Other people get all mushy about 9/11

I didn’t spend yesterday pondering where I was 5 years ago. I also don’t think either the US nor the world is any safer from terrorism. Thus I really didn’t have much to say.

Sharon Weinberger on the other hand goes right for the jugular defending Steven Jones. She has two arguments, professors say silly things and since conspiracy theorists don’t trust the establishment anyway, driving one of their own out into the cold, will push more to the fringe.

I’d agree with the first but I respectfully disagree with the second.

As to the first point, having a PhD or a professorship does not guarantee having a solid grasp on reality. It also does not guarantee that the person with those qualifications won’t slip off the edge into fantasy. And yes, I’ve had a couple of history profs that left something to be desired.

On the other hand Jones has shown that he really doesn’t want to play by the academic rules. This was shown during the cold fusion episode and shown again by his involvement with Scholars for 9/11 Truth. I would argue that since he doesn’t want to play by the rules, he shouldn’t be protected by them. Scientists have a responsibility to use their knowledge and position responsibly. Misusing academic credentials by doing “science by press release” harms all areas of science, not just that specific branch. It doesn’t matter if the fringe gets farther from the center. We need the middle to go back to trusting what academics aggree on.

The media is increasingly willing to find two sides to any story, real or imagined. The search for facts is losing out to the search for balance. This is the lever creationists use. It’s the lever global warming opponents use. It’s the lever conspiracy theorists use. Not every issue has two sides. The sky is blue even if a professor claims its green.

Do I need thermite charge cutting down the trade center? No, not really. Even before 9/11 one of my cocktail party memes was the fact that in a fire, metal isn’t as stable as wood. Wood supports need to burn almost all the way through before the building collapses, metal only needs to get soft enough to bend before the building collapses. This is a big difference and really surprised fire departments at the turn of the last century.

And conspiracy theory in general? Come on. I am usually astonished that governments (not just the US government, any government) achieve as much as they do. There is incompetence and infighting at every level, renew your drivers license recently? Yet they get things done. Everyday. And most things work. How cool is that?!

But the government hiding something at the level of a 9/11 plot, I don’t think so. But then again I didn’t spend yesterday thinking about where I was 5 years ago.

 [Update: This pegs what I think about 9/11]

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