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Pentagon Gunman a Conspiracy Theorist & 9/11 Truther

by Michael Shermer, Mar 10 2010

What’s the harm in believing nonsense? I get asked this all the time: “Oh come on Shermer, let people have their delusions, what’s the harm?”

I have a laundry list of retorts to this challenge, from the value of living in a rational world that is based in reality to tales of people who have died from discredited medical practices, such as “Attachment Therapy” — in April, 2000, 10-year old Candace Newmaker was smothered to death in blankets by therapists who were helping “rebirth” her so that she could properly attach to her adopted parents. Death by theory. (I wrote about this in Scientific American.)

What’s the harm? Ask the victims of the anti-Government nutter Joseph Stack, who flew his plane into the IRS building in Austin, Texas. It is one thing to be skeptical of excessive government intervention into private lives and businesses, it is quite another to take matters into your own hands, especially if those hands hold a gun.

photo

John Patrick Bedell, Pentagon Gunman

Witness one John Patrick Bedell, the gunman who attacked guards at the entrance of the Pentagon yesterday (March 4), who now appears to have been a right wing extremist and 9/11 “truther,” who in an internet posting under the user name JpatrickBedell said that he intended to expose the truth behind the 9/11 “demolitions.” Apparently the delusional Bedell intended to shoot his way into the Pentagon to find out what really happened on 9/11.

Death by conspiracy.

More specifically, Bedell picked up the conspiracy theory about the alleged “murder” in 1991 of Marine Col. James Sabow, who was found dead in his California home in 1991. The police ruled it a suicide, but right-wing extremists and conspiracy theorists have suggested that he was murdered and that the case is a coverup by the federal government. Bedell posted that exposing the truth behind the Sabow case would be “a step toward establishing the truth of events such as the September 11 demolition.”

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9/11 Truthers believe the WTC buildings were “demolished” by explosive devices. What’s that thing on the left about to hit the building?

Who is John Patrick Bedell? He was a 36-year old computer programmer from Hollister, California, a graduate of U.C. Santa Cruz (physics) who also attended San Jose State University (biochemistry). So he was a smart guy. As I’ve said before: intelligence is no prophylactic against magical thinking. If anything, smart people believe weird things because they are better at rationalizing beliefs that they’ve arrived at for nonsmart reasons.

Somewhere along the line — perhaps after his arrest for cultivating cannabis and resisting a police officer — Bedell decided that he wanted to expose “the truth of events such as the 9/11 demolitions and institutions such as the coup regime of 1963 that maintains itself in power through the global drug trade, financial corruption, and murder, among other crimes.”

The “coup regime of 1963”? Yes, you know, the coup d’état that overthrew the U.S. government and replaced it with another government. You missed that one? Watch Oliver Stone’s film JFK. Lyndon Johnson and his cronies (Castro, the Russians, the CIA, the FBI, the mafia, et al.) had Kennedy assassinated.

Bedell continued in an Internet rant from 2006 associated with him:

cover

Oliver Stone's fiction became fact for conspiracy theorists.

The sheer size of the United States economy … makes the United States government a tempting prize for any organisation or collection of bandits ruthless and clever enough to seize it. A criminal organisation able to conduct its activities from within the centre of power of the United States government would have powerful advantages over other criminal groups … This organisation … would see the sacrifice of thousands of its citizens, in an event such as the September 11 attacks, as a small cost in order to perpetuate its barbaric control. This collection of gangsters would find it in their interest to foment conflict and initiate wars throughout the world, in order to divert attention from their misconduct and criminality… This seizure of the United States government by an international criminal conspiracy is a long-established reality.

Time magazine cover

What's the Harm? Beliefs drive behaviors.

Whose reality is this? Right wing militias. Back in the 1990s there was a surge in militias and extremists groups, which waned in the final years of the decade, but are now apparently making a comeback. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, who tracks such groups, there were 42 paramilitary militias in 2008 and 127 in 2009. So-called “Patriot” groups also increased, from 149 in 2008 to 512 in 2009. According to an April 2009 report by the Department of Homeland Security, the current anti-government climate “parallels” what federal officials saw in the 1990s: “Rightwing extremists have capitalized on the election of the first African American president, and are focusing their efforts to recruit new members, mobilize existing supporters, and broaden their scope and appeal through propaganda, but they have not yet turned to attack planning.”

Not yet is the key phrase here.

What’s the harm? Now you know the answer.

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182 Responses to “Pentagon Gunman a Conspiracy Theorist & 9/11 Truther”

  1. Tom says:

    I’m curious why you call Bedell a “right-wing extremist”. His ideology, if you can call it that, seems to span the spectrum. Left-of-center attributes of his background include thinking JFK was killed by the gov’t and growing pot. Right-of-center attributes include thinking that the Marine colonel was killed, presumably on Bill Clinton’s orders. 9/11 truthers seem to believe that George Bush orchestrated the attacks. This hardly seems like a right-wing ideology.

    I point this out because facile categorization of these people could potentially lead us to miss clues to their motivations and beliefs.

    • Nayr says:

      He was also a registered Democrat. Not that it matters, nutters come from both sides of the political spectrum. But, I am also curious why Bedell would be considered a right-wing extremist.

    • tmac57 says:

      The Times Online article said this about Bedell:
      “A blog apparently written by him in 2006 lays out his extreme libertarian views and suspicions of a government and military conspiracy over the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.”
      I agree that he seems to have a mixture of ideologies of the extreme variety. To be sure, conspiracy groups of all stripes do seem to share a number of traits, and similar world views (how the world works) even though the specific details vary wildly.

    • Brian the Coyote says:

      It sounds like he was an equal-opportunity paranoid.

      People of one political stripe or another get around the problem of vilifying one of their own by dismissing them as either not left/right-wing enough or by saying they aren’t really left/right-wing at all. I’ve heard some extreme right-wingers say this of George W. Bush; he was not really right-wing but an opportunitst.

      Paranoid conspiracists often also don’t define their enemies in terms of left or right wing but refer to them as a globalistic/hegemonic/oligarichal cabal. If they can link people or groups that on the surface appear opposed to each other as actual co-conspirators, so much the better for the emotional impact of the conspiracy.

      • Nathan Phillips says:

        Yes, the ability to link a preferred scapegoat to two opposing ideologies is frightenningly effective. Hitler did this with the Jewish people by blaming them for both the excesses of big companies and the dangers of communism, while giving them none of the praise for the benefits gained from either. I think that the worst fears of many right-wing conspiracy theorists have been bolstered since 9-11 by the Patriot Act and other right-wing answers to terrorism. I think that more paranoid groups are leaning away from partisanism.

    • Matt says:

      Being “right wing” isn’t synonymous with being a Republican. Right and left wing have become practically useless for discussing politics, but in this context it means somebody who is anti-government, or who is against any change.

    • MadScientist says:

      Growing pot is ‘left wing’? I wonder which kiddie politics book that came from.

      • Tom says:

        Another Mad Scientist argument from sarcasm post. How illuminating. Maybe you are right, and it is mostly law-and-order republicans running the medical marijuana depots in California.

      • John Greg says:

        Well, you know, Tom, the good old so-called Mafia apparently has a finger or two dipped into the illicit drug business, and the last time I looked into it, the good old so-called Mafia was not exactly what you might call a bed of radical left-wing socialists.

        Just sayin’.

    • Beelzebud says:

      Oh but the 9/11 truthers are a largely right-wing ideology. To these people George W. Bush was a liberal. The candidate that the 9/11 truthers gravitated towards was the right-wing libertarian Ron Paul. Sure there are some left wingers that are truthers, but the vast majority, from what I’ve seen, seem to be the ‘patriot movement’ right wing libertarians.

      • Nayr says:

        I think the confusion may come from the fact that there appears to be two kind of Truthers.

        1. The liberal “Chimpy McBushHitler” types who want to blame President Bush and the Republicans specifically for 9/11.

        2. The paranoid anti-government Libertarian types who want to blame the federal government in general ,regardless of party or ideology, for 9/11.

        Do you think most Truthers are type 2, cause where I live it seems like they mostly type 1?

        In any case, its liberal vs. libertarian, neither type is particularly right-wing.

      • Beelzebud says:

        Libertarians aren’t a particular anything. In my life I’ve known far more right-wing libertarians than left-wing ones.

        The old saying rings true. “Libertarians are Republicans that want to smoke pot.”

        Look at Ron Paul and his followers.

      • Max says:

        Right-wingers gravitated towards Ron Paul.
        Left-wingers gravitated towards Dennis Kucinich.

        Here’s Kucinich on investigating the 9/11 attacks:
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYpgCt-s808
        One of the comments says, “PAUL/KUCINICH 2012”

        You’re probably right that the majority of American “truthers” are right-wingers, but I’m not so sure it’s a vast majority.

      • Beelzebud says:

        Ah Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich.

        Together proving that the far left and the far right meet together in the middle of Crazy-Town.

    • tmac57 says:

      Bedell, is said to have had mental illness issues going back 15 years or so, with several institutionalizations. His behavior in the recent weeks preceding the shooting had been cause for alarm from his family and friends. The family was said to have alerted the authorities, fearing that he had bought firearms. His political motives may have had little to do with the destructive path that he was on. Unbalanced people can find myriad reasons to commit violent acts. It seems that his mental state rather than his beliefs, may have been more to blame here. Not that I think that his beliefs were benign though.

  2. johnc says:

    Let’s make sure everybody has the same worldview as Michael Shermer and then the world will be a safe place.

    Now there’s a dangerous opinion.

    • Robo Sapien says:

      Logic and rationale do not constitute a worldview. You make it look like Shermer is pushing some dogmatic ideology, when the opposite is true. Dogma is responsible for 9/11, not Michael Shermer’s worldview (I don’t think he even has one).

      • johnc says:

        Logic and rationale do constitute a worldview, albeit a logical and rational one, and yes, Shermer does have one, unless he is in some kind of vegetative state.

        He’s saying that the beliefs themselves are dangerous, when they are not. It’s a need to act violently in order to demonstrate them which is dangerous.

      • MKR says:

        “Logic and rationale do constitute a worldview.”

        Oh, please! This is ridiculous. By your “reasoning” (though I would rather call it a kind of verbal chicanery), anyone who makes an argument for a position is ipso facto trying to “make sure that everyone shares his worldview.” So if you, for instance, argue for your claim about Shermer, you are thereby trying to impose the Johnc worldview on everyone. Ooh, everyone shun the naughty, bad, dogmatic worldview-imposer!

      • Nathan Phillips says:

        People have the capacity for violence. Beliefs can channel that in dangerous ways. Abortion clinic bombers and shooters are tryign to stop murderers. They believe that abortion is murder. If you believed that it was a duty to stop murderers AND that say the IRS was composed of murderers, you may have felt a similar compulsion. If I remember properly, the Hindi word for war literally meant protecting cattle. What you believe about war, murder and/or an afterlife can have very important effects on your behavior.

      • Robo Sapien says:

        Human nature is exactly why beliefs ARE dangerous. Fundamentalism puts ideals before all else, including human life. When people feel like they are not in control, they turn to their ideals to regain it, often with violent passion.

    • plob218 says:

      Yeah, I’m not sure what you’re getting at, johnc. By warning against extremist beliefs Shermer is preaching his own dogma? I don’t get that vibe at all from this piece. Some of his other posts promote libertarianism, but never in the “believe this or you’re a terrorist” kind of way you’re describing.

  3. G says:

    As with anything else, there’s a continuum of nonsense. Some is mild, and harmless. Really. I mean, Reiki is about as silly as it gets, but as I understand it, it can’t hurt anyone.

    I don’t think aromatherapy can hurt unless someone’s allergic (and everyone I’ve known with allergies of that type adamantly avoids anything that has a strong scent at all).

    Certainly, using these things instead of genuine treatments for something is ridiculous and might hurt someone indirectly, but the belief in the nonsense itself is not directly harmful.

    There are a lot of people with wacky conspiracy theories, strong feelings about government officials one way or another, and what seem to be really bizarre concepts of the way things work…the great majority of these will not physically harm another living being over their beliefs, and their beliefs will overall be harmless. Letting them have their feelings is harmless.

    Are you advocating some kind of prior restraint just because someone has a few indicators that he’s a loon, before he even takes a step in a direction that might lead to illegal activities?

    • Chris Howard says:

      Good point. The overreaching idea, at least in my opinion, is that one has to believe that it is okay to use violence. Being a liberal, conservative, “truther” or any other belief is secondary to the individuals belief, with regard to the use of violence. To be fair though, some beliefs do sanction violence as a perfectly acceptable way of conflict resolution.

      Did belief in the conspiracy theory play a part in the violent behavior, or was it the willingness to believe that violence is an acceptable choice, probably a little of both, no?

      • DocDay says:

        I just want to interject a comment emphatically in favor of non-violence and affirm what an excellent “overarching idea” (sic) it is. Signing this oath: “I do not believe in or advocate the initiation of force as a means of achieving political or social goals.” was once a condition of membership in the national Libertarian Party — which set it apart from every other party I know of. Evidently it was abandoned to attract more members!! I’m appalled that the “Party of Principle” dropped THIS one! That oath embodies the fundamental Libertarian respect for fellow man so well that for anyone of ANY stripe to take the oath and actually follow it would leave us pretty much nothing to fear from whatever ideology they may espouse.

      • Moki says:

        It still is a condition of membership. Nothing has changed. You must affirm that you oppose “initiation of force to achieve political or social goals” in order to validate your membership.

        Please explain why you believe that the national Libertarian Party has dropped this requirement. Since this is quite clearly not the case, it makes your post sound like an underhanded swipe at the LP.

      • DocDay says:

        Well, egg is on my face. I see that “The Oath” clearly IS on the LP.org membership application page. Regretfully I must have overlooked it before. I’m glad it’s still there.

  4. eng says:

    There is more than ample evidence that Bedell was a registered Democrat as was the crazy cow who shot up UAH in Huntsville Alabama.

    Also, conspiracy kooks find nice homes on the left. Witness Van Jones, Spike Lee, Rosie O’Donnell and Janine Garofalo.

    • Chris Howard says:

      I am a liberal (not that it matters), and I couldn’t agree more. Just look at the radical, violent movements in the 60′s, mostly leftist. Political affiliation, and ideology are not always good sign-posts, as to wether or not someone will use violence as a solution to a problem.

  5. A. Shreck says:

    It is sometimes hard to judge when a peccadillo becomes a pathology. We must guard against irrationality without suppressing the sometimes insane sounding question that leads to real insight. My personal guideline is that when the conspiratorial belief becomes impervious to rational questioning (or sometimes more importantly self-deprecating humor) the line has been crossed.

    Jesse Walker at Reason raises some interesting points about the SPLC numbers cited above.

    http://reason.com/blog/2010/03/03/fearmongering-at-the-splc

    It’s a bit more smear than refutation, and I’m not sure that I’m any more comforted by 512 smaller, disorganized “patriot” groups than 149 larger ones, but it’s a valid question whether the focus on the number of groups is a reliable indicator in itself. There certainly seems little doubt that the conspiracy-minded, anti-government fringe has become more vocal and mainstream these last few years.

  6. litany says:

    I’ve heard you (Shermer) and a few others discussing these people as if their beliefs about the government were the issue/problem. The problem is that they decided to *kill people*. Plenty of people hold irrational beliefs without feeling compelled to act on them in ways that end life. And, unfortunately, enough people are willing to kill without any particularly bizarre beliefs/motivation at all.

    The problems with these individuals run deeper than their views of the government. Much deeper. A person who feels powerless may paint the government as his oppressor, or he may choose to target his boss, or his family. The choice of target isn’t as important as the underlying feelings that are driving him. When *those feelings* reach a critical point, he’ll act.

    Smart skepticism should see these anti-government beliefs for what they are, and does not assume that the problem would go away if we could just convince these people of the ‘truth’ about the government. By all means, fight irrationality, but don’t let the correlation between these beliefs and events blind you to the ACTUAL causation at work.

  7. Sam Nettles says:

    Religious Method has been around a lot longer than Scientific Method. Both have a validity and start with observation.

    • Brian the Coyote says:

      Please outline the process of the “Religious Method”. I’ve never heard it defined before…

      • Scott C. says:

        I’m not sure what this has to do with the article. I think you just invented “Religious Method.” The only methods employed by religion are the ones that perpetuate itself. Certainly nothing that objectively seeks to find truth. As for religion and science starting with observation, I suppose that may technically be true. The difference between them is that religion starts with observation of phenomena, then assumes that, since the causes are not apparent, the cause must be supernatural. I assert that religion actually starts with a conclusion, which is totally backward. Finally, who cares that “Religious Method” has been around longer than science? That says nothing about its relative validity, no more than the number of its adherents.

      • Brian the Coyote says:

        Exactly! I have some leftovers in my fridge that have been around a lot longer than fresh food. Which do you think is better?

      • Robo Sapien says:

        People tend to assume that the older of two methods is the more tried and true. Case in point: organic farming. What type of logical fallacy would that be?

      • Rilo says:

        The religious method is a simple two step process: 1. create, 2. propagate.

      • Chris Daley says:

        Religious method:
        1. God said it
        2. I believe it
        3. End of story

        Somehow I think I’ll stick to the Scientific Method…

    • MKR says:

      “Religious Method has been around a lot longer than Scientific Method.” Well, if the way religion operates can be characterized as showing any “method” — which is like saying that when I let crap pile up all over my apartment I am following the “disorder method” of organizing my belongings — then certainly it has been around for much longer than science has. Just as disease has been around for much longer than medicine.

      “Both have a validity and start with observation.” I wonder what “having a validity” means. I can make up all sorts of fantasies: if I come to believe in my fantasies, does that constitute their having “a validity”?

  8. GaryW says:

    Nettles presents an usupported claim.

    Religious method has a validity? What is “religious method”? Describe it. What is it for? How is it valid? How do you know it is valid?

  9. Marty says:

    Conspiracy theory does indeed kill. The Domino Theory, developed to support warring in Vietnam and the illegal aerial bombing of Cambodia and Laos, resulted in millions of deaths. The United States finally pulled out after 20 years.
    Governments killed more than 50 million in the 20th century.

  10. Sam Nettles says:

    Okay, I invented it but how could something so contradictory to human thought and activity imbed itself? If a Supreme Being chooses to reveal Himself to a very few for purposes known only to Him and manages to flood the world with concepts of his existence, all skeptics should wonder and observe.

    • Harrison says:

      Re: If a Supreme Being chooses to reveal Himself to a very few for purposes known only to Him and manages to flood the world with concepts of his existence, all skeptics should wonder and observe.

      Yes, we should all wonder about those very few who claim to be the receptors of this divine revealed knowledge.

    • Brian the Coyote says:

      You invented it but has been around longer than the Scientific Method.

      WTF, Methuselah?

    • Robo Sapien says:

      It “embeds” itself through the power of suggestion. Imagine a group of people stuck in a room with no doors and no recollection of how they got there. They all volunteer some lame ideas, but one guy says “It is obvious, there is a supreme being who put us in here and has a plan for us, but he will not reveal himself. You can rest assured that everything you don’t understand is part of that plan, no matter how weird or seemingly evil it is, because he works in mysterious ways”

      Now all these people stuck in this room with no sense of control begin to subconsciously gravitate towards this supreme being notion, because it is the only one that is broad enough to cover the entire scope of query, and thus it restores some control in their minds, having what they believe to be elevated knowledge.

    • rustle says:

      “…manages to flood the world with concepts of his existence..” (cue Scooby Doo sound effect) Whuh? Ruh row, Raggy, raneurysm. What the hell does that even mean?

  11. Bush’s lies about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the lie about Tonkin Gulf, Pearl Harbor (Secy. of War, Henry Stimpson said in his Diary, “We must maneuver Japan into firing the first shot.”) and the deliberate, false flag attack on the USS Liberty have caused many more deaths than this guy did. He’s right about JFK too.

    • rustle says:

      Clever how you managed to insert Pearl Harbor and JFK into that bunch as if to lend them equal credibility. Kudos.

  12. WIL says:

    The 9/11 Truth Movement makes me LOL. When I read:

    “Apparently the delusional Bedell intended to shoot his way into the Pentagon to find out what really happened on 9/11.”

    …I LOLed. I can’t comprehend the disconnect in Bedell’s brain whereby he could study (and presumably believe the tenants of) physics, and simultaneously believe that he could shoot his way into an extremely secure military base and uncover a conspiracy. It just goes to show that you can study physics and still be a god damned halfwit…

    • MadScientist says:

      Physics has tenants? Do they pay much for rent? I’m not sure if we could even say that physics has any tenets.

  13. Max says:

    Joseph Stack flew his plane into the IRS building? That’s what they want us to think >_>

  14. Max says:

    So this delusional extremist nutjob Bedell attacked the Pentagon because he didn’t believe that delusional extremist nutjobs attacked the Pentagon.

  15. Robert Neary says:

    I too am always amazed (and amused) at the elaborate conspiracy theories people are able to conjure up. Often the JFK assassination is included among them.

    I was in high school the day JFK was assassinated. Over the years a tremendous amount of research has been done into the JFK assassination and I am convinced most of them have been well explained. I am probably going to take my lump here but I have one nagging inconsistency that has troubled me over these decades: I have never found a good explanation of why Jack Ruby, a low-life small time mobster and strip club owner would have a motive to kill Oswald. Why would this guy, above all others, be so morally incensed over JFK assassination that he would risk everything to seek vengance on Oswald?

