Monday, November 29, 2010

Is The Truth Out There...?

The Charnel House
Pablo Picasso
1945

The Internet can be a dangerous place, but never more so than when it distributes false and fictitious information that people take as truth and fact. "The truth is out there...?" I don't think so. Most of us are able to discern fact from fiction, and of course we always have Snopes to debunk stupid rumours.  But there are conspiracy theories that take hold, and intelligent, well-read people actually buy into them.  The conspiracy theories sound plausible, they have even been "proven" and in any case, folks love a good ghost story.  Isn't it more fun to have shadowy people out there who are actually responsible for these things?  The truth isn't sexy.  It's more fun to believe that Diana was killed by the Royal family than by a drunk driver, or that JFK was killed by the (fill in the blanks with your choice) than by a crazy sniper with a good aim.  And it's more fun to believe that the shadowy "they" were responsible for the attacks on the World Trade Centers on September 11, 2001, than a bunch of well-organized, well-funded, completely insane extremists who hijacked airplanes and flew them into the buildings.

The truth of what happened that day has been proven by no less than engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Albert Einstein's alma mater), and hundreds of books and papers have been published, including this one, describing exactly how the Towers fell, and what caused them to fall.  Here is one excerpt:  The claims that the jet fuel was not hot enough to melt the beams has also been disprovedFACT: Jet fuel burns at 800° to 1500°F, not hot enough to melt steel (2750°F). However, experts agree that for the towers to collapse, their steel frames didn't need to melt, they just had to lose some of their structural strength—and that required exposure to much less heat. "Steel loses about 50 percent of its strength at 1100°F," notes senior engineer Farid Alfawak-hiri of the American Institute of Steel Construction. "And at 1800° it is probably at less than 10 percent." But jet fuel wasn't the only thing burning, notes Forman Williams, a professor of engineering at the University of California, San Diego, and one of seven structural engineers and fire experts that PM consulted. He says that while the jet fuel was the catalyst for the WTC fires, the resulting inferno was intensified by the combustible material inside the buildings, including rugs, curtains, furniture and paper. NIST reports that pockets of fire hit 1832°F. "The jet fuel was the ignition source," Williams tells PM. "It burned for maybe 10 minutes, and [the towers] were still standing in 10 minutes. It was the rest of the stuff burning afterward that was responsible for the heat transfer that eventually brought them down."

I remember the Cold War, and the fear and anxiety that it produced in everyone in my generation. Part of our school curriculum was practicing survival techniques.  The anxiety stayed with us 24/7 and it was an underlying anxiety that took years -- decades -- to go away.  The ensuing anxiety spilled over into my personal life.  I lived in fear of one government or another starting a war that would end the world.  It was horrible.  And now it seems to be starting again in this generation -- fear and paranoia of the unknown.  And it is making me bloody angry.  The only thing to be really afraid of is ignorance.  The children of this generation have the right to live in the enlightenment of knowledge, not the shadow of ignorance.  The truth is in education.  The truth is in learning the scientific facts.  The real predators of the Internet are the people who perpetuate the ignorance the children read and believe to be the truth.  People love a good ghost story, but that is all these conspiracy theories are -- ghost stories.

The truth is out there...!  We owe it to the children to tell them the truth, not some hocus pocus nonsense.

29 comments:

Alissa said...

I'm with you on this one, Jo. There are some conspiracy theories that I do believe are a bit more than theories, but I can't see how the September 11 attacks could be perceived as anything more than what they actually were.

That said, my father has his own theory about the collapse of the buildings - that if they had been constructed with American steel and not Japanese steel they would still be standing. I'm not sure if he had read this somewhere or formulated the opinion on his own.

I like to do my own research about any theory I come across because I suppose I am a naturally suspicious person.

Charles Gramlich said...

Few want to wade through all that factual stuff. They'd rather take a wild guess

Russell said...

Very true! It is fun to listen to the many theories about this or that and, as you say, such stories are much sexier than the truth.

How does that adage go? He never let the facts get in the way of a good story!

I often listen to the radio at night and the airwaves are filled with people who have discovered this or that reason for some major event.

I won't go on but will just second or third or 37th what you said in your most excellent and very true post!

Shelly Rayedeane said...

You are right about not buying into everything when people do not know the complete truth surrounding a situation.

However, this should also mean we do not go to war without all the information behind what often starts them. There were no black boxes found in the planes so there can be no absolute proof.

