Conspiracy

Three can keep a secret if two are dead.
-Benjamin Franklin

What are denialist conspiracy theories and why should people be instantly distrustful of them? And what do they have to do with denialism?

Almost every denialist argument will eventually devolve into a conspiracy. This is because denialist theories that oppose well-established science eventually need to assert deception on the part of their opponents to explain things like why every reputable scientist, journal, and opponent seems to be able to operate from the same page. In the crank mind, it isn’t because their opponents are operating from the same set of facts, it’s that all their opponents are liars (or fools) who are using the same false set of information.

But how could it be possible, for instance, for every nearly every scientist in a field be working together to promote a falsehood? People who believe this is possible simply have no practical understanding of how science works as a discipline. For one, scientists don’t just publish articles that reaffirm a consensus opinion. Articles that just rehash what is already known or say “everything is the same” aren’t interesting and don’t get into good journals. Scientific journals are only interested in articles that extend knowledge, or challenge consensus (using data of course). Articles getting published in the big journals like Science or Nature are often revolutionary (and not infrequently wrong), challenge the expectations of scientists or represent some phenomenal experiment or hard work (like the human genome project). The idea that scientists would keep some kind of exceptional secret is absurd, or that, in the instance of evolution deniers, we only believe in evolution because we’ve been infiltrated by a cabal of “materialists” is even more absurd. This is not to say that real conspiracies never occur, but the assertion of a conspiracy in the absence of evidence (or by tying together weakly correlated and nonsensical data) is usually the sign of a crackpot. Belief in the Illuminati, Zionist conspiracies, 9/11 conspiracies, holocaust denial conspiracies, materialist atheist evolution conspiracies, global warming science conspiracies, UFO government conspiracies, pharmaceutical companies suppressing altie-med conspiracies, or what have you, it almost always rests upon some unnatural suspension of disbelief in the conspiracy theorist that is the sign of a truly weak mind. Hence, our graphic to denote the presence of these arguments – the tinfoil hat.

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Another common conspiratorial attack on consensus science (without data) is that science is just some old-boys club (not saying it’s entirely free of it but…) and we use peer-review to silence dissent. This is a frequent refrain of HIV/AIDS denialists like Dean Esmay or Global Warming denialists like Richard Lindzen trying to explain why mainstream scientists won’t publish their BS. The fact is that good science speaks for itself, and peer-reviewers are willing to publish things that challenge accepted facts if the data are good. If you’re just a denialist cherry-picking data and nitpicking the work of others, you’re out of luck. Distribution of scientific funding (another source of conspiracy from denialists) is similarly based on novelty and is not about repeating some kind of party line. Yes, it’s based on study-sections and peer-review of grants, but the idea that the only studies that get funded are ones that affirm existing science is nuts, if anything it’s the opposite.

Lately, there’s been a lot of criticism of the excess focus on novelty in distribution of funding and in what gets accepted into journals. I encourage all scientists and those interested in science to watch this video of John Ioannidis giving grand rounds at NIH on how science gets funded, published, and sadly, often proven wrong. I put it up at google video. He is the author of “Why most published research findings are false” published in PLoS last year. It’s proof that science is perfectly willing to be critical of itself, more than happy to publish exceptional things that often turn out wrong, but ultimately, highly self-correcting.

I realize it’s an hour long, but it’s really a great talk.

Comments

  1. #1 David Marjanovi?
    April 30, 2007

    “The complete lack of evidence is a sure sign the conspiracy is working.”

  2. #2 SLC
    April 30, 2007

    Another denialist hobby horse is the denial that mental illness exists. See the attached link to Prof. Novellas’ blog for a 4 part discussion on denialist Fred Baughman.

    http://www.theness.com/NeuroLogicaBlog/

  3. #3 Brian
    April 30, 2007

    David,

    Shouldn’t you be yelling at John A. Davison? He’s such an excellent example of this, it’s astounding.

  4. #4 MarkH
    April 30, 2007

    That’s an interesting point. They’re pretty far out there crackpot-wise. Worth keeping an eye on.

  5. #5 Booker
    April 30, 2007

    After reading your other blog a few weeks ago, I tested out one of your hypotheses (that denialists tend to accept a whole range of crazy ideas, not just one) on a couple of cranks that visit our local news website. One of the cranks I already knew to be an evolution-denier and a 9/11 conspiracist. I wasn’t sure about the other guy. I started talking about your blog and all of the popular denialist theories such as HIV not causing AIDS, Intelligent Design, Global-Warming being a hoax (which was the topic we were discussing), and 9/11, and it turned out that these two guys believed the whole shebang, just as you said. They seemed to have a psychological need for conspiracy. One of them said flat-out that he hated scientists and that they were the most dishonorable people on earth. I’m not a psychologist, but there was certainly a whiff of mental illness in the air.

    I’ll keep referring people to your blog, as this is fascinating stuff.

  6. #6 MarkH
    April 30, 2007

    Wow Booker. That’s some interesting stuff, you’re single-handedly doing primary research on cranks!

    You should consider systematically collecting data on your cranks and maybe one day publishing some findings. Like the ratio of cranks that believe in just one versus multiple conspiracy theories.

    I really think cranks represent a kind of mental illness. And in particular I think you’ll find a lot of them probably have paranoid personality disorder. Not all of course, but enough that it shows.

  7. #7 Eamon Knight
    April 30, 2007

    Anyone who has spent much time on talk.origins (my old haunts, before I discovered the blogosphere) is familiar with crackpots — and not just common-or-garden creationists, either. t.o attracts the best.

    ….that denialists tend to accept a whole range of crazy ideas, not just one…

    There was one t.o creationist “Roadrunner” who IIRC was also into: 9/11 conspiracism, JFK assassination conspiracism, some level of Holocaust denial, and Dianetics (though I don’t think he was a full-blown Scientologist). He seemed to suffer from a sort of uncritical knee-jerk contrarianism — the Received View on any subject is automatically wrong. Then there’s SF author James P. Hogan (Velikovskianism and Holocaust denial). And the last bunch of local YECs I butted heads with were also AGW deniers, ozone-hole deniers, thought that church-state separation was a “myth”, and seemed to hold some odd UFOlogical ideas.

  8. #8 Chris Noble
    April 30, 2007

    Then there’s SF author James P. Hogan (Velikovskianism and Holocaust denial).

    Add HIV denial to the James P Hogan denial list. It always makes me chuckle when Denialists regard science fiction writers as authorities.

    It really is uncanny how one case of denial is an extremely good predictor of more denial. Maybe we should start talking about it as a syndrome Acquired Reality Denial Syndrome.

  9. #9 Ahistoricality
    April 30, 2007

    James Hogan? Oh, that’s disappointing: I loved his books when I was an SF-devouring young adult. The Velikovsky thing makes sense, though, in the context of his work.

    Idols are best when they’re made of stone….

  10. #10 MarkH
    April 30, 2007

    Chris, I like the idea of a generalized description we can submit to DSM-V. However, you need something better than ARDS since that’s already Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome. Any other suggestions?

    hehe.

  11. #11 Pierce R. Butler
    April 30, 2007

    The next logical question is how one decides whether a given conspiracy hypothesis is valid. It’s pretty easy to dismiss those involving all members of a given occupation/ethnicity/party etc, as well as those postulating unlimited power held by a hereditary cabal, or persecution of a small group which still exists…

    But what about those less implausible conspiracies, such as, oh, those wherein a powerful nation is manipulated to invade a lesser and unthreatening land to install a puppet government? It would seem those arguing against such a position would be the denialists, if the term is to be taken literally.

  12. #12 Decline and Fall
    May 1, 2007

    This is interesting and important stuff. I’m glad you’re inquiring into it on a more global level. I was raised by conspiracy theorists of the Illuminati/Council on Foreign relations/International Communism bent, and I noticed the same thing about them that Booker mentioned above: they believed, ultimately, in just about all of it. (An important caveat to this: They would generally hold out one or two conspiracy theories as ridiculous just to prove to themselves and their listeners that they weren’t just enamored with conspiracies as such. But they would inevitably bring that around to their pet theories anyway, such as the case of the Illuminati guy who had no use for the Area 51 types, because they were being manipulated by the Freemason plotters to focus their energies on something that took their sights off the real conspiracies.)

  13. #13 Decline and Fall
    May 1, 2007

    Pierce,

    I’d say the first line of defense is Occam’s Razor, but that of course says nothing about whether something is true, it merely points to the more likely conclusion.

    As for your example, one question you need to ask is this: to what extent have the people in charge of Conspiracy X shown themselves to be competent? This is my standard line against the “Bush plotted 9/11″ charge: how could an Administration that can’t manage to plant WMDs in Iraq or get bottled water to one of its major cities possibly pull off 9/11?

