Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Subject: Reading vs. Understanding - Part 2

It has been proved beyond any reasonable doubt that Bruce Ivins was NOT in Suite B3 when his co-worker was monitoring the mice in her "Passive Mouse Experiment" in late September and early October 2001.  So, that project cannot account for ANY significant amount of Bruce Ivins' unexplained hours in Suite B3 just before the anthrax attacks.  Any Anthrax Truther who believed it did has been shown to have been totally mistaken.

No evidence has been provided to show that Bruce Ivins was monitoring rabbits during this time, either.  No evidence has been provided on where the rabbits for protocol B01-11 were kept.  No evidence has been provided on when Bruce Ivins handled the animals -- or if he handled them at all.  The only items of "evidence" that have been provided are (1) a protocol which just says what was planned, not what actually happened, (2) an email that says Ivins knew some of the results of the challenge, and (3) a notebook which seems to only show that Ivins didn't seem to know when any of the specific animals died.

So, instead of providing solid facts to support a claim that Ivins was innocent and involved in routine work during his "unexplained"  hours in Suite B3, an Anthrax Truther has been attempting to ask meaningless questions and to post references to documents that can only be considered to be irrelevant and meaningless.  He provides no explanation of what the documents are supposed to represent in the way of evidence.  The documents in no way contradict the findings of the FBI which say Dr. Ivins was making anthrax powders in Suite B3.  All the EVIDENCE and  FACTS clearly show that Dr. Ivins had no explanation for why he was in Suite B3 late at night before the two attacks.  The FACTS say he had no explanation because he was committing the crime of preparing the anthrax letters that killed 5 innocent people and injured 17 other in the autumn of 2001.

Meaningless questions and irrelevant documents won't change what the facts and evidence say.

In a Dec. 5, 2013 post, an Anthrax Truther claimed that Ivins didn't work in B3 during the day.  Here's a chart of Ivins DAY & NIGHT hours during October 2001:
The chart clearly shows that Ivins worked in Suite B3 a lot more during the day than in evenings.  What stands out, however, is his STILL UNEXPLAINED evening hours on the 3rd, 4th and 5th.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Subject: Reading versus Understanding

There's a guy who posts to this forum as "Anonymous" who seems to believe that he is more knowledgeable than everyone else about the anthrax attacks of 2001 because he obtains documents no one else has bothered to collect or read.  The problem is, he's never been able to find anything in those documents that means anything toward supporting his theory about the attacks.  Mostly he just argues that there are still more documents that the government hasn't yet released, and if they'd just release those other documents, then he'd have proof of everything he claims.


Monday, October 7, 2013

Subject: Illogical Logic (Part 2)

In a post to another blog (click HERE), an Anthrax Truther argued that there were "Hebrew elements" in the text of the anthrax letter sent to Tom Brokaw and The New York Post.  I challenged his "illogical logic" in the previous thread on this blog.  That thread with my arguments can be found by clicking HERE.

In a response posted in that thread, the Anthrax Truther provided a new and revised explanation of his beliefs in a lengthy comment that can be read by clicking HERE.

Significantly, in his new post he tentatively dropped the idea that the question mark in the senate letter was deliberately drawn to resemble the Hebrew character "Kaf."  Here's the illustration I used in the previous thread to illustrate his claim:

He evidently dropped this claim because it conflicts with his argument that all the Hebrew elements that he sees in the media letter were dropped from all other anthrax documents.  Here is what he wrote about a "document" he is writing that explains his theory:
However, though that will make the document shorter, it will make it stronger: it will emphasize all the more that the printer abruptly dropped all Hebrew elements from his printing after writing the Brokaw letter: he didn't even retain those features when printing the outsides of the envelopes which contained the Brokaw/NY POST text.

He still claims that the G in "GREAT" in the media letter closely resembles the Hebrew character "Tet," although he acknowledges that it is "the most questionable Hebrew element left in the analysis."   Here's the comparison illustration for that:

And, he still claims significance to his belief that the characters "IC" in "AMERICA" in the media letter were written somewhat closer together than the way those same two characters were written in the same word in the senate letter and in "AVENUE OF THE AMERICAS" on The New York Post envelope.  In reality, however, it seems that the "I" was drawn farther from the "R" and the C" farther from the "A," since, when all the writings are made approximately the same size, the "IC" in the media letter appears to be no closer together than the "IC" in the Senate letter and less close than the "IC" on the New York Post envelope.  Here's a comparison illustration for that:

And, when viewed in their actual sizes, the I and C in the media letter are actually farther apart than in both of the other documents:

 So, the Anthrax Truther's claim makes no sense.  It isn't true.  It's just the way he views the two characters - as being close together - when, in reality, they are just farther from the adjacent characters.  And he sees no meaning to that, or he would have mentioned how far apart the A and T are in the word "GREAT" in the media letter.  Or compare the C and I in "PENACILIN."  Or the S and R in "ISRAEL."  Below is an image of the media letter sent to Tom Brokaw (click on it to view a much larger version):

The Anthrax Truther is finding "similarities" where no real similarities exist.  All that exists are normal variations in human handwriting.  He just wants to see things that confirm his beliefs.  He wants the I and C to be close together and resemble the Hebrew character Aleph instead of merely being further than "normal" from the adjacent characters R and A.

And this desire to see things that aren't really there is most clear in the two main points of his theory:
'T's in Brokaw text: 8/8=100% Hebrewized
All other KNOWN texts from same printer: 0/23=0% Hebrewized.
In the media letter, he sees all the T's as being "Hebrewized," although not all in the same way.  Six are "Hebrewized" by tracing over the horizontal bar in the T.  Two others are "Hebrewized" by the fact that the vertical line in the T's are not perfectly centered, they are offset slightly to the right.  NONE show BOTH "Hebrewized" characteristics.  And, in no other anthrax document does he see any of the T's as being "Hebrewized" in either fashion.  This lack of a pattern he inexplicably sees as a "pattern."  (Click HERE.)

In a post HERE, he also sees the T in the second spelling of "DEATH" in the Brokaw letter as a "perfect" Dalet.  But, what is a "perfect" Dalet (or Daleth)? Many exhibits on the Internet seem to be done by one pen stroke, which is definitely not the case with the T, but all the Dalets show a darkened or heavy horizontal bar across the top, which is NOT shown in the T in example he claims is a "perfect" Dalet.  (The red mark above the T in the illustration below is the cursive version of the Hebrew Dalet):
Furthermore, while the five Dalets in the illustration above are somewhat different from one another, they all have one thing in common: They all have a point or mark at the left top of the crossbar, which the T in "DEATH" (and every Ashuri Dalet I've ever seen) definitely does not have.  Thus, by no stretch of the imagination can the T in DEATH be called a "perfect" Dalet.

The Anthrax Truther also totally ignores the fact that some of the A's in the media letters are traced over in the same way as the T's.  The A's do not fit with his theory.  He ignores things which do not fit with his theory.  And he simply does not believe any theory where both the highlighted A's and T's fit perfectly.