No communication systems were investigated thouroghly enough so that means again... Not enough evidence.

As far as jet fuel alone being enough to pull the towers down, that is pure bullshit.

I was a firefighter for seven and a half years and working with the police department on September 11th.

That is education enough.

I would be far more concerned about people in high places manipulating people in America to believe in a truth which does not exist while attempting to silence those who have enough guts to seek it and backing wars which are pure hogwash.

As for the real truth, it may never be known, but I would never attempt to silence those who still have enough balls to question why and how.

This "blame the boogey man in the closet" mentality does not make a child feel safe when one shuts off the lights and isn't willing to investigate any further or question one's own perceptions.

I certainly wouldn't go so far to say some of the loony things people have said regarding what actually went down.

However, I wouldn't be so gullible to take everything said, at face value either.

If any one of us really want to change things, to make a better future for our children , we need to educate our children on just how the media twists the truth in America to feed its own agenda.

Because that truth can never be found when Presidents are puppets and an entire society can be programmed to believe in a lie.

Brenda said...

When I first saw the Picasso I thought it was his Guernica, which we have... and no longer have on the wall. It is stored away somewhere. Long story there. But...true true...people let these stories run wild in their imaginations. I have done the same thing myself, up to a point. I hear things that are just so shocking sometimes...I think about it for a bit and then move on...thankfully not taking too much... too seriously. Great post.

HAPPY IN NEVADA said...

I really like Shelly's post! Also, some of us have worked in capacities to have first-hand knowledge/access/etc., to the TRUTH and yet we will see it glossed over or completely twisted or eliminated as it's put to the public.

Some of us don't sit back and take it and do some 'whistle-blowing' even though we wind up with our tires slashed; threatening phone calls, and other undesirable reactions towards our 'revelation'.

I've got plenty of history in this area of putting the truth out there, and it always requires having ALL THE FACTS IN WRITING - tapes, etc., before you take the first step. The goal isn't to make the public 'excited' by the story the newspaper prints; the goal is to REVEAL the crooks to the authorities, so that JUSTICE can be done.

It sickens me when the news media takes that effort of bringing justice to the forefront, and turn it into talking points; special 'one hour' programs that hammer on the issue so they can glorify it and then that's where you see fiction mixed in with fact if they think it needs a little more excitement and glamor.

So, we all have to be careful we don't dismiss the truth when it's being 'jacked up and around' by the media. Fact-checking is important, but if one is personally involved with the actual situation, they should step up and correct any portion(s) of information that's being published and correct any false rumors.

Theory and opinion is the luxury each person has a right to have, but it should always be represented as just that. Diane

KittyCat said...

I think the big issue is people dont seek the truth. they just go with the flow and believe whatever they hear as fact.

Jo said...

Alissa, yes I agree. To me, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck ... it's a duck. But people do love conspiracy theories.

Charles, yes, unfortunately the scientific facts are not as sexy.

Russell, yes, if people really want the *cough* truth, they can listen to Art Bell, or his successor ... right? *heh*

Shelly, the black boxes were in fact found: "All four of the devices were recovered from the two planes that hit the Pentagon and that crashed in rural Pennsylvania. In the case of American Airlines Flight 77, which hit the Pentagon, the FBI reports that the flight data recorder survived and had recoverable information, but the voice recorder was allegedly too damaged to provide any record. In the case of United Airlines Flight 93, which hit the ground at 500 mph in Pennsylvania, the situation was reversed: the voice recorder survived but the flight data box was allegedly damaged beyond recovery." As far as the jet fuel being hot enough, read the paper from MIT.

"Because that truth can never be found when Presidents are puppets and an entire society can be programmed to believe in a lie." With all due respect, that sounds to me exactly like the paranoid thoughts that propagate conspiracy theories.

Brenda, yes, the truth is just as easy to find as the fiction. The only trouble is, the truth is not as much fun. We want to "blame" someone, and we often blame the wrong people as a result.

Diane, ”It sickens me when the news media takes that effort of bringing justice to the forefront, and turn it into talking points; special 'one hour' programs that hammer on the issue so they can glorify it and then that's where you see fiction mixed in with fact if they think it needs a little more excitement and glamour.” But what about when theories are disproved and debunked by universities and engineering professionals? That is not the news media. People should take the time to read these articles, and get both sides of the story. It is possible to bring down the towers just the way they were brought down. And – IF – they were brought down by some shadowy “someone else”, who was it? And why? I always like to follow the five “W”s – who, where, what, when and why. Can anyone follow those in this instance?

