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Date: Jun 10, 2013 at 19:07
BY AUTISTIC SKEPTIC
I am Clock, I am not the author of this article, I am simply reposting it as the authors blog went down.
Repeat, I am not Autistic Skeptic
The great seal demystified.
Conspiracy beleivers will often point to the latin words on the reverse of the US $1 for evidence of a NWO. However, Let us use translations to debunk this.
1.annuit coeptis-agreed to undertakings
Details: It was Taken from the
Latin words annuo (third-person singular present or perfect annuit), "to nod" or "to approve", and coeptum (plural coepta), "commencement, undertaking", it is literally translated, "He approves (has approved) of the undertakings". Nothing to do with a NWO.
2.novo ordo seclorum- A new order of the ages.
The phrase Novus ordo seclorum (Latin for "New Order of the Ages") appears on the reverse of the Great Seal of the United States, first designed in 1782 and printed on the back of the United States one-dollar bill since 1935. The phrase also appears on the coat of arms of the Yale School of Management, Yale University's business school. The phrase is also mistranslated as "New World Order" by many people who believe in a conspiracy behind the design; however, it does directly translate to "New Order of the Ages"
The phrase is taken from the fourth Eclogue of Virgil, which contains a passage (lines 5-8) that reads:
Ultima Cumaei venit iam carminis ætas; Now comes the final era of the Sibyl's song;
Magnus ab integro sæclorum nascitur ordo. The great order of the ages is born afresh.
iam redit et Virgo, redeunt Saturnia regna, And now justice returns, honored rules return;
iam nova progenies cælo demittitur alto. now a new lineage is sent down from high heaven.
The forms saecla, saeclorum etc. were normal alternatives to the more common saecula etc. throughout the history of Latin poetry and prose.
The form saeculorum is impossible in hexameter verse: the ae and o are long, the u short by position. For the medieval exchange between ae, æ and e, see Æ; the word medieval (mediæval) itself is another example.
Medieval Christians read Virgil's poem as a prophecy of the coming of Christ. The Augustan Age, although pre-Christian, was viewed as a golden age preparing the world for the coming of Christ. The great poets of this age were viewed as a source of revelation and light upon the Christian mysteries to come. The word seclorum does not mean "secular", as one might assume, but is the genitive (possessive) plural form of the word saeculum, meaning (in this context) generation, century, or age. Saeculum did come to mean "age, world" in late, Christian Latin, and "secular" is derived from it, through secularis. However, the adjective "secularis," meaning "worldly," is not equivalent to the genitive plural "seclorum," meaning "of the ages.Thus the motto Novus ordo seclorum can be translated as "A new order of the ages." It was proposed by Charles Thomson, the Latin expert who was involved in the design of the Great Seal of the United States, to signify "the beginning of the new American Era" as of the date of the Declaration of Independence. Now, The conspiracy believers will scramble the word definitions to make evidence for their case, However, Their supposed translation is highly innacurate. Here are the differences in translation.
ACTUAL ENGLISH TO LATIN TRANSLATION OF NEW WORLD ORDER.
New World Order-mundus ordinem
I found no resources where mundus ordinem is found on the great seal at all. And, The eye on the Pyramid is NOT a masonic symbol nor has it ever been one.
There is no dark subliminal mystery behind the Great seal, nor does it point towards a NWO.
Date: Jun 10, 2013 at 19:01
BY AUTISTIC SKEPTIC
I am Clock, I am not the author of this article, I am simply reposting it as the authors blog went down.
Repeat, I am not Autistic Skeptic
Most conspiracy theories don't make sense nor withstand any scrutiny. They usually involve operations so immense that it's basically impossible for them to be kept secret, and all the proof given by conspiracy theorists usually have a very simple explanation (usually much simpler than the explanation given by the theorists).
Yet conspiracy theories are very popular and appealing. Even when they don't make sense and there's just no proof, many people still believe them. Why?
One big reason for this is that some conspiracy theorists are clever. They use psychology to make their theories sound more plausible. They appeal to certain psychological phenomena which make people to tend to believe them. However, these psychological tricks are nothing more than logical fallacies. They are simply so well disguised that many people can't see them for what they are.
Here are some typical logical fallacies used by conspiracy theorists:
Appeal to the "bandwagon effect"
The so-called "bandwagon effect" is a psychological phenomenon where people are eager to believe things if most of the people around them believe that too. Sometimes that thing is true and there's no harm, but sometimes it's a misconception, urban legend or, in this case, an unfounded conspiracy theory, in which case the "bandwagon effect" bypasses logical thinking for the worse.
The most typical form of appealing to the bandwagon effect is to say something along the lines of "30% of Americans doubt that..." or "30% of Americans don't believe the official story". This is also called an argumentum ad populum, which is a logical fallacy.
Of course that kind of sentence in the beginning of a conspiracy theory doesn't make any sense. It doesn't prove anything relevant. It's not like the theory becomes more true if more people believe in it.
Also the percentage itself is always very dubious. It may be completely fabricated or exaggerated by interpreting the poll results conveniently (eg. one easy way for bumping up the percentage is to interpret all people who didn't answer or who didn't know what to say as "doubting the official story"). Even if it was a completely genuine number, it would still not be proof of anything else than that there's a certain amount of gullible people in the world.
That kind of sentence is not proof of anything, yet it's one of the most used sentences in conspiracy theories. It tries to appeal to the bandwagon effect. It's effectively saying: "Already this many people doubt the official story, and the numbers are increasing. Are you going to be left alone believing the official story?"
Appeal to rebellion
Conspiracy theories in general, and the "n% of people doubt the story" claims in particular, also appeal to a sense of rebellion in people.
As Wikipedia puts it, "a rebellion is, in the most general sense, a refusal to accept authority."
People don't want to be sheep who are patronized by authority and told what they have to do and how they have to think. People usually distrust authorities and many believe that authorities are selfish and abuse people for their own benefit. This is an extremely fertile ground for conspiracy theories.
This is so ingrained in people that a sentence like "the official story" has basically become a synonym for "a coverup/lie". Whenever "the official story" is mentioned, it immediately makes people think that it's some kind of coverup, something not true.
