anonymous #2's post because it not only contained personal attacks, it also contained a threat:

    "I am going to make sure you don't succeed in trying to rewrite history"

    But, mostly it was deleted because it was filled with arguments and claims that have nothing to do with the subject of this forum.

    A copy of the post was saved in my archives, of course.


  13. Okay, since Anonymous #2 cannot discuss anything in an intelligent or civilized way, I had no choice but to change the rules.

    From now on, only people I put into a file can post to this forum. Those people are determined by their email addresses, so Richard Rowley and Old Atlantic Lighthouse should still be able to post.


  14. Hmm. I may have changed settings incorrectly yesterday. I may have prevented anyone but members from VIEWING the blog, when my intent was to let anyone view the blog BUT prevent anyone but "members" from posting to it.


  15. On Meryl Nass's site, Richard Rowley says he cannot post to this blog, even though he's a member. I don't know why.

    But, I changed the settings. Now, anyone can post, BUT all comments are moderated. That means I have to review them before they'll appear on the site.

    At least that's they way it's supposed to work. I won't really know until someone gives it a try.


  16. Ah! I found the setting that allows me to turn the date on each post into a link so that I can link directly to a specific post and not just to the thread.

    I'm also posting this message to check another setting I changed.


  17. I hope the issues with discussion on this blog can be resolved with everyone able to post.

  18. Testing 1, 2, 3. r. rowley (and just let anyone contradict that!)

  19. Anyone can current post to this blog, but everything gets moderated - just like on Meryl Nass's blog. That's why your comments sat in the queue until I signed on this morning.

    The options I have and their settings are:

    Who Can Comment?
    _X_Anyone - includes Anonymous Users
    ___Registered Users - includes OpenID
    ___Users with Google Accounts
    ___Only members of this blog


    Comment moderation
    ___Only on posts older than XX days

    For a day or so, I had it set that only members of this blog could post, but that didn't seem to work. I'm not sure why.

    I tried a different setting, which I thought would allow Richard Rowley and Old Atlantic Lighthouse to post without moderation, but it didn't seem to work. Looking at it now, I think it was a setting about allowing them to start NEW THREADS. It wasn't about posting to existing threads.

    I would prefer to leave the blog run without moderating it, but Anonymous #2 was constantly making personal attacks, he was constantly bringing up off-topic subjects, he was constantly preaching his beliefs about what the government should do, and he indicated he was going to flood the blog with comments about mistakes I've made in the distant past instead of discussing current topics.

    So, I felt it was necessary to put a stop to what he was doing. Trying to reason with him proved fruitless. He just did more and more.