image via fimbrethil

image via fimbrethil

This is the first anniversary of the attacks of September 11th, 2001, that I can remember not including overripe memorials. I know there were some, but they weren’t so pervasive as to invade my sphere of media and immediate friends. It was quite a nice change, and it gives me hope that the threat of ‘nevar 4get’ might yet pass. A reactionary touchstone like 9/11 is not a guidepost for arranging the future in a useful, humanistic way. We’ll benefit more by considering it a statement of intention on the part of militant extremists than by defining ourselves as a nation constantly under siege, which is what we’ve been doing ever since.

But still, I managed to make it through this particular hedge of noisy patriotism and shallow tributes without rolling my eyes once. I’m proud of us, America, it’s almost like we’re allowing ourselves to move forward again.

The only time I had to think about 9/11 at all was as ISIS continued its sordid crusade against the future – a minor disaster and eyesore that we’ll probably be rid of in a year or two – and when the Skeptical Inquirer happened to cross my desk, reminding me that there are people who actually believe that the entirety of 9/11 was a fabrication, a so-called ‘false flag’ operation. Somehow, bombs were placed in buildings that were never empty, without anyone noticing, and without hundreds of thousands of people who must have been in on the job breaking ranks and saying that, maybe, just maybe, murdering three thousand innocent people was wrong. Nope, none of that happened, and the entire conspiracy went off airtight. Sure.

I was also reminded that there are people who believe that world leaders have been replaced with lizard people. The lesson, as ever: “Don’t believe everything you read.”

A choice bit from the CSICOP letter:

Each floor of the towers contained over two million kilograms of mass. The gravitational potential energy of a standing tower with twelve-foot floors extending upward 110 stories can be calculated straightforwardly; it comes to over 420 billion joules of energy, or the equivalent of 100 tons of TNT per tower. This energy, which was released completely during the collapses, is more than the energy of some of the smaller nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenal, such as the W-48 (72 tons TNT) (Sublette 2006). This is where the energy required to break columns, pulverize concrete, and expel debris through windows came from. (Truthers often compare such expulsions of air and debris, visible several floors below the collapse fronts, to “squibs,” explosive devices often used in demolitions. However, they are readily explained by pressure changes as the towers, acting like a gigantic bicycle pump being compressed, collapsed.)

100 tons of TNT per tower. This point reminds us that, yes, the towers themselves are collapsing implosively. But the more important device here might be rhetorical. By using the language of explosives to explain the logical outcome of the attacks, any ‘inside job’ crackpottery also gets explained. Unfortunately, by pointing this out, many conspiracy theorists will retreat further into their dogma. (That’s exactly what it is, by the way: a creed that is immune to countervailing evidence.) This brings to mind one of my favorite Alan Moore quotes.

“The main thing that I learned about conspiracy theory is that conspiracy theorists actually believe in a conspiracy because that is more comforting. The truth of the world is that it is chaotic. The truth is, that it is not the Jewish banking conspiracy or the grey aliens or the 12 foot reptiloids from another dimension that are in control. The truth is more frightening, nobody is in control. The world is rudderless.”