Friday, May 22, 2009

An expert on torture does not an 'expert on everything' make

Remember when I said I had no great love for Jesse Ventura? Yeah, turns out he's not only a media whore, but he's also a 9/11Truther (in the vein of 'the WTC towers were a controlled demolition'), Lincoln Assassination conspiracy nut, and all around New World Order conspiracy theorist.

It's a sad state of affairs when the Onion has the best commentary via satire:

There is a 9/11Truther movie out there on the internet called Loose Change, basically doing the Gish Gallop and throwing mounds of data at you with questions you can't immediately answer at a rate so fast that the average audience member can't even hope to keep up. Over the length of the movie, if you grant it's first few questions out of ignorance, it instills doubt into the idea you have of what actually happened that day. You begin to not lean either way. And pretty soon, you're mold for the hands of propagandists.

There isn't a huge groundswell behind skeptical thinking in our culture, and conspiracy theorists take advantage of that, by proclaiming themselves to be vehicles of critical thinking, skeptics of the "official story". But Skepticism isn't about doubting everything no matter what. The skeptical movement in this country and throughout the world employ reason and actual critical thinking based on evidence, lack of evidence, probability theory, the law of large numbers, and other science-based tools and processes.

In the end, all major conspiracy theories collapse under the weight of their own assumptions. Could the executive branch perpetrate a massive, televised attack in which thousands of eyewitnesses of every demographic stripe and ideological background were bamboozled and the world would be sold a bill of goods. And then 8 years later, no government bureaucrat had come forward as an insider to expose this gigantic atrocity?

Think about it for a second, the US government leaks like a sieve. The Jessica Lynch rescue story was bullshit on a stick and that was halfway around the world in a warzone with no media present. Whistle-blowers are now coming forward about the White House and the Vice President ordering Torture and repealing habeus corpus. Cheney had his own special ops unit that reported directly to him, somebody inside told Sy Hersh. (The investigative reporter for the New Yorker that broke the Abu Ghraib scandal, among other things.)

To give you a separate example of how one can know several things with great authority, but be a fool otherwise, I give you a great thread from PalMD:

"You know the moon landings were ginned up on a Hollywood sound stage, right?"

"Hey, how come it's so hard to get the Truth out there about the 9/11 attacks being staged by the CIA/Mossad?"

"I don't know why they think I'm crazy; the aliens really did probe my anus."

We hear crap like this all the time, but these wackos never get ink in major media outlets because, well, they are so clearly paranoid and deranged. So why do we see a similarly paranoid, deranged person like Jenny McCarthy on the pages of Time magazine? Is it because she's more photogenic than most alien abductees? Is it because she doesn't live in her mom's basement with her cats and collection of tin-foil hats?

The Response:
I am a practicing physician (M.D., Harvard Medical School 2000), a scientist (Ph.D., Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences '94), a husband, and parent to three small children. I am about as rational as a suburban Boston Board-certified anesthesiologist can get.

Please do not use pejoratives in association with the 9/11 Truth Movement. Please do consult Medical Professionals for 9/11 Truth (

The events of September 11, 2001 have been used by our government to justify killing over one million people. President Obama, within weeks of his inauguration, invoked 9/11 as a justification for sending 17,000 more troops to Afghanistan. Our civil liberties have been eroded by the Patriot Act of 2001, the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, the Protect America Act of 2007, and numerous other Orwellian edicts. The official explanation for 9/11 has been conveyed in the mainstream media with astonishing certainty beginning within hours of the attacks. Does this explanation deserve merit? Sadly and disturbingly not. High school physics, a bit of chemistry, and common sense lay bare a false narrative.

‘We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.’ -- William Casey, CIA Director, 1981-1987.

‘The Central Intelligence Agency owns everyone of any significance in the major media.’ -- William Colby, CIA Director, 1973-1976.

The facts of 9/11 tell the real story. Here are a few impossibilities that serve as tip to the iceberg:

Impossible: rapid and extreme destruction without additional energy source.

Impossible: free-fall speed by pile driver mechanism.

Impossible: molten steel from office fires, still flowing weeks later.

Impossible: numerous examples of prior knowledge -- WTC collapse known by Giuliani; WTC 7 collapse known by officials on the scene, on video; WTC 7 ‘collapse’ reported by multiple news media outlets while the building still stood.

Impossible: that X-ray energy dispersive spectra of multiple 9/11 dust samples would show the chemical fingerprint of the high-energy explosive thermate, if no explosives were used on that day. (ref. J. 9/11 Studies, vol. 19, Jan. 2008)

Thank you for your attention.


John Hiebert, M.D., Ph.D.
Asst. Clinical Professor, Tufts University School of medicine
Director of Regional Anesthesia
Department of Anesthesiology, Lahey Clinic
Burlington, MA

Posted by: John Hiebert | April 2, 2009 6:09 PM

The Response to the Response:
I am about as rational as a suburban Boston Board-certified anesthesiologist can get.

Please do not use pejoratives in association with the 9/11 Truth Movement.


(wiping tears)


(coughing, choking)

Which pejoratives should I avoid? Insane? Paranoid? Tinfoilhatwearingnutjob?
This is a lovely example of something I spend months hammering into trainees: it doesn't matter how competent you may be in one subject [1], you're worse than useless in others. At best you know enough to stay out of the way of people who know what they're doing.
You forgot to add this about yourself: "I am an ignorant fool."

MarkH from Denialism nutshells it better than I could:
The reality of conspiracy theories is very different. These don't represent any kind of healthy thought process at all. They require one to reach a conclusion, then ignore any information that contradicts it. They attempt to explain, but only create more questions. I like to say they are non-parsimonious. And worse, rather than make people think, they tend only to enforce bigotry and ideology. It is the intellectual equivalent of self-lobotomy.

Films often seem to reinforce non-skeptical thought. We like to be entertained, or scared, or shocked. Hence, every time someone is introduced as an atheist or "skeptic" in a film they're inevitably exposed to ghosts, or aliens, or whatever unlikely boogeyman serves the script. The skeptic never turns out to be right, as they are in real life. What would be the fun in that? Every movie would turn into an episode of Scooby Doo. It was just old man Withers with a flashlight after all, and a multi-million dollar CGI budget.

In the paranoid mind of the Conspiracy Theorist, there are three classes of human beings:
1)You are a perpetrator of the conspiracy, and thus a special secretive type of evil.
2)You are a dupe, a human completely unaware to the deeper world happening around you. You are described as Sheep, and are often expendable because of your obliviousness and ignorance.
3)You are one of those aware of the conspiracy. You are a savior, trying to expose the truth to the dupes, holding them in reserved contempt while shedding light on those who would try to shadow your world with darkness.

Oh. And. One. More. Thing.


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