New York City activist

February 2, 2008

Debates and such – further reply to some JREF folks

I’ll now reply to various points in the thread Diane’s Question for Mark in the JREF forum, beyond the points already discussed my posts Reply to debate invitation from Ron/pomeroo on JREF and My decision about Ron Wieck’s show and the subsequent comment threads.


If someone from JREF could post a link to this post over there, I would very much appreciate it.

Mark Roberts vs. Jon Gold

In this post in the JREF forum, Mark Roberts responded to my mention of Jon Gold’s stated willingness to debate with him. He quoted a bunch of back-and-forth squabbling amongst himself, Jon Gold, and Jim Fetzer, supposedly proving that Jon Gold is too much of a “coward” to debate with Mark Roberts. Actually, it looked to me as if Jon Gold’s objections were more to Ron Wieck as a host than to the very idea of debating with Mark Roberts at all.

In a related vein, pomeroo wrote, regarding his upcoming show in WTC 7:

I can’t produce any champion of Truth to explain to Mark and Arthur Scheuerman where they’re going wrong. Isn’t this an astonishing development?

Actually, I recall seeing at least one, and I think two or three, people who did volunteer in this JREF thread, but who were dismisssed as insufficiently prominent. If Mark and Ron were to eliminate the stated requirement that the guest be “influential,” I’m sure they could easily find plenty of people willing to debate them on their show. But the more “influential” folks have bigger fish to fry.

Incidentally, I’m not sure why Ron chose to invite me, while dismissing those who volunteered in JREF. I’m not terribly “influential” either. Perhaps I was invited because, although not so “influential” myself, I do have regular contacts with some “influential” people?

Rhetorical question to Mark Roberts: Why won’t you debate with any of the people who offered to debate with you in this JREF thread? You’re not afraid to, are you?

As I said, that’s a rhetorical question. My actual point is not to accuse Mark of being a coward, but rather to suggest to Mark that, if he would prefer that other people not reduce all his reasons for refusing to debate with particular people to “fear,” then perhaps he should show the same courtesy to other people.

Anyhow, a request to all who post comments here on this blog: Let’s not see any more macho chest-pounding accusations of “cowardice” here in comments on this blog, okay?

Back to Jon Gold. A JREF regular named ref (a.k.a. ref1 here) wrote:

Let’s see if Jon Gold accepts the challenge. My guess: He’ll back out, blaming the biased host/show or you being only a tour guide.

Mark being “only a tour guide” is irrelevant to the kinds of topics that Jon is willing to debate with him. He did indeed refuse because of Ron as the host. However, rather than say he “backed out,” I would just say that his Jon’s Truth Action post was incomplete. It didn’t specify all the conditions under which he would or would not be willing to debate with Mark, but just said he would be willing to debate with Mark about certain topics. (There are probably some conditions under which Mark would be unwilling to debate, too, I would imagine.)

Has Jon ever been offered the opportunity for a public debate with Mark in some other venue, with topic limitations to be negotiated in advance?

Apology and further clarification to Mark Roberts

In my post My decision about Ron Wieck’s show, I wrote the following:

Someone with the user name “nicepants” wrote:

Be sure to read the responses you’ve gotten from truthers explaining why they’ve decided not to show. I love the excuse they use that Mark isn’t qualified. If that was the case, it would be a slam dunk.

Actually, there’s a legitimate issue here. Because Mark apparently does not have a strong technical background (I once saw him say somewhere, “I’m just a tour guide”), he is likely to rely heavily on arguments from authority when discussing the central physical issues regarding building collapses. Hence any in-depth discussion about the central physical issues would almost inevitably have to veer off into a distracting debate about the significance of things like conflicts of interest, the politics of academia, and the methodological differences between structural engineering and nearly every other kind of engineering. These are important topics in themselves, but, if someone is just going to cling desperately to arguments from authority, as I’ve seen Mark do in quite a few posts in the JREF forum, this makes a real discussion about the central physical issues impossible. I’d much rather debate the central physical issues with someone who has had at least a year or two of physics in college and who has a strong recollection of basic mechanics, including the math involved.

If I ever do a televised debate with Mark Roberts, I would prefer that it be a debate focussed primarily on issues that any intelligent layperson can research and discuss without having to cling desperately to arguments from authority, such as the air defense failures and the behavior of high officials on 9/11. But I am, at the present time, far from adequately prepared for a televised debate on those issues – even less so than I am, at this moment, prepared for a televised debate about WTC 7.

In response to an objection by “totovader,” who posted a comment here on this blog, I wrote the following clarification, as part of this comment:

It wasn’t an “ad hominem” because the very topic of the discussion was the circumstances under which I’d be willing to engage in a public debate. These circumstances naturally include the qualifications of the person I would be debating with, as well as my own qualifications. Furthermore, I should clarify that I consider Mark “unqualified” only on the purely physical issues. But the purely physical issues are only one piece of a much larger puzzle. On all other issues, I consider him to be far more “qualified” than myself at this point, which is the main reason I backed down.

Anyhow, my judgment of Mark’s “qualifications” is based on my own observation of an admittedly limited sample of his JREF posts, as discussed in my post above, so it’s possible I’m mistaken. If I am, feel free to point it out. In any case, I am sorry if I offended Mark.

Based on the comment from totovader plus another comment by “calcas,” I got the feeling that Mark Roberts had felt offended by my post, although I had not yet read the relevant JREF thread. So, I emailed Mark to call his attention to my clarification.

Further clarification: My original point was in response to the following remark by nicepants: “I love the excuse they use that Mark isn’t qualified. If that was the case, it would be a slam dunk.” My point was to explain how it wouldn’t necessarily be a “slam dunk” to argue with a person who is less qualified than oneself on some particular topic. If the less-qualified person happens to be championing a more mainstream view, then the less-qualified person has the option of relying heavily on arguments from authority and popularity, which makes the original topic difficult to discuss in any meaningful way at all. And indeed that’s precisely what I’ve seen Mark do in quite a few posts in the JREF forum, and it’s one of the things he has a reputation for amongst people in the 9/11 Truth movement. So, if I were to debate with Mark about the physical aspects of the WTC 7 collapse, I would need not only to study up on WTC 7, but also to gather a bunch of info to cast doubt on the validity of the expected arguments from authority (info which I know is out there, it would just be time-consuming to gather it all together). It also means that the debate would end up being less focussed on the central issues.

Anyhow, in my original post, it would have been more polite of me to say that Mark “relies heavily on” rather than “clings desperately to” arguments from authority. I hereby apologize for the unnecessarily inflammatory wording. I should have caught that before posting it. I’m sorry I didn’t.

Anyhow, in this post in JREF, Gravy (Mark Roberts) wrote:

She doesn’t feel prepared. Okay, that’s fine. But if she were prepared, she’d want to debate someone more capable than me. Interesting logic.

That’s an oversimplifcation of what I wrote. I stated the above regarding only the specific topic of the physical aspects of building collapses, and I explained my reasons why. But I also left open the door to a possible future debate with him on other aspects of 9/11 besides the question of what was and was not done to the WTC buildings.

Totovader similarly misunderstood my point:

I never understood that sort of ad hominem attack. If Mark really is that incompetent, incapable, or otherwise an easy adversary – then why not destroy him in a debate?

I didn’t say that Mark was generally “incompetent, incapable, or otherwise an easy adversary.” My concern about Mark was much more specific than that.

Hyperviolet wrote:

I’ll echo what others have said; that Diane certainly seems like a sincere and intelligent individual.

However, regarding the notion that Mark isn’t well-versed enough to discuss the actual collapses, and instead relies on the Appeal To Authority fallacy, I can say, without equivocation, that this is simply untrue.
To any regular in the Conspiracy sub-forum it’s obvious that he has a strong understanding of the collapse of the Twin Towers.
And has debated the specifics countless times.

