Below is a slightly edited copy of three sections of my very long post Common a priori objections by “debunkers,” including arguments from authority and the “someone would have talked” and “too many people” arguments.
The sections below contain a history of my online interactions with “debunkers” here on this blog up until February 23, 2008. That history is interesting in its own right, apart from the larger post that it was buried in. So here it is, in a post of its own.
Comments on this post should pertain to the topics of (1) the history discussed below and (2) the comment policies I then decided on in an effort to make subsequent discussions here more focussed and productive. If you wish to debate or otherwise discuss the various a priori objections that I refer to in this post, please do so in comments beneath the post Common a priori objections by “debunkers,” including arguments from authority and the “someone would have talked” and “too many people” arguments, rather than here on this page. If you wish to discuss substantive issues pertaining to 9/11, please do so in reply to a relevant post, as per my comment policy.
- My past interactions with “debunkers,” Round 1 (mostly just the usual a priori arguments)
- My past interactions with “debunkers,” Round 2 (some very good, productive, substantive discussions!)
- My past interactions with “debunkers,” Round 3 (a jumbled mix)
For the benefit of “debunkers” visiting this blog for the first time, I’ll briefly review my past debates with “debunkers.”
I’ve had many such debates. Some have been very interesting and informative. Others have not been.
My first online interaction with a “debunker” was a post of mine on October 14, 2007, Chip Berlet and “conspiracism”, in which I critiqued Berlet’s use of the terms “conspiracism” and “conspiracy theory” to lump together two very different things: (1) beliefs about possible government wrongdoing and (2) beliefs about alleged centuries-old, world-micromanaging conspiracies such as “the Illuminati.”
Soon afterward, my blog was noticed by Pat Curley of Screw Loose Change. My first interaction with him and his blog is discussed in my post Reply to some folks at Screw Loose Change, October 20, 2007. In it, I responded to various objections. In a comment in reply to that post, “Nerd World Order” called my attention to a page titled The 9/11 Conspiracy guys are retarded, containing various other objections, to which I replied in my post Reply to “Nerd World Order” about the page “The 9/11 Conspiracy guys are retarded”, October 21, 2007.
The objections were mostly of an a priori kind, focussing mainly on things like the large number of people that supposedly would need to have been in on the plot, and the difficulty of keeping them all quiet.
In comments, two “debunkers” with the screen names “charlienneb” and “anonanonanon” also called my attention to papers dealing with some of the scientific issues.
After that, I didn’t hear very much more from any “debunkers” for a while.
Later, on November 13, 2007, in my post Wiesenthal Center slanders 9/11 Truth movement. We must avoid bigoted response, I noted that Pat Curley had commented on my earlier posts Taking responsibility for counteracting bigotry in our midst and Truth Action forum discussion about “bankers,” anti-Illuminism, and the religious right wing. Pat Curley wrote, “We have hammered the 9-11 Troofers for their continued association with Holocaust Deniers and other disreputable characters. So it is only fair to note when somebody makes an effort to clean house.”
I suspect that this observation, on Pat Curley’s part, helped make subsequent discussions on my blog a lot more productive.
On November 20, 2007, I posted Demolition of WTC: Let’s not overstate the case, please, dealing with various scientific issues which, I think, have been oversimplified by many people in the 9/11 Truth movement.
Pat Curley noticed that post, leading to a second and bigger wave of “debunkers” posting comments on my blog. I responded to them, as well as to Pat Curley himself, in the following series of posts, which dealt primarily with the technical issues:
- WTC 7: Reply to Pat at Screw Loose Change, November 21, 2007
- The 9/11 Truth movement and me: Further reply to Pat Curley, November 22, 2007
- Proposed debate with Jim Hoffman (reply to ref1 and some folks in the JREF forum), November 26, 2007
- Richard Gage’s slide show, WTC 7 section: Reply to charlienneb, November 27, 2007
- WTC 7: FEMA report and NIST prelim report: What about pre-collapse leaning and the transit???, November 29, 2007
- Twin Towers demolition hypothesis: Discussion with Pat Curley, December 1, 2007
- Fire temperatures and steel temperatures, December 4, 2007
- Engineers were surprised by the WTC collapses, December 7, 2007
- “The Adventures of Max Photon” – a review, December 17, 2007
The above posts, and the comments following them (as of today), all dealt primarily with meaty scientific issues, not with a priori objections. I learned quite a bit.
Some real errors in Richard Gage’s presentation and on Jim Hoffman’s website were discussed. I notified both of them, and they both made at least some of the recommended corrections.
Some online 9/11 Truth activists were offended by my post Demolition of WTC: Let’s not overstate the case, please. I replied in On our need for more scientists: Reply to Petros Evdokas, December 8, 2007, and What happened in my life on 9/11/2001, December 10, 2007.
On December 12, 2007, I posted Reply to “9/11 Guide,” part 1 (to ref1). In the comment thread following that post, I persuaded ref1, the owner of “9/11 Guide” (a “debunking” site), to remove a defamatory statement about Kevin Ryan and also to correct some statements about Jim Hoffman.
