Saturday, October 15, 2011

Science in anthrax letter case comes under attack/ Sacramento Bee

David Willman continues to write stories designed to sell his book on Bruce Ivins, and buttress the FBI 's Ivins theory.  I thought journalists were required to at least make a stab at even-handedness, but this once-great journalist didn't bother.

Here's an example:  Willman mentions, then tries to discredit, the paper of Hugh-Jones, Rosenberg and Jacobsen by saying they paid to have it published in an online journal.  Yet today, this is considered the best way for scientists to get their work out to the public in a timely manner, by publishing in PLOS (Public Library of Science) or a similar group of journals.  You pay a small fee to cover secretarial/peer review costs, and in return you get immediate publication after acceptance, and free online availability of the journal for all readers.  Universities generally cover this cost.  Paying the cost does not mean the authors  have bought their way in:  peer review can be even stricter with the online journals than with for-profit journals.  Willman has covered scientific issues for many years, and must have known this.

If you want to read his piece, it is here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Willman also mistakenly states that the paper claimed Joe Michael at Sandia "hid" his finding of tin in the spores for years. The paper clearly discusses Sandia's QUALITATIVE finding of tin.

What was hidden by the FBI for years was the QUANTITATIVE finding of tin - 0.65%. There is more tin than can possibly be explained as a "lab contaminant".

There is more tin present than other metals that are deliberately added during spore production. So much for it being a contaminant.

Since the FBI (and seemingly Willman as their sock puppet) wish to continue with the absurd notion that the tin is an accident, it is not surprising they don't mention numbers like 0.65%. Because you can write "0.65%" and "contaminant" in the same sentence with a straight face.

The full paper can be downloaded free here:
Review Article J Bioterr Biodef 2011, S3-001
doi: 10.4172/2157-2526.S3-001
The 2001 Attack Anthrax: Key Observations