Initially, his argument was:
So the too-far-to-the-left 'T' crossbar of the word 'DEATH' of line 4, AND the too-far-but-not-quite-so-far-as-that-of-line-4 'T' crossbar of the word 'DEATH' of line 3 are simply not credible as 'accidents' (vagaries or chance variants) of the printing      
When  I showed him examples from the Internet where people were commonly drawing the vertical lines on T's off-center, he changed his theory.  Now it's mostly a numbers game.  If eight T's in the media letter are all "Hebrewized" (in two different ways) and no T in any other document is "Hebrewized," then that is proof of his theory.  And, he writes:
And if one looks ever-so-closely at those 'T's on the outside of the envelopes, one will find that that slight imperfection seen in the distribution of the crossbar is OPPOSITE that of the Hebrewized forms of the Brokaw text: he, the printer, has a slight propensity to favor the RIGHT side of the crossbar, not the left which gives it a Daleth or otherwise Hebrewized cast, when taken to an extreme.
Deciphering that claim, he seems to be saying: The two T's with the off-center vertical line on the media letter are both off-center to the right.  On all other documents, if the vertical line is off-center, it is off-center to the left.  He simply ignores (or fails to see) that there are T's in the media letter that are also off-center to the left.  The T in "NEXT" is the best example:
The T in "TO" in "DEATH TO ISRAEL" is a less clear example.  Meanwhile, the T in "GREAT" in the senate letter is ever so slightly off-center to the right:
So, the Anthrax Truther is seeing what he wants to see, he's ignoring everything that doesn't fit his beliefs, and an abrupt change from mostly "Hebrewized" T's to mostly "NOT-Hebrewized" T's is somehow proof to him that someone deliberately tried to add Hebrew elements into the media anthrax letter to point at Mossad agents as being behind the attacks:
The ‘mistakes’ (ie interpolations of Hebrew forms) however are NOT likely to have been made accidently. Rather they seem to be embedded in the text(s) to produce a red herring for investigators: the possibility that a Mossad agent or other native Israeli wrote the Amerithrax letters.
In other words, his belief appears to be that the "mastermind" he believes was responsible for sending the anthrax letters (and lots of hoax letters) wrote "ALLAH IS GREAT" in the anthrax letters to be a "red herring" to make investigators (and everyone else) think that Muslim terrorists sent the anthrax letters, while at the same time including "Hebrewized" characters in the media letters to be another "red herring," this time to make investigators think that "a Mosaad agent or other native Israeli wrote the anthrax letters."

Of all the illogical logic in the Anthrax Truther's theory, I thought that the idea that someone would put TWO "red herrings" in the letters (one that everyone can see and one that only he can see) to mislead investigators in opposite directions was the most illogical.  But, in a post to the other thread (click HERE), he explained:
The Amerithrax mastermind does what he does (B'nai Brith, Amerithrax, ricin of 2003, Syracuse mailings, north Texas white powder mailings, jihad boom postcards etc.) for fun primarily. He gets bored easily. So he changed motifs, red herrings etc.
In other words, there is no rhyme nor reason to "the Anthrax mastermind's" crimes. And thus, the lack of any meaningful evidence to point to the "mastermind" is the Anthrax Truther's PROOF that his "mastermind" did it. And all the SOLID evidence pointing to Bruce Ivins is meaningless, because it is evidence, it is not a lack of evidence. And the Anthrax Truther's belief is that a lack of evidence is the best evidence, because a lack of evidence is what points to his suspect.

That is another perfect example of "illogical logic."


Friday, September 27, 2013

Subject: Illogical Logic

An Anthrax Truther has provided an excellent example of "illogical logic" in a post to a different web blog HERE. He sees indications of Hebrew characters within the writing on the anthrax letters - mostly in the letter sent to Tom Brokaw and The New York Post.

He says the similarities he sees are "unnatural and contrived" in the way the Hebrew characters were drawn, and this evidently indicates to him that the writer of the anthrax letters was trying to deliberately draw characters that resemble Hebrew characters in an "unnatural and contrived" way.  Some of the characters he has mentioned are drawn using the formal calligraphy style called "Ashuri" and some are drawn using the informal script or "cursive" style as shown in the illustration above.  The anthrax letter sent to Tom Brokaw is shown below. (You can click on any of the illustrations to view larger versions).

Here are some details about the Anthrax Truther's "hypothesis" or "theory":
The Anthrax Truther's first claim is that the Hebrew "Ashuri" writing style involves a lot of thick horizontal lines.  The anthrax letter writer drew thick horizontal lines atop some of the T's in the media anthrax letter.  The Anthrax Truther views this as a "contrived" attempt to resemble Hebrew writing.  Of course, in order to arrive at that illogical conclusion he has to ignore the horizontal lines in the H and E and in other characters in the letter, like the L in PENACILIN and ISRAEL.  Plus, the "Ashuri" style of writing also includes a thick diagonal line, but there is no thick diagonal line in the X in NEXT.  The anthrax truther's "logic" is illogical.

The Anthrax Truther's second claim is that the T in the second writing of the word "DEATH" in the media letter resembles the Hebrew "Ashuri" style character "Dalet," which is drawn like the top and right sides of a box.  That particular T does not have the horizontal bar darkened, which the Anthrax Truther probably feels is "unnatural and contrived" rather than good evidence that he is seeking similarities to prove a belief, instead of seeing what is most likely and most logical: the writer simply drew a T with a vertical line that was a bit off-center. The anthrax truther's "logic" is illogical.

The Anthrax Truther's third claim is that the way the I and C are drawn close together in the word "AMERICA" is an "unnatural and contrived" way of drawing the Hebrew cursive letter Aleph. Of course, it could also be that that particular  "I" was simply drawn a bit too far to the right, which is perfectly natural for a human being who does not print like a machine. The Anthrax Truther's "logic" is illogical.

The Anthrax Truther's fourth claim is that the G in GREAT looks like an "unnatural and contrived" way of drawing the cursive Hebrew character Tet.  Actually, to most people the G probably looks more like the number 6 than the Hebrew character Tet. But, the Anthrax Truther argues that the differences between the G and the cursive Tet are evidence that the writer was drawing a Tet in an "unnatural and contrived" way, instead of simply drawing a G in the writer's natural style.  The Anthrax Truther's "logic" is illogical.

The Anthrax Truther's fifth claim is that the question mark in the Senate letter is an "unnatural and contrived" way of drawing the cursive Hebrew character Kaf.  Why anyone would draw a Kaf (which is pronounced like the K in King) where a question mark should be is undoubtedly the Anthrax Truther's proof that it is "unnatural and contrived."  But, to anyone else looking at it, it's probably good proof that the Anthrax Truther's "logic" is illogical.  His theory is unnatural and contrived.  He's making connections where there almost certainly are no real connections.  According to Wikipedia, someone writing in Hebrew who wants to write a question mark will write it the same way as it's written in English.

