Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Epstein on conspiracies


No one denies that conspiracies exist.  They occur every time two thugs decide to rob a liquor store together.  When people dismiss “conspiracy theories,” what they are dismissing is not the idea that bad people conspire, or that they do so in secret, or that these bad people are sometimes government officials.  Typically, what they are critical of is the sort of theory that postulates a conspiracy so overarching that the theory tends implicitly to undermine its own epistemological foundations, precisely by undermining the possibility of any sociopolitical knowledge at all -- something analogous to Cartesian skepticism in the sociopolitical context.
 
That proponents of such theories are often (not always, but often) given to paranoia and shrillness, and that they often (not always, but often) seem motivated less by empirical evidence than by some higher-order theory they regard as the Master Key to history (to the effect that the world is “really” run by Zionists, or Jesuits, or bankers, or the CIA) only reinforces the natural tendency to regard their position as irrational.  I have discussed this issue -- and the difference between what I call “local conspiracies” (which happen all the time) and “global conspiracies” (which are a priori highly implausible) -- at greater length in an earlier post.  (The “local” versus “global” distinction, by the way, is not geographic but epistemic -- read the post to see what I mean.  See also this article.)

Edward Jay Epstein is one of the best writers on the Kennedy assassination (and, for that matter, one of the best writers on pretty much anything he turns his attention to).  I’ve been reading his terrific new book The Annals of Unsolved Crime, and while it is not a book about conspiracy theories per se, among the many cases he discusses are several around which conspiracy theories have been woven.  One of the lessons of the book is how crimes sometimes go unsolved, or seem to be more mysterious than they really are, because of false preconceptions police and other investigators get locked into early on, which end up seriously distorting their perceptions of the evidence.

For instance, Jack the Ripper and the Zodiac are among the best-known serial killers whose identities have never been determined.  Except that there almost certainly was no such person as Jack the Ripper -- he was probably just an invention of the newspapers, whose sensationalistic stories tied together murders at least some of which were unconnected -- and probably no one person responsible for all the crimes attributed to the Zodiac either.  Police knew this in the first case, but in the second possibly exonerated someone who was guilty of at least some of the crimes (or so Epstein thinks) because his fingerprints didn’t match those of whoever committed one of the others.  (If you’ve seen the movie Zodiac -- which is a great flick, by the way -- you know who the person in question is.) 

Police, prosecutors, and government authorities can also hinder investigations for reasons that have nothing to do with motives of the sort postulated by “global” conspiracy theories.  For example, Epstein argues that there is good reason to think that there was at least one other, unidentified conspirator involved in the Oklahoma City bombing -- but that there was pressure on the FBI not to follow the leads because of the way this might be used by the defense to undermine the prosecution of McVeigh and Nichols, who were known to be guilty.  With the 2001 anthrax attacks -- which, Epstein argues, are still unsolved, the government’s claims about Dr. Bruce Ivins notwithstanding -- the FBI was in Epstein’s view fixated on the idea that the attacks must have been carried out by a lone domestic scientist, based less on the evidence than on their behavioral profile of the suspect. 

These two cases, by the way (and here I go beyond anything Epstein says), point up one of the many problems with revisionist 9/11 conspiracy theories.  If 9/11 was really just an “inside job” perpetrated in order to justify an attack on Iraq and the War on Terror in general, why on earth would the government not play up the anthrax attacks?  They were, after all, perpetrated by someone who presented himself as a jihadist -- recall the notes with all the “Death to Israel” and “Allah is great” stuff -- and involved a WMD of precisely the sort the Iraqis were claimed to possess.  And there is evidence that one of the 9/11 hijackers was exposed to anthrax.  The case was tailor-made, as it were, for use in ginning up war on false pretenses -- if that was what the Bush administration was trying to do.  And yet the government did the reverse, downplaying the anthrax attacks from the get-go and ruling out any foreign or terrorist involvement early on.

With the Oklahoma City bombing, too, there is at least an argument to be made for jihadist involvement (though Epstein thinks, rightly for all I know, that such involvement is ultimately unlikely).  If “neo-con” conspirators were looking to manufacture or exaggerate the jihadist threat to the U.S., the evidence is certainly there to be played up -- and yet it has gone almost entirely down the memory hole.

In a chapter on the Kennedy assassination, Epstein argues quite plausibly that Oswald’s actions were at least “influenced, if not directed” by Cuban intelligence, in retaliation for U.S. attempts to kill Castro.  Here too -- and once again I now go beyond anything Epstein discusses -- the actual facts simply don’t fit with what conspiracy theorists tell us.  If Oliver Stone were correct, and JFK’s assassination was motivated in part by right-wing anger over Kennedy’s failure to be sufficiently aggressive with Cuba, the conspirators would have had all the justification for an invasion they wanted after the assassination.  For the evidence (even if the conspiracy theorist wants to claim it was manufactured evidence) of Oswald’s links to Cuba (not to mention the Soviet Union) is undeniable.  The conspirators could have used the assassination as just the casus belli they were presumably looking for.  And yet that is precisely what did not happen; in fact the government seems to have been reluctant to pursue the question of foreign involvement.

The truth is that Kennedy administration policy toward Cuba was aggressive -- for there were attempts to kill Castro -- and government reluctance to look too hard into possible collaborators was probably motivated by a desire to cover up, not a CIA plot against JFK, but rather the CIA plots against Castro, plots which may have boomeranged and the exposure of which would therefore be a grave embarrassment to the government.  This sort of ass-covering -- rather than the government-as-malin génie postulated by “global” conspiracy theories -- is, together with bureaucratic incompetence, more than adequate to account for dubious government actions vis-à-vis events like the Kennedy assassination and 9/11.

Anyway, on the subject of conspiracy theories we may yet hear more from Epstein, who has for some time been working on a book on the 9/11 commission.

208 comments:

1 – 200 of 208   Newer›   Newest»
Bilbo said...

When over 1900 architects and engineers go on record as rejecting the official version of the collapses of WTC 1,2, and 7, and offer what appear to be compelling arguments for controlled demolitions of those buildings, one should be willing to support a new, independent investigation of 9/11.

See www.ae911truth.org

Given the overwhelming influence that 9/11 has had on both our foreign and domestic policy for over a decade now, insisting that we make sure we know the truth of the events is certainly not too much to ask, is it?

Vince said...

Sometimes, even paranoid people are followed...

MarcAnthony said...

9/11 conspiracy theories make me mad, having met people who lost families in those attacks, and even a distant family member who was actually in the Pentagon. To blame somebody other than the terrorists who committed to crime is an insult to their memories.

But, besides that-I have a cousin who is absolutely, totally, 100% convinced that the world is run by the Illuminati, 9/11 is an inside job, and that vaccines are made from the fetuses of aborted babies and cause terrible diseases. She also, for that matter, despises Israel with a passion.

This is a very, very smart person, mind you. She's not "crazy" in any sense of the word. I'm amazed that she was fooled into believing these things. The psychology is really pretty fascinating.

Crude said...

This is a very, very smart person, mind you. She's not "crazy" in any sense of the word. I'm amazed that she was fooled into believing these things. The psychology is really pretty fascinating.

I have a relative who simultaneously believes that only irrational people could ever think any God exists, and who thinks that the earthquake in Haiti was probably caused by a clandestine group of criminals who have created earthquake-causing machines (the 'Weather Wars' theory) and that Obama was elected as president as part of an alien plan to disrupt world government to make it easier for them to eventually reveal themselves and act as our saviors.

BenYachov said...

After dealing with many a "Catholic" conspiracy theorist in my day I have come to believe Conspiracy Theories are for the weak-minded.

There is no "Them" the world is in fact that boring.

God is in His Heaven and that is That.

BenYachov said...

Anyone get the impression Gnus are always in conspiracy theory mode?

From elaborate conspiracies to fake the resurrection to a grand global conspiracy to conjure up some supernatural belief to control the masses.

J.L.Erkelens said...

The story of how the CIA's bungling in Cuba is tied to the Kennedy assassination is told expertly in Tim Weiner's thought provoking history of the CIA, Legacy of Ashes. For those who are interested in this sort of thing. Epstein even praises the book in a blurb on the cover.

Bilbo said...

So far, everyone has avoided my question. Given that so far over 1900 architects and engineers have gone on record as rejecting the official version of how WTC 1,2, and 7; given that they have offered what appear to be compelling arguments that the buildings were brought down by controlled demolitions; and given that 9/11 has been the basis of our foreign and much of our domestic policies for over a decade, shouldn't we want a new, independent investigation, to try to make sure we know the truth of the events of 9/11?

By the way, I am a Zionist, and I love Israel; I do not believe in the Illuminati; I am a Theist, not a Gnu Atheist; and there are families of victims of 9/11 who want a new, independent investigation.

David Ty said...

Bilbo,

A self-selected group of "1900 engineers and architects" means nothing. When someone comes forward as a whistleblower on what must have been a massive conspiracy involving dozens or hundreds, then I'll listen.

Of course 9/11 has affected our foreign policy for the last decade. Did you expect us to ignore it?

Bilbo said...

Hi David,

I don't understand what you mean by "self-selected." These are architects and engineers who are willing to risk their reputation and perhaps their livelihoods in order to sign a petition that says they doubt the official explanation for the collapse of the WTC buildings 1, 2, and 7, and that they are demanding a new, independent investigation into 9/11.

Whistleblowers are people who were trying to do the right thing, but were stopped by someone in authority. There are dozens of whistleblowers involving 9/11, saying that people in our government did not do the right thing about 9/11.

But when it comes to criminal behavior, such as blowing up buildings, the only time criminals blow the whistle is when they have been caught and are trying to make a deal to avoid justice. Since there was no attempt to apprehend such criminals, we shouldn't expect those kinds of whistleblowers.

I don't expect us to ignore 9/11. I expect us to make sure we know what happened before we invade two countries, put hundreds of thousands of our own young men and women in harms way, spend trillions of dollars, and kill thousands of civilians. We didn't conduct the investigation that we should have conducted over ten years ago before we did all that. It's not too late to conduct that investigation now.

Why don't you want to conduct such an investigation now?

MarcAnthony said...

"Whistleblowers are people who were trying to do the right thing, but were stopped by someone in authority. There are dozens of whistleblowers involving 9/11, saying that people in our government did not do the right thing about 9/11. "

I'm with David. I've heard more from architects who say it CAN happen than those who say it can't. Given that we have no group of people who has come forward to reveal that they know about a massive cover-up (one of the biggest, and most successful, of all time mind you), or at least a massive cover-up that makes sense, who have been a part of all of this, the theory remains what it is: Crazy.

Honestly? I don't believe the government COULD cover up something this massive. We would have to somehow manipulate Muslim bombers into hitting the buildings, getting a group of people to admit to the attack (with none of them denying it, by the way), be willing to MASSACRE our own citizens (even I don't have THAT little faith in the government...yet. Okay, regarding abortion, but not something like this), somehow figure out a way to HIDE all of this, all as an excuse to go on what is apparently an oil war or something.

It makes absolutely no sense. It's a conspiracy theory, and I don't believe in conspiracy theories. Sorry.

William Peaden said...

Bilbo,

It is worth your time reading the post that Ed linked about "Local vs. global" conspiracies. Of course there is "evidence" for the grand cover up, but like David points out, self styled, self selected experts saying "yep, the towers were pulled down in a controlled demolition" is not the same as an architect coming out and saying "I put bombs in the building to cause it to collapse", or a CIA agent coming out and say, "I recruited a jihadist to fly into the building".

The fact that no major or minor journalists have got a whiff before, during or after of a cover up is telling in itself.

As I say, look at Ed's other post and it will allow you to step back and think about the plausibility of a grand inside job. You will also notice that the "evidence" that is brought forward in all these cases is pretty vague. Like the engineer who claims that the gases chambers used in the death camps were not fit for purpose, years after the fact.

BenSix said...

...why on earth would the government not play up the anthrax attacks...

One month after 9/11, John McCain went on David Letterman's show and said, baselessly, that the anthrax “may” have come from Saddam Hussein. ABC News, meanwhile, was trumpeting that there was a connection between the anthrax and Iraq because of a substance that had never actually been found in the samples. Richard Cohen of The Washington Post wrote of how insinuation of this nature influenced him...

Anthrax played a role in my decision to support the Bush administration's desire to take out Saddam Hussein. I linked him to anthrax, which I linked to Sept. 11. I was not going to stand by and simply wait for another attack -- more attacks. I was going to go to the source, Hussein, and get him before he could get us.

One might attribute all this to cock-ups rather than conspiracies but if it was the former it had the effect of that one might think would be sought by the latter.

Brandon said...

Why don't you want to conduct such an investigation now?

Because it's a waste of time and money clearly motivated by an attempt of people to find closure, whether for 9/11 itself or its aftermath, on the basis of speculative hypotheses and just-so stories rather than actual evidence; because its founding assumptions require us to believe that a government that repeatedly bungles much less elaborate projects somehow managed to be utterly successful here, with no means or mechanism in sight for it to do so, despite the fact that we are talking about something that occurred in one of the busiest buildings in the world; because nobody is in fact risking anything, much less reputation and livelihood, on the kind of speculation involved here and the supposedly 'compelling' arguments turn out to be purely speculative frameworks very tenuously linked to evidence here and there; because anyone who has ever actually looked at disaster reports knows that the supposed inconsistencies and contradictions show no signs of being anything other than the ordinary kind of confusion any significant disaster causes; and because when you actually look at the claims of 9/11 truthers, one finds a consistent pattern of exaggeration deviating from the actual evidence in a clearly identifiable direction.

It's all causal inference. The effect in this case is immensely complicated, and the simplistic causal accounts proposed by 9/11 truthers are not adequate to that complexity.

David T said...

But when it comes to criminal behavior, such as blowing up buildings, the only time criminals blow the whistle is when they have been caught and are trying to make a deal to avoid justice. Since there was no attempt to apprehend such criminals, we shouldn't expect those kinds of whistleblowers.

Actually, no. For example, Deep Throat (Mark Felt) blew the whistle on Watergate for personal reasons of his own (likely revenge at being passed over as J. Edgar Hoover's successor).

People have all kinds of reasons for spilling the beans, among them revenge, ideology, thirst for notoriety but most prominently money. Someone with credible evidence of a 9/11 conspiracy could sell that story for many millions of dollars. Somehow, in all those hundreds of people involved in the conspiracy, there isn't a single one motivated enough by a massive payday to cash in on it. Unbelievable.

As for self-selected engineers and architects - anyone can call themselves an expert on anything. Doesn't mean jack.

josh said...

Some conspiracies are real, large, and weird enough to be interesting.

The CIA/OSS may not be responsible for everything that has happened in the last 50 years, but nobody should deny that it is an extremely important, secretive, and powerful conspiracy.

Likewise the Council on Foreign Relations.

The Roundtable movement, the League of the Just, the Carbonari, the P2 Lodge, etc. all have had their effect.

One could do worse than reading "A Fire in the Minds of Men" by James Billington, librarian of Congress. Totally mainstream, well foot-noted, fascinating book.

MarcAnthony said...

This whole discussion reminds me of this excellent xkcd comic:

http://xkcd.com/258/

George R. said...

Ed, I can't believe what a gullible dupe you are. Next thing you're going to tell us is that G. W. Bush wasn't actually a twelve-foot alien lizard in disguise.

Wake up, sheeple!

Anonymous said...

For those that may want a critical look at Richard Gage and the arguments of ae911truth.org:

http://ae911truth.info/wordpress/

and 9/11 truthers in general:

http://www.debunking911.com

Anonymous said...

The lunacy of the 'controlled demolition' idea is self-evident. Besides the months of heavy building prep that would be involved - it would've been necessary to close the buildings completely, remove sheetrock from the walls, there would be cables everywhere, running from floor to floor, etc. - why on earth would you THEN fly planes into the buildings? That would risk ruining at least some of your demolition prep and possibly jeopardize the whole thing. Why not just fly planes into the buildings - what, the American public would've given the Islamists a pass on that one? Maybe just a few extra sanctions only? Please.

Bilbo said...

Marc writes:

"... self styled, self selected experts saying "yep, the towers were pulled down in a controlled demolition" is not the same as an architect coming out and saying "I put bombs in the building to cause it to collapse", or a CIA agent coming out and say, "I recruited a jihadist to fly into the building"."

First, the architects and engineers are not "self styled or self-selected. The list includes their names and their bona fides. Second, as I pointed out, criminals only confess when they are caught and want to make a deal to escape justice.

"The fact that no major or minor journalists have got a whiff before, during or after of a cover up is telling in itself."

The media never showed the collapse of building 7 after the first day. Why should we trust them to investigate and publish anything that might smack of a conspiracy? Once we were involved in Afghanistan, which happened in a month, the media does not want to look unpatriotic, and will only write stories that support the war.

"As I say, look at Ed's other post and it will allow you to step back and think about the plausibility of a grand inside job."

Define "grand inside job."

"You will also notice that the "evidence" that is brought forward in all these cases is pretty vague. '

I have found the evidence to be very specific.

Alat said...

@MarcAnthony

. . . be willing to MASSACRE our own citizens (even I don't have THAT little faith in the government...yet

Search for "Operation Northwoods" (look it up on Wikipedia or the National Security Archive) and you will likely lose whatever faith you still have.

Summary: in 1962, the Joint Chiefs of Staff approved a proposal to engage in terrorism in the U.S. mainland, and then blame it on Cuba. It died in Kennedy's desk, which is probably why we now know about it. The original memo sent to Kennedy is available.

I imagine that any such operations that may have been approved and carried out, in this or other circumstances, did not end up in the National Security Archive...

BTW, I agree will all of Feser's points in the OP, and do not think 9/11 was an inside job, etc.

Bilbo said...

Brandon writes:

"Why don't you want to conduct such an investigation now?
Because it's a waste of time and money clearly motivated by an attempt of people to find closure, whether for 9/11 itself or its aftermath, on the basis of speculative hypotheses and just-so stories rather than actual evidence;
"

There is evidence for controlled demolitions.

"... because its founding assumptions require us to believe that a government that repeatedly bungles much less elaborate projects somehow managed to be utterly successful here,"

There was plenty of bungling.

" with no means or mechanism in sight for it to do so, despite the fact that we are talking about something that occurred in one of the busiest buildings in the world;"

It could be done.

"... because nobody is in fact risking anything, much less reputation and livelihood,..."

How do you know that? If you were an architect, and your potential clients found out you had signed a petition saying you rejected the official version of 9/11 and wanted a new investigation, would you be risking something?

Bilbo said...

David writes:

"Actually, no. For example, Deep Throat (Mark Felt) blew the whistle on Watergate for personal reasons of his own (likely revenge at being passed over as J. Edgar Hoover's successor)."

What crime had Felt committed in connection with Watergate?

