I thought this story had died, now it's on the front page of CNN.com. Go figure.

I think it is a sad result of our nations inability to grasp basic scientific and probabalistic concepts that has kept this story afloat for so long. And a keen interest in conspiracy theories has helped I'm sure.

The reporters keep harping on the smiley faces yet they never ask the hard questions that need to be asked to tie these symbols to a crime.

#1 They never tie the distance of the smiley faces from the spot the bodies supposedly enter the water. Take a look at only 12 had smiley faces. That's just over 25%, not exactly an overwhelming majority. Not only that but there is no definite style. Again, a killer would want to tie the mark to the crime for all to see and thus would want the marks to be very similar so there would be no mistaking them for what they were. If there is no visible relationship between the smiley faces that would hint that they were drawn by different people (this could be explained by a group of killers, but Occam's Razor cleaves to the simplest explanation that the faces are made by unrelated people and thus more than likely unrelated to the crime)

If there is no proven relationship between distance from the crime scene (entry into the river) and simley faces, no relationship between style of smiley face, and no strong correlation between deaths and smiley faces (25% is not a strong correlation) then logic would dictate that we assume that the two are unrelated. Of course the media has never worked on logic alone. They work on emotion to sell their product, and serial killers have an imediate emotional impact that is proven to sell stories.

That isn't to say that hard data wouldn't change my conclusions. If the data is there let it speak. Unfortunately the media is letting us down by not asking the tough questions that need to be asked in order to prove the theory. Or, mabye they just don't know enough about science to know what to ask.