"The lie can be maintained only for such time as the state can shield the people from political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the state to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth becomes the greatest enemy of the state."

Dr. Joseph M. Goebbels, Ministry of Enlightenment, Third Reich


Monday, August 16, 2010


"At current levels of (m.c.)2 we seem to have entered a state or condition of toxicity in our information environment, or infotoxin. The genesis of infotoxin is both quantitative and qualitative; we have unprecedented numbers of people putting out unprecedented numbers of messages which overall are neither true nor false but wholly irrelevant. And the toxicity and degradation of our natural environment is increasing in direct proportion to the toxicity of our information environment. Infotoxin is driving the forces of ecocide."


The myriad and improbable diversity of water-based life has been constantly evolving and experimenting with new forms of biological expression for at least two billion years on our planet the Earth. Mankind, homo sapiens, "man,the wise", came to be only a few million years ago, and has always existed as one integral but miniscule element within the larger nurturing context of the envelope of inter-connecting ecosystems comprising the planetary biosphere: our natural environment.

Throughout our evolution we have experienced the mystery of the unknown, always pressing against the limits of our perception and knowledge in an attempt to see beyond the horizons of space and time; to navigate more effectively the complexities of life as a land-based primate; to increase the resolution of our collective "big picture", our species weltanschauung. Our facilities of symbolic communication, or language, and shared model-building have been extremely important tools in helping us to be more biologically competent, more flexible and adaptive, and have lain the foundation for our ability to experience anything resembling a "consensus reality."

In recent history, with the advent of external technologies of writing, recording, and electronic signal processing and transmission, we have undergone profound transformative accelerations in our cultural processes, scientific methods, technological innovations, and global industrialization. We have experienced an "information revolution", an unimaginable proliferation of diverse forms of knowledge, creativity, and the exchange of messages and images. This matrix of amplified mass-communication, or (m.c.)2, has expanded exponentially in complexity so that we now experience a new environment, or context, of existence within the larger and more ancient living planetary biosphere. This new shared context is known as our information environment.

The information environment is a complex holistic system of both the hardware or media, and the software, or content, of communication (what astronomer Carl Sagan calls our "extrasomatic cultural information.") We ourselves are embedded within this context; we are the mind/brain of the information environment. We have constructed a sort of typographic/electronic cocoon around ourselves; the sum total of our languages and codes; the semiotic and psychological processes by means of which these symbols and images are shared and understood; and the complex synergic…and little understood…inter-relationships between these dimensions.

You, the reader, and I, the writer, are at this moment using the wonders of symbolic language and modern information technology to share meaningful and relevant ideas across time and space. Indeed, the purpose and focus of this message concerns nothing less than our role in the long-term health of life as we know it here on Earth.

The original evolutionary driving force behind our urge to communicate more effectively is the need to inform and assist fellow beings and to facilitate and coordinate cooperative actions which could not be accomplished by individuals acting alone. The adaptive gains of high-quality communication in homo sapiens are self-evident.

Joseph Wood Krutch says that "man is one of those animals which is in danger from its too successul participation in the struggle for existence…from the standpoint of nature as a whole, he is both a threat to every other living thing, and therefore, a threat to himself also…he has become the tyrant of the Earth, the waster of its resources, the creator of the most prodigious imbalance in the natural order which has ever existed…" Our wisdom has not kept pace with our so-called "intelligence." The human enterprise is indisputably wreaking havoc, committing irreversible extinctions, pollutions and degradations on our fellow beings and natural environment.

Before the advent of modern mass-communication, or (m.c.)2, our information environment essentially was our natural environment. We had books, but we lived on the land, climbed the mountains, farmed the valleys, fished in the rivers, took our children for hikes and told them stories, looked to the heavens for inspiration, felt the warmth of the sun, the pull of the moon, the splendor of the Milky Way. Now we watch television.

