TCS Daily


We the Sheeple? Why Conspiracy Theories Persist

By Edward Feser - September 20, 2006 12:00 AM

Conspiracy theorists allege that the events of 9/11 are not adequately explained by the "official story" fingering Osama bin Laden and his network as the culprits. What really needs explaining, though, is not 9/11, but the existence of such conspiracy theorists themselves, whose by now well-known speculations about what "really happened" that day are - not to put too fine a point on it - so mind-numbingly stupid that it is mystifying how anyone with a functioning cerebrum could take them seriously even for a moment.

The problems with such theories have been pretty thoroughly exposed by now. Here is just a sample: If the aim of the conspirators was to motivate the American people to go to war, why wouldn't the crashing of airplanes into the World Trade Center suffice? What was the point of secretly placing explosives throughout the towers - no small task - and thereby risking exposure? If the government was really willing and able to orchestrate such a massive conspiracy here at home, why couldn't or wouldn't it also carry out the far easier task of planting evidence of WMD in faraway Iraq? If the cell phone calls made from the hijacked planes were faked, how did the government find people capable of so perfectly mimicking the voices of the victims, and how did they acquire the detailed knowledge of their personal lives that would enable the hoaxers to deceive so many of the victims' loved ones and friends? If it was really a cruise missile that hit the Pentagon, why do so many eyewitnesses report having seen an airplane crashing into it? If it was also really a missile, and not an airplane, that crashed in Pennsylvania, then why did eyewitnesses report seeing an airplane in that case too? And what really happened to the airplanes in question and their passengers? If even a third rate burglary like the one committed at the Watergate hotel couldn't be kept secret, why hasn't someone, anyone involved in this massive plot, or with knowledge of those who were involved, come forward to reveal what he knows? And so on and on.

Of course, conspiracy theorists have tried to provide answers to some of these difficulties for their case, but the "answers" are even more ridiculously far-fetched and unfounded than the original theories themselves. Nor do they have any good answer to the central problem with all 9/11 conspiracy theories, which is this: Everything that happened that day has a ready explanation in terms of bin Ladenist aggression together with two implacable forces of nature: government incompetence and the laws of physics. (Check out the recent book Debunking 9/11 Myths, or this useful website, if you really have any doubts.) There is simply no need to posit a government conspiracy in order to explain the evidence. Meanwhile, the conspiracy theories themselves face all sorts of difficulties, as we have seen. So why even bother with them in the first place? Haven't these people (a few of whom are philosophy professors and scientists) ever heard of Occam's razor? Haven't the less learned among them - mouth-breathers of the sort who, while they could never understand a word of Noam Chomsky's serious scientific and philosophical work, still think he's "cool" and enjoy reading about him in the liner notes of Rage Against the Machine albums - at least seen this?

The standard view of pop psychologists is that the reason people are attracted to conspiracy theories is that such theories provide reassurance that catastrophic events never happen for trivial reasons. Hence (it is said) the reason so many people think Oswald didn't act alone in the Kennedy assassination is that they just don't want to believe that JFK was murdered by some lone nutcase; it had to be part of something bigger and more meaningful. Similarly, we are told, 9/11 conspiracy theorists are just sensitive souls who can't face the awful truth that a guy in a cave somewhere was able to bring down the twin towers and set the Pentagon ablaze.

I think this sort of explanation is, in the present case anyway, pretty obviously false. Al-Qaeda, not to mention the global Islamist movement of which it is a part, is far more than a guy in a cave. It is (or at any rate was in 2001, before being seriously degraded by American military action and anti-terrorism measures) a vast and well-funded international network led by intelligent and sinister ideologues with a flair for the dramatic, and who see themselves as part of a centuries-old jihadist tradition. If you want a grand conspiracy led by James-Bond-movie-style bad guys, look no further. And yet the 9/11 conspiracy theorists will hear none of it. The reason they reject the "official story," then, cannot be because they'd rather believe that something big was behind 9/11, because the "official story" just is that something big was behind 9/11.

Furthermore, people inclined to believe in conspiratorial explanations tend to do so even when there really isn't anything to be "explained" in the first place. For example, the conspiracy at the heart of The Da Vinci Code wasn't posited to account for some catastrophic event à la the JFK assassination or 9/11; it's just a plot device for a bad novel (albeit one inspired by crackpot "scholarship"). Yet thousands seem hell-bent on believing that something like it must really be true of the Catholic Church.

A clue to the real attraction of conspiracy theories, I would suggest, lies in the rhetoric of theorists themselves, which is filled with self-congratulatory descriptions of those who accept such theories as "willing to think," "educated," "independent-minded," and so forth, and with invective against the "uninformed" and "unthinking" "sheeple" who "blindly follow authority." The world of the conspiracy theorist is Manichean: either you are intelligent, well-informed, and honest, and therefore question all authority and received opinion; or you accept what popular opinion or an authority says and therefore must be stupid, dishonest, and ignorant. There is no third option.

The Enlightenment Connection

Crude as this dichotomy is, anyone familiar with the intellectual and cultural history of the last several hundred years might hear in it at least an echo of the rhetoric of the Enlightenment, and of much of the philosophical and political thought that has followed in its wake. The core of the Enlightenment narrative - you might call it the "official story" - is that the Western world languished for centuries in a superstitious and authoritarian darkness, in thrall to a corrupt and power-hungry Church which stifled free inquiry. Then came Science, whose brave practitioners "spoke truth to power," liberating us from the dead hand of ecclesiastical authority and exposing the falsity of its outmoded dogmas. Ever since, all has been progress, freedom, smiles and good cheer.

