Why Penn and Teller's 9/11 episode is, indeed, bullshit.
Debunking Penn and Teller's Bullshit! 9-11 episode
Article written by Gatecreepers.
There's skepticism, there's pseudo-skepticism, and then there's Penn and Teller. Whilst they do have some sensible views: being anti death-penalty and anti drug-war amongst other things, their views on 9-11 are not based on fact.
Their show is obviously biased, and yet it has been presented by some as a decent rebuttal to the alternative 9-11 theories. This article is here to address those people's flawed views, and to demonstrate that this Bullshit! episode was insufficient to withstand a real debate.
A poll is presented showing 49.3% of New Yorkers believed their leaders let 9-11 happen on purpose, and are branded as 'fucking crazy', whilst the narrator, Penn, fakes over-the-top incredulity in his voice. This is a slick, almost subliminal technique that is designed to convey authoritative judgment and opinion about the information being presented, without the need to present material to back it up. This manner of speech is maintained throughout the show and it would no doubt cause offence to intelligent people who wish to make up their own minds, rather than be spoon-fed immature commentary.
Despite their large numbers, the New Yorkers are ridiculed instantly through a logical fallacy called an 'attack by association', whereby 9-11 questioners are equated with those who believe that the moon landings were faked, and that JFK was killed in a different manner than that stated by the official story. It must be guessed that in this case, Penn and Teller view official endorsement as the highest standard of proof - even if it breaks the laws of physics.
Jody Dean is introduced. She says 'People are fundamentally skeptical. People don't trust the explanations they have'. This is an attempt to paint the phenomenon of 9-11 truth as nothing more than an expression of a baseless natural urge to distrust authority. She then attempts to smear the entire body of 9-11 evidence by saying that people have built their theories solely on a flawed foundation: that authority is not to be trusted. No effort is made to evaluate the true basis for 9-11 truth; examples include the WTC7 collapse, the presence of molten steel when the official story said only weakened steel occurred, the NORAD stand-down, the wargames which mirrored the actual attacks, insider trading, OPERATION NORTHWOODS, the firefighters and others who reported explosions and devices in the WTC, the PNAC documents, amongst many other things.
Anybody who asks questions of 9-11 is branded 'a special kind of asshole'. It is clear early on that this show and it's attitude will only appeal to those who do not desire inquiry - those that are instead prepared to settle for superficial propaganda that matches their prejudice.
One proponent of 9-11 truth is presented to support the 'asshole' statement. His statement 'nobody can convince me' is used to smear the entire 9-11 truth movement - another logical fallacy: an attack by association which hypocritically attempts to paint the entire movement as single minded, lacking in evidence and not open to discussion. More hypocrisy ensues when we are told 'a real skeptic demands to be convinced with evidence', clearly they did not follow this example or they would have engaged Alex Jones in a live debate on camera. Having witnessed the levels of ignorance and dishonesty thus far, it is clear they would want to avoid such an uncontrolled situation.
'We should be skeptical of the government, but you shouldn't just make shit up'. A list of the omitted topics was given earlier, and this is not fabricated evidence - so their assertion that things were 'made up' is false.
We are then told that the 9-11 footage should never have to be seen again, and yet they hypocritically show it to us when it isn't strictly necessary for the discussion. This is emotional manipulation, and this is not a necessary factor in validating a theory. Furthermore the narrator tries to tell us all what our emotional reaction to the footage should be, when in fact many are able to watch the crash footage without suffering any mental breakdown.
'It's important to nip this bullshit paranoid fantasy in the bud before it takes root in the national conscience'. Actually this show won't nip anything in the bud with it's offensive attitude; the reaction would be more like adding fuel to a fire.
Next, a retired New York firefighter is introduced with the commentary: 'if anybody knows 9-11 conspiracies are bullshit, it's this guy'. This is an appeal to authority, and a bad one, as no scientific analysis was presented by him. We are then subjected to emotional manipulation as we are told about the firefighter casualties from that day - a point that does not prove or disprove anything in itself. Furthermore, it clashes with the reports of explosions and devices in the buildings, and ignores government responsibility for the ill-health of 9-11 first responders who were told the New York air was safe to breathe:
http://www.prisonplanet.com/articles/September2006/260906Rice.htm http://www.prisonplanet.com/articles/september2006/150906whistleblowerraided.htm http://www.infowars.net/articles/September2006/080906toxic.htm http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2006-09/07/content_5060879.htm http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/0823-03.htm
We are then hypocritically shown the 9-11 crash again despite being told earlier that we shouldn't have to see it again.
We are presented with Eric Hufschmidt whose book Painful Questions is described as 'one of the softest piles of steaming bullshit in the history of paranoia'. We are then told to push down a flight of stairs anyone who is seen with the book - it is unknown what this has to do with skepticism.
Hufschmidt attempts to make light of the military wargames simulating terror attacks on 9-11 by calling them 'fake terrorist attacks'. The narrator engages in astounding dishonest wordplay by pausing the video, and then saying: 'so, 9-11 wasn't a real conspiracy, it was a fake conspiracy cooked up by a different real conspiracy'. No attempt is made to inform the viewer of the wargames. The narrator then 'asks': 'what's your proof?', before unpausing the video to show Hufschmidt saying 'why? I don't know'. He then attempts to detail how he thinks the Arabs' attendance at flight school was part of a deliberately created fake trail of evidence designed to point blame at a foreign country, and that the aircraft were on autopilot when they crashed. The narrator then says 'Wow, did you do that hard-hitting data research in your ass?'.
The dishonesty of their 'interview' technique is obvious: instead of a realtime interview where points could be clarified further, Hufschmidt's comments are allowed to remain unclarified so that they could be selectively presented and abused during editing. Hufschmidt himself did an awful job of presenting his case. It's like he was trying to fail on purpose.
