Wednesday 16 February 2011

Conspiracy: one man's truth, another man's lunacy

The collapse of the World Trade Centre was a controlled demolition. The United States government covered up the recovery of a spacecraft containing aliens at Roswell, New Mexico. Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. A secret group of reptilian humanoids called the Babylonian Brotherhood controls humanity, and many prominent figures are reptilian, including George W. Bush, Queen Elizabeth II, Kris Kristofferson, and Boxcar Willie.

As I sit here writing this, I pause and turn to look out the window. The sun is shining. I hear birds chirping. There are people walking about and cars are driving by. In other words, all looks right with the world. I turn back to my computer and continue researching various conspiracies and my brow furrows as I make an effort to understand where these ideas come from. I look back out the window. Nope, things still look okay in the world.

Over the years, I have heard about ancient civilisations and the deities they worshiped. Of course, from the position of our modern times with its modern knowledge, the word superstition is often evoked to describe these beliefs. Due to a lack of understanding about the world around them, these ancient peoples invented gods, rituals and the like as a means to both explain life and hopefully better their lot in the form of good crops and good hunting. For me, the curious aspect of this view of these people was that it could very well be applied to all of us in the modern world. Yes, we know more than those who lived a thousand years ago; heck more than those who lived 100 years ago! But in saying that, just what do we know today and are we any less susceptible to "making stuff up" to try and explain what we don't understand?

Part of this also seems to be our inability to accept "random chance" as being the explanation for anything. If lightning strikes somebody dead, is it just random or is there the concept of intent? Did the gods hate that person? Did numerology correctly predict the death? No way could it just be a fluke, a random roll of the dice which turns up that individual's number. There just has to be more to it than that. - Oh wait! Can the government control lightning?

Lies, Myths and The (My) Truth
In my blog posting, I talk about how we are bombarded with information that we ourselves either cannot verify or do not take the time to verify. And if the source of the information is, for instance, a political leader or a supposed expert, we have a tendency of believing the person without doing any fact checking. As a consequence, what we know, what we believe may be inaccurate or possibly not true at all. I cite some examples from both American and Canadian politics but also recount my personal 9/11 story.

My True Story of 9/11
Since 9/11, there have been scads of conspiracy theories about what happened and the biggest revolves around the Bush administration somehow being complicit in the event. One of my favourites is how the World Trade Center buildings had been previously set with explosives and what we all witnessed when the towers collapsed was actually a controlled demolition. I've seen the videos; I've heard so called demolition experts interviewed and... well, there you have it, proof positive.

What's screwball is that flying a fuel laden jet plane into a building had never been done before. - In 1945, a B-25 bomber flew into the Empire State Building but that crash was in no way comparable to what happened at WTC. - Let me repeat: WTC never happened before. There is no other event with which to compare the WTC catastrophe. On top of it, when people point to the film of the popping and the supposed smoke coming out of every collapsing story as the buildings come down as somehow being indicative of a controlled charge going off, they have totally forgotten that the weight of the top part of the structure was so heavy that if the jet fuel weakened the supports on the one floor, that weight falling a mere 10 or 12 feet, the height of a story, would generate so much kinetic energy, that the remaining floors would be in no way able to withstand the force. The puffs were not demolition charges; they were the floors blowing out as this massive weight of the upper part of the building slammed downwards.

Fast forward to the spring of 2010. I am at work getting a cup of coffee in the lunchroom with another colleague whom I'll call Carol. Somehow we got on the topic of 9/11 and the WTC buildings collapsing. Without a blink of an eye, Carol then tells me that the government has all important buildings wired with explosives so that in the event of a war or some sort of invasion, the government can order a building to be destroyed. I stare at her looking for some sign that she is joking: a smile, a wink, a glint in her eyes. Nothing. She is serious. I keep thinking to myself that she couldn't possibly be serious but as I question her I arrive at the unmistakable conclusion that she actually believes this to be true. "You mean that this building, our office tower, has been set with explosives?" Yep, that's what she believes. "So the government is able to give the command and this building will be demolished." Yep, that's it.