Now this is, as magicians Penn and Teller have elegantly summed up 9/11 conspiracy theories, bullshit, a historical urban legend on par with Washington and the cherry tree. The picture of the Middle Ages accepted by most people, including most "educated" people, is in fact little more than an ideologically driven construct, a holdover from the Reformation and Enlightenment eras and the various anti-Catholic propagandists active therein. (See here for a few examples of widely accepted myths about the Middle Ages, and here and here for a more accurate picture of the medieval world.)

Still, the standard Enlightenment narrative has had a powerful influence on the way modern people understand the relationship between authority, tradition, and common sense on the one hand, and science and rationality on the other. We tend reflexively to assume that the popular or received wisdom, especially if associated with some "official" source or long-standing institution, is always ripe for challenge, and also that if some independent thinker or writer takes an unconventional position, however extreme or counterintuitive, then there simply must be something right in it, or least worth listening to. "Innovator" and "iconoclast" are among our favorite terms of approbation, and "questioning authority" and "thinking outside the box" are applauded even by many self-described conservatives. By contrast, "unoriginal" and "conventional" are treated as if they were synonyms for "unintelligent" and "unthinking."

The picture of science that has gone along with this tends, accordingly, to portray it as in the business of overthrowing long-standing opinions and common sense in general. We used to think the earth was at the center of the solar system, but Copernicus showed that the sun is; Einstein revealed that whether two events are simultaneous is, contrary to common sense, relative to who is observing them; and so forth. The history of science, as popularly understood, is thus a story of daring individuals constantly challenging current orthodoxies and authorities, and constantly being proved right.

Now as the philosopher David Stove has argued, the modern tendency toward hyper-skepticism seems largely to be the result of a massive overgeneralization from a mere handful of cases where common sense turned out to be mistaken. Another philosopher, Michael Levin, has given it a name: the "skim milk" fallacy, the fallacy of assuming, in the words of Gilbert and Sullivan, that "things are seldom what they seem, skim milk masquerades as cream," so that common sense can in general be presumed to be mistaken. To be sure, where phenomena remote from everyday human experience are concerned - the large-scale structure of spacetime, the microscopic realm of molecules, atoms, and so forth - it is perhaps not surprising that human beings should for long periods of time have gotten things wrong. But where everyday matters are concerned - where opinions touch on our basic understanding of human nature and the facts about ordinary social interaction - it is very likely that they would not, in general, get things wrong. Biological and cultural evolution would ensure that serious mistakes concerning such matters would before too long be weeded out. The detailed reasons for this are complex, but when spelled out they provide the basis for a general defense of tradition and common sense of the sort associated with thinkers like Burke and Hayek.

Moreover, the popular image of scientific practice described above simply doesn't correspond to reality. Thomas Kuhn certainly had his deficiencies as a philosopher, but he was a good historian of science, and his famous description of "normal science" - on which ordinary scientific practice is in fact very conservative, with scientists working within and developing a general theoretical picture of the world that they have inherited from their teachers and rarely think to challenge - is surely correct. Indeed, it has to be correct, since it is really just not possible to treat authority, tradition, and common sense as if they were in general and in principle likely to be wrong. For in forming our beliefs we must always start somewhere, and have nowhere else to start except the general picture of the world we have inherited from our parents, society, and people who due to special experience or study have more knowledge of a subject matter than we do. Of course, we can and do often criticize some particular part of this picture, but the very criteria we appeal to in order to do so typically derive from other parts of it. What we cannot coherently do is question the inherited picture as a whole, or regard it as if there were a general presumption against it.

Even very radical shifts in worldview typically presuppose a deep level of continuity between the view that was abandoned and the one that comes to be adopted. Hence the Protestant who converts to Catholicism (or vice versa) does so on the basis of religious premises both traditions have in common. Hence the secularist who rejects Christianity as a whole typically does so on the basis of scientific and moral principles that developed out of the Christian tradition itself. (See here, here, and here.) And hence the conspiracy theorist who claims to believe that the government and the media are in thrall to some purportedly sinister force or other (the military-industrial complex, the Mossad, or whatever) invariably bases his theory precisely on materials drawn from these sources (such as newspaper accounts and television news broadcasts, and even the Warren Commission and 9/11 Commission reports, which JFK assassination buffs and 9/11 fantasists, respectively, comb for evidence to support their case).

The Hermeneutics of Suspicion

This is, in fact, part of why the medievals had the respect for authority that they did. They by no means believed in following authority "blindly" - indeed, Thomas Aquinas regarded the argument from authority as the weakest of all arguments. But they did think that the fact that some authority has said something gave us at least some reason to think it is true, even if that reason might often be overridden by other, better reasons to conclude otherwise. That is to say, they acknowledged that it is simply a necessary feature of the human condition that our starting point in coming to know about the world must always be what we have inherited from some authority or other - parents, church, scholars, government, or whomever. Such authorities might not always have the last word, but they cannot fail to have the first word. And to reject the mindless view that authority as such is always to be questioned is not to embrace the equally mindless view that authority is always to be trusted. It is rather just to take the sensible middle ground position that authority has an unavoidable and necessary place in our lives (intellectual and otherwise) even if it is something fallible that we often need to be cautious about.