    The other big question I always ask has to do with the Ben Franklin quote that began this post: how many people would it take to keep this conspiracy going? If the answer is more than 5, I begin to look for other explanations. In the Iraq example, we now know that bureaucratic inefficiency, mismanagement, ideology and intimidation by senior leaders led to an intelligence corps that was unwilling to look at other explanations and a military that was unwilling to stand up to the Administration on its faulty war plan. We know this because nobody has kept their mouth shut about it. So is it a conspiracy or is it a case of bad ideas executed poorly?

  14. #14 Pierce R. Butler
    May 1, 2007

    Decline and Fall: My “example” was a bit vague: actually, I was alluding to one of the clearest cases of conspiracy in history, namely, the creation of the state of Panama.

    That particular coup was not initiated at the head-of-state level, which on my pickier days I consider an essential criterion for conspiracy. Many historians seems to accept Nixon?s definition that what presidents do is ipso facto legal, and that plots implemented from the top are simply policy (at least, if they succeed: “bad ideas implemented poorly”, as you note, just don’t cut it).

    I agree that 9/11/01 seems well beyond the capabilities of the current US regime (though you have to give them credit for adapting and improvising brilliantly in Nov-Dec 2000).

    That said, I’ve often suspected that the “9/11 truth(y) movement” has roots in a deliberate effort to discredit calls for a better, deeper, less compromised investigation than what we’ve had so far: clearly the tactics of distraction and provocation are within the demonstrated skill set of you-know-who. Otoh, after watching the energy and detail with which people I know are pursuing implausible scenarios, I’m forced to conclude that this somehow taps into a major psychological vein. This implies it may be a legitimate grassroots phenomenon, regardless of the validity of its conclusions.

    Sorting out what?s what is even murkier than, say, the study of espionage (where at least you know smoke and mirrors are being carefully deployed). A 100% DSM-certified diagnosis of paranoia does not by itself prove that there?s nothing under the bed but dust bunnies.

  15. #15 MarkH
    May 1, 2007

    Hell, I’m not saying conspiracies don’t happen. Julius Ceaser was, after all, killed as a result of a conspiracy. The Reichstag fire was a legitimate conspiracy etc. Criminal conspiracy is quite common, and the default charge for prosecutors who can’t prove something better.

    The issue is when people allege conspiracies that simply don’t make sense to explain why they can’t prove their assertions. Like, all global warming scientists are conspiring together to bring down American capitalism, or evolution denialists claiming that the only reason we believe in “Darwinism” is a materialist conspiracy against religion. These are really absurd ideas.

    As far as the 9/11 conspiracy theorists go, Bush and Co. can’t even fire prosecutors without being caught in a tangle of lies, they’ve demonstrated incompetence in every single endeavor they’ve put their hands to, even the voting tricks they pulled in 2000 are well documented and a matter of record. So how is it, that arguably the most incompetent person to hold office since Harding, and his various loyal (and equally incompetent) cronies pulled of the greatest and most complicated hoax in history? And that my pet goat thing? If you really were leading a conspiracy, why would you make your public response to an event you knew was going to be happen 7 minutes of embarrassing indecision. GWB is not that good an actor, that was pretty damn real.

    Then you see the actual ideas they have about cruise missles hitting towers and “hologram projectors” projecting images of planes hitting the towers and it’s pretty much over. As each idea has successfully been mocked into submission they’ve retreated further and further until now all they do is harp about WTC7′s fall on Fark forums. I won’t really antagonize the 9/11 cranks that much with the exception of those with big soapboxes to scream from like Rosie O’Donnel who has apparently been linking the 9/11 conspiracy cranks from her blog.

    Real conspiracies happen, people lie, usually for monetary gain, ask any prosecutor. But a conspiracy theory is different. It’s the weak linking of unrelated facts to explain something for which far better explanations exist that fit the data far better. Anyone with any common sense realizes that the conditions required for scientists to conspire are absurd, for incompetents to pull off the greatest trick in history is equally absurd. It’s a sign of defective thought. Widespread deception simply isn’t that easy to pull off.

  16. #16 Ted
    May 1, 2007

    That said, I’ve often suspected that the “9/11 truth(y) movement” has roots in a deliberate effort to discredit calls for a better, deeper, less compromised investigation than what we’ve had so far: clearly the tactics of distraction and provocation are within the demonstrated skill set of you-know-who. Otoh, after watching the energy and detail with which people I know are pursuing implausible scenarios, I’m forced to conclude that this somehow taps into a major psychological vein. This implies it may be a legitimate grassroots phenomenon, regardless of the validity of its conclusions.

    Well, we all know that 9-11 happened because the Iraqis hate us and our freedoms.

    No need to look further.

  17. #17 Ted
    May 1, 2007

    Anyone with any common sense realizes that the conditions required for scientists to conspire are absurd,…

    Because scientists are special. They’ve been immunized to greed and ego.

    …for incompetents to pull off the greatest trick in history is equally absurd. It’s a sign of defective thought. Widespread deception simply isn’t that easy to pull off.

    You never f*cked something up and then covered it up? If only you and a few others are aware of the f*ckup, you’d speak out and fess up?

    I’m not saying that the US government did 9-11, but it certainly is conceivable that operational fingerprints and influence are visible down the line that the government wouldn’t be willing to acknowledge. The Tenet interview this weekend on 60-minutes was interesting (he’s got an ego and a half). He was willing to start f*cking with the Afghanis based on his “professional intuition”. Think that’s an abnormality that doesn’t happen anywhere else? Yes, this type of thing is geopolitically restricted to the Afghani theater.

  18. #18 MarkH
    May 1, 2007

    Et tu, Ted?

    Yes individual scientists can be deceptive, we’re not immune from liars frauds whatever. The idea that whole hosts of scientists, like say, every scientist in the world who studies HIV, is able to keep some secret is pretty silly.

    A broad scientific conspiracy is a pretty funny idea. All the scientists in the conspiracy would go nuts with worry about which one would break the agreement and publish first, and they probably would all end publishing at the same time.

    As far as the 9/11 thing, I think it’s one of those instances in which you shouldn’t ascribe to malice that which is more likely due to incompetence. I’m sure the Bush adminstration has no interest in having everybody know exactly how many hints they missed, how many opportunities they ignored, how they stopped the hunt for bin Laden that Clinton had been pursuing etc. But the 9/11 conspiracy cranks allege that they plotted the whole thing. That’s a bit nuts. I’m also pretty sure that Rosie O’Donnel isn’t some kind of mole spreading misinformation for Bush’s benefit. She also buys into mercury/autism etc., she’s an all-purpose believer.

  19. #19 Michael LoPrete
    May 1, 2007

    “Anyone with any common sense realizes that the conditions required for scientists to conspire are absurd,…”
    “Because scientists are special. They’ve been immunized to greed and ego.”

    I think it’s because disrupting rather than confirming scientific consensus better feeds ego and greed. A paper lauding the effectiveness and explanatory power of modern evolutionary written by no one special won’t be taken seriously by any very good science journal.

    On the other hand, a paper that turns the establishment on its head (demonstrating the reality of psychic powers, for example), would generate instant attention, fame, and (probably) riches.

    (incidentally, what html does one use to quote text?)

  20. #20 Ted
    May 1, 2007

    Et tu, Ted?

    Oh, all I’m saying is that scientists aren’t immune; it’s more of an individual thing. Some scientists are givers and some are takers.

    A broad scientific conspiracy is a pretty funny idea. All the scientists in the conspiracy would go nuts with worry about which one would break the agreement and publish first, and they probably would all end publishing at the same time.

    And yet tobacco, vioxx and Hwang Woo-suk comes to mind, not that Phrma would ever be involved in conspiring for the benefit of their clients. Conspiracies are usually associated with saliva-dribblers, because the suit and ties are all just about competition.

    And all scientists don’t have to be in on it globally. Just enough to make a business case for it. Conspiracies are smallish and less inclusive, not global and all inclusive.

    (No one’s made the business case for the faked moon landing yet, or we’d have more examining that number 3 on the moonrock. :-)

    The thing about government conspiracies is that you can hide a lot of stuff in the nooks and crannies of over the top crazy. It can be beneficial to hype the Rosie O’Donnell type stories just so that you can jam other baggage into the same storage shed.

    Use the standard blockquote tags.

  21. #21 Michael LoPrete
    May 1, 2007

    Use the standard blockquote tags.

    Thanks. I had tried that, but they didn’t seem to work. I must have spelled it wrong–doesn’t surprise me, I have such trouble with responsiveness in scienceblogs’ text entry boxes. I usually have to type my comment in notepad and then copy/paste in.

