Let's start with this video I found through a Google search of "loose change, 9/11".
The two filmmakers who made the documentary "Loose Change" are at the forefront of the so-called "9/11 Truth Movement". They've made two editions of their film and are at work on a third which they're calling "The Final Cut". Recently I watched a documentary on one of the informational cable channels (A&E, Discover Channel, The History Channel, one of those), talking about the "myths" of 9/11. That documentary featured both the guys from "Loose Change", as well as the editors of Popular Mechanics, which so far, has been the only publication I know of that's taken a close hard look at the conspiracy theories that have grown in stature since September 11th, 2001. It is my opinion, having read the article, that Popular Mechanics debunks most, if not all, of the 9/11 conspiracy theories. And now, in this video, we have both the directors of "Loose Change" and the editors of Popular Mechanics at a very small table in a local library to talk about the various theories. It's 20 minutes, but if you have questions on either side of the issue, it's illuminating.
I think part of the reason people have a hard time believing there's an all-encompassing 9/11 theory is because the people that seek to disseminate those ideas (like the "Loose Change" guys) do stuff like this: when the host of the roundtable discussion brings up the American flight that crashed into the Pentagon, one of the directors talks about how no plane debris remained after the so-called crash. In their film the directors go through a whole thing about the melting points of various elements that comprised the plane, and how the melting point of jet fuel doesn't burn hot enough to "vaporize" a plane. The Popular Mechanics gamely talk about the experts they talked to (the "Loose Change" guys seemingly talked to no one), like crash experts, plane engineers, etc., and 100s of eyewitnesses who all backed up the idea that a plane crashed into the Pentagon, and no evidence of a missile.
Not liking the direction this conversation has taken, the directors of "Loose Change" say, "But nothing should have crashed into the Pentagon." And then he explains how Dick Cheney, in the bunker during the crisis, was told that the plane headed for Washington, that the plane that would eventually strike the Pentagon was "30 minutes away", then "20 minutes away" and Dick Cheney never issued a shoot down order. So it seems the directors of "Loose Change" have two, deeply held convictions: that no plane hit the Pentagon, and also that Cheney let a plane hit the Pentagon.
Oh, and one of the directors of "Loose Change" says this to the host before he begins to speak: "I'd just to like to thank you for the opportunity to take on the government's lies, and Popular Mechanics, which is a Hearst "Yellow Journalism" Publication's lies as well."
And this is not me going out like so many media outlets do, to fixate on the fringe-iest splinter of a given controversial group to paint the entire group in a negative way. These guys are at the heart of the "9/11 Truth" movement and, in my view, they are not credible. Popular Mechanics is part of the conspiracy too? The wacky science nerds who put a flying car on the cover every month? These guys are a mouthpiece for the murderers of 3000 people?
I am not in expert in any of the fields pertinent to discussing what did or did not happen on September 11th, 2001. So if I have two sets of guys saying two very different things, do I go with the guys in their mid-twenties who wear wrinkled shirts and no ties and laugh mockingly at their opponents and don't know which conspiracy theory they believe in, or the nerdy, soft-spoken, suitably-dressed journalists who are laying out, soberly, facts, and not insinuations and coincidences? It's not a hard call.
Most telling of all, I think, is that in that documentary on cable I watched, the "Loose Change" guys were interviewed while editing what must be the third and final version of their film. The biggest change from the second edition and the final edition, they said, is that the film has moved away from the theory they once held that the main towers were brought down by controlled demolition. They've conceded the evidence pointing towards that scenario is no longer persuasive to them and have shifted their attention towards the mystery surrounding the collapse of Building 7. On one hand, good for them for being brave enough to allow their minds to be changed publicly, on the other hand, before their change of heart, they had argued the towers had been brought down by controlled demolition so strenuously that it's not difficult for me to distrust their newfound passion for a Building 7 investigation. (BTW, the Popular Mechanics article addresses Building 7 quite well.)
Also, what does this new abandonment of the controlled demolition of the towers theory mean? Does it mean that the "Loose Change" guys, formerly Made It Happen On Purpose guys (MIHOPs) are now in the Let It Happen On Purpose camp, (or LIHOPs), and that the lease holder on the WTC complex merely took advantage of foreknowledge of the attack so that he could detonate WTC Building 7 and file a still more massive insurance claim? Does that mean that the lease holder of WTC was A-OK with the deaths of 3,000 innocent Americans just so he could make a massive windfall? Who in the government told him, and why didn't his informant do any thing to stop the attack?