    I don’t have an answer to this question, and I am not crying conspiracy. The burden is on conspiracy theorists to support their claims with facts. But that one little fact of Ruby killing Oswald has never been explained to my satisfaction and I remain curious.

    • Steve Bruun says:

      Ruby often carried a gun because he frequently carried large amounts of cash, and he was a frequent visitor to the Dallas police headquarters even before the assassination. Ruby was running other errands on 11/24 (and his favorite dog was in his car); there’s no evidence he’d tried to settle his affairs beforehand. (Contrast with Oswald, who broke his routine by visiting his estranged wife on Thursday evening and then left all his money and his wedding ring in his wife’s bedroom on the morning of 11/22.) Ruby’s shooting of Oswald appears to have been impulsive rather than premeditated.

    • Noadi says:

      Ruby got to him first is a sufficient explanation. There were plenty of people who were upset enough to take a shot at Oswald, Ruby just managed to do it first. It’s likely that is Ruby hadn’t shot Oswald (or hadn’t succeeded in killing him) that someone else would have tried to kill him.

  16. Dee says:

    I find conspiracies fascinating – don’t believe them, but people that do are interesting. I have received urban legion’s that people have claimed were check out on snopes.com, but when I goto to the site it will say the rumor is false. I think some folks want to believe them no matter what the reality is.

    The sports world is full of them – this game or that is fixed, or a certain league want large market teams to make the playoffs because of the $ involved. There is a web site devoted to make fun of these theories called “tinfoilonmyhead.com”. You may find it interesting, and you can post your own conspiracy.

  17. Sam Nettles says:

    Ruby was dying of cancer but I’m sure the Mob could have been responsible since they manage to find people to do their dirty work. I’m fairly sure the Warren Commission covered everything, though. People love a conspiracy theory!!!!

  18. Xplodyncow says:

    One argument against letting people have their delusions is that sometimes some nut-job somewhere does something dangerous based on his or her delusions.

    But what about other delusional people who are far less harmful? Take my Jehovah’s Witless™ coworker.* She’s a very nice person, intelligent, and a bit quirky. She believes that THE END IS NIGH, so her JW group has stopped meeting twice a week to encourage families to spend more time together before the end. She also believes that the cold water in the fifth-floor bathroom is the work of Satan. One of her JW friends has been diagnosed with a particularly nasty form of breast cancer and has undergone a double mastectomy and aggressive chemotherapy, and the cancer keeps returning. Yet they both keep smiles on their faces — with the Resurrection, they’ll both have perfect bodies, so cancer, death, etc, are far less scary.

    What’s the harm in that?

    I ask because I really want to know, not because I am trying to be a jerk or something.

    Thanks.

    * I am not making up any of the following.

    • jezier says:

      Sure, no harm in that. But, if her child develops an illness, that requires blood transfusion, or has an accident, she’ll (if she is going to behave as a JW should)refuse to do it. Here is the harm, I think.

    • Robo Sapien says:

      The harm is that people can delude themselves out of proper medical care because of some belief that they will be reborn as movie stars in heaven. JW doctrine prohibits blood transfusions, which has already resulted in the deaths of a number of its members.

      Bob Marley’s religion forbid him from amputating his toe, and it cost him his life.

      • John Greg says:

        Robo Sapien said:

        Bob Marley’s religion forbid him from amputating his toe, and it cost him his life.

        I’d not heard that. I don’t doubt you, as such, but do you have a link or something that comfirms that?

      • Seth Manapio says:

        Wikipedia, source of all knowledge, attributes Marley’s death to a cancer which spread from his toe, and mentions his attempt to cure it with a ‘controversial’ (read, bullshit) therapy. So this isn’t implausible.

  19. Sam Nettles says:

    The promise of Jesus to take care of those who believe in him takes many odd turns:)

    • rustle says:

      So, innocent children suffer and die because they don’t believe in him? No, wait…even the ones who do believe in him suffer the same fate. Wow. That’s a poser. Theodicy’s a bitch.

  20. John Greg says:

    Well wholey jeebles! Here I thought that it was legitimately crazy people who committed crazy acts and often believed crazy things. But no! It’s people who believe crazy things that make them committ crazy acts which then turn them into crazy people.

    Well I am glad that that is straightened out.

    I guess we all better make sure our kids don’t listen to daemon rock ‘n’ roll and Satanic Rap music … or is that Satanic rock ‘n’ roll and daemon Rap music; it’s so easy to get confused.

    On a much more serious note, has Michael Shermer altogether lost his ability to think critically or something? The last several posts he has posted here have been border line irrational and overloaded with an abundance of logical fallacies, straight-out falsehoods, and the most outrageous sort of correlational nonsense one might find in a fundiewundie website. Very worrisome.

    • Kurt says:

      Here I thought that it was legitimately crazy people who committed crazy acts and often believed crazy things.

      Alas, this is not the case. Otherwise smart and sane people do believe crazy things from time to time. I know you’d like to dump anyone who has ever done something weird into a convenient Crazy Bucket but reality is more complex.

      Do you really think that Bedell was doomed to this sort of fate? I think it’s much more likely that a supportive and rational society could have arrest his drift into paranoia at some point.

      • John Greg says:

        I think you are missing the multi-layered sarcasm, and irony.

        That’s probably not your fault. Expressing sarcasm and irony effectively on the Internet can be quite a challenge.

        Perhaps I flubbed it.

      • Kurt says:

        Oops. It’s not entirely your fault, either. I recently had an argument over the Joseph Stack plane crash where someone argued that politically motivated violence was inherently a sign of insanity — and I pointed out that the line between “crazy” and “very angry” is pretty subjective. That came to mind while reading your post.

  21. Max says:

    Did Lee Harvey Oswald believe in crazy conspiracy theories?

    • feralboy12 says:

      From my reading, it’s hard to say what Oswald believed. He was a study in contradiction. He was a Marxist who joined the Marines. He seemed to have ties to both pro and anti-Castro groups. Still something of an enigma; if the Dallas police hadn’t let him get shot on TV, we might not have all the conspiracy theories.

  22. Sproutlore says:

    I think extreme belief systems, Christian & Muslim Jihadists, Suvivorists, Militant dogmas,etc. are dangerous because they push the boundries of acceptable behaviour. The water cooler yackers become “tea baggers’, the protester replaces his protest sign with a rifle. The truly paranoid, the humiliated and the fanatical become terrorists.

    While conspiracies, magic and mystery are fun and enthralling, JFK was a good “MOVIE” (if you like Stone), Harry Potter is a heck of a read and, personally, I love the “Illuminati” – though not the “Da Vinci Code” crap, we must constantly fight the notion that any of it is true – to save us from the fringe.

    • A. Shreck says:

      I use Illuminatus and the Church of the Subgenius (and for the particularly literate Foucault’s Pendulum) as sanity tests of my associates who tend to the paranoid. If they don’t get the joke, I worry.

      • Heh, it’s astonishing how many of the conspiratorial “sourcebooks” are works of fiction.

        I do the same thing Shreck. If it weren’t for those books I think I’d have drifted waaay off into nutter land a long time ago. Snapped me out of it.

        Those who take Illuminatus as truth are A: Completely missing the whole point. And B: Didn’t read it through to the end.

  23. Aradan says:

    Beliefs lead to, and shape one’s actions. When a belief is dangerous, the action arising from that belief will most likely be dangerous.

  24. Myerly says:

    Spot on, Sproutlore! Thank you.

  25. feralboy12 says:

    I got your religious method right here:
    1. Make up stuff.
    2. Believe it.

  26. MadScientist says:

    I have no intention of ever watching Oliver Stone’s piece of nonsense ‘JFK’ – it belongs with other abusive fantasy films such as holocaust denial films.

  27. Jeremy says:

    Yes, misguided beliefs in conspiracy theories can lead to violence. Like killing a million Iraqis if you believe the official 9/11 conspiracy theory that flies in the face of WTC Building 7 and a myriad of other facts.
    1,000 AIA certified Architects and engineers have endorsed on their website’s presentation at http://www.ae911truth.org, that explosives brought down the towers. In addition, The Open Chemical Physics Journal, a peer review journal, has published findings of explosive residue in WTC dust. Video of WTC Building 7 is an obvious controlled demolition. Logical implications demand a reexamination of our political process that includes serious evaluation of those who control our major institutions.
    Got a problem with that…..write a rebuttal to the chemical journal…tell them they’re a bunch of dangerous wingnuts.

    • Kurt says:

      About those 1000 names. First off, very few of them are actually involved in the construction trade. Many are mechanical or electrical engineers who lack the proper expertise to comment. Architects are also not useful for this question. The people you would want to ask about the plausibility of demolition are structural engineers. How many verified structural engineers (or civil engineers with known structural experience) are there on the A/E Truth petition?

      There are, at best, 100 names on that petition who might have structural experience. Now assuming all of their profiles are real and verified (a generous assumption!) if we remove profiles that list non-structural civil work (sewers, soils engineering and other incorrect areas of expertise) and remove people whose area of expertise isn’t listed, we get down to a whopping 36 people who might actually know what they’re talking about.

      So, out of the tens of thousands of practicing structural engineers worldwide there are maybe 36 willing to sign the petition. BTW, I’m one of those tens of thousands of structural engineers who haven’t signed the petition.

      Of course, the real problem is that the demolition “theory” isn’t even a theory. Demolition proponents just engage in anomaly spam and “raise doubts” without proposing a cohesive alternative explanation. These are the same methods used by Creationists.

      • tanabear says:

        Kurt: “the real problem is that the demolition “theory” isn’t even a theory.

        You are right. Demolition isn’t a theory, it is an established fact.

        I like the way you summarily dismiss over 1,100 architects and engineers. Can you please provide me with a list of architects and engineers who have gone on record saying that they support the official explanation?

      • Seth Manapio says:

        Sure. Take the Structural Engineers on your list. Subtract them from the membership of every organization under the umbrella of the NCSEA. The remaining structural engineers who belong to professional groups in America are on record as supporting the official explanation. SInce there are only 3 or 4 licensed structural engineers who have signed the petition so far, there are more engineers on the NCSEA Structural Engineering Emergency Response Report committee than there are structural engineers who signed your petition.

        Of course, that’s a moot point, since you’re misrepresenting the content of the petition anyway. The petition does not declare that demolition is a fact. It merely presents it as a possible hypothesis. So as far as we know, not a single one of the 1100 architects and engineers believe, as you do, that demolition is an established fact.

      • tanabear says:

        Seth: “The remaining structural engineers who belong to professional groups in America are on record as supporting the official explanation.

