Thursday, March 23, 2006

Conspiracy Theories, 9/11, and Historical Revisionism

Actor Charlie Sheen, who also apparently fancies himself a noted engineer and historian, is making waves with his repetition of some of the conspiracy theories around the historical events of September 11th, 2001 in New York City.

He said, "Call me insane but did it sort of look like those buildings came down in a controlled demolition?"

Yeah, maybe Charlie Sheen is insane. It looks to me like the planes full of jet fuel which are shown on camera hitting the towers brought those buildings down. I also bet it was that hijacked plane full of fuel that caused the damage at the Pentagon too rather than a controlled demolition. It looks as though Charlie and others are not denying that planes hit these locations but they are also claiming that (depending on the conspiracy theory) that Israeli agents or the US government helped the terrorists commit the attacks.

While in many ways this lack of critical thinking skills is somewhat humorous, it is also sadly the beginning of what will almost certainly become a historical revisionist view of 9/11. As time goes by, decade by decade, I expect more and more books and web sites "proving" that 9/11 was a plot by the CIA, Mossad, or (insert your theory here).

I find a striking similarity between 9/11 revisionist and Holocaust deniers. Many of the claims of Holocaust revisionism is that the Holocaust was a fabricated event created by the West to justify the creation of Israel. The 9/11 revisionists are claiming that the event was contrived by Israel or other western power to create a backlash against Arabs which also benefits Israel. I find it ironic that educated individuals who may even realize the Protocols of the Elders of Zion is fake and is not proof of a worldwide Jewish conspiracy also at the same time believe that many of the major historical events of the last 70 years are proof of a worldwide Jewish conspiracy.

I realize that the lack of proof for a conspiracy is by itself proof that a conspiracy may exist. Or at least that is how many view conspiracies. However, a small number of men could not keep Watergate hushed up. Do you really think a much larger number of people required to pull of government conspiracy of this magnitude would stay quiet very long? Not one person has talked in 5 years? Of course, some still think the government has a UFO in Roswell, New Mexico too that thousands of people have apparently have stayed quiet about. So I guess this is not a stretch for many.

Wikipedia has an article on Historical Revisionism (Negationism). In it, there is a list of techniques used by revisionists. Many of them listed are being used by the 9/11 revisionist crowd including conspiracy theories, selective use of facts, burden of proof, and wishful thinking (apparent on the so called Arab Street).

Academics need to prepare themselves. This will not go away and it is just a matter of time before we have a significant number of students in class who are going to believe the stuff that Charlie Sheen and others are claiming as facts. Be prepared to do some serious debunking!


andromush said...

I used to completely agree with what you are saying about 9/11 until I watched loose change and it made me think about what really happened. I am not completely sure at this point where I stand on the issue anymore due to this documentary. It is definately worth watching and then decide for yourself if you still hold the same position on the events of that day. below I provided a link for the documentary.

Miland said...

I am sorry but I did not find this video very credible. I offered no proof for claims of what actually happened and focused more using straw man arguments and negatives to make a case. The creation science crowd does this all the time with arguments against evolution and I find it no more credible there either.

Here are some debunking links to check out. I am sure they were created by the "conspiracy" if you are a believer but for everyone else: (Snopes on the Pentagon) (Popular Mechanics debunks) (Scientific America debunks)

Glass said...

Watch the documentary "Loose Change". You can view it free on Google Video. Also check out Scholars for 9/11 Truth, Prison Planet, and the Alex Jones documentary Martial Law 9/11, also available free on Google Video.

Jet fuel can only burn to around 1600 degress, while steel needs more than 2000-3000 degrees of heat for hours of time in order to begin to melt. There is no way a jet fuel fire brought down those buildings. That's just one of many facts you need to check out that show that neither the government's story nor the 9/11 commission's story add up.

I love your blog and enjoy reading it, but I don't really see how bashing Charlie Sheen fits into it. If you want to write about 9/11, for either side of the issue, that's great and I encourage it, whether or not I agree with you. Just do some real research into the topic.

Miland said...

"Jet fuel can only burn to around 1600 degress, while steel needs more than 2000-3000 degrees of heat for hours of time in order to begin to melt. There is no way a jet fuel fire brought down those buildings."

Wrong. From Scientific America at

For example, according to, steel melts at a temperature of 2,777 degrees Fahrenheit, but jet fuel burns at only 1,517 degrees F. No melted steel, no collapsed towers. "The planes did not bring those towers down; bombs did," says Wrong. In an article in the Journal of the Minerals, Metals, and Materials Society and in subsequent interviews, Thomas Eagar, an engineering professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, explains why: steel loses 50 percent of its strength at 1,200 degrees F; 90,000 liters of jet fuel ignited other combustible materials such as rugs, curtains, furniture and paper, which continued burning after the jet fuel was exhausted, raising temperatures above 1,400 degrees F and spreading the inferno throughout each building. Temperature differentials of hundreds of degrees across single steel horizontal trusses caused them to sag--straining and then breaking the angle clips that held the beams to the vertical columns. Once one truss failed, others followed. When one floor collapsed onto the next floor below, that floor subsequently gave way, creating a pancaking effect that triggered each 500,000-ton structure to crumble. Conspiricists argue that the buildings should have fallen over on their sides, but with 95 percent of each building consisting of air, they could only have collapsed straight down.

"Just do some real research into the topic."

As you see by the Scienific American quote above, I have.

"but I don't really see how bashing Charlie Sheen fits into it."