Conspiracy theorists are masters at abusing this psyhcological phenomenon for their advantage. They basically insinuate that "if you believe the official story then you are gullible because you are being lied to". They want to make it feel that doubting the original story is a sign of intelligence and logical thinking. However, believing a conspiracy theory usually shows, quite ironically, a great lack of logical thinking.
This is an actual quote from a JFK assassination conspiracy theory website. It's almost as hilarious as it is contradictory:
In the end, you have to decide for yourself what to believe. But don't just believe what the U.S. Government tells you!
(In other words, believe anything you want except the official story!)
"Shotgun argumentation" is a metaphor from real life: It's much easier to hunt a rabbit with a shotgun than with a rifle. This is because a rifle only fires one bullet and there's a high probability of a miss. A shotgun, however, fires tens or even hundreds of small pellets, and the probability of at least one of them hitting the rabbit is quite high.
Shotgun argumentation has the same basic idea: The more small arguments or "evidence" you present in favor of some claim, the higher the probability that someone will believe you regarldess of how ridiculous those arguments are. There are two reasons for this:
Firstly, just the sheer amount of arguments or "evidence" may be enough to convince someone that something strange is going on. The idea is basically: "There is this much evidence against the official story, there must be something wrong with it." One or two pieces of "evidence" may not be enough to convince anyone, but collect a set of a couple of hundreds of pieces of "evidence" and it immediately starts being more believable.
Of course the fallacy here is that the amount of "evidence" is in no way proof of anything. The vast majority, and usually all of this "evidence" is easily explainable and just patently false. There may be a few points which may be more difficult to explain, but they alone wouldn't be so convincing.
Secondly, and more closely related to the shotgun methapor: The more arguments or individual pieces of "evidence" you have, the higher the probability that at least some of them will convince someone. Someone might not get convinced by most of the arguments, but among them there may be one or a few which sounds so plausible to him that he is then convinced. Thus one or a few of the "pellets" hit the "rabbit" and killed it: Mission accomplished.
I have a concrete example of this: I had a friend who is academically educated, a MSc, and doing research work (relating to computer science) at a university. He is rational, intelligent and well-educated.
Yet still this person, at least some years ago, completely believed the Moon hoax theory. Why? He said to me quite explicitly that there was one thing that convinced him: The flag moving after it had been planted on the ground.
One of the pellets had hit the rabbit and killed it. The shotgun argumentation had been successful.
If even highly-educated academic people can fall for such "evidence" (which is easily explained), how more easily are more "regular" people going to believe the sheer amount of them? Sadly, quite a lot more easily.
Most conspiracy theorists continue to present the same old tired arguments which are very easy to prove wrong. They need all those arguments, no matter how ridiculous, for their shotgun argumentation tactics to work.
Straw man argumentation
A "straw man argument" is the process of taking an argument of the opponent, distorting it or taking it out of context so that it basically changes meaning, and then ridiculing it in order to make the opponent look bad.
For example, a conspiracy theorist may say something like: "Sceptics argue that stars are too faint to see in space (which is why there are no stars in photographs), yet astronauts said that they could see stars."
This is a perfect example of a straw man argument. That's taking an argument completely out of context and changing its meaning.
It's actually a bit unfortunate that many debunking sites use the sentence "the stars are too faint to be seen" when explaining the lack of stars in photographs. That sentence, while in its context not false, is confusing and misleading. It's trying to put in simple words a more technical explanation (which usually follows). Unfortunately, it's too simplistic and good material for straw man arguments. I wish debunkers stopped using simplistic sentences like that one.
(The real explanation for the lacking stars is, of course, related to the exposure time and shutter aperture of the cameras, which were set to photograph the Moon surface illuminated by direct sunlight. The stars are not bright enough for such short exposure times. If the cameras had been set up to photograph the stars, the lunar surface would have been completely overexposed. This is basic photography.)
Citing inexistent sources
There's a very common bad habit among the majority of people: They believe that credible sources have said/written whatever someone claims they have said or written. Even worse, most people believe that a source is credible or even exists just because someone claims that it is credible and exists. People almost never check that the source exists, that it's a credible source and that it has indeed said what was claimed.
Conspiracy theorists know this and thus abuse it to the maximum. Sometimes they fabricate sources or stories, and sometimes they just cite nameless sources (using expressions like "experts in the field", "most astronomers", etc).
This is an actual quote from the same JFK assassination conspiracy theory website as earlier:
Scientists examined the Zapruder film. They found that, while most of it looks completely genuine, some of the images are impossible. They violate the laws of physics. They could not have come from Zapruder's home movie camera.
Needless to say, the web page does not give any references or sources, or any other indication of who these unnamed "scientists" might be or what their credentials are. (My personal guess is that whenever the website uses the word "scientist" or "researcher", it refers to other conspiracy theorists who have no actual education and competence on the required fields of science, and who are, like all such conspiracy theorists, just seeing what they want to see.)
Citing sources which are wrong
A common tactic of conspiracy theorists is to take statements by credible persons or newspaper articles which support the conspiracy theory and present these statements or articles as if they were the truth. If a later article in the same newspaper corrects the mistake in the earlier article or if the person who made the statement later says that he was wrong or quoted out of context (ie. he didn't mean what people thought he was meaning), conspiracy theorists happily ignore them.
Since people seldom check the sources, they will believe that the statement or newspaper article is the only thing that person or newspaper has said about the subject.
This is closely related to (and often overlaps with) the concept of quote mining (which is the practice of carefully selecting small quotes, which are often taken completely out of context, from a vast selection of material, in such a way that these individual quotes seem to support the conspiracy theory).
Sometimes that source is not credible (because it's just another conspiracy theorist) but people have little means of knowing this.
Cherry-picking is more a deliberate act of deception than a logical fallacy, but nevertheless an extremely common tactic.
Cherry-picking happens when someone deliberately selects from a wide variety of material only those items which support the conspiracy theory, while ignoring and discarding those which don't. When this carefully chosen selection of material is then presented as a whole, it easily misleads people into thinking that the conspiracy theory is supported by evidence.