If anyone can point me to examples of specific posts in which Mark shows his understanding of the physical issues, I would be interested to see them. Nearly all the of the posts of his that I’ve seen, on the physical issues, have been hurried dismissals of other people’s posts on the grounds of an appeal to authority or popularity, either directly stated or implied.

Indeed, arguments from authority and popularity seem to be, by far, the most frequent kinds of arguments I’ve seen amongst JREFers generally, in the admittedly limited sample of JREF threads I’ve looked at, although there are exceptions. I’ve even seen complaints about this state of affairs by one person in the JREF camp, namely Frank Greening.

(P.S.: 2/9/2008: It turns out that Mark is indeed able to argue at least some physical issues directly. See the section # Mark’s mechanical arguments, and some other thoughts in my post Review of Hardfire debates between Mark Roberts and Loose Change crew.)

More about me

Someone named Viper Daimao wrote here in the JREF thread about me:

Sounds like she actually watched the episodes and realized she doesn’t have enough insulation from reality to think she would have “won” or looked good.

No, I actually have not yet gotten around to watching the episodes yet, except for the first 10 minutes or so, which had nothing to do with WTC 7. And I didn’t suddenly become aware of my unpreparedness upon seeing the first 10 minutes of the DVD. This was an issue from the beginning, as explained in my two earlier posts.

ETA: Actually reading her post, he seems she honestly admits to not knowing very much about the collapse and issues. Perhaps she would be interested in some written debates or just discussions totally separate from the show. Has anyone actually tried to show her that she’s wrong?

To say that I “don’t know very much about the collapse and issues” is an exaggeration. I just don’t consider myself to be enough of an expert to appear in a televised debate. But, as noted in my previous post here on this blog, I do know enough to be what at least two folks on your side consider to be the toughest written debater they’ve ever encountered (assuming they’re being honest with me and not just buttering me up). I’ve had numerous written debates here with highly qualified people, including a structural engineer.

Various other people in JREF, too, mistook my admission of insufficient preparation for a televised debate to be an admission of near-total ignorance. I have studied various 9/11-related topics quite a bit, including the other side’s arguments on various issues. I’m just not an expert yet. I don’t want to go on TV until I’m truly an expert.

westprog wrote:

She does indeed appear to be reasonably intelligent and civil. It seems unlikely that if that is the case, she can continue to keep the company she does for much longer.

The debunkers are not uniformly civil, or intelligent, or witty, or accurate – but they are all of these things far more than the conspiracists.

First off, regarding that word “conspiracist,” please see my blog post Chip Berlet and “Conspiracism”.

Second, I don’t perceive the “debunkers” as more civil. I think there’s an inevitable human tendency to perceive the other side of any dispute as nastier than one’s own side. I also see a lot of people on both sides jumping to conclusions about each other, resulting in a lot of otherwise unnecessary nastiness.

Hyperviolet wrote:

(Seen as Diane reads these posts, maybe she could join the forum and participate in the discussions directly? It’d sure be nice to have a civil truther around to spark reasonable debate.)

First, I don’t read JREF most of the time, just now and then, mostly just specific threads that have been called to my attention. When I have occasion to look up the other side’s arguments on a particular issue, I prefer to go to the sites with the best signal to noise ratio, such as Mike Williams’s 9/11 Myths site.

Second, registration in the JREF forum would require me to give my legal name and other identifying personal info. I’ve been told that the site administrators are very strict about wanting legal names. Now, they may be perfectly trustworthy people for all I know, but I don’t know them, and I choose to guard my privacy.

Anyone who wants to debate with me is welcome to come over to my blog.

Anyhow, I would appreciate it very much if someone from JREF could post a link to this post over there.

(P.S.: Edited to change “sites with a good signal-to-noise ratio” to “the sites with the best signal to noise ratio.”)

Advertisements

39 Comments »

  1. Diane,

    It sounds like you want your cake and eat it to. If you, unqualified in the subject matter for debate, only wish to debate those “qualified”, why should they not raise the same objection with you.

    I also find your “suspicion” that Mark would be arguing from “authority” specious. There is lots of debate and comments of all sorts on forums of JREF, from insults, to humor, to the serious. Jon Gold has earned the derision he gets from all of us. Many of us do not suffer fools gladly. Mark has the distinction, as a layman, of assembling one of the most massive documents of links to those who are authorities in the subject matter as well as to Truther challenges to those. In so doing, as an intelligent and rational person, Mark has absorbed a lot of that material, from both sides, and is qualified to impart his knowledge – and accept critiques of it – from anyone who wishes to debate him.

    It is simple to just decline to debate Mark. Just say so. But to give justifications for declining based on your criteria that he meet some standard that you put yourself up as exempt from, and to use limited knowledge of Mark in doing so, is, at best, disingenuous.

    Comment by 911booger — February 2, 2008 @ 3:41 pm | Reply

  2. I didn’t say that you said Mark was “incompetent, incapable, or otherwise an easy adversary”- I was obviously referring to others, and a general consensus among some of Mark’s other challenges.

    Comment by totovader — February 2, 2008 @ 4:38 pm | Reply

  3. 911booger wrote:

    It sounds like you want your cake and eat it to. If you, unqualified in the subject matter for debate, only wish to debate those “qualified”,

    First, “qualified” is a relative term. Here is a specific example of the kind of discussion I’ve already had, here on this blog, which I don’t think I could have had with Mark Roberts. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I doubt that Mark could fully understand this comment of mine in particular. (Does Mark know what “the integral of force over time” is?) The person I was talking to, a structural engineer, did understand and responded accordingly.

    Again, I (tentatively) consider Mark “unqualified” on only a small though important subset of the many issues pertaining to 9/11. Furthermore, this was not my main reason for turning down the invitation. In fact, I mentioned this issue only in response to remarks by someone else in the JREF forum about other people’s refusals to debate Mark.

    911booger then wrote:

    why should they not raise the same objection with you.

    They certainly could if they wanted to. They might or might not want to. Different people have different criteria for deciding whom they would be willing to debate with on particular topics. That’s a personal decision. No one is morally obligated to have any specific set of criteria, let alone the exact same criteria as one’s opponent.

    Jon Gold has earned the derision he gets from all of us.

    Justified or not, I don’t want to hear any more about any such “derision” here on this blog. Please see my comment policy.

    You then condemned as “at best disingenuous” a statement I made on admittedly limited knowledge. Do you never, ever make statements based on limited knowledge?

    Comment by Diane — February 2, 2008 @ 5:08 pm | Reply

  4. Looking now at page 2 of the JREF thread:

    First, thanks to “Open Blinded” for posting a link here. However, the posted link was to the section on Mark Roberts in the middle of the post, not the beginning of my post. I hope it occurred to most readers to scroll up and read the whole post. Otherwise they missed the first section, dealing with a proposed debate between Mark Roberts and Jon Gold. Most likely, most readers didn’t think to scroll up, because I haven’t seen anything further about Jon Gold in the JREF thread.

    Totovader wrote:

    Originally Posted by Totovader

    I never understood that sort of ad hominem attack. If Mark really is that incompetent, incapable, or otherwise an easy adversary- then why not destroy him in a debate? He’s obviously a well-recognized figure for “our side”, but somehow going after an “easy” figurehead just doesn’t seem like a good strategy to these people?

    Diane I can excuse- she’s unprepared… but the rest of the jokers who try and claim that Mark is unqualified as an excuse are only making themselves look worse, and contradicting their entire position.

    Diane has quoted the above paragraph on her blog and stated that she never made these comments- she left out the bottom part which would seem to clarify that the first paragraph was not specifically referring to Diane, but rather to Mark’s challenges as a whole.

