Anatomy of terror: What makes normal people become extremists?

by Peter Byrne

It takes more than religious fanaticism or hatred to make someone take innocent lives, but recognise the true roots of ISIS-inspired terror and they can be addressed
Read at New Scientist   |   Download PDF

Byrne Wins International Science Journalism Award for Investigative Series on Breast Cancer Realities

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has recognized “Busted! Breast Cancer, Money and the Media” with a Gold Award »

Busted! Breast cancer, money and the media

Read Peter Byrne’s investigative series on a nationwide breast cancer scare that never should have happened:


Community newspaper launches investigative series on breast cancer

For Immediate Release
Nov. 5, 2015
Contact: Tess Elliott, Editor/Publisher, Point Reyes Light
(415) 669.9709,


Busted! Breast cancer, money and the media” deflates a quarter-century of reporting on a non-existent cancer epidemic in Marin County.

In its Nov. 5, 2015 edition, Marin County’s weekly Point Reyes Light commenced a 10-part investigative series on a nationwide breast cancer scare that never should have happened. “Busted! Breast cancer, money and the media” dives into the question of who is most at risk of breast cancer. Hint: Contrary to popular belief, it is not wealthy white women. Focused on Marin County, Calif. and similar affluent, white communities, the series demystifies how breast cancer risk is calculated and explains how researchers and the media benefit by exaggerating risk factors and spreading unwarranted fears of the disease. Investigative journalist Peter Byrne reveals how scientific data have been manipulated to promote non-scientific agendas and to the detriment of women in underserved populations.

“Busted!” details how local epidemiologists spent millions of dollars looking for alternatives to the simplest—and best—explanation of high breast cancer incidence rates in the San Francisco Bay Area: Excess screening mammography.

“Busted!” explains how breast cancer risk is calculated in easy-to-grasp language. It explores the perils of mammography and hormone replacement therapy.

It reports on the shocking racial and genetic bias embedded in the multi-million-dollar Marin Women’s Study and similar studies of white populations.

“Busted!” tracks the influence of the Avon Foundation on local scientists and activists, showing how the group shapes the direction of scientific research in its own interests.

It releases never-before-reported information on the alarmingly poor quality of the research data collected by the California Cancer Registry.

And it exposes emails between high-ranking officials at the California Department of Public Health as they attempted to kill the Light’s investigation.

The Point Reyes Light will serially publish “Busted!” for 10 weeks in print and online. Financed by the Fund for Investigative Journalism, a Kickstarter campaign, the Point Reyes Light and the Marin Media Institute, “Busted!” reflects more than five years of digging into hundreds of scientific studies and thousands of pages of public records. Byrne’s magazine work has appeared in Scientific American, Quanta, Wired, SF Weekly, Mother Jones, California Lawyer, San Francisco, and many other publications. His books on quantum physics and cosmology are published by Oxford University Press (2010) and Princeton University Press (2012). Second serial rights negotiable upon request.

Tess Elliott
Editor, Point Reyes Light

March 13, 2015: Successfully raised $7,599 USD with 58 backers.

Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Please visit Kickstarter to read about my new investigation,

Busted: Breast Cancer, Money, and the Media

"Busted" reports how researchers create non-existent breast cancer clusters from California to Long Island and make headlines. It is a nationally significant story and will change how you view the “war” on cancer.

Please pass this link along to your own networks — and thanks for your support!

Truly yours,
—Peter Byrne

Read Byrne in Quanta

Byrne's science writing for Quanta Magazine syndicated to Scientific American and Wired

Going Postal

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein's husband sells post offices to his friends, cheap.

Now available on Kindle: National award-winning investigative journalist Peter Byrne reports that the husband of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein of California has been selling post offices at bargain basement prices—often to his own business partners. Richard C. Blum is the chairman of CBRE Group Inc., the largest commercial real estate firm in the world. In 2011, the Postal Service awarded Blum's company an exclusive contract to sell off postal real estate in cities and towns across America. Byrne's in-depth investigation details the many apparent conflicts of interests driving the CBRE deals. It brings to light a scathing government audit of Blum's contract that is being ignored by the Obama administration. The investigation reveals how Senator Feinstein pressured the Postmaster General to stop a postal construction project, and to favor the interests of a developer working with her husband's firm. Byrne explains why the Post Office is not really broke and how powerful forces on Capitol Hill are angling to franchise the U.S. Mail monopoly. We learn that the post office executives in charge of Blum's contract have been up to financial shenanigans of their own. This is first-class investigative reporting on a vital issue of the day that you will not find anywhere else.
Get it at Amazon

Byrne Serving as Journalist in Residence at UCSB's Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics


Bad Boy of Physics:
Peter Byrne Interviews Leonard Susskind

(06.07.2011, Scientific American)
Leonard Susskind rebelled as a teen and never stopped. Today he insists that reality may forever be beyond reach of our understanding.
Download PDF, 295K