This is an especially popular tactic for the 9/11 conspiracy theorists: They will only choose those published photographs which support their claims, while outright ignoring those which don't. The Loose Change "documentary" is quite infamous for doing this, and pulling it out rather convincingly.
The major problem with this is, of course, that it's pure deception: The viewer is intentionally given only carefully selected material, while leaving out the parts which would contradict the conspiracy theory. This is a deliberate act. The conspiracy theorists cannot claim honesty while doing clear cherry-picking.
Just one example: There's a big electrical transformer box outside the Pentagon which was badly damaged by the plane before it hit the building. It's impossible for that box to get that damage if the building was hit by a missile, as claimed by conspiracy theorists (the missile would have exploded when hitting the box, several tens of meters away from the building). Conspiracy theorists will usually avoid using any photographs which show the damaged transformer box because it contradicts their theory. They are doing this deliberately. They cannot claim honesty while doing this.
Argument from authority
Scientists are human, and thus imperfect and fallible. Individual scientists can be dead wrong, make the wrong claims and even be deceived into believing falsities. Being a scientist does not give a human being some kind of magic power to resist all deceptions and delusions, to see through all tricks and fallacies and to always know the truth and discard what is false.
But science does not stand on individual scientists, for this exact reason. This is precisely why the scientific process requires so-called peer reviews. One scientist can be wrong, ten scientists can be wrong, and even a hundred scientists can be wrong, but when their claims are peer-reviewed and studied by the whole scientific community, the likelihood of the falsities not being caught decreases dramatically. It's very likely that someone somewhere is going to object and to raise questions if there's something wrong with a claim, and this will raise the consciousness of the whole community. Either the objections are dealt with and explained, or the credibility of the claim gets compromised. A claim does not become accepted by the scientific community unless it passes the peer reviewing test. And this is why science works. It does not rely on individuals, but on the whole.
Sometimes some individual scientists can be deceived into believing a conspiracy theory. As said, scientists do not have any magical force that keeps them from being deceived. Due to their education the likelihood might be slightly lower than with the average person, but in no way is it completely removed. Scientists can and do get deceived by falsities.
Thus sometimes the conspiracy theorists will convince some PhD or other such person of high education and/or high authority, and if this person becomes vocal enough, the conspiracy theorists will then use him as an argument pro the conspiracy. It can be rather convincing if conspiracy theorists can say "numerous scientists agree that the official explanation cannot be true, including (insert some names here)".
However, this is a fallacy named argument from authority. Just because a PhD makes a claim doesn't make it true. Even if a hundred PhD's make that claim. It doesn't even make it any more credible.
As said, individual scientists can get deceived and deluded. However, as long as their claims do not pass the peer review process, their claims are worth nothing from a scientific point of view.
Argument from ignorance
In this fallacy the word "ignorance" is not an insult, but refers to the meaning of "not knowing something".
Simply put, argument from ignorance happens when something with no apparent explanation is pointed out (for example in a photograph), and since there's no explanation, it's presented as evidence of foul play (eg. that the photograph has been manipulated).
This can be seen as somewhat related to cherry-picking: The conspiracy theorist will point out something in the source material or the accounts of the original event which is not easy to immediately explain. A viewer with no experience nor expertise on the subject matter might be unable to come up with an explanation, or to identify the artifact/phenomenon. The conspiracy theorist then abuses this to claim that the unexplained artifact or phenomenon is evidence of fakery or deception.
Of course this is a fallacy. Nothing can be deduced from an unexplained phenomenon or artifact. As long as you don't know what it is, you can't take it as evidence of anything.
(In most cases such things have a quite simple and logical explanation; it's just that in order to figure it out, you need to have the proper experience on the subject, or alternatively to have someone with experience explain it to you. After that it becomes quite self-evident. It's a bit like a magic trick: When you see it, you can't explain how it works, but when someone explains it to you, it often is outright disappointingly simple.)
It might sound rather self-evident when explained like this, but people still get fooled in an actual situation.
Argument from (personal) incredulity
In its most basic and bare-bones from, argument from incredulity takes the form of "I can't even begin to imagine how this can work / be possible, hence it must be fake". This is a variation or subset of the argument from ignorance. Of course conspiracy theorists don't state the argument so blatantly, but use much subtler expressions.
Example: Some (although not all) Moon Landing Hoax conspiracy theorists state that the Moon Lander could have not taken off from the surface of the Moon, because a rocket on its bottom side would have made it rotate wildly and randomly. In essence what the conspiracy theorist is saying is "I don't understand how rocketry can work, hence this must be fake", and trying to convince the reader of the same.
The problem of basic rocketry (ie. how a rocket with a propulsion system at its back end can maintain stability and fly straight) is indeed quite a complex and difficult one (which is where the colloquial term "rocket science", meaning something extremely complicated and difficult, comes from), but it was solved in the 1920′s and 30′s. This isn't even something you have to understand or even take on faith: It's something you can see with your own eyes (unless you believe all the videos you have ever seen of missiles and rockets are fake).
Argument from coincidence
In the real world things that can be considered coincidences happen all the time. Sometimes even coincidences that are so unlikely that they are almost incredible. Of course most coincidences are actually much more likely to happen than we usually think.
Just as a random example, suppose that an asteroid makes a close encounter with the Earth, and the same day that this close encounter happens, a big earthquake happens somewhere on Earth. Coincidence? Well, that's actually very likely: Every year there are over a thousand earthquakes of magnitude 5 or higher on Earth. The likelihood that on a very specific day a significant earthquake happens is actually not that surprising. The two incidents may very well not be related at all, but just happened on the same day.
In conspiracy theory land, however, there are no such things as coincidences. Everything always happens for a reason, and everything is always related somehow.
For example, did some politician happen to cancel a flight scheduled on the same day as a terrorist attack involving airplanes happened? In conspiracy theory land that cannot be a coincidence. There must be a connection. (It doesn't matter that all kinds of politicians are traveling by plane all the time, and cancelling such flights is not at all uncommon, and hence some random politician cancelling a flight for the same day as the terrorist attack happens isn't a very unlikely happenstance. Except for conspiracy theorists, of course.)