The ubiquity and pervasiveness of our information environment has tremendously influenced each of us, for better or worse. Our lives and minds have been broadened and enriched; we have learned of things long ago and far away that we could never experience directly. We have been informed, educated and inspired. We have also been exposed to the virulence of politics and the mucus of celebrity. Does seeing Dan Quayle or O.J. Simpson really make a difference in our lives? We know what car to drive, what beer to swill; we know how to look stylish, how to act cool. We think we are tuned into what is happening. We are media-literate, and therefore hip.

The map, however, is not the territory; and cartographers sometimes make mistakes, especially when exploring uncharted regions. The information environment is an actual, or real system of media, images, and symbols, often conveying understandable meaning; but, unlike our natural environment, our information environment is of human creation: a second-order reality. Our natural environment has been functioning in intelligent harmony far longer than has man; the information environment is artificial and unalive. Moreover, the information environment may convey codifications of things which really exist, but these images are only simulations of the real world; it is in fact a media-based virtual reality.

At all levels of existence and manifestation, from the atomic/molecular to the cellular/organismic to the planetary/galactic, the communication and exchange of energy/information is a fundamental process of physical reality. The universe is patterns of information on various levels, probability aggregates vibrating in mathematical harmony, the "music of the spheres." Living organisms are functions of the information contained within the genetic codes which specify their development and control their health and growth. The flow and balance of this cosmic dance is constant, dynamic, homeostatic and self-regulating.

When the natural harmony of energy/information is disrupted in a living organism or system, a state or condition of unhealth, or disease, occurs. As our information environment has expanded, as more and more people are sending more and more messages for increasingly less life-oriented purposes, human and planetary health has declined.

Are we really communicating? Do limits exist as to how much information we can handle? And how much of the information is truly useful, meaningful or relevant? Is it possible for information to become unhealthful or harmful? Are we being inundated with mega-bytes of information which is of no possible value, that we would be better off not knowing or experiencing? Is the navigational function of our information environment being subverted by unconscious power ploys, naked ape control games, and id-driven marketing imperatives? The answer seems to be in the affirmative.

In biochemistry a toxin is a substance which impedes the proper function or degrades the health of an organism or living system: a poison. Many of the hundreds of thousand of chemicals utilized in medicine and industry are toxic to some degree. Moreover, many substances which at certain levels of concentration are useful or essential for health may become toxic at higher levels of concentration.

At current levels of (m.c.)2 we seem to have entered a state or condition of toxicity in our information environment, or infotoxin. The genesis of infotoxin is both quantitative and qualitative; we have unprecedented numbers of people putting out unprecedented numbers of messages which overall are neither true nor false but wholly irrelevant. And the toxicity and degradation of our natural environment is increasing in direct proportion to the toxicity of our information environment. Infotoxin is driving the forces of ecocide.

Infotoxin is a form of informaion disorder at the level of human mass-communication; cancer is an information disorder at the cellular/genetic level in the human body; a virus becomes an information disorder when its nucleic acids subvert the proper, healthy functions of its host organism’s genetic code.

The parallels are striking. In many ways the human enterprise has become so widespread and so malignantly destructive to itself and to other life-forms that it could be termed the homo sapiens macro virus, or HSMV.

Has our information environment become infected with some kind of alien consumer virus? Is Gaia herself sending invisible invaders like something out of Koyaanisqatsi of The Andromeda Strain to assist the naked ape in thinning himself out? Or are we generating the virus-effect ourselves…"internally arising metabiological and sociometabiological pathogenic influences", in the words of biologist Jonas Salk…through the summation of non-health oriented messages, images and information? Can we somehow seize the reins of this amplifying feedback loop and redirect the impulse-momentum being created by existing tendencies in (m.c.)2 towards more holistic, cooperative and life-sustaining ways of living? This may well be the question of the millenium; from an extraterrestrial perspective, a true measure of the overall intelligence of a sentient species may be the quality and coherence of its highest orders of communication and information transfer,

Interestingly, the Greek root of toxin is "toxon" which means a "bow and arrow." Etymologically, a toxin is both poison and weapon; this reflects both the alpha, or active/intentional, and beta, or unintended/systemic, dimensions of infotoxin.