The Anthrax Truther seems to believe all this "unnatural and contrived" writing of pseudo-Hebrew characters was done to mislead the FBI into thinking Israelis were behind the anthrax letter attacks.  The Anthrax Truther clearly sees no problem with believing at the same time that writing the phrase "ALLAH IS GREAT" in the letters was done to mislead the FBI into thinking that the attack was done by Muslims.  

On the other hand, to me it seems that the entire Hebrew alphabet may simply look "unnatural and contrived."   Who creates an alphabet where so many characters look so much alike?  The Daled merely has a slightly shorter vertical line than the Khaf, and both are similar to the character Reish, except that the Reish is drawn with a single stroke.  And, what's the difference between a Samekh and a Mem Sofi?  And look at Chet, Hey and Tav.  And Beit and Kaf.  One would think that over the course of 2,400 years, someone would have come up with something better!  (That's a joke, folks.)   


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Subject: Deductions versus Theories

Some people posting to this blog do not seem to understand the difference between making a logical deduction based upon obvious facts, and theories that are simply made up to fit a belief.

If there was no snow on the ground last night, and when you wake up in the morning the ground is covered with snow, it is a reasonable deduction that it snowed during the night.

But, to conspiracy theorists and True Believers, if you didn't actually see it snow, then you do not know it snowed for certain, and it's possible there is some other explanation -- like a sinister government plot.

This is evidently why conspiracy theorists and True Believers cannot accept or understand circumstantial evidence. Circumstantial evidence requires making a deduction about things not actually witnessed, but for which there is sufficient evidence to make a logical deduction.  Example:
1.  An abundance of facts say that Bruce Ivins was the anthrax mailer.

2.  The facts say that the letters were mailed from Princeton, 200 miles from where Ivins lived.

3.  The facts say that Ivins would sometimes drive hundreds of miles to play tricks on people.
4.  The facts say Ivins acted alone to send the anthrax letters.
5.  The facts say Ivins could do this without his family knowing what he did.   

It can be deduced from the facts that Ivins drove to Princeton and back to mail the letters.
But, to conspiracy theorists and True Believers, if there are no actual witnesses who saw Ivins drive to Princeton and mail the letters, then there is no proof or evidence that Ivins drove to Princeton.

Nothing could be further from the truth, and that reasoning is disputed by countless thousands of criminal trials which successfully used circumstantial evidence. 

Conspiracy theorists and True Believers seem totally incapable of understanding that circumstantial evidence can be as damning as direct evidence.  Yet, somehow, they believe their own "evidence" for their own theory is better, even though they have neither direct evidence or compelling circumstantial evidence.  They seem to just believe they are right, and they want the FBI to find the evidence that will prove them right. 


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Subject: How Ivins Made the Attack Powders

Recently, in the Frederick News-Post, some "experts" who were co-workers of Dr. Ivins were still arguing that it was "impossible" for Ivins to have made the attack powders without his co-workers noticing what he was doing.  That is just plain ignorant.

But, I can see the problem.  In the Amerithrax Investigation Summary, the Department of Justice didn't describe how Ivins "most likely" made the anthrax powders.  They wouldn't have done that in court, either.  They'd just have proved that Ivins had the means to make the anthrax powders. 

When you start talking about which means Ivins most likely used, then you are getting into "speculation."  And, the defense would argue that it is "just speculation."  So, it's better to prove in court with expert testimony that Ivins could have created the attack spores in a number of different ways, and then leave it to the defense lawyers to try to "prove the negative" - that Ivins could NOT have made the anthrax powders.

But, there will never be any trial, so "experts" can continue to argue that it was "impossible" for Ivins to have made the powders unnoticed, because making spores using the STANDARD methods involved lots of time and lots of specialized equipment - some of which was inoperable.  And the media can continue to print their silly claims without serious fear that some real expert is going step forward and prove them wrong.

The facts which say that Ivins used spores grown on plates inside autoclave bags that had been left to grow for weeks seem UNDENIABLE.  It's easy to understand.  It's relatively simple to do.  There's solid evidence to support it.  It's something that a "normal" scientist would very likely do when committing such a crime, since it is so simple.  Yet, it appears to be something that Ivins co-workers haven't even considered.

Or, if they have considered it, they don't want it discussed because it places some of the blame on them for allowing Ivins to keep hazardous waste in the form of bags full of inoculated plates around for WEEKS, instead of demanding that they be immediately sterilized and then incinerated as any "normal" scientist in any "normal" microbiology lab would be expected to do.

Why isn't the media making a big deal of this?  You'd think that the Frederick News-Post would be concerned about scientists in their community leaving dangerous biohazard waste laying around for weeks in violation of every known protocol.  Instead, however, they ignore the facts and allow scientists to make totally silly claims that it would have been "impossible" for Bruce Ivins to make the attack spores unnoticed.

So, it's up to a NON-expert like me to do a better job of arguing against the "experts" whenever they repeat their silly claims.  The next time the Frederick News-Post or any other media outlet publishes such ignorant claims, I'll try to have a rebuttal ready to post as a comment after the article.  The 12th anniversary of the anthrax attacks will be coming up very soon.  The Truthers can continue to ignore the facts, but they cannot dispute them.   And, History says that gradually the facts will be accepted, particularly since NO ONE has ever disputed the facts on this issue.  


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Subject: Circumstantial Evidence - Part 2

Here's some information about "Circumstantial Evidence":
Circumstantial evidence is evidence in which an inference is required to connect it to a conclusion of fact, like a fingerprint at the scene of a crime. By contrast, direct evidence supports the truth of an assertion directly—i.e., without need for any additional evidence or the intervening inference.
On its own, it is the nature of circumstantial evidence for more than one explanation to still be possible. Inference from one piece of circumstantial evidence may not guarantee accuracy. Circumstantial evidence usually accumulates into a collection, so that the pieces then become corroborating evidence. Together, they may more strongly support one particular inference over another. An explanation involving circumstantial evidence becomes more valid as proof of a fact when the alternative explanations have been ruled out.
Circumstantial evidence allows a trier of fact to deduce a fact exists.  In criminal law, the inference is made by the trier of facts in order to support the truth of assertion (of guilt or absence of guilt).
And a definition from another on-line dictionary:
Circumstantial Evidence: Evidence not bearing directly on the fact in dispute but on various attendant circumstances from which the judge or jury might infer the occurrence of the fact in dispute. 
An Anthrax Truther arguing on this blog persists in arguing that the fact that the hidden message in the anthax letters sent to the media decodes to "PAT" doesn't mean anything, because there are countless people named "Pat" in the world.  It doesn't have to pertain to Ivins' co-worker Pat Fellows. 

No one disagrees that "Pat" doesn't have to pertain to Pat Fellows.  As stated in the explanation of "circumstantial evidence" above, "it is the nature of circumstantial evidence for more than one explanation to still be possible." 

