Skepticism

New Vlog Post: Sincere Mockery

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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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64 Comments

  1. ooooohhhhh…mohawk!
    I say Go Deep. Youtube and the In Tar Wubs has a reputation for being the ultimate in facile communication, but it does not have to be. People who have a deep seated religious beleif will not be convinced with typical internet bantering, no more than an athiest is going to come to god because they have wingnuts prothesletyzing at them. My advice is to state the athiest position simply and clearly, but respectfuly.
    Keep up the great work!

  2. Um, er, the headphones and mic? It looks like you’re just one step away from wearing an eholster and utility belt. Get yourself to the Apple store and buy a Blue Snowflake or Snowball mic. Inexpensive, easy to use, great sound, and you don’t have to wear it.

  3. Well, I love Rebecca BECAUSE she’s Rebecca – not for any other reason. It would REALLY suck if she stopped mocking people. ;)

    Personally, I’m still trying to figure out where I am on the issue. At one point, I was with Sam Harris, in basically saying that – “all religion is poison.” I’m not sure if I completely feel that way.

    I think all religion is STUPID, but haven’t quite convinced myself that it is always bad.

    I’ve grown increasingly tolerant of believers, mostly because I tend to be surrounded by them, and a lot of them are my dear friends. I find it REALLY hard to hate people to, since I’m a raging humanist, and although sometimes they don’t act like it, believers do fall into the aforementioned group.

    Don’t get me wrong though, I could really spend all day quoting every single logical fallacy, absurdity, contradiction and inconsistency in the Bible and any other religious/cult document, as well.

    But, these days, I prefer to spend my time on exploring and sharpening my critical thinking and debunking pseudo-science stuff. But, hey, that’s just me.

    Anyways, thanks Rebecca for the new Vlogs. Loves it! Muah!

    Jonny

  4. The little parenthetical (and I moved the cam so you can see more books) looked like it said “boobs” to my mind. I thought about it, slowly, and thought “heeeeyyy… no you can’t!”

    That aside, excellent video.

    Oh, and I like the faux-hawk idea. If you could get that much hair to stand up, I’d be impressed.

  5. Yes, the left audio channel seems to be missing for part of the video. It was very obvious since my headphone was half-plugged in, which meant the right audio channel was missing, making part of the audio inaudible. (Of course, then I realized that, and plugged it back in properly.)

  6. Rebecca, I’m curious about your opinion on the connotations of the word “hate”. It seems to me that it’s become such a loaded word these days that it takes on more baggage than, say, “loathe” or “revile”.

    I truly loathe and revile a guy like John Edward, whom I believe is a genuine emotional and monetary predator who does real harm to people, but even though I am quite un-PC I do find myself noticeably gun-shy of the word “hate” because of a) the stigma associated with that word these days and b) how often the skeptical community is dismissed outright as “hate-filled” by the various purveyors and consumers of woo.

    “Hater” seems to me to be a label deliberately used by people without an intellectual argument to sort people automatically into the same bin as slaveholders and Nazis in order to imply that their views may be dismissed without consideration, and I wouldn’t want to see you get tarred with that label, because I don’t think that’s the connotation you intend when you say “hate”.

  7. Blargh, so many tone and concern trolls lately.

    Ignore Pinched, be yourself.

    I don’t think anyone would presume you would go in and be caustic to some faithful little old lady on her deathbed. Otherwise, ridiculing ridiculous opinions and unsupportable beliefs is fair game.

    The point of the critical examination is to actually hammer down what is true and what is not, and that is what is important.

    “Ear candles”? Homeopathy? HAHAHA

  8. FWIW, when I started listening to the SGU about a year ago, I was a fundamentalist Christian (my denomination was Assembly of God, fwiw). I was a skeptic in many respects, but a fundy nonetheless, to the extent that I sort of bought into the intelligent design stuff (though I wasn’t a young earth creationist, at least). Now, I’m agnostic (and my parents would probably consider me to be a secular humanist atheist), and about 90% of that is a result of listening to the SGU.

    I think that mockery has its place, especially when responding to the more outrageous claims. Personally, though, my change of perspective was a result of a steady ‘drip, drip, drip’ of facts, each one knocking the legs out of yet another foundation of the ideas that had been my faith.