        This info is based on what source? I want the names of the architects and engineers that have gone record specifically stating that they agree with the conclusions of NIST and Bazant. You cannot count those who are ignorant of the official explanation as supporting it. I could just as easily count them as being in agreement with the 9/11 Truth Movement.

        Seth: “The petition does not declare that demolition is a fact..”

        This is true. But the petition does state,

        We believe there is sufficient doubt about the official story to justify re-opening the 9/11 investigation. The new investigation must include a full inquiry into the possible use of explosives that might have been the actual cause of the destruction of the World Trade Center Twin Towers and Building 7.

        Dwain Deets
        Title: Retired Flight Research Engineer
        Degree: M.S., Physics, SDSU; M.E., UCLA
        The many visual images (massive structural members being hurled horizontally, huge pyroclastic clouds, etc.) leave no doubt in my mind explosives were involved.

        Kamal S. Obeid
        Title: SE, PE Structural Engineer, Civil Engineer
        Degree: MSCE, UC Berkeley
        Photos of the steel, evidence about how the buildings collapsed, the unexplainable collapse of WTC 7, evidence of thermite in the debris as well as several other red flags, are quite troubling indications of well planned and controlled demolition.

        Lester Jay Germanio
        Title: Structural Engineer
        Degree: BS Civil Eng, LSU & B of Arch, LSU
        I watched the collapse of the buildings on TV the day it happened and have watched numerous video and films of the collapse since that time. It is and has been my opinion that the most probable cause of the WTC buildings was controlled demolition.

        Paul A. Thomas
        Title: P.E.
        Degree: M.Architecture/StructuralEngineering
        The two towers, as they collapse, appear to be a controlled demolition event rather that a “pancake” type failure.

        While the Truth marches on, don’t seek solace in ignorance.

      • Seth Manapio says:

        tanabear, I already know that out of the thousands or tens of thousands of structural engineers in the United States, there are 3 who support the idea that the twin towers were demolished. There are more structural engineers who are authors of the various reports that dispute this claim than there are who have signed your petition. This means that of the Structural Engineers who have actually made a serious study of this event, as opposed to watching it on television, 100% of them agree with the conclusions in the reports that they wrote. 100% of these reports found no evidence of demolition.

        If you want to believe crazy bullshit, please, feel free. But to claim that any significant number of structural engineers support you is frankly delusional.

      • tanabear says:

        I only chose a small random sample of the engineers listed at the ae911truth site. I didn’t want the post to run too long. The signatories are comprised of architects, civil engineers, mechanical engineers, aerospace engineers, electrical engineers, chemical engineers, industrial engineers, material engineers etc. Their membership also includes individuals who have expertise in specific areas, such as Scott Grainger, a forensic fire protection engineer.

        Seth: “This means that of the Structural Engineers who have actually made a serious study of this event, as opposed to watching it on television, 100% of them agree with the conclusions in the reports that they wrote..”

        It should be pointed out that NIST stopped at what they term “collapse initiation.” The actual structural behavior of the tower after initiation is not really examined in the report. In this sense, their report is merely a pre-collapse analysis. NIST felt that they didn’t need to go beyond initiation because Zdenek Bazant showed that once the “collapse” started it would be inevitable. This is a highly speculative hypothesis and based on no evidence.

        So how many architects and engineers have gone on record stating that they specifically agree with the official explanation offered by Bazant and NIST? I want actual names. The architects and engineers at ae911truth have put their names and reputations on the line. Will the official story defenders do the same?

        And no, it is not crazy to believe that explosive charges can blow-up buildings and other structures. In fact, such a belief is well-founded.

      • Kurt says:

        The signatories are comprised of

        . . . a whole lot of people who lack the expertise to accurately comment on the issue. As I pointed out in my earlier post the number of people on the petition who even claim to have the relevant expertise is, at best, 36 people.

        In this sense, their report is merely a pre-collapse analysis. NIST felt that they didn’t need to go beyond initiation because Zdenek Bazant showed that once the “collapse” started it would be inevitable. This is a highly speculative hypothesis and based on no evidence.

        Not true. To someone who knows what they’re talking about (i.e. structural engineers) this is so plainly true that one does not need to discuss it.

        And no, it is not crazy to believe that explosive charges can blow-up buildings and other structures.

        They can, yes. Did they do so in this case? Almost certainly not.

      • Seth Manapio says:

        “I only chose a small random sample of the engineers listed at the ae911truth site. ”

        Wow! That’s amazing! Because your random sample contains exactly 100% of the Structural Engineers who have signed the petition!

        What are the odds?

        You seem confused about the argument, by the way. No one is arguing that a team of competent experts cannot, after weeks or months of planning and careful site preparation, safely demolish a large building with explosives. We’re arguing that there is no evidence that this site preparation happened in the weeks and months prior to September 11th, 2001, or that any explosives (other than two jumbo jets filled with fuel) were employed to bring the WTC buildings down. Believing that a completely evidence free hypothesis is an established fact is in fact crazy.

      • tanabear says:

        Kurt: “The signatories are comprised of…a whole lot of people who lack the expertise to accurately comment on the issue.

        And you know this how? Have you had a discussion with all the petition signers and determined that they lack the ability to have an educated opinion on the issue. Defenders of the official account quote Thomas Eagar who is just a material scientist and has no experience in designing large steel-frame high-rises. You merely define people who promote the official explanation as “experts” and those who question it as being unqualified. This is how cult members inculcate themselves against any ideas that contradict what they’ve been conditioned to think.

        Kurt: “Not true. To someone who knows what they’re talking about (i.e. structural engineers) this is so plainly true that one does not need to discuss it.

        Yes, true. The fact that NIST largely stops their analysis at collapse initiation is admitted by them in their report.

        The focus of the Investigation was on the sequence of events from the instant of aircraft impact to the initiation of collapse for each tower. For brevity in this report, this sequence is referred to as the “probable collapse sequence,” although it does not actually include the structural behavior of the tower after the conditions for collapse initiation were reached and collapse became inevitable.

        Some 200 technical experts—including about 85 career NIST experts and 125 leading experts from the private sector and academia—reviewed tens of thousands of documents, interviewed more than 1,000 people, reviewed 7,000 segments of video footage and 7,000 photographs, analyzed 236 pieces of steel from the wreckage, performed laboratory tests and sophisticated computer simulations of the sequence of events that occurred FROM THE MOMENT THE AIRCRAFT STRUCK THE TOWERS UNTIL THEY BEGAN TO COLLAPSE.
        NIST 2005

        They admit as much. You should as well.

        Kurt: “They can, yes. Did they do so in this case? Almost certainly not.

        All the evidence points to explosive destruction. Not a single aspect of each towers demise can be explained by the official story.

      • Seth Manapio says:

        “All the evidence points to explosive destruction.”

        ——-

        Really? I think something like 10,000 structural engineers disagree with you. Why don’t you try this exercise: take an intro course in engineering at a decent college and ask the professor about this. If you can write a term paper that gets you a passing grade in which you defend this crazy idea, I’ll take it, and you, seriously.

        Until then I’m going to content myself with mocking you. Seriously, you wave around some petition that has exactly 3 structural engineers as signatories, demanding the names of the structural engineers who didn’t sign? That’s like walking into a room with a glass of water and demanding to see Lake Superior. You should reread your comment here: “You merely define people who promote the official explanation as “experts” and those who question it as being unqualified. ” and then look in a mirror.

        Your being a contrarian just for the sake of it. That’s not thinking for yourself, tanabear. That’s letting the crazy think for you.

      • tanabear says:

        Seth: Wow! That’s amazing! Because your random sample contains exactly 100% of the Structural Engineers who have signed the petition!

        You seem to be somewhat numerically challenged. There are more than 3 structural engineers who have signed the petition. Understanding why the government’s account is false doesn’t really require much more than a basic understanding of elementary physics. Almost all engineers have this level of knowledge.

        Since there has been no investigation into 9/11 you have no authority no state whether or not explosives couldn’t have been placed in the towers. There was an elevator modernization project going on 9 months prior to 9/11. And strangely enough there is a remarkable correlation between the floors upgraded for fireproofing and those of plane impact and failure. A real investigation could provide these answers.

        Seth: “or that any explosives (other than two jumbo jets filled with fuel) were employed to bring the WTC buildings down.

        Half the jet-fuel was burned up in the initial fire ball. The rest was consumed after 5 to 10 minutes. This is even according to NIST. Since fire destroying a steel-framed high-rise would be an unprecedented event, evidence for this explanation must to forthcoming. So far nothing.

      • Seth Manapio says:

        ” There are more than 3 structural engineers who have signed the petition.”

        Really? How do you know that? Because if you do a search on the web page for “Structural Engineer” or “SE,” or “S.E.”, you get three names. The same three names that you ‘randomly’ came up with.

        It’s an amazing coincidence that out of all the many, many, structural engineers that must be on that page, you just ‘randomly’ picked the only three that bothered to mention that they were structural engineers.

        Here’s the thing, tanabear… by pretending that there are a significant number of structural engineers on this list of yours–a fact I can easily check–you just kill your credibility. It’s like you’re sitting in front of an empty truck that I can see inside and telling me that it’s full of bricks. And everyone else can check it too, so everyone here knows that you’re lying.

        So what do we know about you? We know for certain that you misrepresent the facts and try to intimidate other people with insults. This is certain. It’s verified.

        But we’re now supposed to have any interest in anything else that you say? Why would we?

      • Kurt says:

        And you know this how?

        Because general engineering knowledge is not sufficient. One must have the specific expertise that structural engineers have.

        This is how cult members inculcate themselves against any ideas that contradict what they’ve been conditioned to think.

        Except that the “cult” in this case is pretty much my entire profession. We have successfully “insulated” ourselves from random people on the internet who think they know what they’re talking about, but really don’t.

        Yes, true. The fact that NIST largely stops their analysis at collapse initiation is admitted by them in their report.

        You have misunderstood. I know the NIST report stops at collapse initiation. What is true is that, as the NIST report said, this doesn’t really matter. Once the collapse begins it will result in total destruction of the building. Asking the NIST engineers to verify that is like asking an astrophysicist to verify that gravity exists.

      • tanabear says:

        Seth: “Really? How do you know that?

        Because I can count, unlike some people.

        Seth: “Because if you do a search on the web page for “Structural Engineer” or “SE,” or “S.E.”, you get three names.

