Hacks Scribble While the Official Conspiracy Theory Burns!
By Winter Patriot on 9/11/2006, 12:28am PT  

Guest blogged by Winter Patriot

I don't know whether you've noticed, but I have: billions and billions of op/ed pieces coming out every day lately, purportedly "debunking" the so-called "conspiracy theorists" on the subject of 9/11. A glutton for punishment, I read as many of them as I can get my grubby little hands on.

One thing they do --- one thing they all do --- is fasten onto one or a few of the least plausible suggestions ever advanced by anyone who didn't believe the official story of 9/11, shred them (yes, very easy to do!) and then act as if such shredding nullifies every question raised by every person who does not believe the “official conspiracy theory" of 9/11.

The logic is stunning in its simplicity. It's as if --- bear with me; this gets better --- you're at a football game with sixty or seventy thousand other people, and a stranger sitting next to you says to his buddy, "They'll never score if they don't start throwing the ball!" And now suppose the next play is a straightforward running play and it goes for a touchdown.

Without necessarily being a professional logician, nor a master of sciences theoretical or applied, but simply as a semi-intelligent human being, you should be well-equipped to answer the following question:

What conclusion can you draw from this incident?

If you said:


then you could be missing out on a career as a "9/11 conspiracy-theory" "debunker"!!

But first you must learn how to smile as you kill.

I'm smiling, friends, but I have the knives out. Look, here's something I found from Adam Harvey, in Australia: [my emphasis, here and elsewhere]

The big lie

Some media organisations such as Popular Science magazine are finally taking the theorists to task.

An exhaustive investigation by Popular Science stripped back each conspiracy to its core set of facts, and then used science and logic to reveal the truth behind the myth. A new book, Debunking 9/11 Myths, details the magazine's findings.

Popular Science found each conspiracy theory was supported by little more than shoddy research, misinterpretations of evidence, and leaps of logic that would embarrass a primary school student.

Ooooohhhh, did I hear "shoddy research"? You're ringin' my bell, Adam Harvey! Let's talk about shoddy research, shall we?

First of all, this is the internet so we need a link. Maybe an op/ed piece for a print-only newspaper can be fact-free, but on the net if you want to claim any credibility at all, you have to have at least one link!

So LOOK: this is the magazine Adam Harvey is writing about.

Note the date: March, 2005. Note Harvey's refreshingly current narrative:

Some media organisations such as Popular Science magazine are finally taking the theorists to task.

Impressive, isn't it? Hey, this guy's good!

No, wait! It gets better: Note the magazine's title.

Do you see

... Popular Science magazine ... Popular Science ... Popular Science ...

No??? That's because it's Popular Mechanics!!

Good goin', Adam.

Let's have a big round of applause for Adam Harvey, ladies and gentlemen, for his keen work on the front lines of the great American culture war, where he debunks the purveyors of shoddy research!!

Adam Harvey! What a putz!

Now look over here:

The theorists use flawed logic, says Jonathan Barnett, an expert in fireproofing who helped the official investigation into the towers' collapse.

"The fact that you don't have evidence to support your theory doesn't mean that the other theory is true," says Mr Barnett, from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts.

Did you catch that last bit? That there was one beautiful sentence, but the way it was packaged here constitutes perhaps the most perfect example of flawed logic one could ever ask for.

In other words, Run that by me again??

"The fact that you don't have evidence to support your theory doesn't mean that the other theory is true"

Well of course it doesn't! Who ever said it did?

Ah, I remember now! Nobody ever said that, but somebody implied it.

Now who was that? Popular Science, of course --- I mean Popular Mechanics!

Did you recognize it? Maybe not --- I didn't catch it myself the first time. The quote from Mr. Barnett is pretty abstract. So let's flesh it out a bit, and re-cast it in terms relevant to the situation under discussion. What he's really saying is:

Even if the "conspiracy theorists" don't have any evidence to support their "conspiracy theories", this in and of itself would not prove the official story was true.

In other words, Jonathan Barnett, of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, is saying that the methodology used by Popular ... um ... Mechanics! ... wasn't worth the paper it was printed on!

But Adam Harvey ran that quote anyway, in a context where it made no sense --- unless you re-parse the beginning of the preceding sentence:

The theorists use flawed logic

and for "theorists", you read "official story theorists who wrote the piece in Popular Mechanics".

Now it makes sense again:

The "official story theorists" who wrote the piece in Popular Mechanics use flawed logic. Even if the "conspiracy theorists" don't have any evidence to support their "conspiracy theories", this in and of itself would not prove the official story was true.

Now think about this for a moment: that PM article is slick!! There's no way something that sophisticated could have been produced by people who didn't know what they were doing. And that means that the people who wrote that very slick piece must have known that any football fan who says: "NOBODY IN THIS WHOLE STADIUM KNOWS ANYTHING ABOUT ANYTHING!!" is a fool!

So ... are they counting on their readers being fools? I didn't say they were. Nor did I deny it. Nor would I.

I'm not going to say any more about Adam Harvey and his great big stupid lie. It's too easy to make fun of this guy; it's too easy to make fun of this article. What a putz!

But I will switch gears for a moment and examine another piece about the loony "conspiracy theorists", from Michael Shelden via England's Telegraph:
The CIA couldn't have organised this...

Michael Shelden runs through the usual array of trickery and tactics to try to make his point without actually having one. In a few instances it backfires on him in a very humorous way. Note this passage in which he denigrates the academic qualifications of the group, and impugns the intelligence of James Fetzer in particular:

In such a large group of "leading academics" - as one newspaper called them - there must be a few who have solid proof of a conspiracy.

Don't bet on it. Most of them aren't scientists but instructors in the liberal arts at second-rate colleges who have spent much of their careers tilting at various windmills. Professor James Fetzer of Minnesota, for example, thinks that JFK was killed by several shooters [...]

First of all I would expect Michael Shelden to show some respect for these "instructors in the liberal arts at second-rate colleges", considering the fact that he himself "is professor of English at Indiana State University"; hardly a grand bastion of academic progress, is it, Professor Sheldon?

Jim Fetzer has a Ph.D. and a mind like a hot scalpel. How about you? What have you got?

Oh, right! You've got:

Professor James Fetzer of Minnesota, for example, thinks that JFK was killed by several shooters [...]

As a matter of fact, the House Select Committee on Assassinations found (through investigation of acoustic evidence provided late in their investigation) that at least four and maybe even five shots were fired in Dealey Plaza that day, and that Lee Harvey Oswald could not possibly have fired so many shots in such a short time, and therefore they concluded that JFK was killed by multiple shooters: they said it was "probably" a conspiracy --- presumably leaving open the possibility that the "multiple shooters" just happened to be operating independently; in other words it could be that "two lone nuts" did it. But there was definitely more than one shooter. That's the conclusion of the House Committee. They were the last official body to investigate JFK's murder. And therefore their report is the officially accepted version of the day's events.

What all this means is that Michael Shelden just got caught trying to smear James Fetzer based on knowledge that Fetzer has --- and Shelden lacks!

Wee-Haahhh! Lookin' Good, Michael!! You da Mannnnn! What a putz!

In the large view, this is all trivial bickering: the main dish is the so-called evidence.

According to Michael Shelden,

It is going to take much more than five years for some real scholars to understand what happened on 9/11 and to explain what it meant.

I suppose that depends on how smart your scholars are. It took some people less than a day to figure out what had happened and what it all meant, and they would have been able to explain it to everybody in a lot less than five years if the big-mouthed know-nothings like Michael Shelden and Adam Harvey would shut up and let them talk ... and provided nobody sent them anthrax.

But one thing seems clear now - almost everyone in power over-reacted at the start. The exaggerations began with the initial reports of casualties, which were initially estimated to be as high as 20,000 dead. All of civil aviation in a country 3,000 miles wide was shut down for days because four planes were hijacked in a small corner of the north-east. Armed soldiers patrolled the airports and dozens of innocent terrorist "suspects" were imprisoned without charge. Most ridiculous of all, rumours were spread that Iraq was sitting on a pile of nuclear and chemical weapons to be launched in the next wave of terrorism.

