Hello, Truthers!

Well, due to my contribution to this little Herald article I am getting e-mails and comments here, there and everywhere on what I might have said, implied, meant, been misquoted on and the like.

So I’d like to offer a few clarifications.

  • I am not concerned at the tone of the piece; had it been longer it would likely have featured more clarification from me, but the gist would not have changed.
  • Matt and I discussed the issue for near thirty minutes and I think he quoted me appropriately.
  • I do think that Jeanette Fitzsimmons’ endorsement of Richard Gage is naive, given her other views.
  • I did mention how the 9/11 Truth Conspiracy Theories sometimes dovetail with Anti-semiticism; I brought this up because of a few comments Richard Gage made about Larry Silverstein.
  • I hope that clears everything up for you. Expect to here my thought on the presentation on next week’s ‘The Dentith Files.’


    Erik says:

    You are a joke.

    Very witty. You should submit that to the Reader’s Digest. They have a page for people like you.

    George D says:

    I think that Fitzsimons approach to 9/11 fits very badly with her approach to climate science, but pretty well to the way the Greens approach GE and a number of other issues involving science beyond the reasonable comprehension of a non-expert.

    This is to say nothing of the truth or non-truth of any of these claims.

    Indeed. People can be inconsistent in the rigorousness of their belief formation processes but that doesn’t, by itself, show that one or the other belief is wrong (although, of course, one can form a good belief for the wrong reasons; I can form the belief that ‘The Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection explains the variety of adaptations in the human body’ because of a scribbling on a toilet wall, which is not an example of reliable belief formation processes).

    Greg says:

    Who is naive here?
    Are 1,000 architects and engineers naive? Or the scientists who published the scientific paper revealing the presence of nano-thermite and iron micro-spheres in 4 separate dust samples, each with it’s chain of custody verifiable by affidavit? Or the scientists who peer-reviewed the paper?
    How do YOU explain the presence of an advanced explosive specifically designed to cut metal with minimal collateral damage from pressure waves generated by “high” explosives like C4, Semtex & RDX?
    Do YOU believe that a Government is incapable of doing such things?
    Remember the Rainbow Warrior?
    How about the USS Liberty Incident? The Gulf of Tonkin Incident? The burning of the Reichstag? The “attack” on a German radio station by “Polish soldiers” (concentration camp prisoners) that precipitated WW2? Did you know that Italian Intelligence agencies committed more than half the “attacks” attributed to the Red Brigades?
    There is only one less-than-credible conspiracy theory, and that’s the official version peddled by the US Government and the media. Even 6 of the 9/11 Commission members have now disowned it, including he chief legal adviser.

    Ambiguity; the ‘disowning’ you write of is not disowning the official story, it is rather that many of the members have publicly said that they were lied to. What they were lied to about was the timing of certain responses, the plans they said they had in action as reaction to the event and the like. Hardly the smoking gun of the official story but rather confirmation of what people already knew; the authorities were unprepared for the event and tried to cover their arses.

    As to the historical cases, yes, I know about them. If you bothered to read the blog more fully you’d understand the subtle appreciation I have of the historical cases and what that might mean for claims of Conspiracy Theories now.

    Colin says:

    “All the 9/11 conspiracies collapse when prodded”.

    Hi Matthew. That is a strange claim. It suggests that all conspiracy theories collapse or will collapse in-perpetuity. How does this fit in with the notions of WMD’s? I would like to know where the prodding occurs that undoes Richard Gage’s ideas. It appears to me he has been prodded on the front of credibility, but I’ve never seen a prodding at the evidence he wants a further investigation into. For example, free-fall acceleration of the three buildings, speed and distance of lateral ejection of material. Remember there has never been an investigation into these events by FEMA or NIST, as their investigation went as far as the beginning of collapse initiation. I would like to hear your thoughts on this. thanks, C.

    I should point out that I talked with the author of the article for nearly thirty minutes and the quote amounts to about five seconds of that; when we were talking through the material we went into much more detail.