    I’m sorry about the confusion. I guess I read your post too quickly. But you also posted this comment on my blog, which did refer specifically to an “ad hominem” by me, and to my alleged “metamorphosis,” as well as to comments by others. That’s why I assumed that the first paragraph in your above-quoted JREF post was referring to me too.

    Anyhow, pomeroo wrote:

    Gary Popkin has persuaded (he thinks) Richard Gage to appear on ‘Hardfire’ via remote hookup by assuring him that I won’t be involved. A libertarian named Joseph Dobrian, a very bright, pleasant guy, will host. Mark, are you available to oppose Gage on Thursday, April 10, at 7:15 PM?

    It will be interesting to see how that develops.

    On a lighter note, Alt+F4 and Max Photon cracked jokes about the possibility of Mark Roberts and me falling in love. Not likely, I don’t think.

    Comment by Diane — February 2, 2008 @ 11:16 pm | Reply

  5. The way Gary’s invitation to Gage will develop is as follows: Gage won’t do it. He will offer any one of a variety of disingenuous excuses, but–he won’t do it.

    Comment by pomeroo — February 3, 2008 @ 12:33 am | Reply

  6. Gage has done other public debates. Why don’t we just wait and see?

    Comment by Diane — February 3, 2008 @ 1:19 am | Reply

  7. To Mark Roberts:

    If you wish to convince me that I was completely unjustified in alleging you (even tentatively) to be in any way “unqualified,” below are two things you could do that would promptly resolve this matter. Either one will suffice.

    1) Probably the surest way you could convince me would be by posting a physics-literate and calculus-literate reply to this comment of mine in a discussion which begins here. If you choose to comment, please make sure you understand the context first, by reading both the above-linked comments and all comments in between, plus also this reply by a structural engineer on your side. If you can post a reply which shows that you fully understand what is being talked about here, including the mathematical concepts referred to, regardless of whatever your disagreements might be, then I will promptly apologize for assuming that you would not understand such things.

    2) Alternatively, you might prefer to point me to some posts of yours in the JREF forum in which you discuss some scientific issues in-depth without using arguments from authority.

    Anyhow, before you post any comments on my blog, please see my comment policy. Among other things, please do not accuse anyone of lying. Just point out what you see as errors, in a polite manner, if you feel so inclined.

    Comment by Diane — February 3, 2008 @ 3:28 am | Reply

  8. Mark Roberts’s “I’m just a tour guide” remark can be found in here in the JREF forum.

    As for my perception of him as someone who relies heavily on arguments from authority when discussing scientific matters, I’ll look for some examples later this week. If I can’t find any good examples I will retract my statement.

    It turns out that I mis-remembered one JREF thread that had stuck out in my mind as containing an especially egregious example of reliance on argument from authority. When I looked up that thread this morning, I found that I had confused Robert (Gravy) with someone else.

    Comment by Diane — February 3, 2008 @ 9:30 pm | Reply

  9. Ideally, when discussing technical matters, both of the debaters would be fully qualified on the area of debate. In the case of the WTC7 collapse, that would require someone qualified in structural or demolition engineering.

    A smattering of physics is really neither one thing nor the other.

    Comment by westprog99 — February 4, 2008 @ 12:38 pm | Reply

  10. Ideally, you are correct. However, in the absence of such an ideal, a “smattering of physics,” if applied carefully, may at least make a person better able to ask the right questions than someone without any scientific background.

    Comment by Diane — February 4, 2008 @ 12:59 pm | Reply

  11. “As for my perception of him as someone who relies heavily on arguments from authority when discussing scientific matters, I’ll look for some examples later this week. If I can’t find any good examples I will retract my statement.”

    Diane,

    The problem here is threefold:

    1) Arguments from authority are not fallacious in and of themselves unless the “authority” appealed to is in fact not recognized as an authority in the subject matter at hand.

    2) By necessity, Mark would have to rely heavily on arguments from authority but his arguments would stand or fall on the authorities he relied on.

    3) Your statement above and previously, if I understand them correctly, would seem to preclude, a priori, any possibility of debate with Mark.

    Personally, I am not one in favor of such debates to begin with, as I’ve made known on JREF before. Debates have their value in many areas, but debates over factual and/or scientific evidence are meaningless to me. They do not establish fact.

    I agree with Stephen Jay Gould on the matter:

    “Debate is an art form. It is about the winning of arguments. It is not
    about the discovery of truth. There are certain rules and procedures to
    debate that really have nothing to do with establishing fact — which they
    are very good at. Some of those rules are: never say anything positive
    about your own position because it can be attacked, but chip away at the
    weaknesses in your opponent’s position. They are good at that. I don’t
    think I could beat the creationists in debate.”

    (Caltech lecture, 1985)

    Comment by 911booger — February 5, 2008 @ 10:39 pm | Reply

  12. 911booger wrote:

    1) Arguments from authority are not fallacious in and of themselves unless the “authority” appealed to is in fact not recognized as an authority in the subject matter at hand.

    Even when it’s not outright “fallacious,” an argument from authority is still a relatively weak argument compared to an argument based directly on knowledge shared by parties involved in a discussion. Another problem with arguments from authority arises when the “authorities” are authorities in a field in which there can be shown to be inadequate scientific evidence on key matters affecting the issue being discussed. Still another problem arises when the authorities can be shown to be subject to political pressures.

    Counterarguments of the above kinds do not prove the authorities to be necessarily wrong, but do show them to be less than infallible, apart from the issue of how “recognized” a given authority is.

    2) By necessity, Mark would have to rely heavily on arguments from authority but his arguments would stand or fall on the authorities he relied on.

    He might or might not need to rely on arguments from authority, on one topic or another, depending on his own background. He could have majored in physics for all I know, despite being “just a tour guide.” But I don’t get the feeling, so far, that that’s the case.

    In any case, here you seem to be agreeing with my initial impression that he has no choice but to rely heavily on arguments from authority when discussing scientific matters.

    3) Your statement above and previously, if I understand them correctly, would seem to preclude, a priori, any possibility of debate with Mark.

    What I originally said was that I would eventually be willing to debate with him at some point in the future (though not the near future) on matters other than the question of what happened to the WTC buildings, e.g. air defense issues, once I myself have studied up quite a bit more on those other issues.

    As for the question of what happened to the WTC buildings, what I voiced was what I saw as a drawback of debating with him, not necessarily a permanent refusal to debate with him even on that topic, although I would probably prefer to debate with him on other topics. On the WTC topic, I do believe that I can come up with adequate responses to any arguments from authority that he might throw my way, although I’ll need to research some relevant issues further. The drawback is that a debate over the validity of his arguments from authority would be a distraction from the central issues.

    Personally, I am not one in favor of such debates to begin with, as I’ve made known on JREF before. Debates have their value in many areas, but debates over factual and/or scientific evidence are meaningless to me. They do not establish fact.

    Indeed, debates don’t establish fact, but a good debate can inspire people to think for themselves and do their own research, knowing what the issues of contention are.

    Comment by Diane — February 6, 2008 @ 3:03 am | Reply

  13. “Another problem with arguments from authority arises when the “authorities” are authorities in a field in which there can be shown to be inadequate scientific evidence on key matters affecting the issue being discussed. Still another problem arises when the authorities can be shown to be subject to political pressures.”

    That’s what I said. Mark would have to rely heavily on arguments from authority but his arguments would stand or fall on the authorities he relied on.

    “The drawback is that a debate over the validity of his arguments from authority would be a distraction from the central issues.”

    In fact, that topic would make a great subject for debate with you and Mark since “appeal to authority” is central to the 9/11 Truth Movement’s “scientific” assertions and arguments over factual evidence. The 9/11 Truth Movement is a political “movement” trying to prove a case against the government and the Bush Administration in particular. The vast majority of us arguing with them have no political motivation or political ax to grind; if evidence should surface that 9/11 was either caused by, or allowed to happen, by Bush or the government, so be it. The vast majority of 9/11 Truthers can only think of opposition to them in political; if we are against their claims and efforts, we can only be doing so to cover-up for the the government. Why?

