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Posted: 16 October 2007 01:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 91 ]
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SUBJECT: Ryan Mackey taking on the 9/11 conspiracy theories promoted by David Ray Griffin
I know this is an iffy subject but at the same time it provides a prime example for how to deal with pseudo science: Jet Propulsion lab scientist Ryan Mackey has produced a 200 page report in which he demolishes 9/11 prophet David Ray Griffin’s new book “Debunking 9/11 Debunking”. It’s available free on the internet (actually, I tried to convince him to make a bound copy available for sale but he fears being accused of having a profit motive and getting into legal problems for extensive quoting).
Mackey goes through Griffin’s book chapter by chapter, and at the end ties it all in with recourse to Carl Sagan’s Baloney detection kit. I came across Mackey’s work because I’m currently trying to silence some 9/11 proselytizers in my local UU church who peddle their falsehoods every Sunday. My point is, their position is not a political one - in which case it would be protected freedom of speech - but that they are making demonstrably false factual claims which are not easy for regular folks to identify as such. Their whole modeus operandi consists of making people suspicious by dishing out loads of socalled ‘9/11 facts’ that on the surface appear to point to a conspiracy. However, if looked at one by one they all fall apart. Problem is: who takes the time? Answer: very few - the rest may get infected.
Mackey’s long argument has a number of shorter points which are capable of decapitating the 9/1 conspiracies by themself. One point I like is that conspiracy fans have not provided a single peer reviewed article in a science or engineering journal, ever. In other words, they have nothing to show for but rumours and vague allegations, and do not have a case. This may appear like a bland argument, and yet I wish this key point about what can be considered scientifically relevant and what not had more tractions within society.
The other, more specific argument should also be a show stopper: If Griffin claims the buildings WTC 1, 2 & 7 must have been exploded, why is there no seismic record? The site was covered by several monitors which show the impacts and collapses clearly, but they do not show detonations. Since such seismic evidence cannot be hidden (I inquired with a nuclear proliferation physicist and a seismic geologist about this) the proper conclusion is that detonations did not occur, end of story (on site witnesses with the ability to tell detonations from collapse noises alse report not hearing and sensing the telltale noise and sights and tremors).
Mackey’s volume is a fascinating read (I got sucked in last week and finally finished it at 4am…) I only wish it could be placed in every library next to the book it takes apart.
Anyway, the rebuttal book is online at http://911myths.com/drg_nist_review_1_1.pdf ; the site, http://911myths.com , is also a good entry into debunking the cooky garbage that’s out there.

Here is Mackey’s Conclusion:

1.
A sequential analysis of Dr. Griffin’s claims reveals that, without exception, his
claims are unfounded. Sources of error in his claims include (a) quotes taken out
of context, (b) reliance on statements from non-experts, (c) reliance on flawed
scientific reasoning produced by others in the Truth Movement, (d) incorrect and
incomplete reading of the NIST Report itself, and in rare cases (e) fabrication of
factual claims. Taken in total, Dr. Griffin fails to provide a single legitimate
complaint about the NIST Report anywhere in his new book.

2.
Careful analysis of Dr. Griffin’s claims produces no coherent alternate hypothesis.
Dr. Griffin outlines two seemingly incompatible ideas – those of explosives
destroying the structures, and incendiaries merely weakening them to collapse –
but upon review, his claims actually require both effects simultaneously. The
amount of explosives and incendiaries required by Dr. Griffin is implausibly
large, totaling roughly 60 tons of explosives alone at minimum per tower, if we
have understood his vague implications correctly. This analysis is severely
hampered by Dr. Griffin’s refusal, either here or in any of his other writings, to
clearly articulate his hypothesis, if indeed he has one.