    No time to elaborate totally now, but thought I’d throw my $0.02 in.

  9. Ok Rebecca – I’ll bite.

    You invited new topics for your weekly broadcast. Here’s one for you as a break from the creationists you take on. During a radio interview (from California) you referred to the “9/11 conspiracy theorists” as being the “worst of all” or something to the effect. I am pretty sure – whether you will admit it or not – that by “worst of all” you mean most problematical for someone who holds herself out, as you do, as respecting science and critical thinking.

    Now you and I are not going to resolve the scientific and credibility issues that arise from the Bush Administration (“BA”) account of what occurred on 9/11, during the course of this post and your broadcast (should you accept the challenge). There is too much depth to the subject. But we don’t have to do that anyway, because the real point I am interested in is whether or not this controversy represents a legitimate difference in opinion in your view.

    For example, in the same California radio interview I referenced above, you correctly described the controversy over the causes of global warming as representing a legitimate split within the scientific community. This is in stark contrast with how you regard those who question and dispute the BA account of what occurred on 9/11. You basically treat these people as kooks. It appears that you do not accept that there are two legitimate sides to this dispute. It is this position that I’d like to see you explain.

    Now there has been virtually no serious investigation or debate of this controversy within the mainstream media. This point is confirmed by Project Censored, which is a very longstanding and very highly respected journalist organization that monitors failures by the mainstream media to cover important stories. The 9/11 controversy is particularly noteworthy for making Project Censored’s top 25 censored stories in consecutive years – quite a distinction.

    Given that serious discussion and debate of the controversy is taboo or otherwise censored in the mainstream media, it has been relegated instead to the Internet. So let’s take a look at the two sides of this debate on the Internet – shall we? First, let’s take a look at a few of the sites that dispute the BA account of 9/11 and who is associated with that side of the debate:

    http://www.patriotsquestion911.com/

    http://www.ae911truth.org/

    Check out the credentials and the opinions of those identified on the first site and those who are members of the second site. You literally have hundreds of accomplished scientists, engineers, professors, as well as career diplomat, intelligence and military professionals. The lists include top-flight scientists in this country and abroad and it is increasing in numbers all the time. Who are these people and what are the saying? Let’s take an example:

    Lynn Margulis – distinguished UMass Professor at Amherst, 1999 recipient of the National Medal of Science, America’s highest honor for scientific achievement. She describes the BA account of 9/11 as “glaringly erroneous,” a “fraud,” and a “hoax.” And she is just one of many preeminent scientists and other experts who share the same view. Again, spend some time reviewing the list packed with PhDs in physics, engineering and mathematics, as well as other disciplines.

    So what do you have on the other side of this Internet debate that makes the viewpoint of these scientists and scholars so ridiculous – as you claim it to be? Well you have:

    http://www.911myths.com/

    I don’t know who is behind that site – but they specifically state that they are not authorities of any kind (which is clearly true), let alone possessing anywhere near the scientific credentials of the opposing view.

    http://wtc7lies.googlepages.com/

    This is supposed to be the best pro-BA account Internet site and it is run by a former tour bus operator. I think his background is fairly representative of the average credentials of someone who has taken a close look at the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld version of 9/11 and still believes it (excluding of course those who were on the Administration’s payroll.)

    And then of course there are the “skeptic” sites, and correct me if I am wrong – no top-notch scientists there either.

    So Rebecca – looking at all the brilliant people who call the BA account of 9/11 a cover-up and fraud, could you please explain for us how it is that all these people are so delusional in their beliefs and you, in contrast, are definitively correct?

  10. I thought that was the whole point – Chup – to invite the ignorant trolls to submit their issues to Rebecca so that she could sincerely mock them in her next video.

    Except in this case we are not talking about some jerkwater creationists. We are talking about brilliant scientists, physicists, engineers, mathematicians etc.

    I’d really like to see Rebecca explain to all these eminent professors and scholars why it is that she knows better than they do.

    But she would probably do well to take your advice and stick to picking on unicorns and fundamentalist christians.

