9/11: Falsifiablity

9/11 truthers are guilty of making their theory impervious to falsification. Yeah I said it. This isn’t intended as an ad-hominem attack, I’m merely attempting to understand the psychology of truthers and sadly I’ve come to find that their logic is seriously flawed.

The fatal flaw in their thinking can be summarized as the following: Using denial or contradictory evidence as further proof of the theory, thereby making the theory unfalsifiable and resistant to change or logic. The exact same logic was employed during the Salem Witch Trials – if a woman claims she is not a witch, then it proves she is one. The exact same logic was employed during the Second Red Scare – if a man claims he is not a Communist, then he is one.

A fellow by the name of Hitler was also fond of doubting anything he didn’t already believe in, especially his vehement hatred of the Jews. In Mein Kampf he mentions The Protocols which are a forged document detailing a Jewish plan for world domination:

The extent to which the whole existence of the people is based on a continual lie is shown in an incomparable manner in The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which the Jews hate so tremendously. The Frankfurter Zeitung is forever moaning to the people that they are supposed to be a forgery; which is the surest proof that they are genuine. What many Jews do perhaps unconsciously is here consciously exposed. But that is not what matters…What matters is that they uncover, with really horrifying reliability, the nature and activity of the Jewish people, and expose them in their logic and their final aims.

The sentence: “The Frankfurter Zeitung is forever moaning to the people that they are supposed to be a forgery; which is the surest proof that they are genuine,” is the most startling admission of erroneous logic I’ve ever heard. Essentially, Hitler is stating that The Protocols are real because other people are calling them fake. Nothing can defeat this argument.

And as was previously mentioned, 9/11 truthers are also guilty of this erroneous logic. The following quotes are taken from Shanksville, PA coroner Wally Miller who assisted in the clean up of the debris of Flight 93:

“I stopped being a coroner after about 20 minutes, because there were not bodies there.”

“I have not, to this day, seen a single drop of blood. Not a drop.”

These quotes certainly appear damning to the official account. But as is so often the case, the suspicion disappears when the truth is revealed.

In the following article, it’s clear Miller was talking about the devastation of the plane impacts. The bodies were vaporized and discovering remains was difficult. This is why ‘a single drop of blood’ was not found. Here is a portion of the article:

The FBI has mandated DNA testing to confirm the identities of remains, a process just beginning that Miller said could take four to six months. But using mostly dental records, Miller and staff have identified remains of 12 passengers — a number that the coroner said might grow with last weekend’s recovery of additional remains. (http://www.postgazette.com/headlines/20011003crash1003p3.asp)

In another article, USNews paraphrases Miller as stating, All that debris, and the fact that only 8 percent of the human remains could be recovered, mean the site is, essentially, a cemetery. Then they quote Miller directly, “The real story is about what those people did, deciding to rush the [terrorists] and sell everyone else on the idea,” says Miller, who spent weeks crawling around on his hands and knees searching for remains and would rather talk about anything else. “Where it landed is not what matters. The most important thing is that they be properly remembered.” (http://www.usnews.com/usnews/9_11/articles/911shanksville.htm)

And as if that weren’t enough, Miller himself has denied the credibility of the quotes truther’s have sworn by:

A funny thing happens in the minds of truther’s – despite the facts their theory remains safe. In fact, Wally Miller’s denial of the validity of their claims further proves the conspiracy theory. Just like Hitler, truther’s make their argument impervious to falsification by using denial as further evidence of the theory. Many truther’s probably subconsciously realize that if they were to admit that they take Wally Miller’s quote out of context, then a large portion of their theory crumbles. Thus, instead of face the reality that flight 93 crashed in Shanksville, PA and the bodies were mostly vaporized, truthers deny Miller’s claim as sincere and their theory remains safe.

Remove all bias, be objective, and analyze what remains. The objective fact is that articles exist in which Miller actually validates the very theory which truthers oppose. It is only by selecting certain parts of Miller’s words which appears to substantiate their claims.

Truther’s claims rest on the same precarious ground as the Salem Witch Trials, The Red Scare, and the Nazi regime. History does indeed repeat itself, and it’s thanks to irrational thinking.