  22. #22 MarkH
    May 1, 2007

    Ted, I think you’re getting too hung up on examples of real criminal conspiracies here.

    It’s true, conspiracies do occur, I’m not doubting that. But arguments that start out saying, “It’s a conspiracy of the joos” or “the government is conspiring to…” etc., it’s a sign of an argument that simply doesn’t pass the smell test.

    Merck and Vioxx, sure, it’s clear, they were not interested in having damaging results hurt the sales of their product so they tried to squelch it, it didn’t work. People have lied for profit, no doubt.

    The issue is alleging conspiracies when there isn’t real concrete proof. It’s one of those automatic crackpot-type things that let you know you better start thinking of excuses to end the conversation and leave the room before you hear about how the Skull and Bones society is the training ground for the Illuminati. It is particularly concerning when people allege conspiracies among large groups of people “joos, scientists, congress, etc” when it is clear they are identifying a diverse and heterogeneous population that probably couldn’t agree on what to order for dinner, and certainly not evil conspiracies to control monetary markets, materialist atheist conspiracies, or control of the world’s oil supply.

    If actual evidence comes out showing this stuff, rather than the scattered ramblings of people with too much time on their hands, then I’ll believe it. It’s really a bad way to look at the world though, through a conspiracy-minded skew. And it’s worse when conspiracies are proven to be bunk, and people turn into cranks over it.

  23. #23 trrll
    May 1, 2007

    I’d say the first line of defense is Occam’s Razor, but that of course says nothing about whether something is true, it merely points to the more likely conclusion.

    I’d go a bit further. Suggesting that Occam’s Razor points to the “more likely” conclusion is making an assertion about reality that is difficult to justify. In the case of biology, for example, the historical trend has certainly been for simple hypotheses to be found to be incorrect and to be replaced by more complex ones.

    Also, this kind of probabilistic statement feeds into the obsessions of denialists who think, for example, that a creator is a “simpler” explanation that natural selection, which inevitably leads into a fruitless debate on what “simple” really means.

    I believe that a better way to view Occam’s Razor is the following:

    Occam’s Razor is a heuristic rule for ordering scientific hypotheses for experimental testing. A simpler hypothesis is one in which the outcome depends upon a smaller number of free variables, and as a result it is generally less flexible. That is, there is a smaller range of possible outcomes that are consistent with the hypothesis, and it is therefore easier and quicker to come up with tests that are capable of excluding that hypothesis. Excluding the easy-to-test hypotheses first tends to be most efficient way to proceed through the range of possible hypotheses that might explain a particular phenomenon. It is never appropriate to draw conclusions based upon Occam’s Razor; Occam’s Razor is only useful in deciding what do do next.

  24. #24 trrll
    May 2, 2007

    Merck and Vioxx, sure, it’s clear, they were not interested in having damaging results hurt the sales of their product so they tried to squelch it, it didn’t work. People have lied for profit, no doubt.

    Just for the sake of accuracy, Merck was clearly overly optimistic in thinking that the lower cardiac events in the naproxen vs Vioxx VIGOR study were most likely due to a protective effect of naproxen, but they still chose to test that hypothesis in a follow-up study, and when it started to look bad for Vioxx they stopped the study early, published the results, and withdrew the drug. The one reasonable criticism that can be leveled at Merck is that they may have been too aggressive in marketing a new drug, and even that is not entirely clear. We still don’t know whether Vioxx was really any more dangerous overall than popular NSAIDS like aspirin and ibuprofen with their gastric bleeding hazards.

  25. #25 Graculus
    May 2, 2007

    In the case of biology, for example, the historical trend has certainly been for simple hypotheses to be found to be incorrect and to be replaced by more complex ones.

    That’s not what Occam’s Razor says.

    there is a smaller range of possible outcomes that are consistent with the hypothesis

    Neither is that.

    Occam’s much misrepresented Razor states “Do not multiply entities unecessarily”. It says nothing about the complexity of the process or results, and technically nothing about the initial conditions, save that only those minimal agencies/entities required for explaination should be involved.

    Technically a completely whacked out theory can meet these criteria, but we never said the Razor was an all-purpose tool.

  26. #26 trrll
    May 2, 2007

    Occam’s much misrepresented Razor states “Do not multiply entities unecessarily”. It says nothing about the complexity of the process or results, and technically nothing about the initial conditions, save that only those minimal agencies/entities required for explaination should be involved.

    Correct. The question then becomes: is that purely an arbitrary prejudice or does it actually have some rational basis? Clearly, appeal to probability does not work. There is no rational basis for assuming that reality prefers mechanisms with a small number of ‘entities’ (whatever that might mean), and thus no basis to conclude that the theory with fewer ‘entities’ is more likely to be correct. Nevertheless, as a rule of thumb, Occam’s Razor has empirically been found to be quite useful, and is employed routinely by virtually all working scientists.

    So why does Occam’s Razor seem to work? My argument is that having a small number of “parts” generally translates into having a small number of free variables and a smaller range of possible outcomes in experimental tests, making such a theory easier to test and reject.

  27. #27 Pierce R. Butler
    May 2, 2007

    MarkH: The Reichstag fire was a legitimate conspiracy etc.

    Just for the record: several serious historians I?ve read who deal with this (Ian Kershaw?s Hitler – 1889-1936: Hubris being the leading example on my shelves) accept the Marinus-van-der-Lubbe-as-lone-nut scenario. Earlier accounts, such as William L. Shirer?s influential The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, support the Nazi-plot version. Each gives specifics unmentioned by the other, and each contradicts the other on significant details (Kershaw describes van der Lubbe as ?intelligent?, Shirer calls him a ?half-wit?). Encyclopedia Britannica cites both arguments and notes ?continued debate and research?.

    At least I?ve never seen any account to the effect that Rome?s senators all just decided independently on the same day that Caesar happened to need a good stabbing…

  28. #28 oku
    May 3, 2007

    I submitted this post to reddit. When I noticed that a lot of people downvote it I asked for the reasons. I got three responses, and I think they are quite remarkable for case studies. Here is the URL.

  29. #29 MarkH
    May 3, 2007

    Wow Oku, that’s a hell of a crank you found there.

    I identified two things that are clearly confusing him (at least in this short little writing). He can’t tell the difference between strategy and conspiracy. A conspiracy implies some dirty secret or criminal behavior as a motivator for activities. Backroom politics does not qualify as conspiracy by any stretch of the imagination. By changing the definition to include any planned behavior he seeks to dismiss an attack on what might be something important to him.

    The second issue he’s having trouble with is not understanding the evolution of scientific understanding. New science doesn’t falsify old results. Old results might have been misinterpreted since there as, but the allegation of dishonesty in scientific revolution is pretty extraordinary. The explanations might evolve with time but the data remains true. Relativity didn’t disprove Newtonian mechanics, it just showed the theory was incomplete. A belief in ether wasn’t a lie, the scientists were trying to explain how light might propogate itself through space and they didn’t understand how it worked in a vacuum yet.

    It’s clearly very important for him to denigrate science, likely because science conflicts with things he desperately wants to believe it.

  30. #30 BigDaddyMalcontent
    May 4, 2007

    Mark-
    Isn’t it a form of denialism to lump all conspiracy theories together? The reality that un-elected entities like media conglomerates, oil barons and the medical establishment wield far too much power is a disturbing one. As a result, many “denialists” prefer the “truth, justice & the American Way” myth, much the same way anti-evolutionists prefer superstition to observable scientific evidence.

    You write, “Hell, I’m not saying conspiracies don’t happen. Julius Ceaser was, after all, killed as a result of a conspiracy. The Reichstag fire was a legitimate conspiracy etc.” It’s interesting that the examples you cite happened far in the past. The further back you go, the less threatening the conspiracy gets because we have no vested interest in the events in question.

    For example, Modern History is more or less in agreement that the Roman empress Livia assassinated dozens — including her own husband — in her quest to get her own lineage onto the throne. But to suggest that Tony Blair or George Bush would have people assassinated or engage in false-flag terrorism is regarded as tinfoil-hatism. Why? Because we prefer to believe that humanity has somehow evolved since those dark days of Hitler and Caesar.

    But we haven’t. If anything, we have become more conspiratorial. It happens all the time: co-workers conspiring to undermine someone’s efforts or to take credit for someone else’s work, students in group projects conspiring to unevenly distribute the workload, etc.

    It’s true that many people seem addicted to conspiracy and they attach that label to everything they refuse to accept. They use reasoning cop-outs the same way religious people do. If you ask a religious person why we have tornadoes and cancer, he or she is likely to tell you that God works in mysterious ways or some such hokum. When you tell the anti-global warming nut that satellite imagery shows receding glaciers, he or she is likely to point out that the satellites are operated by NASA, which is part of the Illuminati or some similar argument. It’s a simplistic catchall that enables them to emerge victorious from every debate.

