Re: The 9/11 conspiracy virus
How about this as a strategy?
Put the burden of proof on the denialists. As Carl Sagan
said extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.
Ask the ASLists (Anti-Science Leftists) Cambell/Cohen for a paper
representing the VERY best evidence they know of supporting an issue
in question...for example, the HIV virus not being the cause of AIDS.
Have them pick 1 figure or section of the paper. Send the paper
around, let them give a summary of what the section means, agree to
ground rules and we'll see the real deal.
The merits of their case will be displayed by
1. the paper they pick
2. the section they pick (no longer than the average post on the
3. the summary they give (shorter than the section itself)
4. their defense of the data
The ground rules would have to be such that if so and so happens,
ASLists will agree that the best evidence lacks rigor or something.
Further if this and that happens the rest of us will have to agree
that they have a point.
IF so and so....the rest of us say that the ASLists have more
credibility than we gave them credit for
IF this and that happens...the ASLists will say that the best
evidence isn't very good.
Will this get us somewhere?
I've been giving a lot of thought to the
discussions here about proper list etiquette the past couple of days,
which were inspired largely by the three-way exchange between myself,
Mitchel Cohen and Jonathan Campbell. I think that this post from Phil
raises the kinds of issues that concern me, and which have prompted my
perhaps overly heated posts here (I should say that I think limiting
posts each day is a great idea, and pledge to honor that myself.)
To me, 9/11 conspiracy theories, which are rampant among certain
segments of the left and have received considerable airing on Pacifica
radio, are the political equivalent of HIV-AIDs denial and its
apparent latter-day form, HPV denial in regards to cervical cancer
(see especially Jonathan's post on this subject, but also Mitchel's,
in which it is suggested that HPV may have little or nothing to do
with this particular cancer.) That is, they represent a triumph of
ignorance and fantasy over facts and evidence, something the left
needs to avoid seriously if it is to be credible and get anywhere.
Faced with posts of this kind, I see three alternatives:
1. Ignore them entirely.
2. Refute point by point the arguments made.
3. Interpret them politically.
The first is always a possibility, and in fact I have chosen to do
that recently in order to stick to the minimum posting guidelines.
The second is not an option, not only because it is not appropriate
for this particular list, but because it would take time and energy
that could not be justified. Eg, if someone posted a Holocaust denial
article complete with a long list of arguments for why the gas
chambers never existed, would the appropriate response by list members
be to refute it point by point, digging deeply into historical
resources? I doubt very much that anyone here would do this.
The third alternative seems to me the most appropriate on a list
devoted to furthering left analysis and progressive causes, although
it also makes the poster who pursues this avenue most vulnerable to
accusations of ad hominem argumentation. But when it comes to 9/11
conspiracies and AIDS conspiracies, in my personal view the most
important issue for leftists is to understand why these views are so
rampant, and yes, sometimes to parody and ridicule them, because
parody and ridicule are political tools and justifiable ones in many
cases. I could also give the example, in the scientific domain, of
climate change skepticism. If someone posts a contrarian view on that
subject, would most people here debate the scientific details with
long posts about modeling and satellite data or try to get behind the
politics of the debate? (I give this example with some hesitation,
because I don't agree that leftists should be telling the public that
scientific truth is arrived at by majority vote or even
In sum, I will try to abide by the guidelines that people here have
urged, but I think it would be inhibiting to political expression and
analysis to give up the tools of parody and ridicule entirely, even if
they should be used in a gentle manner rather than in a nasty way. I
admit to fault on this score, and will try to do better, but please
don't expect me to entirely ignore some of the more outrageous things
that are posted here, especially when lives are at stake as Carrol
pointed out earlier.
best wishes, Michael
On 2/18/07, Phil Gasper <[log in to unmask]>
A 9/11 conspiracy virus is sweeping the world, but it
has no basis in fact
Loose Change is a sharp, slick film with an authoritative voiceover,
but it drowns the truth in an ocean of nonsense
Tuesday February 6, 2007
There is a virus sweeping the world. It infects opponents of the Bush
government, sucks their brains out through their eyes and turns them
into gibbering idiots. First cultivated in a laboratory in the US, the
strain reached these shores a few months ago. In the past fortnight,
it has become an epidemic. Scarcely a day now passes without someone
possessed by this sickness, eyes rolling, lips flecked with foam,
trying to infect me.
The disease is called Loose Change. It is a film made by three young
men that airs most of the standard conspiracy theories about the
attacks of September 11 2001. Unlike
the other 9/11 conspiracy films, Loose Change is sharp and swift, with
a thumping soundtrack, slick graphics and a calm and authoritative
voiceover. Its makers claim that it has now been watched by 100
The Pentagon, the film maintains, was not hit by a commercial
airliner. There was "no discernible trace" of a plane found
in the wreckage, and the entrance and exit holes in the building were
far too small. It was hit by a cruise missile. The twin towers were
brought down by means of "a carefully planned controlled
demolition". You can see the small puffs of smoke caused by
explosives just below the cascading sections. All other hypotheses are
implausible: the fire was not hot enough to melt steel and the towers
fell too quickly. Building 7 was destroyed by the same means a few
Flight 93 did not crash, but was redirected to Cleveland airport,
where the passengers were taken into a Nasa building and never seen
again. Their voices had been cloned by the Los Alamos laboratories and
used to make fake calls to their relatives. The footage of Osama bin
Laden, claiming responsibility for the attacks, was faked. The US
government carried out this great crime for four reasons: to help
Larry Silverstein, who leased the towers, to collect his insurance
money; to assist insider traders betting on falling airline stocks; to
steal the gold in the basement; and to grant George Bush new executive
powers, so that he could carry out his plans for world domination.