"People have all kinds of reasons for spilling the beans, among them revenge, ideology, thirst for notoriety but most prominently money. Someone with credible evidence of a 9/11 conspiracy could sell that story for many millions of dollars. Somehow, in all those hundreds of people involved in the conspiracy, there isn't a single one motivated enough by a massive payday to cash in on it. Unbelievable."

How do you know it would take hundreds of people? Again, show me criminals who spill the beans who haven't been caught first.

"As for self-selected engineers and architects - anyone can call themselves an expert on anything. Doesn't mean jack."

Again, the list of petitioners includes their names and bona fides.

Bilbo said...

Whoops, I got Marc's comment mixed up with William's. Sorry about that.

Bilbo said...

Now, here's what Mark wrote:

"I'm with David. I've heard more from architects who say it CAN happen than those who say it can't."

Really? More than 1900?

" Given that we have no group of people who has come forward to reveal that they know about a massive cover-up (one of the biggest, and most successful, of all time mind you),...."

How massive do you think it would have to have been?

"We would have to somehow manipulate Muslim bombers into hitting the buildings, getting a group of people to admit to the attack (with none of them denying it, by the way), ..."

We have whistleblowers who say that the U.S. was cooperating with Al Qaeda in operations in Central Asia as much as two months after 9/11. If so, then it seems possible that the U.S. was cooperating with Al Qaeda in pulling off 9/11.

"...be willing to MASSACRE our own citizens (even I don't have THAT little faith in the government...yet. Okay, regarding abortion, but not something like this),...."

That's where the Church's teaching on Original Sin helps us to realize that human beings can do some pretty horrible things, even to their own citizens.

"... somehow figure out a way to HIDE all of this..."

If nobody looks, it's easy to hide things.

"It makes absolutely no sense. It's a conspiracy theory, and I don't believe in conspiracy theories. Sorry."

I would rather investigate and try to make sure there wasn't one than just assume there wasn't one. Sorry.

David T said...

Bilbo,

Felt hadn't committed any crime yet he knew of the cover-up conspiracy. That's the point. Any decent sized conspiracy will be known not just by the main conspirators, but by all kinds of folks who are incidentally but unavoidably exposed to it - like Mark Felt, among others.

How many? Who knows? You don't like my number of hundreds, but the conspiracy you are positing is a lot more sophisticated than Watergate, and that involved dozens. And yet, remarkably, the 9/11 conspiracy has been able to maintain an iron discipline of silence amongst all the conspirators, hangers-on and associates, none of whom - unlike Watergate - has any independent agenda that might lead them to expose the conspiracy.

And the conspiracy extends all the way to Barack Obama, it seems, since to all appearances he would like nothing more than to hang 9/11on George Bush or some right wing neocon cabal, yet he has no time for 9/11 Truthers. I wonder when they got to him.

Bilbo said...

Anon writes:

"The lunacy of the 'controlled demolition' idea is self-evident. Besides the months of heavy building prep that would be involved - it would've been necessary to close the buildings completely, remove sheetrock from the walls, there would be cables everywhere, running from floor to floor, etc."

Again, it could be done.

"- why on earth would you THEN fly planes into the buildings? "

So that people would think it was done by Muslim terrorists flying planes into buildings, inside of wondering it it was an inside job.

"That would risk ruining at least some of your demolition prep and possibly jeopardize the whole thing."

Yes, which is why you probably use remote controlled airplanes, which can be guided to just the right spots.

" Why not just fly planes into the buildings - what, the American public would've given the Islamists a pass on that one? Maybe just a few extra sanctions only? Please."

The Project for a New American Century believed that we needed a "new Pearl Harbor" event in order to motivate America to undertake major military operations in the Middle East. A few crashed airplanes and a couple of hundred deaths may not have been enough. If you're going to do it, do it big.

David T said...

Bilbo,

Just for kicks, who do you think should run this investigation? The government? If the conspiracy is efficient enough to pull off 9/11 while leaving no evidence behind, and capable of maintaining a decade long discpline of silence on it, wouldn't the co-opting of any investigation be child's play for it?

All we would end up with is 9/11 Truth Investigation Truthers, who would claim that your "investigation" was but the latest clever ploy by the conspiracy.

Bilbo said...

David writes:

"Felt hadn't committed any crime yet he knew of the cover-up conspiracy. That's the point. Any decent sized conspiracy will be known not just by the main conspirators, but by all kinds of folks who are incidentally but unavoidably exposed to it - like Mark Felt, among others."

Did Felt know, or just suspect that there was a cover-up? Did he know about the actual break-in? If Felt hadn't leaked, or if Bob Woodward hadn't been willing to investigate, or if the Washington Post hadn't been willing to publish it, would we know about it?

"How many? Who knows? You don't like my number of hundreds, but the conspiracy you are positing is a lot more sophisticated than Watergate, and that involved dozens."

I suspect about thirty people, including military and political leaders, and people who actually did the dirty work. This would be a military operation, so I wouldn't expect as much bungling or loose lips. And if there were loose lips, I don't expect there would be reporters who were interested or papers willing to publish it.

" I wonder when they got to him [Obama]."

I suspect that was part of the deal of becoming President, along with extending Bush tax cuts for another term.

Bilbo said...

David writes:
"Just for kicks, who do you think should run this investigation? The government? If the conspiracy is efficient enough to pull off 9/11 while leaving no evidence behind, and capable of maintaining a decade long discpline of silence on it, wouldn't the co-opting of any investigation be child's play for it?"

The first 9/11 Commission was obviously co-opted. I would think an independent prosecutor would be needed. Someone like Ken Starr comes to mind.

"All we would end up with is 9/11 Truth Investigation Truthers, who would claim that your "investigation" was but the latest clever ploy by the conspiracy."

Perhaps, but it's worth a shot.

David T said...

I wonder when they got to him [Obama]."

I suspect that was part of the deal of becoming President, along with extending Bush tax cuts for another term.


And I thought I was making a reductio ad absurdum here. Maybe the surest sign you are in Wonderland is the impossibility of making that type of argument.


BenSix said...

Bilbo -

Small point...

The Project for a New American Century believed that we needed a "new Pearl Harbor" event in order to motivate America to undertake major military operations in the Middle East.

Whether or not they believed that, the notorious quote did not refer to operations in the Middle East but the advancement of America's military technology. See page 51.

rank sophist said...

Bilbo is off his rocker.

The idea that 9/11 involved interior bombs is pure idiocy. I've heard this conspiracy theory many times before, and it is honestly one of the worst I've ever come across. Even if 9/11 was an inside job (it wasn't, at all), why would they plant bombs? The buildings were going to come down from the force of the 747s. I've seen it claimed by followers of this conspiracy theory that the buildings were too well designed for a 747 to bring down. I just have to ask: "Oh, really? This has been tested before? They've flown 747s into skyscrapers and calculated the effects?" It's just laughable. Also, the morons who believe in this theory can never seem to explain away the other two planes--you know, the ones aimed at the White House and the Pentagon.

Further, the idea that the government would kill that many people and spend that much money and do that much damage to its country's morale for the sake of starting a war is absurd. There were literally millions of less destructive and less expensive options that would have produced the same effect. Say, simultaneous controlled bombings similar to the 1993 WTC attack at targets around the country, which would prove the danger of Islamic terrorism with minimal loss of life or property damage. "Imagine how bad it could have been" is the only justification they would have needed to start a war.

Brandon said...

If you were an architect, and your potential clients found out you had signed a petition saying you rejected the official version of 9/11 and wanted a new investigation, would you be risking something?

Not really. Architects would probably be more in danger of losing clients if their clients found out their views on gay marriage or abortion, and in general clients don't research that sort of thing. The only kind of job in which an architect or engineer would find himself seriously threatened on this issue is precisely the kind of job that doesn't depend on clients: academic jobs, mostly. And beyond the Steven E. Jones case and perhaps a few marginal cases where it might conceivably have been an issue, how many have actually lost their jobs? And especially, how many have lost their jobs merely for signing a petition? It's not like they are martyrs for the faith; they've at most indulged in something that could lead to bad advertising if a lot of other conditions obtain. If there were a genuinely significant risk, a very large portion of this 1900 architects and engineers should no longer be employed because of it.

What is more, this is a standard argument crazy groups give: it's a Cloak of Legitimacy, by which they are able to read all criticism as a further proof that they are right. Such arguments merely confirm the problem: they are implicit recognitions that almost no one else, including their fellow professionals, recognize their argument as legitimate, and yet are simultaneously pretenses that this very fact makes their case stronger. This is nonsense, and is the sort of argument that could only be made by someone who is extraordinarily naive.

MarcAnthony said...

Bilbo. Step back a bit and try and look at yourself. Your responses to us have been pitiful. Sometimes, the world really is that boring.

Scott W. said...

I am reminded of Chapter 2 of Chesterton's Orthodoxy.

Anonymous said...

Bilbo,

Nothing on your linked page shows that an actual controlled demolition of the Twin Towers could have taken place. Should I take it that your real claim is just that some explosives •could• have been placed in the TT (say, in the elevator shafts)? This, of course, is a much weaker claim. I don't think anyone would dispute that somebody •could• have gotten some explosives in the TT - but that is not at all a •controlled demolition•. Or are you in fact suggesting that a genuine CD took place without anyone noticing anything - no one from building maintenance, elevator crews, security, cleaning crews, people working late or even sleeping overnight in the office, etc. Presumably they are all also involved in the conspiracy, yes?

In any case, your reply that to they needed the planes to blame it on Islamists doesn't address my point, since •that is all they needed: the planes•. They didn't need to ALSO plant explosives.

Anonymous said...

Ed, which of your many examples are supposed to be examples of "global conspiracy", and why?

Daniel Smith said...

My own personal experience with conspiracy theories is that I am generally afraid to take them seriously.

I've argued with Bilbo about the 9/11 thing before - at another blog - but I will admit that I did not look into the evidence he presented. I was afraid to. I was afraid I'd get "sucked in" somehow. So I argued from my own logic.

I've never believed any of the big conspiracy theories (I believe we went to the moon, that Oswald shot Kennedy, that 6 million Jews perished in the Holocaust, that Al Qaeda knocked down the twin towers, etc.) but it's not because I've looked into each of these issues independently and found the evidence overwhelming. On the contrary, I haven't looked into them at all. I believe them because the official accounts are accepted and I don't want to look like a fool.

One thing that has me rethinking this though is the media blackout of Ron Paul's candidacy I personally witnessed in the last election cycle. It probably went unnoticed to the average person, but as a Ron Paul supporter, I was watching the news pretty regularly. He was systematically ignored (especially by "conservative" Fox News) while he was placing high in the first straw polls, caucuses and primaries. It sure seemed like the media was "invested" in certain candidates.

Anyway, since that time, I've been much more wary of news and "official" stories. (Of course it's not just the Ron Paul thing - there's more to it than that - but that was the spark that lit the fire.) I still don't believe the big conspiracy theories, but I do believe several lesser ones now - especially those dealing with our government's justifications for war and domestic "security".

I guess I said all that to say this: We should try, if we can, to weigh each conspiracy theory on its actual merits - not on whether it seems crazy. As someone else said - we all seem crazy to the gnu atheists.

ChristianTrader said...

33 Conspiracy Theories That Turned Out To Be True

http://worldtruth.tv/33-conspiracy-theories-that-turned-out-to-be-true-2/

Anonymous said...

of possible interest -- a formerly respectable academic philosopher who has gone full-blown conspiracy theorist, lately claiming that Israel was behind the Sandy Hook shootings.

Bilbo said...

David writes:

"And I thought I was making a reductio ad absurdum here. Maybe the surest sign you are in Wonderland is the impossibility of making that type of argument."

Why is it impossible?

Bilbo said...

BenSix:

"Whether or not they believed that, the notorious quote did not refer to operations in the Middle East but the advancement of America's military technology. See page 51."

Point taken.

Bilbo said...

rank sophist writes:

"Even if 9/11 was an inside job (it wasn't, at all), why would they plant bombs? The buildings were going to come down from the force of the 747s. I've seen it claimed by followers of this conspiracy theory that the buildings were too well designed for a 747 to bring down. I just have to ask: "Oh, really? This has been tested before? They've flown 747s into skyscrapers and calculated the effects?" It's just laughable."

Actually, the buildings were designed to withstand the force of fully fueled 707s travelling at 600 mph. I believe WTC 1 and 2 were hit by 757s or 767s, not 747s. This made them bigger than 707s, but they were traveling slower, I think around 300mph, so the force would have been comparable.

But meanwhile, WTC 7 was not hit by any plane, but it collapsed in the manner of a controlled demolition. Had this event been televised as often as the collapses of 1 and 2, then there would have been an immediate outcry for a full scale independent investigation beginning on 9/12.

" Also, the morons who believe in this theory can never seem to explain away the other two planes--you know, the ones aimed at the White House and the Pentagon."

What's to explain?

" There were literally millions of less destructive and less expensive options that would have produced the same effect. Say, simultaneous controlled bombings similar to the 1993 WTC attack at targets around the country, which would prove the danger of Islamic terrorism with minimal loss of life or property damage."

But simultaneous bombings around the country would lead to an outcry for a rigorous investigation to know how so many terrorists could be running around our country completely unnoticed. Again, this would not necessarily guarantee war.

Bilbo said...

Brandon first writes:

"Not really. Architects would probably be more in danger of losing clients if their clients found out their views on gay marriage or abortion...."

But then he writes:

"What is more, this is a standard argument crazy groups give: it's a Cloak of Legitimacy, by which they are able to read all criticism as a further proof that they are right. Such arguments merely confirm the problem: they are implicit recognitions that almost no one else, including their fellow professionals, recognize their argument as legitimate...."

So Brandon doesn't think architects and engineers risk anything by signing the petition, but then he calls them crazy. So if word got out that they signed the petition, and people thought they were crazy, would they risk losing customers, getting fired, or lose teaching positions or not? I suggest that Brandon is crazy if he thinks there is no risk involved.

Bilbo said...

Marc writes:

"Bilbo. Step back a bit and try and look at yourself. Your responses to us have been pitiful."

How have they been pitiful?

Bilbo said...

Scott writes:

"I am reminded of Chapter 2 of Chesterton's Orthodoxy"

I'm reminded of the Asch Conformity Experiments.

Bilbo said...

Anonymous said...
Bilbo,

"Nothing on your linked page shows that an actual controlled demolition of the Twin Towers could have taken place."

Your argument was that they would have needed to close the buildings completely. If you watched the video at the link, you would realize that they wouldn't need to do that.

". Or are you in fact suggesting that a genuine CD took place without anyone noticing anything - no one from building maintenance, elevator crews, security, cleaning crews, people working late or even sleeping overnight in the office, etc."

All the CD people would need is authorization to do work in the buildings. The different groups you mention wouldn't need to be given the details. And I imagine they would make sure there was nobody sleeping in the section of the building they were working on.

"In any case, your reply that to they needed the planes to blame it on Islamists doesn't address my point, since •that is all they needed: the planes•. They didn't need to ALSO plant explosives."

But would planes that did not bring down the buildings and only killed a few hundred people be enough to justify war?

Bilbo said...

Hi Daniel,

Good to hear from you, again. Just remember, God has everything under control, whether 9/11 was an inside job or not. So don't worry, and don't get sucked into something that doesn't bring you life. If staying away from this discussion is necessary for your spiritual health, then stay away from it. If God wants there to be an investigation, He can make it happen without you. He would rather that you have life and joy and not be burdened by weird strange stuff that might or might not be true.

Bilbo said...

To everybody else besides Daniel,

Once again, 1900 architects and engineers (so far, as the number keeps growing) doubt the official version of how the WTCs collapsed. They offer arguments as to why controlled demolitions were used. They do not try to determine who did it or why they did it. They just offer technical arguments. I think their arguments have some merit. I have my own opinions as to who did it. But much more importantly, I think we should just have a new, independent investigation, to see if it was controlled demolitions and if so, who did it. The arguments you people have offered really doesn't address the technical arguments at all. Those need to be addressed. They have been debated on the internet for some time now. I think it's time to have a real investigation instead.

David T said...

Bilbo: "The first 9/11 Commission was obviously co-opted. I would think an independent prosecutor would be needed. Someone like Ken Starr comes to mind. "

Independent of whom and appointed by whom? Barack Obama? You already think Obama's in on it so that's a no go. If this conspiracy is capable of bringing down the WTC, kill thousands, get both Bush and Obama in on it, yet leave no trace or loose ends or loose mouths, you think they can't co-opt an ordinary investigation? Now who's being naive.

You may not have heard that Ken Starr was part of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy to bring down Bill Clinton.

Bilbo said...

You're probably right, David. A truly independent investigation is but a fool's dream.

But meanwhile, to help you understand why I don't buy the "it would be impossible to cover up such a vast conspiracy" argument, let me ask you a few questions:

1. Have you seen a video of the collapse of Building 7?

In case you haven't, here's a youtube collection of them.

2. If you have already seen such a video, when did you see it? The first day, when nearly every T.V. network showed it once? One of the handful of times it was shown once on shows like the History Channel? After Youtube came into existence in 2005 and it became viral?

3. Do you think most people have heard of Building 7?

4. Do you think most people have seen video of Building 7 collapsing?

5. Do you think that Professor Feser has heard of or seen video of the collapse of Building 7?

My guesses to the answers:

1. Yes.
2. After it went viral on Youtube.
3. No, most people haven't heard of Building 7.
4. No, most people haven't seen video of its collapse.
5. Just to be provocative, I'll say no, Professor hasn't heard of or seen video of the collapse of Building 7.

If my guesses are correct, and I'm fairly confident that they are, then a major media event that every T.V. network showed once, has been covered-up so that most people in America don't know about it. If such a thing can happen, why should I think that a vast conspiracy about 9/11 couldn't happen?

David T said...

Yes, I have seen the collapse of building 7. And I have degrees in physics and engineering, so by your lights I'm an expert on the situation.

Your logic doesn't follow. The fact that networks don't show the collapse of building 7 as much as you'd like doesn't mean there is a coverup. It means they have other things they would rather put on the air than that.

I'm sure most people have not heard of Building 7. But then most people can't name the Vice President or the Speaker of the House, and I bet very few people can correctly give the number of planes hijacked on 9/11. Most people are abysmally ignorant. And that's not due to some sinister conspiracy, but simple incompetence. As most things are.

I'm glad you've given up on the idea of an investigation as non-sensical given the premises of your conspiracy theory. Hope you spread the word to the other Truthers.

Ryan Ashton said...

It's worth noting that Feser's post isn't directed toward the more "evidence-based" conspiracy theories; he's instead interested in those that are "motivated less by empirical evidence than by some higher-order theory regarded as the Master Key to history."