        Kamal S. Obeid, SE, PE
        Lic: Structural Engineer 2826 CA, Civil Engineer 35214

        William H. Russell, Architect, Structural Engineer B.Arch, M.S. Arch Eng, U.of IL,Urbana,IL

        Alfred Lee Lopez, Structural Engineer

        Antonio Arthay, P.E. M.s. Structural engineering

        Arthur Nelson, P.E.
        M.Sc., Structural Eng, Northeastern

        Dennis J. Kollar, P.E., Structural Engineer
        Lic: 34422-6 professional engineer exp 2008
        B.S. + Graduate Coursework

        Hantz N. Elalami, P.E.
        BS, Research as structural analyst

        Ali Mojahid, Dr., Ph.D, P.E, S.I, Principal Engineer Ph.D

        Lester Jay Germanio, Structural Engineer
        BS Civil Eng, LSU & B of Arch, LSU

        Michael T. Donly, P.E., Structural/Civil Engineer
        B.S.C.E. N.J. Institute of Technology

        Patricia Lyn Seitz, P.E.
        Architectrual Engineering – Structural

        Paul A. Thomas, P.E.
        M.Architecture/Structural Engineering

        Robert F. Marceau, P.E.Structural
        Lic: P.E.16996,Colorado,C.E. 7587Nevada retired
        M.S. Un.Las Vega, B.S. Un. of Conn.

        Ronald H. Brookman, Structural Engineer
        Lic: Structural Engineer 3653 CA Civil Engineer 44654 C
        B.S. & M.S. Engineering, U.C. Davis

        Steven Francis Dusterwald, Structural Engineer
        B.S.C.E. Cooper Union, NY, NY 5/73

        Bill Genitsaris, Consulting Structural Engineer & Builder BA Engineering, Uni. of Melbourne

        Dr. Robert T. Mote, PhD, Structural Engineer
        B.Eng (Hons)

        David Scott, AMICE, CEng, MIStructE
        BEng,

        Erwin De Jong, MSc Mechanical and Structural Engineering Master The Hague, Zuid Holland – The Netherlands

        Graham John Inman
        Civil & Structural Engineering

        John Watt, Structural Engineer, C. Eng., M.I.C.E., M.I.Structural, BSc (Civ Eng)

        Paul W. Mason, Civil/Structural Engineer
        Bachelor of Engineering

        Robert D. Jirava, P.Eng, C.Eng, M.IStructE, Struct.Eng, B.A.Sc.

        Alaa Rustom, Structural and Geotechnical Civil Engineer BSC Structural and Geotechnical Civil En
        Ottawa,

        Albert Arey, Structural Engineer
        B.A.

        Edward E. Knesl, P.E., S.E.
        M.S. Engineering

        John Charles Lewelling, P.E. S.E.
        B.S., Aerospace, Georgia Tech 1970

        Philadelphia, PA
        Ameen DeRaj, Professional Engineer – Structural

        Nathan S. Lomba, P.E., S.E., M.ASCE

        David Topete, S.E.
        B.S. Civil Engineering, Santa Clara U
        San Francisco, CA

        Seth: “ It’s like you’re sitting in front of an empty truck that I can see inside and telling me that it’s full of bricks.

        I think you need some better glasses.

      • tanabear says:

        Kurt: “Because general engineering knowledge is not sufficient. One must have the specific expertise that structural engineers have.

        So why is Michael Shermer quoting a material scientist as an authority on the matter then?

        So what sort of useful knowledge about WTC1,2 and 7 do structural engineers have that civil or mechanical engineers lack? The only people who really should be labeled an authority on the collapse of WTC1,2 or 7 are those who can replicate the official explanation experimentally. Since this has yet to be done, the actual experts in demolishing steel-framed high-rises with fire is approximately zero.

        Kurt: “Once the collapse begins it will result in total destruction of the building.

        Wrong, collapses can be partial, local or total. What experiments did NIST do to prove it would be global? None.

        As well, NIST’s “collapse initiation” hypothesis is highly speculative.

        p.s. I am still waiting for all the architects and engineers who have gone on the record stating that they specifically agree with NIST and Bazant.

      • Seth Manapio says:

        Fair enough. A deeper search reveals something like 39 names out of 1000. Let’s call it 50 for fairness. There are 50 structural engineers in the United States who have signed a petition expressing doubt about the official explanation.

        And your question is: who are the engineers who disagree?

        As you have demonstrated that I was wrong on one minor point, you deserve a well researched answer. So aside from every author of the NIST report and the entire board and every officer of the NCSEA, there are these authors, the editors of these journals, and the reviewers who chose to publish these papers. 23 authors alone, and this is not a comprehensive bibliography of the peer reviewed literature on the collapse of the WTC. However, as far as I could find, there were no papers in the peer reviewed literature supporting detonation.

        The difference between your 50 engineers and my 23 authors is that we have no idea what your 50 people think, precisely, or why they think it. Whereas with these papers, you know exactly what the authors think, precisely why they think it, and you know that a panel of their peers believes that their reasoning is sound.

        What Did and Did Not Cause Collapse of World Trade Center Twin Towers in New York?
        Zdenek P. Bazant, Jia-Liang Le, Frank R. Greening, and David B. Benson, J. Engrg. Mech. 134, 892 (2008), DOI:10.1061/(ASCE)0733-9399(2008)134:10(892)

        Mechanics of Progressive Collapse: Learning from World Trade Center and Building Demolitions
        Zdenek P. Bazant and Mathieu Verdure, J. Engrg. Mech. 133, 308 (2007), DOI:10.1061/(ASCE)0733-9399(2007)133:3(308)

        Engineering Perspective of the Collapse of WTC-I
        Ayhan Irfanoglu and Christoph M. Hoffmann, J. Perf. Constr. Fac. 22, 62 (2008), DOI:10.1061/(ASCE)0887-3828(2008)22:1(62)

        Structural Responses of World Trade Center under Aircraft Attacks
        Yukihiro Omika, Eiji Fukuzawa, Norihide Koshika, Hiroshi Morikawa, and Ryusuke Fukuda, J. Struct. Engrg. 131, 6 (2005), DOI:10.1061/(ASCE)0733-9445(2005)131:1(6)

        Could the World Trade Center have been Modified to Prevent its Collapse?
        David E. Newland and David Cebon, J. Engrg. Mech. 128, 795 (2002), DOI:10.1061/(ASCE)0733-9399(2002)128:7(795)

        Anatomy of a Disaster: A Structural Investigation of the World Trade Center Collapses
        Najib Abboud, Matthys Levy, Darren Tennant, John Mould, Howard Levine, Stephanie King, Chukwuma Ekwueme, Anurag Jain, and Gary Hart, ASCE Conf. Proc. 241, 36 (2003), DOI:10.1061/40692(241)

      • Seth Manapio says:

        and for fairness:
        A. S. Usmani, Y. C. Chung, J. L. Torero, How did the WTC towers collapse: a new theory, Fire Safety Journal, Volume 38, Issue 6, October 2003, Pages 501-533, ISSN 0379-7112, DOI: 10.1016/S0379-7112(03)00069-9.

        These authors have a slightly different viewpoint on exactly why the world trade center towers were not brought down by controlled demolition. SO I think that’s 32 published, peer reviewed authors.

        How many published, peer reviewed papers in the engineering and construction journals support demolition?

      • Seth Manapio says:

        “The only people who really should be labeled an authority on the collapse of WTC1,2 or 7 are those who can replicate the official explanation experimentally.”

        Not sure if I agree with your reasoning, but you might find this article that details a series of experiments with structural steel and heat interesting:

        Behavior of Steel Columns at Elevated Temperatures
        K. W. Poh and I. D. Bennetts, J. Struct. Engrg. 121, 676 (1995), DOI:10.1061/(ASCE)0733-9445(1995)121:4(676)

        Probably, you should check all the citing articles to get a feel for what has been done since, and cited articles to get an idea of what was known in 1995. I mean, if your actually interested in knowing what engineers know about heat, steel, and structural strength.

        For example, that article is cited by this one:

        Dominant Factor in the Collapse of WTC-1
        Konstantinos Miamis, Ayhan Irfanoglu, and Mete A. Sozen, J. Perf. Constr. Fac. 23, 203 (2009), DOI:10.1061/(ASCE)CF.1943-5509.0000014

        Which, if I’m not mistaken, adds three more authors to my abbreviated list of engineers and experts with publications in the peer reviewed literature that discount the controlled demolition hypothesis.

        The peer reviewed literature really represents the position not just of the authors of the papers themselves, but of a field as a whole. And if you find one expert who claims to find some fatal flaws in a paper, you should bear in mind that his results have not been verified by another expert, and the paper has been approved by at least three.

        In any case, I do want to thank you for prompting me to do a more thorough investigation of what the field of structural engineering has to say about 911. Paper searches in fields I’m not familiar with is one of my favorite means of procrastination.

      • tanabear says:

        Seth: ‘So aside from every author of the NIST report and the entire board and every officer of the NCSEA, there are these authors, the editors of these journals, and the reviewers who chose to publish these papers.

        There were many aspects to the NIST report. In fact, the report reaches up to 10,000 pages. However, the conclusions were written by only a dozen or so people. Many of the people who worked on a specific aspect of the report might not even know what the conclusions were in another area. As well, the NIST report does not go beyond collapse initiation. Bazant picks up where NIST leaves off. So I would need to know those who support NIST’s pre-collapse analysis and Bazant’s post analysis.

        -Structural Responses of World Trade Center under Aircraft Attacks

        The goal of this paper was to show, “why both buildings did not collapse immediately after impact, and WTC2 collapsed sooner than WTC1.

        I don’t see where it states that they agree with Baznat’s crush-down crush-up hypothesis.

        -Could the World Trade Center have been Modified to Prevent its Collapse?

        This paper does reference Bazant. But it is Bazant’s 2002 paper.

        The paper by Bazant and Zhou (2002) shows why, when the columns of a single floor of each tower of the WTC lost their load-carrying capacity due to prolonged heating, the whole tower was doomed.

        The current official explanation for “collapse initiation” is the inward bowing of the perimeter columns due to catenary action of the sagging floor trusses, not high column temperatures. Bazant and NIST no longer support the high-column temperature explanation.

        -ANATOMY OF A DISASTER: A STRUCTURAL INVESTIGATION OF THE WORLD TRADE CENTER COLLAPSES

        This paper seems to support the pancake collapse hypothesis, “leading to a pancaking progressive collapse of the entire WTC 1 tower.” This is not the current theory offered by Bazant and NIST.

        However, I will agree Bazant supports Bazant theory and he also agrees with NIST. Some of the other authors of his paper, like David Benson, do as well.

        Bazant’s paper, ‘Mechanics of Progressive
        Collapse: Learning from World Trade
        Center and Building Demolitions
        did appear in a peer review journal, the Journal of Engineering Mechanics. However, Bazant’s conclusions were challenged by James Gourley and Gregory Szuladzinski. These criticisms also passed peer review and appeared in the Journal of Engineering Mechanics. So the paper does not stand unchallenged. More recently other critics have joined the fray.