    Certainly, as you will discover upon reading this blog, I don’t think all Conspiracy Theories are bunk (Lysenkoism, the Moscow Show Trials, the assassination of Julius Caesar are all examples of warranted conspiratorial explanations which I also call Conspiracy Theories). However, I do think Gage’s theories are.

    I’m curious by your claim “I’ve never seen a prodding at the evidence he wants a further investigation into” because there is a lot of literature on exactly that. Google is your friend. There’s quite a lot of discussion about the whole ‘evidence of nano-thermite’ material and the resulting publication, for example, which goes into whether the claim ‘This material looks similar to postulated nano-thermite’ strongly suggests that the material is nano-thermite, and the questions that are still largely unanswered as to whether the paper was vetted appropriately and why did the editor of the journal resign when she found out it had made it to print.

    Colin says:

    I used my google friend to find an argument against the red and black chips as thermite. I couldn’t find much beyond some speculation that they may be paint chips, or whether thermite even exists, but I could find no supporting material that you could introduce in a court of law as expert evidence. As to an editor quitting her job over the paper’s presentation, that is a big jump to use it as an argument that refutes the claims of the paper. I think a credible counter argument would be a scientific analysis of the chips by another lab. Again, the call for a new enquiry would satisfy those questions by rigorously testing these hypotheses. My point is you say that the arguments collapse when prodded with a stick. Well the ones we prod here don’t collapse. That is why I find the appeal to authority the Herald uses in terms of your PHD status disturbing, because I feel I am poking a stick at your case, but your assertion has gone to print unquestioned.

    I think you are confusing two issues here.

    The first: my assertion didn’t really go to print unquestioned; I get asked to comment on Conspiracy Theories because I have a history of providing reasonable (in both senses of the word) soundbites and because I have a rather specific research area, which is Conspiracy Theories.

    Added to this is that my comment is in line with the standard and accepted explanation of the events of 9/11. Gage and company present a rival explanation and it is really up to them to prove that their rival explanation is the better; this is standard ‘Burden of Proof’ material which any Conspiracy Theorist needs to get a handle on.

    Which leads to point two: Because the standard explanation (the Official Story, if you well) is taken to be plausible by most of the people who study it (which is not controversial; even the Truth Movement admits that) and it fits the facts, there is no requirement another investigation be done. Truthers feel one should be done because they don’t accept the findings and feel there are further issues to explore, but those issues aren’t as cut and dried as people like Gage would have it. The claims are questionable and, given that they do not seem to dissuade people from the Official Story, are not a good enough reason for another investigation.

    If you’ve read any of this blog you’ll note that I do make a great deal out the distinction between a theory being true and whether it is reasonable to have a belief in that theory (indeed, the current paper I am working on is about weird cases where it is epistemologically okay to believe a theory endorsed by, say, politicians even when it is not actually true). Hypothetically speaking, it could be the case that a controlled demolition brought down the Twin Towers and WTC7, but, at the moment, the best arguments and the evidence is on the side of the thesis that states the planes caused the destruction.

    Colin says:

    It seems that your position has moved from an initial assertion that “all the 911 theories collapse when prodded” to one where your belief in the veracity of the claims is based on public popular opinion, which coincides with the official explanation. The threshold where the ‘burden of proof’ is assessed is now outside your reach, viz: your faith in the official and popular assessment is the source of your claims to knowledge. It is the official and popular public domain that is being questioned here, perhaps that is the wrong place to seek these answers blithely. This is quite a big shift from your first assertion that the theories collapse when prodded, which it sounded like you had a comfortable grasp of. To be clear, perhaps you should have quoted Popular Mechanics or NIST here.

    On that note, I find some of your comments misleading. “The claims do not seem to dissuade people from the Official Story”. However, AE911truth ,for example, is continually adding registered Architects and Engineers to its online petition, and this year, 30,000 New Yorkers were dissuaded enough to sign a petition demanding a new investigation. These people deserve to have their concerns investigated, not assigned to the ‘other’.

