Working Through the Controlled Demolition Conspiracy

post by rysade · 2012-01-30T16:11:42.191Z · score: 1 (20 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 16 comments

I hope I'm not breaking any taboos here. It's been a while since I've come onto the discussion section and I admit I'm not too up to date on the topics.

I'm having difficulty responding to someone who is convinced that 7WTC was brought down by controlled demolition on September 11th, 2001. They're referencing the controlled-looking destruction of 7WTC and various other incriminating looking things. Thermite and thermite waste products seem to come up a lot.

Now, I have definitely noticed I'm confused here. While I hold the opinion that the towers went down because of the planes/fires (i.e. the standard explanation) I have difficulty seeing how the falsity of controlled demolition is the slam-dunk [? · GW] folks seem to think it is. Could somebody walk me through this?

 

[EDIT: About a million edits later, I have finally worked through the problem with my link: I needed it to be in HTML and not in the comment format.]

16 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Emile · 2012-01-30T16:18:58.890Z · score: 10 (12 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Wikipedia seems like a much better starting point than asking Less Wrong.

comment by rysade · 2012-01-30T16:41:07.437Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ok, I read through the Wikipedia entry, and yes. It has proven to be very helpful. Thanks.

comment by Randaly · 2012-01-30T19:19:55.962Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

A few points:

  • The standard explanation is, and should be the default explanation: given that we know that there were planes that crashed into the towers, we know that OBL had "declared war on" and attacked the US previously, that the attackers had previous ties to Al-Qaeda, among their other extremely well known and studied background info, etc, we have more than enough info to establish that there was in fact a successful Al-Qaeda plot to attack the WTC, in essentially the known manner.

  • There is therefore no need to suppose a government plot.

  • So the conspiracy theorists are starting with exceedingly weak priors for their case; they also have no persuasive/effective evidence in their case's favor. I don't really feel any need to list every possible argument against the standard case and their flaws, but see eg here or here.

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2012-01-31T08:31:35.353Z · score: -1 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

the conspiracy theorists are starting with exceedingly weak priors for their case

The priors are exceedingly week because the evidence in your comment is filtered. You did not mention e.g. this: War is an excuse to tax citizens and buy weapons from big producers, who in turn sponsor politicians -- therefore politicians have an incentive to declare wars to keep the money flowing. Also war helps to turn attention away from domestic problems. Or this: False flag operations are sometimes used to start a war.

Even including this, it may still result that WTC attacks most probably happened similarly to the official version. But making your case seem stronger than it really is, is still a sin against rationality.

comment by Randaly · 2012-01-31T19:46:25.110Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes, but as I said, there's absolutely no evidence whatsoever that there was a government conspiracy, whereas the al-Qaeda plot has been exceedingly well documented; there's no reason to believe that government officials had a motive, whereas Osama had repeatedly stated that he would attack the US, and had done so previously. More specifically:

One last point is that I may have confused you about what I'm calling "priors"; I'm referring solely to the priors for the claims rysade brought up, regarding the actual mechanics of the destruction, which include the stuff I brought up in my first section above as evidence. I agree that the priors for any terrorist attack in the US being a false flag operation are somewhat higher than the posteriors given the above evidence- thus the fact that I posted the above evidence.

comment by siodine · 2012-01-30T18:55:21.721Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

From my experience, conspiracy theorists are like everyone else epistemologically except they have different motivations: most people want to believe the world is just, while conspiracy theorists want to believe the world is sinister. Like with most people, you have to watch out for motivated skepticism or what skeptics call anomaly hunting.

To guard against that, you'll have to find a way to make their evidence clearly defined and inescapable. I recommend having them write down all the evidence for their belief that 9/11 was blah blah and then weight it. Here's an example:

  • 7WTC blah blah is 60% of the support for my belief that 9/11 blah blah
  • Nanothermite blah blah 15%
  • Blah blah holograms 5%

Ask them what percentage of that evidence is sufficient for their belief, and then just take the paper and research it. Come back another day and discuss your findings dialectically.

