Computer underground Digest Wed Jul 5, 1995 Volume 7 : Issue 56 ISSN 1004-042X Editors: Ji
Computer underground Digest Wed Jul 5, 1995 Volume 7 : Issue 56
Editors: Jim Thomas and Gordon Meyer (TK0JUT2@MVS.CSO.NIU.EDU
Archivist: Brendan Kehoe
Shadow Master: Stanton McCandlish
Field Agent Extraordinaire: David Smith
Shadow-Archivists: Dan Carosone / Paul Southworth
Ralph Sims / Jyrki Kuoppala
la Triviata: Which wine goes best with Unix?
CONTENTS, #7.56 (Wed, Jul 5, 1995)
File 1--NEWS FLASH: TIME finds "porn" on the Net
File 2--Brock Meeks' Tracing of "CMU study"
File 3--Cu Digest Header Info (unchanged since 19 Apr, 1995)
CuD ADMINISTRATIVE, EDITORIAL, AND SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION APPEARS IN
THE CONCLUDING FILE AT THE END OF EACH ISSUE.
Date: Wed, 5 May 1995 21:21:45 CDT
From: CuD Moderators
Subject: File 1--NEWS FLASH: TIME finds "porn" on the Net
The July 3, 1995 cover story of Time Magazine (pp 38-43) is over top.
"On a Screen Near You: CYBERPORN," screams the title. Graphics,
including a a full-page fuzzy graphic of a man fornicating with his
computer, makes it clear for even the reading-challenged: There's
PORN on the NET!
The story, written by Philip Elmer-Dewitt, a well-respected and
generally highly credible Time technology writer, could otherwise be
dismissed as just another typical bit of media hysteria if not for
two minor elements: 1) The cover story is about an astonishingly
flawed Carnegie Mellon study of large adult-oriented BBSes
specializing in erotica, and 2) The story implies that erotica,
including pictures that most of us would agree are grossly offensive,
permeate the Net. Consider this snippet:
THERE'S AN AWFUL LOT OF PORN ONLINE. In an 18-month study, the
((Carnegie Mellon research team--jt)) surveyed 917,410 sexually
explicit pictures, descriptions, short stories and film clips.
On those Usenet newsgroups whee digitized images are stored,
83.5% of the pictures were pornographic (p. 38).
Now, there are several problems with this single paragraph that
reflect both poor reporting and some of the study's problems:
1) The "study" didn't analyze 917,410 pictures, stories, and clips.
It analyzed DESCRIPTIVE LISTINGS, even though the deceptive title and
prose in the study itself would indicate otherwise. It is not until
one reads the "methods" section of the study that the deception
2) The study did not examine 917,410 descriptive listings. After
nearly three-quarters of the descriptions were eliminated for various
reasons, only 292,114 remained.
3) The implication of the paragraph seems explicit: After examining
nearly a million images, it was found that 83.5 percent of the
pictures in binary Newsgroups are pornographic. The problem here is
that those nearly one million images were from a select number of
large ADULT BBSes, NOT Usenet, as implied by the wording.
4) Although the study itself uses that figure, it is not supported by
the study's data, because the figure includes text messages as well
as binary files.
5) The study examines only alt.binary or other groups, NOT
comp.binary or other groups, and thus cannot make any general claim
about "Usenet newsgroups."
There are other problems with the study and with the Time article.
These have been summarized in detail by a growing number of scholars
and others (including some members of the Carnegie Mellon research
team or "consultants" who are highly critical of the study).
A set of critiques can be found at:
CuD will provide further criticism of the story over the next few
weeks. The study's author, Martin Rimm (a 30-year old undergraduate
during the period when most of the study was written), has set up a
homepage at: http://trfn.pgh.pa.us/guest/mrstudy.html, where he has
indicated for the past few weeks that portions of the study, and more
recently the study itself, would be posted. As of this date, it is
Why is the Time article and the "study" significant? Most of us
recognize that Cyberage has introduced new problems related to adult
material and access by children. Most of us would likely also agree
that some mechanisms ought exist to prevent juveniles from accessing
certain types of material. This is a complex issue. Sadly, Congress
seems in a mood to impose restrictions that potentially subvert First
Amendment protections on freedom of expression, and the national
debate, such as it is, is fueled by media hysteria (such as the Time
piece) and the demagoguery of some politicians. That Time would lend
its credibility and the credibility of a respected writer to a study
that is methodologically flawed, conceptually impoverished, and
empirically inaccurate, is reckless. Already, the "findings" of the
study have been distorted and introduced in Congress and used by some
anti-pornography crusaders as proof that something must be done. An
issue of such national social and legal importance ought not be
shaped by a deceptive and flawed study.