        The long march towards the truth continues.

  28. Bud says:

    Why does Bedell use British spelling (organisation, centre) if he hails from California?

  29. xbacksideslider says:

    http://michellemalkin.com/2010/03/05/about-the-pentagon-shooter/

    The guy was NOT a Republlican.
    The guy was NOT a Libertarian.

    The guy WAS registered as a Democrat.
    FYI, there ARE 9/11 Truthers on the Left.

    So what else is new?, the MSM is biased.

  30. Majority of One says:

    I recently watched that 9/11 conspiracy movie after hearing about it here on this blog. I came away with a question, kinda like the guy with the Jack Ruby question…I remember watching that morning/afternoon and when they showed footage of the field in Pennsylvania, I wondered myself “where is the wreckage?” I didn’t see plane parts or seats or stuff just a smoking hole in the ground. Of course the movie brought this up and had national broadcasters asking similar questions. Anyway, it did raise my hmmmm level. The problem, my rational mind said to me, if it is a vast conspiracy, first where did flight 81 go? And, all the people aboard. Did someone in the government kill them? Unlikely. It is pretty hard to hide a commercial airliner. Also, I wondered how a demolition team could enter the world trade center buildings and wire it for demo with no one being the wiser. Also, how and why are all the people involved keeping quiet. If I knew something, I’d probably go Silkwood on their asses. Of course, she was killed….hmmmm.

    I’m just saying, questions were raised that need answers.

    • Max says:

      You mean Flight 93? Most of the wreckage was near the hole in the ground, a lot was pulverized. Very fragmented human remains were recovered as well.

      • Majority of One says:

        Yes, flight 93, sorry. It is just hard for me to believe everything was pulverized…I wish the media had been allowed closer. I’ve seen other crash sites, even ones where the plane flew into the side of a mountain going full speed, and there was a lot of intact debris. There were other questions raised in the movie. I know a lot of it was “sensationalized” but some of it really was questionable. I hope we someday do learn the “truth.” As for JFK, I don’t think you have to be crazy to wonder about what happened. It is sad that Bedell wasn’t able to go about finding the answers he was seeking in a more sane, less suicidally violent way.

    • Beelzebud says:

      In 5 minutes on google I found images from Flight 93. Sections with windows, large sections of fuselage, motor blocks, landing gear etc.

      Do your own damn research, and stop believing every piece of bullshit you hear on a conspiracy “documentary”.

      http://tinyurl.com/yaasurp

      • Majority of One says:

        Thanks for your helpful suggestion. However, I have seen the pictures to which your “research” refers. I think those were also in the “documentary.”

        I think you missed the point of my post entirely.

        I’m not a conspiracy theorists and if I believed what I saw in a “documentary” I probably wouldn’t have posted on this website. Probably. What I was getting at was that it raised some good points that even I, as I sat in my living room and watched it as it happened on TV, thought about and wondered about. If I wasn’t of the skeptical sort of mind, I might be led down the path a little easier — that is all I was trying to say.

        Conspiracy theorists have their jobs done for them, at least partially, because most big major events like 9/11 and JFK set tongues to wagging. Everybody wants to be in the know and rumors and inuendo get around pretty fast.

      • Jeremy says:

        This video poses good questions on Flt 93… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZekosYOmXc&feature=PlayList&p=3B856BBCB93DB7DA&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=24
        If you consider yourself skeptical, it works both ways.
        And RE JFK…I highly recommend interviews online with Joan Mellon, Prof at Tulane whose new book… A Farewell to Justice, picks up where Garrison’s investigation left off….good research.

      • Majority of One says:

        Jeremy, thank you. Yes skepticism works both ways. I watched several videos on your play list and they do all seem to say the same thing…where’s the debris? I just want an explanation that makes some sense. We’ll probably never know, just like with JFK, but I don’t feel particularly suicidal or homicidal about it.

        The biggest question that remains in my mind, though, is how could something so big been pulled off in front of us all, on national TV, if it was a “reason to start a war with Islam” as cited by the Bush admin that is claimed in the “documentary.” That is the basis of my skepticism in the other direction.

      • Seth Manapio says:

        Majority, I think this is the case where non-experts make up a question that the experts can’t answer because it’s not actually a question. In other words, it’s a croco-duck. Creationists want to see a croco-duck, but the theory of evolution doesn’t predict one and in fact precludes one. I think the question “Where is the rest of the debris” is of the same nature, it assumes that the laws of physics should put certain predetermined pieces of debris in a particular area, but according to the experts that just isn’t the case.

      • Max says:

        This is what I mean when I say that watching propaganda can make you dumber. For example, they’ll say there’s no wreckage, and you’ll ask why there’s no wreckage, but in fact there was wreckage, so you were actually smarter before watching the propaganda.

      • Majority of One says:

        I am beginning to see how the government might have gotten away with this. Count on most people to buy it, then when a few “smarter” ones pick up on the EVIDENCE of something “not quite right”, call them crazy, nut jobs, fanatics, etc. and scream how dumb they all are all the while going about business as usual. Hmmmm. I see how this can work now.

        Equating me to Kirk Cameron was unnecessary.

        I think you need to be a little more open minded. You’ve made up your mind that nothing untoward happened on 9/11 and I’d actually like to join you in that thinking, but as I said before and I’ll say again, I was ALREADY wondering where the wreckage of flight 93 was on the day it was happening….not after seeing a movie. I’m willing to consider that something went on that we don’t know about. I’m not saying it did, I’m just saying that I’m willing to be open to the possibility. If you’re not even open to that possibility then you are more like Kirk Cameron than I am.

      • Seth Manapio says:

        “Equating me to Kirk Cameron was unnecessary.”

        ——-

        Good thing no one did that, then.

      • tmac57 says:

        Did somebody scream?

  31. Chris Howard says:

    “Thoughts lead on to purposes; purposes go forth in action; actions form habits; habits decide character; and character fixes our destiny.” I can’t remember who said that, but I think it’s more poignant now, than ever before.

    • Rick Smith says:

      The above quote is by Tyron Edwards (1809-1894) a great-great grandson of Jonathan Edwards, who also said “Science has sometimes been said to be opposed to faith, and inconsistent with it. But all science, in fact, rests on a basis of faith, for it assumes the permanence and uniformity of natural laws – a thing which can never be demonstrated.”

    • tmac57 says:

      I found sources attributing that to Tryon Edwards an American theologian. He compiled the “New Dictionary of Thoughts”, a book of quotations, so I am not sure if he actually originated or was just repeating that quote.

  32. Daniel says:

    From all accounts the guy was mentally unstable. If he didn’t believe in 9/11 conspiracies, he probably would have been motivated by some other kooky ideology.

    As a politician might say, 99.9% of truthers are perfectly law abiding citizens.

  33. tanabear says:

    Michael Shermer has a personal animus against 9/11 Truth and will use any association, no matter how remote, to castigate the rest of us who are seeking the truth. Michael Shermer has no interest in 9/11, as he considers it beneath himself even to become informed on the subject. Only crazy people are interested in examining and asking questions about the greatest mass murder in US history. Sane people accept what they are told by the government and move on to more important issues, like debunking Bigfoot sightings.

    However, it is obvious that Patrick Bedell was not well mentally regardless of his political persuasions. “The man who opened fire in front of the Pentagon had a history of mental illness and had become so erratic that his parents reached out to local authorities weeks ago with a warning that he was unstable and might have a gun, authorities said Friday…..Bedell was diagnosed as bipolar, or manic depressive, and had been in and out of treatment programs for years.”
    Huffington Post

    If you are worried about dangerous conspiracy theories, then it is the ones promoted by our government that you should concern yourself with.

    • Beelzebud says:

      He has a personal animus against bullshit conspiracy theories that have been debunked countless times.

      • Shayne O'Connor says:

        beelzebud – ok – al qaeda did it … now, seeing as you know all about 9/11 and terrorism, can you tell me the history of al qaeda? it is really interesting if you look at it in the context of the reagan-era neo-conservatives who created a similar terrorist threat, supposedly emanating from the Soviet Union … give me a concise summary of how the theories of Leo Strauss were implemented by Reagan-era Wolfowitz and co, otherwise shut up with yr ignorant nonsense.

      • Beelzebud says:

        Yep you’re right. George W Bush, the most incompetent president of my lifetime, pulled off the most massive false flag operation and managed to cover it up without any whistle blowers. And he did it on live TV!

        How you can jump from the twisted world view of Strauss in regards to the cold war, and neo-conservatism, and say that because those assholes used the cold war as a boogeyman to scare the public then they *must* have pulled off 9/11.

        The only conspiracy the Bush administration and his neo-conservative passe pulled off was the one where they talked the nation in to invading a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, using the old Strauss Boogyman play by saying Saddam Hussein had WMD and was preparing to nuke us.

        So please. Take your totally uninformed ignorant nonsense and go piss up a rope!

      • tanabear says:

        Michael Shermer knows absolutely nothing about 9/11 and is in no position to say that the any of our claims have been debunked. In fact, he is so far behind that times that he still puts out arguments that are no longer part of the official story.

        From Rebutting (Again!) the 9/11 Truthers by Michael Shermer

        Michael Shermer: “Wrong. In an article in the Journal of the Minerals, Metals, and Materials Society, M.I.T. engineering professor Dr. Thomas Eager explains why: steel loses 50 percent of its strength at 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit; 90,000 liters of jet fuel ignited other combustible materials such as rugs, curtains, furniture, and paper, which continued burning after the jet fuel was exhausted, raising temperatures above 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit.

        There is no evidence that any of the steel columns reached these temperatures. As well, he seems to be confusing the gas temperatures of the fire with the temperatures of the steel. It is the latter that matters.

        Of the more than 170 areas examined on 16 perimeter column panels, only three columns had evidence that the steel reached temperatures above 250ºC[482F]…”
        NIST, 2005

        Michael Shermer: “that floor then gave way, creating a pancaking effect that triggered the 500,000-ton building to collapse.

        NIST has disavowed the pancake collapse hypothesis. “NIST’s findings do not support the “pancake theory” of collapse, which is premised on a progressive failure of the floor systems in the WTC towers…Thus, the floors did not fail progressively to cause a pancaking phenomenon.
        NIST FAQ August 30, 2006.

        This NIST document is over 3 years old. The fact that Michael Shermer can’t even put forth the effort to do a simple Google search reveals how intellectually lazy he really is.

        I, for one, am not going to be swayed the ramblings of this mental midget.

      • Kurt says:

        Unfortunately, you’re confused. The “pancake theory” in the NIST report refers to the idea of the floors falling within the interior and shearing off floors below leaving the columns free to fall. The actual trigger for the collapse was failure of interior columns. All the NIST report says is that their initial guess as to where the critical weak point was turned out to be incorrect.