Infotoxin is not a label or category for specific artifacts of (m.c.)2 but is both an attitude or orientation towards the use of these systems for purposes which run counter to the positive evolutionary forces which led us to develop symbolic communication, as well as a state or condition of disease in the information environment. Censors in totalitarian regimes would label "dangerous" or "disturbing" or "subversive" "left-wing" facts or ideas as "infotoxin.; au contraire, to value, protect, implement and enhance total freedom and quality of communication and expression is paramount in our salient and strategic agenda as passengers/crew of Spaceship Earth.

The perception of truth and the experience of meaning are of course relative across the expanses of cultural diversity and individual uniqueness. Our ability to communicate is based on a common ground of sharing and agreement; at this critical point in our role as the dominant species of Earth we need desperately to analyze and reevaluate the fundamental, implicit and unconscious values and beliefs which are driving present trends in the control and utilization of mass-communication; we must strive for an enhanced understanding of the complex inter-relationships between ourselves, our information environment, and the long-term health and well-being of all the life-forms who share our planet.

For the purposes at hand, information is defined as the meaning or understandable content of communication. Communication is generally construed to convey useful, valid, or true information. Although we may use a variety of external hardware/technologies, in the words of Dr. John C. Lilly, "communication is between minds." Because of the centralized nature of mass-communication we have a relatively small number of minds speaking to a vastly larger number of minds who function more or less as passive receivers of messages and images. The fundamental questions to ask about assimilating any artifact of (m.c.)2 are "Why is someone taking the trouble to send this particular message?" and "What difference will this message (artifact, image, program) make in how I think or live?"

Historically our motivations for communication were adaptive and oriented towards helping and educating each other. The inner wisdom of this is that "two heads are better than one." Recently, with the advent of (m.c.)2 , the primary motivations for communication have shifted to reflect the values and requirements of a fully-developed capitalistic economy, a sort of high-tech predator-prey relationship; the majority of messages in our information environment are messages of manipulation of persuasion, overt or disguised, designed to sell a product, service, or belief and to voice the needs of the largest corporate and bureaucratic entities who control the media. Corporations consist of people; and nobody is forcing us to watch television or to buy their products. It’s a free world, right? Well, not exactly…

The structure and dynamics of infotoxin are complex, and are inextricably interwoven with the very nature of the human brain/mind and planetary ecology; but several trends or tendencies in (m.c.)2 can be identified which interact to create a field effect of negative synergisms in our information environment. These include

1. the unreality industry/amusing ourselves to death/the metastasis of entertainment
2. the mind management scenario (including negative propaganda, misinformation, psychological warfare, public relations)
3. commercialization of culture/communication (including advertising, privatization of the public domain)
4. centralization of media ownership/control
5. the primacy of style over substance/triumph of technique
6. separation from/replacement of nature; health effects from content/media
7. information over-load/tele-shock/proliferation of mediocrity/extinction of independent thought
8. unknown/unpredictable/unknowable negative synergisms

In a series of future articles I plan to share an interdisciplinary exposition and synthesis of the work of several leading minds in the fields of ecology, linguistics, psychology, media analysis and communications theory. The study of the pollution of the information environment could properly be called information toxicology; the larger endeavor this relates to could be called biomedical noo-ecology (pronounced "NO-oh-ecology"): the science of healing and understanding the living and mental systems of man and the Earth and their complex and dynamic inter-relationships (including how our mind/brains work, how and why we create and are susceptible to infotoxin, how we can improve our cognitional immune response, more fully actualize our potential as spiritual beings, and take more responsibility in our role as guardians of the the Earth). Such an endeavor is of urgent necessity here on the brink of…the unknown!

In the immediate present ("im-media-te" could mean that you don’t know what’s on TV!) the major constructive differences that make a difference are going to be made by critically-thinking minds making conscious decisions to be fully responsible for what enters their heads, to seek out and to share the most relevant and highest quality knowledge and information, to boldy create a new harmonious and synergic paradigm of thinking and relating which reflects a horizon of identity expanded to include all living beings, and most importantly, actually to implement, to live these ideas.