Right! All of which make the official story seem somewhat fishy! This is a credibility issue, Michael: if they lied to us about all thos things, why would anyone assume they were telling the truth about anything else? I'm not saying that lying about casualties, over-reacting about everything, slipping the so-called PATRIOT Act through Congress in the middle of the night six weeks after 9/11 are indications of an "inside job". What I am saying is: be very careful --- you know how reliable these people are --- don't take anything they say at face value.

Both Republicans and Democrats were caught up in this hysteria. They all thought the sky was falling and panicked, lashing out mindlessly at enemies real and imagined. Both Bush and the Clintons beat the drums warning of WMD.

Yes, rumors about Iraq's capabilities and intentions were spread, but this was not an accident. It was a deliberate policy implemented by the White House Iraq Group. If both Republicans and Democrats did beat the war drums and join in the same frenzy, perhaps it's because both groups were getting doctored and incomplete intelligence. And that was another deliberate policy of the White House.

The President and Congress wanted to launch an invasion in the Middle East, but not because they had planned it that way. It was just that nobody was going to be satisfied until this 21st-century Pearl Harbor was avenged with an old-style victory over an enemy state.

Come again? Bush wanted to invade Iraq before he even became president --- which, to remind Michael Shelden and anyone else who has lost track of the time-line, was BEFORE 9/11. And nobody in his or her right mind wanted to do anything to Iraq because of 9/11; we were told at the time that 9/11 was connected to Afghanistan!

Please notice that NOWHERE in this discussion has Michael Shelden written anything that had any bearing on the question of whether 9/11 was an inside job. NOT ONCE! I've turned it into a conversation in order to show that nearly everything he's saying is FALSE; not because it's relevant.

In other words, all this talk of Iraq is meaningful only in that it shows how the new history of the USA being constructed. One great big stupid lie after another.

I find it incredible that anyone could use the phrase "21st-century Pearl Harbor" in this context and still pretend 9/11 was as it appeared to be.

But there's been a lot of pretending going on for the past five years so I suppose I shouldn't be surprised.

How's this next bit for stupid?

It was the Second World War all over again, with Saddam Hussein standing in as Hitler and Bush trying to play the part of a Navy fighter pilot like his dad.

Whoa! If it was the Second World War all over again, then we've got the cast all wrong: we need the USA standing in for Germany --- invading defenseless countries on false pretexts, among a great many other crimes --- and that means Bush lines up squarely behind Hitler. And that makes perfect sense too.

Iraq would have to be Poland --- or Austria, maybe. One of the small countries overrun by the aggressors early on, anyway. But George W. Bush's grandfather would still be Hitler's personal banker.

The distortions and outright lies peddled by Michael Shelden cannot possibly be accidental. In other words, his shoddy essay couldn't possibly be a case of shoddy research. Shelden is deliberately lying here, and he's actually pretty good at it. Not good enough to sneak past the BS-detectors you'll find around this blog, but pretty good nonetheless.

He isn't a good enough liar to lecture us about the internet, but that doesn't stop him trying.

So why is it that millions of people on both sides of the Atlantic embrace his vague, unsupported charges of a vast conspiracy?

The Ohio University poll provides one clue. It found that the people who were most likely to believe in the 9/11 conspiracies were those who "regularly use the internet but who do not regularly use ''mainstream" media".

Well, what does that tell you? Internet users will tell you it's amazing how much real news is available from all over the world, and not just news but history and science and art and much else of course, that's not available in the "mainstream media" and never will be.

Did you stop to think about the fact that people watching TV or reading the paper are passively absorbing the news and opinions they get, without ever being able to ask a question? Or to express their own opinions? Whereas people using the net are looking for what they want, rather than sitting back and waiting for it to come along?