Even if you have seen or read no other accounts of 9/11, and your
brain has not yet been liquidised, a few problems must occur to you.
The first is the complete absence of scientific advice. At one point,
the presenter asks: "So what brought down the twin towers? Let's
ask the experts." But they don't ask the experts. The film-makers
take some old quotes, edit them to remove any contradictions, then
denounce all subsequent retractions as further evidence of
The only people they interview are a janitor, a group of firemen, and
a flight instructor. They let the janitor speak at length, but cut the
firemen off in mid-sentence. The flight instructor speaks in short
clips, which give the impression that his pupil, the hijacker Hani
Hanjour, was incapable of hitting the Pentagon. Elsewhere he has said
the opposite: he had "no doubt" that Hanjour could have done
Where are the structural engineers, the materials scientists, the
specialists in ballistics, explosives or fire? The film-makers now say
that the third edition of the film will be fact-checked by an expert,
but he turns out to be "a theology professor". They don't
name him, but I would bet that it's David Ray Griffin, who also
happens to be the high priest of the 9/11 conspiracists.
The next evident flaw is that the plot they propose must have involved
tens of thousands of people. It could not have been executed without
the help of demolition experts, the security firms guarding the World
Trade Centre, Mayor Giuliani (who hastily disposed of the remains),
much of the US air force, the Federal Aviation Administration and the
North American Aerospace Defence Command, the relatives of the people
"killed" in the plane crashes, the rest of the Pentagon's
staff, the Los Alamos laboratories, the FBI, the CIA, and the
investigators who picked through the rubble.
If there is one universal American characteristic, it is a
confessional culture that permits no one with a good story to keep his
mouth shut. People appear on the Jerry Springer Show to admit to
carnal relations with their tractors. Yet none of the participants in
this monumental crime has sought to blow the whistle - before, during
or after the attacks. No one has volunteered to tell the greatest
story ever told.
Read some conflicting accounts, and Loose Change's case crumbles
faster than the twin towers. Hundreds of people saw a plane hit the
Pentagon. Because it collided with one of the world's best-defended
buildings at full speed, the plane was pulverised - even so, plane
parts and body parts were in fact recovered. The wings and tail
disintegrated when they hit the wall, which is why the holes weren't
The failure of the twin towers has been exhaustively documented by the
National Institute of Standards and Technology. Far from being
impossible, the collapse turns out to have been inevitable. The planes
cut some of the support columns and ignited fires sufficient to weaken
(but not melt) the remaining steel structures. As the perimeter
columns buckled, the weight of the collapsing top stories generated a
momentum the rest of the building could not arrest. Puffs of smoke
were blown out of the structure by compression as the building
Counterpunch, the radical leftwing magazine, commissioned its own
expert - an aerospace and mechanical engineer - to test the official
findings. He shows that the institute must have been right. He also
demonstrates how Building 7 collapsed. Burning debris falling from the
twin towers ruptured the oil pipes feeding its emergency generators.
The reduction in pressure triggered the automatic pumping system,
which poured thousands of gallons of diesel on to the fire. The
support trusses weakened and buckled, and the building imploded.
Popular Mechanics magazine polled 300 experts and came to the same
So the critics - even Counterpunch - are labelled co-conspirators, and
the plot expands until it comes to involve a substantial part of the
world's population. There is no reasoning with this madness. People
believe Loose Change because it proposes a closed world:
comprehensible, controllable, small. Despite the great evil that runs
it, it is more companionable than the chaos that really governs our
lives, a world without destination or purpose. This neat story draws
campaigners away from real issues - global warming, the Iraq war,
nuclear weapons, privatisation, inequality - while permanently
wrecking their credibility. Bush did capitalise on the attacks, and he
did follow a pre-existing agenda, spelt out, as Loose Change says, by
the Project for the New American Century. But by drowning this truth
in an ocean of nonsense, the conspiracists ensure that it can never
again be taken seriously.
The film's greatest flaw is this: the men who made it are still alive.
If the US government is running an all-knowing, all-encompassing
conspiracy, why did it not snuff them out long ago? There is only one
possible explanation. They are in fact agents of the Bush regime,
employed to distract people from its real abuses of power. This, if
you are inclined to believe such stories, is surely a more plausible
theory than the one proposed in Loose Change.
Contributing Correspondent, Science
[log in to unmask]
Jose Morales Ph.D.