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SCHOLARS: ON ITS FIRST ANNIVERSARY
According to The 9/11 Commission Report, 19 Islamic fundamentalists hijacked four commercial airliners, outfoxed the most sophisticated air defense systems in the world, and perpetrated these dastardly acts under the control of a man in a cave in Afghanistan. There is an abundance of evidence, however, archived on our web site at st911.org, that calls into question every major aspect of the governments official account.
We have established beyond reasonable doubt that the Twin Towers were destroyed by a novel form of controlled demolition from the top down, that WTC-7 was brought down by a classic form of controlled demolition from the bottom up, and that, whatever may have hit the Pentagon, multiple lines of argument support the conclusion that it was not a Boeing 757. What happened in Shanksville remains a mystery shrouded in mist.
We have also had considerable success in communicating our discoveries to the American public. The most recent New York Times/CBS poll, for example, shows that 53% of the public is skeptical about and 28% strongly rejects the "official account" of 9/11. Only 16% accept what we have been told by our own government about those events. That this is the case even though the government refuses to discuss the case and much of the media follows its lead is all the more significant and striking.
Many of the findings that we have publicized were originally established by independent researchers who were troubled by the events of 9/11. Building upon the work of those who have gone before, we have benefited from the very idea of a SOCIETY OF SCHOLARS who share the belief that the government has been deceiving us. We have created an influential web site, an active discussion forum, and a Journal for 9/11 Studies! These are contributions that have accelerated access to information about these historic events.
Attacks on Scholars
Indeed, Scholars has fared better than some scholars in academic settings. From William Woodward in New Hampshire to Judy Wood in South Carolina, Kevin Barrett in Wisconsin and even Steve Jones in Utah, politicians have been unable to resist scoring cheap points by attacking "loony" intellectuals who hold views at variance with those of the government. Their attacks, however, are not merely misguided but based upon massive ignorance.
Even according to President George W. Bush, 9/11 was "the pivotal event" of this century.
Colleges and universities are the institutions that study significant historical events. It is therefore entirely appropriate that faculty and students should study the events of 9/11. Moreover, since it only takes collaboration between two or more persons to commit an illegal act to qualify as a "conspiracy", the official account is itself a conspiracy theory!
You cannot study "the pivotal event" of the 21st Century without studying conspiracies.
When we who are critics of the governments version of those events are assailed as "conspiracy theorists", we know that something is wrong. Since the government itself has advanced a conspiracy theory that is not only false but provably false and, in some of its most important aspects, not even physically possible, it is not difficult to identify the most "outrageous" of conspiracy theories: it is the account endorsed by this administration! But its apologists are not constrained by concern for logic, evidence, or truth.
Moreover, their rhetorical advantages are strengthened by widespread misunderstanding of the principles of scientific reasoning. "Occams Razor" is often invoked in support of the simplest theory, which, in this case, is alleged to be the official government account. But the simplest theory is preferable only when it can account for all the available relevant evidence. Picking and choosing--selecting evidence that supports your theory and eliminating the restviolates basic requirements of scientific reasoning.
Properly defining the problem to be explainedthe puzzling phenomenon that triggers off scientific inquirycan pose a non-trivial task. During a recent interview with Judy Wood, who has degrees in civil engineering, engineering mechanicis and materials engineering scienceI was fascinated to confront the full dimensions of the problem we have to explain, which goes far beyond the Twin Towers and WTC-7 but also includes WTC-3, WTC-4, WTC-5, and WTC-6, not to mention the lack of serious damage to the "bathtub".
Science and Politics
Because Judys credentials are among the most imposing of any student of 9/11. I was also fascinated by her suggestion that some sort of high-tech weapons of the directed energy kind may have been involved in bringing about the massive, complete, and total devastation of the World Trade Center. Although she did not commit herself to that specific hypothesis, she also suggested that directed energy could have come from above, such as from a space-based satellite using a mirror to direct energy. That has led to a veritable propaganda blitz attacking us both for considering "space beam" weaponry!
The hardest part of scientific researchwhich includes stages of puzzlement, speculation, adaptation, and explanationis coming up with the full range of possible explanations for the phenomena you want to explain. Otherwise, the process of adaptationcalculating the probabilities of the effects given different conjectures about their possible causes and comparing themcan afford misleading comparisons and yield a false outcome precisely because the true hypothesis was not given appropriate consideration.
Even though space-based weapons have a history of actual experimental success dating at least from 1991as Judy Wood, who specializes in optics in relation to mechanics, has observed--several kinds of fallacies can be combined to create enormous confusion in the mind of the public. Selective use of evidence ("special pleading") and personal attacks ("ad hominem") are especially effective against a background of widely held beliefs that may in fact be false ("popular sentiments"). The US has long been pursuing "full spectrum dominance" of air, land, sea, and space and aggressively developing high-tech weapons.
