Don’t Panic! Lighten Up! Smiley Skripal case forces scientists to revise everything they thought they knew about Novichok


skripalWarning: This article is likely to contain traces of satire.

In the aftermath of the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury on 4th March, scientists are currently re-evaluating their understanding of A-234 – or Novichok as it is more commonly known. Prior to the poisoning, it had been thought that the substance was around 5-8 times more toxic than VX nerve agent, and therefore that just a tiny drop would be likely to kill a person within minutes or possibly even seconds of them coming into contact with it. In the unlikely event of a person surviving, it was believed that their central nervous system would be completely destroyed, and that they would suffer numerous chronic health issues, including cirrhosis, toxic hepatitis, and epilepsy before dying a premature and miserable death, probably within a year or so.

However, according to an anonymous source at the Porton…

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OPCW collaboration in Skripal misinformation?


by David Macilwain


At a recent press briefing, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova in her inimitable style picked on the loose and unscientific language rattling round the corridors of Western power – “it was “highly likely” that Russia was responsible for trying to poison the Skripals with a nerve agent.”

She rightly questioned the sanity and motivation of a government prepared to take such provocative and dangerous actions based merely on this supposition of guilt, even if that supposition were true. (which of course it wasn’t – see below -) While “highly likely” appeared to be sufficient proof to satisfy the UK’s already determinedly Russo-phobic partners, who joined in the diplomatic expulsions with barely any encouragement, to anyone with a fair and scientific mind such a standard of evidence is little better than hearsay.

“Highly likely” has a history of use – or misuse – that led…

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