    The onus is on the 9/11 Truth Movement to make its case. By its own choice the 9/11 Truth Movement has made specific claims concerning structural engineering, physics, chemistry, forensic science, architecture, eyewitness evidence, and so forth. There are many assertions that it is “impossible” for something to happen. It has relied on many “authorities” throughout its six-year existence, yet a great number of them are making claims completely outside their expertise and fields of study. James Fetzer, David Ray Griffin, Kevin Barrett, etc.

    You could have a debate on logical fallacies and the nature of arguments used pro and con. That, in my mind, would serve better to inform and inspire people, particularly to the younger generation, to understand how one should approach such topics and think critically about them.

    Comment by 911booger — February 6, 2008 @ 2:21 pm | Reply

  14. 911booger wrote:

    The vast majority of us arguing with them have no political motivation or political ax to grind; if evidence should surface that 9/11 was either caused by, or allowed to happen, by Bush or the government, so be it.

    Really? What would motivate someone to spend a lot of one’s spare time on this issue, or on any other issue for that matter, pro or con, if one had absolutely no ax to grind and no other relevant personal concerns of any kind? What motivates you, in particular, to spend a lot of time on this topic (if indeed you do spend a lot of time on it)? Something more than sheer Internet addiction, I would assume?

    The vast majority of 9/11 Truthers can only think of opposition to them in political; if we are against their claims and efforts, we can only be doing so to cover-up for the the government.

    I can think of at least several other possible motives besides that last-named one, assuming that at least some of you are sincere. But there has to be a motive of some kind, in order for someone to spend a lot of time on any particular issue.

    James Fetzer, David Ray Griffin, Kevin Barrett

    I don’t regard any of the above as authorities. The only one of the above three people I pay any attention to is David Ray Griffin, and only on non-technical matters. Even on non-technical matters, I see him only as a source of leads, not as an authority.

    On technical matters, I pay more attention to Steven Jones, Richard Gage, Jim Hoffman, Gordon Ross, etc., but I don’t see them as infallible “authorities” either. To both Richard Gage and Jim Hoffman, especially the latter, I’ve emailed quite a bit of constructive critique, and it has usually been appreciated.

    If you look around on this blog, you’ll see that I do a lot of questioning and double-checking of just about everything and everyone.

    Comment by Diane — February 6, 2008 @ 6:17 pm | Reply

  15. I’ve abandoned the the idea of persuading an “influential” 9/11 fantasist to represent his side on the edition of ‘Hardfire’ that will appear in the BBC documentary. How about someone less influential? All of these great truths to share with the world and no one is willing to step forward. As Ionesco might put it: How curious and bizarre!

    Comment by pomeroo — February 6, 2008 @ 11:36 pm | Reply

  16. If I recall correctly, there was at least one person, and I think two or three, who volunteered in one of the relevant JREF threads, but who were dismissed as insufficiently influential or as insufficiently representative, or whatever.

    P.S.: Here on this blog, please drop the name-calling, e.g. “fantasist.”

    Comment by Diane — February 7, 2008 @ 12:55 am | Reply

  17. No, it isn’t name-calling at all. It is unfair to expect a rationalist to refer to a movement that trades in falsehood on a cosmic scale by the caconym “truth” movement. The notion that a gigantic, mathematically-impossible conspiracy perpetrated the attacks for which the jihadists remain extremely proud is a fantasy, pure and simple. I’m open to suggestion for a more neutral label.

    Comment by pomeroo — February 7, 2008 @ 5:43 am | Reply

  18. I don’t think a “gigantic, mathematically-impossible conspiracy” would have been required. In my opinion, only a few parts of the American side of the operation would have been impossible to conceal from large numbers of people.

    One of those parts would have been the deliberate inaction by the FBI. And, on that issue, there apparently have been quite a few whistleblowers, e.g. Sibel Edmonds, but they’ve been ignored to a large degree. The Jersey Girls say they were approached by lots of FBI and CIA whistleblowers asking them to ask the 9/11 Commission to call on them, but they were ignored.

    Another part of the operation that wasn’t concealed was Bush’s lackadaisicalness on the morning of 9/11/2001. He is clearly guilty of criminal negligence, if nothing else.

    The possible concealment of all other aspects of the American side of the operation from all but a tiny handful of people has been discussed in various comment threads elsewhere on this blog. (One recent such comment thread begins here.)

    Anyhow, if you don’t like the term “Truth movement,” more neutral terms might be “inside job theory,” and, more broadly, “government complicity theory” and, more broadly still, “those dissatisfied with the 9/11 Commission.”

    It is certainly not true that everyone on your side is “rational” (or “rationalist”) and that everyone on our side is irrational. It is true that some nutty hypotheses have been proposed. But people on our side are gradually learning to weed those out. Some people learn faster than others.

    Comment by Diane — February 7, 2008 @ 2:04 pm | Reply

  19. Diane wrote,

    “Really? What would motivate someone to spend a lot of one’s spare time on this issue, or on any other issue for that matter, pro or con, if one had absolutely no ax to grind and no other relevant personal concerns of any kind?

    That’s rather an astonishing statement. No one needs to have any ax to grind, particularly, any political ax to grind. There is no more difference in debating and arguing with 9/11 Truthers, trying to communicate with them, and showing them their errors in fact and reasoning, then there was for Deborah Lipstadt to spend time writing books on the nature of Holocaust Denial; or the many scientists to argue against creationism and that “intelligent design” is not science.

    You seem to forget that the 9/11 Truth Movement is an overtly political movement, with stated, political goals. There is no such opposing movement, organized or otherwise. Why each of us argue and debate with them is personal; there is no organized group with any motives or goals. I think every one of us believes the 9/11 Truth Movement is nothing more than a house of cards collapsing under its own weight of irrational absurdities and will end up as every fringe conspiracy group eventually does.

    “On technical matters, I pay more attention to Steven Jones, Richard Gage, Jim Hoffman, Gordon Ross, etc., but I don’t see them as infallible “authorities” either.”

    Each of those people are equally good focal points in terms of a debate about fallacious reasoning, the scientific method, deliberate misrepresentations of fact and evidence, and propaganda techniques.

    “I don’t think a “gigantic, mathematically-impossible conspiracy” would have been required. In my opinion, only a few parts of the American side of the operation would have been impossible to conceal from large numbers of people.”

    Yet you forget a key part which NO conspiracy can possibly deal with ahead of time: the number of unknown, uncontrollable witnesses to events and evidence who would necessarily know that a post-event explanation contradicted what they saw and know. For instance, unbelievably, there is still a Truther contingent that claims no 757 hit the Pentagon, yet avoid dealing with the 1,000+ people who saw and/or removed the wreckage from the Pentagon who would know that claims it was AA77, a Boeing 757, was false IF in fact the wreckage was from something other than AA77. How would anyone make them keep quiet?

    So, excuse me, Diane, the claim that a conspiracy of this nature could ever be successfully pulled off without a large number of people knowing ahead of time and post-event and not one ever saying a word is just wishful thinking and irrational. You need to think through that more carefully.

    Comment by 911booger — February 7, 2008 @ 6:47 pm | Reply

  20. 911booger wrote:

    That’s rather an astonishing statement. No one needs to have any ax to grind, particularly, any political ax to grind. There is no more difference in debating and arguing with 9/11 Truthers, trying to communicate with them, and showing them their errors in fact and reasoning, then there was for Deborah Lipstadt to spend time writing books on the nature of Holocaust Denial; or the many scientists to argue against creationism and that “intelligent design” is not science.

