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  • World View <ummyakoub@yahoo.com>
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 3, 2003

      by Gerard Holmgren



      Astute observers of history are aware that for every notable event
      there will usually be at least one, often several wild conspiracy
      theories which spring up around it. "The CIA killed Hendrix", " The
      Pope had John Lennon murdered ", "Hitler was half Werewolf", "Space
      aliens replaced Nixon with a clone" etc., etc. The bigger the event,
      the more ridiculous and more numerous are the fanciful rantings which
      circulate in relation to it.

      So its hardly surprising that the events of Sept 11 2001 have
      spawned their fair share of these ludicrous fairy tales. And as
      always, there is - sadly - a small but gullible percentage of the
      population eager to lap up these tall tales, regardless of facts or
      rational analysis. One of the wilder stories circulating about

      Sept 11, and one that has attracted something of a cult following
      amongst conspiracy buffs, is that it was carried out by 19 fanatical
      Arab hijackers, masterminded by an evil genius named Osama bin Laden,
      with no apparent motivation other than that they "hate our freedoms."

      Never a group of people to be bothered by facts, the perpetrators
      of this cartoon fantasy have constructed an elaborately woven web of
      delusions and unsubstantiated hearsay in order to promote this
      garbage across the internet and the media to the extent that a number
      of otherwise rational people have actually fallen under its spell.

      Normally I don't even bother debunking this kind of junk, but the
      effect that this paranoid myth is beginning to have requires a little
      rational analysis, in order to consign it to the same rubbish bin as
      all such silly conspiracy theories. These crackpots even contend that
      the extremist Bush regime was caught unawares by the attacks, had no
      hand in organizing them, and actually would have stopped them if it
      had been able.

      Blindly ignoring the stand down of the US air-force, the insider
      trading on airline stocks - linked to the CIA, the complicit behavior
      of Bush on the morning of the attacks, the controlled demolition of
      the WTC, the firing of a missile into the Pentagon and a host of
      other documented proofs that the Bush regime was behind the attacks,
      the conspiracy theorists stick doggedly to a silly story about 19
      Arab hijackers somehow managing to commandeer 4 planes simultaneously
      and fly them around US airspace for nearly 2 hours, crashing them
      into important buildings, without the US intelligence services having
      any idea that it was coming, and without the Air Force knowing what
      to do. The huge difficulties with such a stupid story force them to
      invent even more preposterous stories to distract from its core
      silliness, and thus the tale has escalated into a mythic fantasy of
      truly gargantuan proportions.

      It's difficult to apply rational analysis to such unmitigated
      stupidity, but that is the task which I take on in this article.
      However, it should be noted that one of the curious characteristics
      of conspiracy theorists is that they effortlessly change their so
      called evidence in response to each aspect which is debunked. As soon
      as one delusion is unmasked, they simply invent another to replace
      it, and deny that the first ever existed. Eventually, when they have
      turned full circle through this endlessly changing fantasy fog, they
      then re-invent the original delusion and deny that you ever debunked
      it, thus beginning the circle once more.

      This technique is known as "the fruit loop" and saves the
      conspiracy theorist from ever having to see any of their ideas
      through to their (ill)logical conclusions. According to the
      practitioners of the fruit loop, 19 Arabs took over the 4 planes by
      subduing the passengers and crew through the use of guns, knives, box
      cutters and gas, and then used electronic guidance systems which they
      had smuggled on board to fly the planes to their targets. xx The
      suspension of disbelief required for this outrageous concoction is
      only for the hard core conspiracy theorist. For a start, they
      conveniently skip over the awkward fact that there weren't any Arabs
      on the planes. If there were, one must speculate that they somehow
      got on board without being filmed by any of the security cameras and
      without being registered on the passenger lists. But the curly
      question of how they are supposed to have got on board is all too
      mundane for the exciting world of the conspiracy theorist.

      With vague mumblings that they must have been using false ID (but
      never specifying which IDs they are alleged to have used, or how
      these were traced to their real identities), they quickly bypass this
      problem, to relate exciting and sinister tales about how some of the
      fictitious fiends were actually searched before boarding because they
      looked suspicious.

