Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

Most of our stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center directly at 573-882-3364 or rescntr@ire.org where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Search results for "science" ...

  • Bitten: The Secret History of Lyme Disease and Biological Weapons

    The first reported cases of Lyme disease surfaced in 1968; a half century later, CDC scientists believe there could be more than 300,000 new cases in the US every year. As this and other debilitating tick-borne diseases continue to spread, their origins have remained elusive. Some believe global warming is fueling the epidemic, others attribute it to human migration. But the fundamental question persists: where did Lyme disease come from? This mystery prompted Stanford University science writer and Lyme disease survivor Kris Newby to launch an investigation that led her to startling discoveries linking the outbreak to America’s clandestine biological warfare program. In BITTEN: The Secret History of Lyme Disease and Biological Weapons (Harper Wave; May 14, 2019; ISBN: 978-006-289-6278; 352 pages; $26.99)—a riveting work of scientific reportage and biography that reads like a thriller—Newby reveals the story of Willy Burgdorfer, the man who discovered the microbe behind the disease, and his role in covering up evidence that could implicate another tick- borne organisms in the original outbreak.
  • Burned: A Story of Murder and the Crime That Wasn't

    The book revisits the murder conviction of Jo Ann Parks, sentenced to life in prison without parole for allegedly murdering her three young children in 1989by setting fire to her home and trapping them inside. In re-investigating the case, the author found flawed forensic science, false and contradictory testimony, and strong evidence of cognitive bias throughout the case, including use of an unreliable informant who later recanted, and sworn expert testimony that the fire began because Parks supposedly constructed a crude “incendiary device” by deliberately overloading a sabotaged electrical extension cord. Testing later proved the cord did not and could not start a fire. Information in the book has since been added to Parks’ existing habeas corpus petition filed by the California Innocence Project, now being considered by the state Supreme Court. Additional findings suggests the problems with flawed forensic science and cognitive bias in general, and in arson investigation in particular, is widespread and has led to other wrongful convictions. Correcting the use of flawed forensic and expert testimony is hindered by the legal system’s reliance on precedent, which slows and sometimes prevents the correction of scientifically dubious ideas used to win convictions. Nascent attempts to study and change this tendency to prolong the use of flawed forensic science initiated by the Obama Administration have been shut down by the Trump Administration.
  • ProPublica: The Child Abuse Contrarians

    Judges and juries hearing cases of alleged physical abuse of babies rely on expert witnesses to illuminate the medical evidence based on an impartial examination of the record and the victims. But in two fascinating investigative profiles co-published by ProPublica and The New Yorker, ProPublica Senior Reporter David Armstrong exposed a pair of sought-after expert witnesses who fall far short of this standard. Both work exclusively for accused child abusers and use dubious scientific arguments to make their case, potentially undermining justice and endangering children. Their success underscores the susceptibility of the U.S. judicial system to junk science, as well as the growing suspicion of mainstream medicine in an era when misinformation quickly spreads online.
  • Fighting The Wrong Fires

    OPB’s science and environment team spent a year analyzing government data, reviewing scientific literature and interviewing more than 100 people to find out why firefighting costs have soared and why, 30 years after its scientists first raised red flags, the U.S. Forest Service continues to risk lives and waste millions of dollars fighting fires it doesn't need to fight.
  • Science for Sale

    Corporations facing lawsuits or stricter regulation are steering millions of dollars to scientific consulting firms, to the detriment of public health. As the Center for Public Integrity explains in “Science for Sale,” industry-backed research has exploded — often with the aim of obscuring the truth — as government-funded science dwindles. The effects of this phenomenon are felt not only in courtrooms but also in agencies that issue rules to try to prevent disease.
  • The Price of Being Wrong

    A baby's chance of having a deadly condition detected is based on arbitrary decisions, cost-cutting and politics, as state labs throughout the country fail to follow scientific standards and common sense, a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel investigation found.
  • How to Spin the Science News

    This story is an exploration of the tactics used by the Food and Drug Administration to control media coverage. The agency cultivates a coterie of journalists whom it keeps in line with threats, while it denies others access, even deceiving them with half-truths in attempts to handicap them in their pursuit of a story. At the same time, it uses a controversial tool -- the so-called "close-hold embargo" -- to exert control over the media, even though using that tool is a direct violation of FDA's (and HHS') written policy. https://www.documentcloud.org/public/search/Project:%20%22FDA%20Embargo%20documents%22
  • Unclaimed Bodies

    This project recounts what happens to the unclaimed dead in the state of Maryland. The reporters followed a disgruntled granddaughter who said she did not want her grandmother used for medical science. But grandma's husband--whom she met in a nursing home and had been married to for just a few months--didn't want to deal with the body and was ready to let the body go unclaimed. Unclaimed bodies in Maryland are used for medical science, and all of them have stories. Here's Nancy Porter and the granddaughter who fought to keep her relative off the operating table.
  • Rare Earth Elements

    The U.S. began the march toward the use of rare Earth metals - essential ingredients in everything from smart phones and computers to cars and missiles - but has left most of their mining and processing to others. China now dominates this crucial industry, which worries the U.S. government.
  • Big Oil and Climate Change

    Even as major oil companies were publicly casting doubt on climate change science, they were quietly taking steps to protect their businesses from its effects.