At some level, everyone knows this, even if some people pretend to think otherwise. The secularist who chides religious believers for having faith in what the Church teaches will also tell them, in the very next breath and with no sense of irony, to shut up and trust the experts where scientific matters are concerned. That there are philosophers and theologians who can present powerful and sophisticated justifications of religious belief is taken to be no defense of the average believer - he ought to "think for himself," says the secularist. And yet while the average secularist couldn't give you an interesting explanation or defense of quantum mechanics, relativity theory, or evolution if his life depended on it, the fact that there are experts who can do so is taken by him to justify his own faith in their findings. As the philosopher Christopher Martin has noted, the real difference between medieval and modern people is not that the former believe in the need for authority and the latter don't - in fact both medievals and moderns believe in it and act accordingly - but rather that the former admitted that they believed in it, while the latter pretend they don't.

This pretense of contempt for authority per se is by no means a mere foible. It can lead to very serious intellectual errors, as it does in the work of such apostles of the "hermeneutics of suspicion" as Marx and Nietzsche. For the former, all moral, legal, religious, and cultural beliefs, practices, and institutions are "really" mere expressions of the interests of the dominant economic class within a society; for the latter (and especially for such contemporary Nietzscheans as Michel Foucault), they are "really" just expressions of a more general "will to power." As such, they are to be regarded with distrust, and indeed (on at least some interpretations of these doctrines) as having no objective validity whatsoever. Authority, tradition, and common sense come to be regarded as something to be constantly unmasked and undercut rather than consulted as necessary, though fallible, sources of wisdom. Indeed, they come to be regarded as something positively hateful and oppressive, from which we must always feel alienated.

Such doctrines are notoriously difficult to formulate in a way that is both coherent and interesting. If interpreted as universal claims, they undercut themselves - Marxism and Nietzscheanism themselves turn out to be just two more masks for some sinister interest or other, with no objective validity. If instead they are not interpreted as universal claims - that is, if it is held that either Marxism or Nietzscheanism alone constitutes objective truth and ought not to be regarded with suspicion - then they seem arbitrary and question-begging. If, to avoid these problems, they are softened into the more modest claim that people often believe in or promote various moral, religious, or political ideas out of self-interest, then they become trivial. Everybody has always known that. And from the fact that someone somewhere might have a selfish motivation for believing or promoting some claim, it simply doesn't follow that that claim is false or even doubtful. To think otherwise is to commit the ad hominem fallacy of "poisoning the well." If our believing that the earth is round benefits globe manufacturers, it would be stupid to conclude from this that it must really be flat after all. Similarly, if our believing that 9/11 was caused by a bunch of jihadist fanatics acting without help from any government conspiracy somehow benefits the Bush administration, that is simply no reason whatsoever for doubting that it really was so caused.

I would suggest, then, that the post-Enlightenment pretense of hostility to authority, tradition, and common sense as such, and especially the extreme form of it represented by the likes of Marx and Nietzsche, is what really underlies the popularity of conspiracy theories, particularly those involving 9/11. The absurd idea that to be intelligent, scientific, and intellectually honest requires a distrust for all authority per se and a contempt for the opinions of the average person, has so deeply permeated the modern Western consciousness that conspiratorial thinking has for many people come to seem the rational default position. And it also explains why even mainstream outlets like Time and Vanity Fair, while by no means endorsing the views of the conspiracy theorists, have tended to treat them with kid gloves, as if they were harmless and well-meaning eccentrics instead of shrill and hate-filled crackpots. The belief that extremism in the attack on authority is no vice has a powerful appeal even for suit-wearing journalists and media executives (especially if they are liberals), even if they have too much sense to follow it out consistently.

Yet no civilization can be healthy which nurtures such delusions, for they strike at the very heart of a society's core institutions - family, religion, schools, political institutions, and so forth - and replace the (sometimes critical) allegiance we should feel for them with a corrosive skepticism. Conspiracy theories are only the most extreme symptom of this disease. Less dramatic, but in the long run more dangerous, is the relentless tendency of the Western intelligentsia to denigrate the Western past and present, massively exaggerating the vices of their own civilization and the virtues of its competitors, and putting the worst possible spin on the motives and policies of its current leaders while minimizing or excusing the crimes of its enemies. This would be dangerous under the best of circumstances. It is doubly so while we are at war with enemies who know no such self-doubt and self-hatred.

Edward Feser (edwardfeser@hotmail.com) is the author of Philosophy of Mind: A Short Introduction (soon to be reissued in a revised edition) and editor of the forthcoming Cambridge Companion to Hayek. He is a regular contributor to the blogs Right Reason and The Conservative Philosopher.

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239 Comments

Knowledge and Authority figures
While it is not correct - or even possible for a vast majority of people - to treat authority, tradition, and common sense as if they were in general and in principle likely to be wrong, it is patently wrong to say that "in forming our beliefs we have nowhere else to start except the general picture of the world we have inherited from our parents, society, and people who due to special experience or study have more knowledge of a subject matter than we do."

This precludes any possibility of any new paradigm shift in knowledge, the kind that occurred when the Geo-centric (the product of "authority", "tradition" AND "common sense") theory was jettisoned for non commonsensical Helio-centric theory.

