Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Debunking the 9/11 Debunker's Debunking

And speaking of 9/11 conspiracies, while researching that post, I happened upon a site which purported to debunk the Popular Mechanics article I linked to which debunked the conspiracies. And the debunking's debunking was really one of the shoddiest pieces of debunking I've seen since the last time I read a conspiracy theorist debunk anything.

It's titled Debunking Popular Mechanics' 9/11 Lies: Nepotism, bias, shoddy research and agenda-driven politics. And for as strong as that title is and as long as the piece is, it barely gets around to any sort of debunking at all. As expected, it's taken as assumed that the article is wrong, and barely mentions a few areas the article didn't cover; while the bulk of it consists of strong assertions about how fraudulent the piece is.

The first piece of evidence against the original debunking is that Popular Mechanics is owned by the Hearst Corporation, which was once owned by William Randolph Hearst, who "wrote the book on cronyism and yellow journalism." Needless to say, this undermines everything the magazine could possibly say. And just to be clear, Popular Mechanics started in 1911 and was bought by the Hearst Corporation in 1958, while William Hearst died in 1951; seven years before his company bought the magazine. So Hearst never actually owned Popular Mechanics at any time; even assuming this was a valid point against the magazine, which it isn't.

Now normally, people try to start this sort of thing with their best piece of evidence, rather than an entirely embarrassing point that serves no purpose whatsoever. But hey, we're not talking normal people here. We're talking conspiracy theorists, and when conspiracy theorists begin a point, they like to go with the longshot connection which stretches the reader's credibility to the point of breaking. After that, anything sounds plausible.

Too Many Chertoffs

And the second piece of evidence is that the piece was partly written by Benjamin Chertoff, an editor of Popular Mechanics who conspiracy theorists incorrectly believe to be a cousin of Michael Chertoff, a former head of the DHS. As they explain:
This means that Benjamin Chertoff was hired to write an article that would receive nationwide attention, about the veracity of the government's explanation of an event that led directly to the creation of Homeland Security, a body that his own cousin now heads.

This is unparalleled nepotism and completely dissolves the credibility of the article before one has even turned the first page.
Of course. Because Benjamin's cousin got a job three years after a terrorist attack and that job was created in order to prevent similar terrorist attacks, Benjamin lacks any credibility to write about that attack. It's not that they think Michael Chertoff had any responsibility whatsoever with stopping the attack or was directly involved with the cover-up of it, but because Michael became the second head of this agency, his cousin can't investigate it. And of course, they're not actually cousins. They just have the same last name.

And so the first two pieces of evidence against Popular Mechanics' article is that the magazine is owned by the company that William Randolph Hearst once owned and the article was written by a guy with the same last name of someone whose job was created to prevent similar attacks. And to think, people accuse conspiracy theorists of inventing ridiculous connections that don't exist.


Mike Goldman said...

I don't care about Popular Mechanics or whatever, criminal acts should be investigated by a grand jury and prosecuted. Who killed Mychal Judge and what caused WTC7 to collapse?

Doctor Biobrain said...

Mike - Did you read the Popular Mechanics piece? They covered the WTC7 collapse quite extensively. You can read about it here. Naturally, I can only accept their word for it, but that's all we can do otherwise. And it sounds plausible to me.

And seriously, you think a grand jury comprised of laymen really knows more than the experts who studied this stuff in depth? And any grand jury would be at the mercy of the experts who fed them their information. I fail to see where you're going with this.

Are you aware of how many people would need to be involved to hide this sort of conspiracy? It's utterly staggering. Never underestimate the incompetence of others. The perfect crime can only be committed by one person, and even that person has to have tight lips. And the more people involved with a crime, the more likely it'll be exposed. That's why I simply can't believe in most high-level conspiracies. It's simply not plausible that the high-level people that would need to have been involved would possibly risk getting a death sentence for anything.

And for what? Why would neo-cons have blamed terrorists for this, after spending years dismissing the dangers of terrorism? If anything, they would have made this look like the work of Saddam, not Osama. All the terrorists would have been Iraqis, maybe with a few Iranians thrown in for fun. But no, neo-cons were completely caught flatfooted by OBL's involvement and were forced to invade Afghanistan because of it. Again, if they wanted Saddam, they would have pinned it on him. If this was a government operation, the execution of it was as flawless as the neo-con's preparation was hopelessly flawed.

