Tag: 9/11

Episode 66 – Whatever happened to Building 7?

The Dentith Files – Richard Gage III

Between 2008 and 2010, Matthew Dentith first joined 95bFM’s Simon Pound, then José Barbosa, on Sunday mornings to talk about conspiracy theories. Listen, as they say, again!

Well, the podcast of “The Dentith Files” segment on Richard Gage can be listened to below:

Given that we had a mere twenty minutes (and we went over) this is not as fulsome a discussion on Gage as I’d like, but it covers what José and I felt were the interesting issues we could meaningfully get into given the ,imitation of our time slot.

Also, apparently some calls came in; I had to dash off to catch a ferry.

Anyway, that really is probably the last thing I’ll writing/saying about Gage and his particular version of the ‘Inside Job’ hypothesis for a while; I’m off on Monday for fives days at a conference and when I get back it’ll be time to start work on the final chapter proper of the thesis. December and January will be long months.

I’d just like to advise poiential commenters on this and the other 9/11 posts that:

a) I won’t have much internet access over the next week, so don’t expect prompt or long replies, and

b) the comments policy here is that I have to approve the first comment you make in any given post, so don’t think I’m censoring you or unable to respond to your comments (or anything similar) if it takes a while for your comment to appear publicly.

Richard Gage II: Gouge Harder!

Well, I went and did it, I spent another three hours in the company of Richard Gage and his cohort of Truthers. In the process I learnt something new about myself.

1) I’m a glutton for punishment.

2) Apparently I’m one of the country’s top debunkers ((Or, at least, that is what Will Ryan, the organiser, believes.)).

It’s hard to know where to start with Gage’s version of the ‘Inside Job’ thesis of 9/11. He certainly seems sincere in his belief, even when he was asking for money towards the end. It might just be my impoverished student state, but when a man complains that he’s only on half the income he had as a ‘prestigious’ architect that doesn’t really cry poverty to me.

Anyway, some thoughts, culled from both presentations.

1. The Truthers claim they are not a fringe group, but with only 960 architects and engineers in their group and 4,000 non-professional members, they certainly seem fringe-sized.

2. Gage’s 90% conversion rate seems to be fair. At the Wellington event there were 340 in the Soundings Lecture Theatre. 27 of us were supporters of the Official Story at the beginning, 97 were unsure and the remaining 216 were Truthers. By the end there were 3 of us Official Story supporters left and 67 unsure (including Hugh Young, of the New Zealand Skeptics, I might add). That meant that 270 people were Truthers by the end. Auckland was pretty similar; of the 125 people, 12 were supporters of the Official Story at the beginning; 2 were left at the end.

3. You could play ‘M(ain)S(tream)M(edia) Bingo’ based upon the number of times he says ‘Mainstream Media’ in a derogatory fashion.

4. Apparently, even given the MSM, the media attention here is much better than anything they’ve had in the States for years.

5. He really emphasises his love of the Scientific Method. Pity he gets it a bit backwards. He says we have to collect data before we decide on an hypothesis to test, but that gets it backwards. If you collect data you are already collecting data with respect to some hypothesis; he assumes the truth of his Controlled Demolition Thesis, essentially before he hypothesises it.

6. I would really like to see some work on the reliability of the eye-witness testimony he keeps referring to with regards to claims of heard explosions and the like. Psychologists will tell you that you have to take most of this stuff with a grain of salt; memories are being changed within minutes of the event happening and pre-conceptions get filtered in immediately; we expect explosive sounds to go with big events like collapses so people ‘read in’ that sound. Now, this doesn’t mean the testimony is actually unreliable, but it certainly is not beyond reasonable doubt.

7. Given a choice between someone being incompetent or someone being a liar, Gage goes with the liar thesis every time, it seems.

8. I don’t think he understands that the kind of analogies he uses don’t give him entailment (A is B) but rather, at best, strong suggestion (A is probably B). He argues by analogy a lot and always overstates the strength of the logical inference. Indeed, he’d have a half-decent thesis if he simply said ‘All I’m doing is arguing that controlled demolition might the case’ rather than insisting that it is.

9. Also, the low probability of an event seems to mean that the event cannot have occurred that way, which is also a problem for him. Low probability events happen all the time; they just aren’t as common as mid to high probability events.

10. Related: He really needs to stop asserting as fact controversial premises (such as the claim the jets of material preceding the collapsing floors are ‘squibs’ when, really, they could well be pressure exhausts ((His understanding of the way some windows pop when others do not is really remarkable primitive.)). Controversial premises and overstated inferences a bad argument make.

11. He has to touch on the Official Story from time to time to make his, excuse the potential pun, thesis fly, but whenever he presents the Official Story of, say, the destruction of the Twin Towers he presents a simplified version. He talks about the fire but not the damage caused by the impact. It’s easy to make the Official Story sound implausible if you don’t mention all of its salient points.

12. For someone who claims he isn’t a Conspiracy Theorist he certainly advocates them. In his list of things caused by 9/11 he has ‘World Financial Meltdown.’ He also makes caged references to a link to the Oklahoma City Bombing.