    But in a way, you are using the same debate tactic when you argue that Bush & Co. are too incompetent to pull off 9/11 or whatever. The truth, as always, is much more complicated. The 9/11 Commission Report, according to its own authors, contains many factual inconsistencies and untruthful testimony. Ergo, the truth about that terrible day must exist elsewhere. Aren’t you interested in finding it? Bad people committed a dastardly deed — that much is undeniable. Believing that the bad guys might’ve been American and not Saudi is not the same as believing in Bigfoot. There’s no evidence for Bigfoot; there is evidence, albeit of varying quality, of some sort of 9/11 complicity. Only a “denialist” would disagree.

  31. #31 Greg Byshenk
    May 4, 2007

    BigDaddyMalcontent wrote

    For example, Modern History is more or less in agreement that the Roman
    empress Livia assassinated dozens — including her own husband — in her quest to get her
    own lineage onto the throne. But to suggest that Tony Blair or George Bush would have
    people assassinated or engage in false-flag terrorism is regarded as tinfoil-hatism. Why?
    Because we prefer to believe that humanity has somehow evolved since those dark days of
    Hitler and Caesar.

    Your answer to your “why” question is, so far as I can tell, completely wrong, as are
    its premises. For example, we know that the Reagan White House engaged in a
    conspiracy, that the CIA has operated secret prisons (and almost certainly still does),
    that Nixon conspired, etc., etc., etc. And we know that the US has planned coups and
    assassinations, at various different times and places. Which further means that we know
    that “humanity has” not “somehow evolved” in any way that would put an end to
    conspiracy.

    Further, there are many — including many non-”denialists” — who could very well believe
    that Tony Blair or George Bush (or many others) might undertake to “have people assassinated
    or engage in false-flag terrorism”. But, if you wish to make such a claim and have it
    taken seriously, then you need to have some actual evidence to support your claim.
    And the problem with 9/11, for example, is that there seems to be just no credible
    evidence to support the claim that “the bad guys [were] American and not Saudi”. Of
    course
    they might have been — but all the evidence indicates that they were
    not.

  32. #32 BigDaddyMalcontent
    May 4, 2007

    “Nothing just happens in politics. If something happens you can be sure it was planned that way.”
    –Franklin D. Roosevelt

  33. #33 MarkH
    May 4, 2007

    Yes, one of the interesting things about modern criminal conspiracies of presidents is how they’ve in each case nearly brought down the chief executive, how quickly people found real evidence for things like extreme rendition etc.

    Yes our government lies, I have no doubt. But you keep changing the definition of conspiracy theory to include all political subterfuge, all conspiracies that might have been committed by the government, and you’re missing the point.

    We’ve said, again and again, that none of these rhetorical tactics is proof that an idea is wrong. They are only proof that your opponent is likely full of crap. Yes, real conspiracies do happen. Yes, you can cherry-pick data and still end up being right. You can also hire fake experts to tell the truth, and argue fallaciously and still be correct. We’re talking about people who exclusively use these rhetorical tactics and simply have no data.

    If you tell me about a conspiracy to detain foreign nationals on unmarked flights, and then trace where the flights are going, provide testimony from people who had been captured, etc., I’ll believe in that conspiracy.

    If, on the other hand, you tell me that the most incompetent administration in the history of this country pulled off 9/11 with no one the wiser? Making prominent people like Ted Olson’s wife disappear? Making hundreds of victims and their families into liars (in reference to the cruise missile lunatics)? Rigging the world trade center for demolition with nobody noticing? And the only evidence is poorly understood physics, photos of “diagonally cut” beams, and other easily debunked innuendo I’m going to think you’re a fruitcake.

    The reason (and I hate this nomenclature by the way) 9/11 truthers are promoting a “conspiracy theory” is that the evidence is just so silly, so poorly argued, so obviously cherry-picked, and sometimes just downright batty. Cruise missiles? Hologram projectors? Everyone on flight 93 calling home a bunch of liars? Demolition crews destroying the worlds biggest towers without being seen? And all of this done by the incompetents running the country right now?

    Yeah right.

  34. #34 BigDaddyMalcontent
    May 4, 2007

    “And the problem with 9/11, for example, is that there seems to be just no credible evidence to support the claim that “the bad guys [were] American and not Saudi”

    Aren’t you overstating things just a bit? No credible evidence? This in itself is denial. Of course there’s credible evidence, just not conclusive evidence.

    “Of course they might have been — but all the evidence indicates that they were not.”

    It does? As I stated above,“The 9/11 Commission Report, according to its own authors, contains many factual inconsistencies and untruthful testimony. Ergo, the truth about that terrible day must exist elsewhere.”

    Here’s what we know for certain:
    Commission co-chairman Bob Kerrey has concluded that NORAD’s timeline of events on 9/11 is intentionally false, and he has forwarded his evidence to the Justice Dept. which has taken no action to date. The BBC has reported that at least seven of the 19 hijackers are alive and well. We know that Cheney et al. lied about the alluminum tubes; we know they lied about the meeting in Prague between Mohammed Atta and one of Saddam’s henchmen; we know they lied about the Niger Uranium and then exposed a covert agent; we know they lied about Pat Tillman and Jessica Lynch. We know that Mohammed Atta was videotaped at Jack Abramoff’s casino less than a week before the attacks; we know that for the first time in the history of “black boxes,” no CVRs or FDRs from that day have been found; we know that a PNAC report recommended a “new Pearl Harbor;” we know of the close business relationship between Bin Laden’s family and Bush’s, and that Bin Laden’s family was allowed to leave the country…
    This is all “credible evidence,” but, as I stated before, it’s not conclusive evidence. But crimes & scientific investigations are rarely solved with conclusive evidence; it’s usually bits & peices of evidence combined with deductive reasoning.

    Someone in the comments above suggested applying the principal of Occam’s Razor; that is, accepting the explanation that makes the fewest assumptions. In the case of the 9/11 attacks, the explanation that makes the fewest assumptions leans toward conspiracy.

  35. #35 MarkH
    May 4, 2007

    I’m sorry, we don’t argue with cranks here. If you want to debate 9/11 conspiracy theories, seriously, go to a 9/11 truther site. We’re simply not interested.

  36. #36 BigDaddyMalcontent
    May 4, 2007

    We’ve said, again and again, that none of these rhetorical tactics is proof that an idea is wrong.

    Mark,
    As a “MD/PhD Candidate in the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biological Physics,” you must surely realize that the level of proof you are demanding in this debate is virtually nonexistent in scientific investigations. To date, no complete skeletons of so-called transition species have been found, and yet we know that natural selection takes place more or less they way Darwin described it. How? By taking tiny bits of scattered evidence and applying common sense. It could be that the universe and everything in it was created just as it is now by the hand of God, but probably not. That theory is simply not supported by the evidence.
    Simalarly, all the coincidences inherrent to the Official Explanation of the 9/11 attacks render that explanation worthless absent some as yet undiscovered evidence. We’re supposed to believe, for example, that all four of the black boxes at the WTC were instantly vaporized and yet Mohammed Atta’s passport survived? Sorry, no can do.
    You keep preaching evidence, evidence, evidence, but you don’t provide any. All you do is attack the alternative theory. Since the Official Explanation has been dismissed by its own authors as deeply flawed, it stands to reason that some other explanation exists. I am not utterly convinced of a PNAC/Halliburton/Carlyle Group conspiracy, but so far that is the explanation that makes the fewest assumptions. I agree that some of the theories advanced by members of the 9/11 Truth Movement (I too hate that nomenclature)are way, way out there. Some of it is downright embarrassing. You know what else is embarrassing? The behavior of some environmentalists. But I’m not going to stop caring about the environment simply because some of my fellow environmentalists are embarrassing doofuses.

  37. #37 BigDaddyMalcontent
    May 4, 2007

    I’m sorry, we don’t argue with cranks here. If you want to debate 9/11 conspiracy theories, seriously, go to a 9/11 truther site. We’re simply not interested.

    What makes me a crank?

    You’ve been debating this for several days but now you want to stop. Why? Have I brought up too many good points?

  38. #38 BigDaddyMalcontent
    May 4, 2007

    Yes, one of the interesting things about modern criminal conspiracies of presidents is how they’ve in each case nearly brought down the chief executive, how quickly people found real evidence for things like extreme rendition etc.

    Nixon is the only example I can think of.
    LBJ wasn’t nearly brought down for falsifying the Gulf of Tonkin incident. Reagan wasn’t damaged by Iran Contra, nor was his vice president who later went on to become president.

  39. #39 MarkH
    May 4, 2007

    Sigh.

