Friday, March 21, 2008

An Evening With the 9-11 Deniers

Jeffrey Shallit, who appears to be an Accounting Professor (Correction: Computer Science Professor), discusses his attendance at an event featuring the Canadian branch of the kooks:

Why didn't the Debate Society present someone on the other side? I was told they tried, but couldn't find anyone. But they are a "debate society", not a "one-sided presentation" society, and they had an obligation to find someone to respond to the falsehoods that were presented.

Professor Shallit has put together several excellent posts on the presentations he attended:

On AK Dewdney's claim that the cellphone calls could not have been made.

This gives some background to Dewdney's presentation on March 19. He started by stating that his expertise is in cell phone calls, and that he has learned a lot about them since he began his investigations. (Dewdney, it appears, has no formal training in cellular communication. The theme of people speaking beyond their trained expertise is one that would repeat itself during the evening.)


Part II of Dewdney:

He showed a picture of one of the towers with an arrow pointing to part of it, with a caption reading "Molton [sic] steel pours from side of WTC 1". The resolution of the picture didn't allow me to conclude that anything molten at all was pouring out, certainly not molten steel. If anything was pouring out, why couldn't it have been molten aluminum? Aluminum melts at 660° C, while steel melts at 1370-1550° C.

On Theologian Graeme McQueen's discussion:

This indeed, sounds very modest. But soon the veneer of reasonableness was stripped away, as he described the generally-accepted model of the Towers' collapse and then said, "A rather obvious fraud, in my view." This kind of behavior is typical of the "9/11 Truth" movement. Their claims are outlandish and unsupported; yet if you do not agree, you are in league with fraud. By using the word "fraud", MacQueen denigrates the dozens of structural engineers, fire engineers, and civil engineers who have looked into the buildings' collapse and have paintstakingly devised the generally-accepted theory. There is no legitimate reason to believe that all these researchers have engaged in fraudulent activity, and it is a gross calumny to say so.

Yep, the rather obvious fraud is being committed by the "Truthers".

During his presentation, MacQueen referred several times to the Journal of 9/11 Studies for support for his claims. The editors of this "journal" are Kevin Ryan, Frank Legge, and Steven Jones -- three men heavily involved in the "9/11 Truth" movement. No one taking issue with "9/11 Truth" claims is involved. This is not a scholarly journal in any sense of the word; it is a propaganda outfit for deniers.


He also takes on the purported moderator of the debate, who of course was not moderate:

Lee claimed that "Serious scholarship will be presented to you tonight". In fact, what we heard were the standard falsehoods of the 9/11 Truth movement, and discussion of the fine points of building collapse by a man not even remotely qualified to discuss the issue. Lee claimed that he would present "a forum in an atmosphere of open-minded scholarly challenge". But there was no challenge, since no one from the opposing side was permitted to speak. The question period was extremely limited.

Kudos to Professor Shallit for putting up with an evening of this nonsense to bring us his account!

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