Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Dissident Voice of a Kook

This blog is apparently considered an up and comer among left-wing websites, so I'm going to devote a little more time and energy to this post than I might usually. The Dissident Voice posts a phenomenally badly reasoned and written review of David Ray Griffin's crackpot manifesto, Debunking 9-11 Debunking.

He starts off with this ridiculous claim:

According to a categorical assertion by the Association of Muslim Scholars’ most senior member, al-Fayyadh, the Iraqi resistance has killed no less than 35,000 US soldiers and wounded no less than 70 thousand…


Just blowing his credibility right off the bat. However, he claims in the comments that he was just quoting this guy Al, that he believes we should consider the official number approaching 4,000 and the 35,000 number equally skeptically. O-kay!

Moving briskly onto the 9-11 topic:

But, most mind-boggling is the dearth of skepticism to the neocons’ version of what happened on 9-11 — the event that was seized upon as a justification for what is a litany of war crimes and crimes against humanity wreaked by the US state — including the supreme international crime, as determined by the Nuremberg Tribunal, described as encapsulating “the accumulated evil of the whole.”


How is it somehow the "neocons' version of what happened on 9-11"? Isn't it sort of like everybody's version of what happened on 9-11? Is Al Franken a neocon? Remember he doesn't believe in the conspiracy theories either.

Yet some progressives have taken to castigating fellow progressives for coming to conclusions about 9-11 that differ from the US government version (a feat which really calls into question the castigators’ adherence to tenets of progressivism, such as a commitment to diversity, free inquiry, freedom of thought, and free speech). It also leaves such critics open to charges of left gatekeeping.


Yes, they are guilty of gatekeeping this absolute crackpottery from taking over movements that they have worked for their whole lives!

Certainly, the “official” 9-11 view is not scientific. It is a post hoc explanation designed to fit a preconceived agenda. Although scientists will try to explain phenomena, science is not driven a posteriori but by testable hypotheses where experiments are conducted or natural observations are carried out. This is the scientific method. To date, I know of no controlled experiments carried out to test whether steel-laced high rises will collapse demolition- or pancake-style when struck by airplanes.


There have only been two such experiments so far; 100% of them resulted in collapse (although neither were demolition or pancake-style).

Another reader, John Pontrello, presented a very compelling rationale for such experimentation and why the “official” 9-11 theory has huger ramification:

[I]f the official conspiracy theory is true, we had better vacate every building in the United States immediately in case a fire breaks out and the building collapses killing thousands of people. Also, being that a building collapse is far riskier on all fronts than damage and casualty from fire, every building owner in America should be forced to insure specifically against pancake collapse. All high rise buildings should be temporarily evacuated until such a time when they are properly studied to ensure that they will not spontaneously collapse killing thousands of people. 9/11 has really opened up the possibility that buildings spontaneously collapse, so I argue that they should not be used anymore until they are proven safe. If three people were tossed and killed from a roller coaster on one day, would you put your children on it? Furthermore, every building in America should abandon evacuation drills for fire and replace those mandatory drills with Pancake evacuation drills where something like window ejection with parachutes are provided, since stairwell evacuations will not protect one from the upper floors falling on them.


Simply retarded. As we have discussed extensively in the past, the 9-11 collapses have resulted in many changes to building codes.

International Code Council members last year approved a change to the International Building Code (IBC) related to the World Trade Center collapse. The IBC now requires that buildings 420 feet and higher have a minimum three-hour structural fire-resistance rating. The previous requirement was two hours. The change provides increased fire resistance for the structural system leading to enhanced tenability of the structure and gives firefighters additional protection while fighting a fire. The IBC establishes minimum standards for the design and construction of building systems. It addresses issues such as use and occupancy, entry and exit during emergencies, engineering practices and construction technology.


More important, as all the cranks do, the writer tries to claim that the building collapses resulted solely from the fire. Those of us who were paying a little closer attention might recall that something happened before the fire. In the case of the towers, they had two 767s flown into them. In the case of WTC-7, it was pelted with debris from not one, but two 110-story buildings collapsing near them.

But there must be a way to lean toward what best approximates the truth. One way, is to determine motives. A well recognized motive has always been personal enrichment. Evidence from 9-11 points to many protagonists in this regard, including people within the military-industrial complex and one World Trade Center owner. The motive attached to the alleged 9-11 attackers of hating American freedoms is risibly pathetic and self-defeating for its promulgators in that since 9-11 American freedoms have been severely curtailed. If this was, indeed, the motivation of alleged 9-11 attackers, then it represents a victory for the alleged haters of American freedoms?