    Because it’s not a valuable use of time. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. If you can’t see that your claims and loosely associated ramblings about lies and Abramoff and Atta don’t mean anything in terms of a 9/11 plot (You could just as easily replace the illuminati with PNAC and Carlyle) that what in the world could I do to change your mind? And the denigration of evolutionary biology and science as a whole to try to increase the validity of 9/11 claims? Pretty weak stuff there, evolutionary theory is not dependent on the presence or absence of transitional fossils, that’s an ID talking point, and it’s actually one of the most substantiated theories ever.

    I hate to tell you BDM, but you sound a lot like a crank. And the reason I don’t argue with cranks is that, well, they can’t be turned. It’s kind of one of our main points here.

  40. #40 BigDaddyMalcontent
    May 4, 2007

    And the denigration of evolutionary biology and science as a whole to try to increase the validity of 9/11 claims?

    Where did I denigrate evolutionary biology and science as a whole? Here is what I wrote:

    “To date, no complete skeletons of so-called transition species have been found, and yet we know that natural selection takes place more or less they way Darwin described it. How? By taking tiny bits of scattered evidence and applying common sense.” I fail to see how this denigrates evolutionary biology and science.

    evolutionary theory is not dependent on the presence or absence of transitional fossils,”

    That is precisely what I was getting at. I think if you read my blog, you will find that we share a lot of common ground. You are making inferences about me based on a.) our disagreement on this particular issue; and b.) what I percieve as a misinterpretation of my remarks on natural selection. For the record, I do not believe in ID or creationism or even God. I do not believe complete skeletons of “transition species” are necessary for the acceptance of natural selection, which I thought I was making clear with that remark.
    I hate to tell you Mark, but you employ too many straw man arguments and seem to have a tendency to mis-read blog comments.

  41. #41 MarkH
    May 4, 2007

    I don’t think that’s a misreading BDM. You’re equating the strength of 9/11 conspiracy theories to the evidence behind evolution, I think most of the other SBers here would have a big problem with that.

    Ok, so you believe in evolution. That’s wonderful. But this logical leap from a passport and Abramoff and Casinos and alleged flaws of the 9/11 report to “the Carlyle group did it” is a bit much. Further, I don’t need to prove anything. I’m not making the extraordinary claim that a evil cabal is running the government and planned the greatest hoax terrorist attack of all time.

    I also did, I think, present a fair argument for why such a conspiracy is highly unlikely. The players that most are accusing of this are grossly incompetent. Prominent people were killed on those flights, the example I cited above was Ted Olson’s wife on the plane that hit the Pentagon. All those conversations with the people on flight 93 consistent with the official story – are they all liars? And no one has come forward, no whistleblower that was part of such a mind-bogglingly huge conspiracy, no one with real proof of a direct action by a government plan. What do you have? Rosie O’Donnell and little bits and pieces that don’t synthesize into a whole – nothing that even remotely resembles a smoking gun. The idea that such a big plan could be kept secret is the most damning indictment of the wackiness of this idea. And until there is a smoking gun, this is just a wacky conspiracy theory.

    I’m sorry that you can’t see that.

  42. #42 BigDaddyMalcontent
    May 4, 2007

    Mark, you’re a dishonest debater. For starters, your overreaction to my evolution analogy was due to your misinterpretation of my remarks. You write, “And the denigration of evolutionary biology and science as a whole to try to increase the validity of 9/11 claims? Pretty weak stuff there, evolutionary theory is not dependent on the presence or absence of transitional fossils, that’s an ID talking point, and it’s actually one of the most substantiated theories ever.

    Clearly you misinterpreted my remark in your eagerness to lump me in with evolution deniers and their ilk. Can’t you just admit it and apologize?

    Secondly, my position in this debate isn’t to prove that 9/11 was a conspiracy. I even said, “I am not utterly convinced of a PNAC/Halliburton/Carlyle Group conspiracy…” Rather, my position is that it’s simplistic and peurile to lump all 9/11 dissenters in with UFO nuts and holocaust deniers. There are many questions left unanswered by the 9/11 Commission Report, and admitting it the first step to the truth. Unfortunately, this makes many Americans uncomfortable. Yes, the 9/11 truth movement has attracted some wingnuts, but so does everything else.

    And speaking of the truth, don’t you want to know what it is? Unless you’re going to be dishonest about this, too, you must admit that the 9/11 Commission Report is an inadequate explanation for the events of that day. Aren’t you curious to find out what really happened? It may not have been controlled demolitions and all that other crap, but if not, what was it? That’s the part that’s so galling. You’re fighting for an inadequate explanation. Our choices are threefold: 1.) accept the Official Explanation, which even many non-conspiracy thorists have a difficult time doing; 2.) accept one of the alternative theories, many of which are admittedly insane; or 3.) come up with another theory and provide substiantiating evidence. That’s it. Those are our choices. Option one is unacceptable to me. That’s all I’m saying, and for some reason that puts me in the evolution denier category in your eyes. And rather than concede a point here and there in a genuine attempt to arrive at a concensus, you adopt this condescending and weakly argued posture in which you employ the ad hominem attack and threats to end the discussion. If you don’t want feedback, don’t start a blog. You can keep a private journal in your notebook and show it only to your friends or whatever. Or you can disable comments. Or you can simply ignore the commenters you don’t agree with.

    Peace

  43. #43 MarkH
    May 5, 2007

    BDM,
    I wasn’t referring to you with the comments policy. You’re not trolling. I had some other guy trying to hijack my adult stem cell thread with a bunch of 9/11 links. I don’t care about people calling me an asshole or whatever, but they have to do it in the right thread.

    I get the feeling we’re both reacting to expectations of each other’s arguments. I see you, in my thread about conspiracy nuts, arguing for some version of 9/11 truthiness. I say to myself, oh god, I guess this was inevitable, and brace for the worst. But if you haven’t gone over the deep end with the rest of the movement with controlled demolitions and conspiracy theories, why are you sticking up for them?

    It’s one thing to say, the 9/11 official story is incomplete. Or the 9/11 official story has flaws. Or there is some evidence that just makes no sense. But I don’t accept the logical leap to “Bush did it” or “Carlyle did it” for the reasons stated above. Further, all the stuff about demolitions and WTC 7 just makes no sense at all, is really conspiracy-minded BS and isn’t worth arguing with people who believe in these things. Again and again the 9/11 truthers cherry pick data, selectively edit news reports, and latch on to anyone who will promote their BS. You have to wonder about a movement that thinks having Rosie O’Donnell is an asset to the cause.

    So if you want to say there’s flaws, and that there’s data that doesn’t fit, that’s one thing. I’ll even accept that the administration is obstructing a full understanding (more likely due to worries of their incompetence being exposed rather than proof of their hand in the crime), but any claim of some higher level of conspiracy to actually commit this crime is silly based on the evidence. And when I see a “truth” movement brazenly cherry-pick and lie to make their point? Well, I tend not to give them any credibility, even without the hologram people and cruise-missile contributors.

  44. #44 GWashington
    May 5, 2007

    Should people who question the government’s version of the events of 9/11 have their heads examined? Are they in denial?

    Well, the following psychiatrists and psychologists have concluded that the official version of 9/11 is false. Moreover, many of these mental health experts have concluded that the government’s account is so obviously false that people who believe the government’s version are in psychological denial:

    Psychiatrist Carol S. Wolman, MD

    Psychiatrist E. Martin Schotz

    Professor of Psychology at University of New Hampshire William Woodward

    Professor of Psychology at University of Essex Philip Cozzolino

    Professor of Psychology at Goddard College Catherine Lowther

    Professor Emeritus of Psychology at California Institute of Integral Studies Ralph Metzner

    Professor of Psychology at Rhodes University Mike Earl-Taylor

    Retired Professor of Psychology at Oxford University Graham Harris

    Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Nebraska and licensed Psychologist Ronald Feintech

    Ph.D. Clinical Neuropsychologist Richard Welser

    Clinical psychologist, Ed.D., Harvard University Gwendolyn Atwood,

    Psychology researcher, M.A., Psychology Victoria Ashley

    Psychotherapist, M.S. Clinical Psychology, Greg Henricks

    M.S. in educational psychology, Roy Holcombe

    M.A. in Counseling Psychology Tova Gabrielle

    There are literally thousands of other mental health professionals who have reached the same conclusions. So who is out of touch with reality: those who question 9/11 or those who believe the government’s version without question?

    http://georgewashington.blogspot.com/2007/05/psychiatrists-and-psychologists.html

  45. #45 BigDaddyMalcontent
    May 5, 2007

    But if you haven’t gone over the deep end with the rest of the movement with controlled demolitions and conspiracy theories, why are you sticking up for them?

