Critical thinking skills applied to some evidence from 9/11

“The CIA’s campaign to popularize the term ‘conspiracy theory’ and make conspiracy belief a target of ridicule and hostility must be credited, unfortunately, with being one of the most successful propaganda initiatives of all time.” (Lance deHaven-Smith, Conspiracy Theory in America)

Conspiracy theorists are really nothing more than skeptics. But as the case put forward by the Warren Commission began to collapse in the late 1960’s, CIA saw a need to immunize the general population from doubt, and so instructed its media moles to start branding skeptics as that. (In the late 70s we learned that CIA had placed 400 or more moles in the news media and academia, giving us our nightly news and scholarly books on current events, basically rewriting our history as we go.)

Skeptics, now belittled as conspiracy theorists, are the vigilant citizenry that a republic might need if there still existed a chance to keep it.

It appears now that the education system, nothing to brag about from the 1900’s forward, has gotten very proficient at turning out graduates at all levels who are not capable of exercising skepticism, or critical thinking skills. Consider this:

In 2003 the Department of Education did a study of adult literacy, and the findings were unsettling. Here is how it defined “proficient,” its highest level of skill:

DOE Study

Only 13 percent of Americans qualified as proficient. More interesting, only 31 percent of college graduates did. [More disturbing yet, see page 15 of the study: The grouping of those involved in graduate studies is only 36% proficient!]

Knowing the basic skill sets of most Americans, government, the media, advertisers and public relations people, writers and elected officials are able to lie with ease. And they do. As the bumper sticker says, everything we know is wrong. Here’s an extreme example (a 17 second clip):

(I do like that the news reader in this clip said “if you can believe that.”)

Stop and think: We were told that a jet aircraft slammed into a building at 500+ miles per hour* and that in the resulting inferno the planes and everyone aboard were incinerated.

passportKnowing that, what are the chances that one piece of paper encased in plastic not only survived, but ended up several blocks away? It has to escape the blaze, be transported in some manner, and be found in the huge mess that was Ground Zero. It has to be that one person’s passport, and not that of another passenger or airline employee, or even one of the several thousand people who died that day.

I do not have to calculate odds here. It is simply impossible. That passport came from some other source.

Given that the passport could not possibly have survived the inferno and then move blocks away, what are the implications?
*Passenger airliners can only travel at those speeds in rarified air at 30-40,000 feet. At ground level, flying at that speed would cause a jet aircraft to disintegrate in midair due to resistance. The process of landing an airliner takes a half an hour or more because the pilot is slowly reducing his speed to allow him to enter heavier air as he approaches the airport.

14 thoughts on “Critical thinking skills applied to some evidence from 9/11

    1. Too funny. I doubt you read this post, though you might have viewed the YouTube. You surely did not follow the link to the study.

      Therefore, your grouping in that study is mostly likely “Below Basic”, or “Basic” at best.

      More importantly, such abilities as that carry with them no self-awareness. You are impermeable in that regard, and so able to exist as a self-perceived high-functioning citizen. So you are a joy to all you visit on the Internet blogs, a case study. Thank you for dropping by!


        1. All of us who exist outside the margins of mainstream thought are challenged to examine our ideas and evaluate our own sanity. It is not easy, Swede, to believe things that we know will invite ridicule. I invite you to read the Clemens quite top right on this page, in the blog header.

          I think people who honestly self-examine their own sanity are usually sane. Truly crazy people rarely have that self-awareness.




    blockquote> A final characteristic of the paranoid style is related to the quality of its pedantry. One of the impressive things about paranoid literature is the contrast between its fantasied conclusions and the almost touching concern with factuality it invariably shows. It produces heroic strivings for evidence to prove that the unbelievable is the only thing that can be believed. Of course, there are highbrow, lowbrow, and middlebrow paranoids, as there are likely to be in any political tendency. But respectable paranoid literature not only starts from certain moral commitments that can indeed be justified but also carefully and all but obsessively accumulates “evidence.” The difference between this “evidence” and that commonly employed by others is that it seems less a means of entering into normal political controversy than a means of warding off the profane intrusion of the secular political world. The paranoid seems to have little expectation of actually convincing a hostile world, but he can accumulate evidence in order to protect his cherished convictions from it…

    Perhaps the central situation conducive to the diffusion of the paranoid tendency is a confrontation of opposed interests which are (or are felt to be) totally irreconcilable, and thus by nature not susceptible to the normal political processes of bargain and compromise. The situation becomes worse when the representatives of a particular social interest—perhaps because of the very unrealistic and unrealizable nature of its demands—are shut out of the political process. Having no access to political bargaining or the making of decisions, they find their original conception that the world of power is sinister and malicious fully confirmed. They see only the consequences of power—and this through distorting lenses—and have no chance to observe its actual machinery…

    We are all sufferers from history, but the paranoid is a double sufferer, since he is afflicted not only by the real world, with the rest of us, but by his fantasies as well.


    1. Craig, I can read as well as anyone and am intimately familiar with the discussion of paranoid personality as discussed by people who have quashed their critical thinking skills to virtual nonexistence. It all started with the CIA suggestion to its media moles that the phrase “conspiracy theorist” be attached to skeptics of the Warren Report, and was followed up by a book by mainstream historian Richard Hofstadter, which has become common currency among non-skeptics, their go-to when troubled by evidence.

      In truth, it is nothing but reinforcement for the sloppy habit of never confronting evidence and uncritically accepting offical government truth.

      That in mind, Craig, I [cautiously] assume you actually read the post above.

      1: What do you think of the DOE 2003 study on literacy?
      2. Where do you think you fall within their levels of proficiency?
      3. What are the implications of the hijackers passport?

      Can you deal with these questions, Craig? Or will you again disappear until some other post inspires a new link from you?


  2. Craig, put down the bong for a minute. Your vision is impaired. Harpers; really? You are behaving more like a politician than a truth-seeker.

    “I believe this must be addressed and that the truth has considerable bearing on where the world stands now. Although constrained, to a certain extent, by the existence of the Soviet Union, the United States’ actions throughout the world made it clear that it had concluded it had carte blanche to do what it liked.

    Direct invasion of a sovereign state has never in fact been America’s favoured method. In the main, it has preferred what it has described as ‘low intensity conflict’. Low intensity conflict means that thousands of people die but slower than if you dropped a bomb on them in one fell swoop. It means that you infect the heart of the country, that you establish a malignant growth and watch the gangrene bloom. When the populace has been subdued – or beaten to death – the same thing – and your own friends, the military and the great corporations, sit comfortably in power, you go before the camera and say that democracy has prevailed. This was a commonplace in US foreign policy in the years to which I refer.”

    “When we look into a mirror we think the image that confronts us is accurate. But move a millimetre and the image changes. We are actually looking at a never-ending range of reflections. But sometimes a writer has to smash the mirror – for it is on the other side of that mirror that the truth stares at us.”
    – Harold Pinter accepting The Nobel Prize in Literature 2005


    1. Can’t help but to wonder about what that American turned terrorist thought when he looked in his rear view mirror at a drone fired missile sent courtesy of our Nobel Peace Prize President.


      1. I have problems with your statement, as I have long concluded that the American executive is just a figurehead, an actor. I watched him on Jimmy Kimmel recently, and he is indeed charming and intelligent. He’s perfect for the role.

        Regarding the murder of Anwar al-Awlaki, your decision that he was worthy of death without trial or examination of evidence shows me that you too do not believe in the principles of our constitution. You’re just another totalitarian.


          1. “Show trials,” we called them when he did it. As with you, the outcome was a foregone conclusion. You’re not that much different than him in authoritarian outlook.


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