However, in court, it would be explained to the jury that (1) Bruce Ivins had sent other types of "coded messages" to Pat Fellows; (2) that Ivins was somewhat obsessed with his female co-workers, including Pat Fellows; (3) that the other way to decode the message produced "FNY," which appears to pertain to friendly arguments Ivins had with his other female co-worker, Mara Linscott, who was a fan of the New York Yankees, while Ivins disliked the Yankees; (4) and that Ivins once loaned a copy of the book Godel, Escher, Bach to Pat Fellows, and that book contained the key to decoding the hidden message Ivins had put in the media letter.

So, it would be explained to the jury that it is very likely that the decoded name "Pat" refers to Ivins' co-worker Pat Fellows.  It is a more likely explanation than any other explanation. 

The Anthrax Truther will probably argue that being "very likely" isn't good enough.  It must be a certainty.  In reality, it does NOT have to be a certainty.  It just has to be a logical way to decode the hidden message.  The jury will decide if it is "very likely" that was what Bruce Ivins intended the coded message to mean.

No one disputes that, by itself, the name "Pat" doesn't mean anything.  But when explained to the jury as part of a mass of evidence showing that Bruce Ivins was the anthrax killer, the jury will decide for itself if the explanation is logical and if it helps to convince them that Bruce Ivins was the anthrax killer.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Subject: Rule of Evidence #701-C

In the thread titled "Claims, Arguments and Evidence" there has been a LONG debate over the correct interpretation of Rule 701c in the federal Rules of Evidence.


An Anthrax Truther has argued that if Dr. Bruce Ivins had been brought to trial, FBI Special Agent Darin Steele would not have been allowed to testify to decoding the hidden message in the anthrax letters sent to Tom Brokaw and The New York Post because Agent Steele was not a certified cryptographer.  The Anthrax Truther uses his personal interpretation of Rule #702c as the basis for his arguments.  He claims that Rule #701c says no one can testify about a scientific, technical or other specialized field UNLESS he is a certified expert in that field.  A quote from the Anthrax Truther:
Lay witnesses are explicitly prevented from testifying in scientific/technical areas by 701c

My interpretation follows what the experts say: Agent Steele's testimony is what he rationally perceived as part of the FBI's investigation of Dr. Ivins, it's obviously relevant to determining Dr. Ivins guilt or innocence, and thus it is fully admissible under Rule 701 for "Opinion Testimony by Lay Witnesses."  Rule 701c merely says that IF Agent Steele had decoded the message as part of his job as a cryptographer, then he would have had to testify as an EXPERT witness.  Agent Steele was not a cryptographer, therefore it was okay for him to testify as a LAY witness.  There is no rule that says he cannot testify to what he foundIn other words:
Experts in a field who testify to what they found as experts using their expertise are explicitly prevented from testifying as lay witnesses by 701c and MUST testify as expert witnesses
Lay witnesses who testify to what they rationally perceived, even if it is in a technical area, are NOT prevented from testifying by rule 701c 


Click HERE to view the entire Rules of Evidence.  Below are Rules #701 and #702 with 701c highlighted in red:

Rule 701. Opinion Testimony by Lay Witnesses

If a witness is not testifying as an expert, testimony in the form
of an opinion is limited to one that is:
(a) rationally based on the witness’s perception;
(b) helpful to clearly understanding the witness’s testimony
or to determining a fact in issue; and
(c) not based on scientific, technical, or other specialized
knowledge within the scope of Rule 702.

Rule 702. Testimony by Expert Witnesses

A witness who is qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill,
experience, training, or education may testify in the form of an
opinion or otherwise if:
(a) the expert’s scientific, technical, or other specialized
knowledge will help the trier of fact to understand the
evidence or to determine a fact in issue;
(b) the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data;
(c) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and
methods; and
(d) the expert has reliably applied the principles and methods
to the facts of the case.
The best explanation of Rule #701c that I've been able to find so far is HERE.  That article says:
Rule 701 now provides that any part of a witness' testimony that is based on scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge must comply with the standards of Rule 702 and the expert disclosure requirements. Specifically, a new subsection (c) was added which provides that for testimony to be admissible under rule 701, the testimony of a lay witness is limited to opinions or inferences "not based on scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge within the scope of Rule 702." The effect of this change is that if testimony could qualify under 702, then it cannot qualify under 701. The focus of the amendment is on the subject matter of the testimony, rather than whether the witness is a layperson or an expert.
There are other interesting discussions of Rule 701c HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE, which may contain what is needed to resolve this question, but there is a lot of legalese to dig through, and it's too easy to post a finding and have it disputed because of a disagreement over the meaning of a single word.  


Rule #701c was added to assure that no expert witness testimony which could qualify under Rule #702 is made instead under Rule 701 as lay witness testimony.  The focus is on the subject matter of the testimony, not on who is giving the testimony.  For example, if the testimony is "the product of reliable principles and methods" and "the expert has reliably applied the principles and methods to the facts of the case," then the testimony must be given by an expert witness.  It cannot be given by a lay witness.  Agent Steele was NOT an expert testifying about principles and methods used to decode the message, so neither Rule #702 or Rule #701c would apply to him, and thus he could testify as a lay witness about what he did. 

It is also important to note that Rule #701c was added in the year 2000.  Was it okay prior to 2000 for Agent Steele to testify as a lay witness, and after 2000 would he no longer be able to testify at all?  That implies a MAJOR change in who can testify.  Rule #701c was merely added to prevent lawyers from putting experts on the stand as lay witnesses to avoid any challenges to their expertise and to avoid having to disclose during Discovery what each expert witness is going to say.   

The questions now are: How do we determine who is right?  Would Agent Steele have been able to testify to what he found?  Or would he have been prevented from testifying by Rule #701c as the Anthrax Truther claims?

I'm going to look for other web pages which discuss Rule #701c, but I suspect that the Anthrax Truther will continue to believe what he wants to believe, no matter what I find.  


Monday, June 10, 2013

Subject: Discussion Impasse

There is no hope for an intelligent discussion to resolve a disagreement when one side merely wants to make speeches and discuss personal beliefs.

The only hope for a resolution to a disagreement is when there is a reasonable way to find out who is right and who is wrong.

The FBI and DOJ have presented a mountain of evidence showing that Dr. Bruce Ivins was the anthrax mailer.  Those who disagree, not only fail to present better evidence to support their beliefs, they often present no evidence at all on key issues.  They present only questions or opinions.

For example, there is solid evidence that Dr. Ivins had full access to the "murder weapon,' i.e., flask RMR-1029 which contained "morphs" identical to the "morphs" found in the powders in the anthrax letters. Ivins helped create the contents of the flask and controlled who had access to it.

Those who believe Dr. Ivins was innocent, however, have no evidence that someone else took a sample from flask RMR-1029, grew more bacteria from the sample, and then used it in the anthrax letters.  All they have are endless "possibilities" which have not been disproved.  Instead of proving that their own suspects sent the anthrax letters, those who disagree with the FBI attempt to shift the burden of proof to the FBI to prove that their suspects could not possibly have made the powders and sent the anthrax letters.

