Someone claiming to be Barbara Schwarz (I have no particular reason to believe it wasn't her) used my contact form today to send me a message from a machine connected to the Internet via SISNA. Here is the first paragraph of her message:
Idiots believe what yellow papers print. Reporters of the Salt Lake Tribune printed that that defamatory article on me sold lies for 20.000 Dollars to the National Enquire on the E. Smart case. And that isn't the only thing they did wrong. Fools like you fall for that paper that has no credibility
I was a little bemused by this but I did some research. Barbara must be referring to an incident in which two Salt Lake Tribune reporters were fired when it was discovered that they had received $20k for collaborating with the National Enquirer on an Elizabeth Smart story. The two reporters were Michael Vigh and Kevin Cantera. I fail to see the relevence of this because the SLT article I referred to was written by neither of them.
I just noticed that Barbara won the Alt.Usenet.Kooks Kook of the Month Award in May 2003.
Reading alt.discordia today, something in this post by Barbara Schwartz caught my eye. She gave a load of URLs after her name, two of which came under the sub-heading "More about Dave Touretzky". I immediately recalled viewing the website of someone by that name and decided to look into it.
I soon realised that I had in fact linked to Dave Touretzky's website from my page about Perfect Science - specifically to a page debunking Fedyakin's "discovery" of polywater. Looking at Dave's homepage I recognised it straight away as something I had first come across years ago and right there, under the heading "The Church of Scientology's Wacky Secrets" was a photo of of Barbara Schwarz. There was also a link to a copy of a 2003 article by Christopher Smith from The Salt Lake Tribune which perhaps gives some insight into Barbara's state of mind.
So my initial hunch was right, Barbara was talking about the same Dave whose website I had linked to back in 2001, and her interest in him was almost certainly related to Scientology. But in her alt.discordia post, Barbara had also given a link to her own website - what would that tell me? Well here is the first paragraph:
My name is Barbara Schwarz and for the past few years I have been attempting to expose racist statements made by a rat brain researcher at Carnegie Mellon University, David Touretzky. I have also been attempting to expose the fact this individual has purchased sexual implements using the university's phone number.
Barbara claims that Dave has used legal threats against ISPs to take down a number of her previous websites in which she made these allegations. Barbara provides no evidence to back up her claim about racist statements. She provides what appears to be evidence that Dave ordered sex toys using his work phone but even if that is true, so what? Even as a PhD student at Dartmouth College I was perfectly entitled to use my office phone to make personal calls, I just had to tick which calls were personal on the itemised bill. I never used it to order sex toys but I could have done - just like I could have used it for any other legal purpose.
So based on the flimsiness of Barbara's allegations I draw my conclusion. Dave has made it his mission to expose the dark side of Scientology and Barbara is retaliating by pursuing a vendetta - case closed:-)
Just a couple of disclaimers. First of all, though I am by no means an animal rights extremist I generally disapprove of animal experiments and would encourage Dave to concentrate on his less objectionable research. Secondly, a friend of mine was blackmailed by Scientologists when she was still at school and effectively used as slave labour, so I am hardly going to be sympathetic to the "church". Here is a good introduction to Scientology.
www.zenatode.org.uk Ian Gregory 2010