The Internet: Ricin-free?


Speaking of Declan McCullagh, as Nick is below, via his always-useful Politech comes this interesting essay debunking the widely-repeated factoid that one can find convenient recipes for ricin on the Internet.

The mythology of the recipe for ricin exposes one of the most nettlesome ironies of instantaneous world wide communication. Although it has always been promised that the ubiquity of networked computing would enable a host of alternative information sources, what is found is that—in practice and when push comes to shove—the allegedly vast ocean of alternatives all say the same thing, with only minor variations, all drawing from the same text, the same myth.

The piece is worth reading in full, with some interesting history of the spread of dubious and crappy "recipes for danger" amongst edgy, thrill-seeking teens (and the federal agents who love them) that should remind you of controversies over the old-fashioned, paper-based Anarchist Cookbook, similarly a source of often useless or dangerous recipes.

I must sadly confess that my own Google gropings for searches on such things as "recipe for ricin" were unable to dig up even this bad recipe that George Smith writes about in the link above.

A good recipe for the horrendous poison was, however, according to this New York ABC-TV report from a year ago, available from the U.S. Patent Office.