Thursday, January 29, 2009

David Ray Griffin Changes Minds In Japan

Although perhaps not in the way he intended. Here's a report from our JREF buddy, Adversity1, who confronted Grifter in Osaka back in November:


You may remember from threads such as 'David Ray Griffin in Japan (appearing with anti-semites and UFO believers)' and the ScrewLooseChange post about David Ray Griffin's appearance at the '9/11 Truth Forum in Osaka'. It was at this forum where I, and others skeptical of the truth movements claims, had the chance to confront David Ray Griffin about the lies and deliberate misinterpretations that he has peddled for years with hardly any criticism.

Here's a summary of the day:

I had not made it down to the "People's Newspaper (Jinmin Shinbun)" afterwards to find out what the aftershocks were to this event, but it was already clear by the end when the Editor of the paper gave a closing address that quoted Chomsky's debunking of conspiracy theories that the "People's Newspaper" was not convinced on 9/11 conspiracy. This despite the fact that they had peddled this line for over three years.

Last weekend I went to pick up some video of the event at their offices and got a copy of the paper they put out directly after the event. The title of the issue reads: "9/11 truth: a Precarious Stack of Hypotheses, and we Cannot Discern the Truth". The issue features my letter to the editor where I spell out the four main points I raised against Griffin: that AA77 did in fact hit the Pentagon, that the inventor 'voice-morphing technology' supposedly used to fake the voices of victims on the plane has specifically rejected that this is even possible, that the vast majority of the families do not support the truth movement and Michael Hess' statement that what he heard was not explosions while escaping WTC7, concluding that the 9/11 truth movement is instead a movement that uses distortions and lies when it feels it needs to. Not only that, the "People's Newspaper" weighs in with a step by step debunking of Griffin's claims which points out the errors and logical fallacies of the so-called "truth movement" and ends with the lead editor concluding that "after putting on this event, I want to make it clear that I can no longer advocate for the truth movement with any confidence".

One section reads:

"Griffin continued: "those who doubt the truth movement don't realize that the government's claims themselves are a conspiracy." However, if the truth movement is suspected of manipulating people's impressions based on incorrect information, then it is unavoidable that people start to see the movement itself as a "conspiracy".

Griffin's claims are not enough at the moment to convince that 9/11 was an inside job. At first glance, these claims look like they have some persuasive power, but in fact aren't they merely claims assembled in a haphazard and patchwork way into a predetermined framework? The overall image reflects an impossible hypothesis, which instantly loses all persuasiveness when confronted with material facts."

The editorial continues, claiming that despite these defects in Griffin's theory, we should not forget that 9/11 was used as a political impetus for war. They go on to suggest some LIHOP scenarios that they consider feasible, and claim that there should still be a push for truth because of the effects 9/11 has had in terms of war. It is unfortunate that the paper here is not able to discern what really has happened: that they have been had by small-time fraudsters. That said, shifting towards LIHOP while dropping Griffin and the MIHOP theories certainly helps the People's Newspaper save face, given that they have been promoting these theories for over three years.

At multiple points the People's Newspaper notes that Griffin supports conspiracy theories about the events of Pearl Harbor, and that this rhetoric is only a reactionary explanation of why the war happened (I know from a personal account that the newspaper editor went to a 'truth conference' in Tokyo and was shocked to find himself surrounded by Japanese fascists).

Despite their concessions to LIHOP theories, the People's Newspaper has effectively given up on the whole mess. If you visit the paper's site here: you will find that they are no longer pushing 9/11 truth books or positions. The topic is no longer featured in their articles. It seems they want to wash their hands of the ugly movement that they found themselves a part of. Here, the truth movement has not only lost a community of potential believers; one of the biggest left newspapers in Osaka has partially restored its name by seeing through the lies of Griffin and others like him.

Here is the issue in JPG form:

I'm not sure exactly how much my own intervention added to the "People's Newspaper" and conference attendee's rejection of conspiracy mumbo-jumbo. Watching the video, I think I came off a bit arrogant, and I could have been a bit more cordial. I think it is likely that the earlier portion of the conference, in which a member of the 'People's Newspaper' questioned Griffin about obvious evidence of a plane at the Pentagon did a lot more damage, in a more methodical way. This was a powerpoint presentation full of pictures of parts from American Airlines 77. Griffin's absolutely pathetic attempts to refute this evidence was the clincher.

So let's sum up:

What should have been the impetus for "energizing" the "truth movement" in Osaka has instead severed this movement from one of the few left organizations in the country that supported them. Besides another left publication called "Shuukan Kinyoubi", the only ones left are the UFO crackpots like Yumi Kikuchi and obvious anti-semites like Richard Koizumi.

Now hopefully the process of reflection:

Why were we duped?
Why were we so eager to believe that the US government/Israel is omnipotent?
Why did we ignore the existence and intent of fundamentalist and extremist Al Queda?

can begin.

Lessons for skeptics:

Even people that are hardcore into the conspiracy theory, and yet still retain a social understanding of the world, can probably be reasoned with. In this case, my participation was only an opportunity the People's Newspaper needed to free themselves.

It is worth confronting deniers where they appear. Like they do, we must play to the audience and answer THEIR questions, not get distracted by the double talk of paid liars whose only interest is in keeping the game shucking and jiving.

Closing comment by Pat: Great job by Adversity1!