It is just a crude attempt to give authority figures (particularly the religious ones) the first lien on our thoughts and lives, a position they (the authority figures) lost, thanks to the renaissance.

The real purpose
of Feser's article is to use the foolishness of 9/11 conspiracy theories as justification for the re-establishment of the role of authority in society.

Feser's proposition is fundamentally idiotic and self contradictory. He claims the Enlightenment to constitute a sharp break from the Middle Ages, but his own references used in support of his argument (correctly) blur the distinction between historical periods. You can't have it both ways, Edward. If there is no meaningful distinction between the Renaissance and the Middle Ages, then you have to be definitive about why the Enlightenment constitutes such a break. If you claim that revolt against authority is a symptom of such a difference, then you ignore all of the historical instances of systematic revolt against authority that occurred prior to the Enlightenment. When such revolts failed, in the case of the Catholic Church, they were labelled heresies (i.e. the Albigensian Crusade, the Lollard movement). When they succeeded (the Franciscans, the Dominicans, the Jesuits), they were called reforms.

Finally, it must gall Feser to acknowledge that the United States was created by a revolt against authority, namely the British monarchy. Still think kowtowing to authority is such a good thing, Edward?

I dunno...
I think it is more of a coping mechanism. It is too terrifying to acknowledge that the act was perpetrated by fanatics half a world away who are dedicated to our destruction on a non-negotiable basis. But, if the act was perpetrated by people who are locally accessible, and whom they can imagine they can take on at little or no personal risk, then they are in control of their own destinies once again and there is no need for fear.

I blame Oliver Stone!
Really, all this babble when you could just easily say that those who believe the 9/11 Conspiracy theories are idiots or members of the Church of the Subgenius. Or both.

Who you gonna trust Pink Boy? "Bob" or the Con?

read it differently
I did not see the author saying that we must return to believing in traditional authorities. Instead he seems to be ridiculing those who reject out of hand, one set of authorities, while accepting without thinking another set.

Either all authority is valid, or no authority is valid. Trying to do it half way is muddled and even more invalid.

All powerful governments
If you look at three of the most common conspiracy theories (FDR and Pearl Harbor, LBJ and Kennedy, Bush and 9/11) that all start with the conviction that the government must know everything. That these events happened is proof that the government either allowed them or caused them. Once you accept that it is an easy jump to assume that the events were allowed or caused in order to wage the wars that followed.

It all comes down to fear of powerful insitutions, especially one's own government. You don't need to look much deeper than that.

Have to disagree
His third and fourth paragraphs provide his theme, particularly where he writes, "the tendency of Western intelligentsia to denigrate the past". This is an over-generalization, confounding legitimate scepticism with rabid hysteria such as 9/11 conspiracies, who shot JFK, etc. It also ignores the vast bulk of Western scholarship and what it actually is saying. We know that all authority is not valid on all things at all times, both in present times and in the past. Equally however, no serious scholar can get away with the bald claim that Western intelligentsia, implying all, denigrate the past.

Hence, however uncomfortable it may be and however intellectually satisfying it may be, we are left in the middle ground. You observe that it is invalid. In abstract perhaps, but it is reality. If we accept the proposition of no middle ground in your post, then we are only left with a bipolar world on the one hand of post modernist intellectual anarchy and on the other embodied by the Catholic principle of Papal Infallibility. I would suggest that neither of these extremes are either legitimate or desirable.

A far better approach for Feser would have been to go after post-modernism. That represents the real dividing line between the intelligent and learned scepticism of academic tradition and the flinging open of the gates of ignorance (to coin an overly melodramatic phrase).

I repeat again, the United States was founded on scepticism of authority, both of a foreign one, and one that might be imposed by its own government. If Feser wants to construct an argument for authority, he has to do a lot better than this sloppy, lazy, superficial effort.

Straight as the White Crow Flies
"The standard view of pop psychologists is that the reason people are attracted to conspiracy theories is that such theories provide reassurance that catastrophic events never happen for trivial reasons. Hence (it is said) the reason so many people think Oswald didn't act alone in the Kennedy assassination is that they just don't want to believe that JFK was murdered by some lone nutcase; it had to be part of something bigger and more meaningful. Similarly, we are told, 9/11 conspiracy theorists are just sensitive souls who can't face the awful truth that a guy in a cave somewhere was able to bring down the twin towers and set the Pentagon ablaze."

Pop psychologists are jackasses, and if you leave your mind sufficiently open they will hurl a lot of garbage into it. The fact that they are appealed to in this essay demonstrates something of a lack of intellectual ability on the part of the author.

Additionally, the Kennedy assassination "conspiracy theory" is hardly that. There is plenty of hard and circumstantial evidence from credible sources that show all too easily that Oswald did not act alone and could not have done so.

It is one thing to (correctly) say that all Conspiracy Theories that come along should be first met with strong skepticism. It is quite another thing entirely to claim (falsely) that conspiracies never happen or that governments never propogate them.

"We the Sheeple" is indeed the cold reality. "Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the [selfhood] of every one of its members." ~ Thoreau

My Own Conspiracy Theory
I have a conspiracy theory about conspiracy theories, to wit, that conspiracies are driven my radical elements to undermine the established order.
The 9/11 conspiracy theorists that I know are, almost exclusively, either left-wing idealogues or just plain dupes. (Although, these two states shouldn't be construed as being mutually exclusive.) I also have seen and heard the idealogues spreading not just the conspiracy... but... wonder of wonders... their communist-socialist world view.
It's very similar to the right wing seizing on Waco conspiracies.
Oh. One more theory. I also think the Illuminati rigged the Super Bowl that followed the 2001 NFL season to be won by the Patriots. C'mon... the Patriots.