One of the most powerful images of modern times is that of the Earth rising over the moon as photographed by Apollo astronauts. This surreal vision of cosmic beauty…from a perspective never before attained by homo sapiens…was experienced by millions of people through the wonders of modern mass-communication. Let us hold this image in our minds, a symbol of the singular awesomeness of life on Earth and the unknowable immensity of the cosmic context we live within. We are not alone. In the words of R. Buckminster Fuller, "On Spaceship Earth there are no passengers: everyone is crew."



1. The Unreality Industry, Bennis and Mitroff
2. The Image Makers, William Meyers
3. Truth is Our Weapon, E. W. Barrett
4. All-Consuming Images; Captains of Consciousness, Sturt Ewen
5. The Mind Managers; Culture, Inc: The Corporate Take-over of Public Expression, Herbert Schiller
6. Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in a Democratic Society, Noam Chomsky
7. Manufacturing Consent, Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman
8. Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman
9. Brave New World Revisited, Aldous Huxley
10. Media-speak, Donna Cross
11. Decoding Advertisements, Judith Williamson
12. In the Absence of the Sacred; Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television, Jerry Mander
13. The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness; Escape from Freedom, Erich Fromm
14. The Pentagon Propaganda Machine, Sen. William Fulbright
15. Victims of Group-think, Irving L. Janis
16. The Media Monopoly, Ben Bagdikian
17. The Invisible Pyramid, Loren Eiseley
18. Video-culture, Jean Baudrillard
19. The Pentagon of Power: The Myth of the Machine, Lewis Mumford
20. The Culture of Narcissism, Christopher Lasch
21. The Cult of Information, Theodore Roszak
22. Taken In, Stephen Ducat
23. The American Replacement of Nature, William Irwin Thompson
24. The Body Electric; Electropollution, Robert O. Becker
25. The Global Village, Marshall McLuhan and Bruce Powers
26. War/Anti-war, Alvin Toffler
27. Propaganda, Jacques Ellul
28. Unusual Psychiatric Syndromes, David Enoch
29. The Science of Coercion, Christopher Simpson
30. The Plug-In Drug, Marie Winn
31. Who Owns Information? Anne Wells-Branscomb
32. The Turning Point, Fritjof Capra
33. The Dragons of Eden, Carl Sagan
34. The Voice of the Desert, Joseph Wood Krutch
35. The Survival of the Wisest; The Anatomy of Reality, Jonas Salk
36. Our Endangered Life-Support Systems, Eugene Odum
37. The Music of the Spheres, Guy Murchie

*INFOTOXIN: "Misinformation, negative propaganda, most forms of advertising, as well as the sheer abundance of mediocrity and consumption persuasion which assault the mind from the face of the tube or the glossy pages of the high-glam magazine. It is not necessarily a conspiracy to subvert or enslave the global mind, but a systemic effect resulting from the net actions of many groups of like-minded people motivated by the same sets of values, and attempting to proliferate these values/beliefs through a vast array of modern mass-communication techniques." Infotoxin is the reciprocal of quality, meaning, clarity, and relevance, and is not intended as a category or label but as a conceptual onto-noonic ("ON-toe no-ON-ic") bio-psychiatric instrument for psychological and ecological healing.

NOTE: This article is the sequel to the introduction to infotoxin published in Adbusters (Winter 1995) at:

"The Ultimate Technology" (a spacecraft control panel/mandala for your brain!)

"Ignorance isn't bliss...ignorance is stupid." J. Paul Serengeti


"The scientist of today is distressed by the fact that the results of his scientific work have created a threat to mankind since they have fallen into the hands of morally blind exponents of political power. He is conscious of the fact that technological methods, made possible by his work, have led to a concentration of economic and also of political power in the hands of small minorities which have come to dominate completely the lives of the masses of people, who appear more and more amorphous. But even worse: the concentration of economic and political power has not only made the man of science dependent economically, it also threatens his independence from within; the shrewd methods of intellectual and psychic influences which it brings to bear will prevent the development of independent personalities."