For me the most important benefit of the net is the peer-review aspect of it. If I post something that's wrong, somebody is going to bring it to my attention. The last time it happened was on the "Mother Jones" thread. Take a look; it's not pretty. I messed up, a reader pointed it out, I fixed it, we moved on, la-dee-dah.

Alone in a darkened room with paranoid cyber-friends as your only company, you can easily begin to entertain all sorts of bizarre notions, especially when trying to make sense of an event as grotesque as the collapse of two skyscrapers. And, after five years of seeing the event constantly replayed, many people have obviously become detached from the reality of the terror, and are ripe for imagining that it is a kind of computer-generated spectacle engineered by a fiendish team of Dr Strangeloves.

Quite the contrary, I assure you. Most of the people I know on the net are more intense about 9/11, and finding the real truth about it, than those who sit on the couch and watch mainstream news. You're right it was grotesque and in order to understand it you have to deal with some bizarre notions. But unfortunately the history of our country --- especially recently --- is littered with bizarre notions.

Including this one: Michael Shelden has done us a favor by marking his key point so we can't miss it. Here's his best shot:

The most persuasive argument against a conspiracy is the profound incompetence that subsequent events have revealed at every level among the supposed conspirators. The same people who are making a mess of Iraq were never so clever or devious that they could stage a complex assault on two narrow towers of steel and glass tucked alongside the Hudson River.

And there you have it, folks: Illogic twisted upon lies and spiraling in on itself in such a way that it can no longer be disentangled without grave danger. But I will try:

First of all, Shelden has never indicated just who he thinks the "supposed conspirators" were. Most of the "9/11 Truth" people I talk with --- not that I've done a formal survey, but most of the ones I know --- are Truth Seekers; not Proclaimers of so-called truth.

In order to make us go away, you can't just wave some half-assed "theory" at us and shout "that's been debunked!", because we don't have half-assed theories. We have questions. And in order to make us go away you will have to answer our questions.

Most of us have no idea what happened ... but we do know that the official story cannot possibly be true, and we want an independent investigation. Period.

Second, no matter which suspects or which crime, observations of what they did in the years following the crime cannot possibly constitute proof of their innocence.

So --- LISTEN! pay attention, now --- if this is Shelden's best argument, then he might as well just come out and say: "It must have been an Inside Job!"

Third, and most dangerous in my estimation, Sheldon makes too many unfounded assumptions. If events subsequent to 9/11 have revealed anything at all, it is this: this administration's aims are never what you think they are. They are always running a secret agenda.

They could have won the war in Iraq quickly if they had wanted to; but they didn't want to. The generals who dared to suggest that Rumsfeld wasn't taking enough troops into Iraq were shunned --- and worse! Do you remember? They were assuming Rumsfeld wanted to win the war and withdraw. But that was never the plan.

Josh Marshall was writing about the "let's get bogged down in Iraq" plan back in 2002, but nobody was listening.

Marshall wrote then that they wanted to get bogged down in Iraq so they would have a pretext to stay there indefinitely. He wrote that they wanted to get so badly mired in Iraq that no presidential candidate in 2004 could plausibly run against the war --- so that the contest would be between two pro-war candidates and therefore the war would go on regardless of who won the election. And Josh Marshall was right. They got exactly what they wanted.

They had always wanted to start a civil war Iraq. And they funded and organized death squads to hasten the process along. Now they have what they want.

And their opponents say "it's a mistake!"

Argggh! Some opponents!!

It's about empire, Michael. It's not about revenge. And it's definitely not about terrorism.

At this point, the only people who consider the Iraq War "a mistake" or "a failure" are those who didn't --- and still don't --- understand the administration's objectives in waging this war, and its implications. They don't understand the objectives or the implications of 9/11, either. And so-called journalists like Adam Harvey and Michael Shelden like it that way.

Welcome to The Ministry of Truth, the Orwellian information department where journalists rewrite the day's news, where any aspect of the nation's history can be changed at a moment's notice. Or no notice at all. All your current knowledge will now be deleted. Thank you.

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