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.