If you're looking for information resources, here's some mixed quality ones from my bookmarks:

comment by shminux · 2012-01-30T20:56:10.687Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Downvoted for failing to check google/wikipedia first.

comment by Manfred · 2012-01-30T19:18:53.550Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I suppose if you really wanted to get into it, you could go read an engineering review of what happened.

comment by psikeyhackr · 2012-07-27T00:55:53.875Z · score: -4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

First I did a search and found the word PHYSICS is not on this page. Now it is.

The Laws of Physics do not give a damn about CONSPIRACIES and they do not give a damn about people who do not understand grade school Newtonian Physics. Of course they don't give a damn about people who do understand Newtonian Physics either. Physics is indifferent! That is all this 9/11 business is, PHYSICS. It is not Einsteinian Physics. It is not Quantum Physics. Actually WTC7 is not even very interesting. But it was 300 feet wide. Watch the roof line come down and see how close to perfectly horizontal it remains from start of collapse to finish.

Then explain how a fire could cause such a high degree of perfection? The Physics dictates that mass is going to accelerate due to gravity at a specific rate. So for the roof to start coming down in line and stay in line they would have to give way at the same time. Most people say within a 1/10th of a second. So how many supports were there across 300 feet that all gave way within a 1/10th of a second? How could fire do that? High precision fire. LOL

comment by 911truther · 2012-01-30T16:21:32.870Z · score: -7 (27 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

What you need to think about is what consequence any of this has to your life. The reality is, like the moon landing, it means absolutely nothing to the decisions you'll be making whether it's real or not. Like holocaust denial, the only reason people make one claim rather than another is to be seen as a certain type of person.

comment by Emile · 2012-01-30T17:11:15.088Z · score: 12 (16 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Like holocaust denial, the only reason people make one claim rather than another is to be seen as a certain type of person.

That's true in the same sense that I don't stab people who cut in line because I don't want to be seen as a psychopath, and I don't say that 2+2=5 because I don't want to be seen as an idiot.

comment by Cthulhoo · 2012-01-30T18:42:01.973Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

What you need to think about is what consequence any of this has to your life. The reality is, like the moon landing, it means absolutely nothing to the decisions you'll be making whether it's real or not. Like holocaust denial, the only reason people make one claim rather than another is to be seen as a certain type of person.

To me honestly it appears that the consequences of such beliefs are relevant. If the WTC went through a controlled demolition, this affects the standard view of what happened next, and should influence your beliefs on politics and terrorism at least. This can be relevant to evaluate what to expect from the future and should influence some future decisions. The moon landing is less relevant, but it still says something on the limit of what humanity can achieve under a strong pressure, and can be a factor if extreme conditions manifest in the future (e.g. a huge impending natural disaster). Finally, the holocaust is one of the strongest arguments against dictatorship and expressions of racism. If it didn't happen, your priors against a dictatorship being a good form of government should be modified.

comment by prase · 2012-01-30T18:11:10.553Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

There are indirect consequences. Believing nonsense forces one to compartmentalise at best and contaminates one's whole epistemology at worst. Many facts I am/was interested in have practically zero direct consequences to my life. Consider the consequences of knowing about

  • evolution / origin of life
  • quantum mechanics
  • Big Bang
  • simulation hypothesis
  • history of the Roman empire
  • almost all philosophy
  • ...
comment by Anubhav · 2012-01-31T07:15:36.586Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Believing nonsense forces one to compartmentalise at best and contaminates one's whole epistemology at worst.

False dichotomy. Not believing in the truth does not imply believing nonsense. It's always possible to say "meh, I have no idea what to believe and the 5 days it'd take to decide probably aren't worth it" and move on.

(For instance... which do you believe is a better model of the universe, M-theory or loop quantum gravity?)

comment by prase · 2012-01-31T20:22:19.785Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Agnosticism indeed doesn't imply believing nonsense. But being agnostic about a question which can be easily decided on evidential grounds has similar consequences as believing nonsense, compartmentalisation-wise. For example, it requires believing that it would take five days to arrive to a reasonable conclusion, which belief may be false. On the other hand, for the particular question asked by the OP the five days may not be unreasonably long, so you may have a point.

which do you believe is a better model of the universe, M-theory or loop quantum gravity?

Loop quantum gravity. (I don't imply that this is a question one should have a definite opinion about.)

comment by Anubhav · 2012-01-30T16:30:49.817Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Upvoted for the first two sentences, not sure what to make of the last one.