Or how about the Pentagon having blast-proof windows on one of its walls, and a plane crashing precisely on that wall? Given that the Pentagon has 5 outer walls, the likelihood of this happening is roughly 20%, which isn't actually all that small. One in five isn't very unlikely, except of course in conspiracy fantasy land, where it cannot be a coincidence.
It's not impossible for even extremely unlikely coincidences to sometimes happen, but conspiracy theorists just love to take even the likeliest of coincidences and jump to conclusions. Just to add another piece of "evidence" for their shotgun argumentation.
Pareidolia is also not a logical fallacy per se, but more a fallacy of perception.
Pareidolia is, basically, the phenomenon which happens when we perceive recognizable patterns in randomness, even though the patterns really aren't there. For example, random blotches of paint might look like a face, or random noise might sound like a spoken word (or even a full sentence).
Pareidolia is a side effect of pattern recognition in our brain. Our visual and auditory perception is heavily based on pattern recognition. It's what helps us understanding spoken languages, even if it's spoken by different people with different voices, at different speeds and with different accents. It's what helps us recognizing objects even if they have a slightly different shape or coloring which we have never seen before. It's what helps us recognize people and differentiate them from each other. It's what helps us reading written text at amazing speeds by simply scanning the written lines visually (you are doing precisely that right now). In fact, we could probably not even survive without pattern recognition.
This pattern recognition is also heavily based on experience: We tend to recognize things like shapes and sounds when we have previous experience from similar shapes and sounds. Also the context helps us in this pattern recognition, often very significantly. When we recognize the context, we tend to expect certain things, which in turn helps us making the pattern recognition more easily and faster. For example, if you open a book, you already expect to see text inside, and you are already prepared to recognize it. In a context which is completely unrelated to written text (for a completely random example, if you are examining your fingernails) you are not expecting to see text, and thus you don't recognize it as easily.
Pareidolia happens when our brain recognizes, or thinks it recognizes, patterns where there may be only randomness, or in places which are not random per se, but completely unrelated to this purported "pattern".
As noted, pareidolia is greatly helped if we are expecting to see a certain pattern. This predisposes our brain to try to recognize that exact thing, making it easier.
This is the very idea in so-called backmasking: Playing a sound, for example a song, backwards and then recognizing something in the garbled sounds that result from this. When we are not expecting anything in particular, we usually only hear garbled noises. However, if someone tells us what we should expect, we immediately "recognize" it.
However, we are just fooling our own pattern recognition system into perceiving something which isn't really there. If someone else is told to expect a slightly similar-sounding, but different message, that other person is very probably going to hear that. You and that other person are both being mislead by playing with the pattern recognition capabilities of your brain.
Conspiracy theorists love abusing pareidolia. They will make people see patterns where there are none, and people will be fooled into believing that the patterns really are there, and thus are proof of something.
Date: May 03, 2013 at 17:13
Ever heard of Albert Turi? Whether you have or not, he's a celebrity. He was formerly chief of the New York City Fire Department Bureau of Training. Here's what he looks like:
Turi is most famous in the 9/11 conspiracist underground. On September 11, 2001, he evidently made a comment to NBC reporter Pat Dawson that has made him virtually Exhibit A in the conspiracists' claims that the World Trade Center towers were brought down by controlled demolition. Dawson's report goes something like this:
"....The Chief of Safety of the Fire Department of New York told me
that...er...shortly after 9 o'clock here had roughly 200 men in the
building trying to effect rescues of some of those civilians who were in
there...er... and that basically he received word of the possibility of
a secondary device, another bomb going off. He tried to get his men out
as quickly as he could but he said that there was another explosion
which took place and then an hour after the first hit here, the first
crash that took place, he said there was another explosion which took
place in one of the towers here."
This quote by a single NBC reporter is so ubiquitous and so central to the conspiracists' claims that, if you do a Google search for "Turi, Dawson, 9/11" you'll bring up hundreds of hits--almost all of them conspiracist web sites. The usual chicanery that passes for analysis of the issue holds that Turi's alleged statement, plus the real and genuine reports of numerous WTC survivors who reported hearing "explosions" in the towers after the plane strikes and before the tower collapses, is a convincing case of "controlled demolition." Alex Jones uses these claims as a central tenet of his film 9/11 Martial Law: Rise of the Police State, and his web site, www.prisonplanet.com, which is a home base for many net-based conspiracists. Time and time again I've had conspiracists direct me to these quotes and videos and then claim victory, that it is conclusive proof of a 9/11 conspiracy.
This belief is, to say the least, misplaced. In fact, the Turi quote and "bombs in the towers" testimony is nothing more than smoke and mirrors--here's why.
1. What did Albert Turi actually say?
If you pick apart what the conspiracists are actually relying on--and what little we know about what Albert Turi actually said--it's evident that the Turi quote is a very slender hook upon which to hang a massive conspiracy theory. First of all, Turi's statement comes to us through Dawson's report. Try this: do a Google search for "Albert Turi," as a phrase. Today I brought up 632 hits. Now try "'Albert Turi' -Dawson" (go to the Advanced Search page and look for "Albert Turi" but exclude pages containing the word "Dawson"). I got 156 hits. This off-the-cuffand unscientific analysis shows that 76% of the time his name is mentioned on Google-searchable engines, Turi's name appears in conjunction with Dawson's. Even most of the 24% of the remaining hits that I sampled randomly make reference to Turi in conjunction with being quoted--but never a direct quote. This demonstrates that, overwhelmingly, Turi's "testimony" comes from a single statement, made to a single reporter (Dawson), who did not even quote him directly.
The conspiracists are thus relying not on what Turi said--or even what they think Turi said--but what they think Pat Dawson thought Turi said, on one occasion, on one channel, once.