Feser's Article Is Perfect Proof Of TCS's "Sheepleness"
Let's face it, TCS is just pro-violence Racist Rightwing propaganda. Feser is against the common man realizing that his life is under complete Corporate/Fake Christian control.

America is sick from within, and the sickness comes from the rightwing extremists running our Corporate Welfare Govt; not the common man trying to wake up and throw the Fake Christians like Bush, off his back.

TCS writers=Sheeple.

Rubbish -- it boils down to Harold Lasswell & Timothy Leary
IMO it all boils down to the having forgotten Leary's "Think for yourself; question authority" and be sucked in by Laswell's "democracies needed propaganda to keep the uninformed citizenry in agreement with what the specialized class had determined was in their best interests"

Great Article!
This one was pretty good. I think he's on to something as far as where this default assumption of conspiracy might come from.

Am I the only one who sees the irony in some of the posted comments?

Also
As Chesteron noted about belief in God, when a man ceases to believe in God, he doesn't believe in nothing, he'll believe in ANYTHING.

Hey Dipstick
Rightwingers HATE corporate welfare, moron.

There are no conspiracies - ignore the man behind the curtain
Conspiracy theories which depend on a significant number of people knowing about them & able to tell (Mafiosi & possibly CIA operatives may find it dangerous to tell), or which assume omniscience by the conspirators are likely to be indefensible.

On the other hand the official story is often equally improbable. Over 9/11, for example, no official has come up with any answer to how the various people who bought futures in United Airlines etc shares falling came to "guess" correctly (one of them even ommitted to pick up a couple of million dollars rather than answer that).

Equally when the US government had spent years supporting bin Laden in Afghanistan, Bosnia & Kosovo (& probably Chechnya or is that paranoid) while publicly denying it, it is clear that a certain amount of conspiracy did take place. The difficulty is determining how much but nobody ever gets called loopy for underestimating government chicanery.

My Own Consiracy Theory
If you look carefully you will see the Corsican's who assasinated JFK in the area around the WTC, Pentagon, and PA either firing missles or setting explosives. Also, looking in the distance, you can see the alien Flying Saucers about to capture the aircraft and replace them with dead aliens.

Please let me know where you get your drugs
They appear to be most excellent.

conspiracy lunacies
People are buying futures contracts all the time. Millions every day. Some of these are bought on airlines.

Can you actually name names, or is this one of those 3rd cousins of a friends great aunt type stories?

While it is true that the US did support Bin Laden in Afghanistan, along with many other groups, there is no truth to the claim that the US supported him in Bosnia and Kosovo.

Neither does the claim that we supported him in Afghanistan constitute proof that Bin Laden is nothing more than a US puppet.

The US supported Castro before he came to power as well. Does this prove that Castro is a US puppet?

No genius in selling Airlines Short
Even before 9/11, the airline industry had significant problems. Constant restructurings and defensive Chapter 11's and outright failures were symptomatic of an industry that had enormous legacy costs, faced issues with fuel costs and its unions as well as facing consolidation in the number of aircraft manufacturers (lockheed quit and McDonnel Douglas was absorbed by Boeing).

There is no genius to selling airlines short-they have had a tenuous business model for a long time and any reasonable person might take a short position, no crystal ball or inside knowledge required.

In fact, if highly influential people were in a position to benefit from a decline in stock prices-they were surely screwed when the US government approved compensation for the mandated grounding in the days following 9/11.

Your speculations on airlines
re. 9/11 are nothing more than post hoc thinking. There is not the slightest evidence to suggest any such connection. Some are indeed loopy from too much conspiracy thinking, and any of the 9/11 hysterics illustrate this perfectly.

Shortselling on airlines as evidence of 9/11 dirty tricks? Oh come on. Airlines have been lousy investments for years, and the rise of fuel prices in the early part of this decade made them worse. Shortselling airline equity was automatic.

I get the joke
OK, I get it. This article is supposed to suggest how the Pope put his foot in his mouth. The pull quote on the front page of TCS equates Marx and Nietzsche. The article is purportedly about 9/11 but delves more into a historical defense of the Catholic Church.

Nietzschians everywhere demand an apology. We might get violent, but then again, we might just decide that we don't give a rat's [censored].

Well then...
I guess you are smarter and better than the rest of us chumps, Colin. Congratualations smart ass.

Skepticism (Websters) is "the dctrine that true knowledge or knowledge in a certain area is uncertain". The US was founded on no such thing.

Congratulations beatles...
you must be smarter than the rest of us chumps who "are under complete Corporate/Fake Christian control" and DON'T EVEN KNOW IT. But you know it don't you you genius you.

best ever fantasy football team name...
(After the U Illinois partly) the "Fighting Illuminati".

Whoa!
Did you just quote Thoreau? Slap yourself!

Bring on the violence
puss boy.

Brilliant article
It reminds me of watching Chinese butchers in Kowloon expertly gutting and fileting fish with a cleaver. That was dead on target. As we used to say in my artillery days, "Mission complete, target destroyed".