Sunday, August 15, 2010

"I AM AWARE" by Jimi Hendrix & Burt Lancaster

“Knowledge speaks but wisdom listens Jimi Hendrix

I’ve had three dreams in which Jimi Hendrix was the focus. All three dreams were in the past two years. In the first one, I was vacuuming a bedroom and Jimi was asleep in the bed. He didn’t wake up. I put a tape of some music onto the stereo, then the whole room started to vibrate as if an earthquake was happening. He still didn’t wake up. The third dream was at a large party of some kind. Jimi and I were there partying, as if we were close friends. No one recognized who he was, except for me. Finally, people started realizing it was him, so he got on stage and started doing this really freaky dance with some kinds of fabric things twirling around. He didn’t sing or play guitar, just danced. If I remember correctly, he suddenly disappeared into thin air and the fabric dropped to the stage floor. And in the third dream, he was just smiling and he had a guitar on which he showed me something. In none of the dreams did he ever speak a word.



These notes concern an experimental piece of music which was done on the austral winter solstice of 2002. It was inspired by the film Judgment at Nuremberg, a 1964 courtroom drama re-enacting the trial of four Nazi judges, as well as by a dream I had in which a smiling Jimi Hendrix was showing me some stuff on guitar! The dialogue in this piece is from former Minister of Justice for the Third Reich Ernst Janning, played by Burt Lancaster. In the middle of his defense he had enough and decided to give the whole truth on why they fell for Hitler and why even men of honor, who weren’t depraved perverts, sat in silence or participated in the most heinous spree of brutality the world had ever witnessed. “If we didn’t know, it was because we didn’t want to know.” This is a psycho-therapeutic exorcism of denial…and a message to us all here and now: we ALL are responsible for what is going down in the world…because we all KNOW what is going down!

This piece consists of Hendrix’s “The Star-spangled Banner” running normally, along with a “stretched” or slowed-down version of itself; when it reaches the end of the song, it reverses and runs backward from end to beginning, also accompanied by a stretched version; the dialogue is taken directly from the video; in the background is my voice with effects, repeating the mantra “freedom and democracy…greedom and dumbocracy…” And towards the end is my voice sounding like it’s on a loudspeaker reciting the lyrics to “The Scar-Strangled Banter”, a trans-national anathema!

“There was a fever over the land. A fever of disgrace, of indignity, of hunger. We had a democracy, yes, but it was torn by elements within. Above all, there was fear…fear of today, fear of tomorrow, fear of our neighbors, fear of ourselves…only when you understand that can you understand what Hitler meant to us. Because he said to us, ‘Lift your heads. Be proud to be German. There are devils among us…jews, liberals, gypsies, communists…once these devils will be destroyed your misery will be destroyed.’ It was the old, old story of the sacrificial lamb. What about those of us who knew better, who knew the words were lies, worse than lies? Why did we sit silent? Why did we take part? Because we loved our country. What difference does it make if a few political extremists lose their rights? What difference does it make if a few racial minorities lose their rights? It is only a passing phase. It is only a stage we are going through. It will be discarded sooner or later. Hitler himself will be discarded…sooner or later. The country is in danger. We will march out of the shadows. We will go forward. Forward is the great password. History tells how well we succeeded. We succeeded beyond our wildest dreams. The very elements of hate and power about Hitler that mesmerized Germany mesmerized the world. We found ourselves with some powerful allies. Things that had been denied to us as a democracy were open to us now. The world said “Go ahead, take it…take it. Take Sudanland, take the Rhineland, rematerize it, take all of Austria, TAKE IT!” And then one day we looked around and found that we were in an even more terrible danger. The ritual began here in this courtroom swept over the land like a raging, roaring disease. What was going to be a passing phase had become the way of life. Your honor, I was content to sit silent during this trial. I was content to tend my roses. I was even content to let counsel try to save my name. Until I realized that in order to save it he would have to raise the spectre again. You have seen him do it. He has done it here in this courtroom. He has suggested that the Third Reich worked for the benefit of people; he has suggested that we sterilized men for the welfare of the country; he has suggested that the old Jew did sleep with the sixteen year old girl after all. Once more it is being done for the love of country….

I AM AWARE!!!!!!!!!