Mike Goldman said...

Yes, of course. We should do away with grand juries because they are too stupid to evaluate evidence and bring charges. Besides we're too busy blowing other shit up to do a criminal investigation of a crime scene. Let's just put Popular Mechanics in charge.

Doctor Biobrain said...

Mike - Do grand juries usually investigate crimes? I thought law enforcement agents did that, and if they think a crime was committed, they give the evidence to a prosecutor, who presents the evidence to a grand jury. And if the grand jury agrees that a crime was committed, indictments are issued. Am I missing something?

So you're thinking we should cut out the law enforcement and prosecutors, and just let grand juries sift through the evidence on their own? That seems a bit odd to me. Is there any precedent for this sort of thing?

And yes, grand juries are too stupid to gather evidence. That's why they don't do it. They evaluate the evidence that is gathered for them, including expert testimony. And in this case, the government experts would have told them the same basic story they told Popular Mechanics; ie, the planes did it. So what would the purpose of this be? And if this happened, people like you would insist that the grand jury was presented bogus evidence and insist that a real investigation was needed. And then we'd be back to square one.

And no, Popular Mechanics wasn't in charge of this, so please don't say stupid stuff like that. It's an insult to both of our intelligences. They were merely presenting the evidence that the government gathered, in a format that was easily understood. And I read it and thought it all made sense. And you can either choose to debunk their debunking (which the article I linked to couldn't), or you can choose to insist that an unprecented cover-up happened which involved hundreds upon hundreds of law enforcement agents and experts, all of whom conspired together for reasons that remain entirely unclear. Sorry, but I'll side with the experts. Thanks.

BTW, my previous comment was originally much longer, as I didn't want to sound too dismissive of juries and thought you'd make the exact point you made. Now I regret that I had deleted it. I didn't think it was necessary, but I suppose it was.

Mike Goldman said...

According to the ABA:

"In the federal system, the courts have ruled that the grand jury has extraordinary investigative powers that have been developed over the years since the 1950s. This wide, sweeping, almost unrestricted power is the cause of much of the criticism. The power is virtually in complete control of the prosecutor, and is pretty much left to his or her good faith."

I never suggested there shouldn't be a prosecutor, by the way. I'm saying it's a crime scene, it should be investigated as a crime, not dismissed away by popular magazines.

Doctor Biobrain said...

Mike - Your point here makes zero sense. Popular Mechanics wasn't the lead investigator of the case. The government was. Government investigators investigated the case and found nothing unusual. Popular Mechanics merely wrote an article about the government's findings. Why do you continue to suggest otherwise?

And again, if you've found something wrong in the Popular Mechanics article, say it. But this automatic dismissal of anyone who suggests that we have the full story shows a complete lack of intellectual honesty. We can't simply dismiss the opinions of those who disagree with us. Fight facts with facts, not blindness.

Mike Goldman said...

Your dismissal of due process is the problem. There was a crime committed. It should be prosecuted.

Mike Goldman said...

Understand, that the prosecution of Osama bin Laden and associates is entirely appropriate, but again this has been completely sidetracked by the "War on Terror" nonsense. And we need real evidence not produced by torture.

Doctor Biobrain said...

I'm sorry, but I have a hard time believing that this has anything to do with due process. Why else would you be so dismissive of the Popular Mechanics article, unless you believed in the theories it debunked?

It's not the prosecution you're looking for, but a proper investigation. And I'm sorry, but that's already been done. People saw the planes crash into the building, we've got video of it, the various investigators and experts of it say the event happened as described, and it's absolutely absurd to imagine the scope of any alternate theory to this. And that's why you don't bother to state any alternate theory. But please don't pretend this has only to do with giving Osama his day in court.

Besides, we had a bad trial for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his guys, and unfortunately it's too late to go back and untorture them. But hey, if all you were wanting was for this to be treated like an issue of law enforcement, I totally support that. It's too late for that to happen now, but I support it. But I fail to see what that has to do with Popular Mechanics and your dismissal on how the WTC7 fell.

Mike Goldman said...

I do not have to present any case, the problem is you are relying on popular magazines and one sided presentations. I am not interested in arguing. I am interested in having the crime of murder prosecuted. You don't seem to care, but I do.