Asking the other side to prove themselves wrong is not a reasonable way to resolve a disagreement.

Some issues in dispute should be easily resolvable.  For example, R. Rowley (in an email) CLAIMS that the misspelled word "PENACILIN" in the media letters is a deliberate attempt to appear "foreign."   The FBI, on the other hand, agrees that the misspelling is deliberate, but they provide compelling evidence that it was part of a coded message Dr. Ivins put in the media letter.  (Click HERE for details.)  They CLAIM that the misspelled word is part of a coding technique explained in the book Godel, Escher, Bach, which Dr. Ivins was observed throwing away after a search of his home.

Mr. Rowley's CLAIM is just a CLAIM, without evidence. (Unless you have a confession, there is no way to prove that the writer deliberately misspelled a word in order to appear foreign or semi-literate.)  And Mr. Rowley refuses to accept the FBI's evidence-supported CLAIM, bizarrely arguing his new CLAIM that the FBI's evidence wouldn't be allowed in court because the FBI agent who deciphered the hidden message was not a certified cryptographer.

That last CLAIM seems like it could be resolvable.  But, even if enough facts were found to convince Mr. Rowley that there would be no problem with the FBI agent presenting his findings in court though he is not a certified cryptographer, Mr. Rowley would just argue that it doesn't make any difference, he's still going to believe what he wants to believe about who sent the anthrax letters.

So, at this point in time, it appears that the only real question worthy of discussion is: Is there any way to get someone who refuses to compare facts and evidence to stop making baseless claims and to argue only whose evidence makes a better criminal case proving who sent the anthrax letters?


Monday, June 3, 2013

Subject: Claims, Arguments and Evidence

Here are the Google definitions of three important words everyone should know:

CLAIM  /klām/

State or assert that something is the case, typically without providing evidence or proof.

An assertion of the truth of something, typically one that is disputed or in doubt.

AR·GU·MENT  /ˈärgyəmənt/

1. An exchange of diverging or opposite views, typically a heated or angry one: "I've had an argument with my father".

2. A reason or set of reasons given with the aim of persuading others that an action or idea is right or wrong.

EV·I·DENCE   /ˈevədəns/

The available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid.

Be or show evidence of.

Examples of claims:

From the Department of Justice: Dr. Ivins perpetrated the anthrax letter attacks

From "Anonymous": "Amerithrax represents the greatest counterintelligence failure in the history of the United States."

From Mr. Rowley: "The multiple Hebrew elements [in the Amerithrax documents] all but preclude someone who ISN'T thoroughly familiar with the Hebrew alphabet as being the printer."

From Ed Lake: "The facts say a child wrote the anthrax letters and addressed the envelopes."

Arguments come when someone disagrees with or fails to see any reasoning or proof behind any of the above claims.

Arguments resulting from the three claims above:

The claim by the Department of Justice is disputed by various "Anthrax Truthers," who each seem to have a unique theory about who did it, and they only seem to agree on one thing: The government is wrong.

The claim by "Anonymous" is disputed by the FBI and the DOJ which concluded that Bruce Edwards Ivins was the anthrax mailer, and thus there was no "counterintelligence failure" involved in the case.

The claim by Mr. Rowley is disputed by Ed Lake (and probably by everyone else) because there is no discernible evidence to support such a claim.

The claim by Ed Lake is disputed by "Anonymous" because "Anonymous" doesn't believe the claim.

Examples of supplying evidence to support a claim:

The evidence supplied by the Department of Justice begins with the 92 page Amerithax Investigative Summary, which is supported by 2,720 pages of detail documents HERE. Additional documents related to the scientific aspects of the case may be obtained in the form of a CD from the National Academy of Sciences.

The evidence supplied by "Anonymous" in support of his claim seems to consist of just 2 undisputed facts: (1) al Qaeda had a motive for the attacks, and (2) al Qaeda was considering an anthrax attack upon America before the actual attacks.  He has supplied no meaningful evidence that al Qaeda actually carried out the attacks.  Click HERE to view what "Anonymous" considers to be "evidence."

Mr. Rowley has presented no meaningful evidence to support his claim.  He mostly just points to more of his claims while arguing over words and interpretations.

The evidence supplied by Ed Lake HERE consists of 12 indisputable facts (and more can be presented if needed) which point to only one logical conclusion: A first grader was used to write the anthrax letters and to address the envelopes.

Current results:

The evidence supplied by the Department of Justice showing that Bruce Ivins was the anthrax mailer is generally accepted, but is highly disputed by people who continue to have their own unique theories about who "really did it." 

"Anonymous" doesn't accept or believe any of the evidence which the FBI found to prove Ivins' guilt.  "Anonymous" continues to believe Islamic militants were behind the anthrax attacks.  He appears to argue possibilities instead of facts: It's possible that that the FBI is totally mistaken, it's possible that Islamic militants obtained a sample from flask RMR-1029 somewhere, and it's possible that unidentified Islamic militants wrote and mailed the anthrax letters.

Mr. Rowley continues to believe in his theory and seemingly argues that his claims are evidence.  He doesn't accept the FBI/DOJ's findings because (apparently) he believes they are just covering up a failure to find the right person (e.g., Mr. Rowley's "suspect").

"Anonymous" continues to argue that "There is no support for [Ed Lake's] theory."  "Anonymous" refuses to discuss the facts presented by Ed Lake or even to comment on them.


Some people on this blog need to understand that a CLAIM is just an unsupported opinion or belief UNLESS it can be successfully ARGUED against other opinions by using valid, acceptable, unbiased EVIDENCE.


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Subject: Facts vs Evidence

"DXer" on Lew Weinstein's web site, who posts here as "Anonymous," seems to believe he has more and better evidence that an Islamist militant named Adnan El Shukrijumah was the anthrax mailer, versus what the FBI has presented proving that Bruce Ivins was the anthrax mailer.

Examples of "DXer's" so-called "evidence":

1. The J-Lo letter (which the facts say didn't contain anthrax and had nothing to do with the anthrax mailing) was reportedly written on stationery decorated with blue clouds. And there's a militant Islamist organization called "Al-Sahab" or "The Clouds."

2. The anthrax letters were mailed in pre-stamped Post Office envelopes. The stamp on those envelopes was an American Eagle design. The eagle is blue or blue-green in color. And, according to "DXer," "It was widely published among the militant Islamists that martyrs go to paradise “in the hearts of green birds."

3. The return address on the anthrax letters sent to Senators Daschle and Leahy was:
According to "DXer," the use of the word "green" refers to the "green birds" in which Islamist militants go to heaven, and "school" is a code word meaning "Islamist militants."

4. According to "DXer," 4th grade is American slang for "sergeant," which is also the rank of a militant Islamist commander.

