Skepticism

They're all out to get me.

 

 

I’d like to tell you about my landlady.

She’s quite old and forgetful, though sometimes I think she plays at being forgetful when in fact she’s just cheap and doesn’t want to fix up the apartment. Before I moved in, she assured me that she would provide paint so that I could touch up the walls. She never followed through.

I spent the first six months putting up with a shower that would turn from steaming hot to icy cold every 30 seconds. She wouldn’t fix it until I called the housing inspectors, who cited her. The problem ended up being a broken mixing valve (which costs about $70 to replace).

Eventually, she concocted a plan to drive me out of the apartment and out of the city, first by purposely allowing a crazed drug addict to move in next door. She then supplied him with cocaine and directed him to my door at around 1 a.m., at which point he tried to break in and I had to call the cops. How else to explain such an incident in my neighborhood, which is well-known for generally being quiet and safe?

Then, she coerced the governor of Massachusetts to voice his support for an anti-gay marriage bill, knowing that I strongly oppose such a measure and even performed one of the first gay weddings to take place in the city.

As if that weren’t enough, she hired airplanes to seed the clouds over Boston, resulting in record-setting rainfall that has left the city flooded. This is the most rainfall we’ve seen since 1882. Coincidence? Impossible. She knows about my love of outdoor sports — cycling, football, softball. This is obviously a concerted effort to make me leave her apartment building and possibly the New England area.

Where did I lose you? Was it the cloud seeding? Maybe the suggestion that my elderly landlady has secret connections in the government? See, I started out with an understandable and legitimate complaint. But then I took it a little far and jumped to some obviously ridiculous conclusions, which could make you doubt what I said at the beginning. Maybe it was all a lie. Maybe my landlady is a perfectly nice old lady, because clearly I’m nuts.

This is my biggest problem with the people who believe that a vast government conspiracy lies at the heart of what happened on September 11, 2001. I recently received an e-mail from “Charlie,” who sent me a link to infowars.com. Says Charlie:

The events that unfolded on 9/11 2001 deserve a complete and factual explanation. This should be right up your alley. If you visit these web sites and do no actually LISTEN to the radio show (which is on air for 3 hours each weekday) you will not understand what this is about. This is not a small matter, it is in fact the most relavant and pressing issue of my lifetime and yours. We are talking HUGE.

I try to stay out of political stuff in this blog, because I find it to generally be needlessly divisive. I don’t ascribe to any one political label and tend to decide for myself on issues as they arise, so I don’t want to be labeled as a democrat, a republican, or anything else besides maybe “kick-ass skepchick.” So excuse me for a moment while I say something political, just this once: the Bush administration has continually tried to get away with sneaky, unconstitutional crap and we need to be critical of what they’re doing in order to fight to make sure that our freedom is just as protected from our own president as it is from random terrorists.

Which is why when I go to infowars.com and see the promotion of a conference called “9/11 + the Neo-Con Agenda,” I think, ‘Okay, perhaps they’re talking about how Bush and friends have used the terrorist attacks to increase their political power.’ There are links to news stories concerning possible future terrorist attacks. Fair enough. But when you look a little closer, you find articles like “Nexus Points Emerge For Potential Summer Attack,” the first paragraph of which reads:

Numerous nexus points have emerged that suggest major western governments are preparing for a summer terror attack that will come close to but not match 9/11 in scale and will provide the justification needed for an air strike on Iran before the midterm elections in early November.

Wait, did they just say “major western governments?” Why, yes they did. The article goes on to list the supporting evidence that suggests the US government is planning a terrorist attack against its own people, such as ongoing plans to prepare the country for the possibility of terrorist attacks and anonymous US officials telling reporters they expect to see an attempted attack before the end of the year. Right. It’s all so clear now. Wait, no, it’s still just a giant steaming pile of crap. They have no evidence. They have only fuzzy unsupported accusations and assumptions.

This baseless junk does nothing more than make the rest of us look stupid when we insist that the administration is possibly doing shadowy things like, oh, tapping our phone lines. By proclaiming that Bush executed the 9/11 attacks, a theory that has been debunked over and over and over again, these conspiracy theorists undermine truly unbiased skepticism concerning our country’s leaders while taking a gigantic dump all over the memories of the thousands who died that day.

Of course, the crazies should be allowed to say whatever they want in the interest of free speech, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us have to listen to them. Sorry Charlie.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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13 Comments

  1. Haha first post. (crosses fingers)

    You started losing me at "She then supplied him with cocaine and directed him to my door at around 1 a.m., at which point he tried to break in and I had to call the cops" and I knew what was going on at "How else to explain such an incident".

    Do I win anything ? :D

    A little bit after the attacks I was talking with people who thought there was something to the "Gvt organised 9/11" theory. I believe I got them to rethink a bit when I pointed out that even if you think killing a thousand peasants in India or leaving ten thousand African children to starve doesn't bother Big Business and its evil minions, the people who died in the 9/11 attack were stockbrokers, businessmen et al.
    Would the organisers kill their own kind ?

  2. But I insist that, to my completely untrained eyes, the collapse of the towers looks kinda sorta like a controlled demolition, ergo it MUST BE a controlled demolition! No other explanation is possible for the vague similarity of the collapse to a demolition, even though the similarity isn't that great, really. I mean, come on! It looks like it! What more evidence do you need?