I was stunned. This was bizarre. Carol is not some stupid hick, not some Forrest Gump but how could she believe such a thing? Then it occurred to me. Over the years, working in the computer field, I had verified hoax emails for family, friends and colleagues at work who were convinced the emails were true. I remembered people telling me things convinced what they were saying were true when they couldn't substantiate it.  Then I thought of Carol and I realized that the idea of myths, superstitions and rumours was as alive today as it was a thousand years ago. However now, it wasn't so much that we could or couldn't verify if something was true or not, we seemed to deliberately choose to believe. If our leader said it, it's true. If we read it in an email, it's true. If it's on the Internet, it's true.

Hmmm, curious. Then again, as I reflect while starring at the ceiling, do I myself have things that I believe to be true when in fact I may not have the facts to back up what I believe? Probably.

In looking at the idea, it is interesting how the definition itself of the phenomenon includes an inability to accurately and definitively prove something. You and I are sitting in Starbucks having a nice cup of Java when the topic of conversation turns to the question of faith. Prove that God exists or prove that He doesn't exist. I can't. I can reach inside my pocket and prove conclusively that I have a ten dollar bill in my possession but I can't prove God exists and I can't prove God doesn't exist.

Put any subject you want on the table. Did the Twin Towers come down due to a controlled demolition? Is the government hiding aliens in Roswell? Sitting in Starbucks, anything is up for grabs. All statements are unverifiable. Heck, maybe Xenu was here 75 million years ago. I can't prove otherwise. Now, I choose to believe otherwise but you have to admit, I can't prove that Xenu was not here. (see my blog Scientology: Tom makes good movies)

Now we arrive at what I think is the funnier part of the whole idea of conspiracies or any belief system for that matter. It's a question of faith. It's not science with the idea of producing verifiable results. You cross a line and from that point onwards, it's faith not fact. Believe in God. Believe in Raƫl. Believe in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy. Sometimes these beliefs are innocuous but sometimes these beliefs push people to do things which are not acceptable by the rest of us. - Kool-aid, anyone? - Then we raise the issue of judging whether the faith in question is well founded or just plain nuts. Southpark had a good time with Xenu (see Trapped in the Closet) but admittedly there are believers who are die-hard fans of Ron. However let me be fair, I could easily go after many of the mainstream institutions as being just a nutty as anything else.

"The U.S. Cardinals said they are going to develop a code of ethics to help them deal with the sexual scandal. Wait a minute, I thought there already was a code of ethics, it's called the Bible." —Jay Leno

Back to conspiracies
Was the government complicit in 9/11? If you mean were they unprepared, ill-informed and maybe just stupid when it comes to gathering and analysing intelligence, then yes, they were complicit. But if you mean there was some diabolical plan to orchestrate the event to justify invading Iraq, [chuckles] I think you give the government far too much credit. These guys can't balance a budget, win a war or successfully respond to a hurricane crisis yet you think they could carry out a nefarious plan to topple WTC without anybody ever divulging such a plot to the press? Heck, the prez can't even get a B.J. in the Oval office without the entire world finding out about it. How could you possibly imagine something like this could be kept a secret?

What would Freud have to say about this? You get fixated on an idea or a theory, then you set out to prove it's true. Now it's no longer a question of rationally and objectively weighing the evidence, you seek what proves your point. However unlike something as concrete as whether or not I have a ten dollar bill in my pocket, the issue may be something vaguer like the existence of God or something in the past like the assassination of Kennedy. Whatever the issue, there is the inability to objectively measure the facts as those "facts" may be out of reach or no longer available. There's the guy on the corner with a megaphone yelling at you about Jesus while handing out his Chick tracts. There's a woman saying you need to get "clear". There's David Icke writing hundreds of thousands of words about the Reptilian Brotherhood taking over the planet. Somebody declares that feminism is a Marxist strategy designed to undermine the family and all other traditional institutions so that the primary relationship individuals have is ultimately with The State.

Final Word
Is my glass half full or half empty? Well, that seems pretty easy to answer; I only have to look at my glass. Now is my glass only half full because the government has a secret plan to divert the other half of my glass of water to off-shore tankers to sell to desert sheikdoms in exchange for oil? And has the government laced my water with some mind altering drug so I won't notice they have taken half my glass of water or so I won't care if they do? Okay, I'm going to have a bit of time trying to refute that one. However, to any of you chuckling away at such an idea being absurd, let me throw down the gauntlet by offering you this challenge: Prove me wrong!