      However, as inevitably happens with any web of lies, this simply
      paints them into an even more difficult corner. How are they supposed
      to have got on board with all that stuff if they were searched ? And
      if they used gas in a confined space, they would have been affected
      themselves unless they also had masks in their luggage. "Excuse me
      sir, why do you have a boxcutter, a gun, a container of gas, a gas
      mask and an electronic guidance unit in your luggage?" "A present for
      your grandmother? Very well sir, on you get." "Very strange", thinks
      the security officer. "That's the fourth Arabic man without an Arabic
      name who just got on board with a knife, gun or boxcutter and gas
      mask. And why does that security camera keep flicking off every time
      one these characters shows up? Must be one of those days I guess..."

      Asking any of these basic questions to a conspiracy theorist is
      likely to cause a sudden leap to the claim that we know that they
      were on board because they left a credit card trail for the tickets
      they had purchased and cars they had rented. So if they used credit
      cards that identified them, how does that reconcile with the claim
      that they used false IDs to get on to the plane? But by this time the
      fruit loop is in full swing, as the conspiracy theorist tries to stay
      one jump ahead of this annoying and awkward rational analysis.

      They will allege that the hijackers' passports were found at the
      crash scenes. "So there!" they exalt triumphantly, their fanatical
      faces lighting up with that deranged look of one who has just a
      revelation of questionable sanity. Hmm? So they got on board with
      false IDs but took their real passports with them?

      However, by this time the fruit loop has been completely
      circumnavigated, and the conspiracy theorist exclaims patiently, "Who
      said anything about false IDs? We know what seats they were sitting
      in! Their presence is well documented!" And so the whole loop starts
      again. "Well, why aren't they on the passenger lists?" "You
      numbskull! They assumed the identities of other passengers!" And so

      Finally, out of sheer fascination with this circular method of
      creative delusion, the rational sceptic will allow them to get away
      with this loop, in order to move on to the next question, and see
      what further delights await us in the unraveling of this marvelously
      stupid story. "Uh, how come their passports survived fiery crashes
      that completely incinerated the planes and all the passengers?"

      The answer of course is that its just one of those strange co-
      incidences, those little quirks of fate that do happen from time to
      time. You know, like the same person winning the lottery four weeks
      in a row. The odds are astronomical, but these things do happen...

      This is another favourite deductive method of the conspiracy
      theorist. The "improbability drive", in which they decide upon a
      conclusion without any evidence whatsoever to support it, and then
      continually speculate a series of wildly improbable events and
      unbelievable co-incidences to support it, shrugging off the
      implausibility of each event with the vague assertion that sometimes
      the impossible happens (just about all the time in their world).

      There is a principle called "Occam's razor" which suggests that in
      the absence of evidence to the contrary, the simplest explanation is
      most likely to be correct. Conspiracy theorists hate Occam's razor.
      Having for the sake of amusement, allowed them to get away with with
      the silly story of the 19 invisible Arabs, we move on to the question
      of how they are supposed to have taken over the planes. Hijacking a
      plane is not an easy thing to do. Hijacking it without the pilot
      being able to alert ground control is near impossible. The pilot has
      only to punch in a four digit code to alert ground control to a

      Unconcerned with the awkward question of plausibility, the
      conspiracy buffs maintain that on that Sept 11, the invisible
      hijackers took over the plane by the rather crude method of
      threatening people with boxcutters and knives, and spraying gas
      (after they had attached their masks, obviously), but somehow took
      control of the plane without the crew first getting a chance to punch
      in the hijacking code. Not just on one plane, but on all four.

      At this point in the tale, the conspiracy theorist is again forced
      to call upon the services of the improbability drive. So now that our
      incredibly lucky hijackers have taken control of the planes, all four
      pilots fly them with breath taking skill and certainty to their fiery
      end, all four pilots unflinching in their steely resolve for a swift
      meeting with Allah.

      Apart from their psychotic hatred of "our freedoms" , it was their
      fanatical devotion to Islam which enabled them to summon up the iron
      will to do this. Which is strange, because according to another piece
      of hearsay peddled by the conspiracy buffs, these guys actually went
      out drinking and womanizing the night before their great martyrdom,
      even leaving their Korans in the bar - really impeccable Islamic
      behavior - and then got up at 5am the next morning to pull off the
      greatest covert operation in history.