Wait a minute, they hated us for our freedoms, the attack resulted in us losing our freedoms, therefore they didn't gain anything? And the notion that Larry Silverstein benefited from 9-11 is nutty. He's getting far less than the cost of rebuilding the buildings from the insurance and wanted to insure them for even less, but his lenders insisted on a higher amount.

Dr. David Ray Griffin has been a foremost writer on what transpired on 9-11, which he compellingly avers to be an insider job. Griffin is a theologian and some people attack him on this basis. This, however, is a thoroughly arrogant, elitist, and self-defeating argument that must be utterly refuted because of what it represents. First, it assumes that only experts are able to speak on a topic with authority. Second, it assumes that experts are correct, but that this is false is easily revealed by the fact that experts disagree among themselves. Third, it assumes that “average” folks cannot train themselves to become experts. Fourth, it assumes that “average” folks cannot understand the intricacies of specialized subject areas. The logical outcome of such assertions is that non-specialists must rely on experts to inform them how they should think — a complete sop to critical thinking and egalitarianism.


All valid points, which may be why I've never heard anybody criticize Griffin for being a theologian. It would be better for the movement if he were a structural engineer, but then he wouldn't be a "Truther" so perhaps it all works out. But note as well that the writer's desire for egalitarianism probably does not apply to topics that fit the leftist worldview; I doubt he similarly dismisses the experts on, say, Global Warming.

He assaults the “official conspiracy theory” from many quarters: the stupendous unlikelihood of cell phones operating at high altitude in 2001, the glaring discrepancies in “official” time sequences reported, the likelihood of the alleged pilots being able to carry out the maneuvers they are alleged to have done, the pancake theory of WTC buildings collapse, etc.


Is this like the fourth time he's mentioned the pancake theory of collapse? I really wish he'd stop, since that is not the "official" or even the "neocon" theory. I won't even tackle the cellphone issue other than to ask him to check how many phone calls were made from cellphones and how many of those were made at high altitude. Then maybe he'd realize how foolish he sounds parroting Griffin.

The weakest link in the “official” theory appears to be its explanation of the demolition-style collapse of WTC building 7: a building which was not struck by planes; had no demonstrably large, nor hot, fires burning; and was foretold as having collapsed ahead of time; and which the 9-11 Commission did not even try to explain.

Griffin asks why, if WTC 7 was awash in flames, no photographers and TV camera crews on the scene recorded this spectacle.


Because it was the south face of the building that was on fire. You know, where folks were busy doing minor things like looking for survivors in the rubble of the towers?

Griffin points out that there was extensive foreknowledge of WTC 7’s imminent collapse among firefighters and medical workers. Griffin quotes medical worker Decosta Wright: “they measured out how far the building was going to come, so we knew exactly where we could stand,” which was “5 blocks away.”


They knew the building was coming down because they had fixed a surveyor's transit on a corner of the building and noticed that the structure was moving; never a good thing in a 47-story building.

The words of WTC owner Larry Silverstein on PBS, give credence to a demolition about to occur: “I remember getting a call from the, er, fire department commander, telling me that they were not sure they were gonna be able to contain the fire, and I said, ‘We’ve had such terrible loss of life, maybe the smartest thing to do is pull it.” And they made that decision to pull and we watched the building collapse.”


Because, you know, participants in mass murder always admit their crimes on PBS. Or is it on Perry Mason?

Hilariously, he tries to wield Occam's Razor and ends up slitting his own throat:

Occam’s Razor — also referred to as the Principle of Parsimony — holds that the simplest theory is preferable; therefore, any explanation of any phenomenon should make as few assumptions as possible. But Garcia relies heavily on assumptions in his “dark fire” theory.

The demolition theory is simple. It requires only that one assume that some person(s) rigged the WTC 7 with explosives. This is less crazy than assuming Osama bin Laden’s freedom-hating Arabs piloted the planes and set off the first ever fire-induced demolition of a high rise building.


Yes, of course, except that you have to explain the planes and the freedom-hating Arabs on board who had trained to become pilots but didn't seem interested in learning how to land or take-off....

A remarkably stupid post.

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