Wikipedia: Conspiracy Theory
Conspiracy theory was originally a neutral descriptor for any claim of civil, criminal, or political conspiracy. However, it has become largely pejorative and used almost exclusively to refer to any fringe theory which explains a historical or current event as the result of a secret plot by conspirators of almost superhuman power and cunning.

Wikipedia: List of conspiracy theories
The list of conspiracy theories is a collection of the most popular unproven theories related but not limited to clandestine government plans, elaborate murder plots, suppression of secret technology and knowledge, and other supposed schemes behind certain political, cultural, and historical events.

Wikipedia: 9/11 conspiracy theories
A poll taken in 2006 by Scripps Howard and Ohio University showed that, "More than a third of the American public suspects that federal officials assisted in the 9/11 terrorist attacks or took no action to stop them so the United States could go to war in the Middle East." The most prominent theory is that the collapse of the World Trade Center and 7 World Trade Center were the result of a controlled demolition rather than structural weakening due to fire.

Wikipedia: South Park, episode #148: Mystery of the Urinal Deuce
"Mystery of the Urinal Deuce" is episode 148 of Comedy Central's South Park which first aired on October 11, 2006. This episode focuses on the 9/11 conspiracy theories, which is brought up by Eric Cartman.

Wikipedia: 9/11 Truth movement
9/11 Truth movement is the collective name of loosely affiliated organizations and individuals who question the accepted account of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Wikipedia: September 11 attacks

Wikipedia: Barack Obama religion conspiracy theories
Stop it! He's Christian!

Wikipedia: Barack Obama citizenship conspiracy theories
Stop it! He's American born!

Wikipedia: Roswell UFO incident
The Roswell UFO Incident was the alleged recovery of extra-terrestrial debris, including aliens, from an object that crashed near Roswell, New Mexico, in June or July 1947.

Wikipedia: David Icke
What David may lack in believability, he makes up for by volume. This man has apparently written 18 books to substantiate his claims.

Wikipedia: Linda Thompson (attorney)
Linda is a great and wild woman with one of the most active imaginations I've seen in a long time. This is a great conspiracy theory.


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Steve said...

You're an idiot if you think the government can't pull off 9/11. Go research the Pentagon Papers to see the US in its full propaganda action. That historical fact doesn't mean they caused 9/11, but it means they *could*.

Now, WTC7 came down at free fall acceleration for 8 stories on 9/11. But it wasn't hit by a jet, only some falling debris from Towers 1 & 2 -- but much less damage than other buildings surrounding it. Free fall = controlled demolition was most likely. It's not hard to understand why concerned, intelligent citizens want a new investigation that looks into this scenario.

I recommend you do your critical thinking homework at the site provided before you embarrass yourself any more.

William Quincy Belle said...

I'm an idiot. I should think before I embarrass myself. Hmmm, methinks he doth protest too much. I stand by what I said and will continue to follow a more conventional analysis of the "facts". (Wikipedia: 9/11 conspiracy theories) Let's agree to disagree but I in turn am not going to call you an idiot. That sir, would be unworthy of both of us.

RickK said...


Why are you ignoring the fires in WTC7? Why are you ignoring the recorded reports of the firefighters about the lack of water pressure and the inability to fight the fires in WTC7? Why are you ignoring the effect of heat on the load-bearing strength of steel? Why are you ignoring the firefighters reporting the exterior bulge in WTC7? Why are you ignoring the reports from different firefighters about the sounds of structural creaking reported from WTC7? Why do you distrust NYC's firefighters so much?

What pre-conceived conclusion is driving you to ignore so very much evidence, and what ideology is driving you to dismiss the accounts from the people who were actually there?

Before you embarrass yourself more, I suggest you ask yourself: What evidence would convince you 9/11 was not an inside job by our government? If nothing could convince you, then your opinion is not evidence-based, not rational, and not worth the pixels it is printed in.

William Quincy Belle said...

God: explaining the unexplainable. Conspiracy: more believable than a confluence of stupidity, deliberate blindness, and random events.