5. "Dxer" claims that his lead suspect, El-Shukrijumah, worshiped in a mosque in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, that across the street from a park called "Franklin Park." (In reality, however, he seems to have worshiped in a mosque over 13 miles from Franklin Park.

6. According to most Truthers who believe al Qaeda was behind the anthrax attacks, the FBI found an al Qaeda "anthrax lab" near Kandahar, Afghanistan. In reality, the FBI found no anthrax of any kind in that lab. They just found three pieces of DNA which evidently resulted in "false positives." The FBI went back, dismantled the lab and performed 1,254 more tests, all of which were NEGATIVE for anthrax.

The above is what "DXer" calls "evidence" and what he believes is better "evidence" than the fact that Ivins controlled the murder weapon, the fact that Ivins was observed throwing away the code books used to encode the hidden message in the first anthrax letters, and that he had motive, he had connections to the crime scene, he attempted to destroy evidence, he tried to intimidate witnesses, etc., etc., etc., etc.

If I've missed any other "evidence" that "DXer" (a.k.a. "Anonymous") wishes to explain, I'm ready to discuss such "evidence."


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Subject: Facts vs Opinions

Facts can change opinions.  That's the way opinions are supposed to work.  Unlike beliefs, which are usually based totally upon faith, opinions are supposed to be a personal interpretation of the facts.  At one time, everyone on earth thought the sun went around the earth.  They had very few facts, and the facts they had seemed to indicate that the earth was the center of the universe.  Over time, however, as more facts became known, opinions changed, and gradually nearly everyone on earth accepted what the new facts proved.  Most of those who believed the sun went around the earth, however, continued to believe as they always believed -- until they eventually all died off.

Opinions cannot change facts.  Neither can beliefs.  No matter how many people have an opinion or belief that human beings never went to the moon, that doesn't alter the overwhelming facts which prove that 12 American astronauts walked on the moon.

Anthrax Truthers argue either opinions or beliefs (and sometimes prejudices).  They have their own opinions about who sent the anthrax letters in 2001, and they argue that all the facts which say Dr. Bruce Ivins sent the anthrax letters mean nothing.  They argue that the official facts are are all just coincidences or otherwise meaningless.  It's often difficult to tell if they have opinions or beliefs, because they do not seem to have any meaningful facts which prove their own suspect is the anthrax mailer, and they argue that if the government would just do things their way and look at things from their point of view, the "facts" would become clear and would prove they are right.

They seem to believe that facts can be found to support their opinions.  But they want "the government" to find those facts.   And, if "the government" doesn't find the right facts, then "the government" didn't try hard enough.  When they refuse to accept "the government's facts" and cannot present any other facts of their own, then their opinions cease to be opinions and become beliefs.  Opinions can be altered by facts.  Beliefs are a matter of faith (or mindless prejudice) and are unaffected by facts.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Subject: Facts vs Interpretations

In some instances, Truthers claim to be looking at the facts - and that may be true, but it's their interpretations of the facts that seem to defy logic.

One Anthrax Truther did actually argue that misspelling "PENACILIN" on the first anthrax letter and misspelling "Isreal" on the Assaad letter indicated that they were written by the same person.  That Truther also argues that many hoax letters mailed during the past decade were also sent by the same person - because some similarities in syntax can be observed, even if there is no similarity in the handwriting.

Another Anthrax Truther argues that it is a fact that al Qaeda is known to be interested in weaponizing anthrax, therefore they must have been behind the anthrax attacks of 2001.

These Truthers are looking at facts, but they are interpreting (or rationalizing or twisting) those facts to fit their beliefs. If you ask why the culprit misspelled "Isreal" on the Assaad letter but spelled it correctly on the anthrax letters, he would probably rationalize that the culprit learned to spell the word correctly in the years between the two incidents.  And, he'd defy you to prove otherwise.

Other Truthers point to the fact that there was a conspiracy involving the President of the United States to cover up the truth about the Watergate break-in during the Nixon administration.  And the Truthers interpret that fact as evidence that there is currently a conspiracy involving the President to cover up whatever it is that the Truthers want to believe happened regarding 9/11, the anthrax attacks, the landings on the moon, the JFK assassination, etc., etc., etc.

Of course, the FBI and everyone else also interpret the facts.  The difference is: Truthers only look at the facts they can interpret/twist/rationalize to fit their beliefs.  When unbiased people discuss the facts to try to understand what really happened, they look at all the facts which support an argument and all the facts which dispute an argument, and the base their findings on what seems most logical.

It's not logical that only one person on earth can misspell "PENACILIN," "Isreal" and "anthracks" and therefore that person must have been behind all three crimes.          

It's not logical that because al Qaeda had a motive that they must have sent the anthrax letters, even if a mountain of facts say otherwise.

Interpretations aren't the same as beliefs.  People usually understand that their interpretations can be wrong, and they're usually open to hearing other interpretations.  But, people who believe they are right are generally not open to other interpretations or beliefs.  Too often, they aren't even open to viewing new facts.


Monday, May 13, 2013

Subject: Mohamed Atta's Handwriting

One of the more bizarre beliefs about the anthrax letters expressed by a certain True Believer is that the handwriting on the anthrax letters and envelopes is Mohamed Atta's handwriting.

In reality, there are enormous differences between Mohamed Atta's handwriting and the handwriting on the anthrax letters and envelopes.  But, the True Believer seems to argue that if you look hard enough in a big enough sample you will find that some of the characters of the alphabet drawn by Mohamed Atta on some occasion kind of - sort of - look a little bit like the same characters on the anthrax letters and envelopes.  And, to the True Believer that's evidence that Atta wrote the letters.

I've created a web page HERE comparing Atta's handwriting to that on the anthrax documents, proving beyond any reasonable doubt that the handwriting on the anthrax document does NOT look like Mohamed Atta's normal handwriting.

In my analysis, I show how Mohamed Atta typically drew characters of the alphabet (and numbers), I provide various examples, and (where possible) I compare those multiple examples to multiple examples of the same characters and numbers on the anthrax documents. The differences are obvious.  For example, Mohamed Atta typically drew his 1's in a manner that made them look like 7's.  The illustration above shows an example of that.  There's no similarity whatsoever to the 1's on the anthrax documents.  BUT, if you include the lines on the form as part of the writing, the 1 drawn by Atta would have a line across the bottom, and Atta's single-stroke 1 would look a little bit like a 1 drawn with three strokes on the anthrax documents.  That is bizarre reasoning used to argue that handwriting that is truly different can be viewed as somewhat similar in order to justify a True Believer's beliefs. 


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Subject: Truthers

 "Truthers" are people who believe that the government is wrong or lying about something, and the "Truther" believes he or she knows what the "truth" really is.    

After studying and arguing with "Truthers" for over 11 years, it seems to me that "Truthers" can be divided into two sub-classifications: Conspiracy Theorists and True Believers.