In coming issues, CuD will provide commentary on the study
and related issues. The next post summarizes a chronology of
Date: Wed, 5 Jul 1995 23:58:59 -0500
From: jthomas2@SUN.SOCI.NIU.EDU(Jim Thomas)
Subject: File 2--Brock Meeks' Tracing of "CMU study"
CyberWire Dispatch // Copyright (c) 1995 //
Jacking in from the "Point-Five Percent Solution" Port:
Washington, DC -- Time magazine's credibility is hemorrhaging.
The magazine's recent "Cyberporn" cover story has ignited a fire storm of
criticism owing to its overblown coverage of a statistically
inconsequential study, written by a university undergraduate.
Time's story is being assailed as "reckless," "shoddy work" and an outright
"fraud" by academics and civil liberties groups.
Martin Rimm, who as an electrical engineering major at Carnegie Mellon
University took 18 months to complete the study, says 90% of the criticism
The writer of the Time story, Philip Elmer-DeWitt, characterized the
attacks as "a lot of rhetoric from a professional lobbyist and a professor
who called it reckless and criminal before she had read" the study.
Besides the pejoratives used to question how academically rigorous the Rimm
study is, Time's critics also are chaffing at the veil of secrecy that has
surrounded the study.
Time, the Georgetown Law Review (where the study was formally published,
despite the fact that it only deals with points of law inside footnotes)
and ABC's Nightline, in a kind of media collusion, refused to let anyone
outside those organizations do an independent review of the study before
publication. Each cited secrecy and a prior arrangement with Rimm as the
At least a week before publication, Time magazine was alerted to several
potential problems in the study's methodology. "I raised what I thought
were several red flags," said Donna Hoffman, an associate professor of
management at the Owen School at Vanderbilt, and one of the most respected
researchers on Net access issues. "Those concerns were apparently
ignored," she said.
Further, at least two legal experts, Mike Godwin of the Electronic
Frontier Foundation and Danny Weitzner of the Center for Democracy and
Technology, were refused access to the study, despite being asked by Rimm
to review the report's legal footnotes. Both declined to provide any legal
analysis, issuing warnings that such analysis was impossible without seeing
the footnotes in context.
Time magazine, aware of all this, ran its story without noting any of the
The .5 Percent Solution
One of the most egregious spin elements that Time used on the story was
hyping Rimm's claim that 83.5% of all images on Use net are "pornographic."
That 83.5% figure has already been sized on in by some members of Congress
looking to bludgeon the First Amendment by placing unconstitutional
constraints on Internet content. This figure is likely to become a
rallying cry of the First Amendment impaired; it has been trumpeted in at
least one Senate floor speech.
Small problem: That figure -- and the study which ejaculated its results
to a select media group under the cloak of secrecy -- is severely flawed,
acording to several academics and civil liberties groups that have since
obtained and analyzed a copy.
By Rimm's own admission, the 83.5% figure is derived from a seven day time
slice of the postings to only 17 of some 32 Usenet groups which typically
carry image files. Usenet is comprised of thousands of newsgroups, the
vast majority of which are text based.
Further, Rimm's own figures show that his so-called "pornographic" images
comprise merely ONE-HALF OF ONE PERCENT (.5) of all Internet traffic.
Time reporter, Philip Elmer-DeWitt did report this fact. Sort of. But
readers of the Tie story have to wade nearly 1,000 words into the story
before stumbling across this passage: "As the Carnegie Mellon study is
careful to point out, pornographic image files... represent only about 3
percent of all the messages on the Usenet newsgroups, while the Usenet
itself represents only 11.5 percent of the traffic on the Internet."
