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PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2006 12:38 am    Post subject: Criticism Reply with quote

Critics of these alternative theories say they are a form of conspiracism common throughout history after a traumatic event in which conspiracy theories emerge as a mythic form of explanation (Barkun, 2003). A related criticism addresses the form of research on which the theories are based. Thomas W. Eagar, an engineering professor at MIT, suggested they "use the 'reverse scientific method'. They determine what happened, throw out all the data that doesn't fit their conclusion, and then hail their findings as the only possible conclusion." Eagar's criticisms also exemplify a common stance that the theories are best ignored. "I've told people that if (the argument) gets too mainstream, I'll engage in the debate." This, he continues, happened when Steve Jones took up the issue. The basic assumption is that conspiracy theories emerge a set of previously held or quickly assembled beliefs about how society works, which are then legitimized by further "research". Taking such beliefs seriously, even if only to criticize them, it is argued, merely grants them further legitimacy.

There are also behavioristic objections to these conspiracy theories, arguing that the conspiracy theorists behave in an irrational or unscholarly way. One objection is that the conspiracy theorists tend to connect unrelated information. Another is that they will often expand the conspiracy to include those who debunk their original theories (Loose Change claims that Popular Mechanics is working for the government, or is in league with members of the conspiracy in some way). Finally there is the tendency of the conspiracy theorists to quote only other conspiracy theorists and provide little if any expert verification of any of their claims.

Scientific American, Popular Mechanics, and The Skeptic's Dictionary have published articles that challenge and discredit various 9/11 conspiracy theories. Conspiracy theorists have jumped on the contribution to the Popular Mechanics article by "senior researcher" Ben Chertoff, who they claim is cousin of Michael Chertoff - current head of Homeland Security. However, no indication of an actual connection has been revealed and Ben Chertoff has denied the allegation. Popular Mechanics has published a book length version of their article Debunking 9/11 Myths. Michael Shermer writing in Scientific American described 9/11 conspiracy theory scholarly rigor as "the mistaken belief that a handful of unexplained anomalies can undermine a well-established theory lies at the heart of all conspiratorial thinking (as well as Holocaust denial and the various crank theories of physics)." Der Spiegel dismissed 9/11 conspiracy theories as a "panoply of the absurd", stating "as diverse as these theories and their adherents may be, they share a basic thought pattern: great tragedies must have great reasons."

9/11 conspiracy theories were satirized and criticized in "Mystery of the Urinal Deuce", an episode of the animated television series South Park.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 05, 2006 5:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I find it interesting that no matter what the situation there is always a conspiracy theory.
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