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The Dangers of Being A Microbiologist 304

Posted by Hemos
from the with-the-x-files-ended dept.
Anonymous Coward writes "Globe and Mail is running a story for all the paranoid conspiracy theorists among us: "Eleven microbiologists mysteriously dead over the span of just five months.... Throw in a few Russian defectors, a few nervy U.S. biotech companies, a deranged assassin or two, a bit of Elvis, a couple of Satanists, a subtle hint of espionage, a big whack of imagination, and the plot is complete, if a bit reminiscent of James Bond.""
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The Dangers of Being A Microbiologist

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  • Ah ha! (Score:2, Funny)

    by AbraCadaver (312271)
    Maybe this has something to do with that nifty Self-assembling "nano-building" virus from a couple stories ago :)

    "Wait, this isn't my drink! AARRGGHH!!"
  • "Throw in a few Russian defectors, a few nervy U.S. biotech companies, a deranged assassin or two, a bit of Elvis, a couple of Satanists, a subtle hint of espionage, a big whack of imagination..."

    You forgot CowboyNeal.

  • by gregfortune (313889) on Sunday May 05, 2002 @02:29AM (#3464721)
    Until you add in the part where the Anonymous Coward who submitted the news item was hired by the same biotech company who paid an editor at Globe and Mail to publish a story to scare the living crap out of their microbiologists.

    Ahhhh, the simplicity of safe-guarding IP.
    • Yeah. It's been fairly obvious all along. I didn't need a silly newspaper story to tell me someone's killing microbilolgists.
    • by dattaway (3088) on Sunday May 05, 2002 @01:57PM (#3466126) Homepage Journal
      Consider the job of a microbiologist and you may see hazards of the profession. Consider where the money comes from and why over half the staff at any drug company is legal and security. Less than half the payroll goes to actual research. Medical research even less. There is a reason for this.

      My mom is a microbiologist and officially retired several years ago due to an "accident." What was interesting was the timing of the accident. I was interviewed at my house by one of the security staff who stated he was friends with Ewing Kauffman, the owner of MMD (he died recently and MMD is now defunct.) The guy with the nice golf shirt probed with many questions about my mom's consulting work. Shortly after that, contractors came into my mom's office to move some furniture. It would be a few hours after mom entered the office that she would be in the hospital. There are bad ways to die, but having the lungs burned with a chemical indicator to cough up green mucus is gruesome. Its not your average deathmatch in Quake III. She survived with 30% lung capacity. Someone at the company did not like her and we were forced to pay for the treatment until many years through the courts payed off.

      Pick your profession carefully. I'd recommend avoid working with companies that deal with intellectual property right minefields. Know where the mony comes from, especially when it deals with genetic coding of lifeforms. If you work with spooks, you better enjoy politics. I got to see intense rivalry between her peers. And it didn't seem fair. Just because it may be a white collar profession, people get hurt.
  • Pagan != Satanist!!! (Score:3, Informative)

    by cardshark2001 (444650) on Sunday May 05, 2002 @02:32AM (#3464726)
    A "Pagan" is not a "Satanist". It makes me very angry when I hear those two terms interchanged.

    Perhaps some of those deaths seem suspicious, but please: a murder-suicide by an associate of the deceased? I really do not see how the "spooks" could cause something like that.
    • I think you're *all* religious fundamentalist nuts.

    • get the story straight... these were no normal pagans, these were pagan's with samurai swords AND esp that can turn pizza delivery men into homa-suicidal lab assistants. therefore, obviously SATANISTS, i've already lined mine and my children's gasmasks with aluminum foil, i suggest you do the same... RECOGNIZE THE REAL ENEMY!
      • NOOO!

        Aluminum foil doesn't work!

        The control waves are tuned to Periodic Table group 14 -- carbon for controlling humans, silicon and germanium for controling transistors. You accordingly need to protect yourself with one of the group 14 metals -- either genuine tin, or lead. Aluminum doesn't work!

    • No shit. "Pagan" simply means "Not Christian". How often these terms get confused by the uneducated.

      You're all fools. It's wonderful, isn't it?

  • by daeley (126313) on Sunday May 05, 2002 @02:33AM (#3464729) Homepage
    The assassin was *deranged*???! Not everybody lives on the East Coast, you guys. "License To Ill" isn't on out here for a while! A spoiler warning would be nice next time!

    (apologies to the Beastie Boys)
  • by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Sunday May 05, 2002 @02:35AM (#3464732)
    This story had been developing for about a year now, with no 'anti-conspiracy' angle yet presented by the sketpic community.

    Now, however, that it's a story on Slashdot, (along with several other Big Hot Button stories which have made Slashdot headlines over the past couple of days), we'll get to sift through all the Perfectly Logical Explanations.

    Let the Paranoia and Head-in-the-Sand-'Rationality' begin!


    -Fantastic Lad --The Truth is somewhere in between. . .

    • by Anonymous Coward
      well, the fact that everyone is now wondering about these deaths, and is on the lookout for more deaths, might affect the result in several ways

      1. microbiologists might start being more careful

      2. people might try to kill more microbiologists, since it's the popular thing

      3. contrarians (which many murderers are) might decide not to kill microbiologists, it being too passe

      4. other effect

      So, by all means, let us continue our scientific observations, but keeping in mind that the act of observing may influence the results, and may be dangerous to your health (if you are a microbiologist)
    • Um, okay...