        Once failure occurred at one level, however, the building would fall straight down and pulverize itself. That phenomenon is the “pancaking” that Shermer was referring to. You have conflated a vernacular description of the building during collapse with a technical explanation of what triggered the collapse.

        As for your discussion of the fire, you argue as if the steel suddenly loses 50% of its strength at a certain temperature but is just fine beforehand. This is false. Heat induces stresses, period. A hotter fire just means the stresses were greater.

      • tanabear says:

        Kurt: “Unfortunately, you’re confused. The “pancake theory” in the NIST report…

        NIST does not support the pancake collapse hypothesis. The pancake collapse hypothesis was a popular earlier theory promoted by Thomas Eagar, FEMA, Popular Mechanics and some less than scientific documentaries(i.e NOVA).

        As catenary action progresses…which can cause failure of end connections and allow supported floors to collapse onto the floors below…In addition to overloading the floors below, and potentially resulting in a pancake-type collapse of successive floors.
        FEMA

        Lead NIST investigator, Shyam Sunder, has also attempted to correct the record.

        “When you did it previously, you showed that the floors actually pancaked, and we did not see any evidence of pancaking in the videos or photographs we have.”

        My point was to show that Michael Shermer, by still promoting the pancake collapse hypothesis, exposes his ignorance of 9/11.

        Kurt: “Once failure occurred at one level, however, the building would fall straight down and pulverize itself.

        You obviously have no idea what the official explanation is either. Can you please attempt to explain it to me as best you can?

        Kurt: “you argue as if the steel suddenly loses 50% of its strength at a certain temperature but is just fine beforehand.

        No, that wasn’t my argument. I was merely pointing out that there was no evidence that the steel columns got as hot as Michael Shermer was claiming. However, it should be noted that only 2% of the areas tested on the perimeter columns showed temperatures above 250C(482F) and none of the core columns. Steel doesn’t really begin to lose much of its strength until about 360C(680F). But this in no way would lead to a collapse, as many buildings have suffered high temperatures for longer periods of time.

      • Kurt says:

        NIST does not support the pancake collapse hypothesis.

        Yes, I know. Read my post again. Shermer is not promoting the “pancake theory.” He simply used the word “pancaking” to describe the building being crushed by its own weight.

        You obviously have no idea what the official explanation is either. Can you please attempt to explain it to me as best you can?

        I just explained it in my prior post. I don’t even really know what your objections to the NIST report are, so how could I begin addressing your misunderstandings?

      • Majority of One says:

        I really wish you guys would stop calling Michael Shermer names. It really doesn’t help and it makes you and everything you say look crazy. If you want to make good points, make them. Then stop. Otherwise, you get lumped in with the nutjobs and then no one will read your posts.

        Thanks.

    • Seth says:

      How does questioning the government jive with quoting “authorities said”?

    • Robo Sapien says:

      Right… because the Huffington Post is the 2nd most reliable source of unbiased information, right behind Wikipedia.

      We don’t hunt for your “truth” because we already established the real truth. All of the “evidence” of a conspiracy has long since been debunked.

      And bigfoot videos are fun to debunk. 9/11 Truthers are just sad.

      • tanabear says:

        No, the major claims of the 9/11 Truth Movement have not been debunked. In fact, the evidence has grown stronger over the years for the arguments made by the 9/11 Truth Movement. If you think otherwise, please provide examples of claims that have been debunked.

        Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth has surpassed 1,100 signatories at this point. If our arguments were baseless well-credentialed people would not be signing the petition.

      • A. Shreck says:

        “Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth has surpassed 1,100 signatories at this point. If our arguments were baseless well-credentialed people would not be signing the petition.”

        How many guys named Steve do you have on your petition?

      • tanabear says:

        Explain why that is a relevant question.

      • Max says:

        Google “Project Steve” :-)

      • tanabear says:

        Okay, but what does Project Steve have to do with 9/11?

      • Seth Manapio says:

        tanabear, the point is that project steve has more life sciences PhDs named STEVE on their petition than the discovery institute has humans on theirs. It’s an illustration of how numbers like 1000 ENGINEERS!! can actually represent only a tiny fraction of the engineering community.

      • tanabear says:

        Seth: “It’s an illustration of how numbers like 1000 ENGINEERS!! can actually represent only a tiny fraction of the engineering community.

        Okay, but what percentage of the engineering community has gone on record stating that they agree with NIST and Bazant?

      • rustle says:

        “No, the major claims of the 9/11 Truth Movement have not been debunked. In fact, the evidence has grown stronger over the years for the arguments made by the 9/11 Truth Movement. If you think otherwise, please provide examples of claims that have been debunked. ” Most 9/11 truthers have been shown to indulge in their batsh**ery from their mom’s basement. In fact, the evidence has grown stronger over the years for this argument. If you think otherwise, please provide examples of claims otherwise.

        Tou-f’n'-che

      • tanabear says:

        The Jersey Girls, who were instrumental in the creation of the 9/11 Commission, recently came out in support of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth. So these are moms and 9/11 widows who are supporting ae911truth.

        We must applaud Mr. Richard Gage and his colleagues, Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, for their tenacity in seeking to answer lingering questions concerning the total destruction of the World Trade Center complex, in particular buildings 1, 2 and 7…
        Patty Casazza, Lorie Van Auken, Mindy Kleinberg
        Monica Gabrielle

        Mom’s basement? Nope.

    • rustle says:

      “…the rest of us who are seeking the truth” “…like debunking Bigfoot sightings.” Pally boy, your way of thinking isn’t different from theirs. You believe something that has no provable basis in reality but will keep after it because you can’t accept any other conclusion except the one you’ve already come to.

      These people always remind me of the National Lampoon parody “Deteriorata”
      “Whether you can hear it or not,
      The universe is laughing behind your back.”

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1NAwlepnSs

  34. Shayne O'Connor says:

    Yeah, Shermer – with this logic, I think you’re a pretty dangerous guy. Most militias and domestic terrorism of the United States is perpetrated by libertarians. You know – the belief that Govt should fuk off and let individuals run their own lives (hey, if yr gonna constantly reduce the beliefs of others to the most ridiculously simplistic components, then i’m gonna too!). What’s the harm? Ask the victims of Timothy McVeigh …

    or maybe it’s just that some people, no matter what they believe or have learned, are just unhinged and dangerous – but not as dangerous as people like Shermer who think we can identify dangerous people just from what they believe. where’s the supposed logic or rationality in that, fanboys?

  35. Tom says:

    Is it inconcievable that a lone CIA, NSA operative posing as a Muslim extremeist, could have been the welcoming committee here in the US for the 9/11 hi-jackers. Hey guys this is what to avoid, this is how to fly under the radar while living in the US. You have ready and willing partipants to take the blame and only one contact to be tied to the CIA, it’s perfect, to not consider this as a possibilty is to live in a pretend world, where there couldnt be some possibilty of a Government agency who was not motivated to bring about massive new Government intrusion into the private sector and a nice fat, expensive new war, plus the ability to run huge deficits as you can only do in war time. If such a thing did occur, even the CIA was probably amazed at how successful these backward Arabs were, they were probably hoping for just one good hi-jacking and possibly a good crash and that would have been good enough.

  36. D Mechanic says:

    @Shermer:

    9/11 truther, teaparty, militia, right-wing blah blah blah or whatever they’re called this week. Let’s call a spade a spade. Religion is the ultimate delusion. Why phuck around with the little guys? Grow some balls and do it right.

  37. Rilo says:

    Obviously Shane has been hired by some group of radical idiots. Dude. Stop drinking so much and gather yourself. Jesus you make no sense. Get a clue or get out!

  38. Shayne O'Connor says:

    what don’t you understand rilo? are you fucking missing a significant proportion of your brain? don’t you see the hypocrisy in a libertarian talking about ideas that turn people to violence, when libertarianism has turned many people to violence … i’d argue that libertarianism in this context, is a whole lot more dangerous and harmful than any 9/11 truther. shermer talks as if he has a fucking clue, when all he has is a bunch of pre-conceived biases …

    do you understand that? if not, try to be a little more informative with what yr fukhead of a brain is not coping with.

    And I love the ad hominem attack you indulge in – a real mark of a strong, rational and logical mind. good thing is that i can use ad hominem attacks with the best of them … why don’t you get out of yr mums basement and try to make some friends – maybe you’ll get a girlfriend one day (ie – get a root or get out).

    • Beelzebud says:

      When saying things like “what yr fukhead of a brain is not coping with”, and then a paragraph of insults, you lose the right to whine about ad hominem attacks…

      • Seth Manapio says:

        Both of you need to spend six seconds on wikipedia learning what an ad hominem argument is. Or just read this post.

        If Beelzebud says “You’re an alcoholic, therefore your argument is wrong” that’s an ad hominem. Saying “You sound like a delusional drunk” is an insult.

        If Shayne O’Connor says “You are an unfuckable moron, therefore your argument is wrong”, that’s an ad hominem. Saying, “You sound like an unfuckable moron” is merely an insult.

        In fairness to Beelzebud, though, Shayne, you do write exactly like a delusional drunk moron. And while that wouldn’t make your arguments wrong–should you choose to actually present an argument at some point–it doesn’t really help your credibility.

      • Robo Sapien says:

        slander != ad hominem

      • Seth Manapio says:

        You are pithy, therefore your argument is wrong. (The rare yet effective complimentary ad-hominem).

  39. ian says:

    “Somewhere along the line — perhaps after his arrest for cultivating cannabis and resisting a police officer — Bedell decided…”

    Please don’t. It’s like tabloid rhetoric.

    Much better to just say that “Somewhere along the line Bedell decided…”

  40. Trimegistus says:

    It’s simple: he committed a violent, quasi-political act. He must therefore BY DEFINITION be a right-winger. Because leftists are saints, one and all. The New York Times tells me so and it never lies.

    • Nayr says:

      I think you could have made a stronger argument here, but I believe that you point is essentially correct. There does seem to be a tendency to label anyone who commits violent political acts as right-wingers regardless of their actual ideology. (Muslims, however, are an obvious exception to this tendency.) Bedell and Stack are good examples. Both of them are politically eclectic but are called right-wing.

      • Max says:

        A conservative/libertarian radio talk show read out Stack’s manifesto and had listeners call in about their IRS troubles. Callers called Stack an American hero, said they’d do the same thing if they had a plane, and said it’s a shame there weren’t more people in the IRS building.

      • Seth Manapio says:

        Which radio show?

      • John Greg says:

        Yes, which radio show?

