Right now the CSO is preparing himself for an online debate where he will defend the resolution “the 9-11 report, and indeed the government’s report on what happened on September 11, is substantially correct” or some similar statement. (They don’t have exactly what the resolution will be worked out.) When the thing actually starts, I will link to it, naturally.
But I came home from teaching last night to find him hyped up and full of good points. Unfortunately, the CSO has an engineer’s mind so many of the points hinged on ideas like “if I can get everybody to understand the physics of molten steel, then it will be obvious that any charges inside the towers would have had to have been placed in the exact spot where the plane hit. And we all know you can’t really precision fly a passenger plane.”
He does actually get that most of us haven’t grasped the physics of molten steel. Heck, the 9-11 conspiracy folks I’ve read don’t seem to get that you don’t shoot down a large plane over a major city. (Surely it would explode into harmlessly tiny pieces! That’s always what happens in the movies!)
While I bring up the people who think it’s ok to shoot down planes over New York and Washington more often because, well, I have a personal stake, I don’t think that is the strangest or most interesting argument people make.
The one that really gets me is the people who believe that it had to be a conspiracy because surely in the twenty minutes or so between the FAA realizing it was a hijacking and the first plane hitting the tower, the government could have gotten a jet up there. (What the jet would have done is another story. They usually escort lost planes, but I doubt the terrorists were looking to be escorted safely down. The only thing I can think of that they could have done is shoot the plane down, if not over one of the cities, over one of the suburbs. Is there anyplace less than 200 miles or so from New York where bringing down a plane wouldn’t kill a whole bunch of people? And did either of the planes fly over that place?)
But it is interesting to me the faith in government it takes to believe that we would have predicted an act close enough to this would have happened and known that during peacetime we needed to keep fighter jets running at all times to intercept air attacks that suddenly materialized. (Keep in mind that a DOMESTIC air attack is a really weird situation. We were expecting the planes to have to fly here from across the ocean, someplace like Russia. Canada or Mexico won't be attacking us.)
It’s my experience that those who like the government least secretly trust it the most. It is always the rightwing nut jobs, bellies full of Kool-Aid, who can bitch for hours about the incompetence of government, excepting their brilliant cover-up of the Kennedy assassination, which is possibly the most-researched crime in modern history. Extremist liberals and conservatives alike rail against the government but expect laws (from banning junk food in the schools to banning porn) to fix society's problems.
It’s a weird dynamic.