Posted in 9/11, skepticism | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

9/11: Special Pleading

A common logical fallacy amongst the 9/11 truth movement is called special pleading. To explain this concept I summon Carl Sagan and his definition of special pleading found in his book The Demon-Haunted World:

special pleading, often to rescue a proposition in deep rhetorical trouble (e.g., How can a merciful God condemn future generations to torment because, against orders, one woman induced one man to eat an apple? Special plead: you don’t understand the subtle Doctrine of Free Will. Or: How can there be an equally godlike Father, Son, and Holy Ghost in the same Person? Special plead: You don’t understand the Divine Mystery of the Trinity. Or: How could God permit the followers of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – each in their own way enjoined to heroic measures of loving kindness and compassion – to have perpetrated so much cruelty for so long? Special plead: You don’t understand Free Will again. And anyway, God moves in mysterious ways.)

So how can this notion be applied to the 9/11 truth movement? The following is a common example of special pleading (e.g., How can the govt. continue to conceal the conspiracy if literally thousands of people were involved? Special plead: you don’t understand the concept of compartmentalization within the government).

This argument is special pleading because it avoids having to answer the real problem, namely that even with compartmentalization there still remain thousands of people who have to remain silent. Lets take the people who set up the demolition charges for instance. If they were only given instructions to set charges and nothing else, then I find it a little odd that not a single one of them has come forward with this information. The notion of compartmentalization fails when we realize that if one link in the chain fails, then the entire conspiracy fails.

Compartmentalization is a very real thing, but the problem with applying it to 9/11 is the scope of it is too large. As the example in the preceding paragraph proved, the people involved with the set up of charges in the twin towers now realize precisely why they were not told any more information. Those same people who wired the buildings for destruction have watched the videos of the collapses and (barring an inconceivable amount of idiocy) now realize the larger scope of the plan.

Compartmentalization fails.

Posted in 9/11, skepticism | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Quote-Mines: Creationism and the 9/11 Truth Movement

Over time I have come to find numerous similarities between creationists and the 9/11 truth movement. One of the most glaring problems with both groups is the use of quote-mining, otherwise known as selecting sections of a quote that seem to support the opposing viewpoint, when in reality it supports the other viewpoint.

The most famous example of quote-mining within the creationist movement is the following from Charles Darwin’s The Origin of the Species: To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.

Taken alone, this quote seems like damning evidence against proponents of evolution. Here we have the man responsible for the theory of evolution and natural selection apparently having a hard time coming to grips with his own theory. However, further reading of The Origin of the Species shows the above quote is not only deceptive, it is downright contemptible. Here are Darwin’s actual words:

To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree. When it was first said that the sun stood still and the world turned round, the common sense of mankind declared the doctrine false; but the old saying of Vox populi, vox Dex, as every philosopher knows, cannot be trusted in science. Reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a simple and imperfect eye to one complex and perfect can be shown to exist, each grade being useful to its possessor, as is certain the case; if further, the eye ever varies and the variations be inherited, as is likewise certainly the case; and if such variations should be useful to any animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, should not be considered as subversive of the theory.

Darwin then goes on to point out all these small gradations across the animal kingdom, helping to establish the theory of evolution.

The truth movement is also fond of removing parts of quotes that contradict their viewpoint. Here are a couple examples:

The following is from Danielle O’Brien, an air traffic controller who was on duty on 9/11: The speed, the maneuverability, the way that he turned, we all thought… that it was a military plane.

The full quote is this – The speed, the maneuverability, the way that he turned, we all thought in the radar room, all of us experienced air traffic controllers, that that was a military plane, O’Brien said. You don’t fly a 757 in that manner. It’s unsafe.

It’s obvious after reading the full quote that O’Brien was talking about how the 757 was being flown in an unsafe manner. She did not say that it was a military plane, only that the manner in which it was moving was reminiscent of a military plane.

Firefighter Craig Carlsen is often quoted as saying the following, … you just heard explosions coming from building two, the south tower. It seemed like it took forever, but there were about ten explosions. At the time I didn’t realize what it was.

Now here is the full quote: You just heard explosions coming from building two, the south tower. It seemed like it took forever, but there were about ten explosions. At the time I didn’t realize what it was. We realized later after talking and finding out that it was the floors collapsing to where the plane had hit.