I do not endorse the "inside job" theory of 9/11 on the basis of some "Master Key to history" rationale; I endorse the "inside job" theory of 9/11, as Bilbo seems to, on the basis of empirical evidence.

The nature of "solving" a crime is necessarily inferential--one must use the available evidence to make an inference to the best explanation. These inferences should, for the most part, be tentative since the evidence base is never complete enough to make the inference better than 90% certain.

The case of 9/11 is certainly like this. The layperson has access to some photos, videos, news reports, and official reports. Given that "something" happened on 9/11, the critical layperson is charged with the task of deciding what best fits the data available to him. This process necessarily involves sifting through some technical issues, the results of which ought to narrow down the range of possible "solutions" to the case.

Now, if one follows this method of narrowing solutions faithfully, it is entirely possible that he ultimately infers a kind of conspiracy theory as the best explanation. Notice that this is so NOT by invoking a pre-established "Master Key" solution. Nor is it definitive that his conclusion is correct--inferences are necessarily fallible; but, and here's my point, the inference to conspiracy (or "inside job") is not a priori defective. It has to be an empirical question and, as such, must be conditioned on the nature of the evidence base. Thus, those who empirically derive the conclusion of "inside job" with respect to 9/11 cannot be lumped in with those who derive the same conclusion by some other method. Furthermore, the empirical inference to conspiracy may be justified even if there are competing reasons to doubt it, like the a priori reasons Feser raises. These reasons compete with each other, but the relative weight of each reason requires careful analysis. A prior reasons do not "win" by default.

With all that said, let me just record that I do think the official Bin Laden story of 9/11 is fraudulent, and some kind of alternative account is therefore correct. I do not profess to know who was involved or to what degree, but the totality of destruction seems to require a criminal group of considerable power, influence, and technological know-how. Many different groups might fit that description, but elements of U.S. Government at least seem like a plausible suspect.

cricket said...

Now I'm starting to worry... I have an "inside job".

MarcAnthony said...

To say that people "haven't looked into it" is a lie - or at least an unintentional untruth.

http://www.debunking911.com/

MarcAnthony said...

Or, put another way: http://www.debunking911.com/conspiracy.jpg

I like this one more. It's more concise and says basically the same thing. And it's a cartoon!

Bilbo said...

Hi David,

No, I haven't given up on a new, independent investigation of 9/11. I'm sorry that you are glad thinking I would give up. That means that you have no interest in knowing the truth.

Not showing the collapse of Building 7 again, but showing the collapses of 1 and 2 over and over again, shows the lie to your reasoning. If it was only that the networks had more important things to show, we wouldn't have been inundated with the collapses of 1 and 2 again and again.

Bilbo said...

Professor Feser,

I am curious if you are one of David T.'s "abysmally ignorant" people who never hear of or saw video of the collapse of Building 7.

Vand83 said...

Bilbo Baggins was of the opinion Gandalf was actually the creator of the one ring. It was just so obvious. Nobody could come up with such a great plan to destroy it unless they were on the inside. Gandalf probably hired Sarumon too. What a prick.

Bilbo said...

Bilbo knew that Gandalf did not lust after power, as Bush...er...Boromir did.

Vand83 said...

Hmmmmm, I don't know. That's just what the middle earth "experts" would say. I've got 1900 elves who have looked at the evidence, and all agree. Gandalf created the one ring. He framed Borimir, Saruman, Sauron, and Smeagul.

Brian said...

Hey, everyone.

I remember that one of the commenters here said that they were a mathematician. Was it BenYachov? I need help analyzing a mathematical paradox. Would you be so kind to help me out?

Crude said...

I remember that one of the commenters here said that they were a mathematician. Was it BenYachov?

I believe you're thinking of G. Rodriguez.

Brian said...

Ah, thanks. I'll see if I can find one of his comments. Perhaps his profile has some contact information.

Steve said...

Sorry to be blunt, but I am astonished at the amount of sheer stupidity regarding this topic. Here's on example: "To blame somebody other than the terrorists who committed to crime is an insult to their memories."

What on earth has that got to do with the truth of the matter? People are so addlepated today that they simply can't think. Their feelings enter into their intelligence and drive it where they wish it to go or not go.

Bilbo is clearly correct: there is an immense--immense--amount of data on the web essentially demolishing the official report; even some of the people responsible for the report have backpeddled regarding it. This does not mean we know conclusively exactly how it was done. What we do know is that a few inexpert Arabs most certainly did not do this. Get a grip, folks. Do you really buy what our mass Orwellian media tell you without any critical faculty intervening? People are such emotional weaklings and cowards today. Too many people are unable to face up to difficult facts. We are soft, self-indulgent, narcissistic and entitled, and we are paying dearly for it, and will pay much more; the process of the degeneration of this country has only begun. Do some serious reading before you shoot off your mouths and spray your opinion on everyone. Have a little intellectual honesty and backbone.

Bilbo said...

Hi Vand83,

I can understand why people in power in the U.S. would want to stage a false flag terrorist attack. I don't understand why Gandalf would create the Ring and then refuse to take or use it.

Though perhaps I am being unfair to Bush. There probably was an attempt to assasinate him in Florida on 9/11. If it wasn't Osama bin Laden who was behind it, maybe it was the guy who would have been the next president.

Bilbo said...

Let me revise that to "there possiblly was an attempt to assasinate him...."

Daniel Anderson said...

The problem with conspiracy theories is that they are formed based on someone's already formed conspiracy theory mold.

It's one thing to ask, "hmm...how did the towers come down from a 747?" It's quite another to then offer an explanation that has less evidence than what many saw with their own eyes. Instead, somehow, its the government, Illuminati, Round Table, Masons, All Seeing Eye, etc etc.

Asking some good questions about the event is natural. How did this happen? Could there have been something more? Postulating weak explanations that fit into a paradigmatic conspiracy mold that contains potential infinite entities beyond necessity is quite another.

Daniel Anderson said...

^In that case, conspiracy theories are incredibly variable and therefore weak explanations. I could substitute anything I want in place of the secret "global" world organization: It could be demi-gods, aliens, etc. The explanations provided for the "conspiracy theory" do not even close to follow from the questioned phenomena. Therefore, there is no reason to accept the conclusions of the conspiracy theories as anything more than weak speculations.

We can discuss why the towers came down after being hit by a large jet fueled plane. It's quite another to think that questioning the account infers government conspiracy.

Here lies the crux of the problem. Most conspiracy theories require causation between various phenomena that are in now way necessarily connected - and are then thrown into an already formed paradigmatic mold.

So, its one thing to be skeptical about particular reported events. It's quite another to postulate explanations that go beyond that skepticism.

Daniel Anderson said...

I would like to add one more thing. I personally think conspiracy theories were developed by our government in order to digitally track and monitor those who are most likely in the future to become dissenters in a growing authoritarian regime. Furthermore, such theories also act as a distraction to cover up the real conspiracies and malevolent activities of the government. In a sense, the government invents and promotes a paradigm of the world for people to believe, so further events are interpreted by those skeptics (those suspicious of all authority) within that particular paradigm rendering them blind to the true reality.

Look at that, a conspiracy theory for the source of conspiracy theories with just as much support.

MarcAnthony said...

"What on earth has that got to do with the truth of the matter? People are so addlepated today that they simply can't think. Their feelings enter into their intelligence and drive it where they wish it to go or not go."

Oh no, this is contingent on the idea that the conspiracy theory is ludicrous (seriously, check out that website I posted. It's ridiculous.)

For example, even though I believe Oswald killed Kennedy, I wouldn't say an accusation of anybody else is an insult top his memory because I don't think postulating another shooter requires blind, willful ignorance.

Brandon said...


So Brandon doesn't think architects and engineers risk anything by signing the petition, but then he calls them crazy. So if word got out that they signed the petition, and people thought they were crazy, would they risk losing customers, getting fired, or lose teaching positions or not? I suggest that Brandon is crazy if he thinks there is no risk involved.


This isn't complicated, Bilbo; I didn't call them crazy, I said that you were making the same kind of sophistry typically made by crazy groups. If you can't follow the logical structure of such an elementary argument, you need to let people who can actually reason rise to the defense, and stop shooting your own side in the foot through your incompetence.

Again, where is the evidence of significant risk through loss of clients?

kevin said...

The 11th Anniversary of 9/11 ~ Paul Craig Roberts
September 11, 2012 | Categories: Articles & Columns | Tags: paul craig roberts 911, | Print This Article


The article below was written for the Journal of 9/11 Studies for the eleventh anniversary of September 11, 2001, the day that terminated accountable government and American liberty. It is posted here with the agreement of the editors.

In order to understand the improbability of the government’s explanation of 9/11, it is not necessary to know anything about what force or forces brought down the three World Trade Center buildings, what hit the Pentagon or caused the explosion, the flying skills or lack thereof of the alleged hijackers, whether the airliner crashed in Pennsylvania or was shot down, whether cell phone calls made at the altitudes could be received, or any other debated aspect of the controversy.

You only have to know two things.

One is that according to the official story, a handful of Arabs, mainly Saudi Arabians, operating independently of any government and competent intelligence service, men without James Bond and V for Vendetta capabilities, outwitted not only the CIA, FBI, and National Security Agency, but all 16 US intelligence agencies, along with all security agencies of America’s NATO allies and Israel’s Mossad. Not only did the entire intelligence forces of the Western world fail, but on the morning of the attack the entire apparatus of the National Security State simultaneously failed. Airport security failed four times in one hour. NORAD failed. Air Traffic Control failed. The US Air Force failed. The National Security Council failed. Dick Cheney failed. Absolutely nothing worked. The world’s only superpower was helpless at the humiliating mercy of a few undistinguished Arabs.

It is hard to image a more far-fetched story–except for the second thing you need to know: The humiliating failure of US National Security did not result in immediate demands from the President of the United States, from Congress, from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and from the media for an investigation of how such improbable total failure could have occurred. No one was held accountable for the greatest failure of national security in world history. Instead, the White House dragged its feet for a year resisting any investigation until the persistent demands from 9/11 families for accountability forced President George W. Bush to appoint a political commission, devoid of any experts, to hold a pretend investigation.

Read the rest:

http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2012/09/11he-11th-anniversary-911-paul-craig-roberts/

Kevin said...

» How Elites and Media Minimize Dissent and Bury Truth — Paul Craig Roberts

By: pcr3| May 10, 2013 | Categories: Articles & Columns | Tags: Berezovsky, media, Obama, Ron Unz, | Print This Article

Over the last several years I have watched the rise of an important new intellect on the American scene. Ron Unz, publisher of The American Conservative, has demonstrated time and again the extraordinary ability to reexamine settled issues and show that the accepted conclusion was incorrect.

One of his early achievements was to dispose of the myth of immigrant crime by demonstrating that “Hispanics have approximately the same crime rates as whites of the same age and gender.” You can imagine the uproar, but Unz won the debate.

Unz provoked and prevailed in another controversy when he concluded that Mexican-Americans have approximately the same innate intelligence as whites, with their lower IQs being due to transitory socio-economic deprivation.

He next surprised by showing the connection between the declining real value of the minimum wage (about one-third less than in the 1960s) and immigration. Americans cannot survive on one-third less minimum income than four decades ago, and the unfilled jobs are taken by Hispanics who live many to the room. A higher minimum wage, Unz pointed out, would cure the illegal immigration problem as American citizens would fill the jobs.

I wrote about some of Unz’s remarkable findings. One of my favorites is his comparison of the responsiveness of the Chinese and US governments to their publics. I found his conclusion convincing that the authoritarian one-party Chinese government was more responsive to the Chinese people than democratic two-party Washington is to the American people.

The person is rare who can take on such controversial issues in such a professional way that he wins the admiration even of his critics. In my opinion, Ron Unz is a national resource. He has established online libraries of important periodicals and magazines from the pre-Internet era, information that otherwise essentially would be lost. I have not met him, but he donates to this site and is an independent thinker free of The Matrix.

Unz’s latest article, “Our American Pravda,” http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/our-american-pravda/ is a striking account of the failure of media, regulatory, and national security organizations and subsequent coverups that leave the public deceived. Unz uses the Iraq war as one example:

“The circumstances surrounding our Iraq War demonstrate this, certainly ranking it among the strangest military conflicts of modern times. The 2001 attacks in America were quickly ascribed to the radical Islamists of al-Qaeda, whose bitterest enemy in the Middle East had always been Saddam Hussein’s secular Baathist regime in Iraq. Yet through misleading public statements, false press leaks, and even forged evidence such as the “yellowcake” documents, the Bush administration and its neoconservative allies utilized the compliant American media to persuade our citizens that Iraq’s nonexistent WMDs posed a deadly national threat and required elimination by war and invasion. Indeed, for several years national polls showed that a large majority of conservatives and Republicans actually believed that Saddam was the mastermind behind 9/11 and the Iraq War was being fought as retribution. Consider how bizarre the history of the 1940s would seem if America had attacked China in retaliation for Pearl Harbor.

Read the rest:

http://goo.gl/TuKSs

Kevin said...

American Pravda: Reality Television

Posted By Ron Unz On May 6, 2013 @ 4:29 pm In media | 16 Comments

The early reaction to my “American Pravda” [1] article has been quite encouraging, with the piece attracting more traffic during its first week than nearly any of my others and with several websites discussing, excerpting [2], or even republishing [3] it. Furthermore, the average time spent on the page by readers steadily rose to nearly a full hour as the days went by, seeming to indicate that visitors were carefully absorbing and digesting my material rather than merely flitting away after a casual glance or two. Tens of thousands of individuals have now apparently read part or all of my arguments, though whether they will have any lasting impact is difficult to say.

After all, we live in the Age of Television, when the images we see on the small screen—or its cinematic big brother—define our known world with far greater force than does the printed word or sometimes even the direct evidence of our own senses. Television may not be reality, but for all too many Americans, Reality is often Television [4].

...

Individuals from less trusting societies are often surprised at the extent to which so many educated Americans tend to believe whatever the media tells them and ignore whatever it does not, placing few constraints on even the most ridiculous propaganda. For example, a commentator [8] on my article described the East German media propaganda he had experienced prior to Reunification as being in many respects more factual and less totally ridiculous than what he now saw on American cable news shows. One obvious difference was that Western media was so globally dominant during that era that the inhabitants of the German Democratic Republic inevitably had reasonable access to a contrasting second source of information, forcing their media to be much more cautious in its dishonesty, while today almost any nonsense uniformly supported by the MSNBC-to-FoxNews spectrum of acceptable opinion remains almost totally unquestioned by most Americans.

Read the rest:

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/american-pravda-reality-television/#more-86374

rank sophist said...

Steve gives us the conspiracy theorist's strategy in a nutshell.

Bilbo is clearly correct: there is an immense--immense--amount of data on the web essentially demolishing the official report; even some of the people responsible for the report have backpeddled regarding it.

First, we hear about an unnamed (but certainly immense!) set of sources "on the web" that "demolish" the official report. What are these sources? Where are they? Who wrote them? Are they from respected professionals or cranks? These questions are not important: all that matters is that the official report is obviously false. In fact, it's so false that unnamed officials have "backpedalled"! Who are these officials? When did they backpedal? We are not told.

In one sentence, the conspiracy theorist has already achieved two rhetorical victories.

This does not mean we know conclusively exactly how it was done. What we do know is that a few inexpert Arabs most certainly did not do this.

Next, we are reassured that rationality and common sense are involved: we don't know exactly how it was done. "Don't worry--we aren't like the guys who believe in the Reptilians!" However, it's clear from the "immense" number of sources "on the web" that "inexpert Arabs" (notice the perfectly-tuned rhetoric on that phrase) could not have done it. Why not? That isn't important. We just know that they couldn't possibly have done it.

Get a grip, folks. Do you really buy what our mass Orwellian media tell you without any critical faculty intervening? People are such emotional weaklings and cowards today. Too many people are unable to face up to difficult facts.

Now, we are softened up: any remaining intellectual defenses we have against the conspiracy theorist are undermined by an appeal to self-doubt. We are told to consider the "mass Orwellian media", which summons the specter of media bias that we, in our daily lives, are all too aware of. (Never mind that media bias and 1984 are pretty much unrelated.) We are told that we are "weaklings and cowards"--which allows the thoughts we have in our our darkest, most skeptical moments to rise up and do the conspiracy theorist's bidding. Finally, we are told that we cannot "face up to difficult facts" (the elusive "facts" in the "immense" number of sources "on the web"). We recall all of those moments of denial that we've experienced throughout our lives. We begin to think, "Maybe I'm wrong about this, too."

We are soft, self-indulgent, narcissistic and entitled, and we are paying dearly for it, and will pay much more; the process of the degeneration of this country has only begun. Do some serious reading before you shoot off your mouths and spray your opinion on everyone. Have a little intellectual honesty and backbone.

Building on all that has come before, the conspiracy theorist launches his final attack. Now that we have experienced self-doubt and been faced with the "immense" number of sources, we are attacked with pure insults: we are "soft, self-indulgent, narcissistic and entitled". In our weakened state, the conspiracy theorist is free to add labels to us that we generally would not apply to ourselves--and we are receptive. We are assured that we will "pay" for our ignorance and softness, although the exact meaning of this sentence is left open to interpretation: the type of dystopia to which we are heading is allowed to be the one that each of us personally dreads the most. The conspiracy theorist winds down his rhetoric by telling us to engage in "serious reading" before we spread misinformation, in a further appeal to the enigmatic sources "on the web". He gives us a parting insult about being intellectually dishonest and spineless, as if we had not been broken enough already.

And now we're brainwashed.

Edward Feser said...

Steve gives us the conspiracy theorist's strategy in a nutshell.

Except it's never a nutshell, but a blizzard of tendentious assertions, begged questions, fallaciously ad hominem descriptions of the motivations of troofers' critics, etc., all presented at logorrheic length.

Steve said...

Ed,

Very well, abstract the scolding (logorrhea for you). Here is the one point I made: Bilbo is clearly correct: there is an immense--immense--amount of data on the web essentially demolishing the official report; even some of the people responsible for the report have backpeddled regarding it. This does not mean we know conclusively exactly how it was done. What we do know is that a few inexpert Arabs most certainly did not do this.
======
This is a minimal conclusion that really is inescapable, if one has spent some time studying the material. You write it all off--as if you've studied it all carefully, and this passes for reasoned critique. Of course, we must take the professor on faith, owing to his Scholastic credentials. At any rate, your careful avoidance of difficult subjects will assure that you keep your job. Well done. I salute you.


Steve said...

@rank sophist

You are indeed well named. Why don't you get off your backside and actually do some research. You will indeed find an "immense" amount of material--of varying quality to be sure, but I have in mind the work of serious academics and professionals, and not the loudmouths and the lunatic fringe. Do the work. See for yourself. Have some gumption--that's right, some backbone. Sadly, the blogosphere is full of knee-jerk mentality who simply entertain themselves in this stupid manner. What are you afraid of? That you may actually have to change your mind to some extent at least?

unhinged conspiracy kook said...

