Friday, May 19, 2006

Who's Gotta Prove What?

This is something we come up against over and over in Loose Change.

If the government wishes to prove once and for all that Flight 77 hit the Pentagon, all they would have to do is release one of those tapes.


Until the government can prove without a shadow of a doubt that Al-Qaeda was behind September 11th, the American people have every reason to believe otherwise.


This is pretty common among the CT crowd. Here's a nutbar offering $1 million to anybody who can "prove how the trade towers steel structure was broken apart without explosives in 8.4 seconds."

But of course this gets the burden of proof wrong. If there is a generally accepted theory about something, it is the obligation of the people trying to debunk that generally accepted theory to prove it wrong.

As Carl Sagan once said:

Precisely because of human fallibility, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Now, I know that Budd Hopkins responds that extraordinary claims require extraordinary investigations. And I have two kinds of responses to that.

There is a claim that a brontosaurus is tramping through the jungles today in the republic of Congo. Should a massive expedition be mounted with government funds to find it, or it is so implausible as not to be worth serious sustained systematic attention?

And my second point is that to the extent that extraordinary claims require extraordinary investigations, those investigations must be true to the spirit of science. And that means highly skeptical, demanding, rigorous standards of evidence.


Of course, we see very little evidence of that in the 9-11 "Truth" movement. Loose Change blithely ignores anything that disproves its absurd claims. The passengers used Airfones to call their loved ones from the planes? Claim that cellphones were used instead and hope nobody notices it. Wally Miller, Coroner of Somerset County has identified many of the passengers on Flight 93? Ignore that and selectively quote Miller saying, "I stopped being coroner after about 20 minutes, because there were no bodies there." Better stop the quote there, though, because the next thing Miller says is "It became more like a giant funeral service."

Note: The Loose Change Viewer Guide suggested the Carl Sagan quote.

16 Comments:

At 19 May, 2006 11:53, Blogger nes718 said...

When pressed on the issue, the "official" story went from cell-phones to air-phones. Magic bullet theory anyone?

 
At 19 May, 2006 12:14, Blogger Alex said...

"official story"?

You wouldn't by any chance be talking about the dozens of newspaper and magazine articles which "reported" the news based on rumours and incomplete testemonies? Sorry to bust your bubble, but their articles in no way qualify as "the official story". They do however clearly illustrate the idiocy of the media when they're rushing to beat their competitiors to the market. These are the same newspapers and magazines which routinely print allegations about "genocides" by US troops, as reported by terrorist groups and people sympathetic with the insurgency. If you were idiotic enough to beleive every single word in the newspapers immediately following 9/11, that's your problem; don't try to pin your own incompetence on the government.

Or, if that's not what you're refering to, I would LOVE for you to provide me with a copy of a government report which states that all of the passangers on UA93 made calls using cell-phones.

What's that? You don't have any such report? Yeah, I didn't think so. How 'bout you STFU then?

 
At 19 May, 2006 13:04, Blogger nes718 said...

Until the government can prove without a shadow of a doubt that Al-Qaeda was behind September 11th, the American people have every reason to believe otherwise.

Every heard about innocent until proven guilty? It's that little American ideal we all overlooked in the rush to war? But the again, most FBI agents are now taught that "terrorist" are also people that believe in the Constitution of the US. Go figure!

 
At 19 May, 2006 14:24, Blogger Alex said...

Right, so when were you planning on proving that Bush blew up the WTC?

 
At 19 May, 2006 17:11, Blogger shawn said...

"Magic bullet theory anyone?"

It's actually the 'single-bullet theory' and more like 'single-bullet fact'. They recreated it exactly with two ballistic dummies recently. (Not to mention a shot from the grassy knoll was physically impossible.)

 
At 19 May, 2006 17:43, Blogger shawn said...

"Every heard about innocent until proven guilty? It's that little American ideal we all overlooked in the rush to war? But the again, most FBI agents are now taught that "terrorist" are also people that believe in the Constitution of the US. Go figure!"

Err under the law you can't attempt to overthrow the government using force, nothing odd about that flyer.

 
At 19 May, 2006 18:13, Blogger ELC said...

extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence? I have read that assertion before; I didn't know it came from Sagan. (But perhaps he was just quoting a familiar saying?) Can anybody answer me this: what does it mean? What is an extraordinary claim? What is extraordinary evidence?

Seriously.

I suppose an example of an extraordinary claim would be a student claiming that he could read his teacher's mind. The evidence he would need to present is to be able to write in his notebook what his teacher was thinking. Would that be extraordinary evidence? If so, why? (All he's doing is writing on paper.) If it's not extraordinary, it sure would be sufficient anyway, no?

I think that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence really means "I'm a skeptic, so you're going to have to try really, really hard to convince me. So hard, in fact, that I may never believe you no matter how 'extraordinary' the evidence you provide".

 
At 19 May, 2006 18:20, Blogger shawn said...

"What is an extraordinary claim? What is extraordinary evidence?"

Here's one: a weather balloon crashes in the New Mexican desert. Its debris field matches that of a downed balloon exactly. Pictures show it to be a destroyed balloon.

Someone says it's an alien spacecraft.

Any evidence supporting that would be extraordinary, because alien spacecraft just aren't that ordinary.

