Saturday, August 25, 2007

Gibbering Idiots

Sometimes I just despair at the stuff that the crackpot brigade considers evidence. Somebody discovered that American Airlines had edited its own Wikipedia page! Ooga booga! And more important it was a change in the entry regarding Flights 11 and 77 on 9-11-01. I'm not sure whether the change was to or from the following:

Two American Airlines aircraft were hijacked and crashed during the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attack: American Airlines flight 77, a Boeing 757, and American Airlines Flight 11, a Boeing 767. Although these flights were daily departures before and a month after September 11, 2001. Neither flight 11 nor 77 were scheduled on September 11, 2001. The records kept by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics ( do not list either flight that day.

The bold portion is what has changed. Again, I'm not sure whether the person at American who made the changes added or deleted that bit, but it doesn't matter, because it fits the conspiracy theory either way. If an American employee added that part, he's a bold whistle-blower, while if he deleted it, he's involved in the coverup.

The underlying claim, that neither Flight 11 nor Flight 77 was scheduled that day, is, of course, absurd. This is what we refer to as the "Sacred List" fallacy. There are many, many lists around and inevitably one will be found that does not seem to mention something involving 9-11. This then becomes the Sacred List that the plotters either forgot to revise or did not revise because it was illegal to do so (since the plotters are happy to murder 3,000 people but wouldn't tamper with a list somewhere).

I cannot locate the list the Wikipedia entry mentions because there are dozens of databases at the Bureau of Transportation Statistics and the claim on this one doesn't cite which database. I'd suspect it's one used to calculate something like percentage of on-time arrivals, where of course it would not be accurate to include these four flights. Indeed, many databases exclude parts of 9-11 for these very reasons. For example,

Table 12. Air Carrier Occurrences Involving Illegal Acts (Sabotage, Suicide, or Terrorism), 1986 through 2006


Other than the persons aboard aircraft who were killed, fatalities resulting from the September 11, 2001 terrorist acts are excluded from this table.

Table 5. Accidents, Fatalities, and Rates, 1987 through 2006, for U.S. Air Carriers Operating Under 14 CFR 121, Scheduled and Nonscheduled Service (Airlines)

Years followed by the symbol * are those in which an illegal act was responsible for an occurrence in this category. These acts, such as suicide, sabotage and terrorism are included in the totals for accidents and fatalities but are excluded for the purpose of accident rate computation. Table 12 contains a list of illegal act occurrences involving US air carriers for the period covered by this table. Other than the persons aboard aircraft who were killed, fatalities resulting from the September 11, 2001 terrorist act are excluded from this table.

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