  11. I’m glad you mentioned Oprah in your last video. One of my pet peaves is the irresponsible things celebrities say and do, and nobody calls them on it. Everybody loves Oprah. She has a squeaky-clean public image, and maybe that needs to change.

  12. You advised her to avoid the challenge – and she should follow your advice – unless she wants to embarrass herself.

    Eminent Scientist Professor Lynn Margulis vs. Rebecca

    Or should we say Science vs. Magic?

  13. It’s not really Rebecca’s fault I suspect given what she is accustomed to hearing on the subject.

    Taken from the 9/12/07 NE Skeptics podcast she was at:

    They were reviewing a paper wherein it was commented that engineers were confounded by how the upper portions of the Two Towers could fall through the undamaged lower part of the buildings so quickly and with so little resistance being offered up by the undamaged portion of the building.

    One of her cohorts stated: “that just struck me as odd that it was not clear why there was little resistance” and another cohort jumped in and said yeah you had 10% of the building falling on 90% of the building.

    Now there are two guys who have not the slightest clue of what they are talking about – most particularly the basic, fundamental laws of physics.

    And that – Chup – is why all the scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and other scholars are lined up on one side of the debate and the tour bus drivers and magicians are lined up on the opposite side.

    But remember – I am not asking Rebecca to concede that all the scientists and experts are correct and the tour bus drivers and magicians are wrong about these complex science issues. I am only asking her to recognize that just maybe the bus drivers and magicians could be wrong.
    ; – )

  14. Hello, Rebecca,
    It’s so cool to be able to put a face to the voice from the SGU. And a lovely face it is. I really don’t have much to add from a content perspective, as your way of dealing with craziness and credulity has worked well for me since I started listening a year ago. As a podcaster I would like to ask what that headset mic is, though. I’m looking for one that sounds good, and that one fits the bill.

    Thanks for all the great work. More videos, please. :-)

  15. ZOMG I met you on Friday night, like, in person! I am pretty sure that you were a normal human, and not a deity of truth, as some of my soft spoken aethiest boy friends might insist.

    I won’t share this fact with anybody, though, as long as you promise to never tell anybody that my fangs aren’t real.

    Bostonist pancake brunches with fancy booze drinks! It must happen.

  16. @ IBY “If we don’t know what caused it, it must have been some sort of complot.”

    No IBY. Here’s how it works. If we do not know what caused it – we do not claim that we do. And when we are trying to determine what caused it – we start by excluding those things that violate the laws of physics.

    It’s that kind of approach that has all the scientists, experts and critical thinkers lines up on my side.

  17. @Jonny Palmer:

    and

    @Chupacabras:

    What, are you folks fearful of lively and possibly entertaining debate? Isn’t one of the most important (sacred?) aspects of being a legitimate skeptic to encourage vigourous debate, particularily about potentially divisive subjects with which you may disagree?

    Totally aside from whether or not I agree or disagree to any degree with TrueSkeptic, or whether I agree or disagree to any degree with either of you, it seems to me that your reaction is pure fundy, to wit: “I disagree; shut him up; I close my eyes and ears; I don’t wanna here anymore; make it stop!”

    While I do not particularily believe in a George Bush and cohorts plot to actually blow up the towers, I am at the same time pretty dissatisified with much of the frequently somewhat jingoistic appeals to nationalism that tend to represent the anti-truthers (god, it gets complicated eh?) argument. And so I would relish good, open, legitimate debate on the matter, rather than a bunch of knee-jerk “shut-him-ups”.

    Tsk, tsk.

  18. Speaking of which, I think we skeptics need to recognize a tangential category of skeptic: the ironic paradox of the True Believer Skeptic (TBS).

    The TBS is a skeptic who believes virtually everything and anything said by such luminaries as Shermer, Meyers, Novella, et al, not because of any rigourous arguments presented by those luminaries, but simply because those luminescent folk bathe and bask in the shining light of “skeptical authority” and public and Internet semi-fame and glory.

    A TBS is fairly easy to recognize in that, just like their counterpart the theistic true believer, they thrill to stifling debate, and derailing disagreement with their luminescent heroes.