It does not matter if Creationists and 9/11 truthers are deliberately removing the contradictory sections of quotes or if they are simply ignorant of the true intent of the quote. Either way, the fact that quote-mining is a persistent problem in both movements shows that the truth which they seek to establish is erroneous because it is filled with incompetent research.

Creationists and the 9/11 truth movement undermine their own efforts to find the truth by either deliberately or unwillingly ignoring and denying contradictory evidence. The fact that creationists and truthers use misleading quotes to support their theories lessens their credibility.

Delusion is defined as: a fixed false belief that is resistant to reason or confrontation with actual fact. Some synonyms for delusion include deception, blunder, mistake, misconception, error, and fallacy. Because creationists and truthers rely on provably false quotations, their beliefs can only be described as delusional.

Posted in 9/11, Creationism | Tagged , , , , , | 15 Comments

9/11 Theories: “Fell Into Its Own Footprint”

The twin towers did not fall into their own footprints and neither did WTC7. This is not a matter of opinion, but a stone-cold fact…and I like facts.

So what exactly does it mean for a building to fall into its own footprint? Well it’s a demolition term which describes creating an implosion to destroy a building so it does not damage other buildings surrounding it. Many truthers are fond of calling the destruction of the two towers implosions and claiming that the two buildings fell into their own footprint. Yet, in the same breath they will claim that it is impossible for much of the debris to be ejected out from the collapse without the aid of explosives. So which is it? An implosion or an explosion? Apparently it’s both, and when a person holds an irrational belief, accepting two contrary ideas is incredibly easy.

The following video shows just how much damage WTC1 and 2 did to surrounding buildings, including WTC7. It also has a good explanation (though slightly outdated, as its creator indicates) of WTC7’s collapse along with some spooky music.

The video does a good job of explaining WTC7’s collapse even though it is harder to explain and certainly misleading. We’ll address the controlled demolition theory more fully another time, for now let’s see if WTC7 fell straight down, onto its own footprint. Here is Richard Gage, a proponent of controlled demolition, with his take on its collapse:

Gage’s presentation certainly seems convincing. However, like many truther claims, they are misleading whether they are deliberate or not. The following video demolishes the myths of the collapses of the towers:

The video points that WTC7 did not fall into its own footprint because it damaged the Verizon building and 30 W Broadway. Also, if there were any explosions planted in WTC7, they were conspicuously quiet compared with other demolitions. Gage’s unwillingness to even address this issue is telling. Either he is ignorant of the damage that WTC7 did to surrounding buildings or he is willingly withholding that information during his presentations. Whatever the case it doesn’t help Gage’s credibility or the 9/11 truth movement.

Since many truthers have difficulty discerning the truth, I’ll do it for them. The truth is the twin towers and WTC7 did not fall into their own footprints and the sooner truthers realize this, the sooner a rational discussion can take place.

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9/11 Conspiracy Theories: Doublethink

The one consistency 9/11 truth members are guilty of is using inconsistent logic. To break it into simple terms, inconsistent logic is adhering to two contrary beliefs and making them fit into one unified theory. George Orwell said it best in a fairly popular novel, entitled 1984. Doublethink it is called, is described as such,

The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them….To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies — all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth.

As Orwell describes, the real problem with doublethink is that it becomes an infinite loop of denial. When someone is close to breaking free from it, they persist in denial because it’s less damaging to their beliefs.

In the popular film Loose Change, the phrase “military precision” is used to describe the government’s meticulous planning of the attacks and it’s a prime example of how little the truth movement exercises critical thinking. If in fact the government’s false flag operation was as meticulous as claimed, then the ease with which 9/11 truthers uncover the government’s plot contradicts its precision.

One such piece of evidence which contradicts the precision of the 9/11 operation is Larry Silverstein’s interview:

So the government managed to secretly plant explosives in the twin towers, destroyed all traces of evidence, and no journalist has managed to break the story, yet somehow they accidentally missed Larry Silverstein’s televised interview in which he admits WTC7 was demolished – something seems wrong here. Ignoring the fact that “pull it” is not a term used to demolish buildings, if the government were as adept as advertised they would have stopped Silverstein from ever giving the interview. Truthers fail to realize that for a conspiracy to remain in tact, any leaked information must be prohibited. However instead of admitting defeat or admitting this piece of evidence as weak, truthers trick themselves into thinking this strengthens their theory.