My counsel would have you believe that we were not aware of the concentration camps. Not aware. Where were we? Where were we when Hitler began shrieking his hate and Reichstag? Where were we when our neighbors were being dragged out in the middle of the night to Dachau? Where were we when every village in Germany had a railroad terminal where children were being carried off to their extermination? Were we deaf? Dumb? Blind? My counsel says we were not aware of the extermination of the millions. He would give you the excuse we were only aware of the extermination of the hundreds. Does this make us any the less guilty? Maybe we didn’t know the details. But if we didn’t know, it was because we didn’t want to know.”


Say, oh why can’t you see, though there’s plenty of light…

From the tv’s bright glare, and incessant loud blasting.

Whose grim tripe and dull stars of the pre-programmed blight;

“What? So DRY a pale ale!” Dubya belched, he was beaming…

“And with China’s red threat on our vast internet,

Our Nevada test site says new nukes IS a bet…”

Oh! Say, does your Sony Trinitron send brain waves…

O’er the land of those free to become their own slaves!

The Pledge of Allegiance

“I pledge allegiance to the schwag of the New World Order on television;

And to the plutocracy for which it stands, one dictatorship, under Dubya,

Indistinguishable, from imperially-mobilized free-for-all.”

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


"A turd by any other name still smells just as sweet."

William Shitespeare, ca. 1524

Good old William had it right...and he was generations ahead of Orwell. Researchers studying the MK-Ultra mind-control project, an American extension of the Nazi psychological warfare paradigm, or
weltanschauungskrieg, learned that one of the things they were trying to determine was the limits that the human mind could be stretched to in terms of getting people to believe the most absurd and outlandish bullshit...and enshrine this "truth" as reality. Hitler pioneered the "big lie" technique, malevolently intuiting that the bigger and stupider the lie, the more that people would swallow it whole. That the CIA, paying homage to Adolf, inspired by Edward Bernays and employing Hollywood in the service of Wall Street, of course, has succeeded beyond its wildest dreams is not so much a testament to their "intelligence" as to a weird combination of human nature and dysfunction: we have an inherent tendency to trust each other, even though we should really know better by now; and we have chosen to remain not-so-blissfully ignorant of alarm bells going off everywhere about "reality" and continue to ingest fiction in any form. We are choosing to remain ignorant and in denial. Leading minds have been making it CLEAR for decades that ALL FORMS OF MASS-COMMUNICATION are being deployed as a strategically-integrated advanced weapons system for global mind control. Do you believe that all this oil could possibly be "gone"? Do you believe that Osama bin Laden got the entire U.S. air force to stay on the ground for half a day while 4 hijacked planes flew all over the country? Do you believe that on 21 December 2012 "something" is going to happen that's going to correct thousands of years of human ignorance, violence, genocide, desecration of the truly sacred, degradation of all that is alive, rape of the Earth and worship of a completely hallucinatory system of debased beliefs and values? Do you believe there's a new form of synthetic beef called Sheef? Guess what the other ingredient is? IF you believe all this, then this story is right up your alley. Spoon up and swallow hard!

Looking for the oil? NOAA says it's mostly gone

WASHINGTON – With a startling report that some researchers call more spin than science, the government said Wednesday that the mess made by the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is mostly gone already.

Out of sight, though, doesn't mean out of danger, nor is the Gulf now clean. The harmful effects of the summer of the spill can continue on for years even with oil at the microscopic level, a top federal scientist warned.

U.S. officials announced that nearly 70 percent of the spilled oil dissolved naturally, or was burned, skimmed, dispersed or captured, with almost nothing left to see — at least on top of the water. That declaration came on the same day they trumpeted success in plugging up the leaking well with drilling mud,

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Geological Survey announced in the five-page report that only 52.7 million gallons of oil are left in the Gulf. That is about 31 percent of the 172 million gallons that spewed into the water from the broken BP well.

What's left in the water is still almost five times the amount spilled by the Exxon Valdez in 1989.

Nevertheless, Wednesday was a day of cautious celebration by a White House that has had little to cheer about from the oil spill.