In the comments, Heath wrote:
"The problem with these questions is that people, by and large, immediately seek a result from the questioning of evidence, instead of viewing them individually in and of themselves. In other words, for someone to say "Hey, there's something fishy behind that crash site for United 93," and the immediate response to be, "What do you think happened, then? You think Bush crashed those planes into the trade center buildings, crazy person?" is just wrong. If that was an acceptable response, then we'd never have gotten a shred of scientific evidence admitted into any journals, because the second someone in our world's history said, "Isn't it funny how the sun moves almost as a curve across the domed sky," then it would be acceptable for someone to come back with, "What? You think the earth isn't flat, heretic?" Instead of immediately moving toward a steadfast opinion based on a need for a result, such as finger pointing at Bush's Administration, you must admit the individual evidence surrounding these "conspiracies" is worth investigating to prove or disprove doubt. If science beckons to question, who are we to ignore?"
This, for me, is the central trouble conspiracy theorists have when talking to the uninitiated about the fishiness of 9/11. Science and the purported weirdness of crash sites are easy to talk about soberly in an attempt to answer the "What?" questions. However, the question of "How?" is hugely problematic to 9/11 Truth-ers because talking about the inhumanity required by a massive group of motivated people never really seems to come together. Yes, humanity's had many monsters -- but to make a Unified 9/11 Theory work, we'd have to have dozens, if not hundreds of monsters working in all levels of the US government, and that doesn't seem to jibe with anything anyone's ever heard before. When getting to the bottom of various conspiracy theories, it doesn't take but a few seconds of supposition to get into seriously bizarre territory ("And how were the passengers disposed of do you think?") that makes all but the most passionate theorists retreat back to the relative comfort of "What?" and "How?" But just because the scenarios the conspiracists' theories imply are wholly unconvincing is not the fault of the incredulous, but is something the theorists' should take ownership of. If it sounds so crazy to you that you don't like talking about it, imagine how it sounds to those who haven't been convinced.
Now it's true that refuting any assertion made by someone with a new idea speaks to a closed mind, as in your comparison to Galileo. But Galileo was able to put forward evidence. So far, on the 9/11 conspiracists' side, they have loads of supposition, oddness, coincidence and circumstantial evidence. On the side of people who've more or less accepted that 9/11 happened more or less how we've come to understand it did, we have scores of scientific experts, reams of video evidence, thousands of eyewitness accounts, and thousands of talented journalists who would kill their mother to break the story of a 9/11 conspiracy who've so far turned up nothing. For me, that puts the burden of proof on the conspiracy theorists and, so far, they haven't done much other than muddy the waters enough so that the truth is harder to see.
This episode of "This American Life" changed the way I thought about how conspiracy theorists in general think. On July 7, 2005, terrorists bombed the London underground at the King's Cross station. One of the woman who survived the attack began to blog about it. Before long a British-borne conspiracy theory grew up which offended the woman because they were refuting things she knew to be true having lived through the attack. She started to comment on their messageboards and before long, they were calling her a liar and an employee of MI5 whose job it was to make the conspiracy theorists seem less credible. All the people that were on-board who died? she asked. "Hollywood-style special effects," they said. And the people who survived and were genuinely panicked? she asked. "Actors," they said. It goes on. Absolutely worth a listen. The story begins 9 minutes through.
I bring that story up because in that piece, the men who believed in the conspiracy were not noble questioners, blazing a trail through a jungle of lies to the hidden city of Truth; they had already made up their minds that a vast conspiracy was at work that day and was still at work to cover it up. Kind of like that guy on the Bill Maher's show. If you didn't believe their stories outright, you were either a sheep or, possibly, a criminal; and if, at the very least, you didn't state your approval of a continued investigation, then you were also a sheep or a criminal. Open minds had long since closed, though I suspect for most of the conspiracists described in this story, they went into their theories with closed minds.
If a new piece of evidence came up that debunked some long-held "fact" about 9/11, or a new esteemed expert chimed in saying he was no longer convinced 9/11 happened as we've all been told, I like to think I'd listen carefully and come to an open-minded conclusion based on the new evidence. I'd pose this question to conspiracy theorists: what piece (or pieces) of evidence could possibly come to light that would settle your questions about 9/11? Or are there too many questions that could ever be answered?
I put some of the blame for the widening belief in a 9/11 conspiracy at the feet of Bush and Cheney. Cheney's obsession with expanding executive power has been done in secret and with a willful disregard for the rights of Congress and the American people to know what he's doing or why he's doing it. That engenders, and rightfully so, doubt and suspicion. During the 9/11 Commission investigation Bush wouldn't testify alone -- he had to testify with Cheney, like two criminals trying to keep their stories straight. But I think all the secrecy and obvious lies were not meant to cover up the crime of millennium, but to cover up Bush's gross incompetence on that day and all the days leading up to September 11th, 2001.
This is already way long-winded. I could attempt another 3 or 4 feet of verbiage to counter Paul's, but it takes me much longer to write as cogently as Paul does. Okay, that's it.