9/11, and Other Conspiracies

My professor recently told me that he believes the pentagon was hit by a missile. I forget how it came about, but it was related somehow to some off-hand remark I made. To the best of my recollection, I think I then said: “uh..what?” and he said something, to the effect of: “yeah! Have you seen that video? What about that hole in the Pentagon? Are we really to believe that that was made by a plane? Plus, where’s all the debris?”

Instead of arguing my point, I told him I’d share a link (while looking for that link, I found an even more poignant website) for an article that goes through a point-by-point criticism of the “Loose Change” ‘documentary’. I have yet to hear back from him, but this was only a few days ago. I’ll keep you posted.
Also, since his words are so eloquent and insightful, two quick videos of Chomsky’s opinion on the 9/11 conspiracy:

Also, as some of you may know, my mother is a firm believer in the following:
1. That vaccines cause autism (I think she specifically believes it is the MMR vaccine, but I wouldn’t put it past her to think that it may be the mercury or something else that is used to make vaccines)
2. Vaccines don’t do anything. They serve NONE of the intended functions our government and doctors tell us.
3. She believes that vaccines make certain people lots of money (I guess the government and vaccine makers), and that’s why we’re told to use them, and such.
4. When I present her with research (there’s a fuck-ton of it, christ, do any google scholar search on the thing. Actually, there’s a lot of articles that are available for free as well, so it shouldn’t be too hard to amass a small army of evidence against her (this I know from experience)), she ignores it, saying that that research was funded by private companies or government agencies (which she is absolutely correct in saying) and that the research is therefore doctored.
Now, being a fan of skepticism, I want to applaud my mother on one hand. She has a completely and utterly self-contained non-contradicting view of the world, that questions the powers that may be, and has gone out of her way to get information from sources that do not come from such institutions.
[Side note: as much as it may sound like the thinking’s of a mad woman at first, it has a lot in common with pharmaceuticals: some research, which is funded by pharmaceutical companies, is indeed spun or doctored to make it look like the drug works as the company claims it does; doctors are indeed sometimes pressured or coerced into prescribing certain drugs; etc. The important differences being that: although pharmaceuticals are over-prescribed, and we definitely need to do something about that (and make sure our science isn’t contaminated by private companies), there’s no denying that a lot of the drugs out there really DO work. Furthermore, pharmaceuticals are not prescribed en-mass by the government. Actually, I (along with many of you I would presuppose) would argue that we need more government involvement in pharmaceuticals, in order to curb the incentive to over-prescribe the populace and fudge scientific evidence that goes against their product.]
Unfortunately, my mother’s sources are from (in my humble opinion) quacks on the internet, and other ‘experts’ trying to capitalize on this hysteria (this is a nice website that tries to debunk all such claims and ‘expert’ opinion).
This deeply troubles me. I find myself kind of embarrassed by the whole affair.
Usually, when I mention this to people, and talk about the evidence (which at the time was from papers saying “there is no link between *insert whatever was the claim at the time, since it has changed again and again* causing autism” using any number of scientific methods) people will ask me (quite sensibly): “well, do children who don’t get a vaccine never get autism?” for which I did not have an answer, since I had not come upon a paper that specifically looked at that. Well I’m happy to say I have now amassed another small army of those kinds of surveys (and I’m sure you can guess the results).

Finally, I would like to bring up another conspiracy theory for which I personally know a subscriber: that global warming is not caused by humans. My problem here is not that I believe to hold that belief is a ridiculous thing to do. In my personal opinion, I think it is silly to claim, with certainty, one side or the other (unless you are an expert in the field and have done some extensive research). If I had to put money on it, I’d probably side with people saying that indeed it is man made. However, it is such a complex issue, and given the fact that the temperature of the atmosphere can vary wildly over time (mostly due to astronomical reasons (source)), I’m hard pressed to say one way or the other. Granted, there is undeniable evidence that the Earth’s atmosphere has increased by 0.6 degrees Celcius over the last 100 years (source), and that CO2 has increased along with it (source). The problem here is that correlation does not mean causation.
Anyways, my beef is with my friend thinking it ridiculous to believe that it is man made. I…just…can’t see how he can hold such a strong opinion on such a complex issue (especially considering he has no post highschool science or math training). Again, I like that he’s skeptical and dissenting, but wish he would do a little more research, and be a little more careful with how he expresses his opinions.
[quickly: I also just wanted to say that, even if global warming isn’t anthropogenic, it’s a happy delusion since the belief in it has made it profitable to invest in alternative energy which will reduce, among other things (CO2), pollution and perhaps eliminate our need for oil (Iraq)]

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About dontdontoperate

28 year old originally from Barrie, Ontario, Canada. H.B.Sc. from UofT with a major in chemistry and a double minor in philosophy and math. M.Sc. from UofT in physiology and neuroscience. Finished my Ph.D. in biomedical engineering at McMaster in the fall of 2013.
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One Response to 9/11, and Other Conspiracies

  1. Pingback: How Many People Can Live on Planet Earth? | Dontdontoperate's Blog

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