Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The "#1 Pick" at AboveTopSecret

Call me a masochist, but every so often I like to breeze on over to the AboveTopSecret forums to see what's out there. AboveTopSecret is essentially the hivemind of the conspiracy world - every daffy idea has its own dedicate pages, threads, and fervent readers. Today's front page advertised the thread for those who believe "The Gog/Magog War Prophesied In Ezekiel 38-39 Is Beginning," but of course I was most interested in what was "new" in the 9/11 denier forums. As I've repeatedly written there is little new under the sun in the land of 9/11 denial - the faith has had only minor tweaks since 2003 in most cases, with primary tenets about thermite added later in a desperate bid to revive the movement - and this proved to be no exception.

Here were the two threads that made the front page of AboveTopSecret: The "Most Read" and the "User Favorite" are partially presented below. All you need are the first few sentences of each thread (though I'll link to them as well) to get the gist.

Number one:

most focus about 911 is put on the towers, but the big proof of an inside job comes from the pentagon


the US refused to release anything about the pentagon and it was very hidden from the media
but any picture of the actual hole in the pentagon proves that it was not hit by a plane<
its simply not big enough, and does not resemble a collision at all but actually resembles explosive damage!

what more evidence do you need?

it would be impossible to fly a huge Boeing in at the angle it hit, especially with limited flight training

And number two:

I am calling all 9/11 official story believers:

This thread will either change your mentality and prove to you once and for all that 9/11 was an inside job, or you will remain in the dark believing in a flawed sequence of events. Hopefully an in depth investigation of most of the evidence which goes against the official story is enough to convince you.

The 'Loose Change Final Cut' which is available on YouTube completely debunks the official 9/11 story from top to bottom...

And, in case it wasn't obvious: One is either a deliberately lie or the obvious error of a dundering incompetent, and two is as well. But if you've been following us these past few years, you're so busy groaning and hitting your head against the desk with the obviousness of that fact that you probably already have those data sources memorized.

And just to be clear, my ordering was arbitrary: Either of these could've easily won the "number two" slot for content.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

You Must Read This 9/11 Poll

Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth released a poll claiming "48% of New Yorkers Support Building 7 Investigation." You can smell the desperation in their press release.

Following the launch of the TV ad campaign on Monday June 6, Remember Building 7 released the results from a new poll we commissioned, conducted by the Siena Research Institute, on what New Yorkers believe about 9/11.

The poll produced several findings that will be very useful as we continue to raise awareness about Building 7 and build public support for a new investigation. Among them:

• 1 in 3 New Yorkers were unaware of Building 7’s collapse, only 25 percent have ever seen video footage of the collapse, and 86 percent were unable to name the building;

• Of those aware of Building 7’s collapse, 24 percent believe it was a controlled demolition, 23 percent are unsure, and 49 percent believe it was caused by fires.

• Summarizing what New Yorkers know and believe about Building 7, roughly 1 in 6 are aware of Building 7 and believe it was brought down by controlled demolition, roughly 1 in 6 know about it and are unsure, roughly 1 in 3 know about it and believe the collapse was caused by fires, and 1 in 3 don’t know a third building collapsed;

• 28 percent – more than 1 in 4 – believe the Twin Towers were brought down with explosives or some other demolition devices in addition to being hit by airplanes.

Here's why even those pathetic numbers don't add up.

• Question 3 of their poll asks, "How satisfied are you that the government of the United States has provided a full and honest account of what happened that day? Do you think the government has told the whole story, most of the story, only some of the story or that in reality the government has tried to hide the truth about what happened
that day?" The responses: Whole story (18%), most of the story (35%), only some (25%), "has tried to hide the truth" (15%), and the DK/Ref (8%). One, it should be obvious that "all the facts" are not out there, so the "true," non-"alternative theory" answer is somewhere between "most" and "some" of the story. Far more people believe they have a reasonable idea of what happened than those who think there's a cover-up.

• This response biases the final point 9/11 deniers were going for; that is, the final question designed to tease out the key claim that "48% of New Yorkers support a new investigation." The final question asks,

Many have signed a petition calling for a NEW investigation into Building 7's collapse. Others consider the case closed and do not think a new investigation is warranted. Would you be in favor of or opposed to a local government agency like the New York City Council or Manhattan District Attorney opening a
new investigation into the collapse of World Trade Center Building 7?

This presents the false dichotomy of "case closed" or "new investigation" - as it is obvious that "the whole story" is not yet a matter of public record, and that the only options are either "stop talking about it" or "support a new investigation." Indeed, the fact that only 1/6 of respondents actually said "case closed" in Question 3 yet 44% said "case closed" in this penultimate demonstrates that even with dishonest framing, 9/11 deniers can not drum up support for their position.