Conspiracy Theorists generally believe that the government is deliberately covering up "the truth" about some event for evil, manipulative purposes as part of some massive conspiracy.  The Conspiracy Theorists generally believe they have seen through the plot by spotting similarities to past known "conspiracies." 

True Believers generally do not believe that the government is covering up the truth.  Instead, they generally believe that the government and everyone in it is just incompetent and cannot figure out the truth.  The True Believers believe that they (and everyone who agrees the government is wrong) have figured out "the truth."

Professor James Tracy, for example, is generally considered to be a Conspiracy Theorist.  He sees the government as having concocted various complex plots with the cooperation of the media (and everyone else required to make the theory work) to mislead the American public in order to manipulate them into accepting some new program or law -- gun control being a prime example.  He fantasizes such government conspiracies as being behind the Newtown massacre and the Boston Marathon bombings.  His argument is that those events were just staged "enactments" made to frighten and manipulate people.  And, he seems to believe that anyone who disagrees must be part of the conspiracy.  If proof is found to debunk his conspiracy theory, he sees the proof as proof of his theory, since it means the government has planted false evidence in an attempt to debunk his theory.

Other individuals believed or considered to be Conspiracy Theorists are Professor Lance deHaven Smith (whose theories are very similar to those of Professor Tracy), Professor Francis Boyle, Dr. Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, author Edward Jay Epstein and numerous others.

One unusual but telling fact about most Conspiracy Theorists and True Believers is that they very often think that all other conspiracy or similar theories are ridiculous and totally unlike their own.  9/11 Truthers often think Anthrax Truthers are stupid, and vice versa.  Sometimes, to avoid using the word "conspiracy," the "Truthers" will argue that the manipulations could be the work of just one key criminal who does all the thinking, and countless government underlings simply go along and do as they are told.

On this forum, "Anonymous" is clearly a True Believer, since he never talks about any "conspiracy," only about how the FBI is wrong in pointing at Dr. Bruce Ivins as the anthrax mailer.   His mantra is "Amerithrax represents the greatest intelligence analysis failure in the history of the United States."  "Anonymous" clearly feels that he knows the "truth," even if he cannot provide any solid facts and doesn't seem to be able to fully explain his reasoning.

R. Rowley appears to be another True Believer - but at times he also seems to be a conspiracy theorist.  He also never talks about any government conspiracy, but he has a theory that the anthrax letters were sent by some mastermind, and many other hoax letters and other types of mysterious letters were sent by the same person or by fellow conspirators.  And, of course, only Mr. Rowley has been able to figure out the "truth" about how all those happenings are connected.

One attribute that seems to apply to all Conspiracy Theorists and True Believers is that they have a double standard for evidence.  If the "evidence" supports their theory, anything goes.  If the evidence disproves their theory (or helps prove a different theory), they set very strict and often unrealistic standards for what they will accept as evidence.

Another attribute that applies to nearly all Conspiracy Theorists and True Believers is that they do not like being labeled as "Conspiracy Theorists" or "True Believers," since that puts them into a category with many others with whom they do not agree.  Generally speaking, each individual Conspiracy Theorist and True Believer has independently developed his own theory.  Therefore, since they have a "unique" theory of their own, they feel they are unlike all other Conspiracy Theorists and True Believers.  In reality, that makes them just like all other Conspiracy Theorists and True Believers.

Yes, we all know there have been people who had facts about some event that might happen, and in hindsight, more attention should have been paid to what facts they had.  But they had FACTS not beliefs. So, they weren't Truthers.  And, too, real conspiracies have been uncovered by reporters and others digging for facts - the Watergate Scandal being the prime example.  Those people produced FACTS to dispute beliefs.  "Truthers" argue beliefs to counter solid facts.  Or they present their beliefs about facts.  And, they usually want the FBI to do the investigating for them to prove that they are right.     

For every person who truly knows facts that no one else knows, there seem to be thousands of "Truthers" who only believe they know "the truth" but have no solid facts to support their beliefs. 


Monday, April 29, 2013

Subject: Rationalizing

The three images above are used by Professor James Tracy in his article "Witnessing Boston's Mass Casualty Event" to argue his conspiracy theory that the whole event was staged by "the government" and isn't what it appears to be.  Here's what Professor Tracy says about the whole event:
What exactly took place on April 15 at the Boston Marathon is unclear, yet what is now evident is a stark divergence between the narrative description of excessive carnage meted out as a result of the explosive devices and at least a portion of the video and photographic documentation of the bombing itself.

The corporate media proceeded in lockstep with dutifully propagating the authorized narrative of a combat-like environment at the marathon finish line.
Professor Tracy starts with a belief that the whole explosion event was faked and rationalizes that smoke going upward does not equal shrapnel moving parallel to the ground, therefore proving it's all faked:
Available video of the first bomb detonating at the Marathon finish line suggests a direct upward discharge rather than the horizontal dispersion that would have wreaked the havoc to lower limbs so widely reported in physicians’ statements.
He then rationalizes that the pieces of the pressure cooker the FBI found prove his theory of a conspiracy because the pieces prove what the police claim, not what Professor Tracy claims.  If something doesn't confirm his theory, Professor Tracy rationalizes that means it's faked, not that he's wrong. 
Moreover, the fact that whole pieces of the pressure cookers were produced by police further points to a more channeled dispersal of the bombs’ force–indeed, one that may not have involved a broad lateral distribution of shrapnel.
Professor Tracy claims it was all just a realistic drill, not a real event.
In short, the event closely resembles a mass-casualty drill, which for training purposes are designed to be as lifelike as possible. Since it is mediated, however, and primarily experienced from afar through the careful assemblage of words, images, and the official pronouncements and commentary of celebrity journalists, it has the semblance of being for all practical purposes “real.”
He also rationalizes that the absence of visible shrapnel is proof of his theory.  The shrapnel, of course, was tiny BBs and tiny half-inch brad-type nails, which wouldn't be visible as shrapnel even if the shrapnel wasn't moving too fast to be seen or was on the ground afterward.  And he even suggests that the video of the explosion may have been photoshopped:
Further, there is whispy smoke with no sign of any shrapnel piercing the smoke, the race sideline fabric, or anything outside of the sidewalk perimeter.

If this is the case the highly-circulated photo showing an orange-hued “fireball” explosion may have been embellished.
More of his rationalizing is about the pictures at the top of this thread, particularly the area enclosed in red boxes which show one man laying on his back with his head toward the camera, another man in a gray hat or "hoodie" sitting and bending over the first man, and a black woman sitting between them:
The photo[s at the top of this thread] shows what appears to be either a man with his legs blown off or an amputee with his stump curled around the head of a woman. A man in a “hoodie” jacket is also sitting upright behind the woman. The injured man or amputee, later identified in major media outlets as Jeff Bauman Jr. who also participated in helping the FBI identify the alleged bombers, appears preoccupied with something in his hands that are close to his face. This is unusual behavior for a man who has just sustained a severely traumatic and mortal injury.
The [first and second] photos show the man wearing the hoodie garment apparently helping the injured man/amputee with his right leg. Could he be removing this man’s prosthetic?
Note that Professor Tracy is asking a question.  If cornered, Professor Tracy will say he made no claim that the person in the photo was removing a prosthetic to feign a blown-off limb.  He was "just asking questions."  And he seems to believe he's an expert on what is "normal" in a chaotic situation.