Thermite!

Anonymous said...

The 9/11 truthers are idiots--you can find technical criticisms of their theories online if you look. I'm not going to bother supplying the links.

The problem with 9/11 truth theories is not the idea that the government might lie about mass murder--it's done that before. If you follow human rights issues you'll know that. Rios Montt was just convicted of genocide, but back in the 80's Ronald Reagan defended him from all those nasty leftist groups like Amnesty International that said he was a mass murderer. Trouble is, he was a mass murderer. So the problem with the 9/11 truthers is not that the government couldn't lie about some huge event, but simply the fact that the 9/11 truther ideas don't make any sense.

But I think the focus on the fringe conspiracy nuts sort of misses the elephant in the room--the really harmful crackpots inhabit the political mainstream. Take all the mainstream types, both Republicans and centrist Democrats, who deceived themselves into thinking that there was strong evidence Saddam had WMD's. There wasn't. Whenever you hear someone say "But everyone thought Saddam had WMD's", what they really mean is that the stories that said he did got front page coverage and the stories pointing out the weaknesses and flaws in the case were relegated to the back. (With the exception of the McClatchey papers, that is.)

In the case of the Iraq War, I think the psychology involved is simply that people in politics prefer to be wrong with the mainstream majority than right with the dismissed and abused minority. There are fewer risks that way. Fewer risks for the politicians and pundits and even journalists, that is. Many more risks for the soldiers and Iraqi civilians. So it's different from the psychology of 9/11 truthers, who are typically dissidents (in this case usually on the left, but rightwingers have their own brands of craziness) who have become so distrustful of the government, with good reason, they lose all sense of perspective.

Donald

Steve said...

Start here:

http://www.journalof911studies.com/

In particular, see their "Resources" list.

Niels H. Harrit, et al, Active thermitic material discovered in dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center catastrophe, The Open Chemical Physics Journal, Vol 2, 2009

Kevin R. Ryan, et al, Environmental anomalies at the World Trade Center: evidence for energetic materials, The Environmentalist, Volume 29, Number 1, 2009

Steven E. Jones, et al, Fourteen points of agreement with official government reports on the World Trade Center destruction, The Open Civil Engineering Journal Volume 2, 2008

Steve said...

@Anonymous

Well, looks like you've settled it. Good to have your view :-)

Edward Feser said...

Don't be a putz, Steve. I am quite familiar with the troofer literature, which I first looked into at the behest of friends of mine who were into it and insisted that there was something worthwhile in doing so. I find it all completely batshit crazy, including the stuff put out by otherwise intelligent people like Griffin. Certainly it is far less worthy of attention even than JFK-CIA conspiracy theories (about which I've read tons, and a version of which I used to accept, many years ago, before being convinced by Posner that there is nothing in it).

Neither the original post nor my remarks in the combox were intended in the first place to refute the troofer literature, which is why I didn't address it. There is already an "immense -- immense" (like that?) -- amount of stuff out there refuting it, and I've got little time or interest to bounce the rubble any further myself.

Crude said...

I've got a question for people who are generally in agreement with Ed on this (And I am, for the record.)

Can you think of anything which is referred to as a 'conspiracy theory' - but in your view, wrongly?

Are birther claims a conspiracy theory?

Are Benghazi claims a conspiracy theory?

Were the recent claims about the non-coverage of the Kermit Gosnell case a conspiracy theory?

rank sophist said...

Crude,

Anyone who makes birther claims at this point should be laughed at. I don't know enough about the other two to comment.

Crude said...

Rank,

Anyone who makes birther claims at this point should be laughed at.

Not what I'm asking.

I'm asking if the claim ever qualified as a conspiracy theory, so described in the OP.

Edward Feser said...

Hi Crude,

Since I think I count as someone who agrees with me, I hope you don't mind if I answer.

I don't think any of those count as what I've called "global" conspiracy theories, since it seems to me that none of them requires the kind of quasi-Cartesian self-undermining doubt, along with false assumptions about the way Western democracies actually work, that I think e.g. 9/11 Truther theories require.

The Birther theory maybe approaches that sort of thing more closely than the others do, though it doesn't seem remotely to approach JFK or 9/11 conspiracy theory levels of inter-agency coordination and silence. Still seems pretty nutty to me, though.

Benghazi, it seems to me, is (if the administration's critics are right anyway) just a Watergate-style "local" conspiracy. Nothing exotic or inherently implausible about that. And the Gosnell situation would just involve like-minded people deciding not to cover something they find embarrassing to their side of a political debate. No conspiracy in that case in the first place, not even a "local" one.

In case anyone wants to accuse me of a double standard, note that there are all sorts of similar left-wing views that I wouldn't count as "global" conspiracy theories either, whether or not they are correct. E.g. the claim that Bush and Co. lied about WMD in Iraq -- a claim which I think is false (I think they really believed, falsely, that there were WMD) -- doesn't per se amount to a "global" conspiracy theory. The claim that Reagan administration officials lied about who knew what when vis-a-vis Iran-Contra is not a "global" conspiracy theory. The claim that certain specific officials or agencies within the U.S. government sometimes proposed and/or carried out various immoral policies is not per se a "global" conspiracy theory, even if 9/11 and JFK "global conspiracy" theorists often draw fallacious inferences from the existence of such policies. (E.g. to reason from the premise that Someone in the government once proposed Operation Northwoods to the conclusion Therefore it is plausible that just the right individuals spread across several major government agencies could and would have conspired to carry out a plot as vast as 9/11 is about as stupid a non sequitur as there is.)

Daniel Smith said...

The problem with consriracy theories is the synopsis - not the evidence. There can be mountains of evidence, but the average person hears "our government was behind 9/11" and immediately dismisses it as crazy.

It's the same with every conspiracy theory.

Reading the "Our American Pravda" article that Kevin linked to, this section made me think:

After years of research, Schanberg published massive evidence demonstrating that the endlessly ridiculed claims of America’s Vietnam MIA movement of the 1970s and 1980s were correct: the Nixon administration had indeed deliberately abandoned many hundreds of American POWs in Vietnam at the close of the war, and our government afterward spent decades covering up this shameful crime. Schanberg’s charges were publicly confirmed by two former Republican House members, one of whom had independently co-authored a 500 page book on the subject, exhaustively documenting the POW evidence.

Although a major focus of Schanberg’s account was the central role that Sen. John McCain had played in leading the later cover-up, the national media ignored these detailed charges during McCain’s bitter 2008 presidential campaign against Barack Obama. One of America’s most distinguished living journalists published what was surely “the story of the century” and none of America’s newspapers took notice.


Ihe idea that John McCain - a Vietnam war POW - helped cover up our government's abandonment of fellow POWs sounds crazy - and perhaps that's why it got no coverage. But is it crazy? Is it only those things that seem rational in their synopses that can be believed? Or is reality as crazy as a conspiracy theorist believes it to be? It makes you wonder what's really going on!

Here's that link again.
http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/our-american-pravda/

Steve said...

OF course Ed, they are all crazy. The mainstream and official version is true and also altogether plausible. All who find flaws in it are crazy. You are not crazy. You have "looked into it" and have found it good. Have it your way. You are comfortable.

Crude said...

Ed,

I don't mind at all. I just don't like to ask a question to you directly most of the time - only because you're so damn busy, I feel bad for adding to the chorus.

Your evaluation seems reasonable enough.

The only one I question is the Gosnell case - not strongly, but just because of things like the JournoList popping up in the past. But I still don't know at what point cooperation and collusion becomes 'conspiracy', hence my asking.

Thanks for the reply.

Daniel Smith said...

Bilbo,

Hello again as well. I would like to publicly apologize for arguing with you over the 9/11 issue without even bothering to look into the evidence behind your claims. That was wrong of me and I'm sorry. At the time I was pretty much convinced that the government was trustworthy. Lessons learned since then have me doubting a lot of things I wouldn't have dared to doubt back then. I still haven't looked into the 9/11 evidence so I don't know what the truth is, but I won't be arguing with you about it anymore (at least not until I've actually done so!)

God bless!

Edward Feser said...

Why of course, Steve, we non-Truthers are all very, very comfortable. In fact, comfort, reputation, having the occasional sop thrown to us by the dark powers that be and whose boots we are always happy to lick clean, is all we really care about. The Truther view is eminently sane and indeed so obviously demonstrated by the cold hard facts that all who find flaws in it could only be motivated by a desire to be comfortable. But you, being a Fearless Pursuer of Truth (TM) are not interested in being comfortable. You have "looked into it" and have found the Truth. Good on ya, mate!

Edward Feser said...

Daniel,

The claim that "The government is trustworthy" is too vague to be very interesting. Do you mean "Government officials always or mostly tell the unvarnished truth even when it is very embarrassing to them"? Well, anyone who would believe that is very, very naive and foolish. But to come to realize that such a claim is naive and foolish is by no means to have grounds for taking seriously the equally naive and foolish views of Truthers.

I would advise you not to jump from one simple-minded view to another, opposite but equally simple-minded view.

I apologize in advance if I have misunderstood you.

ChristianTrader said...

Would the Manhattan Project be considered a global or a local conspiracy?

Edward Feser said...

My general advice to Truthers if they want to be remotely convincing to those inclined to dismiss their views is not to do things like swoop into comboxes making long strings of tendentious and question-begging assertions and imputing bad motives to those who take issue with those who make long strings of tendentious and question-begging assertions.

If I were a Truther, my strategy would be (a) to focus on some one very, very specific claim -- for example, the claim that WTC7 couldn't have come down the way the "official story" says it did, and then (b) to defend this and only this claim without appealing to premises that presuppose the existence of a Truther-style conspiracy. E.g. don't defend claims about WTC7 in a way that presupposes that all the many engineers who disagree with you are lying, worried about reputation, on the neo-con payroll, etc. Don't accuse those who disagree with you of being suck-ups to power, sheeple, etc. Don't appeal to what "we all know" about the Banksters, the Neo-Cons, the Great Zionist Plot Against Christendom, Operation Northwoods, etc. etc. And finally, (c) don't say "I don't know" when asked what exactly did happen if the "official story" is wrong (as in "I don't know how WTC7 could have been rigged with explosives with nobody noticing," "I don't know what could have happened to the plane if it isn't really what hit the Pentagon even though lots of people said they saw it hit it," etc.)

The trouble is, it can't be done. To defend one wild Truther claim, you have to swallow a whole bunch of other wild Truther claims, which in turn requires swallowing a bunch of others. You either go all the way through the looking glass or you don't go in at all. And that's why I compare these theories to Cartesian skepticism. They require a skepticism about testimony, published sources, etc. that is so radical that even the sources the Truthers appeal to to make their own case would be called into doubt IF the Truthers were consistent.

(Consider Fetzer, who thinks the Zapruder film itself has been doctored -- even though the Zapruder film was, of course, for many people they main reason they believed in a JFK conspiracy in the first place! This is how insane this stuff is. When to defend the JFK theory you have to cast doubt on the Zapruder film itself, the game is over. Perhaps we'll eventually have Truthers telling us that all the footage of the towers being hit and coming down was doctored by the Fox War Channel and their neo-con allies who"really" run CNN, MSNBC, etc.)

Edward Feser said...

Would the Manhattan Project be considered a global or a local conspiracy?

Local.

Steve said...

You academic types are a a great disappointment. So naive and self-righteous. Paul Craig Roberts, for example, does not pretend to know what he doesn't know. What he knows is that the official accounts make no sense. This isn't being crazy. IBut it does take a calm unbiased mind and some moral courage.Not everyone believes it was the Illuminati--it is simply a matter of not believing the official story. Why does everyone who doubts the official story lumped together and pilloried as "truthers"--truth seeker actually being an honorable title? As with atheists, for example, there are intelligent ones and stupid ones, just as with Christians, or almost any other human grouping. Stupidity is not a specialty of "truthers" just as intelligence is not a monopoly of those who cry "conspiracy." Moreover, there are conspiracies and conspiracies, but nuances and distinctions seems to not count here. Incidentally, I remember the sudden about face that Alexander Cockburn did in 2004, in contrast to his 2002 article. It was speculated that certain people had told him it would be best to drop it. In this country, you can go after Goldman Sachs, but not Zionists or Israel (screamed at as "Anti-Semitism"), or nine one one, or anything else that might remove trust in government's goodness and good intentions. As I said at the outset, I am astonished by the level of discourse here. But I leave this blog, chastised, but nonetheless wish you all well. Pax in terra hominibus bonae voluntatis!

Crude said...

I was actually hoping someone would take Ed up on his offer regarding how to approach selling anyone on the truther topic. He seemed to be outlining a very reasonable strategy, if someone really wanted to convince others of a 9/11 conspiracy.

HI said...

Unfortunately, Ed's approach is not fully reasonable. In particular, I am referring to part (c).

HI said...

I am willing to debate one particular point, i.e. WTC7, which would show the official government theory to be false. Though I don't claim to know how everything was accomplished. An honest person doesn't pretend to know what they do not.

Anonymous said...

I never understood why the Truthers fixated on explosives being planted in the towers. Why not just claim the government used its preexisting contacts with Bin Laden to arrange the attacks? Or that the US wasn't involved at all and the Chinese used their contacts with terrorists to arrange the attacks to distract US foreign policy from China for nearly a decade? Surely these would be slightly more plausible stories than the idiotic multiplication of unseen actors involved in planting thermite explosives, ordering the air force to stand down etc.

(BTW I don't believe any of the above. Just curious about the genesis of the conspiracy.)

Brandon said...

This discussion reminds me so much of Foucault's Pendulum. In particular, I'm reminded of Eco's phrase "the psychosis of resemblances", to describe conspiracy thinking.

Of course, I'm also reminded of the Fantastic Easter Special episode of South Park, since if there is one institution that has been accused of more devious conspiracies than the United States government (or the Israelis, who I suppose should be on the list), it's the Catholic Church:

Teabag: ...But there's something the Church didn't tell you. In actuality, Peter wasn't a man at all. Saint Peter... was a rabbit. [the boys say nothing for a few seconds]

Kyle: [flatly] Peter Rabbit.

Teabag: Of course, the Church wouldn't allow da Vinci to paint Peter as a rabbit, so he painted him as a man, but left clues. Look closely.

Kyle: I don't see it.

Teabag: Look closelier. [zooms in]

Stan: He looks like a guy.

Teabag: Look more closelier. [zooms in further, and a pair of rabbit ears appear on Peter's head] With laser technology we can look beneath the paint, the way da Vinci originally painted it. [Peter disappears from the picture and a rabbit appears next to the egg which was in front of Peter] That... is Saint Peter. [Stan jumps a bit] The original Pope of Christianity.

Kyle: I don't believe it.

Teabag: Proof is everywhere. Look at the Pope's hat. [a picture of Benedict XVI appears] It makes no sense, except that it was originally designed... [a picture of a rabbit slides in next to that of the pope, and Teabag moves the hat from the pope to the rabbit] for a rabbit.


Look closelier, people! Look more closelier! Proof is everywhere.

Of course, the problem is not that the government often lies, or that the government reports can be wrong (it would be a miracle if they get everything right). The question is whether they are so dishonest (and so competently dishonest!) that a conspiracy of this magnitude is antecedently credible, as people once would have said, and whether the reports are wrong in such a way that antecedent probability favors the conspiracy explanation over mere bungling or mistake, and whether we have in hand the explanation for how it was done, thus confirming that this was, indeed, probably what happened. This last point is why Ed's (c) is really non-negotiable: we need the alternative explanation, or we are really only dealing with very tenuously defended antecedent probabilities -- in this case, a network of analogies, resemblances, and little more. "Look more closelier" is not an adequately truth-tending attitude to take on this point; and detachment from alternative explanation is precisely what constitutes the psychosis of resemblances.

I don't think all 9/11 truthers are crazy; I think most simply end up there because of poor causal reasoning, which is why you do get people like Griffin or Fetzer, at least at first. Then it either just stays there, as a vague sense of things, which I think is where most ordinary 9/11 truthers are at, or it snowballs, and then we get the actual psychosis of resemblances, in which tiny details or even attempted refutations (why would people dismiss it so easily if they weren't afraid of the truth?) or the bare fact that experts disagree (they must have some ulterior motive for doing so!) take on the color of proof to the eyes of those in its grip.

Anonymous said...

It's hard to believe that such a brilliant man in the field of the philosophy of science could be such a sap when it comes to accepting every single conspiracy that comes down the pike (JFK, Apollo, 9/11, 7/7, school shootings, Boston marathon, Wellstone). Now of course he would say that he is using the scientific method of inference to the best explanation in all of these cases. And this was a guy teaching logic, scientific reasoning and critical thinking to college freshman for 35 years. Any explanation of this, Ed?

Anonymous said...

Referring to Fetzer, btw.

HI said...

Brandon, (or anybody else), are you willing to debate WTC7? i.e. put your money where you mouth is?

Brandon said...

HI,

My money is already where my mouth is; which is why I oppose wasting it in its tax form on a new formal investigation of these matters. If you want to spend your money on it, that's your business.

In any case, something like WTC7 is not a matter for "debate"; if you have proof, lay out your proof and proportion your conclusion to what you can actually prove on the basis of the actual evidence. If you don't have proof, stop pretending you have anything to debate in the first place. Either way, debate is not the realm of inquiry but either the realm of of clarification of ideas and arguments or the realm of sophistry.

Joe K. said...

I am disappointed that I missed out on all this! These exchanges are great.

ChristianTrader said...

Brandon,
A debate on WTC7, would be concerning the plausibility of the official story.

That seems like a topic tailor made for debate. I am unsure what you mean when you say that it is not a topic for debate. I would appreciate if you would explain further.

Brandon said...

ChristianTrader,

It's irrational to debate plausibilities of any form: plausibility is even weaker than probability and is entirely a matter of narrative plotting and description, which is why traditionally the area of rationality that covers it is poetics. Its proper rational application is in considering and prioritizing ideas, not coming to conclusions.

Likewise, the proper rational function of debate is clarification of ideas and arguments, not the establishing of conclusions, which depends on matters incidental to debate.

Thus to debate the plausibility of stories is double abuse: it is using an inappropriate means on an inappropriate material.

Trev said...

Re: He seemed to be outlining a very reasonable strategy, if someone really wanted to convince others of a 9/11 conspiracy.

You got to be kidding. Steve posted a perfectly good reference as a starting point (http://www.journalof911studies.com/), but it seems no one was interested, and apparently Feser thinks they are all crazy. Keven posted articles by the former Reagan official, P. C. Roberts, which is far from crazy, and who is entirely skeptical concerning the gov't explanation. Seems to have been ignored. Biblbo mentioned 1900 architects and engineers on record regarding controlled demolition. Apparently they are all either crazy or incompetent, unable to reason clearly. The distinction between an government cover-up and a full-blown "conspiracy" is not made. Ah well...