The question about WTC7's collapse does not allow participants to provide the right answer. It asks what they thought the most likely cause was, and the first response (the evidence-based or "official story" response) is "Fires, that were a result of the impact of debris from the Twin towers, that burned throughout the day, leading to the failure of the building's steel frame." This is not what happened to WTC 7.

• A minor phraseology point, from my survey methodology days (disclaimer: author previously worked at a political polling firm): Why is the "official story" response phrased in a meandering, "laundry list" style while the conspiracy theory response is a simple, direct statement? So there's this thing in question phraseology called "framing"...

The question about the Twin Towers' collapse does not allow participants to provide the right answer, either. Its response options forced participants to choose between "Two planes only," "two planes and explosives," or "don't know." "Two planes only" is a wildly inaccurate response that essentially forces participants to lie in saying that structural effects played no role.

So even when they try to lie, 9/11 deniers get some pretty pathetic results. But to me, the worst part is that this poll seems to have deliberately targeted an unrepresentative sample of New York...

This survey managed to find almost twice as many college grads, five times as many unemployed people and ten times as many independents as New York City actually has to offer (For New York: Source, Source, Source) - who were able to answer a home telephone landline during the day (oddly, this survey didn't have the problem of upward age skew that most surveys have...). 40% of survey-takers were college grads compared to 27% of New Yorkers; 40% were unemployed vs. 8.6% of New Yorkers, and 23% vs. 2.3% were "registered independent/other."

Though almost certainly just an accident of lazy sampling, this survey looks an awful lot like it did something specifically to target unemployed grads with alternative political views. The prototypical 9/11 denier, anyone?

This survey produced unflattering results when the most dishonest measures were taken to make them flattering. Their third-rate pollster drummed up the biggest joke of a sample and could barely return pathetic support for 9/11 denial. They'll find a way to trump up what paltry results they can scrape out of their crosstabs: send 'em here to remind them what the numbers really say.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Starting to crack

Something happens to successful movements about the time people start calling them “successful.” In poli-sci speak they start to develop institutions and organizations. Institutions are rules, organizations are groups (mnemonic go: “The Constitution is an institution, while the nation is an organization”). 9/11 denial could only be college kids passing around Loose Change for so long. Alex Jones, Disinfo and others who profit from gullibility smelled cash in the water, and 9/11 denial had some organizations behind it. Along came Prisonplanet then the wave of “(appeal to authority X) for 9/11 Truth” sites, and we were off to the races.

This is a familiar story. The cottage publishing industry that rose up around President Kennedy’s assassination and the mini-movement of modern-day UFO hunters tell the same story: Once enough people with enough money are engaged in promoting an idea – any idea, a bad idea, a good idea – that idea is probably going to stick around. Today nobody really seems to give a shit if the Bavarian Illuminati secretly controls the world or if aliens crash-landed at Roswell, but we all immediately know what I’m talking about. Truthers have their own versions of dedicated sources of content and attention that keep their movement going.

But lately, those organizations have started to break down. Infowars and Prisonplanet can barely be troubled to cover 9/11 denial these days. Alex Jones has a lot more to be wrong about concerning fluoride and the President’s birthplace. Skeptics are literally running out of content about 9/11 denial because there is so little by way of new absurdity actually being produced. Indeed, we’re generating more books about them these days than they are. And 9/11 deniers are starting to turn on those who have wandered from the path. For example, 9/11 deniers now generally believe one of their own founding fathers is now clearly a "disinformation agent."

Yet its “institutions” – its norms and rules – remain. 9/11 deniers still must believe everything they’re told by the higher-ups. It is still unpatriotic to the 9/11 denial community to admit that the thermite theory chapter of conspiracy theories has failed and must be closed. The cargo-cult approach to science remains: veteran deniers are trapped at the table bobbing their heads at each other about laughable hypothesizing, embarrassing “data collection” techniques and non-analysis. Newcomers have nowhere to start: by starting to rely on nonsensical jargon, the cult has eliminated most of its ability to initiate new acolytes.

This is just the beginning of a larger theory about conspiracies I’m just starting to think about, but it seems that the institutions can greatly outlive the organizations. Organizations that thrive on conspiracy theory talk can easily hop from subject to subject, and so those theories are unstable: their primary clearing-houses can abandon them at any time. 9/11 denial is starting to look so sloppy and silly because it has no organizations to forward its institutions: it is rules without rulemakers and, like any unenforced legal system, has come to just look sad, silly and empty.

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Different Person Making The Same Claim Is Not A New Claim

Another appeal to authority has made a blog post at AE911.

Try to guess who made headlines in the 9/11 denier community for this quote:

“Looking at the building, it wouldn’t be a problem once you gained access to the elevator shafts… a team of loading experts would have access to all the core columns and beams.”

“The story that just a few column failures can cause a synchronized global collapse – an implosion – well, that’s just nonsense.”