      First, if you're running a conspiracy to off microbiologists, why those eleven? There's no pattern as to nationality, research subject, etc.

      Second, unless you know how many microbiologists there are (20,000 academic in the U.S. is the only number given, which is clearly inadequate), how can you even show this is an unusual rate of "unusual" deaths? Only until you establish that there's a statistcally unusual number of deaths is there any grounds for any speculation at all.
      • why those eleven?

        Actually, I'd be inclined to say eight. There are 11 untimely deaths, but only 8 are truely mysterious.

        The guy who got offed by his daughters and her satanist friends is reasonably well explained, and "normal" in that -- If you're going to get offed, chances are it's going to be by family or 'friends'. You even have living, breathing conspirators who, if they were part of a larger comspiracy, would probably be happy to talk about it. The only thing really unusual about it is the satanist connection.

        Similarly, the Pizza delivery murder-suicide is similarly well explained and fits the family/friend statistical norm. In this case, however, everybody who was directly involved is dead. Unless someone can point to some evidence that the suicide was 'forced', I'm going to chaulk this one up to a love triangle, or something and mark it 'untimely but explained'.

        3 untimely death in a short time period is probably not that far off for a group of this size. As for the other 8 deaths, I'm betting that they take this group far outside the statistical norm.

        Any epidemiologists out there?

  • I know the work of a couple of those people pretty well. They were excellent specialists, but their work was not directly related to biological weapons.

    Imagine that there had been a missile attack scare in the US. This is roughly like looking through the ranks of recent deaths of computer scientists and implying that anybody who died who was working on Ada compilers, control systems software, robotics, or large-scale software engineering was somehow related to SDI work.

    Of course, an X-Files style conspiracy would be so much more interesting, I suppose.

    • Really.

      The murder rate, US and britain together, is on the order of 5 in 100,000 per year (US it was 6.8 in '97, according to CNN [cnn.com].) I assume that it's about the same in Russia. The odds of seeing 7 (definitely murders) over the course of 9 months out of a group of about 30,000 people are small, but not preposterously small. Given the portion of my prominent colleagues who are, to be blunt, old men, I'm suprised only two of them died of strokes during that period.

      Also, if you keep subdividing the population into little pieces, eventually you're going to find a subsection (young black men of course, but besides that) who got killed disproportionately in any given period.

      If you keep taking different colors of bullets, and shoot each color fifty times, you will eventually find a color of bullet that is more accurate; if you insist on a higher "degree of significance," it just means you have to check more colors (blue isn't more accurate, but turquoise is!) before you "find one."

      This is not to say that I don't think that there's a conspiracy related to biological weapons, especially anthrax, in the United States. I believe that there is, and I believe that the fellow who fell off a bridge may very well have been bumped off. It is entirely a credible suggestion that the microbiologists who died under somewhat odd suggestions where targeted for assassination for some reason; such has happened in the past. Last year's death toll for molecular biologists *may* very well have been substantially enriched by CIA hitmen. Now, I don't think this is true, and you cannot conclude that it is true (or even likely) from the body count. The body count is not itself any cause for alarm.

      Just to be on the safe side, though, I'm installing a metal detector for federal employees who come by the lab. :)
  • As most visitors to Slashdot should already know, at least one of these scientists is most definitely NOT dead. One year from now, we will discover that it wasn't him that died, but instead his robotic clone. At this time, he will most likely die again, only to be replaced one year later by a different scientist that is actually being controlled by yet another robotic clone of Dr. Wiley.

    My apologies to the family of the victims, but I couldn't help but share my geekish laughter at the idea of "Dr. Wiley" (sic, sort of) mysteriously dying. My only hope is that the doctor, while he was still alive, got a good laugh out of his name and title, too.
  • by MagikSlinger (259969) on Sunday May 05, 2002 @03:03AM (#3464789) Homepage Journal
    I remember almost a decade ago, there was a rash of mysterious deaths in the UK of top programmers working on top secret military projects. That was also dismissed as a "statistical anomoly" and that working under such high pressures can cause suicidal tendencies.

    Yeah, like the one guy who took a lamp cord, bared the two ends, and taped them to his metal fillings in his molars and plugged it in.

    A lot of the deaths also occured in a brief span of time, and lots of strange and horrible ways to die.
    • > I remember almost a decade ago, there was a rash of mysterious deaths in the UK of top programmers working on top secret military projects.

      To be precise, a total of 20 programers linked to Marconi Defense Systems or the Ministry of Defense died suspiciously between 1985-1987.

      The first mainstream magazine to break this story was the April 30th 1987 edition of Computer News (UK), but unfortunately the article does not seem to be available online.

      However, it gets a mention in the Risks Digest [ncl.ac.uk], as well as plenty of conspiracy sites such as this one [futuretalk.org].

      • Now, you see, conspiracy theories about those deaths have what the one posted here does not: logic. They were all Britons involved in defense software, and the rate of deaths by apparent suicide was twice the national norm according to THE INDEPENDENT.