I've spent quite a long time over the past few days researching this matter, trying to find some account of Turi's exact and direct words. I was able to locate a badly-transcribed (probably OCA scanned) transcript of an interview of Mr. Turi with Tom McCourt, NYC Fire Department, on October 23, 2001.  This appears to be the only public statement in which Mr. Turi speaks for himself--i.e., not being quoted by Pat Dawson. Here is what that transcript reveals that he said about the matter of "explosions" (emphasis added):
"Then Steve Mosiello, Chief Ganci's executive assistant, came over to the command post and he said we're getting reports from OEM that the buildings are not structurally sound, and of course that got our attention really quick, and Pete said, well, who are we getting these reports from? And then Steve brought an EMT person over to the command post who was I think sent as a runner to tell us this and Chief Ganci questioned him, where are we getting these reports? And his answer was something, you know, we're not sure, OEM is just reporting this...
"The next thing I heard was Pete say what the f*ck is this? And as my eyes traveled up the building, and I was looking at the south tower, somewhere about halfway up, my initial reaction was there was a secondary explosion, and the entire floor area, a ring right around the building blew out. I later realized that the building had started to collapse already and this was the air being compressed and that is the floor that let go. And as my eyes traveled further up the building, I realized that this building was collapsing and I turned around and most everybody was ahead of me running for the garage, and I remember thinking I looked at this thing a little bit too long and I might not make this garage. But I did."
There you have it--Turi in his own words. "My initial reaction." And the crucial qualifier: "I later realized that the building had started to collapse already." This is the great hook upon which hangs the conspiracists' claims of controlled demolition. If you read the full interview, you'll see that nowhere does Albert Turi ever make the allegation that there were bombs in the World Trade Center. Nor is his story inconsistent with what he appears to have told Pat Dawson. If he was reporting his initial reaction to Dawson, that would fit squarely with his interview on October 23, 2001. Ignoring the obvious question--why do the conspiracists trust an NBC reporter, Pat Dawson, to quote Turi accurately--it becomes even more bizarre when you realize that Turi was not even talking about controlled demolition, nor does he seem to have had that feeling on the morning of 9/11.
Adding insult to injury, the conspiracist website www.911review.com twists and mangles this exact quote from this exact same interview.  To hear 911review.com tell it, Turi said this:
"And as my eyes traveled up the building, and I was looking at the south tower, somewhere about halfway up, my initial reaction was there was a secondary explosion, and the entire floor area, a ring right around the building blew out."
But you can see from my own more expansive quote from the interview (click here to read it again if you need to), Turi did not say that--the crucial words "I realized that the building had started to collapse already" have been carefully excised. Why is 911review.com playing spurious games with quotes? Could it be because Turi's "testimony" is at the very center of the controlled demolition claim, and to reveal that he doesn't seem to support that view would be to strike at one of the very sacred cows of the 9/11 conspiracist movement?
2. Why hasn't Turi spoken up more forcefully?
As you can see from my own investigation of Turi's presence on the web, Mr. Turi himself has evidently not exerted himself to any great degree to clarify or reinforce his comment to Mr. Dawson on the morning of 9/11/01. I had to search pretty hard to find the full McCourt-Turi interview, and recognizing it among the chaff of the oft-repeated Dawson story was a tedious task. Why hasn't Mr. Turi spoken up--either to clarify that he did mean to suggest there were bombs in the WTC towers, or that he did not mean that at all?
The conspiracists will likely attribute Mr. Turi's reluctance to come forward to sinister motives: Alex Jones, in fact, in 9/11 Martial Law makes the claim (which he does not substantiate) that firefighters' comments about "controlled demolition" have been suppressed by some shadowy arm of officialdom. This, however, is speculation, not fact. If Turi did believe in the "controlled demolition" theory, and the powers-that-be wanted to suppress him, why then was he allowed to be interviewed by Mr. McCourt, and why was the transcript of that interview published by the New York Times? There is not a shred of evidence that Mr. Turi has been threatened or otherwise silenced--in the absence of any such hard evidence, a claim of "official suppression" only makes sense if you already believe there is a conspiracy. Since belief in the conspiracy departs largely from the Turi misquote in the first place, this strikes me as an example of circular reasoning.
From what limited information I was able to gather about him on the web, Mr. Turi is now retired from public service. I have no doubt that he has probably received hundreds of letters from conspiracy researchers asking him to elaborate on his statements to Mr. Dawson. If he's one of their golden boys, surely somebody has tried to get him to go on record to support their case. It seems fair to guess that if Mr. Turi had ever granted an interview or public statement to a researcher on this matter, and his response supported the notion that his comment to Mr. Dawson meant that he was talking specifically about controlled demolition, you would find that statement commanding prominent attention on sites like www.prisonplanet.com. I wish to ask the conspiracists, then, if it is at least possible that maybe he has declined to answer any such queries because he doesn't want to bother feeding speculation, and that he said everything he had to say to Mr. McCourt in October 2001? To the extent we can or should read anything into Mr. Turi's low profile, is this not at least as fair a guess as the "suppression" claim?
3. What about all that other "explosion" testimony?
The conspiracists' love "explosion" stories, and the fervor with which they've repeated and misattributed Turi's alleged quote to Pat Dawson seems to bear this out. I would not be surprised if a criticism of this blog turns out to be, "Well, what about all those other witnesses who claim to have heard 'explosions' prior to the towers' collapse?" I am, in fact, preparing a separate blog on that very subject, but in a nutshell the argument is this: how do you know that these witness reports are inconsistent with the "official story"?
Let's assume Mr. Turi did hear what he thought was an explosion in the South Tower before its collapse, and that he intended to convey that message to Mr. Dawson. Under the circumstances that were then occurring in the burning and almost-ready-to-collapse South Tower, is it logical to maintain that the only possible source of any sound that could be described as an "explosion" is, in fact, a demolition charge? This is the fatal error, isn't it? The conspiracists wish us to believe that there is no possibility that a 1000+ ft burning skyscraper, which has been struck by a jetliner and has been raked by fire and damage up and down its height (particularly through the elevator shafts), is an environment in which either (a) explosions cannot actually occur from some cause other than demolition charges, and (b) that no other sounds can occur which witnesses can reliably describe as "explosions." In fact, the "explosion" testimony is incredibly consistent--witnesses say over and over again "I heard an explosion" or "it sounded like an explosion" or "it sounded like a bomb went off." Indeed, if you heard a big bang in a tall building, how else would you describe what it sounded like?