Edward Feser said...

HI,

Why, exactly, is (c) unreasonable?

Suppose -- to be absurdly generous -- we had the relevant experts (engineers, etc.) split 50-50 over the "official story" about WTC7. Well, even on that generous supposition, those who doubt the "official story" cannot reasonably expect us to share their doubts unless (a) they have an alternative explanation, and (b) their alternative explanation faces fewer problems than the "official story" does. And even apart from fantasies about PNAC, Larry Silverstein's insurance premiums, conspirators bent on re-creating the plot of Die Hard III, etc., the Truther position has insurmountable problems, one of which is that we need an account of how it was even possible to set up a controlled demolition under the circumstances we know to have obtained. That's apart from all the other problems, e.g. finding a motive for such an action that would be plausible in the real world and not just in the movies, a plausible story about how such a thing could be covered up, etc.

Putting all that aside and just focusing on basic mechanical details would put the Truther position at a disadvantage even if expert opinion were really seriously split against he "official story." Which it is not.

So, damn right a serious Truther owes us an answer to (c) if he wants us to take his position seriously.

ChristianTrader said...

Dr. Feser,
If c) is reasonable to demand then it would also be reasonable to demand that a defense attorney of a person accused of murder must not simply put forward evidence as to why their client did not do it, but also must put forward who is guilty and how they did it.

MarcAnthony said...

I already countered your "conspiracy" sites with a "conspiracy debunking" site. We can do this all day. The fact is that the "truther" claim would have us believe something vastly more complicated occurred instead of believing the most obvious story. It's a simple matter of Occam's Razor in action.

Think about the claim we're supposed to believe here. We need to believe that the evidence of our own eyes (I have a close family member who SAW the Towers fall in person), as well as the camera footage, as well as the confession from the terrorist group that did it, is not enough evidence that muslim terrorists initiated the attacks.

So yeah, there definitely needs to be more than "the original story is full of holes" (something that has been disputed repeatedly and in detail by a great many people). What on EARTH could possibly have reasonably occurred besides that? Until a reasonable alternate theory is offered there's no reason to launch an investigation based on heavily disputed "evidence". You need more than that. "Bush did it" is so nonsensical that it's not even worth considering.

Now, if we all of a sudden found real evidence of a "bring down the towers" Amish terrorist group who just so happened to be in every location of the attacks on the same day,THEN it may be worth an investigation. But until then to run an investigation based on the evidence we have is a huge waste of money.

Finally, what would all of your responses be if there WAS an investigation and the final report is that the original story was correct all along? Will you actually change your minds, or find some reason to doubt the "investigation" too?

Joe K. said...

ChristianTrader,

Apples and oranges. Criminal standards for conviction are so enormously high because of the possibility of wrongfully convicting a person and sending him to jail, etc. A criminal trial, at least for the defendant, isn't About seeking truth.

But I don't even think you'd even get to reasonable doubt here. A lot of the claims are like, "believe absolutely opposite what every sense tells you to be true because...conspiracy." It's absolutely reasonable to demand Any explanation. And the fact that there rarely is any consistent explanation just Helps a conspiracy theorist. It becomes Part of the conspiracy.

MarcAnthony said...

(I also find it ironic that you truthers keep telling people to read the literature over and over, then when somebody (Dr. Feser) comes in and says he read the literature and found it lacking, well, he doesn't count because he's an "academic type" or something. Which is why I'm skeptical any "investigation" would convince you anyway.)

ChristianTrader said...

Joe K,
A criminal trial demonstrates that we believe that 1)Did X do Y and 2)Who did Y instead of X and how did Y do it, are two distinct questions. If they were not distinct questions then justice would require that they are answered at the same time.

Next, a criminal trial also is set up to acknowledge that there will be bias, one way or the other. The only question is which bias is one going to build into the system. The bias that we have decided to implement is that the defendant is innocent until proven guilty. One cannot reasonable infer that truth does not matter due to this built in bias, versus the reverse bias.

Lastly, one does not even have to imply conspiracy in order to state that the official story concerning building seven is unworkable. Perhaps the story can be fixed if we dig a little deeper etc. Large groups have been known to rally around false views without conspiracies being involved.

HI said...

Ed,

For me to show that the government's story about WTC7 is false would not require that I even have an alternative explanation.

That said, I do have an alternative explanation, namely controlled demolition, which fits the physical evidence.

I can demonstrate that WTC7 came down with CD and not due to random office fires (as the official story claims).

Who planted the devices, how they were planted, when they were planted... are separate questions. They have no bearing on the physical evidence. They are also questions whose answers can not be truly known without a serious investigation.

Furthermore, I have found that people who are unwilling to accept the physical evidence (i.e. the facts) will cling to those unanswered questions. Even if I speculate how it could have been done, it will likely be unsatisfactory, and those questions essentially become an excuse to ignore the physical evidence.

Brandon said...


I can demonstrate that WTC7 came down with CD and not due to random office fires (as the official story claims).

Who planted the devices, how they were planted, when they were planted... are separate questions. They have no bearing on the physical evidence. They are also questions whose answers can not be truly known without a serious investigation.


These are quite clearly contradictory claims. Controlled demolition requires more than physical evidence: it requires establishing personal intervention, which requires means and opportunity of actual people. The most you could possibly say without answering the latter questions is that the physical evidence is consistent with controlled demolition, assuming that someone actually had the ability to pull it off. This is far from a demonstration of controlled demolition. The reason people "cling to those unanswered questions" is that any rational person can see that they are necessary for the conclusion you claim you get, and by conceding that you can only speculate concerning them, you are conceding your inability to establish the conclusion you claim you can demonstrate.

Brandon said...

A criminal trial demonstrates that we believe that 1)Did X do Y and 2)Who did Y instead of X and how did Z do it, are two distinct questions. If they were not distinct questions then justice would require that they are answered at the same time.

Certainly they're distinct questions, but a criminal trial does not establish that you can answer the first question without establishing that there was some other party capable of pulling it off; this will sometimes be necessary even in a criminal trial setting, and, as Joe K. noted, criminal trial settings are deliberately biased to reduce miscarriages of justice.

David T said...

Feser: The trouble is, it can't be done. To defend one wild Truther claim, you have to swallow a whole bunch of other wild Truther claims, which in turn requires swallowing a bunch of others. You either go all the way through the looking glass or you don't go in at all. And that's why I compare these theories to Cartesian skepticism.

Exactly. I argued earlier that Barack Obama would love nothing more than to pin 9/11 on a neocon or Bush-era conspiracy (and even had a 9/11 Truther in his administration - Van Jones), and the fact that he stays away from it shows there is nothing in it. Bilbo's answer was that this only proves that Obama was in on it! And we are already in Wonderland...

Scott said...

@ChristianTrader:

Others have already pointed out problems in your proposed analogy; I'll add another one that's pretty fundamental.

"If c) is reasonable to demand then it would also be reasonable to demand that a defense attorney of a person accused of murder must not simply put forward evidence as to why their client did not do it, but also must put forward who is guilty and how they did it."

We don't demand that a defense attorney of a murder put forth evidence as to why his client didn't do it.

The default hypothesis is that the accused is innocent; that he's guilty is the alternative hypothesis that has to be established.

To think otherwise is to misunderstand our entire criminal justice system.

Scott said...

"defense attorney of a murder" = "defense attorney of a person accused of murder"

Scott said...

@ChristianTrader:

"A criminal trial demonstrates that we believe that 1)Did X do Y and 2)Who did Y instead of X and how did Y do it, are two distinct questions."

Indeed they are. But they are not therefore independent. If the prosecution can establish that X could have done it and that no one other than X could possibly have done it, then there's a strong circumstantial case against X (and contrary to popular misconception, most evidence in criminal cases is "circumstantial"). In order to rebut this evidence, the defense would very much like to show that someone else—Y—could have done it -- and may well have to do so in order to win the case.

That is a much closer analogy to the situation the Truthers are in.

Daniel Smith said...

Ed: The claim that "The government is trustworthy" is too vague to be very interesting. Do you mean "Government officials always or mostly tell the unvarnished truth even when it is very embarrassing to them"?

No, I don't mean that. That is obviously false. What I meant when I said I believed the government was trustworthy was that I figured they wouldn't lie to us about the big things - Iraq war, 9/11, threat of terrorism, Iran, N. Korea, Libya, Syria, etc. - out of fear that the truth would come out. What I've come to realize since then is that there seems to be no fear that the truth will come out because the media and the government seem to always be on the same page (aside from relatively minor partisan squabbling).

My "conspiracy theory" is that the world runs on Money and Power, and both are being used extensively to keep the public in the dark as to the real motives behind a lot of what goes on.

Here's an example: WMD, Saddam Hussein and Iraq... I originally believed the Bush administration's WMD story. Of course that story eventually unraveled - leaving me to wonder whether the US and foreign intelligence agencies were really that incompetent - OR - was there another motivation?

The whole "war for oil" thing didn't make sense (China got most of the oil fields anyway), and the "Bush getting revenge for his daddy" scenario also seemed childish and implausible. It wasn't until I started reading up on "petro-dollars" that I felt I'd found a good alternative explanation.

Saddam Hussein had been threatening to break the US 'currency monopoly' on oil purchases. (Currently oil can only be purchased - worldwide - for US dollars. It is one of the main things keeping our currency valuable on the world market. If we lose the 'petro-dollar' monopoly our dollar may well become worthless overnight.)

So now that makes sense. Saddam threatened to breakup the US oil-currency monopoly so he had to be dealt with. Politicians can't tell us that because it would mean admitting that our currency is in danger of collapsing - so another story had to be invented. It's about money and power and that makes sense to me. Lots of powerful people are getting rich off the current economic monopoly. If you threaten that - you go away.

So who else was threatening to break the monopoly? Muammar Gaddafi. That's right, before he was deposed and killed, Gaddafi was also threating to sell Libyan oil for other-than-US dollars.

And the Iranian regime is seeking that too.

Now I don't claim to have researched all of this extensively - I've only scratched the surface - but all I'll say is that it is a plausible alternative to the various reasons given for the US foreign policy towards these regimes.

So why is none of this ever reported? Well again, money and power. Money talks. The media in this country is corporate owned.

Much of what goes on in the world makes sense when viewed from the perspective of crony-capitalism at work.

So no, I don't trust the government stories anymore.

Scott said...

I should perhaps add a point that has been at least implicit in some of the previous posts: that even a positive demonstration that there's something wrong or incomplete in the "official story" about X doesn't in and of itself prove that there's a vast conspiracy to keep us from knowing the truth about X—let alone that the government itself was actually behind X.

That being the case, someone could easily admit that there might be, and perhaps even believe that there are, gaps or flaws in the official story about 9/11 without thereby committing himself to the view that the government was itself somehow responsible, or even that the government was conspiring to hide the truth.

Ryan Ashton said...

I agree with Mr. Feser's (a) and (b) above, but I'm not sold on his (c). Take WTC7 for an example. Suppose we want to explain why WTC7 suffered total destruction on 9/11, and we wish to limit our explanation to a physical story alone--i.e., we're not concerned yet with the culprits, their co-conspirators, etc.

Imagine, then, that video and photo records of WTC7's demise were agreed by all sides to exhibit the following characteristics:

1. Symmetrical collapse
2. Rapid collapse speed (arguably near free fall) into the path of most resistance
3. Relatively low visible structural damage (i.e. not "engulfed" in flames and not severely punctured by large flying debris)

If one wishes to explain these features and only these features, wouldn't it be reasonable to infer a kind of systematic destruction of the building? As far as precedents are concerned, collapses of buildings exhibiting the above three features are, I think, far more often associated with controlled demolition than accidental damage. Granted, 9/11's events are unique unto themselves, but the kind of visible damage recorded for WTC7 does not reveal something exceptionally different from other precedents.

Suppose now that someone compares the controlled demolition hypothesis to the official NIST hypothesis--only on those three features above--and finds the demolition hypothesis superior. (I wonder if Mr. Feser or those who agree with him would, just given the limited explanandum I've set up, agree that the demolition hypothesis is superior.) One may say this because, given the asymmetrical damage WTC7 would have suffered from the events of towers 1 and 2, an asymmetrical kind of collapse would be more likely than the symmetrical one recorded on video. This piece of evidence--again, supposing it is strongly supported by the three features above--should be enough to cast sizable doubt on the official story. At this point, one does not have an answer to the broader whodunnit and how questions, but one at least seems to have good reason to assert the inadequacy of the official story. While I agree that it would be better to have a more complete explanation, the limited access an average person has to vital evidence can legitimately prevent him or her from satisfying Feser's requirement (c). Whatever attempt a person would make to satisfy (c) without him or herself being some kind of official detective would necessarily be speculative and incomplete. Nevertheless, isn't it of value for one to take whatever evidence he or she does have access to and use that evidence to eliminate possibilities? If WTC7's collapse really was physically impossible given the official account, then something else must have caused its demise. Asserting just that much seems to be justified without stipulation (c) undermining the assertion.

Bilbo said...

Hi Ed,

I'll assume that you have seen footage of the collapse of WTC7 by now. My next question is when did you see it? The day it happened? On one of the very few occasions that it was shown once, such as the History Channel? Or after the creation of Youtube in 2005?

I'll assume the last.

Next, do you think most people have heard of WTC7 or have seen video of its collapse?

I'll assume that you will agree with me that most people haven't.

So here we have a remarkable phenomenon: a 47 story skyscraper that collapsed into its own footprint, just as buildings do when controlled demolitions bring them down; shown once on national T.V. networks and then virttually never shown again. Now perhaps the explanation is that it just wasn't considered that interesting to show again, while showing the collapse of WTC1 and 2 over and over again was somehow worth it. That strikes me as implausible, but I guess that is a subjective quality.

The more plausible explanation is that corporately owned television networks were somehow persuaded not to show it again. Bribed? Threatened? Something else? I wouldn't know. I realize that you probably think that it implausible. But again, that is a subjective quality.

My point is that the state of not showing the collapse of WTC7 works as an argument that a global conspiracy can in fact be carried out "in secret."

Could the perpetrators plant explosives unbeknownst to the people who work there? I've already linked to a video that shows that they could.

Motive? More difficult to account for. Did Silverstein know that WTC1 and 2 were rigged to come down, realized that WTC7 was losing money, and decided he might as well go for some extra insurance money? Were the SEC files in WTC7 full of secrets that people wanted destroyed? Was the CIA office in the building the center for remote control of the planes? Did they want evidence of that destroyed? I don't know.

Now the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have claimed that they have shown how WTC7 could have come down without a controlled demolition. They even have a computer simulation that looks a little (very little) like the collapse. But when asked to share the data that they used to make their model, they refused, citing the need for public safety. I find that to be an implausible explanation. But again, implausibility is such a subjective thing.

Meanwhile, their model doesn't show how WTC7 was able to fall for 2.25 seconds as free-fall acceleration, which even NIST finally admitted it did do.

They allowed most of the steel to be removed and destroyed before it could be analyzed, going against official recommendations for such an incident.

They ignored FEMA's metallurgical analysis of eutectically melted steel, which FEMA said might explain the collapse of all three towers.

They never analyzed the dust samples to see if it contained residue of explosives.

They ignored the ear-witness testimony of explosions. ]

They ignored the video tape sounds of explosions.

In other words, the agency that was supposed to explain the collapse of WTC7 didn't fulfill their legal obligation to do so.

That in itself would be good grounds for demanding a new, independent investigation.

And that is all that we Toofers are asking for. Why do you find that so unreasonable?

Bilbo said...

And for your perusal, Ed, is a small part of the History Commons Timeline for 9/11, detailing some of the corruption that was (and probably still is) going on in the Washington Bureau of the FBI. If this is a small sample of the way things really are in Washington, then global conspiracies are probably par for the course:

Scott said...

@Ryan Ashton:

"While I agree that it would be better to have a more complete explanation, the limited access an average person has to vital evidence can legitimately prevent him or her from satisfying Feser's requirement (c)."

In which case, depending on the weight of the evidence, the average person would be justified in at least provisionally continuing to accept the official story, acknowledging that the case for it was not ironclad, and recognizing that no reasonable alternative had been offered. Where's the conflict with Feser's (c)? Belief isn't a matter of filling in a yes-or-no radio button.

But a more fundamental problem with your scenario is that we're not trying to "explain these features and only these features." The event was part of a broader world in the context of which it has to make sense.

And if I'm reading Feser correctly, it's largely for that reason that he finds condition (c) especially important in this instance. In order for this to have been an actual case of controlled demolition, rather than something that just happens to look like it (if it does), much else would have to be involved. As Brandon has said, this comes down to a question of antecedent credibility and probability, and something more is required than just Hey, this pattern doesn't often appear in uncontrolled demolitions.

MarcAnthony said...

My point is that the state of not showing the collapse of WTC7 works as an argument that a global conspiracy can in fact be carried out "in secret."

Bilbo, that is one of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard. That's no "argument, it's just a fact. There are tons of reasons the collapse of WC7 hasn't been shown again. But the footage is still out there.

Bilbo said...

Scott,

There are some very simple things that the government (NIST) could do to strengthen their case:

1. Release the data that they used for their computer simulation of WTC7's collapse.
2. Analyze the dust for explosive residues, including nanothermite.
3. Determine how the eutectically melted steel that FEMA found actually melted.

NIST refused to do any of this. In other words, they have not done their legally obligated duty to provide an explanation for the collapse of WTC7.

We citizens have a right and a duty to demand that an adequate investigation be carried out. We do not need to prove that global conspiracies are possible, or probable, or plausible, in order to have this right and this duty. When people such as Professor Feser try to say otherwise, they are just plain wrong.

Bilbo said...

Marc writes that there are "tons of reasons" that the collapse of WTC7 has not been shown again.

Really? Tons?

Bilbo said...

Marc: "But the footage is still out there."

It wasn't out there until Youtube came into being in 2005, four years after 9/11. If it hadn't been for Youtube, we would not doubt have WTC7 mythicists saying that the building never collapsed, just as we have Jesus mythicists who say He never lived.

Henry said...

The problem with Feser is largely moral. No guts. Paul Craig Roberts has the correct reaction in the face of too much circumstantial evidence that the government is covering up and that the official line is simply a veil. The instant removal of all the evidence is evidence enough of a cover-up. But there are mountains of this sort of government action that men of more intelligence and courage than Feser have taken the trouble to document. Feser has taken the safe position, since it is more than likely that we shall never know for sure; hence his intransigent skepticism. Feser has probably never served in the armed forces, nor had a high government position. His ideas of how the real world works are very limited; and also apparently a rather narrow view of human nature. His "damn rights" indicate an impatient man with poor self control and a big ego, someone who loses his temper because he experiences an expansion when becoming righteously angry with the stupid and stubborn people who contradict him. I'm not impressed.