        It could still have been a statistical blip; things do occasionally happen to clump, and a doubled rate in a specific subsample isn't all that unusual. But a prima facie case for somebody bumping off British programmers exists.
    • Yeah, who would do that? It's almost like the "agents" of whatever "agency" that killed them was wanting to make it obvious these people were killed.

      Yet the police mysteriously overlook everything.

      The truth is, you can't trust anyone. Especially when money is involved. It's the one thing that can get you anything.

      Remember that.
  • I remember hearing news reports of his disappearance right in the middle of all the anthrax mailings. There were more than a few conspiracy theories around that. Though some of the deaths sound a bit like some KGB assassinations from the cold war days, they would use poisons like ricen to cause what appeared to be heat attacks and strokes, They some Bulgarian dissident like that in London.....
    • Your post makes me wonder about something. Perhaps someone on that list did have something to do with the anthrax attack. Four or five of those deaths could be potential suicides, and a stroke could be stress-related. Suppose it was a US researcher that made the anthrax, but that he was intending to make people wake up to the threat rather than kill anyone. It is certainly possible that such a person could suffer a severe fit of guilty conscience.

      Alternatively, someone might have found out what the person responsible for anthrax had done and killed him or her. I wouldn't even put it past the US government to do such a thing if they felt the guy would spill national security secrets or they would have to divulge too much classified info to pin the crime on him.

      On the other hand there might just be some anthrax crazed vigilante who is whacking high profile microbiologists.

      Some of the deaths are almost certainly just coincidental, and maybe they all are, but I do hope that the FBI is at least taking a serious look at whether there is some connection.
  • I've never heard this word before, what does it mean? Nervy as in nervous? Nervy as in 'having a lot of nerv', Nervy as in 'like the fictitious NERV organization in Neon Genesis Evangelon'
    • I've never heard this word before, what does it mean? Nervy as in nervous? Nervy as in 'having a lot of nerv', Nervy as in 'like the fictitious NERV organization in Neon Genesis Evangelon'

      Just a click away, dictionary.com [dictionary.com] has the answer.

      (was this a "a nervy thing to say"?)
  • by gblues (90260)
    "Statistically, what are the chances?"

    The moon is covered with the results of astronomical odds.

    Nathan
    • Re:Heh... (Score:2, Funny)

      by clone304 (522767)
      Apparently the microbioligist obituary column is hiring at statistically astronomical odds as well.
    • Re:Heh... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by inKubus (199753)
      Divide the possibility of a moon hit by it's age.

      Then divide the possiblity of many promenent biologists dying mysteriously (and almost all unconventionally) by what...... 5 months?

      Scoff, but if you refuse to even slghtly question the cable news channels view of reality, you are much more unintelligent than you give yourself credit for.

      Unless you are omnipotent and can be everywhere at once, you must have trust in someone else's information (or view of reality). If you were a giant corporate news station, do yoou think you would have the money to fabricate something like this??

      Yes. And, although I'm sure a few deaths will occur to cover up the coverage of the one before it, no one will notice, and this will all be laughed at again as another "conspiracy".

      Wonderful, isn't it? :)
      • I agree that it is suspicious, but your argument is fallacious. You are trying to say that "if you disagree with me you are a stupid drone of the cable news station, so if you agree with me you are smarter." Come on. It was very suspicious and given how prominent they are I don't think they were coincidental, but the cable news channels aren't that far off. Slashdot is just a much a news network as other places, it just has fewer viewers and more technologically informed viewers.

        Please, next time you make an argument use valid logic instead of trying to insult my intelligence if I disagree with you. Same conclusion, different logic. Valid logic.
        • Please, next time you make an argument use valid logic instead of trying to insult my intelligence if I disagree with you. Same conclusion, different logic. Valid logic.

          Heh, my post was tongue in cheek. Stop taking everything so seriously.

          ;)

  • I've had the clear impetus over the last two years during which I've been studying in depth all things New Age, Occult, Mystical, Magical and Fantastik, to observe trends in how people are conditioned to respond to any form of thought which falls outside the accepted norms.

    Really neat!

    With the advanced warning that Fantastic Lad's views on these matters come with a heavy bias, since I have become utterly convinced that prevailant forces beyond the understanding of conventional science are at work all over the place all the time, here are my observations. . .

    1. Most people who have embraced what I affectionately call, 'The Programming' automatically assume a position of denial and disbelief, regardless of their actual feelings. Even if they are fascinated by an alternative idea and might even be willing to accept it, the conditioned reaction seems to be one of ridicule and scorn designed to hurt the person sharing the information.

    This is really weird, because it even happens to me! After friends listen to me blathering on about Chem Trails, aliens, and Chi, sometimes they come to me and relate weird experiences they have had or esoteric theories they have read, and my automatic response is to doubt and scorn them! I actually have to work in order to listen without automatic negative judgement!


