10 December 2006

Princess Di's driver drunk

There is a reason I'm posting this story here, on Modern Science.

New DNA evidence proves the driver of Princess Diana's car was drunk on the night of her fatal crash in a Paris underpass in 1997, the British Broadcasting Corp. reported Saturday.

The tests confirm that original post-mortem blood samples were from driver Henri Paul and that he had three times the French legal limit of alcohol in his blood, the BBC said, quoting from a documentary it will screen Sunday.
Conspiracy theorists have claimed that Paul's blood samples were swapped with blood from someone else -- who was drunk -- and contended that the driver had not been drinking on the night Diana died.

The wording in this article is very hazy. I read these three paragraphs as "DNA evidence proves the driver was drunk." In fact, this is explicitly what is stated in the first phrase! The problem though is that DNA can only ID people, it can't tell how much alcohol is in your blood stream. If they found out a way to get whether you were drunk from your DNA, that would be bigger news than Princess Di conspiracy theories.

The confusion lies in the wording, and is revealed with futher reading. What they meant was "DNA evidence proves the drunken blood belonged to the driver." This is a whole different story. Apparently the same sort of people who think the US couldn't figure out a moon landing but could figure out complex special effects not available until the 90's, thought that someone had swapped the blood of Di's driver with someone else's blood, and it was that someone else who was drunk. Oy.

Can you believe they had to do this DNA test just to appease conspiracy buffs? Ridonkulous. The DNA test said that the nucleated white blood cells in the drunk blood belonged to the person known to be driving Di's car. Next thing you know someone's going to claim that the white blood cells must've been swapped out from the blood. That's right, they're going to say someone centrifuged the driver's blood and the drunk's blood, drained out the nucleated cells from both and swapped them, and then put back the blood that has the driver's nucleated cells and the rest of the components from the drunk. Just watch.

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