As we come upon the 11th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, it's not just a time of reflection on the state of the world's politics and social justice issues. It's also a chance to revisit some of the most intense cases of mental gymnastics the human mind can produce. I mean of course CONSPIRACY THEORIES.
Since 9/11 has become the intellectual property of revisionists and various "truth seekers," it's worth having fun pouring over some epic theories to emerge over the years. Where as it would take an entire server full of word processing power to even scratch the surface of even just one of the millions of conspiracies currently kicking around the free market of ideas, let's instead take a look at just a couple classic conspiracy claims surrounding 9/11, the Titanic disaster, and of course, the Moon Landing.
September 11th 2001
Where to begin with 9/11 conspiracies? There simply are too many to address in one post and each have different players and different elements that contradict one another. Some have unmanned drones hitting the towers, some say explosives were planted inside the towers to bring them down. My favorite is the claim that the hijacked airplanes were digitally animated into the footage during live broadcast.
What they all have in common are the two points that I'll bother to address, as we have other conspiracies to get to. The two threads that run through all 9/11 truther conspiracies are:
1. "The towers were deliberately demolished because they fell in a pancake collapse into their own footprints, and that's never happened before."
2. "The Bush administration needed a 21st century Pearl Harbor to generate support for a war with Iraq."
Starting with the first claim about deliberate demolition, there is no precedence in history against which to compare the physical events of that day. Jesse Ventura argues that no steal building has ever collapsed due to fire. He's not wrong about that and you can cite a whack of examples to back him up.
"I ain't got time to bleed..."
The problem lies with the design of the towers; both were 110 story shafts in the sky supported by four steel columns in each corner and a concrete tube in the center full of elevators and stairwells. Each floor was a big open space suspended on steel trusses. Any fireman will tell you the old saying, "never trust the truss," because they are always the first part of a structure to fail in a fire. Usually it doesn't matter in the standard girder box steel frame that makes up the traditional skyscraper --if trusses go, so what -- you still have a steel skeleton.
The Twin Towers didn't have a skeleton so much as they had a shell because of the nature of their tube design.
Once you grasp the basic design of the two buildings and how they differed from almost every other skyscraper in New York, it becomes quickly apparent that the buildings wouldn't have collapsed in any way other than a-straight-down-pancake, as long as the outer corner columns were intact, as in both towers they were, even after the plane-strikes.
Irregardless of "who" orchestrated the attack, as long as the four outer corners were unharmed, the heat from the burning fuel was inevitably going to sag the truss-supported floors down until they dropped like a skirt off the homecoming queen.
As for the other claim that 9/11 was necessary to generate support for the US aggressive foreign policy, well... It sounds likely and there's no denying that the more authoritarian elements in the Bush administration got carte blanche to shit allover their own citizen's rights to privacy (Patriot Act), and their right to a fair trial (GITMO). But, as even Chomsky will point out, and he'd be the last person you'd expect to find defending the US government, EVERY authoritarian and totalitarian regime on the planet used 9/11 as an excuse to exercise more control over their populations, and cite self-defense as a justification for preemptive war.
The nail in the coffin of all 9/11 conspiracies just comes down to the fact that if the US government wasn't able to keep a Navy Seal who took part in killing Bin Laden from publishing a book or keep a burglary at the Watergate Hotel, or semen stains of a fat-ass intern's dress a secret --- how would it be possible that out of the thousands of people that would have to be involved to pull off something the scale of 9/11, not one would have let something slip somewhere along the line. But I guess there's some explanation for that involving reptilian overlords and mind-control.
The Sinking of the TITANIC
Now let's take a trip back 100 years to the most famous shipwreck in history where some might be aghast to learn that a devious conspiracy was behind the deliberate sinking of the Titanic. The motive behind the deed, so the story goes, was to collect insurance money. Titanic was the sister ship to the Olympic and was identical in design in every detail.
Unfortunately, the Olympic had been involved in a collision with a British naval vessel and knocked into dry-dock. The repairs and redesigns to Titanic that were ordered threatened to delay the launch of the Titanic and, most devastating, the Olympic was found at fault and therefore the White Star Line would not receive the insurance money to pay for the repairs.