    A typical TBS will get all collar-ruffled when anyone posits argument opposing the luminescent icons, and woe-betide anyone who actually takes the Shermers, Meyers’s, Novellas to task for rhetorical or factual errorz.

    Just my thought for the day, but it seems to me that we skeptics have got ot be wary of zealoutry on any side of any coin.

  19. Fortunately, now the the Bush Administration is gone, you guys can start petitioning Obama to reopen the investigation about why the towers collapsed.

    It would be interesting to actually get a coherent theory from “coverup” camp. If “controlled detonation” is the best you can do, then I suggest you get back to late-night AM radio where you can learn how the aliens killed JFK.

    I am curious about how many of Lynn Margulis’ cohorts examined the wreckage itself instead of simply going “nu-UH!” at the official report. But since drilling into that will lead into an avalanche of hard-to-read crap from TrutherSkeptic, I’ll just quietly wonder to myself.

  20. I don’t think Rebecca needs ME to make a point.

    I didn’t say “shut ’em up” or “advise” her on anything. (Puss).

    I do think that 9/11 CT is an utterly boring subject (btw, don’t CT initials give it away for you?).

    “Eminem scientists” is appeal to authority. Now a thousand doctors can’t be all assholes?

    Challenging an “eminent” POV, as CT is chanting – not fucking ME – is a variation of Ad Hom. (Puss)

    If Our Lady of Youtube wants a debate, so be it. I think she’ll be falling for a troll on this one. That means she’s being called to a debate that is not honest, nor purposeful, nor ending.
    Don’t make anything else out of my words!

    And last: cursing in Spanish is way cooler, I’m telling you.

  21. @Phlebas: “I am curious about how many of Lynn Margulis’ cohorts examined the wreckage itself instead of simply going “nu-UH!” at the official report.”

    Oh because Margulis, 1999 recipient of the National Medal of Science, America’s highest honor for scientific achievement, was not involved in the field testing herself, she cannot recognize and criticize bad science when she sees it? Oh that’s good.

    You see the problem with that is that NIST has admitted that it was instructed not to test for explosives residue, in violation of investigative protocols. Hmmm is that the only time Dick Cheney instructed government agencies to ignore one class of evidence and look instead solely for another class that supported his view?

    Fortunately, other scientists did test for the such explosive residues, found them, and published their results in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

    Now this is only one example of why legions of scientists, engineers, intelligence and military personnel believe that we have another Cheney fraud here. Really, take another look at the list, which keeps growing:

    http://www.patriotsquestion911.com/

    But it’s not my purpose to walk you through all the science – too much to do.

    I am not trying to convince those who still have faith in Dick Cheney that they are wrong – like the tour bus driver who represents the chief defender of Cheney’s version of the story, in opposition to all the physicists, engineers and mathematicians. People are certainly free to believe him instead, even in the absence of his having any education or credentials in science:

    http://wtc7lies.googlepages.com/

    After all, with a lot of people, regardless of the facts, the overwhelming scientific evidence, and the application of critical thinking and logic – they still want to have faith in parental figures embodied by some political leaders.

    Again, that’s not the point. I simply wanted to hear Rebecca explain why so many top scientists, like Margulis, are delusional. And that their opinions do not represent a legitimate alternative viewpoint to investigations and conclusions controlled by Dick Cheney?

    That’s all. Are there two legitimate sides to this – or not?

  22. @TrueSkeptic:

    Oh because Margulis, 1999 recipient of the National Medal of Science, America’s highest honor for scientific achievement, was not involved in the field testing herself, she cannot recognize and criticize bad science when she sees it? Oh that’s good.

    No, it’s more because she’s a biologist that she cannot recognize bad metallurgical science when she sees it. It just doesn’t help that she never saw any of the evidence — not that she would have known what she was looking at if she had seen it.

    Basically, she saw the buildings come down, and read the prosaic explanation in the report, and decided that such a dramatic event needed a dramatic cause.

    And you are being intellectually dishonest. All of your tired claims have been responded to over and over again, so you wait a few weeks, hope that everyone forgets, and bring the same arguments back. Please, tell me again that I am Dick Cheney’s loyal defender.