DeWitt would later claim during an online discussion on the WELL that he
didn't finish the math, citing the .5% figure, because readers tend to get
lost when more than two figures are cranked into a paragraph. (See, Time
takes care of you!)
Cooking the Books
To juice the coverage, Time also cited that the study had "surveyed 917,410
sexually explicit pictures, descriptions, short stories and film clips."
These files, however, were dredged up from adult BBS systems, not Internet
newsgroups, a point that is not entirely clear when reading the article.
The 917k figure is further msleading because even Rimm admits in his paper
that he winnowed out so many files that his analysis is based on
merely 294,114 files. And that STILL doesn't tell the whole story.
To analyze such a huge number of files, by visually verifying that
something called "Naked Bitch with Mardi Gras Beads" is actually a woman
and not a hoaxed picture of a female dog (which actually happened), would
have taken years. Instead, Rimm's analysis is based overwhelmingly on file
*descriptions* only, not actual viewing, using an artificial intelligence
Yet a reader of Time's cover story gets none of this analysis.
Walking Back the Cat
How did a major magazine like Time get roped into reporting as "exhaustive"
such an apparently flawed document? It was likely a combination of several
factors, including errors in judgment, fatigue and the need to scoop the
competition on a hot button issue of the day.
The intelligence community often debriefs its operations through an
exercise called "walking back the cat." During this exercise, the major
players are gathered and the mission is examined in detail.
While not all the information surrounding the events that led up to the
Time cover story are known, let's walk back the cat on what we do know:
Rimm assembles his "research team" to begin trolling some 68 adult BBSs.
His team is instructed to try and obtain as much as possible data on the
BBS customers through a kind of "social engineering."
Dispatch interviewed 15 major adult BBS operators to ask about their
participation with Rimm. None of them remember ever having spoken to Rimm
or a member of his research team about the study.
Dispatch asked Rimm: "Did your team go uncover, as it were, when getting
permission from these [BBS operators] to use their information?" He
replied only: "Discrete, ain't we?"
When asked how he was able to obtain detailed customer profiles from
usually skeptical operators of adult BBSs he says: "If you were a
pornographer, and you don't have fancy computers or Ph.D. statisticians to
assist you, wouldn't you be just a wee bit curious to see how you could
adjust your inventories to better serve your clientele? Wouldn't you want
to know that maybe you should decrease the number of oral sex images and
increase the number of bondage images? Wouldn't you want someone to analyze
your logfiles to better serve the tastes of each of your customers?
Eight months before the "exclusive first look" that Tie touts about its
story on Rimm's findings, "people involved in the study were pitching it to
the media," reports Michael C. Berch, editor of INFOBAHN magazine, in a
posting to the alt.internet.media-coverage newsgroup.
Berch said he took a flyer on the story because he had "other coverage of
Internet erotica" in the works.
Rimm says he has no knowledge of the exclusive offered to Infobahn or any
other publication before shopping it to Time.
During this time, Rimm also shops a draft of his study to the CMU
administration, according to a Time magazine report last year. Shocked at
the findings, the school scurries to implement a full scale censorship of
alt.sex groups from the school's Usenet feed.
All hell breaks loose. Word gets out that Carnegie Mellon University has
decided to make public its policy to censor all Alt.Sex newsgroups from
flowing into its computers.
The ensuing turmoil surrounding the CMU decision draws media attention and
Time is there.
Time reporter DeWitt hooks up with Rimm and using sparse stats drawn from
the Rimm paper, he writes in the November 21, 1994 a story headlined
In the story he refers to Rimm as only a "research associate." DeWitt's
story says the CMU administration acted on a draft of Rimm's study "about
to be released." In actually, the study doesn't see the light of day until
some seven months later and only then under a secrecy agreement between
Time and Georgetown Law Review.
DeWitt writes in that November article that Rimm has "put together a
picture collection that rivaled Bob Guccione's (917,410 in all)."
In reality, Rimm had few, if any, actual images. The 917k figure then, as
now, refers only to descriptions of images. And when the data was finally
washed, only some 214k of those image *descriptions* were valid.