    2. People shed their programmed disbelief in weird levels. I've talked with astrologers and channelers who believe entirely in their 'craft' (I put 'craft' in quotes because, while these phenomena are without any question in my mind perfectly legitimate, they remain fields nonetheless filled with MOUNTAINS of crap, disinfo, charlatanism, etc.), while accepting these things fully, nonetheless automatically reject ALL aspects of things like free energy theory, UFO's, conspiracy theory, Chi, etc. --You can pick any combination of these subject headers for such an individual and distribute them randomly beneath "Believe" and "Disbelieve". --And I'm talking about TOTAL belief in one area with TOTAL denial in another. It should go without saying that this seems remarkably peculiar to me.


    3. The "Re-Boot" phenomenon. When you provide a powerful experience to a disbeliever, (such as knocking them on their asses by tapping their crown Chakra, pointing to a plane dispersing a chem-trail, Dream walking into their sleep and describing to them in detail their dream the next day, knocking over a chair or lighting a candle with focused Chi, etc.) -the average disbeliever will walk around stunned for a day or two, unable to process the experience, and then, if they are unable to find a rational sounding way of dismissing the new information will actually deny any memory of the event! --I've actually seen this happen several times. (I don't know if people actually don't remember or not, but when you press, people will actively avoid the subject in conversation with anger. I've never seen it reach the point of violence, but it seems to me quite possible.)


    4. Geeks and technically savvy individuals, who I believe are critical vectors in the determination of the current state of this reality paradigm, have by far the most powerfull 'blanking' programs and 'rationalization' programs installed, all sporting the most vehement emotional reactions when pressed. (It should be noted that 'rationalization' is very much in quotes. A look at something like the Skeptic's Dictionary shows a wide array of Mis-informed Straw-Man bashing, Half-baked logic, and Plain Old Ridicule used to fortify the 'Official Line'.) --All of which, of course, in my mind, suggests that special care has been taken in this sector by The Powers That Be.


    Anyway, I've found the whole process of making these observations utterly fascinating, and I know there are some out there who might also be interested. And of course, Caveat Lector should be employed at all times when reading my stuff. While I tend to know WAY more on most of these topics than a bevy of New Age morons, I'm still only on the lower parts of the knowledge mountain myself! For every bit of verification I find, I run across 25 lies and bits of fabricated sensationalist crap.


    -Fantastic Lad

    • 3. The "Re-Boot" phenomenon. When you provide a powerful experience to a disbeliever, (such as knocking them on their asses by tapping their crown Chakra, pointing to a plane dispersing a chem-trail, Dream walking into their sleep and describing to them in detail their dream the next day, knocking over a chair or lighting a candle with focused Chi, etc.)

      So videotape it next time.
      • Blockquoth the poster:

        So videotape it next time.

        Amen to that! It's funny how all of these phenomena are perceptible to human sense organs yet mysteriously defy technological recording. I once read a book (Faerie Tale by Raymon Feist) that made an interesting plot point: A paranormal investigator is walking around an upstate farm looking for clues and rapid-fire dictating into his handheld recorder. He stumbles on the Wild Hunt. Now, one of the myths is that those who see the Wild Hunt are doomed to forget it. (We'll leave out how there could be any myth about it, then...) This happens to poor investigator.


        But later, he plays back the tape, which -- being a machine -- could not be made to mystically "forget". When he hears himself describing the Hunt, he suddenly remembers the experience himself. Technology to the rescue!


        For a while, Feist's book shapes up to be an incredible tale posing human tech versus faerie magic in the ultimate showdown. Then for whatever reason Feist flinced and wrote what was -- to me -- a much lesser climax. But the idea has stuck with me: If "paranormal" is real (i.e., interacts with the physical world), then it is susceptible to scientific investigation.

    • So let me get this straight. You believe in astrology and channeling, while simultaneously and pre-emptively denying the validity of unnamed charlatans whenever and whereever you deem them undefendable.

      Let's examine these too beliefs. One belief is that practically any personality trait or significant event actually has something to do with the arrangement of stars and planets in the night sky. Or, in some cases, what they happened to be on the day you were born. Does this mean that it might be preferable for pregnant women to medically delay birth, for a more favorable astrological "sign" ? If they have a C-section, does it count. If an embryo is frozen for 3 years, and then implanted in a womb, does this affect things at all, or is it truly the birth date?

      What, you retards never actually tested any of this? Your 10,000 year old voodoo beliefs? What, are you afraid that if there were such tests, things might show it to be unsupportable superstition? And if you aren't afraid that is the case, what prevents you from doing this?

      See, this is what science is about. Figuring out what is going on. If atrology were in any way valid, not only would it strengthen your arguments that it is, but science would allow you to refine just what you know.

      Statistics, lies though they are, don't even come close to supporting anything that atrology ever claims. Made up bullshit by the trolls here on slashdot, is statistically indistinguishable from this garbage.

      Channeling? Hmm, dunno. I won't rule it out, but the truth is, this one would be much more defendable by you, on its own. It's certainly not repeatable though, let alone reliable. But this once, you get a "Get out of jail free card". I won't attack this one just yet.

      As for me being "programmed" to not believe stupid new age garbage, I thank you, I don't often recieve compliments on slashdot. For those of you that don't speak the fruity dialect of nutcasian, that translates to "having common sense".

      You see, it's not out of malice or distrust that the natural inclination is to not believe something until proven true. It's simply that there are any number (read: infinite) of possibilities, all contradicting. And it would be IMPOSSIBLE to give all the benefit of the doubt simultaneously. So therefor, you figure out the things you know for sure, while setting aside all the crazy stuff, until you get around to test this.

