Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Arguing with 9/11 Conspiracy Theorists - Various Arguments used

Now some people can be really stupid. And then we get the people that South Park said were retarded.

Yep, the 9/11 conspiracy theorists.

Before I start I might as well point out that I am using the American convention for dates because it is simpler for the event which is known as that specific date. In the dd/mm/yy system that would be (in Australia) two days before Remembrance Day.


I will plug a few sites that have nothing to do with me, the first being Debunking 9/11 .com, a good debunking site/archive thingy and What I learned from 9/11 Conspiracy theories a site that is quite funny because it points out some really really stupid things that have been said.

Now really I should post this later but discussion on the topic has started again in August.

Many of these people are just stupid people. They don't understand science or how things actually work.

I have heard the following arguments before:

1. If a plane hit a tower why didn't it fall down like [an ice cream stick]

(They use the American name for them which I don't know how to spell)

This is probably the stupidest one that I have ever heard, I have only heard it once, and I never got an answer when I made a counterpoint.

The person who wrote it seems to think that buildings act like ice cream sticks, that they are one big continuous thing that has no separated parts or is somehow strong enough to withstand a Boeing 767 travelling at around 900 km.h-1.

2. Linking to Youtube/Google Video/some site with a video that "proves" their point"

This I have found to be a very common thing to do. They somehow seem to think that people will watch or even care. Many people who argue with these people have already seen the videos or read enough about the issue at hand to know that horribly grainy footage of the attacks is not proof.

In many cases the videos are horribly biased anyway and use mental gymnastics to try and prove their point.

3. Use of ad hominems or other logical fallacies

This is a very common argument. It isn't just ad hominems but they do extend to other fallacies.

One of the more common ones that I have seen recently involves them calling you a shill for some mysterious power that be to stop the 'truthers' as they call themselves from putting forth their argument.

This is pretty easy to withstand, what they are doing is calling someone a name that they won't like, usually a shill, which people get offended by and crumble under the idea. All you do is stay strong. Some people I have seen make a joke about it, especially from various people that say that they are in the pay of the Government/Myspace (where I have read this variation) and can't be trusted.

The silliest attacks that I have seen involve people pointing out grammatical or spelling errors and claiming that the error somehow means an argument is false.

4. Appeal to Authority

This isn't so widespread now. But at one point someone would start citing government officials who have no expertise in demolitions etc. and say "They said it so it must be true".

If they start doing this then all you do is go to a site, (I like the Fallacy Files) and just link to the appeal to emotion page. They have no argument, they are just wasting bandwidth and space on the infinite Internet.

5. Ignoring Evidence

If you ever argue with one of these people you will see this. They will say something, you provide plenty of evidence that proves them wrong and they just ignore it. I know one person who would claim that the buildings fell at 'free fall speed' would not post any evidence proving his point and ignoring any evidence to the contrary including a factsheet from NIST claiming the opposite. When he finally posted something he just ignored further rebuttal and continued arguing the same point.

Funnily enough the websites use the exact same logic when they say that "people heard explosions coming from the basement" even though most witnesses say that there were no explosions from the basement.

6. Circular Logic

Possibly the most common tactic, they argue in circles to annoy the hell out of people so they can claim a victory by boring the other people into quitting.

Very, very common. So far I haven't seen a way to stop this from happening because they ignore any attempt to continue the conversation.

7. Use of doctored evidence

Commonly selective quoting, or mis-interpretation of what was said. For example somehow they took the idea of people saying "pull" in reference to WTC 7 as meaning to blow up the building.

They pay no attention to the obvious context of the word. To pull the firefighters out of the building.

Other instances involve using pictures that have already proven to be false to try and further their point.

8. Controlled Demolition

A very silly point. They misinterpret evidence or ignore evidence to say that there was a controlled demolition.

When questioned as to how the people could not have seen people placing the explosives I have heard:

  • They had secret access to the places in the building that they placed the explosives.
  • People weren't paying attention
  • Some really outrageous theory that someone must have made up

Or in the case of WTC 7 completely ignore the giant hole in the building.

9. Other buildings as precedent/counterpoints

This one can get rather stupid somehow these people seem to think that all the buildings were made the same and because some catch on fire and never fall, or some get hit by planes (Empire State Building) and didn't fall but completely ignoring the contrary facts.

For example the Empire State Building was hit in the 20's/30's by a very slow plane and was built of similar materials to the Pentagon, which also didn't collapse by the way.

Buildings that catch on fire were not hit by a plane travelling at high speed, so the extra structural damage is not created.

10. Pentagon and security cameras

This is another stupid one. They assume that footage that is not released means that there is some conspiracy to it. Even though none of the cameras that the footage was taken from was a stop motion camera the footage would still have the blur.

There are plenty more things that I could mention but I think this post is getting too long so I will stop here. I will very likely go and make a part two to this.

In the mean time may I suggest that you look at Wikipedia's page on the matter. It has the arguments and links to various pro-conspiracy theory sites so you can get both sides of the argument that shouldn't exist. There is no evidence that goes against what the US government has told the world.

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