Edward Feser is totally wrong, maybe he gets a paycheck from US gov.
Well the sheeple are the ones who *buy* the official story, as opposed to those with rational thought, evidence-based way of thinking critisize it and accept the 9-11 truth movement a lot more than the 9-11 Gov. bullshit. Edward Feser doesn't present us with any evidence to back the 9-11 gov. story and to attack the 9-11 truth movement He just makes assumptions and *options* that the USA gov. could do like planting WMD, in Iraq in order to invade it. Well they could plant WMD in Cuba, Venezuela or any other nation as well. But Feser doesn't *present us* any evidence, any scientific-evidence to support the official story, as opposed with 9-11 truth movement which can give u: more motifs, more scientific evidence to back their arguments. Feser is just making assumptions, pure assumptions not any proofs at all as opposed to 9-11 who back all their arguments with rational, scientific reasonable proofs. Maybe Edward Feser gets a big pay check $$$ from the US gov. who knows

Edward Feser: The Motive for the 9/11 Attack (Reigchstag Fire by the Devil)

Hey Edward Feser: George W. Bush (The Devil) was at the U.N. the modern Hitler

The Motive for the 9/11 Attack

The official legend of the 9/11/01 attack is rather sparse on motive. Muslim extremists attacked the United States "because they hate our freedoms". This was the only motive articulated by the Bush Administration, but more rational motives were available to consumers of print media: perhaps Osama wanted to punish the United States for stationing troops in Saudi Arabia, and perhaps he wanted to provoke the United States into attacking Arab nations in order to recruit jihadists. But the issue of bin Laden's motive was never a big issue, since he had already been tried and convicted on TV on the day of the attack. All that was important is that he hated us, that lots of Arabs hated us, and that military action was required to stamp out the terrorist training camps in Afghanistan.

Beneficiaries of the Attack
The purely ideological motive ascribed to the elusive Osama bin Laden contrasts with the very tangible and material benefits that flowed to individuals and organizations within the power structures of the United States. Indeed, the number of beneficiaries is so large that attempting to identify them may shed little light on how the crime was perpetrated. Determining who had the means to execute the attack is more likley to lead to the individuals who planned and executed the attack.

Despite the near certainty that the vast majority of beneficiaries had no operational role in the attack, it is clear that many worked to facilitate it, aided its coverup, and actively exploited the reaction to it. Since many of these actions involved commission of crimes, their investigation and prosecution could be instrumental in unravelling the vast crime of 9/11.

Beneficiaries of the attack included the highest officials in the New York City and Federal governments, and corporations benefiting from policies enacted by those officials.

George W. Bush enjoyed an immediate surge in popularity and the burying of investigative reports on electoral fraud by his brother Jeb's Republican election machine in Florida. "United We Stand" slogans propagated across the nation as Bush boasted of "smoking out" the terrorists.
Rudolph Giuliani became an instant hero by immediately appearing for photo ops as the hands-on mayor at Ground Zero, and by taking command of the situation. He was exalted as Man of the Year by Time magazine while he managed the largest evidence destruction operation in history.
The new War on Terror would become the umbrella for whole new levels of pork, unaccountability, and corruption in the nexus of government and industry that would fight the war.
The weapons industries prepared for a new orgy of corporate welfare, as the Pentagon budget would be further bloated. Certainly we would need billion-dollar stealth bombers to smoke the elusive Osama bin Laden out of his cave.
Vice President Cheney's company, Halliburton, would soon be getting fat no-bid contracts to rebuild the infrastructure that American bombs would destroy in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The owner of the World Trade Center complex would receive a $3.6 billion payout for the destruction of the seven buildings, and would seek a second payout on the basis that the attack was two "occurrences" (because there were two plane crashes). Silverstein Properties had just acquired a 99-year lease on the World Trade Center, and a new insurance policy, in July of 2001. Silverstein would be ridded of those white elephants, the Twin Towers, with their obsolete office space and asbestos abatement problems.
The Project for a New American Century got the new Pearl Harbor that it said would be needed to rapidly achieve its goals.

9-11 Gov. doesn't have evidence, 9-11 truth does

You can determine any thing with evidence. Americans don't like to study evidence and scientific proof, but just plain babble and insults. But plain babble and insults doesn't work in a great tragedy as 9-11. The 9-11 truth movement has lots of scientists backing their arguments, but the 9-11 gov. only has Karl Rove, and fascists like that not wanting to present any justified proofs to the public

Magicians Penn and Teller also say the bible is "Bullshit" I'm sure the author agrees I know I do.
Whatch out the is a red under our bed. Great subject, there are some fools out there that will believe any clap trap, however all the author does is put his hand as one of those fools.

No bin Laden US Support
http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/asiapcf/08/15/bergen.answers/index.html

"CNN terrorism analyst Peter Bergen says the notion that Osama bin Laden once worked for the CIA is "simply a folk myth" and that there's no shred of evidence to support such theories."

US Supported bin Laden Beheading Christians
"On September 29, 2001 – in a vital story that has gone unnoticed by the major media – the San Francisco Chronicle reported, “Investors have yet to collect more than $2.5 million in profits they made trading options in the stock of United Airlines before the Sept. 11, terrorist attacks, according to a source familiar with the trades and market data."

http://www.hereinreality.com/insidertrading.html

Nothing suspicious there then - people often lose money behind cushions, forgetting to pick up the odd $2.5 million is quite common.