If the towers were standing still--if they had not been struck by airplanes, if they were structurally stable and there were no fires or other structural traumas to the buildings--it would be eminently logical to assume than an explosion-like sound may come from a bomb or some other explosive device. But the towers were not standing still. They had been struck by planes. They were on fire. Debris was collapsing from the top, both internally and externally. Their structural integrity was in serious question--as Turi's full October interview shows was very apparent. The conspiracists insist that, even under these extreme conditions, an explosion (or any sound that witnesses can interpret as an explosion) would not have occurred--but they do not explain why, because they can't. When you make the error of assuming that, for purposes of determining the likely cause of an explosion, a burning structurally-unsound skyscraper is the same as a building to which there has been no such trauma, it's easy to conclude that the "explosion" testimony can point to nothing but controlled demolition. This is the mistake every believer in the controlled demolition theory has made--and the mistake that few of them realize they've made. This will be covered in more depth in a future blog.
Albert Turi is not the spokesman for a conspiracy; while we may never know, it seems likely that he does not believe there was a conspiracy to blow up the World Trade Centers. Yet it's likely he will remain prominent in 9/11 conspiracy lore for years to come. As usual I expect to make no converts with this blog, and I may likely make even more enemies. But it seems to me that somebody should be standing up to protest how grotesequely this man's words have been twisted to serve as support for a bizarre adventure into the netherwords of illogic and paranoia.
Mr. Turi, my hats off to you, and thank you for your service to New York and the nation.
Date: Apr 29, 2013 at 20:56
I am not Muertos and I do not know him. I am simply reposting these articles because I had found them on the Internet Wayback Machine. Do not contact me when it comes to this blog, I am not its author and my views are not necessarily his. REPEAT: I AM NOT MUERTOS.
Chapter III: Debunking In The Heyday of 9/11 Truth
I credit that first conspiracy theorist I ever argued with on MySpace, IgnoraceIsntBliss, as launching my career as a full-fledged debunker. I never knew what his real name was, where he lived or anything about him. All I knew is that he was really, really nuts. Of course he believed in every conspiracy theory under the sun, but the thing that really got him going--his entire reason for taking to the Internet as a self-appointed infowarrior--was Google. Yes, that's right, Google. He believed that the government, the New World Order and the Illuminati were building a worldwide network of sentient computers that would run the world, just like SkyNet in the Terminator movies. Google, supposedly, was the pilot project for this computer super-consciousness. I'm not making this up. He actually believed this.
This was my first experience with a deep-commitment conspiracy theorist. It astonished me how someone could actually believe some of the things he asserted as truth, such as the allegation that Google was technologically enhancing the brains of rats so they could fly military fighter jets. How did he start believing this crap? Did he not realize how ridiculous it was? No, he didn't. He kept on blogging, day after day, week after week, conspiracy theory after conspiracy theory.
IgnoranceIsntBliss's paranoia was my cornucopia. For several months we were a two-man show. He'd spout the crazy on his MySpace blog, and I'd respond with the truth--armed with links to the facts, which he would usually denounce as "disinformation" or "propaganda." His conspiracy theorist friends would chime in, usually outraged that I refused to believe in the Illuminati, the New World Order, or 9/11 Truth. They'd start commenting on my blogs, spewing their toxic links to the main Truther sites in those days, like the infamous Killtown blog. Day by day, week by week, page views on our blogs--mine and IgnoranceIsntBliss's--grew almost in tandem. I didn't realize it yet, but I'd tapped into the perfectly symbiotic relationship that was beginning to develop between conspiracy theorists and debunkers.
You might think that, with as deeply as he believed in conspiracy theories and as committed as I was to debunking them, our relationship was acrimonious. It wasn't. Actually he was quite friendly. We corresponded a lot over private messages. He liked that I was articulate and even funny. He would give me tips on how to make my blogs more popular. His advice was always, generate controversy. What that really meant was, piss off conspiracy theorists. If I said something to drive the tinfoil hatters absolutely nuts--like telling them about the fires in World Trade Center 7, which for some reason particularly enraged them--hordes of nutbars would descend on my blog to post angry comments, and page views would explode. One day, a blog I wrote debunking some aspect of the 9/11 conspiracy theories was ranked as the #7 most-read blog on all of MySpace on that particular day. It got hundreds of comments, the vast majority of them negative. I was ecstatic. I was reaching people. They didn't agree with me, but they read my words, and they were exposed to the real facts whether they liked it or not. I took care to make sure my blogs were always factual. Truthers had no regard for facts, but I played by different rules. Everything I said had to be supportable.
Needless to say, as this went on I learned a lot about 9/11 conspiracy theories. Within a few weeks I was an expert on controlled demolition, thermite, squibs, the "pod" on the front of the plane that crashed into the Pentagon, Able Danger, "stand down," and My Pet Goat. I began to collect bookmarks of the best debunking material, demolishing all of the theories--photos of the Pentagon wreckage, links to flight manifests showing the names of the hijackers, the records of the Airfone calls from Flight 93, the whole ball of wax. I bought the 9/11 Commission Report and read it cover-to-cover--something that virtually no 9/11 Truthers have actually done. The day Popular Mechanics came out with their article debunking the main 9/11 conspiracy theories was a very good day for me.
The Truthers never fazed me, because nothing they said ever had any validity. Every time it was the same. Truthers refused to engage with the facts. They would change the subject, move the goalposts, or denounce this or that piece of factual evidence as "disinformation" or "propaganda." There was not a single argument they made that stood up to the facts. Not one. Plus, it became clear that most of them weren't very smart. They couldn't spell or use apostrophes. They mixed up "your" and "you're." They thought making a persuasive point meant using caps lock. The vast majority of them were just kids, either still in their teens or just out of them. I had advanced degrees in history and law. It was something of an unequal match.
The evidence had shown from the beginning that Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda had done 9/11, but when I examined the facts even more deeply than I already had, the conclusions became so solid that it seemed absolutely inconceivable that anyone could not accept them. The evidence was, and still is, overwhelming and irrefutable. Thus, in my mind, it was clear there was something fundamentally wrong with Truthers. How come they couldn't see the facts as they really were? Did they realize the utter stupidity of the theories they were pushing? These questions fascinated me, the same fascination as the secretaries at my office who insisted that the "ankle slasher" was real. Why were they so invested in these falsehoods?