    All of the above do in fact have an ax to grind — and I say this even though I happen to agree with those who say that “intelligent design” is not science, and even though I share some of the concerns of those people who are frightened by Holocaust Revisionism (though I deplore, on freedom-of-speech grounds, the criminalization of HR in some countries). Perhaps you define “ax to grind” more narrowly than I do? How exactly do you define “ax to grind,” such that even a single one of the above-named categories of people, let alone both of them, can be said not to have one?

    You seem to forget that the 9/11 Truth Movement is an overtly political movement, with stated, political goals. There is no such opposing movement, organized or otherwise.

    There is indeed an opposing movement, though it’s not as big, not as formally organized, and not as overtly political. Although I know of no formal organizations that specialize solely in opposing the 9/11 Truth movement, there do exist formal organizations that do make a point of opposing it, such as JREF and the so-called “Skeptics Society.” The opposing movement does seem to have clout out of proportion to its numbers and its degree of organization.

    Why each of us argue and debate with them is personal

    People in the 9/11 Truth movement have their own personal reasons for being involved in the movement too.

    Yet you forget a key part which NO conspiracy can possibly deal with ahead of time: the number of unknown, uncontrollable witnesses to events and evidence who would necessarily know that a post-event explanation contradicted what they saw and know.

    The extent to which “unknown, uncontrollable witnesses” get to see things depends on how well they are concealed. Anyhow, I’ve already pointed to some specific examples of things that were not well-concealed. Another example of something that was not well-concealed was the straight-down, almost perfectly symmetrical collapse of WTC 7.

    For instance, unbelievably, there is still a Truther contingent that claims no 757 hit the Pentagon, yet avoid dealing with the 1,000+ people who saw and/or removed the wreckage from the Pentagon who would know that claims it was AA77, a Boeing 757, was false IF in fact the wreckage was from something other than AA77. How would anyone make them keep quiet?

    I don’t endorse that claim. Can you find, anywhere on this blog, any specific claim which I do endorse and to which the above objection is applicable (i.e., some specific alleged event or hypothetical event that should have been seen and recognized as suspicious by more than a very few people, but for which no one has come forward)?

    So, excuse me, Diane, the claim that a conspiracy of this nature could ever be successfully pulled off without a large number of people knowing ahead of time and post-event and not one ever saying a word

    As I pointed out previously, there are indeed witnesses who have “said a word” on various things.

    You need to think through that more carefully.

    I have already thought that issue through very carefully, probably in a lot more detail than you have.

    Comment by Diane — February 7, 2008 @ 8:33 pm | Reply

  21. Diane wrote,

    “All of the above do in fact have an ax to grind… Perhaps you define “ax to grind” more narrowly than I do? How exactly do you define “ax to grind,” such that even a single one of the above-named categories of people, let alone both of them, can be said not to have one?”

    You’re the one making the claim that “…the above do in fact have an ax to grind.” So, let’s use whatever definition of “ax to grind” you have now decided needs to be qualified.

    “There is indeed an opposing movement, though it’s not as big, not as formally organized, and not as overtly political. Although I know of no formal organizations that specialize solely in opposing the 9/11 Truth movement, there do exist formal organizations that do make a point of opposing it, such as JREF and the so-called “Skeptics Society.”

    JREF is not a political movement as the 9/11 Truth Movement is and declares itself to be. JREF does not oppose the 9/11 Truth Movement on political grounds. 9/11 “Truth” is only one section of many different conspiracy theories discussed on JREF, and conspiracies are only one of many topics. If you now, post hoc, want to define that as a “movement” with “motives” and an “ax to grind”, be my guest and demonstrate it. I would gather by the nature of your definition of “movement” that it would also include the many thousands of people who argued against Holocaust Deniers, flying saucers, flat-earthers, Bigfoot Believers, etc., who have posted on Usenet for the last 20 years. Shall we call that the “Usenet Movement?”

    “The extent to which “unknown, uncontrollable witnesses” get to see things depends on how well they are concealed.”

    Exactly. Such as AA 11 hitting WTC 1, UA 175 hitting WTC 2, and AA77 hit the Pentagon. Very well concealed according to the 9/11 Truthers we argue with on JREF. Holograms, missiles, no planes could slice through the outer walls of the twin towers like CNN “made us believe,” etc., etc. You name it, anything in plain sight was actually “concealed in clever ways.”

    “I don’t endorse that claim.”

    You missed that I never said you endorsed them. I pointed out that those are the kind of claims that the 9/11 Truth Movement make. That is what we argue against on JREF. You also missed the real point that such evidence as the wreckage at the Pentagon is not concealable and the people and the number of people would not be knowable in advance.

    “Can you find, anywhere on this blog, any specific claim which I do endorse and to which the above objection is applicable…”

    What I do notice is the extent to which you qualify your statements after the fact. Curious that words you use need to be qualified after my replies.

    “As I pointed out previously, there are indeed witnesses who have “said a word” on various things.”

    Fine. The onus is on you, as it is on the 9/11 Truth Movement, to bring those statements to the table, remembering, for example, the over 1,000 witnesses to the actual crash and/or wreckage at the Pentagon. What did they actually see? Who amongst them claims that the wreckage was not from a Boeing 757? Step up to the plate, demonstrate that the preponderance of evidence from thousands of independent sources converging on the conclusion that what 9/11 Truthers claim is only an “official story” (the number one strawman of the 9/11 Truth Movement) could not be true. Tell 9/11 Truthers to face up to all the evidence, and to both the prerequisites and implications of claims they make. You do know, I trust, that they overwhelmingly refuse to do so, correct?

    “I have already thought that issue through very carefully, probably in a lot more detail than you have.”

    I doubt you really have Diane, as far as the 9/11 Truth Movement and 9/11 goes, as you evidence in your replies, and your need to carefully qualify your statements after the fact. But that is something you can save for in a debate with Mark Roberts. As I said earlier, discussions about logical fallacies, the scientific method, and the nature of evidence, would serve young people very well on how to think critically about claims anyone makes – and how and why the burden of proof is, always has been, and always will be, on the 9/11 Truth Movement to support its claims, despite its vociferous protestations to the contrary.

    Good luck.

    Comment by 911booger — February 8, 2008 @ 6:35 pm | Reply

  22. Hmmm. Inside Job Theory sounds okay to me.

    Comment by pomeroo — February 9, 2008 @ 12:44 am | Reply

  23. 911booger wrote:

    You’re the one making the claim that “…the above do in fact have an ax to grind.” So, let’s use whatever definition of “ax to grind” you have now decided needs to be qualified.

    To me, “ax to grind” means a strongly-held bias on a matter of personal importance.

    For example, those who actively oppose Holocaust Revisionism are usually motivated, at least in part, by a fear that HR will make neo-Nazism more acceptable. Similarly, those who actively oppose the teaching of creationism in public schools are usually motivated, at least in part, by a fear that the teaching of creationism will lead to a revival of religious intolerance, especially toward atheists, but also toward religious minorities, as well as fear of a degradation in science education. In both these cases, fear and other emotions are involved, usually very strong emotions. It’s far from a purely intellectual academic exercise.

    JREF is not a political movement

    I did say, “not as explicitly political.” Perhaps my concept of “political” is broader than yours?

    Shall we call that the “Usenet Movement?”

    What you’ve described is the online branch of the so-called Skeptics’ movement, which has in fact had major sociopolitical impact — some of it very good, such as helping to stop the “Satanic Ritual Abuse” scare back in the early 1990’s.

    Such as AA 11 hitting WTC 1, UA 175 hitting WTC 2, and AA77 hit the Pentagon. Very well concealed according to the 9/11 Truthers we argue with on JREF. Holograms, missiles, no planes could slice through the outer walls of the twin towers like CNN “made us believe,” etc., etc.

    I don’t make those claims. Why don’t you address my own actual claims and hypotheses instead of bringing those up?