However the claim that the USA wasn't supporting our ally bin Laden when he was in Bosnia & Kosovo (& when the US was flying in Mujahadden & weapons into Bosnia in deliberate breach of the mandatory UN sanctions they were nominally enforcing) is a degree of lunacy & disregard of the facts that makes the weirdest 9/11 conspiracy theory look sane.

It is possible that the analyst for CNN (which cesnored all news of bin Laden in Bosnia or of the ongoing genocide in Kosovo) may not be entirely impartial - of course anybody who assumes CNN might ever slant news is a conspiracy theorist.

Best Name to Post on Conspiracy Message Boards...
Illuminaughty.

oooookay
Um, I'm not meaning to imply anything about your personal socio-economic status but, do you think $2.5 million is really a lot of money, I mean, on a level to launch international conspiracies on the part of wealthy people who would be ruined if their complicity and foreknowledge were to be made public? Do you have any names of these financial wizards?

CNN is definitely biased, but usually on the anti-American side. I thought the question was whether we were supporting bin Laden in Afghanistan against the Soviets. Now you tell me the Democrats were supporting bin Laden in Kosovo, but you think it was the Republicans who faked the 9-11 attacks? Lemme help you out with a personal revelation, fella': Not everything is true just because it is written down somewhere and you would personally like to believe it. You need to treat the authors of the conspiracy theories with at least as much skepticism as you do our elected representatives.

Dr. Evil
I mean, really guy, it's kind of funny. It's like that Austin Powers movie where Dr. Evil has been in a deep freeze for some decades and he tells his board members that he will "hold the world ransom for... ONE MILLION DOLLARS! Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha," and the henchmen grimace and shake their heads and say, "um, you know, $1 million isn't really a lot of money anymore."

This has to be a record for the most paranoid fantasies in the fewest words.
...

Now the Clinton News Network is part of the pro-Bush conspiracy?
man, you are seeing things.

I guess this is another one of those areas, in which only people who agree with us are scientists
I guess Popular Mechanics has no scientists working for them?

I guess the fact that it's easy to explain how and why the towers collapsed
without resorting to wild conspiracy theories is evidence of how well planned the conspiracy is.

I agree, the author of your post is an utter idiot.
...

9/11 Conspiracy "theories"?
I am astounded that there are still people who believe the official story about 9/11. It has been shown to be false.

Further, a conglomeration of scientists have concluded without question that the United States government was complicit in the events of that fateful day in 2001.

What reads as stupidity is the author's allegations that anyone who disbelieves the official government tale is stupid.

I am an investigative journalist, well known for my diligent insistence on facts rather than suppositions. I do not theorize when I say that the U.S. government was involved. That is fact. I do not theorize when I say that the alleged 19 perpetrators were not the responsible parties (because 7 of the alleged hijackers showed up alive several years later, or is that just theory, too?). That is fact.

I also do not theorize when I echo the sentiments of notable scientists, professors, and investigators in that the Pentagon - arguably the most well-defended building in the world - which has an automated missile defense system that failed to operate that fateful day! This could only have occurred if either the plane that hit the Pentagon was a military aircraft (in which case the official story is a lie) or if someone on the inside turned off the defense system. This is fact. This proves government complcity.

The criminal confiscation of the evidence (the steel from the WTC towers) is another example of government collusion and corruption, as is the demolition of the buildings (including Bldg. 7), the disregarding of eyewitness testimony by William Rodriguez, who was in the WTC North Tower when he heard the bombs exploding from beneath him! His testimony (as well as FBI agent Sybil's)was ignored in the 9/11 Commission's final report.

There is so much more evidnece that the official story is a lie and that the U.S. government has engaged in the greatest cover-up ever, hiding its complciity in the murder of 3,000 Americans, that it is ignorance and stupidity only that refuse to see these facts.

By the way, a physics professor in British Columbia conducted numerous tests, proving that in 2001 it was impossible for cell phones to operate at aircraft altitudes! Impossible!!

I find it far easier to believe that the U.S. government was complicit in the events of 9/11 than otherwise.

Remember the immortal words of American Founding Father Thomas Paine, written in his brilliant and timelss essay, "Common Sense": "Government, at its best (when it is doing everything right and nothing wrong), is a necssary evil." That's why we have constitutions: to chain down the beast that is government.

In other words, government is inherently EVIL! Why should anyone believe anything it says, without first seeing proof (not being told by CNN or Fox News but actually seeing, first-hand, evidence, if it exists?

The American way is to question and suspect government, never to docilely accept and believe it.

True American Patriots know that 9/11 was an evil perpetrated on our people by our own government. Everybody else is either ignorant, stupid, or complicit.


Freedomman
www.freedomradio.us

$2.5 million lying in the street isn't worth my time to pick up.
If you checked it you will find that the $2.5 million was only the fairly small proportion of the cash that was caught because one particular stock exchange closed early. so we are talking about $10/$20/$keep going which I do happen, in my impoverished state, to consider a lot of cash.

Your & the official view that there was no foreknowlege hangs on the theory that $2.5 million is indeed such a small sum that somebody might entirely forget to pick it up. If that isn't perfectly reasonable the official theory falls.

"Not everything is true just because it is written down somewhere and you would personally like to believe it. You need to treat the authors of the conspiracy theories with at least as much skepticism as you do our elected representatives. "

The implication of which is that what your elected representatives & CNN tell you about losing money down the sofa etc are also not automatically true & should also be treated with scepticism.

