Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Nutty World of the 9-11 Conspiracists

I knew before seeing Loose Change that there were a fair amount of conspiracy theories involving 9-11, but I didn't realize that it had turned into an industry. Anybody know if they have conventions yet?

This makes the task of debunking Loose Change even tougher than it might appear at first. For example, there are many 9-11 sites that disavow much of what Loose Change includes; indeed there are people in what likes to be called the "9-11 Truth Movement" who think Dylan Avery and his little film are disinformation designed specifically to discredit the "legitimate" 9-11 researchers.

For example, probably the nuttiest part of Loose Change is the assertion, starting about 55:50 that Flight 93 did not crash in Shanksville, but rather was secretly landed in Cleveland, where 200 or so passengers were hustled off the plane and into a NASA facility.

Two hundred? Yep, Avery notes that was the number alleged to have deplaned in Cleveland, and helpfully mentions that the total number of people on the four flights that day which crashed was 198 (or 243 depending on sources).

This is what is known among 9-11 conspiracy cultists as the "Bumble Planes" Theory. If you Google "bumble planes" you will get 744 pages. The first result is here, and it appears to be the source of the original theory.

Go visit a bumblebee hive some time, and try to keep your eye on just one bee. You can't do it. You get confused. Think of the 9-11 jets as bumblebees. Matter of fact, you could even call Operation 911 Flight of the Bumble Planes.

The essentials of the theory are that the four planes were ordered to turn off their transponders and fly to a military base. At the moment this was done, the four planes were being tailed by four identical planes, which thus confused the air traffic controllers into thinking they were still seeing those flights in the air.

The purpose? The four trailing planes were drones which could be crashed into the WTC and the Pentagon and Shanksville.

Now if you have half a brain you're probably coming up with a dozen objections already. First and most obviously, if we grant the idiots their theory, then the government went to extraordinary efforts to "save" the lives of all those on the planes, as compared, obviously, to all the people in New York and Washington who were killed in the WTC and Pentagon. Why? I mean, if you imagine the government is callous enough to kill over 2600 in the WTC and another 200 in the Pentagon, why in the world would they quail at killing another 250 or so? (Wikipedia gives a death total of 256 for the four flights; not sure if that includes the 19 terrorists or not).

This is another part of the conspiracy theories that drives me nuts. For example, suppose we accept that the WTC was indeed brought down by controlled demolition. Then why have the planes crash into the buildings? What's the point? They couldn't sell the story that Islamic terrorists posing as janitors had placed demolition charges in the World Trade Center and brought it down?

Well, you know the answer to that one, right? That's not how it happened. The conspiracy theorist can construct all manner of bizarre explanations, but it always has to basically fit reality. A conspiracy theory that doesn't have the World Trade Center crashing to the ground, for example, is going to be an awfully hard sell.

But at any rate, if you try to research the Bumble Planes theory looking for evidence against it, you'll definitely find a lot of arguments. At sites that have other 9-11 conspiracies they want to sell you on.

For example, this site disavows the Bumble Planes.

9-11 Research does not endorse any of the no-jetliners theories or their associated theories such as Bumble Planes. We have not found any compelling evidence to support these theories, and have found abundant evidence contradicting them. In fact, we have done a great deal of work to debunk these theories, and think that, while they are promoted by many well-meaning people, they were probably created as part of an intentional disinformation strategy.

Sounds fabulous, but then you try to find out what that website believes in and, well, it's not quite as nutty as the Bumble Planes Theory, but only in a relative sense. They believe Flight 93 was shot down, that the WTC was demolitioned, that American Airlines 77 did not crash into the Pentagon. So using this site as a source for anything is dubious.

And that's the problem with a lot of the sources that you will find on Google for any of these ridiculous theories.


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