      This also requires us to believe that they were even clear headed
      enough to learn how to fly the huge planes by reading flight manuals
      in Arabic in the car on the way to the airport. We know this because
      they supposedly left the flight manuals there for us to find. It gets
      better. Their practical training had allegedly been limited to
      Cessnas and flight simulators, but this was no barrier to the
      unflinching certainty with which they took over the planes and
      skillfully guided them to their doom. If they are supposed to have
      done their flight training with these tools, which would be available
      just about anywhere in the world, its not clear why they would have
      decided to risk blowing their cover to US intelligence services by
      doing the training in Florida, rather than somewhere in the Middle
      East, but such reasoning is foreign to the foggy world of the
      conspiracy theorist, too trapped in the constant rotation of the
      mental fruit loop to make their unsubstantiated fabrications seem
      even semi-believable.

      Having triumphantly established a circular delusion in support of
      the mythical Arabs, the conspiracy theorist now confronts the
      difficult question of why there's nothing left of the planes.

      Anybody who has seen the endlessly replayed footage of the second
      plane going into the WTC will realize that the plane was packed with
      explosives. Planes do not and cannot blow up into nothing in that
      manner when they crash. Did the mythical Arabs also haul a huge heap
      of explosives on board, and mange to deploy them in such a manner
      that they went off in the exact instant of the crash, completely
      vapourizing the plane?

      This is a little difficult even for the conspiracy theorist, who at
      this point decides that its easier to invent newlaws of physics in
      order to keep the delusion rolling along. There weren't any
      explosives. It wasn't an inside job. The plane blew up into nothing
      from its exploding fuel load! Remarkable! Sluggishly combustible jet
      fuel which is basically kerosine, and which burns at a maximum
      temperature of around 800 C has suddenly taken on the qualities of a
      ferociously explosive demolition agent, vapourizing 65 tons of
      aircraft into a puff of smoke. Never mind that a plane of that size
      contains around 15 tons of steel and titanium, of which even the
      melting points are about double that of the maximum combustion
      temperature of kerosine - let alone the boiling point - which is what
      would be required to vapourize a plane. And then there's about 50
      tons of aluminium to be accounted for. In excess of 15lbs of metal
      for each gallon of kerosine.

      For the conspiracy theorist, such inconvenient facts are vaguely
      dismissed as "mumbo jumbo". This convenient little phrase is their
      answer to just about anything factual or logical. Like a conjurer
      pulling a rabbit out of a hat, they suddenly become fanatically
      insistent about the devastating explosive qualities of kerosine,
      something hitherto completely unknown to science, but just discovered
      by them, this very minute.

      Blissfully ignoring the fact that never before or since in aviation
      history has a plane vapourized into nothing from an exploding fuel
      load, the conspiracy theorist relies upon Hollywood images, where the
      effects are always larger than life, and certainly larger than the
      intellects of these cretins. "Its a well known fact that planes blow
      up into nothing on impact", they state with pompous certainty. "Watch
      any Bruce Willis movie."

      "Care to provide any documented examples? If it's a well known
      fact, then presumably this well known fact springs from some kind of
      documentation - other than Bruce Willis movies ?"

      At this point the mad but cunning eyes of the conspiracy theorist
      will narrow as they sense the corner that they have backed themselves
      into, and plan their escape by means of another stunning
      backflip. "Ah, but planes have never crashed into buildings before,
      so there's no way of telling", they counter with a sly grin.

      Well, actually planes have crashed into buildings before and since,
      and not vapourized into nothing. "But not big planes, with that much
      fuel ", they shriek in hysterical denial. Or that much metal to
      vapourize. "Yes but not hijacked planes!"

      "Are you suggesting that whether the crash is deliberate or
      accidental affects the combustion qualities of the fuel?" "Now you're
      just being silly". Although collisions with buildings are rare,
      planes frequently crash into mountains, streets, other aircraft,
      nosedive into the ground, or have bombs planted aboard them, and
      don't vapourize into nothing. What's so special about a tower that's
      mostly glass?

      But by now, the conspiracy theorist has once again sailed happily
      around the fruit loop. "Its a well documented fact that planes
      explode into nothing on impact." Effortlessly weaving back and forth
      between the position that its a "well known fact" and that "its never
      happened before, so we have nothing to compare it to", the conspiracy
      theorist has now convinced themselves ( if not too many other
      people ) that the WTC plane was not loaded with explosives, and that
      the instant vapourization of the plane in a massive fireball was
      the same as any other plane crash you might care to mention. Round
      and round the fruit loop...