    Please, no need to re-link those silly websites again. I don’t care how many project managers and computer programmers think there were bombs in the buildings, no matter how good they are in their fields. I’ll stick to what the hundreds of metallurgists, demolitions experts, fire behavior specialists, and structural designers who actually looked at the physical evidence had to say.

    And if you really believe your puerile nonsense, you don’t need to be harassing Rebecca. Take your case to Nancy Pelosi, while she’s still thinking about bringing Bush officials up on charges. If there was any REAL evidence that Bush or Cheney had anything to do with those buildings coming down, the roar would be deafening. And you would be a hero from bringing it to Speaker Pelosi’s attention.

    Until you do that, work with your other Truther cohorts to come up with an actual theory that fits the known evidence for what happened inside the towers. Not trusting the report is only step one — tell us what really happened. Show us the testimonies from the people who were in the buildings on 9/11 who noticed the explosive charges all over the place. Point to the demolitions experts who can tell you that what you saw is exactly what you’d expect to see in a controlled collapse.

    If you want to continue this, I recommend digging up the last thread from several months ago where sethmanaipo went through it all with far more patience than I have. It might save you from a lot of typing.

  23. @Phlebas: “No, it’s more because she’s a biologist that she cannot recognize bad metallurgical science when she sees it.”

    Oh so it’s only when one of America’s top scientists ventures out of her field that she becomes delusional. I see.

    Really – Phlebas – go to the list – you can find whatever scientific discipline you want. How about this one:

    Edward S. Munyak, MS, PE , has over 20 years experience as a Fire Protection Engineer for the U.S. Departments of Energy, Defense, and Veterans Affairs. He is a contributing Subject Matter Expert to the U.S. Department of Energy Fire Protection Engineering Functional Area Qualification Standard for Nuclear Facilities.

    Now what did he have to say:

    In his presentation at the 2007 National Fire Protection Association World Fire Safety Conference, Mr. Munyak wrote, “We will find that the government investigations into building collapse [at the World Trade Center] must consider controlled demolition as far more probable since fire effects collapse could never be duplicated. … Theconcentric nearly freefall speed exhibited by each building was identical to most controlled demolitions. The aircraft impact and fire severity effects were magnified in the NIST reports. Collapse of WTC 1, 2 & 7 were not caused by fire effects. … The official reports and conclusions had many technical distortions and obfuscations of the excellent research input in arriving at a flawed, politically driven conclusion of building performance.”

    @Phlebas “I’ll stick to what the hundreds of metallurgists, demolitions experts, fire behavior specialists, and structural designers who actually looked at the physical evidence had to say.”

    Name one – and what they had to say.

    I gave you a list containing hundreds and what they they had to say and have quoted two of them.

  24. Luckily, these Truthers don’t infest the political or science blogs and websites that I frequent more often. It’s amusing, but tiring to read, especially when they go on for pages and pages of appeal to authority and “METAL HAS NEVER MELTED IN A FIRE!!!!1!!!” And here, as often happens, they get help from a “skeptic” who wants to remind people that they need to disbelieve something because Steven Novella said it. Or something like that.

    Phlebas, you’re missing the real point that Nancy Pelosi is part of the machine, especially now that Obama is president and is now the leader of the same cabal that faked the 9/11 attacks as a way to kill Manhattan businessmen.

  25. Hey Bubba –

    It’s not like I’d expect an Auburn grad to follow the dialogue here, but it’s only an appeal to authority if I am making an argument, which I am not. That would be a waste of time and effort. I am quite certain that Rebecca (and you) are locked into your position here and I have no desire to attempt to break into a locked mind.

    I am only asking a question of Rebecca. Do the arguments on the two sides of this issue represent a legitimate matter of logical disagreement?

    Or does she believe that all these hundreds of PhDs, Professors, physicists, mathematicians, engineers, preeminent scientists and other scholars on the list fit into the same category as creationists or those who believe in unicorns?

    Check it out Bubba –

    http://www.patriotsquestion911.com/

    What do you think? They’re all loons – right? : )

  26. Woah, enough with the ad hominems!

    And – you’re NOT trying to make an argument? Haha…okay.

    And lastly, what does Rebecca’s original post have to do with any of this (i.e. 9/11)?