Bilbo said...

Hi Henry,

I certainly see no point in making personal attacks of anyone. It doesn't help the cause of truth, whatever that may be.

rank sophist said...

It's scary how delusion can rot the mind.

Vand83 said...

guys, unless you've served in the military or held a high government position you shouldn't be commenting. You're incapable of possessing any useful sense of morality or logic.

It just so happens, that I did serve in the military. So I'm justified in labeling Henry a douchebag.

Henry said...

It's not an attack or an insult, it is an evaluation. It's how I see it. I think he lacks both courage and disinterestedness, not to say generosity or magnanimity. Sorry if my view doesn't please people. I see he has no problem hurling insults at others. I find him an obnoxious and full-of-himself individual.

I came by to learn something of Scholasticism, and found this series of posts. I will go elsewhere.

Edward Feser said...

Shorter Henry:

In response to Feser's charge that Truthers are prone to resort to the fallacious ad hominem, let me toss out a fallacious ad hominem. Also, I came here looking for Scholasticism, and though there are five years worth of posts along those lines, there are also two or three posts that criticize Truthers, so I'm outta here.

Don't let the door hit ya, and all that...

Sandy said...

I found the post citing Paul Craig Roberts' article to be pretty compelling.

Daniel Smith said...

rank sophist: It's scary how delusion can rot the mind.

I've noticed that whenever conspiracy theories are "debated" - the ad hominem attacks, invective, insults and accusations increase exponentially.

Why is that?

It's like there's a tripping point at which rational discussion is no longer possible.

Case in point: rank sophist is normally very rational and deferrential in his arguments. When it comes to 9/11 "truthers" however, he started out with this: "Bilbo is off his rocker. The idea that 9/11 involved interior bombs is pure idiocy"

It seems so out of character.

Ed Feser also resorts to calling them "troofers".

Various others use the words "paranoid", "weak-minded", "lunacy", "crazy", "pitiful", "ludicrous", "ridiculous", "idiots", etc. in describing anyone who dares doubt the official story of 9/11.

Again, this is a pattern, a predictable onslaught of dismissive behaviour and slurs aimed at a perceived "lower class" (or so it seems) that repeats itself whenever conspiracy theories are brought up.

I find it troubling. I think, however, that it is human nature to oppose those things that make us feel uncomfortable. I think that may be at the root of this.

Edward Feser said...

Hi Daniel,

When someone shows a reflexive tendency to resort to fallacious ad hominems even when it's been pointed out to him that that is what he is doing, it is legitimate to regard him as irrational. Even if he thinks he is not committing a fallacy, he should, if he is rational, see that he is perceived that way and thus be careful either to avoid engaging in ad hominems or at least carefully to explain how the ad hominems are not fallacious. Yet people like Henry, or Kozinski in a thread some weeks back, seem incapable of seeing that tossing out fallacious ad hominems is what they are doing. Hence rank sophist's accusation of mind-rot is perfectly justifiable. (Bilbo, by contrast, though I think his position is fallacious and that he has avoided addressing problems people have raised for it, is at least reasonable enough to see that it is unjustifiable, or at least tactically foolish, to accuse those who disagree with him of having bad motives, of dishonesty, etc.)

For instance, I have many times now called attention to certain epistemological problems in principle with what I call "global" conspiracy theories -- problems I spelled out at length in an earlier post. A rational defender of the 9/11 Truther position should therefore explain exactly how he would get around those problems -- for example, how he can give non-arbitrary and non-question-begging criteria for why some information taken from government and media sources can be relied upon while other such information cannot be.

I have yet to see any Truther tackle this problem. Instead such people either ignore it (which, as far as I can see, is what Bilbo has done) or they resort to calling me a sell-out to the powers that be (as Kozinski did) or question my courage (as Henry did). Needles to say, thee are fallacious ad hominems because they try to change the subject and/or to dismiss my argument on the basis of some alleged character fault of mine.

That's just one example. And it shows what rank sophist and I have in mind in judging that such people's minds have been rotted by their commitment to this stuff. I think it is unreasonable of you to suggest that rank sophist or I are refusing to engage in rational debate. If I were refusing to do so, I wouldn't be presenting arguments against the Truther position, as I have done -- argument which, again let it be noted, they have yet to answer.

Brandon said...


Case in point: rank sophist is normally very rational and deferrential in his arguments.


Well, RS is certainly normally rational; but you haven't established that RS is not being so here. And insinuating that RS is not being rational here is not, in fact, better than coming right out and saying it; it is merely a passive-aggressive form of attack, and not a significant diagnosis of the issues in the discussion.

The real issue in the discussion, I think, is precisely what it appears to be: most people in the thread think that the argument in question is quite simply not rationally tenable given accepted standards of reasoning. And it's not as if people haven't actually pointed out their reasons for thinking this true; pretending that it is somehow just an emotional reaction of "opposing those things that make us feel uncomfortable" does not hold up to evidential scrutiny. Even if that were a factor, it's clearly not the only one operative or "at the root" of the vehemence of disagreement.

In addition, I don't know what comments you've been reading, but the comments section around here is notoriously rough-and-tumble. Looking at this comments section, it is quite clear that people have been taking it easy; this is much milder than some atheistic commenters have gotten.

Edward Feser said...

One further thing, Daniel, about this "we don't want to make ourselves uncomfortable" stuff. That is, with respect, just more in the way of fallacious ad hominem.

As I have said many times, I used to be convinced, years ago, that the "inside job" theory was the correct account of the JFK assassination. I believed it because at the time I thought that's what the evidence showed, and I have read a lot about the case. And I believed it even though doing so in no way conformed to my political views (which were then pretty much what they are now) -- in other words, even though it was "uncomfortable."

I later came to see that that was a mistake, based on my reading of Gerald Posner's book -- a book to which my attitude was at first: "No way this guy will convince me, but I'll read it anyway." I was amazed that he was able to convince me, so overwhelming had I thought the "inside job" case was going into it.

So, please spare me the "we don't want to make ourselves uncomfortable" stuff. I've read a fair bit about 9/11 too, and as I have said, I think the Truther literature is of far lower quality than even the JFK conspiracy stuff. And I have discussed the issue at length with friends who are smarter than the people pushing the Truther position here in the combox. If I am dismissive about Trutherism, it's precisely because I've examined it and found it eminently dismissible.

Edward Feser said...

Gotta say, I love it when guys like Brandon and Mike Flynn -- always erudite and wise but usually genteel -- take the gloves off...

ChristianTrader said...

Brandon,
"Certainly they're distinct questions, but a criminal trial does not establish that you can answer the first question without establishing that there was some other party capable of pulling it off; this will sometimes be necessary even in a criminal trial setting, and, as Joe K. noted, criminal trial settings are deliberately biased to reduce miscarriages of justice."

First off, even accepting what you say above, I think such is much weaker than the c) given by Dr. Feser. Next, the defense attorney does not need to establish anyone else is capable of doing anything. If he can establish that the defendant was not capable of doing it: He was out of town, with credit card receipts and security cameras etc. to vouch for him.

ChristianTrader said...

Scott,
"
We don't demand that a defense attorney of a murder put forth evidence as to why his client didn't do it.

The default hypothesis is that the accused is innocent; that he's guilty is the alternative hypothesis that has to be established.

To think otherwise is to misunderstand our entire criminal justice system. "

Given this, one still does not establish that c) is necessary. It is certainly not necessary to for innocence to be properly defended.

ChristianTrader said...

Scott,
"Indeed they are. But they are not therefore independent. If the prosecution can establish that X could have done it and that no one other than X could possibly have done it, then there's a strong circumstantial case against X (and contrary to popular misconception, most evidence in criminal cases is "circumstantial"). In order to rebut this evidence, the defense would very much like to show that someone else—Y—could have done it -- and may well have to do so in order to win the case.

That is a much closer analogy to the situation the Truthers are in. "

To rebut the prosecution, all the defense needs to do is show that the defendant could not have done it or that it is reasonable to believe that they could not have done it.

A close analogy of the Truther case, is something along the lines of: The type of fire in question is incapable of causing of the type of collapse of the type of building.(It has been a long time since I looked at any of the evidence for either side, so I am simply uses an off the top of my head "placeholder" example) One does not need to show, who placed the charges or that even charges were used.

James said...

I have no brief either for or against the JFK issue, but I find that the discussions tend to be endless about these things. The "Boston massacre" has already generated a raft of material. As for JFK, I looked at the wiki about Gerald Posner:
"'Case Closed' drew widespread critical acclaim from the mainstream media.[13] 'Case Closed' also drew widespread criticism from assassination researchers who contended that it contained factual inaccuracies.[14][15][16][17][18] For example, historian David Wrone wrote that "massive numbers of factual errors suffuse the book".[15] Vincent Bugliosi, whose own book 'Reclaiming History' largely agrees with Posner's conclusions, accused Posner of "omissions and distortions" but also described 'Case Closed' as "an impressive work".[19]

I haven't the faintest idea whether Posner's assertions or those who rebut him are convincing, but my point is that apparently valid interlocutors did not find him as overwhelmingly convincing as Feser did--which by no means signifies that Feser is mistaken in his opinion; just that these things tend to be inconclusive almost by their very nature. Even criminal cases (I'm a lawyer) can be inconclusive, but they are settled anyway--in various manners. People have been convicted and then years later it is realized that big mistakes were made. Today we also have technical tools that can evaluate data and evidence much more finely--spectographic analysis and such--that before were not available. Anyway, because of their indefinite character and the difficulty of ascertaining credible and conclusive evidence without the time or the luxury of having access to the various necessary experts, I steer away from forming a fixed opinion of these events. Aside from that, I think it is pretty clear that people in institutions like to cover possible or actual errors and secure their interests, which makes these matters all the more complex. I remember reading that when Bill Black was prosecuting the Keating 5, that he was able to uncover a message asking that he be "killed dead," if I recall the precise words. Some took this as being only figurative. He did not. Bad things can happen everywhere and there are sociopaths among us.

benYachov said...

Conspiracy theory is entertaining in horror films and science fiction. Obviously if you have read the FOUNDATION TRILOGY or seen BABYLON 5 there overarching plots rely on a global or galactic conspiracy of "Them" manipulating the masses for some end. So it's either the First Foundation or the Second Foundation or the Mule or the Vorlons or the Shadows manipulating mankind.

I think as a plot devise they take the place of Divine Providence.

Of course it's fun reading but importing it into reality leads to tin hat behavior.

Anonymous said...

Well, this has got to be one of the most, um, unique combox discussions in the history of this site. Even the good ol' professor seems keen to get in on the action.

MarcAnthony said...

Sorry, I should have said that theoretically COULD be given.

But that's not even the point. Your "logic" made absolutely no sense. Not showing the collapse="evidence"?

All you've done is established that they haven't shown the collapse much. All rightie then. To prove that a conspiracy is actually the best alternative for why they haven't shown it much is such a colossal stretch it isn't even worth considering.

Brandon said...

First off, even accepting what you say above, I think such is much weaker than the c) given by Dr. Feser. Next, the defense attorney does not need to establish anyone else is capable of doing anything. If he can establish that the defendant was not capable of doing it: He was out of town, with credit card receipts and security cameras etc. to vouch for him.

On the first point, agreed; we are only here considering your argument against it, which is inconsistent with the weaker as well as the stronger point.

On the second: (1) What a defense attorney has to do will vary considerably depending on the case. There will be times when the attorney's ability to show that the defendant simply could not have done it will fall well short of what would convince the jury. Such a case may well require showing precisely how someone else could have. It will just depend on the overall disposition of the evidence.

(2) But in fact the general thrust of your claim is simply incorrect. It's true that a defense attorney won't generally have to show that some specific person could have done it some specific way; but even the defense attorney needs it to be clear that somebody else could have done it in some way. In any humdrum case this is very easy. If someone was shot, well, there are lots of other people with guns who could potentially have done it for any number of reasons. The fact that it is usually obvious, however, does not mean that it is not a factor. And we see this from the fact that some cases are much trickier. Suppose we're talking about, say, codes that very few people would have access to, or a kind of crime that, if the defendant didn't do it would seem to have required some unusual capability, like entering a room on the thirtieth floor without using the door. Any defense attorney worth his salt is going to recognize that this is a problem for his case, because it is going to raise questions about his evidence that the defendant didn't do it that the prosecutor will certainly pursue. The reasonable way to build a case in such a situation would not be to rely only on the evidence that seems to suggest that the defendant couldn't do it, but also to provide something to show in some way that this problem is not actually a serious one. And this requires showing that the crime, which everyone knows took place, could actually have been done without the defendant doing it. That is, even the defense attorney needs it to be the case -- either by its being obvious or by actual evidence -- that someone other than the defendant could have done it in some genuinely feasible way. And as Joe K. noted, when we're talking defense attorneys, we're talking a situation in which things are already tilted in the attorney's favor, as a matter of principle. Out in the wild, this presumptive tilt cannot ever be assumed.

Lisa said...

Has anybody read the new best seller on nine-eleven yet: The Hidden History of 9/11?

[http://www.amazon.com/Hidden-History-9-11/dp/158322825X]

Ryan Ashton said...

Scott,

You are right that the explanandum is much larger than merely the nature of WTC7's collapse. I agree that Feser's stipulation (c) has merit when one is proposing a full explanation of an event. The reason I attempted to limit the focus to only WTC7 is to highlight the way in which one can be empirically led first to the decision that the official story is false, and second to the position that some sort of larger-scale conspiracy is likely true.

For the sake of argument, I wish to suggest that the three features of WTC7 I mentioned (symmetrical collapse, rapid collapse speed, lack of major exterior damage) be granted, and one consider what conclusions may justifiably be drawn from this. Perhaps we may agree that one is provisionally in the position Feser was in with respect to JFK prior to reading the book that changed his mind. That is, one may feel confident that the official story is wrong because it does not sufficiently account for the nature of the WTC7 collapse.

Now, given just this much, I don't think one has made a tragic error in reasoning. Even though one has not provided a full account of what happened, one has eliminated (or at least substantially weakened) one of the explanations. Perhaps the official story can be rescued by some new insight or some overriding considerations (which, I believe, is one of Feser's major points--namely the problems of "global" conspiracy), but, of course, whatever those new insights are will have to be quite powerful to override the apparent conflict WTC7 poses.

One may argue that NIST's 2008 WTC7 report adequately explains the three collapse features I mention, but in all honesty, I simply find their explanation wanting. Granted, I'm not an engineer or anything, but the "thermal expansion" argument appears to be fairly ad hoc, and fails to explain all three of the collapse features I mention specifically. I do not wish to dwell on those technical points, but I want to record that it is at least reasonable for one to find NIST's account unsatisfactory. One can do this without having a specific solution to 9/11's events either.

To address Feser's major point, I think he is right that a large-scale conspiracy is prima facie unlikely. Such an event would, fairly, require hundreds if not thousands of co-conspirators. This much granted, though, the same appreciation of "overriding concerns" would come into play. Specifically, if the ruling out of large-scale conspiracy were accepted, would that force one to embrace a physical impossibility--the potentially impossible physics of WTC7? As best I can make out, this boils down to a contest between the certainty behind the laws of physics and the certainty behind the laws of human behavior. To say WTC7's collapse is impossible, one is saying that it is prohibited by certain laws of physics. To say that large-scale conspiracy is impossible, one is saying that individuals are unable to willingly participate in a major crime, unable to execute such a crime, and/or unable keep their mouths shut about it. Those who reject the official story may do so because they put more weight behind the apparent consistency of physics, while those who embrace the official story may do so because they put more weight behind the consistency of human behavior. I happen to favor the former, but I would not feel justified in coarsely branding those who embrace the latter as foolish or unreasonable.

Lisa said...

Ok, this amazing series of posts has got me going. I had been over to the "Guns and Butter" site and listened to Zembka's interview with Bonnie Faulkner--that's why I asked if anyone had read it yet in my previous post. I haven't.

Googling the book led me to this interesting items:

An interesting video interview with Zarembka on Youtube. He is explaining his book, which is a collection of essays. He is quite a calm person and

Here is an abstract of his book:

http://ideas.repec.org/h/rpe/volume/volm23.html#abstract

Lars Schall did a couple of pieces for Asia Times, focusing on the insider trading angle:

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Global_Economy/ND27Dj02.html
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Global_Economy/NC21Dj05.html

The 911 truth.org site has a lot of well organized material I am just starting to explore. Very interesting.
http://911truth.org

Lisa said...

Just watched this one. It looks like Zamrembka left Griffin's panel owing to unscholarly methods. He is an econometrist, so he is a very exacting researcher.

Worth watching.

"Troublemaker" Zarembka Booted From 9/11 Consensus Panel

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GnSWmF75WAQ

Lisa said...

Unbelievable footage here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6eMq5Rit1w

HI said...

Brandon, are you deliberately playing word games? It should be clear from my post that I was discussing physical evidence.

I wrote:
"That said, I do have an alternative explanation, namely controlled demolition, which fits the physical evidence."

Here's an analogy. A man is found dead with three bullet holes in his head. He lived on the 20th floor with tight security. Official cause of death is suicide by hanging. Which hypothesis does the physical evidence support? Suicide/hanging or gunshot? Do I need to establish who shot the dead man, how they managed to break into his apartment with tight security, where they bought the gun, ... to determine which scenario is true?

"Death by gunshot requires more than physical evidence: it requires establishing personal intervention, which requires means and opportunity of actual people.
... This is far from a demonstration of murder by gunshot."

Okay, and then what? Even though we establish that the man died because of a gunshot wound, that because we don't *also* know who shot the man, and how they broke into his apartment we conclude that...what...that he hung himself as the government claims? That we shouldn't then logically seek to find out who the murderer was? That we should then consider it a perfectly "rational" position to accept that he hung himself? And anyone who says he died of a gunshot wound, but who cannot also provide the murderer's name, and method of entry,... is the less "rational" person?

That seems to me to be your position.

Anonymous said...

I'm not interested in conspiracy theories. Only conspiracy facts.

machinephilosophy said...

Ed,
I'm a personal friend of one of the most notorious conspiracy theory people on the planet, and it's just impossible to investigate his reasoning because all logically possible criticism has been taken care of in advance by the conspiring forces the theory specifies.

This is similar to holding that the universe is only 5 minutes old with the built-in appearance of age, and any proposed evidence to the contrary is thereby already included in the 5-minute-old universe with the built-in appearance of age.

Scott said...

@Ryan Ashton:

"Now, given just this much, I don't think one has made a tragic error in reasoning."

Nor do I. Nor do I think Feser intended his (c) to apply to all reasoning whatsoever in general and regardless of context.