My debates with “debunkers,” primarily ref1, continued in the following posts, which dealt primarily with non-technical issues, such as air defense:
- “Stand down” feasibility, etc. – Reply to “9/11 Guide,” part 2 (to ref1), December 14, 2007
- Screw Loose Change – reply to some recent posts, December 19, 2007
- My main reasons for being suspicious about 9/11, December 20, 2007
- Bush at Booker School on the morning of 9/11, December 22, 2007
- Why we need a new investigation of 9/11 – first draft of a leaflet
- Statements by Lorie Van Auken, Mindy Kleinberg, and Donna Marsh O’Connor, January 4, 2008
- “9/11: Press for Truth” – my response to an official-story defender’s comments, January 16, 2008
- Explicit stand-down order found! NORAD tape timestamps altered to bury it???, January 18, 2008
- New York City 9/11 Ballot Initiative: Any objections, please voice them NOW!, January 23, 2008
All the above posts and the comments below them (as of today) dealt mostly with substantive (albeit non-technical) issues, not a priori arguments.
The following posts dealt with the controversy over what Francesco Cossiga did or did not say, an issue on which I suspect (though I have not yet definitely confirmed) that the “debunkers” are correct:
- Former Italian president Francesco Cossiga thinks 9/11 was an inside job?, December 9, 2007
- More about Francesco Cossiga, plus more about Alex Jones, Ron Paul, paleoconservativism, and Jew-haters, December 25, 2007
Comments on my blog from “debunkers” gradually died down during late December and January.
On page 4 of a thread in the JREF forum titled Hardfire News, “Brainster” (who I think is Pat Curley) suggested to pomeroo (Ron Wieck) that he invite me to participate a debate on his public-access cable TV show “Hardfire.”
I replied in my post Reply to debate invitation from Ron/pomeroo on JREF, January 19, 2008. At first I refused, because I felt that I hadn’t yet studied various topics in enough depth to do well in a televised debate. But then I tentatively voiced interest in appearing on the show, given that it would be limited to just one topic, WTC 7.
For a while, I then turned my attention to studying WTC 7 in depth. I began by re-visiting what I already knew. Among other things, I posted a review of Loose Change Final Cut – section on WTC 7, January 29, 2008.
I soon concluded that there was no way I could become enough of an expert on WTC 7 by the time of the show, in which I would be debating against Mark Roberts, a well-practiced “debunker” who had been at it for several years. I myself had been involved in the 9/11 Truth movement only since this past summer. I also felt that I needed to research further my response to the arguments from authority that I suspected Mark Roberts would rely on heavily.
(P.S., 2/24/2008: Mark Roberts has emailed me to tell me he has been researching “truther claims” only since April 2006.)
On January 30, 2008, I posted My decision about Ron Wieck’s show. My perception (perhaps incorrect) that Mark Roberts did not have a strong technical background and would rely heavily on arguments from authority led to quite a bit of controversy.
Once the above post was mentioned in the JREF forum, it led to a third wave of “debunkers” visiting my blog. Debates took place in comment threads following the posts listed below, in addition to comment threads threads following the three posts mentioned above.
- Debates and such – further reply to some JREF folks, February 2, 2008
- Email debates, and more about Mark Roberts, February 7, 2008
- Review of Hardfire debates between Mark Roberts and Loose Change crew, February 9, 2008
- Two WTC 7 collapse videos: Can both be real?, February 11, 2008
- WTC 7 fire weirdness, taking FEMA and NIST at their word, February 15, 2008
At this same time, westprog99, one of the visiting “debunkers” from the JREF forum, also posted quite a few comments below the following older post of mine: He oughta know better: Mark Roberts and the iron spherules, January 3, 2008. (That comment thread, mostly off the topic of the post, has subsequently been transplanted to my new post Hiding the planting of incendiaries, explosives, or whatever? Response to a common a priori objection.)
I learned a lot from some of these discussions. Among other things, I’ve had to reconsider what I previously thought of as the single strongest argument for demolition of WTC 7, namely what I had previously thought of as the almost perfectly symmetrical nature of its collapse. I still think it’s unlikely that WTC 7 collapsed due to a purely natural fire plus structural damage due to flying debris. But I’m now more of a “demolition agnostic” than before. (For more about my current views on WTC 7, see my post Richard Gage’s avowed enemy, part 2 – and my thoughts about WTC 7, February 28, 2008.)
Anyhow, the comment threads below these posts were not nearly as focussed as my previous debates with “debunkers.” The comment threads rambled all over the place, with various a priori arguments jumbled together with highly technical discussions.
I would prefer not to have such rambly discussions again. I much prefer discussions focussed on particular topics.
So I added a rule to my comment policy requiring that, from henceforth, any and all a priori arguments by “debunkers” be posted only as replies to my post Common a priori objections by “debunkers,” including arguments from authority and the “someone would have talked” and “too many people” arguments, or in reply to other relevant posts, not jumbled in with comments after posts dealing other topics.