A couple of more comments on our on-line journal club...

I would add that we should, for clarity purposes, 
give a numerical score on criteria 1-4, 1-worst, 
10 -best.

I say either both Cambell and Cohen submit a 
paper on a different topic OR the both of them 
confer and settle on one between them.  I say 
that we agree up front that the people who choose 
to participate speak for the whole list.  Anyone 
who disagrees, say so up front.  No second 

They should know that what they pick and the 
results will be used in this venue and beyond to 
characterize the ASLists.

Conversely, the if the ASLists are supported, I 
for one will drop my moniker for them, and agree 
to give them due credit.

We might even give a formula, like if 60% of the 
participants give them a 24 score, then they're 
not completely kooky.  You know, kinda give them 
what the scores and range of the outcome will be.

Probably other ground rules should be considered.


>Excellent!  Thank you, Jose.
>----Original Message Follows----
>From: "Josť F. Morales" <[log in to unmask]>
>Reply-To: Science for the People Discussion List             
><[log in to unmask]>
>To: [log in to unmask]
>Subject: Re: The 9/11 conspiracy virus
>Date: Sun, 18 Feb 2007 09:26:08 -0500
>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 list)
>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 
>>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 
>>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 consensus.)
>>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 
>>best wishes, Michael
>>On 2/18/07, Phil Gasper 
>><<mailto:[log in to unmask]>[log in to unmask]> 
>>        Comment
>>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
>>George Monbiot
>>Tuesday February 6, 2007
>>The Guardian
>>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.
>>Article continues
>>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<javascript:void(0)> 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 million 
>>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 hours later.
>>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 bigger.
>>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 fell.
>>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 conclusions.
>>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 
>>Michael Balter
>>Contributing Correspondent, Science
>><mailto:[log in to unmask]>[log in to unmask]
>Jose Morales Ph.D.
>With tax season right around the corner, make 
>sure to follow these few simple tips. 

Jose Morales Ph.D.