Archive for July, 2008

Conspiracy Theories

Monday, July 21st, 2008

My last post concerned the conspiracy theories that surround the collapse of 7 World Trade Center on the 11th of September, 2001. In that post, I tried to provide an objective rationale for why the controlled demolition hypothesis should not be believed, owing to its unfalsifiability. The truth is that this and other 9/11 conspiracy theories provoke an almost visceral response in me. I am pretty certain that I’m not the only person who feels this way.

Right now, it’s pretty obvious that I don’t believe in the conspiracy theories (at least, the ones in which the US government or one of its agencies “made it happen on purpose”). However, I am no great supporter of the present US administration, and my political leanings (if transposed to America) would be somewhere to the left of the Democratic Party. Why then am I inclined to give Bush and his aides the benefit of the doubt? Of course it’s their sheer ineptitude: one need only look at the prosecution of the Iraq war for a rich seam of evidence.

But that doesn’t explain why I am so viscerally affected by the conspiracy theories: after all, I might be an atheist on the balance of probabilities, but I have no problem with people who have religious faith.

I think part of it is cognitive dissonance: we are raised to trust the government, and the idea that a government could be responsible for an atrocity like 9/11 is utterly incompatible with that preconception. I’ve already rationalised away the conspiracy theories, but perhaps not everyone would do the same.

Let’s assume that Democrats are more likely to believe and perpetuate the 9/11 conspiracy theories; and that Republicans and independents are more likely to recoil from them. There are photos of conspiracy theorist banners at Obama rallies. This is perfect ammunition for the Republicans, who can associate the Democrats with their “lunatic fringe” and exploit the cognitive dissonance in their base and the independents.

Here’s a conspiracy theory for you: Karl Rove sowed the seeds for the “9/11 Truth” movement in a deliberate attempt to discredit the Democrats and make them unelectable in the near future. Or maybe just to distract everyone from the true scandals of the Bush administration: tens of thousands of dead civilians in Iraq, thousands of dead soldiers, domestic spying on US citizens, the erosion of habeas corpus, inaction over global warming and the near collapse of the economy.

There are plenty of things that we still don’t know about 9/11, and we should as a matter of course seek the truth. We should discover the real reasons that the buildings fell in order to apply the lessons learned to future construction. But in finding the truth, we must retain an open mind, and not resort to intellectual dishonesty or partisanship.

The 9/11 Delusion

Monday, July 21st, 2008

When I saw in last Monday’s Guardian that Charlie Brooker was taking aim at 9/11 conspiracy theories, I hoped that he’d use his wide audience to present a logically watertight argument, in an entertainingly acerbic register. And buried within his piece was the quite probable suggestion that the paperwork alone would be impossible to conceal. Unfortunately, because he’s evidently paid by the ad hominem, he also said that every conspiracy theorist might as well believe that he is the Emperor of Pluto, and unleashed a firestorm in the online comments. By opening up too many fronts in this debate, he left himself open to attacks, even from other Guardian commentators.


Glastonbury 2008

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008

Cut Copy. The Levellers. The Subways. Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. Vampire Weekend. Ben Folds. The Duke Spirit. Edwyn Collins. John Cale. Franz Ferdinand. Kings Of Leon. Fanfarlo. Cruel Folk. Mik Artistik’s Ego Trip. British Sea Power. The Raconteurs. The Last Shadow Puppets. Amy Winehouse. Buddy Guy. The Proclaimers. Mary Bourke. Attila The Stockbroker. Dynamo’s Rhythm Aces. John Mayer. Scouting For Girls. Mark Ronson. Goldfrapp. Leonard Cohen. The National.

D x.