3.
Comparison of Dr. Griffin’s approach to the Scientific Method reveals substantial
and irreconcilable deviations. These include the failure to articulate a hypothesis,
persistent arguments from ignorance and incredulity, total reliance upon other
researchers who have yet to produce a single peer-reviewed result and whose
work is easily falsified, rejection of reviewed and verifiable results from genuine
experts, and simple factual error in his presentation. In contrast, Dr. Griffin’s
method is found to be entirely consistent with typical characteristics of
pseudoscience.

4.
The NIST Report itself bears up well in comparison to the Scientific Method, as it
provides a concise and quantified hypothesis, is supported by evidence as well as
experiments, draws upon a large body of researchers and independent validation,
and has been supported in many parts by peer-reviewed papers and others still in
press.

5.
A brief review of current investigations reveals a considerable body of legitimate
criticism, and follow-up on the NIST Report taking place in the scientific
community, contrary to Dr. Griffin’s assertions that the NIST Report is nothing
more than an element of an ongoing cover-up. Equally important and revealing is
the fact that none of these critiques suggests that explosives were used, or that the
Towers would not be expected to collapse after the impact and fires alone.

None of these findings should come as a surprise. In arguing against the NIST
hypothesis, Dr. Griffin is automatically at a disadvantage, simply because there is no
body of scientific work supporting his position, and no expectation for one in the future.

[ Edited: 16 October 2007 09:51 AM by moreover ]
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Posted: 16 October 2007 01:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 92 ]
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Forgot to say: if you download the document the author gives his contact information on the first page, but I won’t display it here.

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Posted: 15 November 2007 09:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 93 ]
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narwhol - 10 September 2007 05:40 PM

God!
Interview God.

A whole pod cast of dj posing questions interspersed with absolute silence.

How about Mr. Deity?

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Fiction is fun, but facts are fundamental.

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Posted: 17 November 2007 12:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 94 ]
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I was thinking that Bob Altemeyer might be an interesting guest. If you’re not familiar with him and his work please see this site:

The Authoritarians

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Posted: 21 November 2007 10:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 95 ]
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<>

[ Edited: 31 January 2008 06:33 AM by zarcus ]
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Posted: 28 November 2007 11:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 96 ]
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My first post here, but I’m a regular listener to the show and it’s a wonderful thing! Thank you all who put it together each week.

I read last week that Jonathan Edwards, a British Olympic Gold Medallist in the Triple Jump event, had a dramatic deconversion from evangelical Christianity this year, and now presents a series on BBC Radio looking into the way science shapes and explains our world.

I think that it would be fascinating to hear one of DJ’s interviews with Mr Edwards, as he now seems genuinely interested in communicating the benefits of science and reason. In particular, I’d be interested to hear more about his feelings on the positive effects of religion on his life, and whether he can think of ways in which those benefits might be obtained without recourse to the supernatural.

Looking forward to hearing more great podcasts!

[ Edited: 28 November 2007 12:03 PM by 3nd3avour ]
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Posted: 28 November 2007 06:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 97 ]
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How about Paul Davies, following up on his NY Times Op-Ed [ Highlighted in a Forum Thread by Doug Smith]

This op-ed pushed a 2007 book of his entitled [Cosmic Jackpot: Why the Universe is Just Right for Life]

Lets have D.J. interview some of these Templeton-winners and figure out what makes them tick….

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Posted: 03 December 2007 11:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 98 ]
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I thought about my first post and decided to massively edit it.  Hopefully, since I just posted it nobody has quoted it.

How about an interview with someone from Bell Labs or MIT on the show to speak about the transistor, whose anniversary is on December 16th?  The transistor has had a massive impact on reason and science in the world since it allows for the Information Age to exist. 


PS Keep up with the topics not Darwin / ID / Evolution related.  It is getting stale on the podcasts and each new one on those topics is starting to just blend together with the old ones.