    Why don’t you go have fun in one of the forums if you must?

  27. @TrueSkeptic
    Do you seriously believe that mathematicians actually know any bloody thing about structure and metals? Cause my knowledge of what mathematicians do don’t fit the job description you are vouching they do. The same with many physicists (many types of physics, you know), scholars, and scientists not related to metallurgy, structural design, whatever.

  28. TS:
    The first problem I notice with that page is that the first expert I looked at doesn’t actually support your insanity. That’s good, because I had a friend that worked with Gen. Clark during the 2004 campaign, and my friend didn’t mention that Clark was insane.

    As for the rest of the people, you’ve got one of two situations (or a mix): one, the person makes a weak statement like Clark does above, but the Truthers take it far beyond what the person actually says; or two, the person is a self-important idjut (which tends to happen among engineers and among military people) or just a kook.

    If you’d like to pin down one person to look at, I can give you a detailed evaluation of where they fall on this spectrum. If you don’t want to do that, that’s fine, we should really let Rebecca use this space to talk about other morons.

  29. IBY – so you don’t think much of the opinions of mathematicians and physicists? Hmmm …. how do you feel about magicians?

    Ok so you want metallurgy. Fine – I told you they are all there.

    How about Joel S. Hirschhorn, PhD, former Senior Staff Member of the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, Professor of Metallurgical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin. Bachelors and Masters degrees in Metallurgical Engineering and a PhD in Materials Engineering.

    He states:

    “Many technical analyses cast doubt on the official explanation of the collapse of three World Trade Center buildings … Without getting into details that one can spend many hours examining on a number of websites, the general view is that the buildings were brought down by controlled demolition.”

    He notes too how hard it is for people to give up their faith in their government. It’s kinda like how people hold onto religious beliefs:

    “But on a deeper level, many truths are blocked psychologically, because they produce too much pain. This results when truths sharply disagree with strongly held beliefs. The conflict produces cognitive dissonance that can block full acceptance of the disturbing truth. People fall victim to self-manipulation and self-delusion. Truths are dismissed and false beliefs remain embedded.”

    Look IBY – if you want to trust your government and not be skeptical when they make some pretty fantastic scientific claims …. it’s OK.

  30. @TrueSkeptic:

    I haven’t gone to the site you keep linking to, but certainly you can see how weak the quotes you provided are, right?

    “Many technical analyses cast doubt on the official explanation of the collapse of three World Trade Center buildings … Without getting into details that one can spend many hours examining on a number of websites, the general view is that the buildings were brought down by controlled demolition.”

    I mean, I don’t see a single thing in that quote that would lead me to believe Hirschhorn agrees with the data he’s mentioning.

    He seems to be merely pointing out that “Many technical analyses cast doubt on the official explanation of the collapse of three World Trade Center buildings”, which is true. But in that quote, he doesn’t claim that those technical analyses as having any merit.

    He also goes on to say, “Without getting into details that one can spend many hours examining on a number of websites, the general view is that the buildings were brought down by controlled demolition”, which is also true. One can indeed spend hours on websites where the general view is that the buildings were brought down by controlled demolition. He does not say in that quote that he agrees with the sites or that he suspects controlled demolition himself.

    And then the second part of the quote you posted . . .

    “But on a deeper level, many truths are blocked psychologically, because they produce too much pain. This results when truths sharply disagree with strongly held beliefs. The conflict produces cognitive dissonance that can block full acceptance of the disturbing truth. People fall victim to self-manipulation and self-delusion. Truths are dismissed and false beliefs remain embedded.”

    . . . is just a bit of philosophical rambling about how people deal with harsh circumstances. These words are vague enough that they could apply to people on either side of this debate. I mean, is he describing skeptics here or truthers?

    Again, the quote gives no indication of what exactly Hirschhorn thinks about the evidence of the case.

    If you want to continue with your appeals to authority, you better step it up a little bit. Is there anything on the site you keep linking to that follows this outline:

    John Doe — Metallurgist

    Showed in repeatable lab tests that fire does not melt the kind of steel used in WTC. Click here to see lab results.

    or

    Jim Smith — Explosives and demolition expert.

