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9/11 Conspiracy theories: "any reasonable person"

Please limit discussion in this area to local and state politics.

Are there really things that "any reasonable person" must believe? What about evolution, global warming, 9/11 conspiracies, and Saddam's WMD program?

Absolutely. Any reasonable person would think so.
5
63%
Of course not. But you might have a very good reason for thinking otherwise.
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38%
 
Total votes : 8

9/11 Conspiracy theories: "any reasonable person"

Postby TomDavidson » Thu Jul 13, 2006 2:18 pm

I submitted a modified version of the below to the letter column before I realized that I'd really rather hear some discussion on this. Can anyone out there actually defend the claim that it's impossible for a reasonable person to look at 9/11 evidence and disagree with Dr. Kevin Barrett? Frankly, I'm skeptical that Dr. Barrett himself could mount a defense of that one.

My big concern is that as we get more and more polarized over this sort of issue, we too easily conclude that our way of thinking -- which is based not only on our experiences and familiarity with evidence, but also on certain underlying premises of which we may or may not be aware -- is the only way for intelligent, or intellectually honest, people to think. Therefore, someone who disagrees is definitionally dishonest, and can be safely ignored or villified. It happens on both sides of the aisle, and I'm worried that we're becoming almost numb to it.

-------------

It's impossible to know how many other quotes from Dr. Barrett were discarded for "They Believe" -- but from the text we have, he seems rather intriguingly fixated on the phrase "any reasonable person." I find this to be of some concern, because use of that phrase is usually both a rhetorical slight-of-hand and a symptom of inherent mental inflexibility. It's the latter that's more troublesome to me. If Dr. Barrett truly does not believe that "any reasonable person" might be capable of looking at the evidence of the World Trade Center attacks and reaching a conclusion other than his own, how can we hope that he might deal fairly and honestly with a student who, as Provost Farrell apparently expects, chooses to "challenge his viewpoint" in class?

It's one thing to disagree with a math professor on a common sum; it's even another to bring a different interpretation of a novel into a literature class. But when that literature professor insists that "any reasonable person" would understand that Frankenstein is Mary Shelley's critique of runaway liberalism, can we really expect that any student who disagrees might be able to share his dissenting opinion without risking his grade? Furthermore, in an introductory course on Islam, is it really necessary to make it clear to your students that you expect all ââ?¬Å?reasonableââ?¬? people to agree with your opinion of a conspiracy theory only obliquely connected to the subject matter in the first place?

I submit that Dr. Barrett's use of the word "reasonable" here is definitional; specifically, only those people who agree with him are, by his definition, reasonable, and thus he may freely and without guilt or fear of intellectual challenge automatically discard any arguments presented by "unreasonable" people. In this way, he is able to preserve a personal worldview in which his own opinions are unassailable.
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Postby TAsunder » Thu Jul 13, 2006 2:33 pm

Of course there are some notions that any reasonable person believes. There are certain theories and ideas that form the basis of our understanding of the universe. While semantically you can argue that we have no logical reason for believing the past will resemble the future, one can't really go around living like that. No rational person wakes up each day and puts on their swimsuit because, while water did not randomly gush into every room in the universe in the past, maybe it will in the future!
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Postby TomDavidson » Thu Jul 13, 2006 2:36 pm

I suppose you can argue that, by the very definition of "rationality," insisting that effects have causes and suchlike is mandatory. :) I was speaking in a non-axiomatic sense. *grin*
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Postby jjoyce » Thu Jul 13, 2006 2:48 pm

I reject most definitions of what's reasonable. Does that make me unreasonable?
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Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Thu Jul 13, 2006 3:15 pm

jjoyce wrote:I reject most definitions of what's reasonable. Does that make me unreasonable?
Depends on your definition.
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Postby indycoyote » Thu Jul 13, 2006 10:35 pm

Barrett & his ilk are full of crap, but he certainly has the right to sput whatever psychotic nonsense he pleases, especially if it makes people think. It does, however, take some of the focus off some more reasonable aspects of 9/11, such as the Bin Laden family's ties with the Bush Empire etc.
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Postby TomDavidson » Mon Jul 17, 2006 1:18 pm

While I don't think anyone is challenging Barrett's right to be a tinfoil nutcase, or even to teach while a tinfoil nutcase, I am worried that his combination of nuttiness and surety are a bad combination in a teacher.