"I think it is fairly safe to say ... that many of the doomsday scenarios that we talked about and repeated a lot have not and will not come to fruition," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said at a briefing with NOAA's top scientist.

Much of the reasoning behind the disappearing oil has to do with the natural resilience of the Gulf, which is teeming with microbes that eat oil. On top of that is the natural tendency of oil in seawater to evaporate and dissolve to half its volume in about a week — something even critics acknowledge.

The federal calculations are based on direct measurements for only 18 million gallons of the oil spilled — the stuff burned and skimmed. The other numbers are "educated scientific guesses," said NOAA emergency response senior scientist Bill Lehr, an author of the report. That is because it is impossible to measure oil that is dispersed, he said.

That's what worries some outside scientists.

"This is a shaky report. The more I read it, the less satisfied I am with the thoroughness of the presentation," Florida State University oceanography professor Ian MacDonald told The Associated Press. "There are sweeping assumptions here."

NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco acknowledged the numbers could be off by as much as 10 percent. One of the scientists who peer-reviewed the work and is mentioned in the report, Ed Overton of Louisiana State University, said he wasn't comfortable with NOAA's putting precise percentages of how much oil is left in the Gulf. What would be more accurate would be a much broader range of, say, 40 million to 60 million gallons, he said.

Still, Overton thought the report was mostly good work. He said the Gulf itself deserves much of the credit, describing the body of water in two words: "incredibly resilient."

The White House claimed only 26 percent of the oil remained in the Gulf, but that was based on a 206-million-gallon figure for the spill that included oil that spewed from the pipe but was captured by BP and never got into the Gulf. Using the 172 million gallons that got into the Gulf, 31 percent of the oil remains.

So what happened to the oil?

Thank nature more than the federal government. Burning, skimming and chemically dispersing the spill got rid of 35 million gallons of oil, while natural processes of dispersion, evaporation and dissolving got rid of 84 million gallons, according to the report.

"Mother Nature is assisting here considerably," Lubchenco said. She cautioned that the oil that's left can harm wildlife for years or even decades to come, saying: "Diluted and out of sight doesn't necessarily mean benign."

Still, outside scientists said this was a just too-simple explanation for a complex oil that has confounded federal scientists at every turn.

"This is just way too neat," said Larry McKinney, director of the Texas A&M University research center on the Gulf of Mexico. "How can you even do this at this point? There's a lot of oil still floating out there."

McKinney said he most worried that this overly optimistic assessment would cost the government — and save BP — billions of dollars in the damage assessment process. McKinney, who has served as a state of Texas trustee in the process, said, "BP attorneys are placing this in plastic and putting this in frames."

White House energy adviser Carol Browner said, "We are going to continue to ensure BP is held accountable for damage they did."

MacDonald said the core of the idea here — that oil in water essentially has about a half-life of a week — makes sense, but what happened from there doesn't.

"There's some science here, but mostly, it's spin," he said. "And it breaks my heart to see them do it."

MacDonald pointed out that NOAA spent weeks sticking with its claim the BP well was spewing only 210,000 gallons a day. Now, after several revisions, the federal government said it really was 2.2 million gallons a day. So he has a hard time believing NOAA this time, he said.

When Lubchenco was asked about that at the Washington news conference, Gibbs stepped in to defend the agency's credibility. Gibbs and Lubchenco said NOAA provided the best information at the time and updated estimates when it had better data and tools.

"Is there uncertainty to this? Of course there is," said NOAA's Lehr. But he said there was no political interference.

That question got raised because of the coordination of the media rollout of the report. Browner was on all four morning TV shows saying "the vast majority of oil is gone," and the report was leaked to The New York Times. The version of the report sent to Congress was created by a former campaign spokesman for President Barack Obama who is now the Commerce Department's public affairs chief.

The scientific report, which has four pages of text followed by one page of credits, is small compared to other similar reports. Initially, NOAA said there was a fuller, 200-page report, but then retracted that. There is a second report that is 10 pages. The initial report cites no scientific references — those, Lehr said, are in his head.


AP writers Matthew Daly, Dina Cappiello and Fred Frommer contributed to this report.