    You also mentioned that Gage makes things too ‘cut and dried’. Okay. He also asked us not to take his word for it, check out what he is saying. On the Official side, I’ve also seen language like Popular Mechanics appeal to ‘common sense’, or Bush’s appeal to ‘let us not tolerate outrageous conspiracy theories’. That sounded a bit cut and dried to me too. To take these assertions unquestioned is what we were once asked to do with Weapons of Mass Destruction.

    It seems to me that it is your initial assertions that are in danger of collapsing when prodded. Perhaps next time you are asked, a journalist will ask you to go a bit further with how you come to construct your argument.

    You are simplifying my position; I’m not saying a theory is true because many people believe it (although, strangely enough, Gage does seem to say that on the Kim Hill interview). The best you can get me on is the claim that if a theory has the right credentials and is endorsed by the right kind of authorities then there is a case for saying it is sufficient to cite an appeal to authority as a reason for holding that belief; I’m talking ‘Legitimate Appeals to Authority’ and you’re construing that as the fallacious ‘Appeal to Popularity’).

    Take, for example, the high school physics and chemistry Truthers are so convinced is sufficient, on its own, to debunk the Official Story. Most students accept the truth of those theories based upon the authority of the teacher, who they recognise as knowing these things. That is a justification for holding those theories to be true in the context of the classroom.

    Now, once we leave the classroom is can become difficult to recognise authorities, which is a problem for the Truth Movement. People like Gage, who admits he is not a scientist and cannot make pronouncements about science, presents himself as an authority. He is, however, not a legit one in the relevant fields of study (structural engineering and physics, for example).

    Sarah says:

    Why is Ms Fitzsimmons naive?
    It is frightening to realise your ‘government’ is capable of evil acts. Imagine how the Jews felt when they began to be legally rounded up. Mr Dentith epistemology is study of the source , nature, and limitations of knowlegde. I would be really interested in a bit more detail of your PhD. I am most entertained by the media who suddenly make you an ‘expert’ on conspiracy theories. I am extremely interested in what type of research if and how you are using. Quantitave/Qualitative. What exactly are you studying? Your blog is very random and makes you appear like a typical philopsych. Good luck to Auckland Uni if this is the kind of man you are endorsing.

    Congratulations on alleging that I’m either a willing part of, or a dupe of, the ‘Mainstream Media’ Conspiracy.

    A very basic, one sentence summary of my thesis is:

    “We know that Conspiracies occur, but we also know there are more postulated explanations of events that cite Conspiracies as their salient cause, than there are actual Conspiracies, so the question is a) how do we infer that a Conspiracy actually occurred and b) is our prima facie suspicion of such theories actually warranted.”

    Albert says:

    a) A good way to infer if a conspiracy occurred is to look at the evidence.
    b) Once again, if the evidence suggests or proves a conspiracy then the prima facie suspicion is most definately warranted.
    Occasionally one finds people who are paranoid and are more likely to assume a conspiracy theory when a simpler and more likely explanation is available, however 911truth is based around incontravertible facts where an inside job is the only logical conclusion. This is why Gage and other Truthers don’t refer to themselves as conspiracy theorists.

    Well, not exactly. To show that a Conspiracy occurred you need to posit who the conspirators were and to what end were they acting. All evidence tells you is the way the event came about not why it was made to happen.

    Also, the prima facie suspicion is something that relates to the suggestion an event was caused by a Conspiracy; if you have proof positive of a Conspiract, then the belief is warranted. No one doubts that; what people want to know is whether we are more or less justified in suspecting most claims of Conspiracy are bunk, given that there are more theories about Conspiracies than Conspiracies themselves.

    Albert says:

    Mr Dentith, I’m afraid 911 is scientifically proven to be an inside job. The conspiracy theory you should focus on is the official story for your thesis.

    Let me enlighten you:

    FACT 1: The north tower accelerated through the lower section at a uniform 64% freefall, which means that the lower section exerted resistance equal to 36% of the weight of the upper section, Newton’s third law of equal and opposing forces states that the top block thus exerted 36% of it’s weight, which means it’s exerting much less force than when supported at rest. This means a large portion of the resistance was removed by explosives. Also the top section after collapsing the distance of 1 story did not slow at all upon encountering the intact lower section. This is impossible as a falling mass cannot crush MORE resistance and maintain the same speed, it slows. The mass continued to accelerate uniformly proving explosive demolition.

    FACT 2: The top section of the North Tower almost fully disintegrated before the lower section started to explode downward, this disintegration would absorb any momentum and expelled the mass laterally, there was NO piledriver left to cause any kind of gravitational collapse!!!


    FACT3: The top section of the south tower topples to an angle of 22 degrees. Basic physics shows that the shift in center of mass due to the angle means that any torque imparted by gravitational pressure on the lower section accelerates the rotation of the top mass. The base of the top section acting as a fulcrum. The more gravitational pressure the top section provides, the more toppling would occur. discontinuation of toppling proves the removal of resistance, disproving gravity induced collapse and proving explosives. An off centre, leaning mass CANNOT cause a symmetric collapse.

    FACT 4: The symmetric, even collapse of WTC7 is IMPOSSIBLE without demolition as all structural supports must be removed simultaneously across each floor, and this repeated in sequence for each successive floor.this is impossible in a collapse resulting from structural or fire damage, as such causes result in organic uneven damage. even a slight integrity inequality ALWAYS leads to a messy uneven and in most cases partial collapse.

    FACT 5: The 2.5 seconds of Freefall in WTC7 that NIST admits to is IMPOSSIBLE without Controlled demolition as all structural supports must be removed ahead of the collapse front, otherwise ANY intact structural resistance would slow the collapse to a rate less than freefall.

    FACT 6: Office fires don’t burn hot enough to weaken the steel. Steel has a high thermal conductivity, the large steel frame would draw away heat rapidly from hot spots. Quote from the FEMA report (Appendix A). “Recalling that the North Tower suffered no major structural damage from the intense office fire of February 23, 1975, we can conclude that the ensuing office fires of September 11, 2001, also did little extra damage to the towers.” No steel high-rise has ever collapsed from fire.

    FACT 7. Nanothermite a high-tech military-grade explosive was found throughout the WTC dust and analysed by top scientists, and published in the peer reviewed Open Chemical Physics Journal.

    I’m sorry, the evidence is irrefutable. Controlled Demolition is proven.

    My thesis isn’t on any specific Conspiracy Theory but rather the class of Conspiracy Theories as a whole. The ones I focus on, for the purposes of the discussion as to whether belief in Conspiracy Theories is prima facie warranted, are the historically verified cases of actual Conspiracies like the Trotsky Trials, Lysenkoism, the assassination of Julius Caesar, the Babington Plot and the like. Whilst I touch on 9/11 from time to time when talking about contemporary Conspiracy Theories my thesis is a conceptual analysis of what it is to be a Conspiracy Theory and what it would take to show that one is plausible. It is a thesis in Philosophy rather than Political Studies or Sociology.

    As to your list of facts, some of them are just mere assertions. Fact 7, for example, is at the very least suspicious due to the nature of the publication, the resignation of the editor and that one of the scientists involved in writing the article is promoting the nanothermite thesis; even to a biased observer you would have to admit the evidence would be stronger if Jones had not been a co-author of the work. Classic ‘follow who benefits’ analysis.

    Fact 2 is also similarly suspicious; I know Gage asserts that the ejecta of the Twin Towers is nearly all of the upper mass, but that is a controversial point and does not easily fit with the mass extracted from Ground Zero after the event.

    Fact 1 is also similarly suspicious, given that it makes some strange assumptions about the structural support of the buildings, alleging that each level was independently structurally isolated. If you take into account the increasing loss of structure as the upper floors give way, leading to the outer frame buckling, leading to reduced structural integrity going down and through the building, the so-called ‘free fall’ hypothesis begins to look shaky.

    Fact 5 is really just a reiteration of Fact 1.

    Fact 6 trades on an ambiguity. Many proponents of the ‘Inside Job’ hypothesis seems to fixate on one of the many causes of the collapse, argue that it couldn’t, by itself, cause the collapse and then take that to be a debunking of the official story. Fire, on its own, may not have been sufficient to cause the collapse, but the damage caused by the planes, along with the fire, et cetera, is sufficient.

    Fact 3 is probably your most interesting example, but even then you stretch the claim beyond its plausibility. You have a similar issue with Fact 4; you say these things ‘CANNOT’ happen when, actually, you should be saying they are ‘unlikely.’ Of course, when you say ‘unlikely’ I realise you then open to the attack that ‘unlikely events still occur,’ but that is a bullet you have to bite if you want to provide a good explanation.

    Albert says:

    Also the Anti-Semitism comment is classic debunker logical fallacy, a mixture of ad hominem and association fallacy. Your logic – “Mr Gage implied Silverstein was involved in a criminal act. Silverstein is a Jew, therefore Gage hates Jews” That is completely illogical. So either you’re extremely unintelligent or corrupt, which is it Mr Dentith?

    As all debunkers do, you focus attacking the person and offer no rebuttal of the facts presented. Of course you don’t, how could you? The science proves controlled demolition.

    Strawman, Albert. I said I mentioned the anti-semitic connection because Gage made a point of talking about Larry Silverstein. Since (and this is non-controversial) there are anti-semites who hold and disseminate the ‘Inside Job’ hypothesis I simply pointed out hat Jeanette Fitzsimmons’ endorsement of scepticism of the Official Story could have unfortunate consequences, such as lending support to fringe views like anti-semiticism. Given that this is a recurrent problem in New Zealand’s fringe groups I really don’t think I spoke out of turn.

    Albert says:

    Matthew, the idea that anti-Semitism is in any way linked to 911 truth has as much validity as saying that you are anti-Semitic.
    The race card is a Political attack usually used to divert away from critical issues, for example, Jimmy Carter claimed that the US population’s unwillingness to accept Obama’s healthcare plan was due to Obama’s race. Such rhetoric is baseless and attempts to steer away from the facts.

    If you could provide evidence of an anti-Semitic remark by Gage, that would be interesting.

    Another thing that’s interesting is that my comment listing the facts proving controlled demolition is still awaiting moderation

    It is, but only because I’m currently responding to comments and e-mails and haven’t clicked on the button to ‘Approve’ it yet. The only comments that get ignored on this blog are the ones which are mere advertising.

    If you want to deny that there are anti-semites in the Truth Movement, then feel free. I merely raised, in the course of discussing the article with the reporter, the fact that Gage seemingly went out of his way to mention how Larry Silverstein profited from 9/11 and how this reminded me of the sometimes disturbing anti-semiticism that occurs with the various ‘Inside Job’ hypotheses. That Jeanette Fitzsimmons endorsement could lead to fringe ideas like that gaining traction is a very real worry.

    Edward says:

    Hmmm, the ‘truthers’ sure don’t waste time in attacking those who disagree with their worldview and charging with proclamations of “it’s science!!”, as though that is any sort of argument. I’ve heard the same “it’s science” arguments from intelligent design proponents, and the 9/11 arguments don’t really appear any more credible. For a start, many who’ve posted on here talk about how Matthew Dentith is no expert and as such has no place in questioning the arguments Gage “authoritatively” puts forward, yet at the same time how many of you are qualified to comment yourselves? Or does that argument only work when you’re attacking those who disagree? I know for a fact that the majority of ‘truthers’ are not in fact expert physicists. And i’m sorry, but I don’t really buy into the whole “high school level physics is all you need to disprove the Official story” – such arguments only seem to me to denote the ignorance of those who assert such rhetoric. Also, back to the argument by authority – my understanding of Richard Gage is that he is an Architect – correct me if i’m wrong, but since when were architects ‘experts’ in advanced physics?
    What a strange breed you all are.