Fast Forward to March 1995:
Rimm finally finds a place to publish: The Georgetown Law Review. But he
cuts a deal first: No one -- absolutely no one -- outside of the law
review's immediate staff is allowed to read the full study.
David G. Post, a visiting associate professor of law at the Georgetown
University Law Center is approached "to help several of the student editors
with questions that they had arising out of the study," he writes in a
"Preliminary Discussion of Methodological Peculiarities in the Rimm Study
of Pornography on the 'Information Superhighway,'" distributed after the
Time article runs.
But when Post, who says he has "research interests in this area," asks to
be shown a copy of the study before advising the students, he too is
rebuffed. "[T]hey were unable to do so because of a secrecy arrangement
they had made with Mr. Rimm," he writes in his preliminary discussion.
Post also writes: "One would have, perhaps, more confidence in the results
of the Rimm study had it been subjected to more vigorous peer review."
Law review journals, however, unlike rigorous scientific journals, are not
routinely peer reviewed.
But this study and it purported results were anything but "routine." The
potential magnitude of the study, which was not lost on Rimm -- he'd
already seen the white bread Administration at CMU rush to trample the
First Amendment after reading an early draft -- should have been enough for
the Georgetown Law Review, not to mention the editors at Time, to *demand*
outside review and Rimm be damned.
Hoffman readily acknowledges that law reviews aren't subject to peer
reviews. (Note: Maybe this is why the majority of lawyers can't write
their way past a moderately bright 14-year-old.) However, she says quite
bluntly and correctly: "A study like this belongs in a peer reviewed
journal if it's going to be used to impact public policies and stimulate
public debate on an important societal issue."
Mike Godwin, online council for the Electronic Frontier Foundation and
Daniel Weitzner, deputy director of the Center for Democracy and
Technology, have, at separate times, been asked by Rimm to review the legal
footnotes for accuracy.
Godwin and Weitzner say the task is impossible without seeing the full
report. They are denied that request.
Weitzner fires off several critical concerns he has about the footnotes
anyway, noting that any kind of real analysis is impossible.
Rimm later "thanks" Weitzner for his "participation," even though Weitzner
clearly had denied the review request.
June 8-18, 1995:
A copy of the study arrives at Time magazine where it sits idle. DeWit is
up to his journalistic elbows trying to edit a major Time cover story on
Estrogen. The story is complex and riding herd on it stresses DeWitt.
The good news: word filters down to him that his promotion, which has
"been in the works for some time," he says, will be official in a couple
of weeks, about the time of his vacation and right after he puts another
major cover story bed: the flash point "Cyberporn" story."
Four Time correspondents are assigned to the story to help with the
Time passes quickly. Rimm's story, like a forest fire, begins to create
its own atmosphere, that rarefied air of "The "Exclusive." In the
unrelenting, brutalizing competition of the newsweeklies, the scoop is
the ace in the hole.
The Time editors were convinced the Rimm study was their Ace. Somebody
should have told them it was dealt from the bottom of the deck.
So now DeWitt begins pushing for his story, citing its exclusive nature.
But DeWitt is negotiating the story's placement based on character flaw:
He was already sold on the story, having used it back in November during
the CMU censorship dust up. The story held up then, it should hold up on
the cover. Besides, if it were good enough for the Georgetown
Law Review, it was good enough for Time.
And DeWitt plays the law review card readily, admitting: "If [Georgetown]
hadn't accepted [Rimm's study] for publication, we wouldn't have done our
At this point, DeWitt has too much invested in the story. Somehow he
ignores the lingering doubts and presses forward with the writing. Later,
on the WELL he will admit to personally be "pulling for" the validity of
Meanwhile, one of his reporters, Hannah Bloch, is picking up some bad vibes
from professor Hoffman.
Hoffman and her husband/research partner, Tom Novak, have tagged-teamed
some of the Net's trickiest usage based problems, developing some of the
first quantitative models for accurate WEB "traffic accounting." And even
from reading the abstract of Rimm's study, Hoffman smells sloppy research.
"This is a nice example of bad research," she says.