      Why? Because it's the only way to function as a human being, otherwise you'd starve to death worrying that if you ate at the wrong time, the gods would punish you (which they might, if all theories are equally plausible until tested, they might very well kill you for such a transgression, and by the time you find out, it's too late).

      And if you don't agree, all you have to do, is prove it to me with repeatable results. That's the cool thing about science, my belief doesn't matter if it's true.

    • 1. Shock! Surprise! If someone comes off as a complete nutball, the odds are high that anything coming out of their mouth will be considered wrong. This isn't 'programming'. Surely you know an idiot at work. Once you realized he was an idiot, did you give all of his suggestions your full attention? Hell no.

      2. Yes, believing in one thing that most people don't believe in doesn't make you automatically believe in EVERYTHING you hear. The best example of this is religion.

      3. No kidding. You introduce a fundamental change in someone's worldview; they will walk around for a day or two thinking about it.

      4. Heh, the powers that be have nothing to do with it. It's called being a skeptic. It comes with being not sheeplike.

    • Blockquoth the poster:

      Most people who have embraced what I affectionately call, 'The Programming' automatically assume a position of denial and disbelief, regardless of their actual feelings... my automatic response is to doubt and scorn them! I actually have to work in order to listen without automatic negative judgement!... Geeks and technically savvy individuals, who I believe are critical vectors in the determination of the current state of this reality paradigm, have by far the most powerfull 'blanking' programs and 'rationalization' programs installed


      Or, perhaps, it's just what Carl Sagan calls our "baloney detection kit". The essence of science -- and the reason it has lead to four hundred years of success, versus millenia of stagnation before -- is that it makes things rest on proof, not faith. What we can talk about, scientifically, may be a miniscule part of what's Out There. But what we say, can be said with confidence.



      Maybe geeks and techheads are more doubting because (a) they are more trained in scientific ways; (b) they are in fields that require judicious doubt and problem-solving skills to look for the simplest explanation; and (c) they are disproportionately likely to have gotten their fantasy fix by actually reading (honest) fantasy and sci fi, so the mystical worlds spouted by paranormal believers -- worlds which IMHO are much less transcendant than the fiction I read, let alone the actual Universe as revealed through science -- simply do not offer anything worthwhile.

  • by humming (24596)
    Now they only need a Olympic to spread this biological disease at.

    Tom Clancy, the Nostradamus of our time.

    //Humming
    • Who is Tom Clancy anyway? Have you met him? And can we PROVE he wrote those books?

      The answer is no. Of course, in America, a trust of authors is ingrained into each one of us as children.

      The question is always WHY. But if you delve into the subject deeper, you may find more than you dreamed of.

      And also, remember, the powerful groups who do stuff like this also surf the web. You must delve DEEEEp.

      If you have the time, I strongly recommend it. If you don't, keep working, get that money. You're going to die one day.

      Remember, you are going to die one day.

      You too, will die someday.

      You are going to DIE. Not now, not by terrorism, but one day, everyone will die. You are not an exception. You WILL die. You will cease to be.

      Maybe you are just useless and living a standard, unexciting life. I'm non-standard. I like to have a little fun, blow my mind a bit.

      Just remember, you are going to die someday. Someday, it will all go black, and there will be no more YOU.

      So, don't be afraid to bend reality a bit. It's so boring sometimes, this Television news and government sanctioned information.

      Break the rules, find out what the more open-minded are thinking..

      humanunderground [humanunderground.com] continues to process intelligence.
  • Maybe a little off-topic, but since you mentioned Bond:

    I live in San Jose, and I've been laid off about three months. The other day I was watching View to a Kill, and I found myself genuinely hoping that Christopher Walken's character would succeed in blowing up the Silicon Valley.

    Christ, I need to find a job.

  • by s390 (33540) on Sunday May 05, 2002 @04:24AM (#3464922) Homepage
    is here [counterpunch.org]

    The author is an academic and lawyer who had a hand in drafting US anti-biowarfare laws - he knows the history, the players, and the reasons related to US biowar activities, the Gulf War Syndrome, strangely convenient anthrax attacks on the US Congress, and well-founded suspicions about what's going on here. It's authoritative and frightening.

    • I'm not in a position to comment fully on Francis Boyle's commentary, but to attempt to deal correctly with biological warefare when you are unaware of the rudimentary biology necessary to generate said anti-biotics is definetly foolhardy. His talk should have been prefaced with the IANAMB (I am not microbiologist) instead of the ubiquitous IANAL.

      1. It's genetic engineering, not DNA genetic engineering
      2. You don't typically use "DNA gene splicing" to generate agents... the most powerfull agents are already there...
      3. The method to generate a vaccine is often dramatically different than the method to generate a new anti-biotic agent
      4. Pigs, sheep, and rabits are used normally in immunoligical research because their immune systems are relatively similar to humans (not because their circulatory system and respiratory system are similar)
      I'll stop there... while some of the points he raises are definetly worth going into, he should really consider becomming better informed of the technical details behind his assertions. It would also be userfull if he would site his sources in true academic style, rather than just asserting them to be so.
    • The question is why. If this story is factual, one can rule out all coincidences. We are mostly scientists and know the rules of probability. So, these microbiologists are being killed by someone.

