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Fahrenheit 2777

9/11 has generated the mother of all conspiracy theories
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Noted French left-wing activist Thierry Meyssan’s 9/11 conspiracy book, L’Effroyable Imposture, became a best-seller in 2002. But I never imagined such an “appalling deception” would ever find a voice in America. At a recent public lecture I was buttonholed by a Michael Moore–wannabe filmmaker who breathlessly explained that 9/11 was orchestrated by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the Central Intelligence Agency as part of their plan for global domination and a New World Order. That goal was to be financed by G.O.D. (Gold, Oil, Drugs) and launched by a Pearl Harbor–like attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, thereby providing the justification for war. The evidence is there in the details, he explained, handing me a faux dollar bill (with “9-11” replacing the “1,” a picture of Bush supplanting that of Washington) chockablock with Web sites.

In fact, if you type “World Trade Center conspiracy” into Google, you’ll get more than 693,000 hits. From these sites, you will discover that the Pentagon was hit by a missile; that U.S. Air Force jets were ordered to “stand down” and not intercept Flights 11 and 175, the ones that struck the twin towers; that the towers themselves were razed by demolition explosives timed to go off soon after the impact of the planes; that a mysterious white jet shot down Flight 93 over Pennsylvania; and that New York Jews were ordered to stay home that day (Zionists and other pro-Israeli factions, of course, were involved). Books also abound, including Inside Job, by Jim Marrs, The New Pearl Harbor, by David Ray Griffin, and 9/11: The Great Illusion, by George Humphrey. The single best debunking of this conspiratorial codswallop is in the March issue of Popular Mechanics, which provides an exhaustive point-by-point analysis of the most prevalent claims. (continue reading…)

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Fox’s Flapdoodle

Tabloid television offers a lesson in uncritical thinking
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The price of liberty is, in addition to eternal vigilance, eternal patience with the vacuous blather occasionally expressed from behind the shield of free speech. It is a cost worth bearing, but it does become exasperating, as when the Fox Broadcasting Company aired its highly advertised special “Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land on the Moon?” NASA, viewers were told, faked the Apollo missions on a movie set.

Such flummery should not warrant a response, but in a free society, skeptics are the watchdogs against irrationalism — the consumer advocates of ideas. Debunking is not simply the divestment of bunk; its utility is in offering a better alternative, along with a lesson on how thinking goes wrong. The Fox show is a case study, starting with its disclaimer: “The following program deals with a controversial subject. The theories expressed are not the only possible explanation. Viewers are invited to make a judgment based on all available information.” That information, of course, was not provided, so let’s refute Fox’s argument point by point in case the statistic at the top of the show — that 20 percent of Americans believe we never went to the moon — is accurate. (continue reading…)

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