    Examined evidence A, B, C and X, Y, Z from building 1, 2, and 7.

    Detected traces of explosives and found several pieces of detonation devices known to be used in commercial demolition. Click here to see documentation of the findings.

    or

    Bob Jones —- NIST investigator.

    Discovered a contract between US government and AAA Demolition to procure exploves and detonation devices. Also, found evidence of consultation fees paid to AAA Demolition by the US goverment. Click here to see a copy of the contract.

    Jane Dough — NIST investigator.

    Collected eye-witness testimony of 100 WTC occupents that demolition crews were in the buildings for weeks leading up to 9/11. Security video backed up the eye-witnesses. Click here to see security video from WTC that shows demolition crews onsite.

    You got anything like that?

  31. You know, that can work the other way around. One’s DIStrust in the Government can be hard to let go of and bias one towards a certain conclusion.

    All this stuff is so emotionally charged, it’s hard to get that mushy stuff out of the way and get to every single cold, hard fact.

  32. @BubbaRich said:

    And here, as often happens, they get help from a “skeptic” who wants to remind people that they need to disbelieve something because Steven Novella said it. Or something like that.

    Aside from all those “they”s — who is they anyway? if you are referring to me, and I think you might be, then I wold like to state for the record that that is not at all what I said.

    What I was referrring to was the tendency of many self-defined skeptics to drop their skepticism and forego their critical thinking when it comes to reading statements made by some of the more high-profile and well known skeptics in the public eye, which is not saying people should “disbelieve something because Steven Novella said it” at all.

    We all make mistakes, and as many of the more high profile skeptics (and scientists) freely remind us, we are all prone to logical fallacies from time to time. So, what I’m saying is that skeptics should practice skepticism and critical thinking at all times, not only when they are battling their own particular foes but also when their “heroes” make questionable, or dubious, or extreme statements.

    Now, heh, heh, if you’re are not referring to me, fine and good. On with the show.

  33. @Sam Ogden:
    FWIW, it doesn’t appear that Joel Hirschhorn’s comments have been taken out of context. I researched a bit, and it appears that he’s a died-in-the-wool 911 truther. He does have a background as an engineering professor, but that appears to have been back in the 70’s. Since then, a great deal of his efforts appear to have been on behalf of more socio-economic causes, rather than metallurgy. His opinions or data can still have value, of course, but I haven’t actually seen any concrete claims, or evidence for such claims.

  34. @SicPreFix:

    I’m not disagreeing with you, but I can’t think of an example.

    If I hear Steve Novella say something that I don’t know to be true, I tend to trust that he’s done some legwork. Novella in particular seems fastidious about that sort of thing, especially when he’s talking about brains.

    If it’s something that I really *need* to know, I’ll do my own legwork, as best I can.

    I agree we should not give in to Skeptical Authorities. But I haven’t seen that happening anyway in any great numbers — certainly not enough to issue some sort of warning about it.

    But don’t take my word for it :) It may be happening and just escaped my notice.

  35. @ Sam “Is there anything on the site you keep linking to that follows this: lab tests that fire does not melt the kind of steel used in WTC. Click here to see lab results….You got anything like that?”

    Yes I do – Sam. NIST built replicate floors of the WTC in an attempt to replicate its theory that the steel was weakened by the fire to the point of structural failure. And it could not replicate its theory.

    This is what the preeminent government Fire Protection Engineer (quoted at #42 above) is referring to when he states that we “must consider controlled demolition as far more probable since fire effects collapse could never be duplicated.”

    In fact, NIST amplified the temperature of the steel well beyond what could be justified by any observations, testing of the actual steel, or modeling, and NIST still could not replicate the failure that it hypothesized.

    In the world of the scientific method – that is a huge red flag. You cannot replicate your theory through testing.

    Here’s another big red flag — NIST refuses to release its data so that others may test any of its theories. In other words, they refuse to allow their conclusions to be “peer-reviewed” so to speak.

    This was confirmed by James Quintiere, PhD, the former Chief of the Fire Science Division of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), who has publicly called for an independent review of NIST’s investigation:

    “I wish that there would be a peer review of this. I think all the records that NIST has assembled should be archived. I would really like to see someone else take a look at what they’ve done; both structurally and from a fire point of view.”

