Pseudoscience, Real Terror: Part II
Written by Bwog Staff
The second installment of Bwog correspondent Alex Weinberg’s exploration of the mental attack of 9-11 conspiracy theorists.
On September 8th, I went to Ground Zero and met with a number of 9/11 conspiracy theorists. They were generally young, white, educated males who lived far away from New York City. They were all very polite, if not a little overenthusiastic. Essentially, if it weren’t for all the black camouflage and “9/11 WAS AN INSIDE JOB” signs, they could pass for normal people.
It was a sweltering 87 degree day, and there were about three dozen of them gathered in front of the WTC Path station, wearing black shirts and varying styles of pant. The queen bee was a big tall guy in a bright yellow t-shirt that said “SECURITY” across the back. As the head honcho, he controlled a megaphone as conspiracy theorists took turns shouting into it. Clearly, the greatest scientific debates of our time have occurred at 140 decibels. Radiating outward from the fray, some conspiracy theorists were sent to hand out flyers and spread the word to passersby. I was one them, and I was ready to talk.
I soon found that after introducing myself and getting their stories down, we would fall into a pattern. They would start off by issuing the same arguments touted by big conspiratorial websites like infowars.com and 911truth.org, sometimes right down to the sentence. These were loaded and inaccurate claims like “the towers collapsed at free fall speeds,” “the towers fell into their own footprints,” and “World Trade Center Tower 7 looked like a controlled demolition.” This was all okay with me, as I had heard the arguments before and I was ready to challenge them, but apparently this was never part of the deal.
Perhaps the conspiracy theorists were unable to shift gears from “yelling at strangers all day” to “having a conversation,” but every time I pointed out a fallacy or flaw in their initial logic, they’d bowl right over it. They had taken the initiative to question the “official” account of the September 11th attacks, but it seemed like they had forgotten to question their own accounts too. Maybe if they ignored that and just overwhelmed me with words, something would stick.
Whenever I dared to ask a technical question, their answers were usually the same: “I’m not a scientist, but…,” which is pretty much the most damning way to start a sentence next to, “I’m not a racist, but…” If pressed for more information about their numbers or their math, they would hem and haw and refer me to a website or a video or some other non-speaking form of communication. “You can do the research yourself, online,” one guy from Maryland told me as he gave me his web address. A tip: Whenever anyone questions your facts in a debate, quote a medium of communication currently not in use. If you’re arguing online, assure your opponent that he can easily be proven wrong with a microfiche. If you’re talking on an iPhone, just refer to a smoke signal. There’s no need to prove yourself if your facts happen to be only available via hologram.
The whole thing was getting very frustrating, and I felt like I was in an endlessly recursive circle of conspiratorial logic. It was like being trapped in Escher’s Relativity, except all the staircases led to madness. As I made a final pass to leave, I came upon the highlight of my day: His name was Officer McGill, and he’s a member of the NYPD’s First Precinct. As we got to talking, he explained that he was in the North Tower as the South Tower collapsed, a line which is as great a conversation starter as I have ever heard.
McGill won the New York Post Liberty Medal in 2002 for his bravery, and he’s probably the best example of our species that I’ve ever met. He wouldn’t say exactly what he did to earn his medal, but if I were there on September 11th, I could picture him hauling my crying body out of the wreckage and finding me a Diet Coke. I began to ask him about the conspiracy theorists, still audible behind us. The nicest word he had to describe them was “misinformed,” but he didn’t even sound angry about it. He was there. He knew. As I spoke to him, he was doing his job: Keeping the street clear so that the conspiracy theorists could protest and call him a liar.
(On another note, Officer McGill informed me that the Burger King on 114 Liberty Street became a temporary morgue on September 12th and then became a Burger King again a year later. God Bless America.)
At the end of the day, all I got was a sunburn and this list of things that I have learned from 9/11 conspiracy theorists:
The government pulled off the most sophisticated attack ever on American soil, but they timed it so that Bush would be informed while reading “My Pet Goat” in a Florida classroom, making for the most famous “deer in headlights” moment in history.
The Bush administration would frame a large scale terrorist attack on Osama bin Laden, a man that they embarrassingly cannot find.
Tons upon tons of heavy explosives can be placed in 110 story office buildings without being noticed by thousands of employees, and can then be detonated without a trace of visual, audio, or seismic evidence.
World Trade Center Tower 7 (a 47 story building just north of the Twin Towers) was also demolished by the government, and for no apparent reason. (Personally, if I were in charge of a massive government conspiracy to destroy an American landmark and kill thousands, I’d also pay special attention to blow a nearby nondescript and unremarkable office building with nobody inside, because that would really get people riled up.)
The 140,000 members of the American Society of Civil Engineers? All part of the conspiracy.
The 9/11 Commission is bogus because they didn’t include the controlled demolition theory in their investigation. Similarly, the Warren Commission is rubbish for not examining the theory that JFK was killed by scorpions.
The 9/11 Truth Movement will try to teach you all of these facts, and they’ll be calling you a stupid ignorant sheep the whole time. Your political views don’t matter to them, because you’re either working to uncover the grand conspiracy, or you’re a lockstep neoconservative imperialist and you’re in on it too. You could be writing Michael Moore’s name onto your Spanish language ballot with a soy pen, but if you deny their shattered version of reality, you are a sheep.
But the real truth is that with their misguided groupthink, lack of self-criticism, and rejection of scientific consensus, the 9/11 conspiracy theorists are more sheep-like than any of us. They’re just part of a smaller flock.