Sunday, April 30, 2006

9/11 and Critical Thinking (Or lack thereof)

One of the comparatively small sacrifices that I've had to make as part of my service is that I haven't been able to see a movie since I shipped in mid-January. One film I intend to see at the first opportunity is United 93. According to all accounts, the film plays it straight and is a powerful reminder of why we're at war and the nature of our enemy.

Alas, Friday's USA Today carried a story on another film about 9/11 that is making the rounds. This one I'll be shunning like the plague:

Gypsy Taub, a mother of three from Oakland, does not believe that 9/11 happened. At least not the way the government said it did.


Taub is promoting one of the latest presentations of revisionist theories on the 2001 attacks by al-Qaeda terrorists, a film that says, among other things, that the Pentagon was hit by a cruise missile fired by the military as an excuse to go to war.

Called Loose Change, it is being downloaded from the Internet and shown in small screenings here and overseas. It is not alone in the genre, and it is not unusual in American history either to offer simplistic explanations or demonize opponents. Presidents from Andrew Jackson to Lyndon Johnson were accused by their contemporaries of massive government conspiracies.

The article notes that this piece of homemade agitprop is being shown on a growing number of college campuses. Incredibly, one community college instructor even "brought the filmmakers to the campus to stimulate critical thinking":

"Students love it," she said. "These guys have done a great job of marketing on the Web, and that was another reason I wanted to bring them in."

Perhaps this and other like-minded instructors can follow up on such efforts to foster critical thinking by bringing in Holocaust deniers or proponents of a flat earth to talk to their students. That is the intellectual level at which the 9/11 conspiracy theorists function. The infantile assumptions behind their theories have been debunked numerous times. See for example Popular Mechanics or

Sadly, there are all too many people who would rather believe that 9/11 was the result of some X-Files type conspiracy than accept the reality that we were attacked by a Salafist-Jihadist movement that seeks our destruction. This is not critical thinking, but a complete lack thereof.


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