“What I saw was a classic implosion. People on the ground reported exactly what I would have expected: waves of explosions going off, not one massive big boom.”

If you guessed "well shit, I mean, that could be Richard Gage, Frank Legge, Doug Plumb, Charlie Sheen,... the possibilities are endless!" you're absolutely right! Today's mouthpiece was an employee at a demolitions company named Tom Sullivan, who you should believe uncritically because he, uh, knows a lot about breaking into skyscrapers and secretly packing them full of explosives. Or something.

Dear 9/11 denial community: This is not "explosive evidence" [and puns aren't funny]. Just because a different person is making the same, demonstrably false arguments about impossible quantities of explosives, and nonexistent ninja teams in the World Trade Center doesn't mean you have "new facts" to deal with. Indeed, you seem to have someone who blindly accepted a Richard Gage DVD, began parroting it, and became an AE911 front-pager for his capacity to blindly parrot. Brah-fraking-vo.

He's got a pretty considerable mustache, though.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Now That's Just Lazy

When we don't have anything to update about (9/11 deniers don't have much going for them these days), we don't update. When PrisonPlanet doesn't have anything going on, it accuses Facebook of censoring stories. And steals stories from Redditors.

You know the story before they can even finish secreting it: They're saying Facebook "censors" stories from, say, conspiracy-minded blogs. Isn't that just somehow exhausting? I don't know, but my eyelids got dim at the mere suggestion.

Facebook is what they call a "network good:" it becomes higher-quality the more people use it, like telephones. One telephone user is useless. Six billion telephone users make a global network of semi-insant communication. The more content and clickthroughs Facebook can generate, the more useful it is as a site. Besides, aren't these the same people who bleet that Facebook is a "tool of the CIA?" Wouldn't they want users posting "subsersive" content so they know who to, I don't know, sic the dogs on?

By the by, check out the pathetic posting that these guys claim is being "censored:"

Because power shutdowns across North America and Europe are *exactly* what happened on Wednesday... Oy.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Alex Jones’ Incredibly Lame Bilderberg Coverage

Alex Jones is a study in self-parody. His spittle-flecked bluster about the end of the imminence of global catastrophe at the hands of the bogeyman of the day has been soggying microphones for decades. Since 1996 the world has been within mere hours of being conquered by the UN, the Bilderbergs, the Illuminati, China, the Bush Administration, the Obama Administration, the FDA, the NIS, the Fed, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission… anyone who can fit in the conspiracy clown car is welcome. The point is, he’s been around long enough to play chicken little for the blooming and falling of many acorn trees, to be a broken clock yet to strike a correct second.

His hordes of dutiful and obedient followers have, with minor exception, never turned on him or questioned how he manages to be completely wrong about most everything. There are no signs of mass fluoride poisoning in the U.S.; our state borders are not controlled by foreign soldiers; the U.S. still has a national border; George Bush did not stay in power beyond two terms; Barack Obama has not deployed behavioral-science experiments at every TSA checkpoint (probably). A gold fetishist who weathered the collapse of gold prices last month without batting an eyelash; a paleoconservative who has witness the U.S. become less, not more, beholden to the U.N., he’s not one to obsess much over details. Right, wrong – they all sell DVDs. His fans have proven this.

Jones’ prognostications about the world and the actual unfolding of world events have absolutely no relationship, a statistically significant and negative relationship between prediction and outcome brought on by Jones’ insistence that everything in the headlines is his personal enemy. That is why WikiLeaks is mere sockpuppetry, Osama bin Laden is alive and well, and the border guard secretly work for the UN: Jones requires his gullible followers to believe the world is constantly getting smaller, that nothing changes except for the worse, and that they must always be afraid of anyone who tells them anything other than what Alex Jones wants them to believe.

Usually this bullshit parade is a blusterous, hysterical show: He oozes comically bad DVDs portraying marching UN troops in gas masks and soundtracks that would make the Ghost Hunters blush. He yells through a microphone to disinterested strangers mere feet away, as interns in black t-shirts write fellatory bravado about every psi of hot air he releases. He calls on luminaries like Charlie Sheen and Dylan Avery to show off his serious-scholar side. Overall, it is a fireworks display of dying brain cells worthy of the DC Fourth.

Thus, imagine my disappointment at his coverage of the Bilderberg Conference. The event is usually surrounded by more desperate idiots with videocameras than attendees, and its every second is covered from every angle like a hidden-cam show for drooling conspiracy theorists. Every possible rumor and innuendo surfaces un-sourced, each taken with more severity and gravitas than the last. Usually, twerps like Jones are in full form.

This time, though, something was missing. A protestor or two tussled with the cops. A Swiss MP said Henry Kissinger should be arrested. Clinton might have mentioned unrest in the Middle East, probably. Yawn.

