Skepticism

Extremely bad ideas.

There’s an awful lot I’d like to talk about, but of course I’m limited by time, space, and proper story telling narrative. I’ll start by acknowledging the fact that today is September 11, 2006 — five years since terrorists killed 3,000 people on American soil. The weather this morning is exactly the same as it was then: clear, crisp, beautiful.

While most Americans will spend at least a few minutes today quietly reflecting on how lives were lost or changed that day, or on the futility of religious extremism (or any other kind of extremism, for that matter), there are a few people who are spending the day making a concerted effort to change history to suit their paranoid fantasies. These conspiracy theorists created a video called Loose Change in which they show their incredible lack of common sense and education concerning basic physics as they assert their opinion that no terrorists were involved in the events of September 11. Instead, they believe the American government was directly responsible, planting bombs aboard otherwise empty cargo planes. It is an opinion so ridiculous that I feel a little embarassed just repeating it here. I can only imagine the humiliated horror that must be felt by the parents of these revisionists when asked by neighbors what their children are up to these days.

I won’t spend a lot of time debunking their nonsense here. Instead, I just want to mark this date by providing you with a link to Screw Loose Change, a blog set up to counter the lies spread by the conspiracy theorists. It’s worth it to see what the myths are and how to respond to them, just in case someone you know gets taken in.

+++

I also wanted to follow up on how the sleepless weekend experiment went. To recap, I woke up around 6am Friday morning, went to work, hung out with friends after, drove with one friend down to New York, attended a midnight gypsy rock show in a traveling turn of the century Belgian tent on a pier, drove back to Boston immediately afterward arriving around 6:30am, auditioned to be in a movie starring The Rock, went out with other friends to a new lounge nearby, and finally went to sleep around midnight on Saturday/Sunday, making that about 42 hours awake. By the time I finally got in bed, this is what my mind was like.

I slept for about 7 hours, then got up and played football (I play in a league). I played well, we won, I went home, and immediately realized my spine was rebelling. Today I feel approximately 580 years old.

I think I’ll lay on my office floor for a while and think about the futility of extremism.

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+.

Related Articles

6 Comments

  1. Erm…It would take me weeks to accomplish what she did in two days…

    Playing footbal and auditionning for a role in a movie with The Rock… For some unknown reasons, I was picturing Rebecca as petite… Guess I'm completely wrong… Next week, she will tell us that she is getting in the WWE to wrestle or something? ;-)

  2. I agree in substance on conspiracy theories, however I think there is a danger of using official reports as rebuttals. Often I've seen official reports quoted by sceptics in response to conspiracy accusations with Diana's death in Paris. It's not good because conspiracy theorists will always believe that those in power have something to hide. So it's worth going to primary sources or even secondary sources like newspapers.

    For instance the best rebuttal to the delay between the ambulance picking Diana up, and getting to the hospital, is that she was being operated on at the time, so driving a ambulance fast is not smart. The question of why Diana didn't go to the nearest hospital is that Paris operates an ER rota system, so the hospital was chosen that way. Official reports tend to be very dull to read, and in the eyes of the conspiracy theorist they're always suspicious. These facts can be checked through French newspapers and even calling up the French hospitals and asking them.

    There is also a tendency among come anti-conspiracy theorists to throw the baby out with the bathwater by not thinking critically about official sources, which is nearly as bad as the conspiracy theorists. Unless rebuttals are thorough they won't stand a chance of convincing the borderline conspiracy theorists (who can be saved). The Loose Change film is laughable, it's the video equivelent of finding shapes in clouds, and I imagine it must be very

    upsetting for the families that lost people in the attacks. However, things should still be scrutinised, the Ali Mohamed affair is one such murky issue in the run up to 9/11. People just shouldn't jump to conclusions, especially when they're dealing with something as murky as the world of intelligence and espionage.

    I was so mentally with it on Saturday night that I produced this, which goes to show that people should never attempt surrealism on an empty stomach.

  3. Hey, thanks for the link to Screw Loose Change, Rebecca. I've been wondering about some of the less outrageous claims the conspiracy crowd has made concerning 9/11. That looks like a place to start unravelling the hysteria a bit.

    Regarding the sleep deprivation experiment… Yeah, on the few times I've stayed up that long (voluntarily or otherwise), my brain has produced things remarkably close to that video. Though of course not nearly as cute.

  4. Sleep deprivation is AWESOME! I've been slightly delirious from fever the past couple of days, so I've been having my own "Wow, the brain is CRAZY!" experience. Still not delirious enough to buy into 9/11 Conspiracy Theories, though…

  5. Erm… What is going to hurt when you meet her? She's gonna beat the hell out of you or something? ;-)

    Anyway, I hope she won't be too offended by my comment, I was being sarcastic… I've got absolutely no idea of what she looks like except for that small pic of her we can see on the sidebar and she does look cute! :-)

Leave a Reply

You May Also Enjoy

Close
Close