2005 was certainly the heyday of 9/11 Truth. Social networking was making it easy for conspiracy theories to go viral, and when YouTube debuted, it was like opening Pandora's box. Now the Truthers didn't just have links to Killtown and Richard Gage to throw around. Now they had video to do their lying for them. The first time I saw a 9/11 Truth video clip on YouTube--it had to be toward the end of 2005--it made me very angry. The particular clip uploaded by a conspiracy nut, which they were using to argue the "squibs" nonsense, included footage of people jumping from the towers. I was about ready to punch my computer screen. Here were real people who died in the most horrible way imaginable, and some brain-dead 9/11 Truth conspiracy nutter was exploiting their deaths to push toxic falsehoods that flew in the face of logic, evidence and reason. Battling 9/11 Truth started to become, for me, a personal crusade.
For a while it seemed like a losing battle, because the army of Truther zombies out there seemed to be growing. Loose Change exploded their ranks. That was the first conspiracy theory film to go viral on the Internet, in the latter half of 2005. By the time Loose Change came out I was already well familiar with all of its claims. There wasn't a single one of them that hadn't been circulating in the conspiracy underground well before the release of the movie. Predictably, the movie made me furious. Its makers, Dylan Avery, Jason Bermas and Korey Rowe, were just kids who thought they were smarter than they were, like most conspiracy theorists. Almost overnight they were celebrities, because they had pushed a movie full of lies and falsehoods and caught the attention of a sullen and distrustful public, angry at Bush, tired of the war in Iraq and demoralized by decades of political infighting.
Avery, Bermas and Rowe were not created equal. Of the three of them, Jason Bermas was easily the most nuts. Like IgnoranceIsntBliss, there didn't seem to be a conspiracy theory under the sun that he didn't believe to the deep core of his being. Avery, it seemed, wanted to be a filmmaker, and saw conspiracy movies as a short-cut to more mainstream success. It's no surprise that, years later, Avery has disowned Loose Change, but Bermas is still out there shrieking about the New World Order. I learned from them that some conspiracy theorists, even the high-commitment ones, will eventually grow out of the phase. Others are incorrigible.
As time went on I began to have more and more experiences with the sad and incorrigible conspiracy theorists. For instance, there was a kid I knew who posted on one of the heavy metal forums I frequented. He was from Virginia Beach. I actually met him once at a metal festival--a nice kid, very smart, extremely quirky, but interesting to talk to. Unfortunately he became consumed with conspiracy theories. He was a Truther, of course, but his interest in UFOs led him down the rabbit hole of David Icke and the other conspiracy chieftains who push the truly toxic stuff--anti-Semitism redressed in modern science fiction garb, liberally borrowing tropes from old TV shows like V, where reptilian aliens take over the world using human disguises. If you'd told me in 1999 that real people out there actually believed that the world was ruled by reptilian shape-shifting aliens who carried vials of blood around to maintain their human form, I'd have laughed at you. In 2006, I knew that there were people out there who believed this shit--many of them.
My friend, the young kid from Virginia Beach, got pulled into one of the UFO cults on the net, something called the "Planetary Action Organization." This group, run by a guy named Sheldan Nidle, preached that benevolent aliens would soon invade the Earth and overthrow the corrupt Illuminati that controlled the world, end poverty and war forever and make everyone rich. I began clicking on Nidle's website just to see what bizarre predictions he churned out week after week. My young friend believed them all. One night he slept on the roof of his house, because Sheldan Nidle said on his website that the aliens would land that night and he wanted to be the first to greet them. He decided that going to college was a waste of time because when the aliens took over there wouldn't be any need to work anymore. At first I thought this kid was just trolling me. But he wasn't. He really believed this stuff. Conspiracy theories were literally ruining his life, and it was tragic to see. When I told him that Sheldan Nidle was a charlatan and David Icke was a dangerous anti-Semite, I suddenly became his enemy. We'd been friends for several years, but conspiracy theories had come between us. I was a shill and a disinformation agent. I was even accused, on MySpace, of having had something to do with 9/11. This was definitely the dark side of conspiracy theories.
You might think that, with all this activity I'm describing, I spent way too much time on the Internet, and that I spent every waking moment on MySpace, my life draining away as I argued with Truthers and believers in weird UFO cults. Indeed, whenever a conspiracy theorist has accused me of being a "disinformation agent"--which has probably happened more than a hundred times in the last seven years--one of the arguments used to support the accusation is, "Why would anyone spend so much time refuting these things if they weren't paid to?" But in truth, it really didn't take that much time. While all of this was going on I had a full-time job, I spent lots of time with my family and had a perfectly normal social life. During this period I even opened my own business, and I wrote two or three novels. Debunking was a hobby. When the computer got switched off, the sordid world of conspiracy theories ceased to exist. However mad they made me when I was online, some conspiracy nutter out there in cyberspace simply couldn't make the transition into the real world. This was all carefully compartmentalized. People don't believe this when I tell them about it, but it's really the truth.
Maybe I was better at balancing it with my real life than others would be. I've always been a prolific writer, and when you come down to it, all of this was mostly words. So it wasn't like debunking took over my life. It was a small facet of it--a very strange one, to be sure.
In 2006, in particular, conspiracy theories, and especially 9/11 Truth, seemed to be on the verge of going mainstream. The Internet was on fire with Loose Change and its cheap knock-offs, In Plane Sight and Alex Jones's ridiculous films like Fall of the Republic. Rosie O'Donnell was starting to mention Truther tropes on her show, The View, before she got canned for being a nutbar. There were rumors that Charlie Sheen--this was before the "winning" days--was going to narrate the next of the interminable Loose Change recuts and sequels. Aside from JREF, which I never joined, the debunkers on the net seemed outnumbered and beleaguered. This was when public opposition to the war in Iraq was at its height. Most disturbingly, legitimate opposition to the war in Iraq seemed on the verge of being co-opted by 9/11 Truth. After all, if Bush lied about WMD's in Iraq, was it also possible that he lied about 9/11? In 2006 many people were willing to accept this as a possibility. It seemed like the facts were at risk of being overwhelmed by conspiratorial bullshit.
