Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Dishonesty of David Ray Griffin

As I have mentioned before, David Ray Griffin, although he is touted as the leading academic of the increasingly inaccurately named 9/11 truth movement, does not subject himself to debate often, which is why I was so surprised that he made an exception and subjected himself to ridicule by Matt Taibbi last week.

A couple of years ago I made a post regarding a particularly egregious violation of the laws of logic and academic honesty in Griffin's book the New Pearl Harbor, and subsequently tried to get Griffin to defend this bit on an on-line forum, to no avail. But now, I have managed to obtain Dr. Griffin's e-mail after it was leaked to me by my good friend Scooter Libby. OK, that part I made up, but the rest is true. So I sent this question off to Griffin and eagerly awaited his ignoring me, or his ignorance, whichever came first.

The question went as follows:

Why do you write in your book, The New Pearl Harbor on page 37...

But if what hit the Pentagon had been a Boeing 757, it would be very surprising to have reports of people-especially people with trained eyes and ears--claiming to have seen a missile or small military plane. These reports of having seen a missile or a small military plane must, accordingly, be given more weight. Properly interpreted, then, the eyewitness testimony does not contradict, but instead supports, the missile theory.despite the fact that you do not actually cite in this section, or even the entire book, a single person having seen a "missile or small military plane" at the Pentagon, much less multiple "reports of people"?

Given the lack of even a single witness, how can this then be used to "support the missile theory". Was this simply an oversight on your part, or were you being intentionally misleading?


To my surprise, he actually responded, with this citation from the New Pearl Harbor:

Danielle O’Brien, one of the air traffic controllers at Dulles who reported seeing the aircraft at 9:25, said: “The speed, the maneuverability, the way that he turned, we all thought in the radar room, all of us experienced air traffic controllers, that that was a military plane.”[1] Another witness, seeing the plane from a 14th floor apartment in Pentagon City, said that it “seemed to be able to hold eight or twelve persons” and “made a shrill noise like a fighter plane.”[2] Lon Rains, editor at Space News, said: “I was convinced it was a missile. It came in so fast it sounded nothing like an airplane.”[3] Still another witness, who saw it from his automobile, was reported as saying that it “was like a cruise missile with wings.”[4

OK, well I got an answer, the problem is that it neither answers my question, nor is it accurate. So I replied:

1. An air traffic controller cannot "see" airplanes. They do not have little video screens of the planes in front of them. She based that observation on the unsafe way the plane was flying. You left out the last part of the quote, ""You don't fly a 757 in that manner. It's unsafe."

2. "I was convinced it was a missile. It came in so fast it sounded nothing like an airplane.

Once again you are confused about the concept of "seeing something." Yes, I am sure it sounded like a missile. I have never been near a building which got hit by a jetliner travelling 500MPH, but I am sure it would sound just like a missile. What exactly would you think it would sound like, a paper airplane?

3. Another witness, seeing the plane from a 14th floor apartment in Pentagon City, said that it "seemed to be able to hold eight or twelve persons"

He said he thought it was a commuter plane, which would qualify it neither as a missile or a small military plane, which you claimed. Besides, this was someone miles away, not at the Pentagon, which was the whole basis for your statement, "people with trained eyes and ears--claiming to have seen a missile or small military plane. These reports of having seen a missile or a small military plane must, accordingly, be given more weight." Unless we are to believe that random people miles away from the Pentagon somehow merit extra weight in their testimony.

4. Still another witness, who saw it from his automobile, was reported as saying that it "was like a cruise missile with wings."

This is perhaps the most dishonest distortion in the history of trutherdom. The witness specifically said he saw a jet, not just that, but an "American Airlines" jet. But that it was acting "like a cruise missile with wings". Did they teach you the concept of metaphors at theology school, or were you gone that week?

"I was sitting in the northbound on 27 and the traffic was, you know, typical rush-hour -- it had ground to a standstill. I looked out my window and I saw this plane, this jet, an American Airlines jet, coming. And I thought, 'This doesn't add up, it's really low.' And I saw it. I mean it was like a cruise missile with wings. It went right there and slammed right into the Pentagon. Huge explosion, great ball of fire, smoke started billowing out."


I was expecting some sort of hedging admission that he possibly could have worded this better, instead I got a rather bizarre exclamation that... well I am not really sure what his point is. Just read it.

Your question was about my state of mind when I wrote that chapter---("Why do you write in your book, The New Pearl Harbor on page 37...Was this simply an oversight on your part, or were you being intentionally misleading?")---not about whether what I said was correct or well supported.

I said lots of things in NPH that I would not say today and that I did not repeat in NPHR, where I specifically corrected at least some of the errors I had made in that earlier book, written 5 years ago.


OK, well I guess he is technically correct in that I asked why he wrote that, but I presumed that he would at least be smart enough to figure out that in doing this I was also questioning whether it was correct or well supported. I guess what do I expect from someone who has trouble understanding the concept of a metaphor.

So I asked the next logical question. Do you then admit that this statement that multiple witnesses "saw a small military plane or a missile" hit the Pentagon was in error?

Apparently that isn't the kind of question you ask Dr. Griffin, because he got a little upset.

I am stunned that you do not understand the difference between my quoting what I wrote in 2003, in response to your question of what I was thinking then, and citing it today. I have not cited it for many years. And it sounds like you have not yet read NPHR. If you want to know what I do and do not say today, you'll need to read it.

This gets even weirder though, because I stopped by the bookstore today and went through the chapter on AA77, and he does not retract the missile theory. In fact just earlier this week in talking with Matt Taibbi he repeats this assertion.

The list to which I referred, which was compiled by Eric Bart, contains 152 people who were regarded as "witnesses" in some sense or another to what happened at the Pentagon. But in a statement that you simply ignored, I pointed out that "only some of them claim to have seen an airliner hit the Pentagon." Some of the other people gave quite different reports, with six of them speaking of a small or mid-sized aircraft, perhaps a commuter jet or even a missile.

He has repeatedly stated that the New Pearl Harbor Revisited should be viewed as a continuation of his first work, not a replacement, and he has retracted none of his previous statements, so why won't he answer a simple question as to whether he still believes what he wrote or not? And why exactly should his understanding of those 4 points change? There have been no new witnesses to these events, he is ignoring all the previous witnesses, what has changed in the last 5 years to affect his understanding? If he could not understand the concept of a metaphor in 2003, has there been some new development in metaphor technology that I am not aware of that has changed its meaning?

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