Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Another tale from my Las Vegas trip

This April, at a meeting I attended, one of the presenters happened to be a self-identified 9/11 truth seeker. I've encountered a few of these "truthers" on the web and in real life, and can think of a grand total of one who can actually discuss the issue in a civilized manner. My basic take is that "truthers" are convinced that the attacks that occurred in NYC and DC were part of a government conspiracy to essentially impose even more of an authoritarian police state than had already existed, and of course give the Feds and Big Oil an excuse to invade Iraq. I tend to be skeptical of these folks' claims - applying Occam's Razor, it seems the sort of all-encompassing conspiracy theory requiring unnecessary layers of explanation. I've yet to read anything that would cause me to reconsider my view that the 9-11 attacks were anything more than an example of the birds coming home to roost.

The presenter was an individual named Alan A. Johnson, who apparently is a faculty member at a junior college in the University of Hawaii system and who holds a doctorate from the unaccredited and now defunct Professional School of Psychological Studies in San Diego. The guy passed out (or more correctly, had his wife/girlfriend pass out) a handout that was lifted directly from, and proceeded to plug the film "Loose Change" and mumble about the presumed plot for a couple minutes before folks started asking questions - keep in mind this is a room full of mostly social scientists, and they tend to be a rather skeptical bunch to begin with. Turned out that a couple of the audience members had at least some knowledge or connection to others with the requisite technical expertise to offer up some substantive challenges. We'll also keep in mind that the onus is on presenters to make their case, whatever it may be. It took only a couple questions for Johnson to completely lose it - dropping the "f bomb" at one of his questioners (something that does not fly at academic events) and violating the personal space of others in a manner suggesting he was spoiling for a fight. It wasn't even entirely clear if he had bothered to read the material that he had passed around to his audience in the first place. In any case, he certainly cleared out the room. He apparently had his wife/girlfriend videotape the whole thing, so perhaps one day that particular shining moment might make its way to YouTube.

In the meantime, enjoy The Try-Works coverage of Re-create 68 and RAIMD and their recent experiences with the loonies at TruthAlliance. Bonus: YouTube video by Onion News Network.

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