Even if he had, though, that would have been defensible to a point. It would be meaningless, I think, to entertain doubts about a proposition if one didn't have in mind, however vaguely, that an alternative to it was at least possible (as far as one knew). If, say, I saw an optical illusion in which 2 + 2 appeared to make 3, I wouldn't doubt the proposition that 2 + 2 = 4.

ChristianTrader said...

Brandon,

"On the second: (1) What a defense attorney has to do will vary considerably depending on the case. There will be times when the attorney's ability to show that the defendant simply could not have done it will fall well short of what would convince the jury. Such a case may well require showing precisely how someone else could have. It will just depend on the overall disposition of the evidence."

But this shows that c) is not necessary and only needed under a particular set of circumstances. That set of circumstances has not been shown to be the case here.

"(2) But in fact the general thrust of your claim is simply incorrect. It's true that a defense attorney won't generally have to show that some specific person could have done it some specific way; but even the defense attorney needs it to be clear that somebody else could have done it in some way. In any humdrum case this is very easy. If someone was shot, well, there are lots of other people with guns who could potentially have done it for any number of reasons. The fact that it is usually obvious, however, does not mean that it is not a factor. And we see this from the fact that some cases are much trickier. Suppose we're talking about, say, codes that very few people would have access to, or a kind of crime that, if the defendant didn't do it would seem to have required some unusual capability, like entering a room on the thirtieth floor without using the door. Any defense attorney worth his salt is going to recognize that this is a problem for his case, because it is going to raise questions about his evidence that the defendant didn't do it that the prosecutor will certainly pursue. The reasonable way to build a case in such a situation would not be to rely only on the evidence that seems to suggest that the defendant couldn't do it, but also to provide something to show in some way that this problem is not actually a serious one. And this requires showing that the crime, which everyone knows took place, could actually have been done without the defendant doing it. That is, even the defense attorney needs it to be the case -- either by its being obvious or by actual evidence -- that someone other than the defendant could have done it in some genuinely feasible way. And as Joe K. noted, when we're talking defense attorneys, we're talking a situation in which things are already tilted in the attorney's favor, as a matter of principle. Out in the wild, this presumptive tilt cannot ever be assumed. "

Counter 1: the issue here is simply does the official case hold up. As I said above, if the official story is wrong does not imply that any of the alternative scenarios are true, but instead simply that we need a new official story.

Counter 2: If the defendant is ruled out due to whatever evidence, then the confidence in the prosecutions claim that no one else could have done it, falls and belief that the prosecution does not have all the relevant information increases. At bottom, what you seem to be saying is that the stronger the prosecution case, the harder it will be for the defense to reasonable exclude their client. That is fine, but that does not make it impossible for the defendant to be excluded and it still does not get you c).

Brandon said...

But this shows that c) is not necessary and only needed under a particular set of circumstances. That set of circumstances has not been shown to be the case here.

It does not, in fact; we are only considering problems with this particular line of argument against (c), not general conditions for (c).

Counter 1: the issue here is simply does the official case hold up. As I said above, if the official story is wrong does not imply that any of the alternative scenarios are true, but instead simply that we need a new official story.

This is not the issue, though, because there is no well-defined sense of what it means for an official story to 'hold up'. It would be unreasonable to claim, for instance, that every error in an official report thereby shows that the official report 'does not hold up'. (In that sense, no official reports on complex events hold up, because no official reports can rule out all mistake when there are vast numbers of factors.) The only clear sense in which the official report could fail to 'hold up' is comparative, i.e., the official report does not hold up in comparison to some other account on this or that issue.

The argument at hand, however, has to be more than just a one-issue point; it has to be the claim that the official report fails to hold up in comparison with alternative accounts in the sense that, taking all important relevant issues, its explanation is definitely worse across a sufficiently sizable proportion of them. This is a complex argument that cannot be pursued without considering the alternatives.

Counter 2: If the defendant is ruled out due to whatever evidence, then the confidence in the prosecutions claim that no one else could have done it, falls and belief that the prosecution does not have all the relevant information increases.

No, not due to 'whatever evidence'. You talk as if the only way to rule things out were unconditionally and nonprovisionally, when in fact in anything but very simple or very abstract situations this is never the case. For instance, only an idiot defense attorney would think that credit card statements or cell phone information were adequate to rule out the client, simply speaking, because credit cards and cell phones can be handed off to other people, and if the prosecutor has a good enough argument that there are no viable alternatives to the defendant committing the crime, this is precisely what people will think happened. In the absence of logical and mathematical impossibility, the ruling-out evidence will have to be, specifically, something better than the prosecutor's argument that only the defendant could have done it. And the reason is obvious: the thing was done, and so if the defendant was actually the only one able to do, that rules the defendant very firmly in. To rule the defendant out, you need the argument for ruling him out to be better than the argument for ruling out the alternatives. And so again we come to the fact that the analysis must be comparative: establishing the defendant as excluded cannot be done in isolation from establishing that it could actually have been done by someone other than the defendant.

Brandon said...

HI,

Actually, at this point 'm pretty much mocking you because your contribution to this discussion has been negligible; every single truther in the comments thread has contributed more of substance than you have. You've talked a lot about how you can demonstrate it, but you repeatedly dance around actually doing it. In fact, despite claiming to be discussing 'physical evidence', all you've actually discussed is how great your discussion of physical evidence would be, if you actually gave it: you haven't discussed any physical evidence, nor have you established that you can actually provide a rigorous demonstration of your claim. Contrast that with, for instance, Bilbo, who had the sense to expand on the subject. So, let's have it: just lay out your rigorous deduction right here and now, and we'll all look at it and see if it's as rationally seamless as you claim.

As for your analogy:

Here's an analogy. A man is found dead with three bullet holes in his head. He lived on the 20th floor with tight security. Official cause of death is suicide by hanging. Which hypothesis does the physical evidence support? Suicide/hanging or gunshot? Do I need to establish who shot the dead man, how they managed to break into his apartment with tight security, where they bought the gun, ... to determine which scenario is true?

Do you honestly think anyone here is so moronic as to think that this is actually a parallel? First of all, the final effect in your alternatives is different; but the final effect is what is agreed on by all the alternatives on the table with regard to WTC7. It's the process leading up to that effect that is in contention. So that's strike one against your ability to consider analogies.

Then let's consider your rhetorical questions, which are of the wrong form. The correct form for them would be "Do I have to establish the actual possibility of the man being shot by someone?" But the obvious answer to this is: yes, obviously. It's just that in this case you have rigged the example so that doing so is a trivial exercise. So that's a second strike against your ability to design a good parallel.

And the third strike is found in your attempt to parallel my reason. Death by gunshot doesn't require personal intervention; guns, for instance, can go off accidentally, and there are guns that can spray bullets if dropped under the right conditions. This is exactly what someone would think likely happened if suicide were ruled out and no one else could have done it. But your argument would run into problems if it makes "controlled demolition" so broad that 'accidental controlled demolition' is a viable category. Your controlled demolition does require personal intervention: and thus actually to demonstrate it, you need to demonstrate that it was possible for someone to control such a demolition under the relevant circumstances. And thus the third strike against your ability to analogize.

Nonetheless, if you have a demonstration, again, let's see it.

ChristianTrader said...

Brandon,

Counter 1: the issue here is simply does the official case hold up. As I said above, if the official story is wrong does not imply that any of the alternative scenarios are true, but instead simply that we need a new official story.
This is not the issue, though, because there is no well-defined sense of what it means for an official story to 'hold up'. It would be unreasonable to claim, for instance, that every error in an official report thereby shows that the official report 'does not hold up'. (In that sense, no official reports on complex events hold up, because no official reports can rule out all mistake when there are vast numbers of factors.) The only clear sense in which the official report could fail to 'hold up' is comparative, i.e., the official report does not hold up in comparison to some other account on this or that issue.

The argument at hand, however, has to be more than just a one-issue point; it has to be the claim that the official report fails to hold up in comparison with alternative accounts in the sense that, taking all important relevant issues, its explanation is definitely worse across a sufficiently sizable proportion of them. This is a complex argument that cannot be pursued without considering the alternatives.


I simply disagree that this is a comparison game. If it was then one could reasonable question how well we understand the physics and engineering in question here. Are you saying that one could not ask the relevant experts, "Could the type of fire in question, bring down the type of building in question, in the fashion in question?" Or that they would have to say, "I cannot tell you an answer to that question until you give what alternative scenarios you have in mind."

Even in doing a comparison, such presupposing a vast amount of detailed information on how a fire, demolition etc would proceed under the conditions in question. Given all that information, why would one only be able to answer comparatively?

ChristianTrader said...

Brandon,

CT: Counter 2: If the defendant is ruled out due to whatever evidence, then the confidence in the prosecutions claim that no one else could have done it, falls and belief that the prosecution does not have all the relevant information increases.



B: No, not due to 'whatever evidence'. You talk as if the only way to rule things out were unconditionally and nonprovisionally, when in fact in anything but very simple or very abstract situations this is never the case. For instance, only an idiot defense attorney would think that credit card statements or cell phone information were adequate to rule out the client, simply speaking, because credit cards and cell phones can be handed off to other people, and if the prosecutor has a good enough argument that there are no viable alternatives to the defendant committing the crime, this is precisely what people will think happened. In the absence of logical and mathematical impossibility, the ruling-out evidence will have to be, specifically, something better than the prosecutor's argument that only the defendant could have done it. And the reason is obvious: the thing was done, and so if the defendant was actually the only one able to do, that rules the defendant very firmly in. To rule the defendant out, you need the argument for ruling him out to be better than the argument for ruling out the alternatives. And so again we come to the fact that the analysis must be comparative: establishing the defendant as excluded cannot be done in isolation from establishing that it could actually have been done by someone other than the defendant.


My whatever evidence claim was simply shorthand for whatever evidence is necessary to rule out the defendant. Such is not problematic unless you rule out such being able to be done, apriori.
Next, I referred to credit card receipts and security cameras (with the assumed time stamps). Not that other things could not be added, but those were just off the top of my head. Next, we do not have an absence of logical and mathematical impossibility, in our scenario. The claim would be that it is impossible for the defendant to have committed the crime given he was at a different location at the time of the crime. By establishing that the defendant was not there, one establishes that someone else did it. The issue is given the lack of alternatives, how much evidence is needed to establish that the defendant was not there. Or put a different way, how much evidence is needed to show that the prosecutor does not have all the relevant information.

At no point, is it necessary for the defense to find out who did or could have done it instead. It would probably make their case much easier, but it is not necessary.

Daniel Smith said...

Ed: If I am dismissive about Trutherism, it's precisely because I've examined it and found it eminently dismissible.

Fair enough. Your immediate dismissal - complete with a bit of name calling ("troofer") - came across as out of character. The same with rank sophist. I guess I didn't consider that you both may have been down this road several times and that I might be only witnessing the end of the conversation.

for example, how he can give non-arbitrary and non-question-begging criteria for why some information taken from government and media sources can be relied upon while other such information cannot be.

Well my answer to that is that the information from government and media sources is only as reliable as the actual people giving it. "Government" is just people, as is "media". If Bob X is a liar and Bob X works for the government, does that mean the government always lies? If Ron P is notoriously honest and also works for the government, does that make the government notoriously honest?

The reverse is also true: a person who is dishonest doesn't become honest just because they work for the media or the government and vice versa.

So there's no way to make a blanket statement that either you can trust all media/government sources or none. All of it has to be weighed against reality.

Bilbo said...

Ed wrote:

"For instance, I have many times now called attention to certain epistemological problems in principle with what I call "global" conspiracy theories -- problems I spelled out at length in an earlier post."

Sorry, I missed the earlier post. I'll try to find it.


"A rational defender of the 9/11 Truther position should therefore explain exactly how he would get around those problems -- for example, how he can give non-arbitrary and non-question-begging criteria for why some information taken from government and media sources can be relied upon while other such information cannot be."

I think the criteria are the same as we use in other investigations: careful sifting and weighing of the evidence. For example, at one time you found the evidence for a conspiracy in the JFK assasination compelling, but Posner helped yout to re-evaluate that evidence.

I'll give you a case in point in the Truther community:

Did a plane hit the Pentagon? There has been divided opinion about this issue for some time. But as the evidence has been sifted, sorted, and weighed, the emerging majority opinion has become that yes, a plane hit the Pentagon. Those who deny it are more and more seen as holding an indefensible position.

When the government refuses to make their evidence public, as in the case of the data for their computer simulation of the collapse of WTC7, one has a right to be suspicious. When the government allows the steel from the collapsed buildings to be removed and destroyed, before it can be examined, as would normally be done in a criminal investigation, one has a right to be suspicious. When the government refuses to test the dust for explosive residues, one has a right to be suspicious. When the government refuses to test their hypothesis that the yellow hot metal flowing from the South Tower was aluminum, one has a right to be suspicious.

My question to you, Ed, is what level of evidence would you need to even suspect that 9/11 was an inside job?

Scott said...

@Daniel Smith:

"Well my answer to that is that the information from government and media sources is only as reliable as the actual people giving it."

That doesn't address Feser's point. He's not saying the Truthers need to explain why, in general, some government information can be trusted and some can't; he's saying they need to explain why the specific information they trust is in fact trustworthy and the specific information they distrust isn't. They need, that is, an independent criterion that rules out the sources they don't trust and rules in the sources they do.

Scott said...

@Bilbo:

"Sorry, I missed the earlier post. I'll try to find it."

Feser linked to it in the first paragraph of his post. It's here.

Scott said...

"government information" = "government and media information"

Anonymous said...

Well I have no chance of being able to participate meaningfully in this conversation so maybe the Onion can put things in perspective.
http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=lQoixkM_2u4&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DlQoixkM_2u4

Bilbo said...

Scott wrote:

"They need, that is, an independent criterion that rules out the sources they don't trust and rules in the sources they do."

It's the same criteria that we all use all the time.

Thanks for pointing out the link to me, too.

Kevin said...

He went and used the C-word:

» Gangster State America — Paul Craig Roberts

By: pcr3| May 13, 2013 | Categories: Articles & Columns | Tags: Comex, ETF, gold, Kaye, Kranzler, | Print This Article Print This Article


There are many signs of gangster state America. One is the collusion between federal authorities and banksters in a criminal conspiracy to rig the markets for gold and silver.

My explanation that the sudden appearance of an unprecedented 400 ton short sale of gold on the COMEX in April was a manipulation designed to protect the dollar from the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing policy has found acceptance among gold investors and hedge fund managers.

The rest:

http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2013/05/13/gangster-state-america-paul-craig-roberts/

Bilbo said...

An example of the role that critical evaluation of the evidence that takes place within the 9/11 Truth Movement:

The Pentagon Attack: Problems with Theories Alternative to Large Plane Impact.

The idea that all Truthers are just a bunch of wild-eyed whackos who propose who crazy idea that comes into their heads and never evaluate the evidence for or against it is simply not the case. The leaders of the Truth Movement are willing to examine and critique all ideas within the movement. Could they do a better job? Yes. I would like to see them do further independent studies of the dust and also see if they can replicate the metalurgical analysis of the eutectically melted steel.

But to accuse them of using some sort of special or invalid means to arrive at the truth? That's an unfair and false accusation.

Anonymous said...

"Psst I know a secret" We left this kind of bullying in the playground!

Conspiracy Theories are logical fallacies by appealing to secret knowledge. Don't be fooled by the fact that once in a while a conspiracy is uncovered, because it proves conspiracy 'theories' are false.

HI said...

Brandon,

The reason I haven't yet presented any physical evidence has to do with the first post I made in this thread. If the criteria for accepting an alternative to the government's fire collapse theory is that one would *also* need to demonstrate who planted explosives, when they planted them,...then it is a waste of time to begin discussing the physical evidence. Because you (or Ed) has already determined a priori that the physical evidence be damned.

Speaking of dancing around, you are the only one doing the dancing. In the first two responses to my posts, you (1) wasted time arguing about the meaning of the word "debate", and then (2) wasted time arguing about the meaning of the word "demonstrate", completely missed the point I was making about physical evidence, and then begged the question about what physical evidence about CD would entail.

And speaking of Bilbo, have you responded to any of his posts regarding the physical evidence he has presented? (the answer is NO--that speaks volumes).

Then let's consider your rhetorical questions, which are of the wrong form. The correct form for them would be "Do I have to establish the actual possibility of the man being shot by someone?" But the obvious answer to this is: yes, obviously. It's just that in this case you have rigged the example so that doing so is a trivial exercise. So that's a second strike against your ability to design a good parallel.

Again the point in contention is about "estabilishing the possibility". You have already determined a priori that regardless of the physical evidence, you will believe that WTC7 collapsed due to fire *unless* one can show who, when... CD was set up. My analogy was to demonstrate the irrationality of this position. If one demonstrates that it is physically impossible for the building to collapse due to random fire, then it is irrational to continue to hold that belief despite not knowing the *who, or when, or why*.

I think presenting physical evidence under these rules is a waste of time. Nevertheless, in order to not be accused of dancing, here are three phenomenon about the collapse of WTC7 that cannot be explained by the official government story, but can be explained by CD:

1) free fall acceleration of WTC7
2) rapid onset of collapse
3) melted steel beams

I look forward to you addressing the above points explaining how they are compatible with a random fire induced collapse. No dancing please.

Brandon said...

You seem to be completely confused about the point in contention here. The point in contention is not the correct explanation of WTC7; the point in contention is the rational requirements of argument. If you are still confused about that, I recommend you go back and re-read Ed's post rather than bringing your own issues into the forum and pretending that it matters to anyone what your very vaguely expressed opinions are. This isn't rocket science: the post is quite explicitly about rational and irrational modes of argumentation adequate for establishing certain kinds of conclusions; the one and only question in contention is which side of the divide certain approaches to argument fall. This is what everyone else, including Bilbo, has been arguing while you've been boxing with shadows.

Both the points of mine that you call 'dancing around' are relevant to this question: the attempt to turn into debate what should be on its own terms a presentation of evidence, where this debate is not for mere clarification of the argument but supposedly about what can be proven, is a quite standard failure in reasoning that marks people falling on the irrational side of the divide. Similarly, the requirements for proof or demonstration cannot be ignored here. If you don't have an actual proof, then all you have is some scattered evidence that can be given a particular organization, and the question comes down to this: is it actually better than the other ways the evidence can be organized, when everything relevant is taken into account? This is why you cannot pretend you can get away with ignoring the question of how the controlled demolition could have been organized. If you need a model for how to do argue against this point, ChristianTrader has done a decent job in trying to do so; you, on the other hand, have done nothing.

I'm amused that you think laying out a proof on the basis of physical evidence consists entirely of very vaguely alluding to points that can be found almost anywhere. Again, in a thread devoted to the question of reasoning, what you actually have to show is that your complete argument meets the relevant standards of reasoning so that you have a proof, and not merely a theory, or else you have to show how your argument fares in comparison with alternative explanations. There aren't any other options here.