What this means is Silverstein’s interview is actually further proof of the government’s proficiency. Where most people see Silverstein’s slip-up as an accident, truthers see intent. For if the truther does not see intent, they may see the error in their logic and slowly but surely they’re theory will begin to erode. But for the theory to hold water, doublethink must be utilized and no group is better at exercising it than the 9/11 truth movement.

Another fact which alludes many truthers is the simple observation that government is inherently imprecise and inconsistent. It can do things incredibly well like construct hospitals, enforce laws, and create powerful armies, but those same hospitals it builds may have faulty plumbing or electrical problems. Certain laws may be greatly enforced, while others are often neglected. Even with the enormous amount of money spent on the military thousands of soldiers go without proper armor or protection, and many veterans come home without adequate means to become productive members of society. The simple fact is government is not the infallible machine so many proponents of the 9/11 conspiracy theory propose.

For one moment however, let us grant that the government is incredibly adept and nearly perfect. Let us imagine that it intricately planned out every action and even went as far to include alleged “weak spots” in their theory to confuse debunkers. If this is the case, then why use the term precise to describe the 9/11 plot? If anything it would mean the theory is perfectly imprecise and therefore the term precise loses all its meaning.

The reason such inconsistencies find their way into theories is because generally speaking, people do not examine their own beliefs. This is no different for truthers; they analyze the external pieces of evidence with great zeal, but fail to do the same with their internal thought processes. This result is doublethink and it shows just how an overly critical mind can make critical mistakes.

9/11 truthers are so caught up with promoting their theories and confirming their beliefs they fail to see the error in their logic. The circle of denial is complete and their erroneous theory is safe.

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“If there’s something strange in your neighborhood, who ya gonna call? Ghostbusters!” And with that, let us begin our discussion on ghosts. It doesn’t take an acute observer to realize there is a fascination with all things paranormal in the United States. The proliferation of ghost stories and hauntings, including shows like the previously mentioned Ghostbusters (a fairly badass movie) are all examples of how we marvel at the mysterious. But the question is: are ghosts part of our culture because they’re a reality or do people see ghosts because they’re a part of our culture? Rather than focus on the traditional pieces of evidence for the existence of ghosts like photos, low temperature, orbs, and voices, I will instead exercise critical thinking.

Proponents of ghosts often describe what appears to be the moans and cries of pain emanating within a supposedly haunted house. Believers in ghosts give this idea credence because, as theory goes, if a murder or some catastrophic death occurred at a place of residence then the victim’s spirit haunts said residence for years afterwards, supposedly searching for closure. Very well, if we grant them this explanation then what are to make of someone who lives a long fulfilled life, has a loving wife, children, and dies of natural causes? First off, it’s improbable that a ghost hunter would visit a house with a mundane history. There is no excitement, no intrigue, no closure for the dead to pursue, so very few if any of these ghost stories even exist. And even if they did, could you imagine a televised program in which ghost hunters search the dark, damp halls of the former residence of “the old lady who died happily?”

Instead, ghost hunters follow the traditional sensationalist format of the media by only searching homes or buildings with interesting back stories. Searching for spirits in prisons, hospitals, battlefields, or the homes of serial killers all make good stories and better television. This is likely unintentional, but shows that homosapiens are suckers for a good story, even in the afterlife.

And even the mysterious, fatal stories of the past may prove more mundane than ghost hunters generally let on. To illustrate this point, we’ll use an extremely tragic event: (to quote George Carlin) For the sake of argument, let’s just say there’s an explosion at Thanksgiving dinner. In my example we’ll say that little Susie and little Henry got into a little argument over biscuits and gravy before being blown to bits. After the moment of their destruction would their souls still be preoccupied over the biscuits and gravy? Or would their souls wonder why there was an explosion in the first place? Since the explosion would be instantaneous, I’m inclined to think the kids would continue arguing over who gets the biscuits and gravy in the hereafter, but I may just be too reasonable.