    I pointed out that those are the kind of claims that the 9/11 Truth Movement make.

    Not the mainstream of the 9/11 Truth movement. The above are considered by many within the movement to be “controversial theories” at best. Many consider them to be disinformation. The organization Scholars for 9/11 Truth and Justice, for example, does not endorse any of the above claims. Ditto for Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth. Ditto for the folks in the Truth Action forum and the TruthMove forum, who include quite a few 9/11 Truth movement veterans. Even the Loose Change forum’s rules prohibit promulgation of no-planes theories there.

    You also missed the real point that such evidence as the wreckage at the Pentagon is not concealable

    Did I ever claim that the wreckage at the Pentagon was concealable? Why do you consider this issue to be even relevant to a conversation with me? (Please see my post Pentagon no-757 theories: debunkings from within the 9/11 Truth movement and the pages linked therein.)

    What I do notice is the extent to which you qualify your statements after the fact. Curious that words you use need to be qualified after my replies.

    That’s because you and I are having a misunderstanding, and I am trying to get to the root of the misunderstanding. For example, to me it seems perfectly obvious that people who devote a lot of time to any political issue are likely to have some strong personal or emotional motive of some kind. But you seem to be denying this.

    When someone denies what seems to me like a glaringly obvious fact, there are several possibilities including: (1) the person is lying, (2) the person is crazy, or (3) we’re having a misunderstanding. I prefer to assume the most charitable possibility first, which is that we’re having a misunderstanding.

    Many misunderstandings turn out to be a matter of semantics and can be straightened out simply by clarifying the meanings of the words used. So, that’s one of my typical first approaches to trying to straighten out a misunderstanding.

    Would you prefer that I call you a “disinfo agent” instead of taking an “innocent until proven guilty” approach to commenters on this blog?

    Comment by Diane — February 9, 2008 @ 4:19 am | Reply

  24. pomeroo wrote:

    Hmmm. Inside Job Theory sounds okay to me.

    Thanks.

    Now for the really tough problem of coming up with a truly neutral term for the folks on your side of the fence. I sometimes call them “official story defenders,” but some of them take offence at that, on the grounds that they don’t like to think of what they’re defending as an “official story.” Many of them call themselves “debunkers,” but that’s not a neutral term, since it presupposes that the other side is “bunk.” Ditto for “Skeptic.” There’s an organized “Skeptics” movement, but many have questioned whether it represents “true skepticism,” given its more-or-less consistent defense of academic orthodoxy.

    Any suggestions as to a truly neutral, objective term?

    Comment by Diane — February 9, 2008 @ 4:46 am | Reply

  25. Diane wrote,

    “I don’t make those claims. Why don’t you address my own actual claims and hypotheses instead of bringing those up?”

    I am not discussing your claims and haven’t been. I have used examples of claims still being made by the 9/11 Truth Movement which we still encounter on JREF. It has never been my intent to discuss specific claims here made by you or others in the 9/11 Truth Movement nor to debate them with you. (I would be tempted, however, since I have spotted several unsupported assertions in your posts, e.g., “It is extremely unlikely that a building could collapse in such a symmetrical, straight-down manner due to any cause other than controlled demolition. A building collapsing for any other reason would almost certainly tilt toward whichever side or corner had been weakened the most.” You’re claiming that an “uncontrolled” demolition should not look like that, but don’t really give any reasons why nor examples of what uncontrolled demolitions do or do not look like.)

    Anyway, if you want to discuss your claims and hypotheses you should do so with Mark Roberts, far better versed in the subject matter.

    “To me, “ax to grind” means a strongly-held bias on a matter of personal importance.”

    To me the term is more in line with various other dictionary definitions that are widely used, e.g.,

    “A selfish or ulterior aim”
    “hidden motive”
    “have an ulterior motive, have a hidden agenda, have one’s own agenda, have one’s own ends to promote.”

    “I did say, “not as explicitly political.” Perhaps my concept of “political” is broader than yours?”

    Again, we’re back to matters of definition, which would seem to potentially distract from any meaningful debate you might have with Mark Roberts.

    “Not the mainstream of the 9/11 Truth movement. The above are considered by many within the movement to be “controversial theories” at best.”

    Perhaps, but you’re stuck with everything that the 9/11 Truth Movement encompasses, even, as I think you admit, in your plea that, “The 9/11 Truth movement needs a more visible, better organized left wing!” to counter who you believe are adversely affecting the “Movement” with “right wing” characters like Alex Jones. Of course, I cannot imagine being associated with Jones, but when we use the term “9/11 Truth Movement,” you know he is part of it and you’re velcroed to him, like it or not.

    “The organization Scholars for 9/11 Truth and Justice, for example, does not endorse any of the above claims. Ditto for Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth.

    [Comment, by 911booger, edited by blog author Diane in accordance with comment policy. 911booger, please check your email at the address at which you registered with WordPress.]

    “For example, to me it seems perfectly obvious that people who devote a lot of time to any political issue are likely to have some strong personal or emotional motive of some kind.”

    I was clear: “The vast majority of us arguing with them have no political motivation or political ax to grind;… Why each of us argue and debate with them is personal.” I don’t see why that’s hard to grasp.

    “That’s because you and I are having a misunderstanding, and I am trying to get to the root of the misunderstanding…. Many misunderstandings turn out to be a matter of semantics and can be straightened out simply by clarifying the meanings of the words used.”

    It’s pretty clear to me that it’s over semantics and we’ve spent excessive amount of time on it. Again, I have no interest in debating the subject of 9/11 with you and believe it would continue to get bogged down over semantics. You are obviously very intelligent, thoughtful, rational, and broadly interested in the topic, and it would be refreshing to see you and Mark Roberts in a debate on Hardfire, or perhaps a discussion rather than a debate. And again, it does not have to be a discussion of claims by one side or another, but a broader one over critical thinking and how such subjects should and could be discussed rationally with the aim of getting to the truth wherever that may lead.

    To date, nothing has been substantively accomplished by the 9/11 Truth Movement. It’s never remotely justified any reason to cause any consideration of yet another investigation as it wants; it has never remotely refuted the massive evidence against its claims. It cannot even articulate how another investigation should or could be composed, by whom, with what objective. Many of us envision that if such an investigation could be justified and put together satisfactorily to the 9/11 Truth Movement, that the we would be right back where we are today IF the end result was affirming the results of the previous investigations. Much as reexamination of the Kennedy assassination changed nothing.

    In any case, thanks for your time. No need to reply. Again, good luck.

    Comment by 911booger — February 10, 2008 @ 3:23 pm | Reply

  26. To 911booger:

    As mentioned in a bracketed note in your comment above, I edited out something that went against my blog’s comment policy. Please check your email (at the address you used to register with WordPress) for details.

    Anyhow, you wrote:

    I am not discussing your claims and haven’t been. I have used examples of claims still being made by the 9/11 Truth Movement which we still encounter on JREF.

    And your point in bringing them up? The posters in JREF should not be considered a representative sample of the 9/11 Truth movement. As I said, most of the leading organizations and websites in the movement either do not endorse those claims at all or, at most, treat them as “controversial.” Anyhow, if your point wasn’t to discuss my claims, why were you arguing with me about those other claims (e.g. saying, to me, things like “You also missed the real point that such evidence as the wreckage at the Pentagon is not concealable”)?

    Perhaps, but you’re stuck with everything that the 9/11 Truth Movement encompasses

    If you’re going to bother talking to us at all, you should realize that we hold different opinions. Arguing with people about opinions they don’t even hold is completely pointless.

    You’re claiming that an “uncontrolled” demolition should not look like that, but don’t really give any reasons why nor examples of what uncontrolled demolitions do or do not look like.