After the Bloch-Hoffman telephone tag review finally ends, Hoffman says she
still feels like Bloch "didn't get it." Hoffman E-mails DeWitt directly
with her concerns
When Hoffman asks DeWitt to see a copy of the study, he balks, citing the
secrecy arrangement with Rimm. Hoffman lays out her concerns about Rimm's
methodology and E-mails them to DeWitt. Among those concerns, Hoffman
notes that a study of such reported significance should have been subject
to some kind of peer review.
But DeWitt blows off Hoffman's concerns, not because of flawed logic or
some perceived hidden agenda. Nope, DeWitt decides to dismiss Hoffman out
of hand when he discovers -- quite suddenly -- that law review journals are
rarely peer reviewed. This somehow significantly lowers the credibility
factor of Hoffman's concerns in DeWitt's mind and for whatever reason, he
The concerns are never raised. Not in editorial meetings, not in the text
of the story. Nowhere. A Time reader is lead to believe that the study
was rigorous and without fault.
In truth, the story had been criticized on several levels and by several
different people. The connection? None, save for their concern about
So DeWitt presses on. Don't let facts stand in the way... he has a story
to write, a vacation to get ready for. This is his baby and he's under the
gun to deliver.
With barely a chance to breathe after the work on Time's Estrogen cover
story, as well as several other stories, DeWitt wades into the reports from
his other correspondents.
He fields editorial questions from higher up. There are still gapping,
mawing holes in the story. By end of the day Monday, the 19th, he knows he
has to start writing come Tuesday morning. This is crunch time. There is
no more slack in the schedule. Artwork has been commissioned. The cover
slot secured. His vacation is looking better all the time....
Meanwhile, Time's public relations arm is cranking into high gear. They
know they have a hot cover coming up. They want to get the most mileage
out it they can. Where do they turn? Television.
They consult with Rimm. He's pitched the idea of giving the story to
20/20's Barbara Walters. Rejected. Too light weight. Larry King Live is
suggested. Good talk hype, high visibility, but not a serious enough
venue. Rejected. Conan and the Late Show were never considered.
Finally, the Time spin doctors decid on Ted Koppel and Nightline. "We
thought Koppel would do a more balanced job," DeWitt said.
Time calls ABC. "It's an exclusive and it's yours if you want it." Nobody
mentions the fact that ABC was the third choice...
Another secrecy deal is cut. Nightline can't give the study to anyone else
either The article hits the stands on the 26th, but by that time DeWitt
will be vacationing. The ABC producers decide to tape him Friday, the
Thursday hits and DeWitt mets the 6 p.m. deadline. Researchers comb the
story. Top editors read it, too. "Needs some work," they say and DeWitt
cranks up the computer to satisfy his bosses. The issue is put to bed.
Friday, June 23rd -- It's Darkest Before the Dawn
At 22 hundred hours, 43 minutes, Jim Thomas uploads to the WELL, under a
new topic residing inside the "media" conference, an urgent message being
sent through Cyberspace by Voters Telecom Watch.
The VTW alert puts the Net on notice: Time is ready to publish on Monday a
study of porn on the Net. The VTW alert acts like an early warning flare:
"The catch is that no one even knows if the study's methods are valid,
because no one is being allowed to read it due to an exclusive deal between
Time and the institution that funded the study."
Saturday, June 24th -- Bad Moon Rising
Early in the morning Hoffman logs on to the WELL and jolts the media
conference, calling the Rimm study "reckless research" and noting how
difficult it is to discuss porn on the Net without throwing fuel on the
DeWitt follows some five hours later with his own assessment of Hoffman's
opening salvo. He says that Hoffman is right about fueling the fire. But
he drops a bomb of his own: He wonders aloud how Hoffman can call the
study reckless when she's never even read it.
However, he conveniently forgets to tell other WELL members that he denied
several requests -- Hoffman's among them -- from people to see the study
before they commented on the record. He also fails to mention that it was
a secret agreement with Rimm that made any independent review of the study
This early exchange, in a topic called merely "Newsweeklies," set the stage
for what would become a romp into "way new" journalism of the first degree.