      The question is, WHO? The answer is usually "some powerful government" but in reality, how hard is it to make a series of deaths seem like suicides and strange coincidences?

      Any reasonably intelligent human who's read all the detective stories, watches discovery channel, and has the time to plan it all out could make something like this happen.

      So then, the question becomes "WHY?" To understand the WHY, you must understand the HOW.

      HOW are these individuals REALLY connected. Sure the story gives us some facts on what each researcher was working on, but there are no concrete links.

      And why no speculation in the story on the why and how? Then you must examine the what and the when:

      What: Biowarfare. A hot topic these days, and
      WHEN: 31 days after Sept. 11th, when we are in the midst of this anthrax attack.

      Many theories may arise from these minor statements:

      1. People killed were involved in the plot, and were killed to keep from talking.

      2. If this is the case, who was controlling the plot, and

      3. Is this linked to Sept 11th???

      Then you might ask:

      4. Most of these scientists were American, therefore perhaps the plot involved Americans..?

      then maybe

      5. The same people were behind ... Sept 11th? Or is it just opportunism?

      6. Yet, is such an agency who is capable of a Sept 11th also capable of this other plot:

      Yes.

      So you see, a few minor leaps of the imagination, and we are to the implcations of the matter.. it is not that hard these days to see what might really be happening, as much as we wish to not believe it.

      Believe or not, is it better to make 5 educated and strongly verified guesses, or trust a cable news channel (owned by the largest media corp in the world?)

      I ask you this.

      Bored? Delve in deeper:

      Human Underground [humanunderground.com] Continues to Process Intelligence
  • by Wakko Warner (324) on Sunday May 05, 2002 @04:37AM (#3464933) Homepage Journal
    Throw in a few Russian defectors, a few nervy U.S. biotech companies, a deranged assassin or two, a bit of Elvis, a couple of Satanists, a subtle hint of espionage...

    I give up. Is this MTV's latest The Real World cast? Where's the loveable, misunderstood homosexual?

    - A.P.
  • Too bad the lone gunmen are dead. They'd have been able to get to the bottom of this....or maybe they already did...
  • Oh my god! The server has suddenly gone down! I can't read the page that slashdot has linked to! It must the the conspiracy at work....
    • You'd start to worry if it was your server, you friend who also saw the story, and 5 of his friends.

      Then if they started to get killed, what then? Would you start to worry?

      If you are doing something they (whoever "they" is) care about and you are fucking up their plans, they will neutralize you.

      What is it about killing people that makes people think this is all so unlikely?! MILLIONS died in world war two! What makes you think things are any different now.

      Except of course, the media. :)

      Cheers.
  • they missed a few. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kwantus (34951) on Sunday May 05, 2002 @05:03AM (#3464970)
    Woohoo! We Canucks'll crack Washington's BS yet!

    On Nov. 24 a Swissair flight from Berlin to Zurich crashed on its landing approach. Of the 33 persons on board, 24 were killed, including the head of the hematology department at Israel's Ichilov Hospital, as well as directors of the Tel Aviv Public Health Department and Hebrew University School of Medicine.

    on Oct. 4, a commercial jetliner traveling from Israel to Novosibirsk, Siberia was shot down over the Black Sea by an "errant" Ukrainian surface-to-air missile, killing all on board. The missile was over 100 miles off-course. Despite early news stories reporting it as a charter, the flight, Air Sibir 1812, was a regularly scheduled flight.the plane is believed by many in Israel to have had as many as five passengers who were microbiologists. Both Israel and Novosibirsk are homes for cutting-edge microbiological research. Novosibirsk is known as the scientific capital of Siberia, and home to over 50 research facilities and 13 full universities for a population of only 2.5 million people.

    http://fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/02_14_02_m ic robio.html

    Now, I'm not sure this is anything more sinister than Washington doesn't want a cure or cheap treatment for AIDS found... read between the lines of the 1974 NSSM200 report and match it up with the extensions of drug patents and other well-known actions contrary to Washington's hand-wringing about this epidemic.

    http://www.africa2000.com/SNDX/nssm200all.html

    http://amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0937307041
    • by RKloti (517839)
      Excuse me? It was a Crossair flight, not a Swissair flight. Swissair no longer exists per se. Crossair was a regional airline, now it has taken up some (most) of Swissair's medium and long haul flights. That is, those that actually made money.

      The plane flew too low and ended up flying into a forest in Birchwil, which is a few kilometres from the end of runway 28, the shortest of ZRH's 3 runways (it is 2.5 km long, the others are 3.3 and 3.5 kilometres long). According to the CVR, it appears to have been an accident. At least partially responsible were noise regulations forcing airliners to land on a runway that was not IFR equipped during poor visibility, though the pilot should have been capable of performing this procedure safely.

      No, I do not work for an airline. Or for an airport. I happen to know this because Birchwil is about 2-3 km from where I live.
  • For some reason, the original isn't accessible anymore... perhaps it has something to do with the content. If anyone knows people at google, maybe now would be a good time to change jobs - who knows whom does lunatic murderers will go after now!
    dead scientists [google.com]
  • Dumbassed media, can't even get the terminology right...
    • Media Logic:

      Some pagans worship Lucifer
      Therefore
      All pagans are Satanists.

      Most college students would recognize this as a "false" statement.

      75% of America has not, and will never go to college.

      Remember that.
  • Reading stuff like this, although it is not placed in context (as others mention here), is startling. It does make me frightened in any case. A good starting point for the spread of biological and chemical weapons in the world, and perhaps more importantly who supports whom, is the federation of American Scientists website [fas.org].

    I'm a South African and was shocked to read about the support given by almost all Western Governments to the Dr.Mengele of the Apartheid Government, Dr.Wouter Basson, a.k.a. Dr.Death, in that regime's attempts to create bio weapons which would only affect black people. (Although why they had this strange idea that blacks are some other species I don't know). In any case, although probably many people don't remember it, in the mid 80's an East German microbiologist claimed that the actual origions of the HIV virus(various newspaper archives) were in fact in a USArmy bioweapons lab in either Virginia or Maryland (Ft.Derrick? I don't remember the name). He was laughed off at the time. I also, in terms of normal common sense found it somewhat implausiable. But the problem is, who do you believe, and who do you trust?

    I was somewhat amazed at the many coincidents (reminiscent of a good episode of the X-Files) in the Anthrax attacks in the US last year. Why Florida? Why the isolated cases of lonely old women? Why liberal or popular politicians? How did the FBI get to the conclusion so rapidly that it was not linked to the 9/11 higjackers and that it was "probably of domestic origion"? Why has nothing ever come out of the investigation?

    I don't really like conspiracy theories, as they tend to cloud real events, but who do you believe? And what do you believe? Did anyone in any so-called country ever give their politicians an explicit right to muck around with stuff as dangerous as this?
  • I thought the biggest threat to a microbiologist was doing something stupid like mouth pipetting, or cross contamination. Although the wild world of Microbiology in water filtration doesnt see the wild side... Hell it's actually damned boring.... Oh look the same microbes I found yesterday... and the day before.... and the day before that.. Oh wait that one is different.... Gram stain... Yup Gram Positive... and it's oh wait... same thing....

    The most exciting part of your day is handling the live sample bottles of E-coli.
    • The most exciting part of your day is handling the live sample bottles of E-coli.
      Is that the new Gaultier fragrance?

      Seriously, thanks to Infectious Awarables I'm sure there's someone at the last place I worked that thinks Ebola is a clothing designer that does men's ties.

  • make a short video about the 'facts' of the case
    and you too can own the distribution rights to this newsy event before someone else makes a movie about this with Pierce Brosnan or Wesley Snipes
    Fuck the MPAA!

  • So, as I have a doctorate in microbiology, I now have a legitimate excuse for indulging in paranoid fantasies?

    But seriously, the conspiracy angle has a bit of flaw -- while the former Biopreparat (Soviet biological warware program) scientist Valdimir Pasechnik is dead, Kanatjan Alibekov [spss.com] (or Ken Alibek as he likes to call himself these days) who was nearly at the top of the Biopreparat hierarchy, is still very much alive -- wouldn't he be the obvious target of any conspiracy? Or, wait, he would be, but that would be too obvious. Anyway, gotta go, someone's knocking on my door (which is a bit odd, as none of my friends get up this early on weekends...)
  • by rufusdufus (450462) on Sunday May 05, 2002 @11:09AM (#3465580)
    Here are links to news stories on six of the deaths.

    Dr Benito Que was beaten to death on Nov 12 by 4 unknown men Miami Herald [newsbank.com]. He was a cell biologist working on infection diseases at the University of Miami's School of medicine, and was killed as he left work.

    Dr Don Wiley drowned under mysterious circumstances on Nov 16.

    CNN [slashdot.org].

    Only a week after Dr Que, Dr Wiley disappeared after a dinner party. Criminal intent has been noted by the Memphis police. Dr Wiley was the foremost infectious disease research at Harvard.

    Dr. Vladimir Pasechnik was found dead on November 23 Nytimes [nytimes.com].

    Dr pasechnik was a soviet defector from the Russian biological warfare who was an expert in Anthrax.

    Dr. Robert M. Schwartz was stabbed to death on Dec 10. msnbc [msnbc.com].

    Dr Schwartz was an expert in DNA sequencing, 'cultists' are blamed.

    Set Van Nguyen died in an airlock on Dec 14. Chemical incidents report center [chemsafety.gov]. He was in the field of animal diseases (anthrax) and died in an airlock filled with nitrogen. This is very odd since he should have been able to notice he was suffocating and open the door.

    Steven Mostow died in a mysterious plane crash on March 25.Colorado 9news [9news.com]
    One of the country's leading infectious disease and bioterrorism experts from the Colorado Health Sciences Center. Preliminary reports say the airplane engine failed. This is an extremely uncommon event, and does not necessarily lead to fatality. I am a pilot and can testify that the events of this death are highly suspicious.

    • Preliminary reports say the airplane engine failed. This is an extremely uncommon event, and does not necessarily lead to fatality.I am a pilot and can testify that the events of this death are highly suspicious.