    Furthermore, I am shocked and appalled that you would continue to financially support the inconspicuous little old lady who is secretly behind all the crazy stuff Mitt Romney does on a regular basis. Not to mention that she has a weather machine in your building! The least you could do would be to infiltrate her weather machine room and flick the switch from "rainy and kind of crappy" to "sunny and nice". You owe it to the rest of us.

    But, anyway, back on topic. The egregious 9/11 conspiracy theories disturb me fundamentally, for basically the same reasons you state. They tend to overwhelm all the very serious criticisms about the Bush administration's actions with a bunch of silliness. For my part, I'm simply amazed that such a sophisticated and seemingly airtight conspiracy that was able to silence or buy thousands — nay, hundreds of thousands! — of experts of every field who witnessed the attacks, not to mention prevent leaks from within, like the triggermen who would have detonated the demolition charges or fired the missiles, is able to be cracked wide open by a bunch of kooks on the Internet. It's either ruthlessly and flawlessly efficient or accessible to crazy Internet people. It can't be both.

  3. Rebecca, you actually lost me at her connections with the governor of MA!

    I mean, in Philly, I've LIVED in neighborhoods where crackheads have been allowed to move in next door, and were pointed to my door for fixes, or funds to get fixes!

    Should I be concerned?

  4. Yeah, I'm with Mr. Nicholson. A conspiracy, like most human endeavors, works most efficiently when as few people as possible are involved in the process. That way, when someone (almost inevitably) screws up or Ma Nature throws a big greasy wrench in the works, the basic goals of the conspirators remain intact.

    Take the assassination of the Kennedys, either or both. Despite decades of hard work by professionals and obsessed amateurs alike, the crucial details and actors continue to elude public knowlege. I don't doubt this is because almost all the few who knew those details have gone to their graves. And the ones that remain have strong motives for keeping silent. This seems to me a pretty effective conspiracy.

    For 9/11 to be a creation of our government would demand (at a minimum) thousands of experts and specialists. They would not fail to see the Big Picture even if attempts were made to keep them ignorant. Someone would have talked, left documentation to be anonymously discovered, fired off a flare, SOMETHING!

    I don't doubt that there are those in power who would consider doing such a thing, given sufficient motivation. But I don't see how they could pull it off. People tend to screw up and do things you don't anticipate. We're funny that way.

  5. Wright,

    I hope you're being facetious about the Kennedy "conspiracies". I couldn't tell exactly from your post.

    Conspiracies never work, even little ones. President Nixon in 1972-4 couldn't even hide the actions of a handful of his closest minions in a fairly innocious burglary and coverup.

  6. Your blind denial of solid evidence suggests that the Govt's Chem Trail program is working very nicely.

    Of course you're missing the obvious and most important purpose behind the cloud seeding. The few free-thinkers left in the world have discovered the Govt's use of aircraft-spread, mind-controlling chemicals, so now Big Brother makes it rain before "dusting the crops." The rain serves three purposes, really; 1) It makes the chem trails indistinguishable from regular clouds, 2) the chemicals come down directly below the dusted route, carried in the water drops, rather than blowing along in the wind, and 3) being carried by rain, the chemicals are fed right into our drinking water, taking the guess-work completely out of the operation. If you don't believe that there are chemical tanks on these aircraft, I ask you; why else would airports be so well protected?

  7. If you don’t believe that there are chemical tanks on these aircraft, I ask you; why else would airports be so well protected?

    Um, because aircraft (especially large jets) and their support gear are extremely expensive investments by the companies that own them?

    Then there are the events of 9/11? And of course before that, skyjackings and the like?

    See the posts previous to yours for why most of us think conspiracies of any great magnitude are self-defeating at best.

    And yes, I do believe most aircraft have chemical tanks on them. I believe they contain a substance called "fuel".

  8. If only controlled demolition companies could do such shoddy demolition jobs as the WTC towers. The entire neighbourhood was covered in debris, all of lower Manhattan covered in a giant dust cloud. If they did such an amateurish job like that, they'd never work again, assuming they even managed to pay all the fines, reimbursements and lawsuits …

    The only reason it looks controlled is because the floors all pancaked straight down. I suppose they expected more of a "TIMBER !!" moment when the towers flattened some of the neighbouring structures in their fall, like a tall tree in a forest.

  9. I subscribe to Carrington Vanston's "It's All Santa's Fault, the Fat F*cker" Theory.

    "You see, it's no use arguing with these people about the unlikelihood of government conspiracies that require hundreds or even thousands of people to be in on them. It's no use pointing out the odds against any conspiracy succeeding when it requires complicity by a huge number of people. And the reason it's no use is because back when they were kids there really was a time when everybody was in on it. "

    They're just acting out their disappointment about Santa, and the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy, proven global coverups perpetrated against them in their innocent youth. Maybe they just need a hug. Have you hugged a conspiracy theorist today?

  10. Well, I suppose the easiest way to dismiss the santa conspiracy theory is the fact that a 6 year old can figure it out, so nobody's really being fooled by it.

  11. The day or two after the disaster, I remember reading an article (NY Times?) commenting that there was at least *one* guy who was breathing a sigh of relief at that "suspicious" collapse. That was the chief architect, who had taken considerable effort to make sure that if the structure ever collapsed at all, it would go straight down — as opposed to toppling over and crushing half of Midtown!

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