Anthrax Truthers also constantly rationalize away facts which show they are wrong.

In a recent discussion, "Anonymous" rationalized that an adult will write in a way that will look just like a first grader's handwriting to me when learning to write in a new language. To him, that's why the writing on the anthrax letters and envelopes just looks like the writing of a first grader to me.

But, in reality, adults who already know how to write in one language, do not have to learn once again how to write small or when to use punctuation when learning a second language. I know that because I learned to write Japanese as an adult.  When an adult starts writing in a new language (even one as different as English is from Arabic or Japanese is from English) they already have the hand-eye coordination needed to write in the size of normal adult writing.  They already know about punctuation will incorporate it into the very first sentence they write.  And, they do not need to learn out to draw characters by first copying from a blackboard in kindergarten and then learning the correct way in first grade.  They start by learning the proper way to draw each character of the alphabet.

Likewise, R. Rowley rationalizes that the Assaad letter sent to authorities after 9/11, accusing Ayaad Assaad of being a "potential terrorist," is just another in a long list of letters sent by some mysterious criminal mastermind who Mr. Rowley believes was also behind the anthrax attacks.  If the letter bears absolutely NO resemblance to the anthrax letters, Mr. Rowley rationalizes that that could mean it was done by a henchman or that the mastermind deliberately made the writing look different.  He says the same thing about the St. Petersburg anthrax hoax letters, the Dallas anthrax hoax letters, the Goldman Sachs letters and anything else he wants to make fit his theory that the criminal mastermind was behind them all.

There's a BIG difference between looking at what the facts say and rationalizing things to make them fit a preconceived theory.


Sunday, March 31, 2013

Subject: Double Standard for Evidence

I've come to realize that there's a key point that I haven't used enough when I argue with Anthrax Truthers: Anthrax Truthers use a "double standard" when discussing their evidence versus the FBI's evidence.

If it's evidence for something they believe, it's solid evidence.  If it's evidence pointing to Bruce Ivins as the anthrax mailer, it's meaningless and not evidence.

The gash on al Haznawi's leg that Dr. Tsonas thought might have been an anthrax lesion is seen as solid proof that the 9/11 hijackers brought a supply of anthrax with them.  The fact that Ivins had all the anthrax needed for the attacks with the same DNA attributes and made the same way as the attack spores is seen as proof of nothing by Anthrax Truthers. 

The evidence showing that Ivins controlled the murder weapon is seen as meaningless, since the Truthers claim that hundreds of others could have accessed flask RMR-1029 in secret.  However, false positives encountered during tests of a lab in Afghanistan are seen as solid proof that al Qaeda made "the murder weapon."

The fact that no spores were found in Ivins' car is seen as proof that Ivins did NOT mail the letters.  The fact that no spores were found anywhere the 9/11 hijackers went isn't seen as proof of anything.

Etc., etc., etc., etc.

I'm thinking that I should try to prevent Anthrax Truthers from using a double standard for the evidence - or I should point out that they are using a double standard when I can't prevent it.  That could be the key to showing that Anthrax Truthers really have no case -- no matter who they think sent the anthrax letters.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Subject: Anthrax Truthers

After 11 years of debating with Anthrax Truthers, it's clear that they all think the FBI is wrong because each one has his own personal theory about the case.

Interestingly, not a single Anthrax Truther seems capable of fully explaining his or her own theory.  It seems that all they can talk about is reasons why they think the FBI's evidence is inadequate to convince anyone that Dr. Ivins was the anthrax mailer.  Yet, inexplicably, they cannot explain why their own evidence about their own suspect is better than the FBI's evidence.  They hesitate to even attempt to explain their case against their own suspect.  Instead, they look upon all the others with theories as agreeing with them because all the others disagree with the FBI.

The logic for each individual Anthrax Truther is: Everyone agrees that the FBI is wrong, that means I'm right.

In reality, it just means that they have a theory that no one else in the world fully agrees with.  Yet, they believe it is a better theory than the FBI's case against Dr. Ivins because no Anthrax Truther agrees with the FBI.
"I never cease to be dumbfounded by the unbelievable things people believe."
                                                        - Leo Rosten

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Subject: My book

I probably should have created a thread on this blog about my book "A Crime Unlike Any Other: What the Facts Say About Dr. Bruce Edwards Ivins and the Anthrax Attacks of 2001" months ago.  Click HERE to view the ad on  Above are images of the front and back covers.  It's a 6x9 paperback, and it's also available on Kindle.

The book isn't just the story of how and why Dr. Ivins created the anthrax powders and sent the anthrax letters of 2001, and how he was identified as the killer.  It's also about how the facts of the case gradually became clear.

Some have found that the most interesting part of the book is how little was known about anthrax before the letters, and how nearly everyone was making wildly false assumptions.  Even Dr. Ivins made some critical false assumptions which later came back to haunt him.  He thought the Ames strain of anthrax that he used in the letters was a very common strain used by "countless" laboratories all over the world.  He thought it could never be traced back to him.  However, the FBI investigation showed it to be a very rare strain used in only 18 laboratories, and 17 of those laboratories got their samples of the Ames strain from the 18th lab, the lab where Dr. Ivins worked, the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID).

That's a blunder that's truly "stranger than fiction," since no one would believe it if it were in a work of fiction.

The book also shows how other false beliefs got started.  Some of those false beliefs are still held by people today as they endlessly argue conspiracy theories or that Dr. Ivins couldn't have made the anthrax powders.  They believe the powders were "weaponized" in some supersophisticated way only possible in a government-run bioweapons laboratory, when the facts clearly show that they were routine powders that almost any microbiologist could make.  Dr. Ivins was just an expert at purifying anthrax spores.  Many mistaken beliefs were started by the media.  The Amerithrax investigation involved some of the worst and most inaccurate reporting by the media in modern times.

The book also explains things that are not part of the official case against Dr. Ivins, such as when he appears to have first gotten the idea for using an anthrax-filled letter to get more funding for anthrax vaccine research.  The idea appears to have occurred to him a full year before the actual attacks.  And, the facts clearly indicate that the first anthrax letter was written weeks before 9/11.  So, unlike most beliefs about the case, the facts say Ivins was planning a crime using anthrax before 9/11 focused his attention and spurred him to actually do what he'd only been thinking about for over a year.       

I think it's a fascinating story.  It's kept me fascinated for over 11 years.  But, it's mostly forgotten by the public.  They generally remember the attacks, but they don't remember who did it or why.

My hope is that my book will show true crime buffs that there's "a crime unlike any other" that they have totally overlooked and should read more about.