      But the hurdles which confront the conspiracy theorist are many,
      and they are now forced to implement even more creative uses for the
      newly discovered shockingly destructive qualities of kerosine. They
      have to explain how the Arabs also engineered the elegant vertical
      collapse of both the WTC towers, and for this awkward fact the
      easiest counter is to simply deny that it was a controlled
      demolition, and claim that the buildings collapsed from fire caused
      by the burning kerosine. For this, its necessary to sweep aside the
      second law of thermodynamics and propose kerosine which is not only
      impossibly destructive, but also recycles itself for a second burning
      in violation of the law of degradation of energy.

      You see, it not only consumed itself in a sudden catastrophic
      fireball, vapourizing a 65 ton plane into nothing, but then came back
      for a second go, burning at 2000C for another hour at the impact
      point, melting the skyscraper's steel like butter. And while it was
      doing all this it also poured down the elevator shafts, starting
      fires all through the building.

      When I was at school there was a little thing called the entropy
      law which suggests that a given portion of fuel can only burn once,
      something which is readily observable in the real world, even for
      those who didn't make it to junior high school science. But this is
      no problem for the conspiracy theorist. Gleefully, they claim that a
      few thousand gallons of kerosine is enough to : completely vapourize
      a 65 ton aircraft : have enough left over to burn ferociously enough
      for over an hour at the impact point to melt steel ( melting point
      about double the maximum combustion temperature of the fuel ) : still
      have enough left over to pour down the elevator shafts and start
      similarly destructive fires all through the building.

      This kerosine really is remarkable stuff! How chilling to realize
      that those kerosine heaters we had in the house when I was a kid were
      deadly bombs, just waiting to go off. One false move and the entire
      street might have been vapourized. And never again will I take
      kerosine lamps out camping. One moment you're there innocently
      holding the lamp - the next - kapow! Vapourized into nothing along
      with with the rest of the camp site, and still leaving enough of the
      deadly stuff to start a massive forest fire.

      These whackos are actually claiming that the raging inferno
      allegedly created by the miraculously recycling, and impossibly hot
      burning kerosine melted or at least softened the steel supports of
      the skyscraper. Oblivious to the fact that the smoke coming from the
      WTC was black, which indicates an oxygen starved fire - therefore,
      not particularly hot, they trumpet an alleged temperature in the
      building of 2000C, without a shred of evidence to support this
      curious suspension of the laws of physics. Not content with this
      ludicrous garbage, they then contend that as the steel frames
      softened, they came straight down instead of buckling and twisting
      and falling sideways.

      Since they've already re-engineered the combustion qualities of jet
      fuel, violated the second law of thermodynamics, and re-defined the
      structural properties of steel, why let a little thing like the laws
      of gravity get in the way?

      The tower fell in a time almost identical to that of a free falling
      object, dropped from that height, meaning that its physically
      impossible for it to have collapsed by the method of the top floors
      smashing through the lower floors. But according to the conspiracy
      theorists, the laws of gravity were temporarily suspended on the
      morning of Sept 11.

      It appears that the evil psychic power of those dreadful Arabs knew
      no bounds. Even after they were dead, they were able, by the power of
      their evil spirits, to force down the tower at a speed physically
      impossible under the laws of gravity, had it been meeting any
      resistance from fireproofed steel structures originally designed to
      resist many tons of hurricane force wind as well as the impact of a
      Boeing passenger jet straying off course.

      Clearly, these conspiracy nuts never did their science homework at
      school, but did become extremely adept at inventing tall tales for
      why. "Muslim terrorists stole my notes, sir" "No miss, the kerosine
      heater blew up and vapourized everything in the street, except for
      my passport." "You see sir, the schoolbus was hijacked by Arabs who
      destroyed my homework because they hate our freedoms."

      Or perhaps they misunderstood the term "creative science" and
      mistakenly thought that coming up with such rubbish was in fact,
      their science homework. The ferocious heat generated by this ghastly
      kerosine was, according to the conspiracy theorists, the reason why
      so many of the WTC victims can't be identified. DNA is destroyed by
      heat. ( Although 2000 C isn't really required, 100C will generally do
      the job.)

      This is quite remarkable, because according to the conspiracy
      theorist, the nature of DNA suddenly changes if you go to a different
      city. That's right! If you are killed by an Arab terrorist in NY,
      your DNA will be destroyed by such temperatures. But if you are
      killed by an Arab terrorist in Washington DC, your DNA will be so
      robust that it can survive temperatures which completely vapourize a
      65 ton aircraft.

