A Student of History

August 7, 2006

More on 9/11 and Academic Freedom

Filed under: The Academy — John Maass @ 12:42 am

Here, a few days ago, I mentioned a University of Wisc. prof who has some unpopular things to say about who was really at fault–in his mind–for 9/11.  And even the NYT has covered this lecturer.  Now CNN has as well, here.  Its a growing movement too, though I am not a member to be sure.  From CNN:

Five years after the terrorist attacks, a community that believes widely discredited ideas about what happened on September 11, 2001, persists and even thrives. Members trade their ideas on the Internet and in self-published papers and in books. About 500 of them attended a recent conference in Chicago, Illinois.

The movement claims to be drawing fresh energy and credibility from a recently formed group called Scholars for 9/11 Truth.

The organization says publicity over Barrett’s case has helped boost membership to about 75 academics. They are a tiny minority of the 1 million part- and full-time faculty nationwide, and some have no university affiliation. Most aren’t experts in relevant fields.

Italics mine.  I’ve never really believed in conspiracy theories, and don’t buy this one either.  What is it about some folks who are so quick believe the evil behind each tragedy, or world news-making event?  Is it paranoia? 



  1. I used to wonder the same thing about conspiracy theories, especially in connection with shadowy but seemingly all-powerful organizations like the Illuminati.

    I think that in a weird way, some people find conspiracy theories a comfort, because they restore order — albeit an evil order — to a world that otherwise seems unpredictable and chaotic. When things appear uncontrolled, it’s somehow better to convince oneself that some person or group is in fact in control.

    Since governments are the by far the best organizations ever devised to wield power, and since secrets leak out of them continually, it’s hard to believe that far smaller organizations — in the case of 9/11, a small cabal within the federal government — could do the things attributed to them. Many years ago as an undergraduate, I asked Prof. Warren Van Tine to tell me the largest conspiracy of which we have convincing historical proof. He thought for a moment and said it occurred in the 1930s, when General Motors, Goodyear, and a major manufacturer of safety glass bought up and systematically dismantled the mass transit systems of most American cities, thereby creating the automobile society we know and love today. There were actually congressional hearings on this in the 1950s, I think, so the whole conspiracy escaped public view for only a couple of decades.

    Comment by Mark G. — August 7, 2006 @ 9:35 am | Reply

  2. Why such skepticism about the existence or feasibility of conspiracy? Why history is replete with numerous exampels of such. For what is a conspiracy after all but the design of a criminal and some (knowing and unknowing) associates to perpetrate a crime without getting caught or else to make that crime seem like something legal?

    And how can there be truth or a truthful understanding or discusson of facts without morals. Again I think one of the false assumptions at work here is that people who run the mass media or the government (or education or the law for that matter) are necessarily moral and therefore honest (that is trustworthy) people (all the time.) Well if one are inclined to take these as trustworthy, I would be curious to know where they then think such learned morals their from? By the same token who do they see in our society as the greatest force for promotng such morals such moral character?

    As hard as it is for some to understand, there is and can be notwithstanding great material and worldly profit and advantage to be made from participating secretly in the most rank evil. Whythis is so I won’t elaborate though I would add that unless one understands this principle they will never properly understand history or the affairs of this world.

    Comment by William Thomas Sherman — August 7, 2006 @ 8:43 pm | Reply

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