None of your facts, are infact, factsq
They are wild unproven assertions, without the faintest hint of evidence to support them.

What About The Science?
The government’s own theory of what happened on 9/11/01 is a conspiracy theory, it is a conspiracy by definition since it involved 19 hijackers and a man in a cave in Afghanistan conspiring to commit a crime, it is a theory simply because it has not been proven. In fact the FBI in 2004 admitted that they had NO evidence that Usama was involved with the attacked at all. So, what is all this “conspiracy theorist” crap?

Secondly, nothing in this article addresses the science that has led the 911-truth movement to ask questions that challenge the official version of what happened on the bright and sunny Sept morning. In order for the official version to be true you have to believe in impossible things. (1) The first time, the second time AND the third and final time in history, steel frame buildings fell as a result of fire. You would have to believe the collapses were the result of kerosene fires, even though the highest temperature kerosene can burn is 1800 degrees when fed pure oxygen which certainly was not the case and the melting point of steel is 2800 degrees. (2) All three buildings collapsed at almost freefall speed, in a vacuum (WTC 1&2 at roughly 10 seconds, freefall = 9.2, WTC7 just under 7 seconds, freefall 6 seconds)

Look, if kerosene fires can melt steel, why did your grandma’s stove never collapse? I’m sure she burned her stove all winter long for twenty years, yet we are to believe that kerosene burning for less than an hour, and the second one for an hour and a half caused those building to collapse, straight down and within their own footprint? That’s crazy!!!

What physics professor is that?
"By the way, a physics professor in British Columbia conducted numerous tests, proving that in 2001 it was impossible for cell phones to operate at aircraft altitudes! Impossible!!"

Where are is published results?

Also, how did all those doomed passengers call home?

Science is about evidence. You have not produced any.

Don't know much about science do you?
"Stress Relieving/Recovery (Process Anealing )
This process involves heating the metal to a temperature in the range 550oC to 650oC [1100 deg F] and held at this temperature before being cooled at a controlled rate. This also reduces stresses resulting from cold working and fabrication by allowing dislocations to rearrange to a lower energy configuration.

This process is used to allow further forming operations and to prevent distortion of the steel components as a result of subsequent machining operations "

http://www.roymech.co.uk/Useful_Tables/Matter/Hardening.html

Normally metals are stress relieved while not under any stress.
What do you think would happen when you tried to stress relieve steel while it was under a significant compression load?
Do you think it might weaken and maybe fail?

It would really be interesting if the building collapsed faster than 9.8 m/s/s!

You Call That Science?
What are you talking about?

Even IF your Process Anealing had any validity, AND it contributed to the beginning to the collaspe, how do you get the floors NOT effected by the Process Anealing to fail?

In a best case, the floors heated fail (not very likely), the lower floors are not effected and according to the "Laws of Energy Conversation" the top topples over to one side and the lower floors do not fall.

Force and energy
I would suspect the WTC was not designed to withstand a dynamic load such as tons of upper floors collapsing.
Ever hear of momentum?

It is not my heat treating process, it is one established by engineers over the centuries.

Ever watch a blacksmith? They can shape steel by heating and beating. No need to melt. And they make the steel hard by quenching.

A plausible explanation of events that occured can be explained by engieenrs.

You offer NO evidence to support your claims.

Load Redistribution and Melting Steel
First off, I'd like to restate that I am not at all convinced that the start of the collapse is possible due to the combination of the plane impact and fires, I'll get back to that in a moment.

marjon wrote:

"I would suspect the WTC was not designed to withstand a dynamic load such as tons of upper floors collapsing."

Then you would be wrong. The Twin Towers were over-designed, with brilliant load redistribution capability. They had a central core of 47 massive steel columns and 240 perimeter steel columns on the exterior that allowed lots of open office space. (Btw, there were 24 such columns in the core of WTC7 that fell late that afternoon, straight down within it own footprint at freefall speed that was never hit by an airplane)

Majon continued, “Ever hear of momentum?”

BYU Physics Professor Steven Jones has this to say about momentum:

“We observe that approximately 30 upper floors begin to rotate as a block, to the south and east. They begin to topple over, not fall straight down. The torque due to gravity on this block is enormous, as is its angular momentum. But then – and this I’m still puzzling over – this block turned mostly to powder in mid-air! How can we understand this strange behavior, without explosives? Remarkable, amazing – and demanding scrutiny since the US government-funded reports failed to analyze this phenomenon. But, of course, the Final NIST 9-11 report “does not actually include the structural behavior of the tower after the conditions for collapse initiation were reached.” (NIST, 2005, p. 80, fn. 12; emphasis added.)

Indeed, if we seek the truth of the matter, we must NOT ignore the data to be observed
during the actual collapses of the towers, as the NIST team admits they did. But why did they follow such a non-scientific procedure as to ignore highly-relevant data? The business smacks of political constraints on what was supposed to be an “open and thorough” investigation. “

So, if we are to “Ever hear of momentum”, we must ask ourselves why the momentum of those upper 30 or so floors did not follow the laws of physics and topple off to the side and crash to the streets below, crushing neighboring buildings. And if those upper floors do topple to the side, explain to me how you get the continued straight down collapse. Where does the energy come from to continue the crushing of massive steel and pulverizing concrete?

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