Over the course of the next eight days, this topic on the WELL would
ignite a grassroots investigative team held together with no particular
agenda other than seeing all the facts about the Time story vetted.
Steven Levy, a writer for Newsweek, weighs in. He's also written something
about Porn and the Net for his publication that will run on Monday. The
Rimm study gets a single, dubious paragraph.
Levy would have missed the Rimm reference altogether, but Georgetown law
professor David Post tips him to the fact that Time is running the story.
Levy scrambles himself to get a copy of the study. He gets shutout. The
law review won't give him a copy, citing the secrecy arrangement with Rimm.
Levy tries to find out what Rimm or the Law Review are getting in return
for all their secrecy. Each tells Levy to talk to the other. He gets no
In the WELL conference he voices his concern about such secrecy
arrangements, wondering if it was trade off for assurances that the story
would get a cover.
What Levy doesn't know is that in the coming days, the mere mention of
Rimm's study in his story causes the blood pressure to rise within the Time
top editorial staff. Gone was their "exclusive," or so they thought,
despite the fact that Levy had virtually no detailed knowledge of the Rimm
paper. DeWitt will be made to answer for "the leak" when Time does a
postmortem on the story.
DeWitt barks back at Levy, defending the secret agreement with Rimm. He
says he's "much more comfortable" with that arrangement than with some that
Newsweek has made made with top business executives. He drops Levy a
compliment, calling him "one of the best," and then backhands him: "It's
not my fault he works for the magazine that secured exclusive right to
He later takes back the remark about the Hitler Diaries, admitting it was
"a low blow," explaining he found it a bit ironic for Newsweek to be
claiming the high moral ground.
A critical mass begins to form; WELLites begin to limber up, taking free
shots at Time and DeWitt... and all before anyone has seen the story.
EFF's Godwin weighs in, the voice of reason: "Let's hold off criticizing
Time until we see what the story looks like." And yet, in the cming days,
it will be Godwin that rises up as judge, jury and executioner of DeWitt
The fun has just begun and DeWitt is about to step into a virtual home only
the Menendez brothers could love.
June 25, 7:36 p.m. -- The Feeding Begins
"The Time article is available on America Online right now," is the single
line message posted to Newsweeklies on the WELL.
A feeding frenzy is about to take place and over the course of the next
several days the topic will resemble a great roiling, shark infested pool.
Time and DeWitt are the chum.
The events that shake out over the next few days, while localized on the
WELL, are significant. First, the article's principal author has his
virtual "home base" here. Second, the WELL becomes the focal point of the
most intensive and extensive critiques of the Rimm study, a factor that
proves invaluable, considering that Rimm was successful in bypassing this
traditional academic gauntlet.
The early reviews of the Time story are horrendous. Someone suggests that
the phrase "Rimm Job" will be used to identify overhyped undergraduate
studies that masquerade as major newsmagazine cover stories.
Monday June 26, O-Dark-Thirty
DeWitt logs and posts a comment at 2:38 a.m. That prompts John Seabrook
of the New Yorker magazine to query nearly 3 hours later: "You're up
early. Trouble sleeping?"
At 2:39 p.m. Godwin's life for the next eight days is defined by this
posting: "Philip's story is an utter disaster, and it will damage the
debate about this issue because we will have to spend lots of time
correcting misunderstandings that are directly attributable to the story."
Godwin proceeds to take huge, vicious chunks from the underbelly of the Time
article by attacking it's least defensible position: The infamous 83.5%
Godwin will continue to feast at table of Time for days to come, at times
posting several devastating comments in a row. He is a machine. He admits
to "obsessing" on the issue, but "I'm obsessing over what is the truth," he
tells Dispatch about midnight.
He is on the edge of a day too far gone to care about, at the brink of the
next too dark to foretell.
He has been unrelenting in his strategic dismantling of DeWitt and the Rimm
paper. Even his voice sounds tired. But all this takes its toll: DeWitt
had been a friend. "I feel like something has died," he will say later.
And to a large extent, something has.