Of course, it doesnt help if I commit a mistake by using the wrong number for the time of free fall in an example intended to demonstrate that the towers cannot possibly have come down in free fall! Although I have often made this point by observing that a grand piano would take at least 12-13 seconds to reach the ground, a time of 30 seconds turns out to be a special case. (In fact, Steve has made a big deal out of this and then defended his criticism with a mistaken calculation!) My recent use of that figure has left me vulnerable to attacks over a minor point, while the major pointthat the towers could not possibly have COLLAPSED in the official times of 10 and 9 seconds, respectivelywas simply overwhelmed!
The potential to shift focus from devastating criticisms to comparative trivialities places
apologists at a considerable rhetorical advantage. It is easy to lie and it can be difficulteven very difficult!to explain why a deliberate falsehood is untrue. That is why our all too infrequent appearances on "Hannity & Colmes", "Scarborough Country", and even "The Factor" with Bill OReilly have become occasions for rejoicing or cringing. We run risks by appearing on some of these programs, but those risks are unavoidable if we are to reach out to their audience, which is an important segment of the American community.
The Future of the Society
The mix of science and politics is fraught with hazards. Those of us who are strongest in scientific research may not be adept at handling the media. Those who are best able to present our case in clear and convincing language may sometimes commit mistakes. My opinion is that we are succeeding in spite of difficulties like these, but it has led some of the societys supporters to question whether new hypotheses, which many consider to be "far out", should receive acknowledgement on the home page of st911.org and whether a more formal arrangement of the society might function better.
Scholars is an unusual society in that, while it has memberscurrently, some 400 who fall into four different categoriesit is not a "membership society" in the sense of being a society that is run by its members. Indeed, that would be completely inappropriate, not least because science is not a matter of popularity. The society must be controlled by those who are best positioned to assess the state of current research and present it to the public. But a dictatorship may be no less undesirable than a democracy!
After considerable reflection, I believe that turning Scholars into a non-profit corporation and relinquishing control of the society to a board of directors who would determine the management of the web site, the moderation of our forum, and the editing of our journal, provides the best solution and greatest promise for out future. The board of directors, in my view, should include a wide range of perspectives about possible causes of destruction at the WTC, encompassing perspectives as diverse as those of David Ray Griffin, Morgan Reynolds, Rick Siegel, and Judy Wood.
I believe that the board of directors should have from nine to eleven members and that their decisions should require 2/3 majority votes. They should have the responsibility to appoint a manger for the web site, moderators for our members forum, and editors for The Journal of 9/11 Studies. They should also have the ability to add or remove members from the board itself. The initial appointments to the board are therefore extremely important, and I welcome suggestions and recommendations about its composition via email, the societys forum, and 911blogger.com, where discussion of these issues will take place.
When I founded Scholars for 9/11 Truth, I asked Dr. Steven E. Jones to join me as Co-Chair. Steve has recently expressed disenchantment with the co-chair arrangement and, in the new non-profit corporation, the positions of co-chairs will no longer exist. Steve and I will both belong to the initial Board of Directors, however, and continue to influence the future course of the society. If the directors should decide that I should continue to manage the web site or Steve co-edit the journal, I am sure we would both comply.
As many of you are aware, Steve Jones and I have recently had some minor and not-so-minor disputes and disagreements. Disagreements occur in any high-profile organization,
and Scholars is no different from others in this respect. However, the stakes are much higher in this case. Our research, our science, and our publications have the potential to expose the truth about 9/11 events, to bring the prime 9/11 perpetrators to justice, and to help to remedy the wrong turns that our country and the world have taken since 9/11.
Petty disputes and disagreements have no place in Scholars. A more formal -- but still minimalist set of procedures for a governing structure, membership criteria, scholarly publication, and public website is indispensable to accomplish our shared goals and objectives. Among the tensions between us have been differences over the use of the forum and the web site and the range of perspectives to be represented there.
When Steve was nudged into "early retirement", I invited him to supervise our members forum as well as continue to co-edit the societys journal, which he co-founded with Judy Wood as co-editor. I had become aware of his strenuous objections to having "star wars beam weapons" hypotheses mentioned on our home page. (Judys use of "star wars" was a subtle intimation of its probable origins, but Steve has used "space beams" in order to denigrate it!) But I was acutely distressed when members of the forum were cut off from access to the forum abruptly and without notice.
It is the case that policies are in place for conduct on the forum, which members have been known to violate. In this case, however, the members who were bannedone of whom , Rick Siegel of "9/11 Eyewitness" and "9/11 Eyewitness Hoboken", was in the middle of posting criticism of Steve when he was cut off in mid-postappeared to me to have been denied access on political grounds, which is completely unacceptable.
For this reason and other actions and communications between us, I have temporarily removed Steve Jones as Co-Chair of Scholars for 9/11 Truth. I took this action because I had concluded that Steves conduct was undermining the objectives of the society, as the policies of the society state:
The fact that I could do such a thing as founder of Scholars, however, no doubt qualifies as another reason for the need for the society to incorporate and attain more formal structure. I took this step to correct what I perceived to be improper conduct in the management of the forum, but others may view what I have done as improper conduct in the management of the society! Having a board of directors to supervise both should resolve such conflicts.
