Friday, July 27, 2007

Flights of Fancy

Pretty good title for this mostly good piece in the Seattle Times.

In today's media environment, fueled by user-generated content that is easily accessed on the Internet, conspiracy theories won't simply fade away if we ignore them or dismiss them as "fringe" history. In fact, if you do a Google search on "Flight 77," you will find that the conspiracy Web sites in the first 100 search returns heavily outweigh official news and government accounts. Lies perpetuate lies and gain a life of their own — a principle observed by Joseph Goebbels' propaganda machine for the Third Reich.

But there are a few minor errors that detract from the piece:

For example, a popular conspiracy theory holds that a cruise missile, not American Airlines Flight 77, with 64 passengers aboard, hit the Pentagon complex on 9/11. The "evidence" cited to support the cruise missile is the size of holes inside the Pentagon walls that "could not have been punched" by an aircraft with a 124-foot wingspan.

The claims, promulgated in the film "Loose Change," are a classic example of straw-man rhetoric: Build up a statement of fact that no one has made (that the jet's body made a 16-foot-diameter hole); then tear it down. In fact, the "initial impact" pictures shown in that film are pictures of damage within the interior walls of the Pentagon caused by the landing gear.

Dylan shows both the entry and exit holes at the Pentagon and clearly identifies each, but of course we've got the BS with the foam from the fire engine obscuring the hole in the first floor in one shot and the wrong plane overlay for the hole in the second, and the wrong claim that the landing gear would have to have punched through nine feet of reinforced concrete. In fact there was only one wall it had to go through after smashing into the building as rings C-E are connected on the first two floors, and that wall was brick as can clearly be seen in this still from the film: