warm cow plot wrote:
I love it...you counted how many people could possibly have been in on the largest caper in the planet's history. Now engage your self in something more practical--just for fun, mind you. Try to figure out the least people needed to pull it off. I will wait for your results. When you are done, I will compare to the number that I think could have done it. What neat fun we will all have with this.
Here’s the gist of the question: 9/11 deniers require an outrageous number of conspirators – but that’s okay, because all of those people were necessary anyway. 9/11 deniers seem to believe that a clandestine network of non-white people were unable to do it themselves. I like this question. I like this question because it helps define a key difference between the mindset of a conspiracy theorist and the mindset of a rationalist.
This question is based on the notion that we should predefine the range of possible events based on what we at the outset consider to “make sense to us.” Of course, we do this all the time – when you throw a ball upwards, you should probably behave as if it were going to fall back down – but only reasonably with events for which we have priors. We have a lifetime of experience with things going up and subsequently going down. History provides us with insufficient 21st-century large-scale terrorist attacks involving the use of commercial planes as suicide weapons. What is the “minimum number” of people required to conduct such an attack? With what authority could anyone possibly claim to have that answer?
Consider the two absurd extremes: One person with near-superhero status remote-controlled all three planes vs., say, a million people put together tiny, minute necessary steps. I could write a suspense novel detailing how either could happen. I could easily devise something that was within orbit of a plausible narrative of events. Just as Ayn Rand invented a fictional rendition of mid-century American industry to have a fantasy-land in which she could make her own philosophy come true, 9/11 deniers must reinvent the landscape of available evidence under presuppositions that will allow them to be right. Errant statements by politicians confronted by a herd of camera-wielding conspiranoids subsume the mountain of forensic evidence under a paradigm that allows 9/11 deniers to be right.
I have no idea what the “minimum number” of conspirators required to pull off 9/11 would have been. Philosophically the question is a misnomer exactly akin to asking the color of Thursday or the taste of seven. Its distance from a planet on which it is possible to have evidence-based reasoning is so great that it allows all answers, and requires them all to be equally right. So, “warm_cow_plot,” I don’t know the answer, I don’t care, and neither should you. We have reason, evidence, and standards of truth - those will do just fine.