There were no breakthroughs. No “bombshell” has yet been dropped, perhaps for the first time in years, about any particular insane conspiracy. The idea of arresting Kissinger is the closest they got. How could it possibly have gotten this lame? Is Jones really so bored?

I’m sure on some level Jones knows it is time to be bored. He has been wrong, loudly, often. His crusades on behalf of stupidity have been against windmills and hillsides, and well-funded by thousands of proudly-gullible conspiracy theorists who may finally have to admit after this ho-hum Archmeeting of the Global Elite that they really don’t have as much to bullshit about as they thought. Should Kissinger be arrested? I don’t really care. I don’t like the guy, and I don’t like his ideas. They have nothing about 9/11 yet. Nobody got drunk and blabbed about the condo he bought bin Laden to live out his days in. Nobody from the UN twirled his waxed black mustache and drew a map with a single Israeli flag on it. No word on the infant content of the hors d’ouevres.

Jones is an idiot that survives on the cleverness required to invent a new archenemy every few weeks, as each bleating of doom and gloom fails to come to fruition with ironically predictable regularity. He seems to be out of steam on this one. Could it be that the dunces’ Jefferson Davis has finally realized he has nothing to believe in?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Webster Tarpley, the floor is yours

Infowars has posted some nutty stuff in its day, but few made me immediately laugh as quickly as a video they posted of Webster Tarpley. Tarpley is just one among many desperate screed-peddlers on the 9/11 denial carnival-of-the-damned lecture circuit, and watching him doing his insane lying thing to the tune of what sounds like beats copped from a 1960's sci-fi movie is just too much.

Notoriously trollable blogger Paul Joseph Watson sets the stage with the run-onniest sentence that ever ran on:

In a bombshell new video interview, historian and author Webster Tarpley exposes how White House science czar John P. Holdren, who infamously co-wrote a 1977 textbook in which he advocated the formation of a “planetary regime” that would use a “global police force” to enforce totalitarian measures of population control, including forced abortions, mass sterilization programs conducted via the food and water supply, as well as mandatory bodily implants that would prevent couples from having children, is a Malthusian fanatic in the tradition of the arcane anti-human ideology that originated amongst British aristocracy in the 19th century.

And thus, the stage is set.

"Ultra-Hitlerian genocidalist:" Worst screen name ever. (Best?)

Tarpley is such a notorious fraud that even fellow deniers try to distance themselves from him, declaring him a "disinformation agent," a "plant" and, worst of all, "nothing like Ron Paul." What he's saying is purely false, of course - Holdren explicitly stated he doesn't endorse coercive population control measures and was doing what good scientists do, namely, proposing thought experiments without actually trying to advocate them, which he doesn't - but that much is obvious. The cult isn't about truth. It will be interesting to see if this level of stupidity finally gets Tarpley jettisoned from what remains of the denial community. I certainly doubt it, but if anyone in the cult has a remaining interest in legitimacy, ignoring its lunatic fringe (sic, in this case?) is its only hope.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

No wonder they don't source their stories

Infowars has uncovered the smoking gun: a top-secret memo proving upper echelons of America's, Mexico's and Canada's governments are currently working in concert to create a North American Union.

Or six years ago a diplomat said it would be cool if taxes were lower. You know, either way.

Infowars sets the stage:

A newly leaked U.S. diplomatic cable originally written over six years ago confirms that the agenda to merge the United States, Canada and Mexico into an integrated North American Union has been ongoing for years, debunking claims made consistently by the corporate media and establishment talking heads that the NAU is a baseless “conspiracy theory”.

And then throw in a semi-racist cartoon:

"But what do you think of all this, Latino caricature?"

Their story never actually links to the cable, or says who wrote it. That's up to the site they copied their story from almost word-for-word in some places. The National Post ruins the stage:

The document states Canadian economists point to labour markets as one of the areas which could have the greatest benefit for all three countries.

“They advocate freeing up professional licensing laws, and developing a quick, simple, low-cost work permit system, at least for U.S. and Canadian citizens,” the cable said.

It goes on to say North America would be well served by implementing a single, continent wide, tariff or a customs union arrangement.

The proposed customs union would eliminate the North American Free Trade Agreement’s “restrictive” rules of origin.

“NAFTA’s (rules of origin) are so restrictive that importers often prefer to pay the tariff rather than try to prove North American origin,” the cable said.

The cable concludes with a caveat: “There is little basis on which to estimate the size of the ‘upside’ gains from an integration initiative concentrating on non-tariff barriers of the kind contained in NAI. For this reason we cannot make the claims about how large the benefits might be on a national or continental scale.”

Isn't the cult that nigh on blindly supports every word that falls out of Ron Paul's mouth supposed to be happy lowers tariffs and taxes? Isn't this an example of an attempt to de-bloat governments - not even in explicit coordination, just in a way to make people better off? Has the cult really so completely run out of things to complain about?