    Another red flag – NIST deliberately refused to even test for alternative causes/theories — the obvious being for explosives, which NIST has admitted it ignored. Such failures, which represent an egregious breach of investigation protocols, were also criticized by the former NIST Chief:

    “Let’s look at real alternatives that might have been the cause of the collapse of the World Trade Towers and how that relates to the official cause and what’s the significance of one cause versus another.”

    And you have to remember – NIST never put forward a scientific analysis/explanation for how WTC 1 & 2 collapsed the way they did — symmetrically, straight down at nearly free-fall speed. NIST only attempted to account for the collapse initiation – not propagation.

    Now others have done NIST’s work. Other scientists did the testing for the explosives — the tests were positive and peer-reviewed. And other scientists have analyzed the collapse propagation and determined it could not have been caused by the planes alone.

  36. BTW – nobody faults the NIST scientists for these breaches of good scientific methodology listed above. It was always common practice in the Bush Administration for lawyers to screen and edit scientific publications, and they did so here, including placing restrictions on the investigation itself – not just the finalized reports.

    But again – it’s not my purpose to debate anyone who wants to put their faith in the authority of Bush Administration edited science and investigations.

    My question continues to be that with the legions of independent scientists, engineers and scholars who say that the Bush edited investigation and science in this instance is over-the-top full of crap — are you really saying that there are not even two legitimate sides to this controversy and debate?

    The Bush Administration lawyers win because they say so – that’s it? Case closed?

  37. “Toady” is so demeaning. I prefer to characterize myself as “a loyal and diligent but self-respecting follower.”

    I’m not sure I believe that there are really people who seriously want to talk to a Truther, but then again, there are people who don’t like to listen to music by Rush, so it takes all kinds.

  38. @ phlebas “How’s the letter to Nancy Pelosi coming? I’d be happy to proofread for you.”

    I know you’re joking about Pelosi, but it lends itself to a good analogy.

    Going to Pelosi about problems with the 9/11 investigation would be like Markolopos going to Pelosi about the Madoff fraud. Pelosi’s office would’ve contacted the SEC, and the SEC would have reported to her that they investigated Madoff and they “found no evidence of fraud.” And that would be it for Pelosi.

    Without government subpeona power, Markopolos could not produce the actual documentary evidence that proves fraud in a courtroom. You have to have subpoena power and actually want to find it – in order to get such evidence. All Markopolos could do was demonstrate mathematically that Madoff’s returns were for all practical purposes impossible.

    You really have the same scenario with the 9/11 investigations. All of the outside independent experts are looking at the Administration’s theory and saying “that’s just impossible.” And the Administration apologists respond by asking “where’s your courtroom proof?”

    Just like Pelosi would not understand or care about Markopolos’ demonstration that Madoff was committing fraud when the SEC states that it performed an investigation and found no evidence of fraud, Pelosi would likewise not care about the hundreds of scientists screaming that this is all physically impossible. Pelosi wouldn’t know the difference between Newton’s Laws and a Fig Newton.

    To ask “Where’s the proof?” in the case of Madoff is merely to place blind faith in the SEC (an appeal to and reliance upon authority) when it states that it conducted an investigation and found no evidence of fraud.

    What Madoff had accomplished had never occurred before or since, absence fraud.

    What happened to those buildings had never occurred before or since as a result of fire – and moreover, even if fire could have caused such a failure, it is impossible that the buildings would have failed the way they did.

    So in these situations one is really left with two choices: you either trust your government agency or you trust the independent experts and/or your own ability to review and understand the science of what occurred.

    I’ve never understood how people describing themselves as “skeptics” are so willing to put so much faith in government agencies, when the government agencies refuse to release data and their findings otherwise do not stand up to scrutiny by independent experts.

    Oh well …..

  39. Well, I have nothing to add to the oddly-familiar conversation going on here, but I wanted to add that since I first saw this post until tonight, when I finally got a chance to watch the video, I thought it was titled “Sincere Monkey.” Good stuff anyway, even if it did turn out to be monkey-free.

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