The packaging of the story gets hammered as well. The shock artwork, which
includes a damn near pornographic image in its own right -- what can only
be described as a man fucking a computer terminal -- is outrageously
sensationalistic. DeWitt even admits at one point that he agrees with
views that the art is "over the top."
9:30 Monday Evening...
By now DeWitt and Time are bloody if not bowed. A crack in Time's story
begins to surface.
DeWitt admits it himself, acknowledging that he "should have had a graph"
in the story that referenced the advance criticism of the study that he
knew about. "That was probably a screw up," writes on the WELL. He says
he "couldn't risk" giving anyone, such as Hoffman, and advance copy of the
study for fear it would "leak."
Tuesday June 27th -- The Plot Moistens
Virtually bleeding from a thousand cuts, DeWitt acknowledges that the
pressure got to him while writing the story. In fact, he says that if he
and his team had had more time and "more presence of mind" they would have
called in an "outside expert" to review the study.
But "presence of mind" was apparently lacking. DeWitt admits that he had
to go from editing one cover story to writing the next with only the
weekend to rejuvenate. "Such is the life at a newsmagazine these days," he
Jim Thomas surfs into a WEB site that i supposed to carry the Rimm study.
What Thomas finds instead is a brief description of the study, a pointer to
the law review article and a phone number were you can buy it -- not
And then he points out a curious note contained on the page: "Current
plans for pages include the Introductory text from this article and the
conspiracies which have reached the ears of the researchers." But there's
no other explanation.
Nightline runs its exclusive by arrangement segment. DeWitt has already
been taped the previous Friday. Godwin goes head to head with Ralph Reed
of the Christian Coalition.
Godwin becomes an instant hero: He jumps into first into the discussion
and is able to play the "family values" card before Reed. But Reed is
tossing out facts and figures as if he has somehow been given an advance
copy of the so-secret study.
When Rimm is asked if Reed had some kind of advance peek at the study, Rimm
says: "Ralphy never saw the fucking study."
Wednesday, June 28th
Hoffman appears back on the WELL after a two day absence. She is shocked:
In the media topic alone there have been 250 new posts.
Hoffman announces that she and her husband/partner, having finally obtained
a copy of the study, are beginning a systematic critique of the Rimm
Six days later the Hoffman/Novak report is complete, all 9,000 words of it.
It turns out to be devastating.
Professor David Post, from the Georgetown University Law Center, cruises
onto the Net with his own detailed critique of the Rimm study. Post
deconstructs Rimm's report in the same manner as the Hoffman/Novak paper.
Thursday, June 29th
Hoffman discovers that the cryptic WEB page message alluding to
"conspiracies" is aimed at her. On the WEB site, it seems Hoffman is being
singled out for being a bit too vocal.
Hoffman fires off a nasty note to Rimm's faculty advisors at CMU. They
answer quickly, apologizing for "conspiracy" language that "has no place in
academic discourse," according to Marvin Sirbu, one of Rimm's advisors.
Rimm answers Hoffman, too. He apologizes for the WEB page, saying that the
person who put it up had done so "accidentally."
The WEB page goes back to "normal."
Friday, June 30-Monday, July 3rd
There is not a minute's rest for DeWitt. He is continuously hounded
whenever he goes online. All this is very tiring for DeWitt. Finally,
after a long protracted battle on the WELL, DeWitt seems to be inching near
defeat, at least on certain points.
David Kline, a freelance writer and contributor to Wired magazine, logs in
and writes that DeWitt didn't conduct what he calls "journalistic due
diligence" by investigating the study thoroughlly and by not mentioning
that other experts raised several doubts.
Kline's message has rung the brass bell.
The next time DeWitt logs in, he cites Kline's message saying: "I think
he's put his finger on precisely where I screwed up."
And yet, the story won't die. Going into Monday night (July 3), Rimm
himself was preparing a detailed assault the Hoffman/Novak critique.
I asked for an advance copy... Rimm said it was secret until he was ready
to announce it.
Why am I not surprised
Meeks (whew... finally) out...
Date: Sun, 19 Apr 1995 22:51:01 CDT
From: CuD Moderators
Subject: File 3--Cu Digest Header Info (unchanged since 19 Apr, 1995)
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