After all, how can he with any intellectual honesty say that he's willing to listen to other viewpoints in his own classes if his assumption is that any "reasonable" person must either agree with him or not know all the facts?

-------

As a side question, why do you think that Barrett's particular wacky theory is a good thing "if it makes people think?" Do you consider that it's inherently valuable to make people think about worthless things? If so, does Paris Hilton perform a similar service to the country?
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Postby Beer Moon » Mon Jul 17, 2006 3:00 pm

TomDavidson wrote:Do you consider that it's inherently valuable to make people think about worthless things? If so, does Paris Hilton perform a similar service to the country?


Well, I think it's pretty clear that she performs a similar service. As evidence, take the popularity of her near-patented phrase "That's Hot" coupled with the recent frenzy of debate over global warming. She spouts nothing but hot air (CO2), some would say a waste of oxygen, I mean, I don't think it's fair to discount the contribution she has made to the topic of global warning.
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Postby TomDavidson » Mon Jul 17, 2006 3:11 pm

No doubt the university will be awarding her an honorary degree in the near future.
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Postby Bwis53 » Mon Jul 17, 2006 7:34 pm

There are plenty of other strange courses taught and degrees given.


I was unhappy with Bush. My suspicion occured as I left a deli, right after I saw the attacks on TV. I kept asking myself how could they let this happen (throught collusion or carelessness) , how would Bush use this, and who would benefit. Something that was so frequently repeated during the 2000 election debacle, was how unhappy the military was with the way the voting was counted for the military personel. It makes me wonder if the whole thing was hatched as far back as the Gulf War. And those fuckers gave up so easy...
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Postby TomDavidson » Mon Jul 17, 2006 8:09 pm

I wouldn't fall into that trap. Many conspiracy theorists, struggling to understand how the world could possibly work in a way so opposite to their comprehension of it, wind up spinning impossibly complex tales to justify what would otherwise be inconceivable. Consider all those people out there who simply can't bring themselves to accept that a single person with a rifle might have brought down Kennedy; it was a huge event for them, and so it's absolutely unacceptable to think that just one solitary wacko might have so completely shaken up their lives.

There's a similar phenomenon on the "other" side of 9/11, too: the belief that Islamic terrorists are lurking behind every tree, waiting to blow up public libraries in North Dakota the instant someone lets down his guard. No one likes to think that their comfortable perception of the universe can be challenged by one act of violence.

But think how incredibly perfect a 9/11 fraud must have been in order for it to work. Has the Bush administration impressed you with their planning abilities, their tactical skills? Have exiting members of their administration been marvels of close-mouthed reticence? How is it possible that a group which can't even pull off a basic press conference without a team of experts on standby could arrange what would be without doubt the most complicated fraud of the last fifty years?

And think, too, about the ramifications of this sort of slander: you're accusing Bush and his co-conspirators of having knowingly murdered thousands of Americans. Not just sent them to their deaths, mind you. Murdered in cold blood, and lied about it. If you really thought that, wouldn't you want to do more about it than forward a few Macromedia Flash-enabled emails to your friends and family?

There's no doubt that Bush's advisors -- including the PNAC crowd -- were waiting for an opportunity like this to establish an American military foothold in the Middle East; they honestly believed that they could replace a hostile regime with a shining light of prosperous democracy and thus sway the region to their way of thinking. But given that groups like Al Qaeda have been openly at war with America for over a decade, it seems rather odd to suggest that they manufactured this event instead of just conveniently leveraging what they themselves argued was an inevitable attack.
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Postby Marvell » Mon Jul 17, 2006 9:03 pm

I think a more realistic possibility is that the Bush Administration essentially let it happen. Bush himself probably wouldn't have been in on the fix, or in only the most cursory way (as evidenced by his odd combination of bafflement and calm during the infamous 'billy goat book' moment); he would be 'debriefed' after the fact. Cheney would almost certainly know about it, as would Rumsfeld, but the actual fixers were probably local talent - Saudis and various other members of the 'world security community.'

That's where I differ from Bennett, and where I agree with the public statements of (of all people) George Bush; I'm quite sure that the World Trade Center towers were blown up by two commercial airliners which had been commandeered by nineteen men, all of whom were from ethnically Muslim areas.