Tom said...

I have found this blog to be extremely thought provoking, and it is exceptionally well written. I agree with the entire thesis; namely, most explanations are "possible", but some so much likelier than others. Also, I desperately want to believe that 9/11 was a horrible and tragic terrorist attack, with no US based complicity at all. But, I am a scientist (a practicing life scientist and college professor), albeit with very little (i.e., undergraduate only) physics training.

Here is my problem: with regards to 9/11, Accom's Razor (the tried and true test for all scientific puzzles) fails. Let's do a thought experiment; let's strip away the emotional component of 9/11, the context it occurred in, etc. Lets just represent 9/11 as a list of facts.

- two planes, full of jet fuel, crashed into two sky scrapers, initiating very hot burning fires

- soon after, each tower collapses, either at or nearly at free fall speed. This is only possible when an object falls unimpeded. In other words, the roof of each of the WTC towers fell at terminal velocity, as though nothing were below it. If the tower fell by pancaking, each lower floor would impede and slow the descent of the roof. This is an experiment you can do at home. Look up the height of the WTC. Find one of the hundreds of on line physics calculators that will tell you how long it would take an object that high to land on the ground at free fall speed, and then watch the WTC footage of the tower collapsing in real time at normal speed. It falls at free fall speed, or very close to it. It falls at the same rate as a ball dropped from that height. This is science, this is proveable, and it makes no sense to me. How could the roof of WTC fall as though nothing were under it?

- other neighboring buildings catch fire

- WTC7 burns for much of the day. CNN then reports that the decision to "pull it" has been made with regards to WTC7. The BBC reports from on scene that WTC7 has collapsed while it still stands in the background over the reporter's left shoulder (these news clips are available to view on YouTube and easy to find). It seems clear that many on that day knew when WTC7 was going to collapse before it did

- last, prior to 9/11, no building had ever collapsed due to fire. No plane hit WTC7. No jet fuel burned within it. Yet it collapsed due to fire.

As I said earlier, I am a life scientist. We do not and can not 'prove' anything. Biology is not an exact science the way physics and chemistry are. We observe and manipulate cells and gather evidence. When sufficient evidence has been gathered that makes one single explanation extremely likely, and all others excessively unlikely, we publish our findings and include our interpretation of our results. Almost exclusively, Accom's Razor is accurate.

In this case, the evidence all points to those buildings being intentionally brought down, with lower floors removed ahead of a falling roof, in a way that was decide-able and predictable ahead of time. I want to be wrong about this. I desperately do. I beg you to show me the flaw in my logic. In science, when our observations lead to one conclusion and our emotions try to reject that conclusion, we are not practicing good science; we ourselves are a confound. This is where I find myself. I so desperately want someone to prove me wrong despite the compelling evidence to the contrary.

William Quincy Belle said...

Tom: I can agree that healthy speculation is important. I cannot conclusively prove 9/11 was just a terrorist attack or was a government conspiracy. But as a scientist, I trust you see the dilemma here in trying to determine the truth from just one observation. Any experiment is repeated numerous times before anybody attempts to draw a conclusion.

9/11 had never happened before and let's hope it doesn't happen again. But therein lies the problem. How to properly conclude what the truth is from just one observation? You state, "If the tower fell by pancaking, each lower floor would impede and slow the descent of the roof." That statement cannot be verified. Yes, at face value it seems logical but I bring up again that a building is built to hold itself up; it is not built to support something from above pressing down on it. From what I understand, tower #1 was hit between the 93rd and 99th floors and tower #2 was hit between the 77th and 85th floors. If, just if, the heat of the fires did weaken the support and the weight of the next twenty or thirty stories fell just 10 feet, how much kinetic energy would be developed?

I admit, I can't prove this. But on the other hand, I don't find the proof for a conspiracy to be any more valid. The so-called demolition experts are comparing apples and oranges. I respectfully point out that 9/11 has never happened before and how can anybody draw a conclusion from just one observation?

Maybe it's just my personal quirk, but I find the possibility of the government coordinating a deliberate timed demolition of the twin towers AND keeping it a secret to be completely and utterly fantastic.