    Three reasons: 1.)MK ULTRA; 2.)COINTELPRO; 3.)Operation Northwoods.

    There are many other examples of ultra-weird criminal behavoir at the highest levels of our government, but these are the three most documented. If you haven’t heard of these operations or you’ve always dismissed them as conspiracy fantasies or whatever, I urge you to read up on them. It’s fascinating reading. Afterwards, you might catch a glimpse of why people smell a rat with regard to 9/11.

    BTW, I totally agree with your stance on thread-hijackers.

    Take care.

  46. #46 MarkH
    May 5, 2007

    And the fake experts have arrived!

    The fact you think that is good evidence of anything is a sure sign you shouldn’t be listened to.

    Everyone welcome GWashington to the thread. I’m going fishing.

  47. #47 BigDaddyMalcontent
    May 5, 2007

    I think what Mark is getting at, GW, is that the pedigree of the people you listed adds no weight to the claim of 9/11 complicity. There is an equally long list of “Drs” and “PhDs,” etc. who believe Moses parted the Red Sea. As someone once observed, “Smart people are good at rationalizing bad ideas.”
    That’s not to say I think the idea of 9/11 complicity is a bad one — see my above comments — it’s just that the opinions of a thousand psychiatrists neither proves nor disproves anything. What Mark is looking for is evidence, not opinions.

  48. #48 Pierce R. Butler
    May 5, 2007

    BigDaddyMalcontent – As you seem to be one of the better-grounded 9/11 activists, I’d like to ask if you could recommend a source of information – book, web site, whatever – that you think covers the events of that day well, with evidence-based critiques of both “official” and “alternative” analyses.

    In my own, soon-discouraged, poking around, I came to the conclusion that, as with the Kennedy assassinations, that way madness lies. Each version does a notable job of spotlighting flaws in the “other” version, but none seems to patch the holes in their own arguments.

    The problem appears to be the opposite of ?denialism? – while waiting for a better term, I think of it as ?assertivism?. Rather than pointing to the gaps needing to be filled, too many people are constructing scenarios to (more or less) fit what?s known (which is legitimate), then defending those hypotheses with irrational fervor (which isn’t). A pox on all their towers!

  49. #49 BigDaddyMalcontent
    May 5, 2007

    Pierce-
    Thanks for the compliment. You can start with this article:
    http://www.commondreams.org/views06/0427-29.htm

    Since posting links to 9/11 sites is widely regarded as a thread-hijacking tactic, I’ll wait for approval from Mark H. before posting other links. Thanks.

  50. #50 Greg Byshenk
    May 6, 2007

    BigDaddyMalcontent wrote, in response to me

    And the problem with 9/11, for example, is that there seems to be just
    no credible evidence to support the claim that “the bad guys [were] American and not Saudi”

    Aren’t you overstating things just a bit? No credible evidence? This in itself is
    denial. Of course there’s credible evidence, just not conclusive evidence.

    No, I am not — at least I do not believe that I am.

    The problem is that just none of the “evidence” you cite is evidence that “the
    bad guys were American and not Saudi”. It may be evidence that the NORAD report is
    inaccurate or that the Commission report is incomplete — but that is very much
    not evidence that “the bad guys were American and not Saudi”. Indeed, even if
    one could find conclusive proof that “the official story” was false, that in and of itself
    would not be evidence for any particular conspiracy, as such provides equal support to a
    theory regarding “false flag” Chinese actions, or attack by aliens from Alpha Centauri.

    The issue here is that any evidence for some particular conspiracy must be
    actual positive evidence for that conspiracy. As I (and others) have already
    pointed out, we already know about a number of political conspiracies, and we can draw
    conclusions about them based on the evidence that actually supports them. But simply
    saying “there are unanswered questions about A” — or even “A is false” –
    is not in itself evidence that B, or C, or any other explanation is true.

  51. #51 BigDaddyMalcontent
    May 6, 2007

    Greg-
    I think part of the problem is that I am looking at the Sept. 11th attacks within the context of previous misdeeds carried out by our govt. — see my above remarks about MK ULTRA, COINTELPRO and Operation Northwoods — whereas most observers are viewing Sept. 11th as an isolated incident. I admit that’s circumstantial evidence, but it seems reasonable to me, when a crime occurs, to “round up the usual suspects,” so to speak. That’s what I mean by credible evidence. Of course, it’s not conclusive – just credible. If American interests have carried out these types of operations before, albeit on a smaller scale, and if the Official Explanation of the events seems inadequate (we seem to be in agreement on that point), isn’t it therefore reasonable to pursue that line of reasoning?

    Moreover, my position in this discussion is not to prove conclusively that 9/11 was an “inside job,” but rather to distinguish this “conspiracy theory” from the crowd of bigfoot & UFO & Holocaust deniers and similar “theories” into which it has been placed.

    If this were a liquor store robbery and not a massive terrorist attack, my investigative approach would not even be in question.

  52. #52 Greg Byshenk
    May 6, 2007

    The problem is that your statements are not even “circumsantial evidence” of anything
    related to this event. And your comment about “the usual suspects” doesn’t do
    what you want it to do. Certainly if a particular type of crime occurs, it is entirely
    reasonable to suspect that someone who has committed that sort of crime
    previously might be involved. But, absent some actual evidence linking them to
    that particular crime, “the usual suspects” will not even be arrested.

    And the problem in relation to Sept. 11th is that such actual credible evidence is
    conspicuously lacking.

    The best that people seem to be able to come up with are “unanswered questions”.
    Unfortunately, it is likely that there will always be unanswered questions about
    Sept. 11th. After all, the buildings are destroyed, the aircraft are destroyed, and the
    people who were on the aircraft are dead. Very likely there will never be a
    truly complete accounting of the events. But that isn’t any sort of evidence for any
    conspiracy.

  53. #53 MarkH
    May 6, 2007

    Greg hits on a critical point here. The previous conspiracies that BDM is concerned with were really conspiracies against perceived dissidents. They aren’t really indications of a willingness to destroy the two most prominent buildings in the US and the home of the defense department.

    Also, to believe that it wasn’t religious extremists would mean the GWB had managed to recruit suicide bombers for the Republican cause, make everyone on flight 93 a liar, make everyone at NIST a liar …

    Just too much BS to be believed. The conspiracy hypothesis is just silly.

  54. #54 Pierce R. Butler
    May 6, 2007

    MarkH – y’all do seem to be attributing to BDM more than he’s actually said. If you won’t accept him drawing on somewhat similar incidents (MK-ULTRA & Op. Northwoods were not anti-dissident schemes, btw), you shouldn’t be painting him as another D.R. Griffin with the guilt-by-assocation brush.

    BDM: Thanks for the link (though it seems some of the links on which that article depends have expired, or are incompatible with my browser). If the management here doesn’t allow more such items, could you put your other recommendations on your own blog?

  55. #55 MarkH
    May 6, 2007

    COINTELPRO was anti-dissident for sure. MK Ultra, well, sounds like that crazy woo kind of stuff that we did because the Russians were doing it. From what I understand, there were a number of these bizarre types of research that really were pretty silly. I’m not sure how mentioning that particular project lends any credence to a conspiracy argument. All it says to me is that there are gullible idiots in the CIA.

    With Northwoods you’re getting closer, but the crazy hawks under Kennedy like LeMay were something else and it is notable that it wasn’t ever actually implemented. You’d have to be a sick and twisted bastard to think that’s a good idea, and no matter how incompetent Bush is, I don’t think he ordered the death of 3000 American citizens and the destruction of major landmarks and military headquarters. He’s an idiot, not an evil genius. Just because someone came up with a sick plan like this, that was never actually implemented, doesn’t mean that our government did this on 9/11.

    Finally, the obsession over WTC7 is just nuts. In the linked article the author asserts that WTC7 is the strongest evidence for a conspiracy since it collapsed from the bottom, as would a controlled demolition. But then the go on to say that the only way this could have happened with melted steel etc., was with thermite! Really? Someone was painting the support structure with thermite ahead of time? To accomplish what? Just put a punctuation mark on the end of the day? And the reason it collapsed from the bottom is the debris from WTC damaged the structure of the lower 18 floors. I think debunking911.com does the best job there, and NIST is also informative.

    There is no credibility to this nonsense.

  56. #56 BigdaddyMalcontent
    May 7, 2007

    I just want to say that this has been an interesting discussion. I hope Mark and the other commenters agree, and I hope I haven’t pissed anyone off too much. Reading the above comments, things have gotten a little heated at a couple points. I don’t mean anything personal.