I also bashed David Irving on his Holocaust denial. Charlie Sheen is fair game too when he takes on the role of historian and then spouts nonsense.

The Web is a wonderful thing but I am afraid accurate history is getting harder and harder to determine as every fringe theory out there has it's own extensive link to pages of urban legends which are being passed about as fact. Even easily refuted arguments such as jet fuel and steel you cited take on a life of their own and seem to be impervious to actual scientific scrutiny.

Regardless, I am glad you enjoy this blog. Further, even though you threw in a bunch of links (which I normally do not allow due to spamming) I will not delete your comment. You have had your say and I wish you the best.

zman said...

You can conclude from much of the research, propaganda, blogs and reports on the 911 conspiracy that there are inconsistencies across the board with respect to eye witness accounts and official statements. Eye witness accounts, quoted officials and recorded statements are often flawed with inconsistencies and inaccuracies for what are historically normative phenomena called "human error." Under duress, fatigued individuals (humans) stressed from highly emotional and traumatic events, will misstate and even propagate misinformation. How many times have you misstated something, gave the wrong impression, or flat-out mislead someone (unintentionally) by repeating incomplete or inaccurate information? Some of the basis for the conspiracy has to do with statements of this nature; information or statements that are taken out of context and considered with a pre-disposed bias that inevitably leads one to conclude or conjecture an outcome that supports one’s bias. By and large, there are sufficient explanations that are supported by reputable organizations (Popular Mechanics, Scientific America to name a few) that provide alternative and viable explanations to support the official findings and statements made regarding most of the conspiracy claims about the 911 attacks.

It seems to me that although there is a lot of emotion surrounding the 911 conspiracy, there is very little substance, or compelling evidence and motive cited by these so called conspiracy proponents to persuade me to consider this anything more than politically motivated, hyperbolic propaganda, that is spewed by individuals who believe that they (the enlightened few) can see the true nature of our evil government; and that it is there patriotic duty to uncover for the sheeple (people) of this country, and for the benefit of the world, this plot to enslave the 3rd world and steal all its natural resources. Okay so that was a bit of hyperbolly on my part. But I hope you get my point.

I would like to emphasize that I believe that there is a certain level of mistrust for our government that is healthy and that defines, culturally, what America is about. However, so long as proponents of this theory are willing to reveal their political motives and irrationality by either literally or effectively communicating a contradictory notion like the following:

“George Bush is so stupid that he can’t string a complete sentence together...and...He’s organized the greatest conspiracy of all time; one that involves the cooperation of many government and private entities; and one that has deceived the majority of the American people,”

it is difficult for me to take at face value the 911 conspiracy, regardless of how sincere and thoughtful the pundits of this propaganda may feel about it. And, from my observation, it is politically motivated by the blame America first crowd.



quicknthedead said...

No one has debunked this yet…and it’s not a “theory”—just the facts.
“Plane Impact” Times: Incriminating Evidence of 9/11 Coverup & Complicity

“Seismic Proof – 9/11 Was An Inside Job (Updated Version II)”
By Craig T. Furlong & Gordon Ross, Scholars for 9/11 Truth:

The official times for plane "impact" [precise to the second] as declared by the US Government, from both the 9/11 Commission and from NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology), are different and yet both are true and accurate times. What can this factual contradiction mean? Looking exclusively at WTC1, there is found the indisputable causal link:

One World Trade, September 11, 2001
American Airlines Flight 11 “impact” time:
8:46:30 UTC, per LDEO seismic data (National Institute of Standards and Technology, 2005)
8:46:40 UTC, per FAA last primary radar contact (9/11 Commission Final Report, 2004)

Q- What caused the 8:46:30 seismic event that occurred 10 seconds before the actual aircrash at 8:46:40?
A- The only possibility is huge explosions, as corroborated by many eyewitnesses at the time.
Q- Who caused these explosions before the plane hit?

In 2004, the 9/11 Commission avoided addressing the earlier seismic event time (which had been, in error, attributed by Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, originally in 2001 as “plane impact”).
In 2005, NIST avoided addressing the 9/11 Commission’s later time for the aircraft’s actual impact time.
Both the 9/11 Commission and NIST avoided addressing the many witnesses who testified of explosions in the basements before the plane crashed.

This precision data has yet to be refuted by anyone. It is from the two highest governmental entities charged with looking into what happened on 9/11, and both declared these times as accurate, and in doing so they corroborate William Rodriguez and the many eyewitnesses the morning of 9/11 who testified of explosions in the sub-basements of WTC1 before American Airlines Flight 11 struck the building. This is indicting evidence of governmental coverup, and thus implication of complicity.

Before it is too late, demand a new 9/11 investigation, except this time a real one.
Justice waits...{and there is no statute of time limitation on murder}

thecabinet said...

Discussion of conspiracy theories help us to try to understand the why and how of what cannot be understood.
As far 9/11 conspiracy goes-you have to look at who profited from it. the way...the Roswell craft is at Wright-Patterson AFB.

Anonymous said...

I caution people against simply believing what they read or hear. Instead, consider the sources and use some common sense.

I watched "Loose Change" 2nd ed. with an open mind. The video is surely intriguing and thought provoking, but I cannot agree with its claims simply by watching a video. Its arguments seemed weak and even its claim of what really happened offers many unanswered questions.

I could probably write a whole opinion piece myself on this subject, but the bottom line is that imaginations are fun things to play with. Like any toy, they can be dangerous and should be used with caution.