    If a collapse is purely “natural,” then I would expect that, once a tower starts to lean, it would continue to tilt over further and further, until such time as the building completely falls apart due to the leaning. It would lean more and more because any lean puts a torque on the building, which should cause it to lean over even more. That torque would continue to be exerted as long as (1) there’s a good fulcrum (which, in the case of a bottom-up collapse, there would be) and (2) the building hasn’t completely shattered yet.

    How far can a skyscraper lean before it shatters? The world’s one and only relevant example, besides WTC 7, was the top part of WTC 2, which leaned over pretty darned far.

    This issue is now being discussed in the comment thread following my post Review of Hardfire debates between Mark Roberts and Loose Change crew.

    Anyhow, you defined “ax to grind” as:

    “A selfish or ulterior aim”
    “hidden motive”
    “have an ulterior motive, have a hidden agenda, have one’s own agenda, have one’s own ends to promote.”

    Your motive might not be “selfish” or “ulterior,” but, if you refuse to say what it is, then it is indeed “hidden.”

    Anyhow, I was using the term “ax to grind” in a broader sense than you.

    I was clear: “The vast majority of us arguing with them have no political motivation or political ax to grind;… Why each of us argue and debate with them is personal.” I don’t see why that’s hard to grasp.

    For people allegedly without any “political motivation,” a lot of them sure do get passionate about a political issue. Maybe you’re using the term “political motivation” more narrowly than I am too?

    Comment by Diane — February 10, 2008 @ 6:37 pm | Reply

  27. The logical converse to Inside Job is Outside Job. That term is sufficiently broad to include both the official story by the Bush administration (which claims that Saddam Hussein was behind 911) and non-official versions which reject the Iraqi mastermind thesis put out by Washington.

    Comment by patricksmcnally — February 11, 2008 @ 7:22 am | Reply

  28. “Outside job theory” is too broad to serve as a neutral term for the “debunker” crowd. “Outside job theory” also includes, for example, the idea that the Towers were brought down by explosives planted by Mossad agents.

    Comment by Diane — February 11, 2008 @ 12:30 pm | Reply

  29. Ah! Then perhaps Outside Muslim Job is more complete? Inside versus Outside and Muslim versus non-Muslim would seem to be the main demarcation lines. Eric Hufschmid could then be grouped with the Outside Non-Muslim Job theorists. Even Inside Job theorists could be split into those who make allowance for some Muslim role and those who refuse to allow any such Muslim participation.

    Comment by patricksmcnally — February 11, 2008 @ 2:00 pm | Reply

  30. Even “Outside Muslim job” is too broad a term for the point of view represented by the “debunkers.” “Outside Muslim job” would also include people in the 9/11 Truth movement with a purely LIHOP view. “Inside job” implies active (not just passive) participation by at least a few folks within the U.S. government.

    Comment by Diane — February 11, 2008 @ 2:08 pm | Reply

  31. Then perhaps POM Job for Purely Outside Muslim Job would fit the intended meaning?

    Comment by patricksmcnally — February 11, 2008 @ 2:34 pm | Reply

  32. A minor point –

    JREF – at least the conspiracy theory subforum – is not a group, as such. It’s a forum where a number of theories, in particular the “inside job” theory. It’s open to any point of view.

    I would contrast this to, say, the Loose Change forum, where disagreement is enough to earn an instant ban.

    Comment by westprog99 — February 11, 2008 @ 5:37 pm | Reply

  33. westprog99 wrote:

    JREF – at least the conspiracy theory subforum – is not a group, as such. It’s a forum where a number of theories, in particular the “inside job” theory. It’s open to any point of view.

    JREF the forum and JREF the organization are two different things. The organization is committed to some specific viewpoints, even if other views are allowed in the forums.

    I would contrast this to, say, the Loose Change forum, where disagreement is enough to earn an instant ban.

    The Loose Change forum does limit opinions that can be voiced there, but you exaggerate a bit. “Debunkers” are allowed in the designated “skeptics” area as long as they (1) are polite and (2) refrain from making certain specific hackneyed arguments that are listed in the rules, probably because those particular arguments have already been discussed there over and over again. (On the other hand, “no planes hit the Towers” claims are prohibited totally, from all parts of the forum.)

    Comment by Diane — February 12, 2008 @ 3:12 am | Reply

  34. The claim is that debunkers are only expelled for impoliteness is, I’m afraid, not born out by actual practice. Debunkers are almost inevitably banned at some stage. The politeness rule is not enforced. Loose Change believers are allowed considerable latitude, up to and including threats of violence.

    If people were banned from JREF from making “specific hackneyed arguments” then there certainly could be a more rigorous banning policy.

    I don’t have anything to do with JREF the organisation, and as far as I’m aware, most of the debunkers on the forum have no connection beyond registering. When JREF is referred to in perjorative terms, it seems to invariably be the denizens of the Conspiracy Theory subforum that is referred to, rather than the skeptics organisation headed by James Randi.

    Comment by westprog99 — February 12, 2008 @ 10:35 am | Reply

  35. westprog99 wrote:

    The claim is that debunkers are only expelled for impoliteness is, I’m afraid, not born out by actual practice. Debunkers are almost inevitably banned at some stage. The politeness rule is not enforced. Loose Change believers are allowed considerable latitude, up to and including threats of violence.

    I have not been posting long enough in the Loose Change forum to be able to comment on most of the above.

    What I do know, so far, is that there is indeed a “Skeptics” forum and some “debunkers” who have been posting there for at least a little while, so it’s an exaggeration to say that mere “disagreement is enough to earn an instant ban,” as you said here earlier.

    Double standards in the enforcement of politeness rules are a common problem in many Internet forums. I think that humans in general are prone to double standards, and that avoiding them requires a great deal of effort. I try to make that effort myself, and I probably don’t always succeed.

    Comment by Diane — February 12, 2008 @ 5:37 pm | Reply

  36. Diane wrote,

    “why were you arguing with me about those other claims (e.g. saying, to me,…”

    You’re not paying attention.I was not arguing with you about the claims. I was using those claims as examples until I commented on your dubious claim about such a massive operation could be pulled off with a small number of people AND by using the example of your 9/11 Truth Movement of consistently avoiding inconvenient evidence.

    “As I said, most of the leading organizations and websites in the movement either do not endorse those claims at all or, at most, treat them as “controversial.”

    And I’ll be clear that you and your movement bring up the same kind of dubious, illogical, and irrational claims. We don’t have to deal with it – you do.

    “If you’re going to bother talking to us at all, you should realize that we hold different opinions. Arguing with people about opinions they don’t even hold is completely pointless.”

    You hold different opinions but you hold many opinions of the 9/11 Truth Movement, which, as I made crystal clear, whether you like it or not, you are part of that movement and are associated with it. You cannot have you cake and eat it to.

    “If a collapse is purely “natural,” then I would expect that, once a tower starts to lean, it would continue to tilt over further and further, until such time as the building completely falls apart due to the leaning.”

    You can assume anything you want, but since you neither possess any specific knowledge of what was going on with WTC 7 (why do you think we have investigations to find out?) nor can you give me an example of what uncontrolled demolitions actually look like, given ALL the variables that go into each and every unique case, you’re just arguing from incredulity. So far, no one has yet demonstrated that WTC 7 could not have fallen the way it did without explosives. And given all the other evidence and independent studies that fail to show one trace of explosives found in the debris or the dust, your assumptions become even more dubious.

    “For people allegedly without any “political motivation,” a lot of them sure do get passionate about a political issue. Maybe you’re using the term “political motivation” more narrowly than I am too?”

    That’s fallacious reasoning as I have already made clear. We are not arguing politics and you have no ability to assess what any of our different personal reasons may be. Even a cursory glance at JREF should adequately demonstrate that we are arguing matters of your movement’s claims about forensic science, structural engineering, physics, logical fallacies, etc. Your preoccupation with “motives” and “axes to grind” perhaps blinds you to the reality. It is your movement that is both motivated and blinded by politics. Sorry, that’s the way it is.

