Science writer and poisons specialist Deborah Blum rounds up the year's news stories regarding malicious poisoners and expresses her disappointment that poisoners are often incredibly stupid about how they go about their trade (though, of course, it's possible that we only hear about the dumb ones because the smart ones get away clean).
But poisoners tend to have, let’s say, a curious way of seeing the world — and their place in it. When detectives interviewed Lampron, he felt he had cause: “He said he was close to retirement and he should be able to slow down the last few months.” Just as a Michigan college student who sent her roommate to the hospital (again in the first week of December) explained that she poured bleach into the other girl’s tea after they argued over who should wash dirty dishes. Her roommate was “mean” about it, she said.
I’ve written before about bleach poisonings. They remind us that household supplies are the most frequent source of such attacks. They remind us that people sometimes just poison to punish. In November, for instance, a deputy sheriff in Florida was charged with dumping hand sanitizer into a co-worker’s coffee following an argument over vacation days.
They remind us, once again, that the everyday poisoner is vindictive. Sneaky. But not necessarily that smart.
Dumb Poisoners: A Year-End Appreciation [Wired/Deborah Blum]
Princeton University psych prof Susan Fiske published an open letter denouncing the practice of using social media to call out statistical errors in psychology research, describing the people who do this as “terrorists” and arguing that this was toxic because of the structure of social science scholarship, having an outsized effect on careers.
Blue writes, “Peter Watts has be stricken with debilitating pain, loss of range of motion and motor control. Watts’ doctors remain baffled despite a battery of tests, and Watts has reached out to his fans to ask for their theories and ideas as to what might be causing his illness.”
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