    That said, I think this is a good time to point out that this is not about a conspiracy theory vs. a rational explanation. On the contrary, it is about two (or more) competing conspiracy theories, including one in which 19 guys with box cutters evaded several layers of security to hijack four commercial jetliners and crash them into two major landmarks and killing thousands. That theory is full of holes, just like the others. What I am arguing in favor of is a theory with fewer holes. Clearly, there remains a need for a decent explanation for the Sept. 11th attacks.

    Objectivity is nearly impossible to achieve. In every culture, people exhibit a natural tendency to view their fellow countrymen in a good light, usually at the expense of some other culture. Some folks, in their eagerness to achieve objectivity, overcompensate by relentlessly viewing their fellow countrymen in the worst possible light. It is likely that I am at least a little bit guilty of the latter.

    Objectivity requires us to shed our liberalness or consertiveness or whiteness or femaleness or humanness or even Earthboundness. In philosophy, this is called “original position.” From the original position, presumably, we view the events of the world analytically, like cells in a petri dish. We look for the greatest good for the greatest number. Of course, for humans this is impossible. As a result, we have two (or more) groups of people with pre-concieved notions accepting every detail that supports their particular theory and dismissing the ones that don’t — two sets of “cranks,” if you will, each calling the other side a crank.

    Mark, debunking911.com is every bit as crappy and weakly argued as most of the so-called 9/11 truth web sites. The NIST site is slightly better in that they at least attempt to apply the scientific method, albeit to a small part of the overall attack, but in no way does it “fill the holes,” so to speak.

    Maybe it’s too close to the attacks for us to think rationally about them.

    Pierce, that’s a good idea. I’ll try to do something like that soon.

  57. #57 MarkH
    May 7, 2007

    Hmm. I disagree.

    A critical aspect of a conspiracy theory is one that posits dishonesty on the behalf of a number of persons.

    Our theory, the “official version” for a lack of a better term does not require that the passengers of flight 93 were liars. It doesn’t require 200 NIST scientists to lie. It doesn’t imply some kind of coverup of BushCo involvement.

    Instead it holds the person responsible who admitted to doing it – OBL and his planner KSM. It isn’t some doubtful hypothesis that these men were on these planes. They were filmed getting on them by security cams, they were on the manifests, flight control personnel heard them on the radios, the flight 93 people saw them take over the plane etc. We’re not calling the victims of these crimes liars. The 9/11 conspiracy cranks are. We’re not saying anyone is lying, although I don’t doubt some are obstructing to prevent exposure of incompetence.

  58. #58 BigDaddyMalcontent
    May 7, 2007

    NOUN:
    pl. con-spir-a-cies
    An agreement to perform together an illegal, wrongful, or subversive act.
    A group of conspirators.
    Law An agreement between two or more persons to commit a crime or accomplish a legal purpose through illegal action.
    A joining or acting together, as if by sinister design: a conspiracy of wind and tide that devastated coastal areas.

    That’s from the American Heritage Dictionary. Cooperating to commit an illegal act – hijacking several jetliners in an organized plot – is a conspiracy.

    Plus, you keep making these leaps in logic, like GWB organized the plot, or the passengers are liars. Those elements are not in any theories I have seen.

  59. #59 MarkH
    May 7, 2007

    BDM, that’s the implication of a conspiracy here.

    If it wasn’t OBL, then who was on the planes? If the government is manufacturing data about Atta etc., then who flew the planes, especially 93 into the ground? Was it suicide CIA agents? Or fundamentalist muslims?

    The implication that it wasn’t fundamentalist muslims attacking us in a suicide strike would mean the people providing such evidence, including the cockpit recordings and flight 93 passengers were lying.

    It was Osama bin Laden, he admitted it, the evidence points to hijackers obeying his orders, and allegations of Bushco involvement would make the victims liars.

  60. #60 Pierce R. Butler
    May 7, 2007

    MarkH – Thanks to you as well for suggesting follow-up sites. My initial impression is that debunking911.com is fairly well done, but neither comprehensive nor immune from “smash the conspiracists!” partisanship, while the NIST site is limited to issues of collapsing WT buildings. Neither seems inclined to give the government version the same hard-assed treatment given to its critics, nor to present a list of unanswered questions.

    BDM – I’ll check your blog later to see what you suggest.

  61. #61 Ed Cook
    May 21, 2008

    People may be searching for a deeper spiritual meaning for their lives by studying and promoting 911 conspiracies. Such an understanding of these people may explain why many of these individuals may refuse to admit sound evidences that prove this theory wrong. The following is a legitimate spiritual message about 911 and Iraq coming from the Bible which is not spun nor manipulated out of true context. Today Iraq sits directly on the sight of ancient Babylon which was once the domain of the famous King Nebuchadnezzar. The King saw 911 in a dream and recorded the entire event inside the Bible for all to read.
    If you are a conspiracy buff I dare you to prove this evidence wrong! No one can legitamately negate such evidence because
    the evidences are so overwhelming that honest people will recognize that it is a message abourt 911 from God.

    Nebuchadnezzar had more than one dream. The worlds most renowned theologians have missed an extremely important clue about these dreams. (Daniel 2:1.) Daniel plainly reveals the fact that this king’s deepest concerns were not intended for his present day kingdom, but, his true concern was to preserve his kingdom far into the future. “Thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed, what should come to pass hereafter: and he (God) maketh known to the king what should come to pass in the latter days. (Daniel 2:28-29.)

    What a huge mistake! Christians have long overlooked vital clues and ignored important instructions as they have tried to interpret Daniels prophecies as being applicable within his own time. No wonder so many Christians are confused about the book of Daniel. Nebuchadnezzar is very much like many politicians today and he was more concerned about his legacy than his current kingdom’s status. God answered this king’s concerns with prophetic dreams which could only be understood after the prophecies for our day came to pass. This is why God sealed the entire book of Daniel until the time of the end. “Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.” (Daniel 12:9.)

    This explains why Daniel repeatedly emphasized the fact that no one could possibly understand, or interpret the entire meaning of Gods clues. Certain prophetic events would have to occur in our time for the book of Daniel to make sense within its true context. Until these latterday prophecies came to pass, no person could possibly understand their true meaning. This means Christians today must unlearn what they have supposed themselves to understand about these prophecies. The frosting was not to be placed on the cake until something extremely important happened to the people of this generation. Daniel again makes it abundantly clear that Gods message was not given for anyone who was living in that time, but for the sake of those living in the latter days.(Daniel 2:30 )

    Daniel makes another shocking statement by suggesting that his entire mission into Babylon was to deliver a message intended for the people of our day.

    “Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days.(Daniel 10:14.)

    ” King Nebuchadnezzar’s entire life was a type of puppet show which only became benificial when it connected important parallel events intended for our day. Everything Nebuchadnezzar did in regards to Daniel or Babylon, which included his huge golden statue, were clues about events in the latter days. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abindego were also types and shadows of understanding for specific parallell events occuring in our day. The fierry furnace was to become a latter day event! Gods deliverance of His people by speaking to Moses from the burning bush also has a paralell in Babylon. Israel being delivered from Egyptian bondage also becomes a type for Babylon. God establishes two clues about these deliverances using the terms “bush, and also eagle’s wings”.

    “Yee have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagle’s wings, and brought you to myself.” (Exodus 19:4.)
    The burning bush and eagle’s wings became a prophetic symbolism for delivering branches of Israrel to salvation and freedom. Such indicates living branches which burn and are not consumed, but are delivered from the fire. Is this not like unto a “baptism by fire” burning away the sins from Israelite branches (Gods people)? Israelites were carried to freedom upon eagle’s wings (Gods power) and gathered to one place in order to witness God’s fire within a bush, another type for the the tree of life which represents Jesus Christ..

    Another clue is apparent when Nebuchadnezzar imitated Moses by gathering all of the gentile nations to one place to worship Babylon’s god. Nebuchadnezzar orders three Hebrews to be cast into the fiery furnace after they refused his command to “fall down and worship his golden image.” They were defying his political authority, which was like rejecting god himself. Three Israelite branches were then cast into this furnace. Suddenly, he who dwelt in the bush, who is “like unto the son of God,” appears inside the flames. Man’s fire is changed into God’s fire in the burning Bush.

    This powerful event demonstrated to each gentile present in Babylon that God’s only son represents the root branch of Israel while Shadrach, Meshach, and Abindego were the Israelite branches gathered to the burning bush unto healing wings of deliverance.
    These branches were not consumed by fire because the son of God’s representative dwelt in the bush with healing in his wings.. This same God came to Babylon inside Iraq, demonstrating Gods future plans to gather gentiles to the Bush as before. God symbolizes Nebuchadnezzar as a “Lion having eagle’s wings.(Daniel 7:3 ) Nebuchadnezzar was trying to gather his zion by the use of political type wings which immitated God’s wings for eagle’s freedom. Nebuchadnezzar’s political wings were plucked off when God removed Nebuchadnezzar from his kingdom for a seven year period. “Dan.7: 3.”