KittyCat, yes, people often like to take the “easy” way, unfortunately.

Indian Pundit said...

Firstly , i agree with you regarding 9/11 conspiracy theories.

But you wrote:

"Most of us are able to discern fact from fiction "

Really?? are u sure?? After all Iraq had nukes!!!!... isn't it??...Look , 72 % supported Iraq war in march 2003 - a war which is based on fiction.

http://pewresearch.org/pubs/770/iraq-war-five-year-anniversary

Fiction and fear - peddled by those in govt. and media - still sells like crazy!!

Other examples like :
1)Obama is a socialist /marxist/muslim etc
2)There is no global worming non-sense!
and many more....

Jo said...

IP, unfortunately, I believe the majority of people who are informed, intelligent and able to discern fact from fiction are also the ones who are mostly the silent majority. It's the lunatic fringe that has the loudest voice. I think most people did not support the war in Iraq, but it went ahead anyway. Most people also agree that global warming (i.e., climate change) is a fact. I learned a very long time ago that the moon is not made of blue cheese. :-)

Indian Pundit said...

hello Jo

i am sorry if i sounded rude in my above comment.Thank you for your reply. Actually these things are very close to my heart. Ordinary people of this world are constantly getting manipulated by power centers - a small group of elites - to suit their own vested interests.

Many are now talking about war in Iran/North Korea .Horrible. More death and destruction.

Take Care

Jo said...

IP, I didn't think you sounded rude. :-) And yes, there will always be one or more "hot spots" in the world. I don’t believe, though, that the awful incident on September 11th was perpetrated by the American government against its own people. I would have to know the five “W”s before I believed it. What, where, when, why and who? My biggest question would be why? It just doesn’t compute… There would be no “why” and probably no “who”.

KrippledWarrior said...

Jo,
my post today covers another aspect of the internet and how it may and HAS affected children. There is such a thing as the boogie-man. And you and your children need to know about him/her.

Russell said...

Okay. I'm going to post a second comment. I don't normally do so but ....

I am truly amazed at some of the posts I am reading. But, of course, conspiracy theories are always much more interesting than the boring truth.

I remember watching Oliver Stone's movie JFK. It seemed SO real. Let me whisper to you what REALLY happened.

People are convinced there was a gunman on the grassy knoll (or behind it or in a tree or ???) who actually fired the shots that killed the President.

And, of course, Jack Ruby killed Oswald before the truth of the lies could be known. (I have actually heard that expression which amazes me.)

Oh well. To those of you who wish to believe in such things, I respect your right to believe.

Personally, I find the Polar Express and the silver bell that can only be heard by those who believe to be just as credible. Maybe more.

Kathryn said...

Amen!

I remember that fear too (tho my schools didn't do duck & cover or whatever; i think that was dropped in the late 60s).

Frankly, most of the fear passed on to me was by a hysterical mother and an unhealthy church. And it makes me angry, too, to see these things perpetuated.

I do believe some conspiracy theories, because keeping people afraid makes them more willing to transfer power to ones who promise "safety." However, i believe most conspiracies are small, petty, stupid, greedy. Where someone wants to hold on to some amount of power.

Reminds me of the book by Agatha Christie (Appointment with Death) where the old woman in the book is an autocrat and totally bullies her family. But at one point the heroine realizes that she is a rather pathetic thing, her power is so limited. So, i believe, is most evil. It is petty, small, poor. But it seems able to do a lot of harm.

lakeviewer said...

Oh yes, let's tell the truth. Unfortunatelly, people live in their own bubble, believing what fits their world view, dismissing facts that don't fit their scheme.

Shelly Rayedeane said...

Thanks for the info. Actually, I am not paranoid at all, nor do I believe in most conspiracy theories.

I actually don't care to debate because doing so is like playing a broken record.

I respect your opinion but I know more than I care to say I do.

I would like to direct you to your local merck index to look up ignition temperatures though, and the only other thing I will say is I knew the guy who installed the communication systems in New York.

Other than that, I am all for freedom of speech unless it is used to cover up the truth with a delete button.

People at Google should know all about that. Lol.

Have a nice day!

Cloudia said...

Yes, we live with the legacy of 'duck & cover."



Aloha from Waikiki

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budh.aaah said...

The fear and paranoia and starting all over again and its a pity. We never learn from history do we

Isa.. said...