13. Gage wants it both ways; he wants to merely argue that he thinks another investigation, based upon new evidence, is warranted, which is an admirably weak conclusion which might be worthy of discussion, but then he asserts it is an ‘Inside Job,’ which means he’s already prejudiced in regard to the outcome, which means he’s not open to an enquiry that might just confirm the Official Story (which, if we really are arguing what happened that day, might still be the case even if some of his points are taken on board).

14. Apparently it would only require 100 people to be in the know to pull off the controlled demolition.

15. He hasn’t actually read the NIST report on 9/11. For someone who keeps telling people ‘Don’t believe what I tell you; research it for yourselves’ this seems a terrific oversight on his part.

16. There is a clever aspect to his argument, in that he argues by analogy that if WTC7 was destroyed by a controlled demolition, then the Twin Towers must have been as well. WTC7 is the little known third high-rise destroyed on the 11th of September; Gage focuses most of his efforts to persuade you that it was a planned destruction rather than mere gravitational collapse. Because so little is said about WTC7, he can argue more directly for a rival candidate explanation of the event and, once he has persuaded his audience, claim that the Twin Towers show the same features.

Now, to do the latter he has to make a particularly interesting claim. In the WTC7 case he argues that the buidlings started to collapse from the base, which he takes to be a sign of controlled demolition, but he can’t do the same with the Twin Towers because they, quite evidently, started to collapse from the point of the airliner impacts. To get around this obvious disimilarity he pulls a move that, really, is very clever and yet is also a quite significant weakness if you think about it. The point of impact is the base for the controlled demolition of the upper half of each building; once that starts ‘they’ then begin to set off the charges in the lower part of the building.

Which raises the question “How did they manage to get the planes to impact exactly where they wanted them to?”

Of course, that question can be answered, but it makes for a spectacularly complex plot on the part of the conspirators, one that almost beggars belief.

17. Penny Bright might be concerned about your water bills but she is a Climate Change Skeptic.

I haven’t even touched on the nano-thermite; I’ll try to collect my thoughts on that topic before the show this coming Sunday.

Richard Gage on ‘Close Up,’ Friday the 27th of November, 2009

Digestible Truth (the sanitised version)

I’ve reviewed the e-mails I’ve received this week and I’ve decided that posting the really invective filled ones won’t bring me the kind of catharsis I’d like. So, I thought I’d given you an overview of the general comments I got. All of these are actual quotes, but they are not the full text; like Climategate (as I believe ‘they’ are calling it) I might well be distorting the record for my own malevolent purpose.

Or not. You can decide.

The most common sentiment I’ve received since the Herald on Sunday piece goes something like this:

Anyway perhaps you were misquoted or quoted out of context; if so I hope a correction can be published.

That was what lead me to writing my clarification.

Another correspondent asked:

Could you please tell me if you believe you were accurately quoted?

I ask this because I have no such feelings of anti-semitism. I am however anti – criminal behaviour and pro – truth

I’d like to think we are all pro-truth in some way. Actually, this correspondent ended up being the one person I had a productive e-mail exchange with. We ended up agreeing to disagree, with Dany admitting that I certainly did sound very sincere in my convictions.

Winner of the ‘Irony Award’ goes to this correspondent, who after asserting the ‘Inside Job’ hypothesis wrote:

I think that those who claim to know the truth (any truth) about 9/11, like you implied to do, are either conceited or highly naive.

It’s a great example of the Inadvertantly Self-referring Self-sealing Fallacy; how dare you call someone naive for thinking they have a handle on what went on in New York on 9/11. Only naive people, like myself, think they know one way or the other.

He also accused me of calling myself a scientist. The cad!

Several of my correspondents wanted to blame falling media standards on me:

Wow….and here I was thinking that anybody would care about the deterioration of mass-media or the replacement of actual problems with discussions on fashion and sports in the general public…

Admittedly, perhaps he was concerned with soundbite culture. But, let it be known, I would like all sports pages in all papers to be dismissed and never seen again.

I do sometimes look at the fashion pages, though…

Whilst many of the e-mails I received did the softly-softly tactic of trying to get me to admit I was wrong, some tried the hard sell:

Your cheap comment about Richard Gage , AIA and founder of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth is typical based on your cognitive dissonance level. … You are a joke and bring shame to anyone who has done a PHD!

When that didn’t work he challenged me to call him an anti-semite. Charming man.

A convert to the Truther Movement wrote:

If you are truly getting a PhD on conspiracy theories, and you make a statement that “all the 9/11 conspiracies collapse when prodded” you must get a refund on your entire education, and become involved in mindless labor. Because you must be entirely incapable of critical thought.

I’m also entirely incapable of bilocation, but I keep trying.

The e-mail flood has not just slowed to a trickle; it has dried up. Unless any further excitement happens at Monday’s event, I think I’m now safely out of the Truthers’ eyeline.

Wonder if the lawyer ever found Jeanette Fitzsimons e-mail address, the one that is publicly available on the internet?

Postponement and a question

This weekend’s ‘Dentith Files’ has been delayed a week due to my companion in radio crime, José, being away for the weekend. Expect a Gage-centric show on the 5th of December.

Question time: I’m getting a lot of interesting e-mails and comments from Australians (which I’ll digest for the blog sometime this weekend). Any chance that the Australian promoter of the Richard Gage lecture circuit is encouraging his followers to get in contact? I admit, it sounds like a Conspiracy, but I’m willing to buy it for a dollar.