Brandon said...

My whatever evidence claim was simply shorthand for whatever evidence is necessary to rule out the defendant. Such is not problematic unless you rule out such being able to be done, apriori.
Next, I referred to credit card receipts and security cameras (with the assumed time stamps). Not that other things could not be added, but those were just off the top of my head. Next, we do not have an absence of logical and mathematical impossibility, in our scenario. The claim would be that it is impossible for the defendant to have committed the crime given he was at a different location at the time of the crime. By establishing that the defendant was not there, one establishes that someone else did it. The issue is given the lack of alternatives, how much evidence is needed to establish that the defendant was not there. Or put a different way, how much evidence is needed to show that the prosecutor does not have all the relevant information.

At no point, is it necessary for the defense to find out who did or could have done it instead. It would probably make their case much easier, but it is not necessary.


And, again, you have not established that. What you have done is simply posited (by your own admission) whatever is required to rule the defendant out without ever showing that my contention, that this 'whatever evidence' that rules the defendant out must include something that makes clear that someone other than the defendant could be the culprit, otherwise the defendant is not actually ruled out -- the most we have is some evidence that he could be, assuming someone else could have done it. As I've pointed out, this is something defense attorneys actually look into, whenever it is not already obvious that someone else could have done. You have not established that this is just icing on the cake; you keep saying it is, but whenever I give a reason why it shouldn't be considered such, you retreat to the claim that if the defense has established that the defendant is ruled out, the defendant is ruled out -- when the actual point in dispute is what is required actually to establish it in the first place.

Brandon said...

I simply disagree that this is a comparison game. If it was then one could reasonable question how well we understand the physics and engineering in question here. Are you saying that one could not ask the relevant experts, "Could the type of fire in question, bring down the type of building in question, in the fashion in question?" Or that they would have to say, "I cannot tell you an answer to that question until you give what alternative scenarios you have in mind."

Even in doing a comparison, such presupposing a vast amount of detailed information on how a fire, demolition etc would proceed under the conditions in question. Given all that information, why would one only be able to answer comparatively?


I don't know what you mean by a 'comparison game'; if we're talking about what the best explanation of evidence is, 'best explanation' is a comparative term, and so can only be established comparatively. You seem to be forgetting that this is a dispute with experts on both sides, and thus the only question is whether the experts on either side are doing what they are logically and rationally required to do to establish their case, and which has the best argument in this light. But even if this weren't the case, it's still a logically comparative situation: the experts have established their own case only to the extent that they have established that things could have happened the way they claim in light of all the relevant evidence. Otherwise, they are simply drawing provisional conclusions on the basis of clearly incomplete evidence, not reasonably definitive ones, as you seem to assume.

Consider canals on Mars: here we had experts clearly insisting on their existence, on the basis of genuine experience and competent scientific procedure; but this conclusion required establishing that the appearance of canals was not an artifact of the instruments used to discover them. That requires comparative argument. Or consider the Cottingley fairies incident: we have genuine photographic experts arguing that there is no way for the photographic evidence to be merely apparent or faked. But the actual case of the fairies couldn't reduce down to 'just ask the experts, look at the physical evidence', because the human factor had to be properly addressed, and the evidence had to be placed in its proper context. In both cases the conclusion turned out to be false, despite having in each case some very good arguments from physical evidence (especially in the Cottingley fairies incident, since it was provably true that the photographs could not have been faked by any form of strictly photographic fakery): there are no crucial experiments, and nothing ever stands or falls on a single argument in a complex matter. Even when dealing with experts.

HI said...

Thanks Brandon,

I expected you wouldn't actually deal with any of the physical evidence and would instead dance around the subject. You complain that I don't present any physical evidence, and then when I do, despite my strong misgiving that it is a waste of time, you then prove me right. The reason I presented a few topics in point form is to get to the heart of the matter, and to avoid your word games which has been your modus operandi from the very beginning. There is no point in laying out a lengthy argument of evidence when the other side has not demonstrated in any of their posts (whether in response to me or anyone else) that they are actually prepared to deal with the physical evidence. The evidence doesn't matter since you've already determined what is and is not possible a priori.

Brandon said...

HI,

Again, this is not rocket science.

(1) You haven't actually presented any physical evidence; you just vaguely alluded to commonly discussed topics that you think you can establish your conclusion on, and did not say anything about how they function in your argument for your conclusion.

(2) This post, and this comments thread, is about the structure of argument and inquiry required to establish certain kinds of conclusions, not about particular conclusions. This is quite clear from the post, and quite clear from how everyone except you has been arguing. The one and only relevant thing is to establish that you have an argument that can logically deliver what you claim. Since you have only vaguely alluded to your actual argument, and the only thing you've said that is relevant to whether your argument is of the right logical structure is your clumsy attempt at analogizing, you have not done this.

(3) Of course we're talking about the a priori here -- the topic of the thread is not what happened at the towers but what kinds of conditions a truther argument would or would not need if it is to establish its conclusions. As I've pointed out before, you don't seem to have at any point grasped what the actual discussion is here. You're just nattering while other people, even those who agree with you, are contributing substantive arguments that are actually relevant to the discussion.

(4) You will notice, if you go back and re-read my comments, that my complaint was not that you didn't present physical evidence, but that you didn't present the argument on the basis of physical evidence that you claim to have. You still haven't.

Ryan Ashton said...

Scott,

For ease of reference, here's earlier commentary from Feser I will refer to:

"If I were a Truther, my strategy would be (a) to focus on some one very, very specific claim -- for example, the claim that WTC7 couldn't have come down the way the 'official story' says it did, and then (b) to defend this and only this claim without appealing to premises that presuppose the existence of a Truther-style conspiracy....And finally, (c) don't say 'I don't know' when asked what exactly did happen if the 'official story' is wrong (as in 'I don't know how WTC7 could have been rigged with explosives with nobody noticing,' 'I don't know what could have happened to the plane if it isn't really what hit the Pentagon even though lots of people said they saw it hit it,' etc.)"

My posts thus far have been attempting to adhere to stipulations (a) and (b). I raised three features of WTC7 that appear to be incompatible with the official story: 1. symmetrical collapse, 2. rapid collapse speed, and 3. low visible exterior damage. This admittedly narrows the context of the 9/11 issue, but it does so for a reason--to show one accessible way in which the official story can confidently be falsified. This approach seems faithful to Feser's points (a) and (b).

My contention is that point (c) is an unnecessarily demanding stipulation. In fact, on the face of it, (c) appears to conflict with (a): whereas (a) promotes "one very, very specific claim," (c) promotes a very broad claim (e.g. how explosives got in the building, who may have put them there, how they avoided detection, etc.). But, more fundamentally, (c) seems to suggest that one can only know a proposition to be false if and only if one also knows which alternative proposition is true. What would the justification for this be? For example, if I ask someone what 23 times 37 is, and he returns the answer "322," I can know that this answer is wrong without knowing the right answer. I know it is wrong because I know any odd number multiplied by another odd number is necessarily odd; but, 322 is even. Thus, it cannot be right. Furthermore, I know that 20 times 20 is 400, and both 23 and 37 are greater than 20, thus their product must be greater than 400. The process of eliminating alternatives appears to be valid in general, so it is not clear why it would fail to be valid with respect to 9/11.

Coincidentally, I happened upon this video from the Weather Channel today. It shows a controlled demolition gone wrong. Notice that the building does not fall symmetrically into its own footprint, but asymmetrically; furthermore, the upper portion of the building remained intact as it hit the ground. If the official story were true, why wouldn't we expect WTC7 to behave similarly to this building?

http://www.weather.com/video/demolition-gone-wrong-36712

James said...


Re: Conspiracy Theories are logical fallacies by appealing to secret knowledge. Don't be fooled by the fact that once in a while a conspiracy is uncovered, because it proves conspiracy 'theories' are false.
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A conspiracy theory is not a logical fallacy. Perhaps "hypothesis" would be a better word to use, rather than to go along with the mass media propaganda buzz word that tries to bully people into ignoring what looks suspicious. The proper meaning is "an agreement to perform together an illegal, wrongful, or subversive act." The infamous Savings and Loan scandal was certainly a great example, and thousands were convicted and many were jailed, Keating was among those. GATA has shown how the gold price is government manipulated. That is a conspiracy. So was Enron. You can go to Catherine A. Fitts and read about more of these kinds of things in government. Politics is a realm where conspiracies of all kinds flourish. Read prosecutor William Black's book: "The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One." The entire financial debacle depended in part on a tremendous amount of covert criminality regarding the sale of garbage securities. Corporations engage in this all the time--hence the term "control fraud." Politics is a domain that lends itself to conspiracies--covert illegal action involving concerted action not just individual activity--because of the potential rewards and because one acts within frameworks wherein these things can be concealed rather well in many cases. There are all kinds of regulations that strive to prevent criminal collusion--because it is possible and because it happens. Even on a large scale it does not necessarily demand a large number of people "in the know", but just coordinated activity on the part of those who wield power and authority over others. So, a hypothesis of conspiracy in given situations can in principle at least be perfectly plausible and account for the facts. Later on, it may be necessary to revise or jettison that hypothesis, or it may be proven correct and arrests follow; or it may never be proven correct or falsified because the people involved have the power and influence to determine that essential information will not get revealed "for reasons of national security" and the like. The louder people of influence and power accuse people trying to get at the truth with the phrase "conspiracy theory" the more suspect I consider them. They are trying to turn brains off. I speak of reasonable people, not crazy people. Let's not forget "The lady doth protest too much, methinks."

Scott said...

@Ryan Ashton:

"But, more fundamentally, (c) seems to suggest that one can only know a proposition to be false if and only if one also knows which alternative proposition is true."

And for some reason we're still treating Feser's suggestion specifically about argumentative strategy for Truthers as though it was intended as a fundamental requirement of all reasoning whatsoever . . . ?

I've already acknowledged that we can know 23 times 37 isn't 322 without knowing what it is (though not without knowing that it is something else, i.e. that alternative answers are available and one of them is correct). There's no disagreement here about that.

As I've said, and as I think Feser has made perfectly clear, his point has to do rather with the prima facie problems specific to the alternative hypothesis/explanation that Truthers are asking others to entertain—and, by logical extension, to other such arguments that are analogous in relevant ways, notably in proposing an alternative hypothesis that appears on the face of it to require more, and less plausible, explanation than the original hypothesis to which it's being offered as an alternative.

BenSix said...

Scott -

As I've said, and as I think Feser has made perfectly clear, his point has to do rather with the prima facie problems specific to the alternative hypothesis/explanation that Truthers are asking others to entertain...

Are "truthers" defined by their rejection of official explanations of events or their proposal of interpretations to replace them? I had assumed that Mr. Ashton was arguing that people making the former case were not obliged to fulfill Professor Feser's latter standard, and such a person might have no explanation of their own.

ChristianTrader said...

Brandon,

B:And, again, you have not established that. What you have done is simply posited (by your own admission) whatever is required to rule the defendant out without ever showing that my contention, that this 'whatever evidence' that rules the defendant out must include something that makes clear that someone other than the defendant could be the culprit, otherwise the defendant is not actually ruled out -- the most we have is some evidence that he could be, assuming someone else could have done it. As I've pointed out, this is something defense attorneys actually look into, whenever it is not already obvious that someone else could have done. You have not established that this is just icing on the cake; you keep saying it is, but whenever I give a reason why it shouldn't be considered such, you retreat to the claim that if the defense has established that the defendant is ruled out, the defendant is ruled out -- when the actual point in dispute is what is required actually to establish it in the first place.

First off, I never said nor implied that directly answers the issue of the possibility of someone else doing it, was icing on the cake. I explicitly stated that not answering such makes the case harder. I reject that lacking a direct answer makes it impossible to rule the suspect out. All you have done is re-assert that no matter what evidence the defense produces that the defendant was not there, can never be enough, by itself to support the thesis that someone else could have done it. That is simple something that cannot be done apriori. Now one could say, that in a concrete scenario, the defense has not done enough to win the case, but that is not what you are doing.

Let us examine in detail the prosecution claim that it is not possible for someone else other than the defendant committed the crime.
1)The underlying premise of the claim in question is: "The prosecution has/has presented all the relevant information"
2)Given all the relevant information, the defendant is the only person who could have committed the crime.
3)To overturn 2), the defense could proceed in various ways.
4)One way to proceed is to add items to the relevant information so that the conclusion of 2)"the defendant is the only person who could have committed the crime" is no longer warranted.
5)In our example here, the defense could put forward evidence that the defendant was not at the location of the crime when the crime was committed.
6)Given that addition to the set of relevant information, the conclusion, "the defendant is the only person who could have committed the crime", is no longer warranted and the prosecution can no longer claim that the relevant information set is complete.
7)At this point, there will be a battle over whether or not, 5) should be included in the relevant information or not, and the side that wins will win the case
8)Now the defense could also/or instead attack 2) by showing that given the relevant information, other people could have committed the crime.
9) 8)may be easier to do than 5) but is not the only way to skin this cat.

ChristianTrader said...

Brandon,

CT:I simply disagree that this is a comparison game. If it was then one could reasonable question how well we understand the physics and engineering in question here. Are you saying that one could not ask the relevant experts, "Could the type of fire in question, bring down the type of building in question, in the fashion in question?" Or that they would have to say, "I cannot tell you an answer to that question until you give what alternative scenarios you have in mind."

Even in doing a comparison, such presupposing a vast amount of detailed information on how a fire, demolition etc would proceed under the conditions in question. Given all that information, why would one only be able to answer comparatively?


B: I don't know what you mean by a 'comparison game'; if we're talking about what the best explanation of evidence is, 'best explanation' is a comparative term, and so can only be established comparatively. You seem to be forgetting that this is a dispute with experts on both sides, and thus the only question is whether the experts on either side are doing what they are logically and rationally required to do to establish their case, and which has the best argument in this light. But even if this weren't the case, it's still a logically comparative situation: the experts have established their own case only to the extent that they have established that things could have happened the way they claim in light of all the relevant evidence. Otherwise, they are simply drawing provisional conclusions on the basis of clearly incomplete evidence, not reasonably definitive ones, as you seem to assume.


In this situation, we are not talking about the best explanation of the evidence. Before comparing which scenario is the best explanation of the evidence, one first must ask of each alternative, if it is consistent with the evidence. If the answer to that question is ever, "no", then that alternative is taken off the table. At the end, you look at all the alternatives that are consistent with the evidence, and then do a comparison, over what you think happened. If you are familiar with Popper and other Philosophers of Science, then one will be familiar with the claim that it is easier to declare a claim to be false, then to determine that a claim is true.

Yes, there is a dispute with experts on both sides, but such does not make it a comparison or best explanation case, at least not at this level of inquiry. One could (conceivable, probably not practically) be completely ignorant of Controlled Demolition, and yet be able to say that it is possible or impossible for the type of fire in question could do what is seen on the video clips.

B:Consider canals on Mars: here we had experts clearly insisting on their existence, on the basis of genuine experience and competent scientific procedure; but this conclusion required establishing that the appearance of canals was not an artifact of the instruments used to discover them. That requires comparative argument. Or consider the Cottingley fairies incident: we have genuine photographic experts arguing that there is no way for the photographic evidence to be merely apparent or faked. But the actual case of the fairies couldn't reduce down to 'just ask the experts, look at the physical evidence', because the human factor had to be properly addressed, and the evidence had to be placed in its proper context. In both cases the conclusion turned out to be false, despite having in each case some very good arguments from physical evidence (especially in the Cottingley fairies incident, since it was provably true that the photographs could not have been faked by any form of strictly photographic fakery): there are no crucial experiments, and nothing ever stands or falls on a single argument in a complex matter. Even when dealing with experts.

I don't have a problem with any of this, but it simply does not strike at my argument.

Scott said...

@BenSix:

"Are 'truthers' defined by their rejection of official explanations of events or their proposal of interpretations to replace them? I had assumed that Mr. Ashton was arguing that people making the former case were not obliged to fulfill Professor Feser's latter standard, and such a person might have no explanation of their own."

Here's what Feser wrote: "If I were a Truther, my strategy would be . . . finally, (c) don't say 'I don't know' when asked what exactly did happen if the 'official story' is wrong (as in 'I don't know how WTC7 could have been rigged with explosives with nobody noticing,' 'I don't know what could have happened to the plane if it isn't really what hit the Pentagon even though lots of people said they saw it hit it,' etc.)"

I really don't see how he could have made his meaning more clear. It doesn't make a bit of difference how Truthers are "defined"; the point is that to whatever extent they expect to be taken seriously in proposing an alternative account of 9/11, they need to show positively that it presents fewer problems than the "official" account.

The usual alternative they present, whether or not they're "defined" by it, is that "9/11 was an inside job," and that's why they're newsworthy. But if some of them just want to suggest that the official story may not get every last detail precisely right even though it's correct in broad outline, I don't expect Feser to have any particular issue with that.

Daniel Smith said...

Scott: He's not saying the Truthers need to explain why, in general, some government information can be trusted and some can't; he's saying they need to explain why the specific information they trust is in fact trustworthy and the specific information they distrust isn't. They need, that is, an independent criterion that rules out the sources they don't trust and rules in the sources they do.

OK well then I got nuthin'. I'm not a truther so I don't know which sources they trust and why. I would hope they use independant evidence evaluation to gauge the truth of the government/media stories. That's what I would do.

Scott said...

@Daniel Smith:

"I would hope they use independant evidence evaluation to gauge the truth of the government/media stories. That's what I would do."

Yup. And Feser's point is that that's what the Truthers need to show that they're doing, and he's (to put it mildly) skeptical that they can do so. I think his skepticism is justified—which doesn't, of course, mean I'm committed to the view that the official story is the unmitigated, unvarnished, final truth, but I agree that the typically proffered alternative ("9/11 was an inside job") faces difficulties that appear insurmountable and seems to require a degree of skepticism that undermines the position itself.

Bilbo said...

Scott wrote:

"... the typically proffered alternative ("9/11 was an inside job") faces difficulties that appear insurmountable and seems to require a degree of skepticism that undermines the position itself."

Poppycock.

Lisa said...

Found another excellent resource for those interested:

http://www.wanttoknow.info/911information

Lisa said...




http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticisms_of_the_9/11_Commission_Report

9/11 After A Decade: Have We Learned Anything?
by Paul Craig Roberts

Lisa said...

Video of James Corbett interviewing Paul Craig Roberts on the tenth anniversary of 9-11.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=hBOMSj0uNmw

Lisa said...

Very good video:

DT Guest Lecture Series - Dr. Paul Craig Roberts on Media, 9/11 and the Police State

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDt44UjlKlA

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