    By now you are aware that you missed your opportunity to debate Mark Roberts but, personally, after reading your latest about the “possibility” of one of two films of WTC 7 being fake, I think Mark is far better qualified on the subject matter.

    You and your movement has an uphill battle with having the burden of proof on your shoulders. You haven’t gotten anywhere in six years of trying. What are you going to do about it?

    Again, there is no need to reply unless you continue to have an ax to grind.

    Cheers.

    Comment by 911booger — February 12, 2008 @ 6:37 pm | Reply

  37. 911booger wrote:

    I was using those claims as examples

    To what end?

    You hold different opinions but you hold many opinions of the 9/11 Truth Movement, which, as I made crystal clear, whether you like it or not, you are part of that movement and are associated with it.

    And your point is….?

    Guilt by association is a logical fallacy.

    And given all the other evidence and independent studies that fail to show one trace of explosives found in the debris or the dust, your assumptions become even more dubious.

    Currently, I’m more inclined to suspect arson than explosives, though I haven’t yet ruled out the latter as a possibility.

    We are not arguing politics

    The topic of what happened on 9/11 most certainly does have political implications, even if that’s not the aspect you’re focussing on.

    you have no ability to assess what any of our different personal reasons may be.

    I would expect different people to have different reasons. That’s why I asked what your reasons were.

    You and your movement has an uphill battle with having the burden of proof on your shoulders. You haven’t gotten anywhere in six years of trying. What are you going to do about it?

    Actually, there have been plenty of recent developments in the news that have confirmed plenty of things wrong with the 9/11 Commission. But that’s a topic for another blog post I’ve been meaning to write.

    The question of what happened to the WTC buildings, besides being hit by planes, is only one aspect — and, in my opinion, far from the most important aspect — of what the 9/11 Truth movement is about. I’ve been paying a disportionate amount of attention to it myself because I think I can help in that area, given my background. But I would urge those without any technical background to focus more on things like:

    1) Conflicts of interest and other procedural issues with the 9/11 Commission (such as the use of testimony obtained by torture)

    2) The behavior and whereabouts of high officials on the morning of 9/11/2001

    3) The reasons for the air defense failures

    4) Specificity of warnings, foreknowledge, etc.

    Comment by Diane — February 12, 2008 @ 7:23 pm | Reply

  38. In the JREF forum, “bje” (who is apparently “911booger” here) wrote:

    From my little interaction with Diane and reading her posts and comments, my feeling is that there would be a lot of “hurdles” and “conditions” attached to any possible debate with Mark or anyone else.

    If and whenever I decide to appear on Hardfire, it remains to be seen whether Ron Wieck and I can negotiate something mutually acceptable at that point. That’s up to him and me to decide. One promising sign is that I do seem to have succeeded in establishing, already, a much better rapport with Ron (a.k.a. pomeroo) than with you (911booger).

    In my opinion, she is too much of a “control person”, needing to have everything just “so.”

    I admit to being a control freak. But I think most of the regular commenters here on this blog, including most of the “debunkers” who post here, would consider me to be a benevolent despot. One does need to keep a tight rein in order to be a good moderator on a highly controversial topic, to allow lots of dissent yet at the same time maintain civility and, as much as possible, avoid double standards. That requires a lot of attention to detail.

    She appears to be navigating a very thin line between wanting to appear objective (sometimes she is), not wanting to appear to take sides.

    Obviously I do have my opinions. At the same time I try to be fair. So?

    but then happy to make unsubstantiated assertions that the 9/11 Truth Movement makes

    Excuse me? I do provide plenty of evidence, on this blog, for various things. If I can’t prove something, I admit that it’s a suspicion rather than a fact, but I still give reasons for it. (Or at least I give reasons somewhere on this blog, even if I don’t always do so every time I bring a given topic up.)

    while trying to distance herself from “that” part of the 9/11 Truth Movement.

    Actually there are several different parts of the 9/11 Truth movement that I have strong disagreements with. Is there anything wrong with me saying so?

    I think she is delighted to be the recent center of attention here by JREFers

    Being a center of attention by JREFers is fine sometimes, but I certainly wouldn’t want it all or most of the time. I do have plenty of other things to do. But it’s good to have the JREF folks around sometimes. I have learned quite a bit from some of them.

    but has an overriding need to control everything

    I do control everything on this blog, yes. I hope you’re not too bothered by my editing of a comment of yours to remove a section which went against my comment policy? That’s the kind of control that is indeed needed in order to maintain civility online, while at the same time allowing lots of dissent on matters of intense disagreement.

    including endless justifications about the meaning of words and terms she had previously used in a post or comment but would normally be taken differently in general usage.

    Even in “general usage,” different people assign slightly different shades of meaning to various words, depending on their background. Misunderstandings over such things are commonplace. I think what’s unusual about me is that I try to hone in on such misunderstandings and resolve them, whereas most people would just keep talking past each other.

    The net effect is a deflection from the conversation at hand, a neat skirting of issues or points, and a general frustration with the course of a conversation.

    I’ve had more misunderstandings with you than with most other people on my blog. Not sure why.

    She is suspicious of “us”, questioning our “motives”, what “axes” we have to “grind”

    You were the one who first brought up the “ax to grind” issue, alleging that we in the 9/11 Truth movement all have an “ax to grind” whereas the “debunkers” all don’t. In this comment above, you wrote:

    The 9/11 Truth Movement is a political “movement” trying to prove a case against the government and the Bush Administration in particular. The vast majority of us arguing with them have no political motivation or political ax to grind; if evidence should surface that 9/11 was either caused by, or allowed to happen, by Bush or the government, so be it.

    I then went on to point out that a lot of people on your side do have a strong bias. By the way, Mark Roberts kindly provided an admitted example recently. The JREF thread
    Checking Out begins with a post by Mark Roberts in which he says, among other things:

    Thanks for putting up with my aggressive style for all this time. I know it doesn’t make for pleasant reading, but it’s been important to me not to use kid gloves on these revelers in ignorance and these apologists for the terrorists who killed my neighbors.

    It is only natural that some people whose lives were affected by the 9/11 attacks, in one way or another, would develop a strong emotional attachment to their own interpretation of what happened, whatever that interpretation might be. Such an emotional attachment seems to be Mark Roberts’s motive, assuming that his statement above is honest.

    (That same post of his also contains an allegation about me, regarding which see this P.S. and Further P.S. to my post Email debates, and more about Mark Roberts.)

    Anyhow, back to This JREF post by “bje” a.k.a. 911booger:

    (why could we possibly spend so much time arguing with Truthers if we did not have some overriding, and hidden, “motive?”)

    The motive may or may not be hidden. But no one spends huge amounts of time on any issue without a motive of some kind.

    Also, you seem to be assuming here that having motives is necessarily a bad thing. That’s not the point. The only reason the issue of “motives” came up is that you made it sound like, for “debunkers,” the whole debate is all just a purely intellectual academic exercise, when that’s clearly not the case. My point in talking about “motives” was not to be “suspicious” but simply to dispute that claim of yours.

    I make clear this is my opinion, a gut feeling about a personality type that requires careful handling and one who is more trouble than its worth.

    I would say that interaction between you and me has been more trouble than it has been worth. Other interactions here have been more worthwhile.

    P.S.: Under your limited definition of “ax to grind” as referring only to “ulterior” motives, I don’t think it’s true that most people in the 9/11 Truth movement have an “ax to grind,” in that sense, either. I think that most people in most political and social movements are sincere about their ains and motives.

    Comment by Diane — February 13, 2008 @ 4:05 am | Reply

  39. Thanks,

    I rest my case.

    Comment by 911booger — February 13, 2008 @ 3:00 pm | Reply


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: