Thursday, September 11, 2008

Seven years ago this morning

Seven years ago this morning everything changed.

Seven years ago this morning my son was just a goofy high school junior, and my daughter was only 12. Seven years ago this morning I could still run three miles in 27 minutes. Motivated by what happened seven years ago this morning, my son became a Marine, learned to run three miles in 20 minutes, and prepared for his time in Iraq. I can recall, if not still feel, the anger I felt seven years ago this morning. I might have joined up myself but I was already too old. Now I am too old plus seven years, and have had my anger refreshed.

The anger infusion came courtesy of a documentary on the 9-11 conspiracy theories. Discovery Channel? History Channel? Conspiracy Channel? Can't remember which. I think it first aired in 2007. Two hours of a well-balanced look at the claims the "truthers" make, juxtaposed with actual truth.

It's amazing that these conspiracy buffs can make some of their claims with a straight face. For example, to claim that it was not an airliner that hit the Pentagon seven years ago this morning, when hundreds of people personally witnessed it. I know people myself who were in DC that day and saw the plane flying low right over them, seconds before the impact. But the wingnuts can't accept that reality.

Several years ago, Popular Mechanics took on the task of evaluating at all the claims. The lead to their story says:
Go to, type in the search phrase "World Trade Center conspiracy" and you'll get links to an estimated 628,000 Web sites.
The analysis by Popular Mechanics makes a lot more sense than the gibberish from nimrods like the Loose Change people. The documentary I watched earlier this week even mentioned that the Loose Change boys have re-edited their movie (they call it the "final cut" - clever) to remove their blatant errors. Kind of facile, don't you think, to claim you have the real truth, but when someone refutes it, you modify your story and say, "Wait, that wasn't the real truth, THIS is the real truth." Standard operating procedure for the conspiracy crowd - when new evidence shows your theory is wrong, make a new theory. Of course, the Loose Change boys got their comeuppance from Screw Loose Change (now that actually is clever) and you can read a ton of refutation there if you so choose. But it doesn't matter much what you say or so with the conspiracy crowd. If you tell them they're full of shit, they accuse you of being part of the conspiracy, so credit is due to the magazine for wading into it.

I have always been drawn to the great conspiracy theories and the people who spin them. I think we all have some level of curiosity when anyone claims to be lifting up the curtain to show us what's happening behind the scenes. It's a genre all its own - a fiction genre. In my talk radio days, I did hours of interviews with JFK assassination theorists, read a bunch of their books. It used to be a lot easier to believe in conspiracies until I grew up enough to realize how truly random life is, how the most improbable things happen sometimes.

Conspiracy theories serve the same purpose as belief in life after death. It is more comforting to think that all things happen for a reason, that there is a guiding hand, than to accept the chaos of reality. Chaos is lonely. Conspiracy nuts think they are brave for their beliefs. To be truly brave is to stand on the edge of the abyss and not to reason why things don't make sense.


Hillbilly Deluxe said...

You could never run 3 miles in 27 minutes. Who are you kidding?

Barry Martin said...

No, but really, I could! I mean it! I'm serious!