  41. Chris Howard says:

    “9/11 Truthers believe the WTC buildings were “demolished” by explosive devices. What’s that thing on the left about to hit the building?”
    Well, duh, Michael! It’s obviously the plane carrying the demolition experts and the explosives to their destination. (NOTE: The plane has both “right” and “left” wings)

    • Brian the Coyote says:

      Damn, you’re right. A plane has right and left wings… so that means both the right and left wings were responsible for 9/11… and the plane is controlled by the pilot who sits in the center of the plane… and in the middle ages they believed that Jerusalem was the centre of the world (look at an old map!)… so that means the Israelis were the real masterminds!!!

      See how easy it is to cook up this stuff?

      Reading back over this I’m reluctant to post it lest some whacko takes it as the truth.

  42. Jim Hull says:

    It’s not the crazy ideas that gets us into trouble; it’s the belief that one HAS to do something about these issues. A lot of perfectly rational people of all political stripes sincerely believe that they’re helping humanity by campaigning for laws that restrict things they think are bad, even if others sincerely believe the exact opposite. And people have big debates about which side is correct, as if it were normal to assume that one side or the other should have the right to use force in pursuit of its goals. All this “do-gooding” can harm others; people sometimes die as a result. This is obvious in wars, but less obvious in situations where citizens must conform to the latest legislation or face arrest: if they resist arrest, they can be shot. We are none of us, then, entirely innocent of the desire to suppress violently our neighbors.

    • tmac57 says:

      Jim, are there any laws that you support, that restrict things that you think are bad? For example should there be a law against murder? How about theft? Should there be stop signs and traffic lights? What about voting fraud? Don’t you think that some human behaviors should be suppressed? All suppression need not be violent, by the way.

      • Seth Manapio says:

        tmac, all government “suppression”, as you call laws about anything, is backed by the threat of violent capture or death. Say you get stopped for speeding. If you don’t go to court or pay your fine, they will put out a warrant for your arrest. If you try to resist that arrest, they will taze you, and if you attempt to use the same level of force on the police (a taser) they will shoot you. Even if you don’t resist, they will forcibly restrain you and place you in a cage. If you don’t think that forcing people into a cage by threatening to shoot or electrocute them is violent, what is?

      • tmac57 says:

        Seth- The “need not…” part of my statement comes from the idea that the violator of a law could simply comply with the provisions of that law (what you might call being suppressed). Now if you want to pick and choose which laws you want to comply with, and expect not to encounter consequences that might escalate into an ever more nasty situation, then you are way out of step with most of civil society. For my part, common sense laws are welcome, and for the ones that don’t make sense, then there is always the imperfect political activism route. I would not want to live in an “anything goes” world, anymore than in a totalitarian world.

      • Seth Manapio says:

        “Seth- The “need not…” part of my statement comes from the idea that the violator of a law could simply comply with the provisions of that law (what you might call being suppressed). ”
        ———-
        tmac, voluntary compliance is only relevant if the volunteer has a choice. Is this case, the choice is between voluntary compliance and being violently–in your words, not mine–suppressed. A person who voluntarily chooses to act in some fashion without any threat of violence is not being suppressed and doesn’t require any sort of law to ensure their behavior.

        I find it interesting that you’ve distanced yourself here from the word suppression, as if I introduced it. I did not. This is your word. I did not make any statements at all concerning the legitimacy of government or the desirability of having violent suppression available as a tool. However, when you say that suppression is not necessarily violent in the context of legal systems, what you say is factually incorrect. All laws and all governments are backed by the threat of violence.

      • tmac57 says:

        Seth- I had used the word ‘suppression’ in response to Jim Hull’s statement:”We are none of us, then, entirely innocent of the desire to suppress violently our neighbors.” I thought that you were defending Jim’s position from the tone of your post. If you don’t agree with the ‘suppression’ part of his statement, then my apologies.
        The rest of my point still stands, so I guess that we just view the world through different eyes.

      • Seth Manapio says:

        tmac, the rest of your post does not stand at all. All laws are backed by the threat of violence. If you ‘voluntarily’ follow a law, you are being coerced, de facto, by the existence of that threat. Pretending otherwise is not a matter of opinion, its a case of denying reality.

      • Brian the Coyote says:

        I can remember way back to first year political science and Prof. Baird telling us that one of the definitions of a state is that it is the only “legitimate” user of coercive force in a geographic area. The word “legitimate” is not used as a normative statement but reflects that the state legitimizes itself by operating under a (usually) written set of rules (constitution, laws etc) and that it is recognized by the community of states.

  43. tompaine says:

    I’m excited to share my opinion!
    I wonder why truthers end up on this site? and I love how the discussion devolves, it just seems so… natural. But when someone like Bedell goes off, I’d speculate that it’s not left, right, or lib, it’s mental illness that transcends politics. The politics are just….. the delivery method. The politics may not even be the driving force. I have seen someone transform from smart and rational to mentally ill (ending in great violence) and now that I have experienced it, the pattern is more noticeable. It’s likely that this man was paranoid and mentally ill, and possibly suicidal, regardless his politics. Just my two cents.

    • Majority of One says:

      Tompain, I agree. I think mental illness trumps ideology. Ideology just appears to be the cause after the fact. I’ve seen the same thing with one of my family members. Bright and happy one day, decent into weird cult like religions the next, and then paranoid driven violence the next. It is truly horrifying to watch.

  44. Troythulu says:

    So, Dr. Shermer, it seems that 9/11 Truthers can run the gamut of the political spectrum. Interesting. Previously I had considered them to be mostly liberal in their political leanings, and I seem to have been inadequately informed. Good post. My growing skeptical arsenal has just been equipped with yet another useful factoid.

  45. Troythulu says:

    @tompaine:
    It’s certainly possible that Bedell’s rampage was ultimately caused by an underlying mental illness, and I won’t dismiss that. But let’s not forget the fact that there are a lot of people, otherwise sane, who harbor ideologies and belief-structures that let them kill with a clear conscience, often for reasons only justified in light of that ideology. You raised a good point to consider, though.

  46. TwilightZone says:

    Lumping Joe stack in with your evidence that delusional thinking is dangerous weakens your case. Having read Stack’s final letter, it’s clear that he was angry, frustrated, and desperate, but manifestly not delusional. After Stack’s (morally unacceptable) final flight, several congressmen admitted that the tax laws that had taken away his chance at prosperity were indeed flawed. What’s delusional about that? Is everyone who commits an act of violence against innocent people ipso facto delusional? Or maybe your logic is that anyone who thinks that gestures like the one Stack made can actually change something is clearly a “nutter”.

    More generally, it’s a pity that your argument is clouded by politics. There might be better, if less dramatic, examples of dangerous delusional thinking outside the realm of domestic terror.

    • tmac57 says:

      You don’t see anything delusional about killing or even risking killing innocent people just to make a point? Maybe if Stack had singled out a specific person who was guilty of causing him so much trouble it would have been more rational (still wrong mind you). What Stack did, amounts to a terrorist act, by being willing to kill himself and anyone else regardless of their innocence, in order to make a political statement. By most people’s standards, thats kinda crazy.

  47. aaron says:

    Just a quick note that conspiracy theorists give me a sort of tummy ache, much in the same way anti-abortion protesters and ‘god hates fags’ christians… In my daily life I forget how serious people are about these painfully foolish opinions. Lets toss the minutemen on that pile… and the super intense peta folks… feeling queezy…

  48. USA government kills more people everyday than Stack injured in his “kamikadze attack”. People just like to ignore reality and pretend government is not a criminal organization, because it has “constitution” on its side.

  49. Jacinto says:

    I’m normally pretty level-headed and civil (even when debating creationists and climate-change deniers), but I feel compelled to make a largely emotional observation, here, after reading through this corpus of comments:

    These 9/11 “Truthers” are the worst of the worst. They are a blight upon our nation and our humanity. I hold them and their “evidences” in such contempt, such low intellectual and civic regard, that I will never–EVER–even passingly entertain their hypotheses. They don’t even deserve the respect of an audience.

    Yes, they have a right to express their views, but these views are reprehensible and obscene, and, as I said, a shame to our nation and way of life.

  50. tanabear says:

    Jacinto: “I hold them and their “evidences” in such contempt, such low intellectual and civic regard, that I will never–EVER–even passingly entertain their hypotheses. They don’t even deserve the respect of an audience.

    I agree. Anyone who has the temerity to question government propaganda is a complete low-life and a moral reprobate. We all know that governments have a monopoly on the truth and would never lie or kill their own people. Plus, twoofers just believe a bunch of crazy stuff. They believe that explosive charges can blow stuff up. What will we hear next? That water will wet us and fire will burn. Crazy!

  51. GoneWithTheWind says:

    Bedell was a registered Democrat, does this really sound like he was a “right wing” nut? Not everything can or should be attributed to “right wing” or “left wing”. Your effort to try to capitolize on this unfortunate incident is dishonest. Bedell had a serious mental illness and he did something crazy, go figure!
    As for the militia’s and McVeigh, explain for us all how you can prove this connection when the FBI found nothing. Bill Clinton would have been very happy to drop this all on the doorstep of some militia group and still; nothing!! As for the Southern Poverty Law Center, this is a disgraceful organization whose only purpose in life is to make Morris Dees rich and spread his own version of hate.

  52. Patrick says:

    The Federal Government has put out reports on both Right-Wing and Left-Wing extremism in America. They note that they rise and fall like waves transitioning from left-wing to right wing extremist activity. Right now the worry is over right-wing extremism, which is real. That said – and I found this interesting – left-wing extremists are responsible for some 2/3rds of all terrorism related deaths in America.

    Going back to Shermer’s point – it is all about beliefs. For the left-wing it is a belief in serving a collective good and dehumanizing the individual. When you serve a collective good it becomes easy to rationalize individuals as selfish and evil creatures who need to be subdued in order to advance the cause.

  53. Max says:

    You can add the Hutaree militia to the list of right-wing extremists with crazy beliefs.

  54. Robo Sapien says:

    181 comments and growing.. This is a classic case of extremist bloggerism. All this back-and-forth about left and right and perceived causes/remedies of behavior that leads to terrorist activity, kind of makes me feel a bit nutty, like I just want to blow up a fertilizer store.

    FFS, the human population has increased nearly 700% in 200 years, leading to an equally proportionate increase in twisted fundamentalists. In that time, there has also been a tremendous increase in availability of materials to blow shit up with. Combine that with an increase in global communication and an expanded media that thrives off bad news, and you have a looking glass in which the world appears to have gone to hell. Not just to hell, but the bowels of hell, and then crapped back out and set on fire. And not just fire, but evil corporate George W Hitler fire.

    It won’t stop any time soon either, people are going to do crazy stuff until we crack the genetic code and embue future generations with a douchebaggery inhibitor. Best we can do is keep our fingers crossed and hope never to become collateral damage of someone else’s stupid ass agenda.