Soon I’ll be soliciting feedback from a few 9/11 “debunkers,” as well as people in the 9/11 Truth movement, regarding my draft pamphlet.
But first, here’s a little about me and my more general point of view, and the evolution of my views on 9/11. I’ll also say a little about my views on “conspiracy theories” and what I call grand conspiracy ideology.
WTC CD theories
In the summer of 2007, I became convinced of the likelihood of some sort of controlled demolition, or at least some sort of assisted collapse, of the WTC towers and especially WTC 7. I was never 100% convinced, though. I explored carefully the arguments of both sides. All along, I realized that many of the usual mechanical arguments for CD were weak. But one of those arguments (the almost straight-down nature of the collapse of WTC 7) seemed to me to be very strong, and I was unable to find an adequate response to it on any of the “9/11 debunker” sites I looked at.
Eventually, though, I did come to understand how WTC 7 might have fallen the way it did without deliberate human intervention. Having looked carefully at the arguments of the more studious people on both sides — and having done some computations of my own, based on my two years of physics in college — I no longer see any strong reason to believe in CD of the WTC.
I still don’t rule out the possibility that Steven Jones might be onto something with his red/grey chips, and with the thermite hypothesis in general. But I’m taking a wait-and-see attitude on that. In the meantime, I’m not inclined to believe in CD of the WTC.
A more detailed account of my personal journey, on this topic, can be found by reading past posts on my blog.
Other aspects of 9/11
During late 2007, I also began to learn about other aspects of 9/11 that I had not paid much attention to before. It soon became obvious to me that there were coverups, and that we need an independent investigation, of various matters having nothing to do with WTC CD theories.
I don’t currently have any strong belief about the degree or kind of U.S. government involvement in the 9/11 attacks, other than to reject the more extreme and improbable kinds of “inside job” theories. Thus, for example, I reject “no planes” theories and the idea that the Pentagon was hit by anything other than a 757. I also reject scenarios involving remote-controlled planes and faked phone calls, which strike me as logistically way too complicated, even though they might be possible from a purely technological point of view.
I nevertheless consider the idea that “9/11 was an inside job” to be a reasonable suspicion, as long as (1) it is recognized to be only a suspicion, not a proven historical fact, and (2) it involves only reasonable possibilities, such as the idea of the hijackers having been recruited by an agent provocateur.
I would also say that there are many other possibilities in between the extremes of “inside job” and “nothing worse than incompetence.” I’m inclined to suspect criminal wrongdoing of some sort — at least criminal negligence, and probably at least a little bit worse. But this is all just speculation, with no strong direct evidence for any particular hypothesis, as far as I am aware at the present time.
What we do have lots of strong direct evidence of is coverups. That alone is just cause for an independent investigation, even if no one in the U.S. government is guilty of anything worse than incompetence. As I say in my pamphlet draft, excessive secrecy is toxic to democracy. We need to hold our elected officials accountable.
A pet peeve of mine is the term “conspiracy theory,” which refers to two very different kinds of things: (1) controversial or nonmainstream allegations of government wrongdoing, and (2) what I now call grand conspiracy ideology, i.e. the idea that some secretive elite cabal, usually defined in religious terms, is masterminding and micromanaging world events. I am strongly opposed to grand conspiracy ideology. As for “conspiracy theories” in the sense of controversial or nonmainstream allegations of government wrongdoing, they cover a wide range, from obvious nonsense to reasonable suspicions.
It seems to me that the label “conspiracy theory,” by being applied so broadly, has been used to discredit reasonable suspicions of government wrongdoing. That’s bad for democracy, because a willingness to suspect government wrongdoing — or at least to suspect the possibility of government wrongdoing — is essential to any fight for government transparency. (P.S.: Please see also my post On “conspiracy theory” and democracy — Important P.S. to “To debunkers”.)
And the “conspiracy theory” label can all too easily be used to dismiss accusations that are in fact justified. (For an example, see FO Paper reveals British knowledge of torture flights, The Guardian (U.K.), Thursday 19 January 2006.)
Grand conspiracy ideology
As I said, I am strongly opposed to grand conspiracy ideology. Although it theoretically targets an evil elite, the accompanying religion-based paranoia has a long history of harming mostly ordinary middle-class and working-class folks. For example, the vast majority of Jews killed in the Holocaust, or in earlier pogroms inflamed by the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, were not elite. In the 1980’s and early 1990’s, the vast majority of the falsely accused in the “Satanic ritual abuse” scare were ordinary middle-class and working-class folks.
And I suspect, though I’m not yet sure, that religiously bigoted “New World Order” paranoia may be playing a key role in today’s resurgence of witchhunts in Africa and elsewhere. What I do know is that one of Sarah Palin’s pastors, Thomas Muthee, is both a witchhunter and a believer in “New World Order” grand conspiracy ideology. Also I know that “New World Order” paranoia and the harassment, or worse, of suspected “witches” are both relatively common within the growing “non-denominational” neo-Pentecostal movement. I have not yet seen any actual African witchhunt propaganda, but I expect it to contain allegations that evil Satanist cults, under the auspices of the Illuminati, are out to lure your kids into witchcraft and lure them into putting horrible curses on their parents.
In my opinion, the recent growth of grand conspiracy ideology is a real and very dangerous threat to the well-being of religious minorities and gays, and to any rational policy on issues like environmentalism. It may even be (if my suspicions about today’s witchhunts are correct) a direct threat to the well-being of lots of ordinary children. But, so far, not many people are as worried about it as I am. Time will tell if my fears about it turn out to be correct.
In the meantime, I am interested in hearing from people with an interest in debunking grand conspiracy ideology.
P.S., 9/9/2009: I should clarify that I don’t mean to accuse all or most grand conspiracy ideologists of being violent. I’m sure there are lots of peaceful, law-abiding believers in grand conspiracy ideology. However, bigotry is bad news, in general — and is, obviously, one of the factors that may predispose someone to commit a violent hate crime.