"To me, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck ... it's a duck."

Then you should re-watch the collapse of the towers closely. You'll notice small outward explosions in a sequence down to the base of each tower immediately preceding the collapse. If you compare this with demolitions of other tall towers (youtube) you'll see the same explosions from charges engineers place against the main structure. That is truth, and not from an aeroplane.

Why the US government would do such an inhumane act? to invade Afghanistan, though I don't know why.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Just as Nature abhors a vacuum, so does human nature. When we don't know the reason for something, we invent one, and then we begin to believe our own invention.

I agree that children are entitled to grow up in an atmosphere of truth, but sadly, few do. Ignorance prevails in our society, and the most vocal among us are usually the ones whose theories become "truths." Even when they are not true at all.

Jo said...

Kurt, I read your post, and I was flabbergasted...! Thank you for sharing that.

Russell, goodness, yes. "Conspiracy theories are always much more interesting than the boring truth." And if there isn't a conspiracy theory, someone will make one up...!

Kathryn, you are so right. Evil is petty and small. What those terrorists did that day was horrible, but in the long run it showed how petty and small they really are. But it is very obvious who did it, and it was not the American government, or a facsimile thereof.

Rosaria, oh, gosh, yes! And if you present them with the truth, they refuse to consider it. That is the very definition if ignorance -- "ignore". I just wish people would stop posting the ignorance on the Internet...!

Shelly, "I would like to direct you to your local merck index to look up ignition temperatures..." You obviously did not read the article written by the engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Cloudia, oh, yes, the good ole' Cold War. Those were the days, hey? *sigh*

Jyotsna, yes, that's the part that makes me really angry, is the spread of paranoia. Unnecessary paranoia...!

Isa, those small puffs of "smoke" are the building materials disintegrating as the building collapses. The small puffs turned into huge clouds. In order to demolish a building, the demolition experts have to remove non-load bearing partitions and drywall. And then the demolition material has to be strategically placed throughout the building directly on the load bearing beams. It takes a very long time, and could not be done in two 110 story buildings without prior detection. It's a major job.

I find it very sad that people feel it is necessary to believe their government did such a thing to them. The terrorists have won twice. They not only killed 3,000 people, they have put fear into the hearts of millions of others. Job successfully done...!

Jo said...

Susan, "When we don't know the reason for something, we invent one, and then we begin to believe our own invention." That is sad but true...! People are living in unnecessary fear, just as kids did in the 50s and 60s. I despise fear. Fear begets fear!

Alicia said...

Great point Jo! There's so much information overload now a days and it's not always easy to glean out the correct information.

Shelly Rayedeane said...

I actually did read it, to be quite honest. Actually there was also a TV program out, with interviews with engineers when the initial investigation was done. This documentary referenced the report.

It wasn't investigated enough. Period.

The thing I love about people who assume intelligence just comes from books is what happens to those people when an emergency situation happens and their books won't save them.

I don't care either way.

I'm done with this conversation just like I'm done with people at blogger synchronizing blogs and lying about the truth behind their actions.

Everyone is entitled to have an opinion and I seek to silence nobody because people who tell the truth don't need to cover up the dirty deeds they have done nor do they need to erase evidence or silence other people.

To silence an opposing voice only shows weakness.

I seek to do none of these things.

Just like I wouldn't pay people to hack somebody's cell and then cover up the evidence after the fact.

But that story could be another blog post in itself.

No conspiracy theories or paranoia included.

When we as a society cease to question why, the same history merely repeats itself.

Linda Myers said...

Quite a conversation!

I think some people confuse talking heads with journalists. With news stations running 24/7, there has to be some filler. And why not the kind that gets people riled up?

Jo said...

Alicia, yes, with the Internet, it's difficult to tell fact from fiction.

Shelly, it sounds as if you have had some unfortunate experiences. I'm very sorry to hear that.

Linda, there don't seem to be any boundaries anymore. I guess it is sometimes difficult to trust some people in the media.

Katy said...

I think there is something very American about conspiricy theories. Some can be funny and some are built on some grain of truth, but ones like 9/11 junk and the birthers just drive me nuts. People simply checking their brains at the window because rather than form opinion based on facts, they base their facts on their opinions.

Jo said...

Katy, "People simply checking their brains at the window because rather than form opinion based on facts, they base their facts on their opinions." I love it...! Can I borrow that? It sums it up so succinctly...!