More controversy about this aspect of it all is gratuitously beside the point.

I personally am much more interested in the Why and How these nineteen men pulled off the profoundest act of extra-military agression since that crazy Serb motherfucker took his crack at Franz Ferdinand (the Arch-Duke, not the band).
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Postby TomDavidson » Mon Jul 17, 2006 9:38 pm

Cheney would almost certainly know about it, as would Rumsfeld, but the actual fixers were probably local talent - Saudis and various other members of the 'world security community.'


See, I think even that much cynicism is probably unwarranted. Given that the attack was in its planning stages during the Clinton presidency, and the Bush team only barely managed to beat Gore in the electoral college, it seems unlikely to me that the PNAC crowd would have begun to lay the groundwork for an attack on American soil at that early juncture.

And, to be honest, it seems just as unlikely that Dick Cheney is monstrous enough to arrange the deaths of 3000 Americans to advance his political agenda. I mean, think about that. Think how incredibly partisan you'd have to be to even seriously consider the possibility. We deride Ann Coulter for accusing the NYT of treason; surely it's no more reasonable to accuse the Vice President of the United States of being directly complicit in the mass murder of American citizens.
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Postby snoqueen » Mon Jul 17, 2006 10:54 pm

I'm pretty much with what Marvell said. In my own words, I think we don't know what happened. I would add I don't think we know the exact mechanism by which the towers collapsed (which would be useful information from a skyscraper-engineering viewpoint) and above all I don't think we know the details of the preceding conspiracy.

In addition, I have never been comfortable with the Pentagon thing. In every other plane crash photo I ever saw, there's at least one big chunk of fuselage or wing lying there burnt. Why not at the Pentagon? And I have similar reservations about the plane that supposedly hit the ground in Pennsylvania. These were both side shows and different answers wouldn't have changed the subsequent actions of the administration either domestically or overseas, but a reasonable person can wonder.

I do think it's important to acknowledge the flaming ineptitude of the Bush administration. After all, these are the idiots who thought we could invade someone else's country, change the government, and do whatever we wanted with its national wealth without significant resistance from the locals. I don't like to credit them with a whole lot of finesse. I am quite willing to credit them with nearly unlimited dishonesty in twisting American foreign policy to the pursuit of their own goals, but not with masterminding a hugely complex global plot and pulling it off undetected.

It all leaves me wondering. I don't feel any need to cook up a solution the way Barrett does, full of Illuminati and Bilderburgers. If that makes me an idiot, there ya got it.

I do think one conclusion this topic illustrates well is reasonable persons can disagree in their interpretation of what passes for news. I don't deem you unreasonable for disagreeing with me.

Davidson wrote:And, to be honest, it seems just as unlikely that Dick Cheney is monstrous enough to arrange the deaths of 3000 Americans to advance his political agenda.


Whose agenda has he been advancing in Iraq, then? Not mine, for damn sure. And we're getting close to 3000 over there.

Maybe he's a nice guy in person, but history is going to judge him harshly for those deaths and much more. What has been lost during his term in office will not easily be restored. If you want to give him a pass on monstrosity with regard to the WTC dead, you still have to step over the American military dead to tag Cheney innocent in the way he's advanced his agenda.
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Postby Marvell » Mon Jul 17, 2006 11:16 pm

TomDavidson wrote:
And, to be honest, it seems just as unlikely that Dick Cheney is monstrous enough to arrange the deaths of 3000 Americans to advance his political agenda. I mean, think about that. Think how incredibly partisan you'd have to be to even seriously consider the possibility. We deride Ann Coulter for accusing the NYT of treason; surely it's no more reasonable to accuse the Vice President of the United States of being directly complicit in the mass murder of American citizens.


All I can say is, wow are you naive.

This is Dick Cheney we're talking about. He's seen it all - from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia through Nicaragua, El Salvador and Panama, and now Operation Enduring Freedom.

Collateral damage is that motherfuckers middle name. When you think of all the untold hundreds of innocent lives that man was involved in sending towards whatever they believed was their afterlife, what possible reason - other than sheer political expediency - would he have for drawing the proverbial 'bright line' at American lives?

Occam's Razor, baby. Now who's shopping for a tin-foil hat?
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