Fri, 28 Sep 12 at 15:11 | No Comments Yet
Don’t try this at home
Years ago — strictly for research purposes! — I bought a copy of Kitchen Sink Explosives. It was cheaply bound, offset printed, with black-and-white drawings and only 30 or 40 pages. But in ten chapters it detailed how to make just about any type of high explosive you might want, using simple chemicals and lab equipment.
And it wasn’t hard to find the book, at least by mail order. For all I know the FBI was keeping track of all packages in and out of the distributor, and I’m now on some list. But actually getting the information into my hands? — easy.
So I’ve always assumed that such material would be even more readily available on the internet. Certainly that’s what politicians, consultants and other scare-mongers would have use believe.
But it’s not true.
Go on — try a google search and see! (You might consider doing so through an anonymizing proxy like Tor.) Bombshack.com has shut down. There are a handful of extremely dubious YouTube videos. One site does seem promising:
From the very basic explosive theories to comprehensive step by step instructions: there is simply just so much quality information in our library you will never need any other source! Our instructions have come strait [sic] from respected sources, scaled down for the home enthusiast.
They’re selling the information, however, which makes it seem not just like a honeypot but a honeypot for really stupid wannabe bombmakers. Don’t just let the Department of Justice know you’re interested, but give them your real name and credit card number too!
For contrast, try a search for “homemade guns.” Pages and pages of material comes right up. (I’ve written about this before.)
So what’s the story? Responsible self-censorship on the internet? … ha ha ha! Probably not. Silent take-downs and aggressive enforcement, amounting to the same thing? — no, we would certainly have heard about it.
My guess is that actually making bombs is simply not interesting to many people other than, you know, genuine terrorists — and they have their own websites, hidden away in darker corners of the deep web. Guns are a different story.
Which is both good and bad for a thriller writer. Bad, because real-life details that liven a story can be hard to come by. But good, because you can just make stuff up and no one will know. (And also good because hey, I don’t want lunatics blowing up buildings either.)
By the way ATF, if you’re reading this: I lost that book years ago, in one more or another. The most controversial reference I keep around nowadays is A Dictionary of Modern American Usage.