[ Edited: 04 December 2007 12:01 AM by 2.7182818284 ]
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Posted: 05 December 2007 01:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 99 ]
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I’d just like to echo at least one other below who suggested David Sloan Wilson as a guest on Point of Inquiry.  His understanding of group selection and evolutionary processes within and between cultures have profound consequences for many of the recurring subjects on which POI focuses.  He and E.O. Wilson have a review paper in the latest Quarterly Review of Biology that is earthshaking for those of us who learned that group selection was unlikely to be a significant factor back years ago and hadn’t thought about the issue since.  E.O Wilson now credits the evolution of eusociality in insects to group selection!  This is a major event in the field of evolutionary biology with enormous implications.

DSW is also a vocal critic of Richard Dawkins and the other “New Atheists,“despite being an atheist himself.  He sees their approach to the question of whether religion is good or bad as unscientific.  This is something that I’d love to hear D.J. explore with him.

Here’s what I’d like to hear him explain: if he is better off with atheism than with religion, why doesn’t this apply to everone else?  It seems to me that he has the “belief in belief” that Dan Dennett talks about.  Being an atheist himself, does he consider himself a moral cripple, not able to fully participate in community or society or in some way worse off than his fellow citizens who are believers?  (I rather doubt he thinks this.)  And if he is better off personally for not subscribing to a religion, why not spread the “Good News” of atheism?  I hope the answer isn’t that only the intellectual elite to which he belongs can function knowing the truth about religion…

-Al

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Posted: 05 December 2007 02:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 100 ]
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[ Edited: 31 January 2008 06:33 AM by zarcus ]
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Posted: 05 December 2007 02:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 101 ]
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Since we’re making a wish list here:

Noam Chomsky, Tenzin Gyatso (The Dali Lama), Ayaan Hirsi Ali, David Koepsell, Tim Lahaye (Get him on our turf.  He might jump at the chance to save us.), The Pope (Heck, he’s only human.  Why not ask?), Howard Zinn

More Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, Paul Kurtz, Steven Pinker, Salmon Rushdie, Peter Singer, and Neil deGrasse Tyson!!!

Also, maybe it would be fun to bring on a substitute interviewer to interview DJ as the guest.  A sort of get to know you, if you will.

But heck, DJ does such a great job with POI that I don’t want to come across as pushy.  You know.  They gave us an inch and we want a mile.  LOL

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Posted: 05 December 2007 04:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 102 ]
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erasmusinfinity - 05 December 2007 02:23 PM

But heck, DJ does such a great job with POI that I don’t want to come across as pushy.  You know.  They gave us an inch and we want a mile.  LOL

Ha, I totally agree which is why I really edited my post from before.  Thought version one was too pushy.

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Posted: 27 January 2008 08:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 103 ]
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I am a student at the University of Florida, and a few weeks ago, Jack Kevorkian came to speak. I think he would be a perfect guest for Point of Inquiry. He talked about crime in society, and how we deal with it now, and how we need to find a better way to deal with it. He talked about euthanasia, or,  “Patholosis: the elimination of suffering” as he calls it. He also talked about the 9th amendment, and he had some extremely interesting points. He seems to be the perfect example of a freethinker, and I definitely think he should be on Point of Inquiry.

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Posted: 29 January 2008 01:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 104 ]
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In general, though a big fan of the podcast, I detect an occasional tendency toward a stuffy, middle-of-the road ‘respectability.’ Snsllvn is right that Kevorkian would be an excellent choice.
Another suggestion would be Norman Finkelstein, who is particuarly illuminating on zionism and the Middle East…
I recall an opinion piece some months back on POI about Terry Eagleton - the commentator didn’t seem to have much of a grasp of his ideas, and couldn’t even get his name right. Eagleton would be a very interesting person to hear from, as religious believers go.
Finally, I would be very interested in hearing POI inteview Ward Churchill, formerly of the University of Colorado, who was subjected to an academic witch hunt.
Those are a few that occur off the top of my head…

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Posted: 04 February 2008 02:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 105 ]
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I’m a relative newcomer to the PoI podcast so I don’t know if he’s been on already but Professor A.C. Grayling is always worth a listen on ethics, humanism and secular life.

http://www.acgrayling.com/

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