      You see, these loonies have somehow concocted the idea that the
      missile which hit the Pentagon was not a missile at all, but one of
      the hijacked planes. And to prove this unlikely premise, they point
      to a propaganda statement from the Bush regime, which rather stupidly
      claims that all but one of the people aboard the plane were
      identified from the site by DNA testing, even though nothing remains
      of the plane. The plane was vapourized by the fuel tank explosion,
      maintain these space loonies, but the people inside it were all but
      one identified by DNA testing.

      So there we have it. The qualities of DNA are different, depending
      upon which city you're in, or perhaps depending upon which fairy
      story you're trying to sell at any particular time. This concoction
      about one of the hijacked planes hitting the Pentagon really is a
      howler. For those not familiar with the layout of the Pentagon, it
      consists of 5 rings of building, each with a space inbetween. Each
      ring of building is about 30 to 35 ft deep, with a similar amount of
      open space between it and the next ring. The object which penetrated
      the Pentagon went in at about a 45 degree angle, punching a neat
      circular hole of about a 12 ft diameter through three rings ( six
      walls ).

      A little later a section of wall about 65 ft wide collapsed in the
      outer ring. Since the plane which the conspiracy theorists claim to
      be responsible for the impact had a wing span of 125 ft and a length
      of 155 ft, and there was no wreckage of the plane, either inside or
      outside the building, and the lawns outside were still smooth and
      green enough to play golf on, this crazy delusion is clearly
      physically impossible.

      But hey, we've already disregarded the combustion qualities of jet
      fuel, the normal properties of common building materials, the
      properties of DNA, the laws of gravity and the second law of
      thermodynamics, so what the hell - why not throw in a little spatial
      impossibility as well ? I would have thought that the observation
      that a solid object cannot pass through another solid object without
      leaving a hole at least as big as itself is reasonably sound science.
      But to the conspiracy theorist, this is "mumbo jumbo". It conflicts
      with the delusion that they're hooked on, so it "must be wrong"
      although trying to get them to explain exactly how it could be wrong
      is a futile endeavour.

      Conspiracy theorists fly into a curious panic whenever the Pentagon
      missile is mentioned. They nervously maintain that the plane was
      vapourized by it's exploding fuel load and point to the WTC crash as
      evidence of this behavior. ( That's a wonderful fruit loop.)

      Like an insect which has just been sprayed, running back and forth
      in its last mad death throes, they first argue that the reason the
      hole is so small is that the plane never entered the wall, having
      blown up outside, and then suddenly backflip to explain the 250 ft
      deep missile hole by saying that the plane disappeared all the way
      into the building, and then blew up inside the building (even though
      the building shows no sign of such damage). As for what happened to
      the wings - here's where they get really creative. The wings snapped
      off and folded into the fuselage which then carried them into the
      building, which then closed up behind the plane like a piece of meat.

      When it suits them, they'll also claim that the plane slid in on
      its belly, (ignoring the undamaged lawn) while at the same time
      citing alleged witnesses to the plane diving steeply into the
      building from an "irrecoverable angle."

      How they reconcile these two scenarios as being compatible is truly
      a study in stupidity. Once they get desperate enough, you can be sure
      that the UFO conspiracy stuff will make an appearance.

      The Arabs are in league with the Martians. Space aliens snatched
      the remains of the Pentagon plane and fixed most of the hole in the
      wall, just to confuse people. They gave the Arabs invisibility pills
      to help get them onto the planes. Little green men were seen talking
      to Bin Laden a few weeks prior to the attacks.

      As the nation gears up to impeach the traitor Bush, and stop his
      perpetual oil war, it's not helpful to have these idiots distracting
      from the process by spreading silly conspiracy theories about
      mythical Arabs, stories which do nothing but play into the hands of
      the extremist Bush regime.

      At a less serious time, we might tolerate such crackpots with
      amused detachment, but they need to understand that the treachery
      that was perpetrated on Sept 11, and the subsequent war crimes
      committed in "retaliation" are far too serious for us to allow such
      frivolous self indulgence to go unchallenged.

      Those who are truly addicted to conspiracy delusions should find a
      more appropriate outlet for their paranoia. It's time to stop loony
      conspiracy theories about Sept 11.


      A new piece by Michael Neumann about 9/11 from a different angle
      can be found on




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