    When Nebuchadnezzar later repented of his pride he then had a second dream where he witnessed true eagle’s feathers growing from within his old political wing’s roots. Metiphorically he was being transformed from a cruel lion nature to the true freedom of an eagle, which wings represented Godly freedom and redemption..(Daniel 4:33.) Remember, this Babylonian king was a prophetic puppet for events to transpire in our day. The gentile Christians of our day were delivered to America’s freedoms, another symbol of eagle’s wings.

    A modern Bush is currently delivering Iraq upon these American eagle’s wings obviously doing Gods will by delivering Nebuchadnezzars ancient land from another evil captivity. When Nebuchadnezzar repented, God commanded that Nebuchadnezzar’s gentile family tree be cut down to a stump, which symbolizes his family tree be humbled and left in the earth. (Daniel 4:23.) God then commands that these roots be kept alive and watered for a future purpose in Iraq. (Daniel 4.26)

    God then commands this symbolic tree stump be bound until a future time. (Daniel.4.) Just take Gods obvious clue as it stands inside your Bible. If you cut down a tree and keep the stump watered what will it someday become? A Bush! Why a bush?
    The tree trunk cannot possibly grow back again as before, but new branches certainly will grow in time. The stump is transformed into a freedom bush, or a gathering of eagle’s wings, which explains why eagle feathers grew out from Nebuchadnezzar’s heart within his famous gentile dream.(Daniel 4:33.)

    Nebuchadnezzar’s life was used as a puppet for a modern day Iraq, wherein God would revive ancient Babylon again as a result of His promises through Daniel’s interpretations of Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams. Iraq is being transformed into a democracy following the image of the eagle and its modern deliverer named George Bush. A type of God’s deliverance for freedom today like a Bush
    consistantly on fire from Babylon’s liberal criticism but never consumed.

    How many Hebrews were cast into the furnace of fire in ancient Babylon? Was it not three! Why were they cast into that fire? They stood up for religious freedom, did they not! Is this not the very reason America came into existence by declaring religious liberty above an evil King? Were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abindego not symbols of the modern eagle called America? Were they not willing to die for their religious freedom? How many American eagle’s (planes) were cast into the firey furnace on 9 – 11? Were there not three seperate planes? Did the trade center and the Pentagon not become a modern fiery furnaces made many times hotter because of the jet fuel, paralleling the ancient Babylons fire?

    Why else did Nebuchadnezzar order Shadrach and the other two men to pack all of their clothes into a kind of “suit case” before being cast into the fire? Why were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abindego cast into the fire after being bound with all their specific clothing? (Daniel 4:21 ) Was this not a twin prophecy matching 9 – 11 when people entered modern planes being bound with their clothing in suit cases? Were they not likewise cast into the fiery furnace along with all of their clothing on board the planes? We could literally name each plane on 9 – 11 after Shadrach, Meshach and Abindego.

    Was there not a fourth eagle (jet plane) which unexpectedly came on the scene? Was this not the climax of the entire 9 – 11 event?
    Did the 4th plane called flight 93 not sacrifice itself by coming down from heaven to the earth in order to save others from a terrible fate? When the press and fire trucks arrived at flight 93′s crash site, they discovered an empty hole in the earth with no trace of a plane inside it? “Where is flight 93?” they cried! The fourth eagle, which came down to earth from heaven created an empty tomb! When Christ’s followers ran to his tomb it was found empty. Flight 93 truly represents a touching sacrifice for others in a true American memorial. “I see a fourth.. who is like unto the son of God. (Daniel 3:25.)

    Can you now begin to understand why it is a mistake to interpret the book of Daniel for Daniel’s day alone? The complete message is now unsealed. It was published in a new book titled “Bible Prophecies of 9 – 11.” http://www.eternaltruth.net You are about to witness actual biblical prophecies fulfilled in a way that could not posssibly be a manipulation of context. Daniel the prophet just sent you direct messages from God about 9 – 11 and Iraq. Become a living witness today! The book is powerfull beyond words! There are hundreds of 9 – 11 and Iraq witnesses within this 340 page book. Please verify this biblical claim for yourself and share the news with everyone you can!

    Analysts are already predicting a huge sweep of leftists coming into both houses of congress along with the white house this fall. These leftists openly consider Christians the enemies of the state, and even above the terrorists. These people are itching to pass the fairness doctrine to put an end conservative talk radio. They are already targeting hate legislation aimed directly against all Christian patriots. They plan a massive overhaul of the judicial system to impose legislation against 1st and 2nd amendment rights.

    McCain will make the Iraq war the central issue of this campaign because Obama promises to withdraw our troops regardless if the terrorists declare victory. Christians may have one last chance to grandstand against another Vietnam and the establishment of an anti Christian socialistic state in America. But there is now a new hope!

    A new biblical discovery has just hit the market, bringing a miraculous prophecy about Iraq. There have been a large number of related biblical scriptures which have passed silently under the radar.

    Iraq is to be freed by a great eagle’s wings in the latter days! This is welcome news coming straight from the Bible just before the election.

    If the war in Iraq represents Gods will as predicted in Bible prophecy, this may be our chance to unify Christian patriots before this critical election takes place. Obama claims to be a Christian. Could he now be exposed publically for opposing America or “the great eagle” freeing Iraq in Bible prophecy? A Salem Christian group published an important press release concerning this true Biblical discovery! This stunning declaration comes from one of the most reputable Christian Publishers in America.
    http://www.eternaltruth.net/bpo911.html

    One critic asked the author how he could possibly announce he had discovered 9/11 and Iraq in Bible prophecy?
    “Aren’t you exploiting thousands of American deaths in both this current war and 9/11 just sell a book?”

    Author..” “That is my greatest consolation! As we speak many people including veterans are purchasing this book witnessing the very references which prove this book’s biblical promises. People are witnessing biblical prophecies as they unfold before their eyes concerning 9 – 11 and Iraq freed by a modern eagle. Amazon.com just announced upon their web sight that they have sold out the book and must now order more!”

    “There are no unsatisfied customers who complain having not received anything less than what was promised by the author. There are steady reports of people who find far more than what they expected possible. It would be unforgivable for any author to promise people such to exploit a national tragedy just for book sales. Many lives are lost and many families with children grieve after having lost their parents. I am not letting those people down who purchase this book in good faith. We are delivering a true message from biblical prophets that was meant for our time. “I have four children of my own, if my book were to become exposed as a manipulation of biblical text such would forever mark my children’s name as well as my own. I have been blessed to have discovered a message placed into the Bible, which could unite believers together before this election. The media does not want people tp hear this message.”

    Author of this book,
    Paul Gregersen

    Listen likewise to an educated critics expert opinion regarding this miraclulous book.

    “Reading this particular book has made me aware of how christians have come to accept biblical spin and less than honest interpretations when reading books on Bible prophecy.” When I started reading “Bible prophecies of 9 – 11″ the whole idea of 9 – 11 and Iraq being in Bible prophecy admittedly was quite appealing to me.

    But it seemed very far fetched and I fully expected to discover another fiction story cleverly masked behind a another “new” biblical declaration. I fully expected to see the familiar hand picking of quotes deliberately coming from the authors’ selection of unrelated texts to manipulate the meaning of Bible text. I’ve learned that it is a common trick to cleverly combine unrelated verses from separated biblical context in order to stretch readers’ perception beyond the original focus toward the authors’ conclusions, creating the appearance that authors conclusions are also supported by the Bible.

    My first surprise while reading this book was to see this author approach things quite differently by laying a biblical foundation from Adam and Eve with the tree of life story, establishing common threads for his entire biblical claim. As the first chapters began to build solidly on biblical themes I quickly realized this particular author was either seriously attempting to link legitimate patterns of bible prophecy, or he was using an even more clever deception to mislead me. This author surprisingly understood the procedure to outline proper types and shadows and stay within one context while linking proper biblical themes. Since the author was not spinning I suspected that he would postpone taking of his liberties until he would be forced into a corner having to demonstrate 9 – 11 towers falling and eagle’s wings into modern Iraq. See new youtube movies explaining thids new discovery. http://www.eternaltruth.net

  62. #62 LanceR
    May 21, 2008

    Holy Crazy Crap, Batman! Now that’s some weapons-grade insanity right there!

    Dude. If you think a bunch of stone-age barbarian sheepherders predicted anything past their next adventure in cross-species fertilization, you have got some serious issues. Seriously, seek help.

  63. #63 LanceR, JSG
    July 24, 2009

    Yes, thank you for sharing. Please note that the captain has turned on the “No Sharing” light. Please refrain from sharing until your fantasy flight has returned to reality and come to a complete stop.