Suppression of Research
The "other actions and communications" may be even more important but also more subtle than terminating access to the forum in these cases. As anyone who has read the "Open Letters" exchange posted on st911.org will be aware, it is my position that a wide range of alternative approaches toward understanding what happened on 9/11 deserve serious consideration. But I have not always implemented that policy consistently. Steve has attained enormous popularity among students of 9/11 for his studies of the destruction of the Twin Towers and how they may have been taken out. Somewhat surprisingly, his research was accepted almost immediately, without question or searching evaluation.
While I have been keenly interested in Steves research, I have become convinced that the complete and comprehensive devastation of the World Trade Centerincluding WTC-3, WTC-4, WTC-5, and WTC-6 as well as WTC-7is very unlikely to be explainable on the basis of his hypothesis. It may well be that thermate was used to destroy some of these buildings. In fact, Judy Wood has suggested that the last 20 floors of the towers may have been demolished using thermate and other explosives. Alternative hypotheses deserve to be explored, not condemned. Many advances in science first encountered ridicule!
We need to remember that the 9/11 truth movement itself has had to cope with mountains of ridicule. We should not abandon our commitment to the principles of science and to the primacy of logic and evidence in the appraisal of possible explanations. I have therefore been dismayed at the dawning realization that even I may have been an accomplice to the constraint of research in several cases by removing at least two articles that were critical of Steves work, which I now believe deserve more objective scientific consideration, namely:
Why Indeed did the WTC Buildings Disintegrate?
Because these studies are critical of his research and because I have sought to keep the level of tension within the society relatively minimal, I am quite certain that I allowed myself to be influenced by pressure from supporters and friends of Steveand they are legionto have them taken down. Even if a desire to reduce tensions over differences has led me to constrain debate in the past, in the case of Judys directed-energy hypothesis, I do not want this to deteriorate into the suppression of evidence and the obstruction of research. I am therefore drawing a line where I believe it has to be drawn. I am only disappointed that the importance of unfettered discussion has not always been foremost in my mind.
Morgan and Judy, I am sure, believed that they were not free to pursue their research on 9/11 without having to compromise for political purposes. I am now convinced that they were right and that, as the manager of st911.org, I should have found a way to make their research available to the public, perhaps by creating a new section of the site devoted to theories and to criticism of theories about how the towers were destroyed. I even believe that Steve would agree with that; indeed, it seems to me that he may even have suggested as much. Sometimes even the best advice falls on deaf ears. I would like to think that the proposals I have offered for reorganizing and revitalizing Scholars will matter here, too!
The Future of Scholars
Steve and I may or may not reconcile our differences. If we do not, then Steve may want to form his own organization. If Steve were to pursue that option, then it could be a good thing in fostering competition in the search for truth. But there really is--or can be--unity in our diversity. A good, healthy, scholarly competition for 9/11 truth MIGHT serve us better than for us to try to manage our differences within one organization. Competition for the truth is the American way! I think we are stronger working together, but that is an option.
In the interim, I would ask that Alex Floum, a founding member, assign and transfer all rights in st911.org and our journals website as intellectual properties to Scholars for 9/11 Truth, with the understanding that Scholars for 9/11 Truth is going to incorporate as a non-profit organization Alex has been exceedingly generous in securing domain names for Scholars at my and Steves direction and hosting our web sites. I am overwhelmingly in his debt for doing so. At this juncture, a more formal structure suggests that different arrangements would be more appropriate.
My intention is that, once Scholars has been established as a non-profit organization, I will take steps to secure it 501(c)(3) status, which will enable supporters to have tax-exempt status for contributions in support of the society. We have been doing what we have been doing with no budget, no funding, and no source of income. In the past, I considered that a strength of Scholars, but I readily concede that we need to be able to finance research, sponsor lectures, arrange conferences, and publicize our discoveries.
Like many of you, I have suggestions for strengthening the society, including having more "hard-science" types added to the journals editorial board, publishing articles on a wider-range of possible explanations for the phenomena we are trying to explain, shifting the discussion of theories about how it was actually doneincluding thermite/thermate, the use of mini-nukes, and high-tech, directed energy weaponsfrom the home page to a new section of the web site devoted to "theories", and having the home page emphasize proofs that the official account cannot possibly be true. Others, no doubt, will have more.
Regardless of what Steve Jones and I choose to do regarding Scholars for 9/11 Truth, I would hope and expect that Steve will join me in Washington, D.C., on 10 January 2007 to speak at The National Press Club. The controversy surrounding our recent disputes will almost certainly increase media attention for this event. Although there may be some negative fall out from these differences, Steve and I agree on overwhelmingly more about 9/11 than we disagree. Please join us in reorganizing and revitalizing Scholars.
James H. Fetzer
Scholars for 9/11 Truth