There’s Always an Alternative

If your standards are low enough.

I just spent a good hour looking at the website of Scholars for 9/11 Truth and Justice, largely because I came across a website talking about how great the ‘evidence’ is for a controlled demolition. After reading some of their ‘evidence’–which largely consists of a drip of pseudoscience here and a heavy coat of logically-indefensible theorizing there–and find myself slightly more educated about their arguments, and overwhelmingly unconvinced.

The most interesting thing for me is the similarity between the 9/11 Truth movement and Creationism/ Intelligent Design. Both of these are based on the idea that the status quo simply cannot be correct, largely because of personal incredulity. There’s no way I could have evolved from monkeys… There’s no way there’s a natural mechanism that would create X… There’s no way that those planes and/or fires could have brought down those buildings… And what they end up with an alternative theory that is less plausible than the mainstream one which is supported by evidence. This also seems to be similar to other forms of pseudoscience, like that of HIV-denialists.

Here’s an interesting example from the 9/11 site:

The word theory when used in the derisive sense of ‘conspiracy theory’ connotes detailed speculation unfounded in fact. However, a theory can stand apart from a detailed scenario explaning the means and methods behind observed events. For example, a theory of the controlled demolition of the Twin Towers can be proved simply by disproving its converse — that the Towers’ collapses were spontaneous. (emphasis added)

That last sentence is the interesting part. Of course, it’s bad logic, and bad theorizing. One should look for the more parsimonious theory–that which fits better with the available evidence. Even if one were able to disprove specific evidence for the official theories (which, judging by the evidence presented on the website, certainly hasn’t been done, but is assumed to have been done), that wouldn’t mean the alternative theory is more plausible. It’s reminiscent of the Wedge Strategy of the Intelligent Design movement:

The objective (of the wedge strategy) is to convince people that Darwinism is inherently atheistic, thus shifting the debate from creationism vs. evolution to the existence of God vs. the non-existence of God. From there people are introduced to ‘the truth’ of the Bible and then ‘the question of sin’ and finally ‘introduced to Jesus.’

Simply convince people that the main theory is either untrue or unpalatable, and then they’ll no other choice but to embrace the alternative conveniently offered at the moment of doubt. Moral for the day: If you see this strategy elsewhere, be wary.

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11 Responses to There’s Always an Alternative

  1. Diganta says:

    This is similar to the ‘God of the gaps’ idea. It’s very simple pseudoscience, if you have gaps, the alternative has to be correct. Thanks for pointing out the similarities between 9/11 and Creationists … it’s really striking.

  2. fairlane says:

    I think the thing that bothers me the most is, why didn’t I think of this nonsense? Damn, I could be retired by now instead of trying to make an honest living working 12-14 hours a day.

    By the way, I’m adding you to Jones Town’s blogroll. You’re a talented writer, and that’s the kind of thing we appreciate. Well that and the ability to tie your shoes without a tutor.

  3. higher being says:

    You’re a moran and morans will always get what they profess to understand.

  4. globalizati says:

    Ooo.. I’m a “moran.” Ouch.

  5. fairlane says:

    Wow, are you back? I was following up on another comment thread and saw your response.

    Being called a “moran” by someone named “higher being” is…well, I’m not sure exactly what it is, other than humorous. (And they did it twice so they can’t use the “typo” excuse).

    The irony.

  6. globalizati says:

    I’m here, I’m just too busy to start blogging again in earnest. I have a busy class schedule, two new interesting jobs, and a bunch of scholarship applications, so I’ll be off-blog for a while yet…

    But, if you want to leave me crazy messages, I’m here for that. :-)

  7. fairlane says:

    Are you implying I leave “crazy messages?”

  8. Colin Hayward says:

    If you have not seen any creation science then you havn’t been looking very hard. there is tons of “scientific” material that supports the creation theory.
    You could equally ague that the evolution theory and or the origins of man are a theory to debunk intelligent design/creationism. further more those theories are not scientific in the classical sense because they are not based on observation and or rigorous experimental testing they are mostly pure speculation.
    We should not overlook the fact that genetics did not exist when Darwin published and he had no way of knowing that his ideas of mutation (which can contribute to survival of the fittest and species adaptation) does not hold up when trying to explain one species changing into another.
    You run the risk of ignoring fact that don’t fit your belief system just as much as those you accuse.
    Evolution can never explain complex systems such as an eyeball it is either complete and functional or it offers no advantage, also if animals evolved there should be millions of fossils of the steps between, where are they?
    You see if you want too debunk one theory because it suggest there might be a creator you are taking a religious position whether you like it or not, denying God is no more scientific than believing in him if you don’t have some science to back it up.
    Strangely enough science is actually a result of Juedo/Christian belief that there are universal constants and unchangeable laws, before that man just had magic.

  9. globalizati says:

    Colin, thanks for stopping by. A few points:
    Creationists certainly have a lot of stuff they claim is science, just as other pseudoscientific disciplines do (9/11 denial is another movement that claims to have definitive proof). What creationist research do you consider to be the most solid?

    If you think evolutionary fact and theory are pure speculation, you’re rather uninformed about the field. What have you read in the area? I would recommend Sean Carroll’s Endless Forms Most Beautiful, Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene and/or The Ancestor’s Tale, or any of a number of other books that incorporate the findings and the methodologies in accessible book format.

    Also, the fact that Darwin’s theory was originally published before knowledge of the genetic mechanisms was available is one reason it’s so impressive. I’m just not sure what you mean by not “holding up.” Are you familiar with the “modern evolutionary synthesis”? Unfortunately, many evolution denialists stop at Darwin when the most interesting research (and proof for) evolution has come in the last few decades with modern genomics and developmental biology.
    While we’re on it, explanations of complex systems such as the human eye are as old as Darwin, although creationists in their ignorance still harp on it by taking quotes out of context.

    And of course, you should also know that there are many transitional fossils out there, and more are being found all the time. For example, when Behe testified in support of intelligent design creationism at the Dover trial, he noted the lack of transitional fossils between “whales with their land-dwelling Mesonychid ancestors,” and then in the next year three transitional species were unearthed. Now he never talks about whales for some reason…

    In one sense, we and every other species out there are intermediates. If there were no chimpanzees, one might ask where is the species half way between humans and gorillas? The chimpanzees are the intermediate (though in horizontal, not ancestral terms). Likewise, if there were a half-human, half-chimp species, you would still ask for the intermediate step, which is silly.

  10. globalizati says:

    And of course, you set up a false dichotomy between evolution and God. Many, many believers, including many Christians, find no contradiction between the acceptance of the common evolutionary descent of all life and their belief in a loving Creator who somehow causes that process to happen. Francis Collins (author of the Language of God) and Ken Miller (Finding Darwin’s God) are notable present-day examples. Evolutionary biology is about the mechanism. The existence of a deity is a separate theological or philosophical question, unless your concept of God is so small that it is irrevocably tied to creationism.

    And historically speaking, I would say it’s more accurate to say that modern science is a result of a Greco/Judeo/Christian/Muslim/Enlightenment/Modernist worldview. The current scientific philosophy draws a number of elements from different prior and continuing world views, including Christianity. Take any of those elements out of the mix and you might not get modern science. But the fact that Pythagoras thought the world was round does not speak to the truth of Greek ideas of deity. Something to ponder.

  11. My friend on Facebook shared this link with me and I’m not dissapointed that I came to your blog.
    p.s. Year One is already on the Internet and you can watch it for free.

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