Governments destroying their own buildings isn't that ordinary either. In fact, there's only ONE famous example of a building being destroyed by a party to gain power and start a series of wars.

 
At 19 May, 2006 18:31, Blogger roger_sq said...

VEEEEEEEEERY EEEEEEEEENTERESTING.

Like Saddam proving he didn't have weapons of mass destruction. Iran proving they aren't trying to build nuclear weapons. 12-year old kids at Guantanamo trying to prove they aren't terrorists.

If yer not with us, yer aginst us. This adminsitration is comprised of the absolute masters of the double negative and the blind assumption.

"Go massive... sweep everything up, related or not" Rumsfelds first directives on 9/11 response.

 
At 19 May, 2006 19:11, Blogger shawn said...

"Like Saddam proving he didn't have weapons of mass destruction. Iran proving they aren't trying to build nuclear weapons. 12-year old kids at Guantanamo trying to prove they aren't terrorists."

Way to make several nonpoints that have nothing to do with the post or any of the comments.

You folks like to throw out the smokescreen a lot, huh?

 
At 19 May, 2006 23:23, Blogger Pat said...

Sagan explains what he means by extraordinary claims--that a brontosaurus is loose in the Congo. It's safe to say that LIHOP and MIHOP are extraordinary claims by that standard.

James and I would go for an "extraordinary investigation", except that we know you would not accept it if there weren't large numbers of numbnuts like Karl Schwarz involved.

 
At 20 May, 2006 00:18, Blogger roger_sq said...

Alex said...
"official story"?

You wouldn't by any chance be talking about the dozens of newspaper and magazine articles which "reported" the news based on rumours and incomplete testemonies? Sorry to bust your bubble, but their articles in no way qualify as "the official story".



Yeah, Like The Washington post, The NY times, CBS, Bob Woodward, various Arab media outlets, and even memoirs of Al Qaeda leaders.


All of the above cited as factual sources of credible information by.... The official 9/11 Commission.

 
At 20 May, 2006 00:31, Blogger roger_sq said...

Way to make several nonpoints that have nothing to do with the post or any of the comments.

You folks like to throw out the smokescreen a lot, huh?


That's right, I am part of a vast conspiracy to lay out smokescreens.

The title of the post is "Who's gotta Prove What?"

The cabal of career schemers now in solid control of the US government, who told outrageous lies to sell the first gulf war, outrageous lies to to sell vietnam, outrageous lies to sell the cold war, outrageous lies to sell the invasion of Iraq, are to be expected to prove that the invasion of Afghanistan is an exception to the rule. Lest the Americans who die there be relegated to so many puppet thugs catering to the self-interests of a global aristocracy.

who's gotta prove what. who's gotta die for the stories they tell.

 
At 20 May, 2006 09:34, Blogger Alex said...

"The cabal of career schemers now in solid control of the US government, who told outrageous lies to sell the first gulf war, outrageous lies to to sell vietnam, outrageous lies to sell the cold war, outrageous lies to sell the invasion of Iraq"

Ah, you're one of those. Yes, the US faked everything including the invention of electricity. In fact, Benjamin Franklin never invented anything, electricity doens't exist.

Why don't you go play in traffic? I'm sure the government is also lying about what a car impact on a human body is. Maybe you can prove them wrong.

 
At 20 May, 2006 12:02, Blogger shawn said...

roger_sq, I sure do love historical ignoramuses, like yourself, because it's so fun to poke holes in your points.

"who told outrageous lies to sell the first gulf war,"

Like Iraq invading a country we were treaty bound to protect?

"outrageous lies to to sell vietnam,"

Outrageous is stretching it, but Tonkin Gulf was a farce. A broken clock is right twice a day.

"outrageous lies to sell the cold war,"

You are, without a doubt, a fucking idiot. Read histories by Russian historians with access to the government's archives. Stalin planned on starting his conquest on the day he died. The ones who followed him did little else but pretend to fight imperialism while swallowing up Eastern Europe and forcing communism on collapsing countries. They almost started a nuclear war for crying out loud. That you think the US started or kept the Cold War going is idiocy of the highest level.

"outrageous lies to sell the invasion of Iraq,"

Hell, Saddam thought he had WMDs (it's the whole deal Hitler had with his underlings, they all lied to make the boss happy). I won't defend the war, as there's bigger fish to fry than Saddam, but he was a genocidal dictator and did need removal, just not in the way we did it.

"are to be expected to prove that the invasion of Afghanistan is an exception to the rule."

Well...it isn't the exception. It's part of the rule. Vietnam (and perhaps Iraq) are exceptions. Man, you really have something wrong in that mush you call a brain. Why would we invade Afghanistan? We don't get a significant portion of our resources from them. Making them an ally doesn't help all that much. They're one of maybe three countries we can, without a doubt, connect to 9/11. Don't let facts get in the way there, brother.

 
At 20 May, 2006 12:22, Blogger shawn said...

My question is to all you rabid anti-government folks (I'm an old-school liberal, Founding Father-type, who advocates a weak government, for the record), how come it's only the American government you question?

Our resident moron roger says America lied to get us into the Cold War. Where's the ultracynicism for the Soviet government, which actually was a totalitarian regime sending people who disagreed with them to gulags?

Oh, shit, logic and reason...forgot you guys had that in small supply.

 

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