      If you're a pilot, then you're probably also aware that light twins (which this was) are often referred to as "doctor killers", because they're typically owned/flown by doctor/pilots who only fly them occasionally, thus don't have the reflexes to deal with an emergency like this.

      Light twin on final (low and slow) losing an engine -- leading to asymmetric thrust and consequent yaw/roll moments? And in a snow flurry?

      Nothing surprising about crashing under those conditions.
    • This is very odd since he should have been able to notice he was suffocating and open the door.

      Actually, no, he shouldn't. In most people (though there are some medical conditions under which this is not true), the sensation of suffocation is not caused by lack of oxygen, but by buildup of carbon dioxide.

      Since breathing an inert gas allows the exchange of CO2 into the atmosphere, the only symptoms suffered are those of oxygen deprivation -- which impairs judgement and leads to giddiness like being drunk -- not a sensation of being suffocated. Due to the impaired judgement, people suffering from the symptoms generally don't recognize that they are suffering the symptoms, making inert-gas asphyxiation an especially easy way to die.

      (Note: specifically because there is no sensation of pain or suffocation, inert-gas asphyxiation has been proposed as a humane method of execution.)
      • (Note: specifically because there is no sensation of pain or suffocation, inert-gas asphyxiation has been proposed as a humane method of execution.)

        The mere idea of having execution become seen as humane frightens me. Someone once speculated that the problem with "stun weapons" is that because they did no (well, rare... well, pretty rare, anyway) lasting harm, police and authorities would use them with greater impunity. Hey, why not shock a demonstrator or two? No permanent damage, and it's humane!

        Of course, you probably didn't mean to imply that execution is humane, just that inert gas asphyxiation is a better way to go than a bullet or the chair, and that's gotta be true. Still... I think it's better not to attach the words. Execution may be necessary sometimes... but let's never fool ourselves about what it is.

  • Zodiac (Score:3, Funny)

    by Snafoo (38566) on Sunday May 05, 2002 @11:35AM (#3465672) Homepage
    I think the deaths have to do with a corporation that has a twenty-year-old pile of PCB transformers rotting in the middle of the Boston harbour, and has surreptitiously genetically engineered a bacteria that converts PCBs to salt water.

    Either that, or I've been reading too much Neal Stephenson again.


  • Four days later, Nguyen Van Set, 44, died at work in Geelong, Australia, in a laboratory accident. He entered an airlocked storage lab and died from exposure to nitrogen.


    What the hell sense does that make? As a scuba diver, I know that humans can (and do) regularly take large pressures of nitrogen... so what does that mean?
    • Check this out chemsafety.gov [chemsafety.gov].

      It says he died from asphyxiation in a 'deadly gas'. This makes no sense. Nitrogen is not deadly, and asphyxiation takes time; he should have been able to open the door once he noticed he couldnt breath..
      • You can breath easily, its normal pressure, and nitrogen is no less pleasant than N+O. That's why its deadly, you can't notice anything abnormal... you just feel short of breath, then pass out.
  • We were always that microbiologists wash their hands before going to the bathroom.

    Stories like this make me glad I selected something microbe-free for a career.

    .
  • by zulux (112259) on Sunday May 05, 2002 @12:12PM (#3465785) Homepage Journal

    This new generaiton of Spooks and Operatives dropped the ball again - people are finding out. The just need to keep it simple - a drowing here, a maiming there - and nobody notices. Just like it should be. By now-a-days, these whipper snappers have to get clever - swords, nudity, pagens and these new-fangeled aero-planes. Lets get back to business, and just do our jobs, and leave the 'flair' for the Operatives in San Francisco.

  • This sounds like the work of Silk, the sinister organization in Greg Bear's new novel Vitals which programs people's minds through bacteria. Naturally, they have to kill off a number of microbiologists who get too close to their secret, like the ones in the article. Especially the murder/suicide, which sounds like something Silk would do.

    Of course, just keep telling yourself it's only a novel... ;-)

  • by global_diffusion (540737) on Sunday May 05, 2002 @04:58PM (#3466827) Homepage
    Damn. What a death. "He entered an airlocked storage lab and died from exposure to nitrogen." Those unreactive gases sure are dangerous.

    Surely those who write articles on such topics could do a little research. The author most likely saw that he died in a nitrogen environment and concluded that he died from the nitrogen. Silly writers. Nitrogen isn't a deadly gas! It comprises a huge portion of our atmosphere. It's the lack of oxygen that killed him. Next they're going to run a story about the deadly effect of H20 in our tapwater.
  • ...is that Evan Chan better be watching his back...
  • This is not the first time there there has been a suspicious cluster of violent deaths of scientists reported in the British press. Last time, it was programmers. See Comp.Risks, RISKS DIGEST 6.67 [google.com] : and Who's killing Star Wars Scientists? [beyond-the-illusion.com]
    For those interested in a book which follows a plot with a striking similarity to the Marconi incidents, try The Chain of Chance [google.com]
    by Stanislaw Lem.It is a shame that noone will ever read this because I posted so late.

All this wheeling and dealing around, why, it isn't for money, it's for fun. Money's just the way we keep score. -- Henry Tyroon

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