It seemed, therefore, that in 2006 it was more important than ever to fight against the lies and distortions of the conspiracy theorists. I started to branch out from MySpace. I got my own blog, and eventually a YouTube channel. My arguments with Truthers grew sharper and angrier, and the nutbars grew more militant in response. IgnoranceIsntBliss stopped trying to help me get more readers and visibility. As with my friend from Virginia Beach, I was now the enemy. In addition to calling me a shill, sheeple and disinformation agent, which had happened since the beginning, people were starting to make veiled threats against me, usually hinting that something bad would happen to me when the New World Order was overthrown and its "collaborators," like me, were brought to justice. In 2005, when it was just blogs on MySpace, locking horns with conspiracy theorists was fun and stimulating. Now it had become mean and scary. Everybody was digging in and doubling down. The rules of the game, both for conspiracy nuts and for debunkers, were changing.
Then came a movie called Zeitgeist.
Date: Apr 03, 2013 at 10:26
I am not Muertos and I do not know him. I am simply reposting these articles because I had found them on the Internet Wayback Machine. Do not contact me when it comes to this blog, I am not its author and my views are not necessarily his. REPEAT: I AM NOT MUERTOS.
In doing what I often do-debunking conspiracy theories-I often get a lot of hate mail. Conspiracy theories are a belief system held by many people every bit as deeply as religion, and attacking 9/11 Truth, chemtrails or New World Order theories is to a conspiracy theorist like attacking the concept of God is to someone who is devoutly religious. (My anti-conspiracy activities have even earned me a place on the enemies lists of two organizations committed to spreading conspiracy theories, the Desteni cult and the Zeitgeist Movement).
Therefore, it is rare, but extremely gratifying, to get some positive feedback for a change. Someone from Skeptic Project (formerly Conspiracy Science) forwarded me this email from a former 9/11 Truther who wished to thank the administrators of the site for helping him to swim out of the toxic soup of conspiracy thinking. I'm not active on Skeptic Project anymore, but I was when this person was there, and I addressed several arguments to him that evidently got through to him. I won't publish his name or identifying details, but his works speak for themselves.
" About, I'd say, a year now, I e mailed you guys after coming home early from a crappy wedding I was at. I e mailed you about your site and how I don't think you're all agents and that I just believe there are certain things about 9/11 that don't hold up. It was during the summer and I had really gotten into 9/11 and the whole conspiracy about it.
When college started again at the end of September, I had other things to study and stuff so drifted away from the 9/11 debate. I really did have believe it was an inside job, but there were certain things that weren't adding up. A couple of things from your site and others had planed seeds(as Jones would say) that made me question what the conspiracists were providing evidence about.
This may be a certain shock to you, but it was actually Ron Paul, yes, Ron Paul who turned me away from categorically saying "9/11 was an inside job". He lead me on to Michael Scheuer and I went from there and did a lot of reading about Bin Laden etc. That got me interested as reading his latest book about him by Scheuer, Osama Bin Laden I was confused as to why he said Bin Laden never wanted the Americans help. I thought about the Bin Laden Brzezinski clip. I tried looking for information about it and went to the satanic site 9/11 myths. They, with links and meticulous research, thoroughly debunked that picture. I'd always thought that it didn't look like Bin Lade, but guess I was blinded by the reality(I never would have said that writing an e-mail to you last year, on any subject).
After that, I decided that I wanted to get the full proof once. I was lucky enough to come across Mark Roberts. I saw him annihilate Jones in public. But that wasn't really it that made me want to look up his stuff more. It was the ease at which he did. His debunking of WTC7 was a smack in the face for me for two reasons: 1, it was so easy to explain. Nigro ordered the building to be evacuated 3 hours before it did and other stuff, no need to explain it all, just a quick example. 2, I had been lied to by Alex Jones and his gang.
I read a lot of his work, watched him debate on Hardfire and saw his video about WTC7 the towers and explosions, etc. I couldn't believe it.
Anyway, I may have said to you last time "Oh, you should just concentrate on other issues, Jones isn't doing anything." I was wrong. I'm no genius, but I and others would say I'm bright and I got really good grades in college as I'm sure a lot of other people who did or do believe it to be an inside job. But I was duped by Jones and others. The editing of footage, the exclusion of noises in videos. The madness of Jones, etc. All this was yield because they engaged in chicanery in their documentaries.
But I can't just blame them. I have myself to blame as well for not looking at both sides and applying common sense. Like the commissioners quotes. I should have known better then be putting my own context around them.
What's the point of this e-mail? It's a simple thank you. And also, going by your hate mail, I can see you receive a plethora of angry truthers' hate.
If you want, you can put this e-mail on your site. Hopefully others who have slight doubts will see that there is hope once you admit you were wrong(just don't put my e-mail up or name, don't want to be flooded with hate mail). Oh, and I never called myself a truther, never once, embarrassing term. I know the annoyance you feel too, I have been called an agent of Mossad for pointing out things about building 7 and I see where the aversions you guys have come from. You really can't get through to most of these people. Why they say "I wish it wasn't true" but can't accept the facts, are beyond me.
To sum up, I encourage you to flatten infowars.com and their nonsense. I fully understand why you and others have such antipathy towards Alex Jones and the rest. I picked up David Ray Griffin's new book and the lies and distortions are unbelievable, they really are.
So, to you guys, Mark Roberts, 9/11 myths and a guy from Canada on youtube(DSGLOP), thank you for tackling the chicanery and the distortions by "truthers."
People often ask me why I waste my time trying to debunk conspiracy theories, because the tinfoil hatters never listen. Well, people, this is why I do it. This email is a better thanks for all my effort against conspiracy theories than any other form of recognition. So here is proof positive that conspiracy nuts can be reformed, and with the use of logic, critical thinking and evidence we can combat the disingenuous lies and distortions of the conspiracy theorist crowd. Bravo to this ex-Truther for finally seeing the light.
Thanks for reading.