How did it get there?

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Buildings falling down

You may have seen this picture before. It's building 7 of the world trade center.

What does it mean to be skeptical, in the good sense? Skepticism means suspending belief, being systematically critical of all ideas. Being a skeptic means you trust your own judgment more than you trust the judgment of others.

Of course, sometimes we must trust the judgment of others. If your vet recommends a new type of cat food, you have no way of making sure that decision is sound. She has the information, she has the expertise. You have no choice but to trust her.

Except you don't, because now we have the internet. Suddenly it's not just you and the vet, it's you and the vet and thousands of cat owners and research studies and so on, and you can synthesize your own opinions. To skeptics, discovering the internet is like finding a flashlight in a world shrouded in darkness.

Are you a skeptic?


Presumably you see where this is going, and you're ready to cut me off at the pass. "I'm just not INTERESTED in conspiracy theories," you say, perhaps.

I'm suggesting there's a monster in the rafters, and you don't even care enough to shine the flashlight in that direction? It's not like I want you to go down to the library and wade through hundreds of old newspapers on microfilm. It's 2006, acquainting yourself with the actual content of the conspiracy theories would take an AFTERNOON. What's the big deal? I mean, if you just find the topic offensive or distressing, that's fine, that's perfectly normal.

It just doesn't square with your identity as a skeptic.

Today I read an article in TIME titled Why The 9/11 Conspiracies Won't Go Away. "Turns out, we need grand theories to make sense of grand events, or the world just seems too random".

The interesting thing about most articles concerning the 9/11 conspiracy theories is that they don't really talk about the actual content of the theories. They always mention the stupid missile-hitting-the-pentagon thing, and then the rest is a "people" story about those loony wacky nuts.

If you get your news from mainstream sources, you probably don't even know what the conspiracy theories say. Heck, you probably don't even know what the OFFICIAL story says, beyond "Osama bin Laden had some crazy guys hijack planes and fly them into buildings".
The official story says the flight data recorders of the four crashed planes were "unrecoverable", an aviation first
But who can blame you for being incurious?
Multiple military wargames and simulations were underway the morning of 9/11
Conspiracy nonsense just isn't your bag.
One simulating the crash of a plane into a building
Now the cat thing, that's important.
Another, a live-fly simulation of multiple hijackings
If your cat doesn't eat his food, he could get a liver condition and die.
Cell phones don't work at 30,000 feet
And once you're done researching cat food, you need to check your email and take out the trash.
George HW Bush and Dick Cheney spent the evening of September 10 alone in the Oval Office
Doesn't mean you're not a skeptic.
George HW Bush and Shafig bin Laden, Osama's brother, spent the morning of September 11 together at a board meeting of the Carlyle Group
You're just not skeptical of the official story of 9/11.