Byrne a Finalist for Investigative Reporters & Editors Partnership Award

(04.2011) Peter Byrne’s story on UC regents' conflicts of interest was just announced as an Investigative Reporters & Editors Partnership Award finalist (along with ProPublica, NPR, Financial Times, etc).
Investigative Reporters & Editors site

Byrne honored by the Society of Professional Journalists Northern California chapter with a First Amendment Award

(02.2011) SPJ honors Byrne for reporting the multipart series on the website outlining how several University of California (UC) Regents approved a series UC investments in private deals and public companies in which they had personal financial interests.
SPJ Press release
Byrne's Regents story on

book coverThe Many Worlds of Hugh Everett III

Multiple Universes, Mutual Assured Destruction, and the Meltdown of a Nuclear Family

Now available from Oxford University Press
Peter Byrne, 368 pages | 50 b/w photographs | Hardback | Publishing in May 2010 (estimated)
Price: £25.00
Also available on Amazon!

Reviews for The Many Worlds of Hugh Everett III:


“The author is the first to have obtained access to the Everett family archive, and he also draws on a large number of conversations and correspondences with people who knew Everett during the genesis of his theory and through the years following its publication. The book is admirably researched; and it is authoritative both on Everett’s opinions about his own theory and on its reception by others.” Full review (PDF)

American Journal of Physics

Look for Adrian Kent’s review of “The Many Worlds of Hugh Everett III” in the next issue of the American Journal of Physics.

The Quantum Times

“With the publication of Peter Byrne’s biography of Hugh Everett, the story of the sometimes troubled life of the father of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics has finally been released from its abode in dusty boxes stored in a basement in California.” full review

Secrecy News

Book: The Many Worlds of Hugh Everett: "...a thoughtful account of an original figure and his diverse contributions to a momentous period in the history of science and national security."

New Scientist

Not for this world: The heartbreaking and strangely beautiful story of a troubled genius (web) (pdf)


The father of parallel universes: Robert P. Crease is fascinated by a biography of quantum physicist Hugh Everett III, the difficult man behind one of the most logical and bizarre ideas in the history of human thought. (pdf)



(09.2010) The Investors' Club: How the University of California Regents Spin Public Money into Private ProfitWebsite and a consortium of California news weeklies publishes Byrne’s 8-part investigation into financial conflicts of interest among the Regents of the University of California. Read it at


(08.2008) The Foundational Questions Institute (FQXi) has awarded Byrne a grant in support of his biography of Hugh Everett III: “The Many Worlds of Hugh Everett III: Multiple Universes, Mutually Assured Destruction, and the Meltdown of a Nuclear Family.” (Oxford University Press, 2010) Link

(03.2008) Byrne’s series exposing United States Senator Dianne Feinstein’s longtime conflict of interest with her husband's military contracting businesses is a FINALIST in the 2008 Investigative Journalists & Editor’s National Award Contest.

(2008) California Newspaper Publishers Association has awarded Byrne for Investigative / Enterprise Reporting on Dianne Feinstein’s Iraq Conflict.

“The Many Worlds of Hugh Everett” in Scientific American
(Scientific American 11.21.2007, PDF, 2.3MB)
After his now celebrated theory of multiple universes met scorn, Hugh Everett abandoned the world of academic physics. He turned to top-secret military research and led a tragic private life.

The Everett Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics: Collected Works 1955-1980 with Commentary
Edited by Prof. Jeffrey A. Barrett of UC Irvine and Peter Byrne

“What can be said without dispute is that the present editors have done an excellent job in presenting the available material. Their book can be highly recommended to physicists in each of the two parallel branches of the mental universe!”
—Peter J. Bussey, Contemporary Physics


(2007) Byrne and Prof. Jeffrey Barrett of UC Irvine are contracted to Princeton University Press to publish an annotated anthology of Everett’s works in 2011.

FQXI has this to say about Byrne and his Everett project.


The Byrne Report

Later Alligators
(10.30.2007) After 120 issues of The Byrne Report, the author goes on an extended leave of absence to write a book.


The Feinstein Files

Byrne's investigative series on U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein.
Research supported by a grant from the Investigative Fund of the Nation Institute.


The Arnold Files

Byrne's collected reports on California's Governor Schwarzenegger.



Read articles by Peter Byrne on government, politics, crime, national security, physics, art, religion, sex, etc.


Peter ByrneNorthern California-based journalist Peter Byrne has an uncanny ability to mine reportable nuggets of graft and corruption out of mountains of government and corporate records — not to mention human sources. He knows how to get inside the soul of self-serving systems — be they created by left-wingers, neocons, or non-ideologically-inspired criminals — and find the facts.
more »

Consulting Services

Byrne is available to consult on a wide range of investigative projects. He is an expert speech and op-ed writer for busy scientists and business people — skilled at turning technical ideas into accessible prose. Profile and contact information »

SF Investigator

SF Investigator
Read back-issues of Peter Byrne’s The San Franciso Investigator, The Newsletter for people who do not trust City Hall.