The point of all these musings is show just how meaningless it all is. But, given the claims of paranormal believers, these are reasonable questions. These questions must be addressed and proven for them to gain more credence and respect. Ironically enough however, these questions vanish as quickly as their ghosts when we assume that ghosts do not exist. Occam’s razor wins again; the best and simplest explanation is often the best because it eliminates the need for excess questions. Moans and loud cries are probably nothing more than “house sounds” – creaks of wood and wind slipping through cracks in the house. Humans are very imaginative and prone to seeing or hearing what they already believe, and ghosts are the product of over-active imaginations and our unwillingness to admit we are wrong.

Speaking of errors, the ghost theory has one fatal flaw: ghosts only haunt at night. So the question remains, why are ghosts dependent on time? Is it just a coincidence that the majority of hauntings take place at night or is something else going on here? Most people have likely noticed that anything which goes bump in the night is exponentially more frightening than anything that goes bump in daytime. The reason humans panic in the dark more easily is because humans are heavily dependent upon eyesight for survival. Noises, images, and movement of any kind are much more frightening and mysterious at night. With the loss of our greatest sense, comes the gain of our greatest survival instinct, fear.
Of course I could be wrong and maybe ghosts prefer to haunt exclusively at night. Perhaps ghosts share a weakness to sunlight just like vampires, but until somebody proves it, I doubt it.

An interesting point to make here is this-those who sense fear tend to survive because upon being frightened, people will flee from any possible danger. People who get scared of ghosts are exercising their flight instincts. If malevolent ghosts exist, then people who flee at the slightest paranormal incident save themselves from harm. If benevolent or malevolent ghosts don’t exist, those who flee from the slightest hint of danger will not be putting themselves in any more danger by fleeing. Therefore, running from any possible danger is beneficial to an organism, in this specific case, humans.

The alternative acts as a detriment to survival; if malevolent ghosts exist, then someone who doesn’t believe in them is risking their life by not fleeing. If benevolent or malevolent ghosts don’t exist, then someone who doesn’t believe in them doesn’t risk any danger.
To sum up, the person who exercises fear to make a decision stands a 100% chance of survival, while a more reasonable person stands a 50% chance of survival. This also explains why more reasonable people are usually less assertive because they know that if they are wrong, there is potential to stare death in the face. This also explains why many people continue to believe in ghosts despite the concept being unreasonable. It is more beneficial to one’s survival to be fearful than to be reasonable. However, these same people who prefer fear to logic when it comes to ghosts, will attempt to use reason to explain their belief. Yet, because their belief is emotionally driven by fear, they cannot make any reasonable argument. Thus despite all reason and logic, many people unknowingly cling to the belief in the supernatural because when it comes to survival fear takes precedence to thinking.

Another fatal flaw in human reasoning is our tendency to attribute inexplicable phenomena to causal agents. Those are big words so I’ll repeat them: Humans have a tendency to attribute inexplicable phenomena to causal agents. Or as the philosopher Daniel Dennet has called, “the intentional stance.” We are notorious for giving events or random occurrences meaning where none exist.

For example, I remember when I was a kid the TV in my family room turned on all by itself. I’m fairly certain this happened (though I could be wrong since I’m just an eye-witness and partial to mistakes like anyone else) and even though it is inexplicable to me, it does not mean a ghost materialized from the spirit world to watch Oprah. Dare I say, this is very unlikely. Of all the possibilities a soul could embark on, turning on my television is likely very low on its priority list. If its goal was to scare me, then why didn’t it just…appear! That would certainly scare me a million times more than simply forcing me to watch some large black woman on my television. But no, ghosts don’t appear, and this is telling indeed. For if the theory hypothesizes that ghosts intend to instill fear on people, then they are not acting like it. And so, for the time being it is much more reasonable to assume that my television simply turned on by itself for no real reason.

The most reasonable explanation then is that people are seeing ghosts because we hear about ghosts everyday. Our culture is inundated with scary stories of hauntings and ghouls lurking about in the shadows. And of course, we desperately want an afterlife, so no matter how unreasonable the theory is, people will likely continue to believe in ghosts because it comforts them to know life does not end at death. What they fail to realize is if ghosts are real, the evidence would have surfaced by now. So, continue to live your life comforted in the fact that there is no need to call the ghostbusters.

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