Friday, September 16, 2011

Occam and conspiracy theories

In the philosophy of science there is an axiom that everyone should adopt, namely "Occam's razor" or Occam's principle. Occam was an English monk who proposed this concept in the 12th century. Simply stated Occam's principle is that if there are two explanations for something one should accept the simpler of the two, or stated another way, if there is a satisfactory explanation for something one need not search for or accept a more complex explanation.

I personally do not like or accept so-called conspiracy theories of events, such as Kennedy's assassination or the Twin Towers collapse. During the 10th anniversary of "9/11" there was endless speculation in the media about why the Twin Towers collapsed and the way in which they collapsed. Some of this speculation seems ridiculous to me. Suddenly people who know nothing about the subject become experts on how tall buildings collapse. I saw a plane crash into each of the two buildings of the Twin Towers, I saw them collapse, cause and effect. According to Occam's principle not much more need be said. If you want to know how the Towers collapsed then you can seek reasonable explanations, such as that the planes (weighing ca. 100 tons each) severed many interior supports (concrete and metal) of the building, the planes contained almost full tanks of aviation fuel that burnt at extremely high temperature, weakening the supports and causing some to melt. Then the top portions of the Towers above the impact points, weighing huge amounts, collapsed onto the remaining portions, causing them to collapse too. Aren't these reasons obvious and straightforward. According to common sense any speculation about any other causes for the collapse are tendentious and unnecessary.

For example, someone spotted several small chips with an orange and grey color in the voluminous dust produced in the collapse, and attributed these to a hot-burning substance called thermite, that is used to cause buildings to collapse in planned demolitions. There are several problems with this explanation, first such orange paint (consisting of iron oxide) was used to cover many interior metal portions of the Twin Tower buildings and this was often painted over with a grey paint, second, although Thermite consists of iron oxide and aluminium, it is not usually used to detonate buildings, but rather plain dynamite is used. So according to Occam's principle, forget the idea of a planned detonation bringing the Towers down. Another point made is that small tufts of smoke indicating small explosions are seen on floors below the main impact point. But why assume these are "planned" explosions, why not assume the much more likely explanation that burning fuel oil poured down pipes and cavities within the buildings and caused minor fires and explosions on lower floors.

Then there is the collapse of Building 7 on the Twin Towers site. This building was not hit by any plane, it was physically separate from the Twin Towers themselves and half their height and it collapsed vertically, much like the Towers themselves. It has been stated that this was a CIA building, and therefore that the CIA, for reasons unknown, detonated its supports and caused it to collapse. This is simply nonsense! When the Twin Towers collapsed adjacent to this building, people much further away said it felt like an "earthquake," also the force of the initial dust storm from their collapse was incredible, finally there were fires underground caused by the fuel and the collapse and all these buildings were connected underground. To believe any other explanation than that this building collapsed due to the initial plane crashes and the subsequent collapse of the Towers is perverse.

I want to address the question of the identity of the hijackers. Their identities were clearly proven from Passports and facts connecting them. Most of them were part of a cell that lived and met in Hamburg, their dates of arrival and departure from Hamburg are known. Their addresses and dates of arrival in the US are known and their attendence at pilot training schools at various locations around the US are known. The addresses of banks to which specific amounts of money was sent to them are also known. Some have said that with the amount of training they could not pilot a commercial airliner, but this is not true, I heard an experienced airline pilot refute this. And in fact some of the hijackers specifically asked to be taught how to fly such planes. The remark of one of the hijackers that he did not need to know how to land such a plane only how to fly it caused a flight instructor to contact his local FBI office and a report was prepared by an FBI agent, but was never acted on. This was due to incompetence and lack of inter-agency communication rather than any conspiracy.

Finally, much has been said about the identity of the hijackers, for example that this was a Zionist plot and that no Jews were killed because they had been forewarned . This is a grotesque lie, many Jews were killed, just look at the names. Of course, in the Arab world, where rumor often passes for fact, this lie is widely believed. But, it is simply false! All the hijackers were Muslims and several of them have been traced to al Qaeda training sites in Pakistan or Afghanistan. 18 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi citizens and in most cases their families have been identified. One of them, Zacarias Massaoui, a French citizen, was denied entry into the USA and was arrested, subsequently tried and found guilty of being involved in the plot. There is so much more detailed information, I suggest everyone read the entries in Wikipedia, under the specific headings "Flight 11", "Flight 93," and the names involved: Mohammed Atta, Massaoui, Khaled Shiekh Mohammed, etc. etc. You cannot but be impressed by the amount of detailed information gathered after the event. If you have any other theories, don't write to me about them!


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