Captain's Quarters Blog

« Lebanon Unity Dissolving? | Main | The American Lord Haw Haw »

September 3, 2006
The Futility Of Applying Reason To Insanity

With the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks fast approaching, the government has busied itself with answering questions raised by conspiracy theorists who fervently believe that the World Trade Center towers had help in their destruction. The State Department and the National Institue of Stantards and Technology both released reports this week proving once again that when big airplanes loaded with jet fuel plow into skyscrapers, it tends to destroy the buildings:

The official narrative of the attacks has been attacked as little more than a cover story by an assortment of radio hosts, academics, amateur filmmakers and others who have spread their arguments on the Internet and cable television in America and abroad. As a motive, they suggest that the Bush administration wanted to use the attacks to justify military action in the Middle East.

Most elaborately, they propose that the collapse of the World Trade Center was actually caused by explosive charges secretly planted in the buildings, rather than by the destructive force of the airliners that thundered into the towers and set them ablaze.

The government reports and officials say the demolition argument is utterly implausible on a number of grounds. Indeed, few proponents of the explosives theory are willing to venture explanations of how daunting logistical problems would be overcome, such as planting thousands of pounds of explosives in busy office towers.

Nevertheless, federal officials say they moved to affirm the conventional history of the day because of the persistence of what they call “alternative theories.” On Wednesday, the National Institute of Standards and Technology issued a seven-page study based on its earlier 10,000-page report on how and why the trade center collapsed. The full report, released a year ago, and the new study, in a question and answer format, are available online at

Perhaps the most disturbing fact in this report comes from recent polling, which shows the American public to be almost as susceptible to conspiracy theories as the Arabs. Scripps Survey Research Center reported that over a third of us believe that the US government either participated in the 9/11 attacks or deliberately allowed them to happen. Sixteen percent said that the towers came down because government agents had secretly planted explosives in them prior to 9/11. That means one in every six adults believe that the government conspired to kill 3,000 Americans -- and potentially as many as 25,000, given the normal occupancy of the towers.

Of course, this falls hard on reality even with a cursory glance. As the NYT points out, it would take many thousands of explosives to bring the towers down by design, especially if one rejects the science behind the heat of jet-fuel fires and its effect on steel girders. When exactly were these explosives planted, and how did they get planted with no one's notice? And if the building was primed for demolition in this manner, how did the explosives keep from detonating at impact, or at least in the heat of the jet-fuel fire? For that matter, why design a demolition from the top down when building demolitions always take place from the ground up?

The State Department report can be found at this link. It debunks a wider range of conspiracy theories, such as the allegation that the Pentagon did not get hit by a plane, 4,000 Jews did not show up for work on 9/11 in New York City, and that al-Qaeda didn't conduct the 9/11 attacks. They have plenty of ammunition from which to work, some of which is so determinative that it reveals countertheories as the products of fevered imaginations. It's hard to explain, for instance, why the black box of American 77 was found in the rubble of the Pentagon, as well as the DNA of passengers and crew, if it didn't crash there. Eyewitnesses saw passengers in the windows of the jet just before its crash, and as the site wryly notes, "Missiles don’t have windows or carry passengers."

And yet over a third of us believe the government took part in the attacks, and half of those believe that the buildings were wired for demolition.

As I wrote a couple of days ago in relation to the nut who thinks Stephen King killed John Lennon, one cannot counter insanity and paranoia with sweet reason. King himself tried to do so with Steve Lightfoot, the paranoid who has pursued him for over twenty years, and his effort got paid off by Lightfoot's insistence that King's kind message constituted a death threat in code. Reason doesn't enter into it. Mental illness does not respond to reason, and this impulse reflects a sickness that all of the scientific studies and review of facts will never cure. It's a belief that all evil begins in America and that everything wrong in the world has its source in Washington DC -- combined with an unhealthy dose of Bush Derangement Syndrome.

Don't expect a cure for this insanity any time soon. If anything, these reports act as a vaccine for the unafflicted -- and a warning for those who may be tempted to stare into the abyss.

UPDATE: Rick Moran at Right Wing Nuthouse applauds the government's efforts to respond to the conspiracy nuts, but deplores the need for it:

Not content with letting the moonbats, the freaks, the paranoids, and the ignoramuses who spout 9/11 conspiracy theories get away with their nonsensical idiocies any longer, the government released two separate reports debunking several major claims of the 9/11 fantasists in an effort to keep the record of that horrible day from being hijacked by crazies.

And as a bonus, in the process of answering the reports, two major 9/11 conspiracists have revealed themselves to be laughable, hopelessly moronic nutcases. ...

The fact that it took a dozen people two months to condense the evidence for the tower’s collapse down to 7 pages should make you angry. This waste of time and resources is the direct result of people who should (or actually do) know better but whose ignorance and inability to grasp reality (or who choose to believe otherwise for political purposes) have infected the gullible, the shallow thinkers, and out and out loons who have spread their laughable theories on the internet and elsewhere.

Rick also does what I should have done -- praise New York Times reporter Jim Dwyer for his excellent riposte to the conspiracy theorists.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 3, 2006 9:01 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry is

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference The Futility Of Applying Reason To Insanity:

» 9/11 TIN FOIL HATS ARE MELTING from Right Wing Nut House
Bully for the US government! Not content with letting the moonbats, the freaks, the paranoids, and the ignoramuses who spout 9/11 conspiracy theories get away with their nonsensical idiocies any longer, the government released two separate reports d... [Read More]

Tracked on September 3, 2006 10:28 AM

» Remembering 9/11, The Liberal Way from Flopping Aces
Now I can’t say for sure if a liberal put this up on YouTube, but I would lay money on it. This is a clip where the author put 9/11 scenes into America’s Funniest Videos, as if its funny. Check this out and tell me if there is a special placed rese... [Read More]

Tracked on September 3, 2006 11:55 AM


Design & Skinning by:
m2 web studios

blog advertising


Proud Ex-Pat Member of the Bear Flag League!