The plan hatched was to quickly patch up the Olympic, re-dress her as the hurriedly launched Titanic, scuttle her at sea and collect the insurance money while the real Titanic was still being built. Explosives would be set off in the hull and a pre-arranged rescue ship would take on the passengers with no fatalities. According to the originators of this theory, the disguised Olympic accidently struck the rescue ship and not an iceberg, sinking both ships and leaving the passengers at the mercy of the Atlantic.
Comparison of "A" Deck. Titanic's deck was enclosed, Olympic's was open.
To rebuke this imaginative tale, one need only take two things in consideration. The first is that according to this theory, Titanic and Olympic were identical ships. They were not. After the successful maiden voyage, management decided they could up the luxuriousness of the still under construction Titanic by building in two parlor suites in the first class "A Deck" thereby increasing the number of cabins covered by a redesigned outer wall. This increased the tonnage of the ship, making her then the largest vessel in the world, and changed the profile of the starboard and port sides. In photographs of the time, one can see the Titanic and its upper decks are quite distinct from the more straight, symmetrical profile of the Olympic.
But as important as those tedious details are in blowing this theory out of the water, the bigger hole in this plot is that BOTH ships were at sea the night of the disaster. Olympic was one of the ships to receive the distress signal from Titanic but like many ships in radio contact, was too far to lend any meaningful assistance. Personally I prefer the story of the cursed mummy that was secretly stowed away in the cargo hold, along with the ark of the covenant and that Coronado's Cross thing young Indiana Jones wanted to put in a museum.
The Moon Landing
No discussion on conspiracy theories would be complete without a mention of our dear departed hero Neil Armstrong and his pals allegedly faking the moon-landing. This one has never been much of a litmus test for how far out in the ether a conspiracy theorist actually is. Engage them in a conversation about the moon landing and you find out it's the token conspiracy. The test is to see how far away from the topic of the moon you can get, while you allow them to unravel the "truth" about Roswell, JFK, etc.
The moon-landing hoax theory is the initiation or gateway drug into hardcore conspiracy theories because it never stops there. There are no conspiracy theorists who would tell you the Moon-Landing was a hoax but that Roswell was probably just a weather balloon, or that they believe Bigfoot is a real creature but not the Loch Ness Monster. For whatever reason, just like cable TV, conspiracy theories only come in package deals.
This is actually LESS annoying than the conspiracy theories.
In keeping with bashing the two most common pieces of "evidence" cited by theorists, let's look at the long assailed waving American flag and the quality of the Astronauts' landscape photography.
Before Americans reached it, Russia crashed LUNIK the robot into the moon.
The argument goes that since there is no wind in space, how can the flag appear to be waving around as if caught by a breeze. One explanation is that someone opened the door to the soundstage at Area 51 and whoosh of air caught the flag. Unfortunately, the truth is just boring old inertia. There may not be wind in the vacuum of space but that also means there is nothing to buffet or provide resistance. When the astronauts handled the flag, it continued moving from the inertia of the force they put against it, just as if they were to jump too high and fast, they'd propel themselves into space at a constant speed, until they smashed into something.
As for the photography, conspiracy theorists point out that in some images, the high key light of the sun appears to impossibly cast shadows that travel at differing degrees of angle across the moon's surface, ergo, the astronauts must have used multiple light sources. In this case, it's the unique properties of the moon's topography that are the culprit for the illusion. There aren't many areas on the moon that are perfectly flat like a dry lake bed or frozen pond. On the contrary, the surface is very porous and pot-marked with craters from a few inches to several miles in diameter.
It's these features that Neil Armstrong commented on in an BBC interview in 1970 and that were reproduced on the Discovery Channel's Myth Busters that cause the the interaction of light with objects on the surface to trick our perception. But then, as with all the explanations I've offered up in this post from 9/11 to the Titanic, that sounds like something the Illuminati would want you to believe, that, and the plans they have for Hitler's brain...