The retired firefighter is presented again and he states: 'I find it absolutely unbelievable that anyone in our government could have such a heinous or evil plot to strike their own people'. OPERATION NORTHWOODS should have been presented at this point, along with the Gulf of Tonkin incident.
Then Jimmy Walter is presented. He is shown as the proponent of fringe theories that state the crash planes had no windows, and that all the passengers were removed from the original planes at military bases and replaced with drone aircraft, and that all the passengers may have been government employees. Presenting Jimmy Walter without any indication as to the level of acceptance of his theories by 9-11 truthers is a deliberate attempt to smear truth-seekers in general as accepting of ridiculous ideas - a combination of two logical fallacies: a strawman attack which is then extended into an attack-by-association. We are then subjected to more emotional manipulation when the narrator mentions the victims of the attacks, quickly followed by music intended to suggest insanity during his explanation that the WTC collapses were controlled deomlitions - all unnecessary and underhanded techniques. No mention is made of the organisations representing 9-11 victim's families, who also have questions of the official story. Penn and Teller, like many others, choose to ignore them so as to fool the viewer into thinking that truth-seekers and 9-11 families are completely seperate and conflicting groups.
The presence of both Jimmy Walter and Eric Hufschmidt is as suspicious as the omission of other key players in 9-11 truth. It appears that the creators of the show wanted to 'debate' an incompetent opposition.
Jody Dean is presented again: she says that conspiracy theorists group facts with a tinge of paranoia. She suggests that conspiracy theorists are inventing enemies and tormentors, when in fact many theories arise as challenges to perceived impossibilities or inaccuracies in an official story, rather than non-existent entities.
We are then treated to another strawman/attack-by-association when we are shown footage of Jimmy Walter being silly. It is highly probable that the filming crew made demands upon Mr. Walter to perform these acts - though Mr. Walter is also at fault for not realising these (semi-amusing) acts would be used against him - and by extension against 9-11 truth-seekers. What did he expect from the Bullshit! team?
Next we are shown Glenn Corbett who is an assistant professor of fire science and the technical editor of Fire Engineering Magazine - as we will see this is nothing more than an appeal to authority. "He knows what brought down the towers: and it wasn't explosives." He says: "There's no evidence there were any types of explosive devices or bombs." What about all the reports of explosions and devices in the WTC?
Next, he tells us the fires are what really brought down the towers due to weakening of the steel. If that is so then why was there molten steel in the rubble? Why did WTC7 collapse straight in on itself in such a uniform fashion? Where was the analysis of Professor Steven Jones' paper that stated incendiary devices were responsible for the collapse? The halfway weakening point of steel is ~600ºC and the maximum burning temperature of the jet fuel was ~800ºC, yet the temperature of molten steel is ~1510ºC. Where is the explanation of this? This is evidence they refused to confront because they could not dismiss it in a sneering manner.
When it comes to molten steel, 10,000 gallons of jet fuel does not cause melting, even when all the other potential sources of fuel are factored in. What is not mentioned is that much of the fuel was consumed in the initial explosion, and that the fires were starved of fuel as indicated by the color of the smoke. Another anomaly is that firemen reached the imapct zone in WTC2 and reported there were 2 fires that could be knocked down with two lines of water.
Also, a far more extensive fire occurred in WTC-1 on February 13, 1975, which burned at much higher temperatures for three hours and spread over 65% of the 11th floor, including the core, yet caused no significant damage to the steel structure and no trusses had to be replaced.
With the fire on such a low floor, and considering all the weight being placed on this area, why was there no collapse? Some might state that the 9-11 incident was different because the plane impacts dislodged the fireproofing that was present in the 1975 fire. However the fireproofing materials were added after the 1975 fire.
Moving on... once again we are subjected to emotional manipulation where 'conspiracy nuts' are framed as viewing 'death and suffering as heart pounding entertainment' whist 'sad' music plays in the background. This was an underhanded technique used to invent a rift between truth-seekers and the victims of 9-11. It seems more likely the victims of 9-11 were ill served by this poor show, which took the sad and suspicous events of that day and used them as a topic for intellectual pretense via badly researched propaganda.
WTC7 was only given a brief mention toward the end - just after the emotional manipulation, and during the 'sad' music.
We are then subject to more emotional manipulation when we are told 'conspiracy theories' are 'an insult to the people who lost their lives here'. Not asking questions regarding the insufficient official explanation is more insulting to the victims and their families, because their deaths were used to justify war, and to carry out unnecessary oppression in the US and abroad, whilst certain industries profited. It is more insulting to stay quiet in the face of such glaring inconsistencies, and to cowardly accept tyranny. Those who wish to remain free must make unpopular and dangerous choices - going along with the crowd does not help.
We are then told 9-11 truth has 'no basis in fact'. Then we are told that conspiracy theories are comforting as they allow people to make sense of an unpredictable world. This is not true, because if the 9-11 truth-movement found relief in the theories, then why are they still pursuing them so energetically? Probably because the true goal of 9-11 truth is justice.
Penn then tells us that the US is 'the greatest nation on earth' and it is 'big and beautiful' - this is perhaps a giveaway revealing why there was such prejudice: they - and by extension their audience - would rather the atrocity were committed by foreigners with a different religion, than think it was committed by Americans. We are told that the attacks crushed the liberty of the US: it seems more likely that the Patriot Act and other 'anti-terror' legislation caused this - but blaming 19 Arabs seemed to suffice for Penn and Teller.
In conclusion: no attempt was made to present the 9-11 truth-movement's evidence. The program makers maintained control of the scope and nature of the debate, and then structured the show around their own conclusions, emotional manipulation and blatant prejudice. The result was so dishonest it inspired this article. Perhaps Penn and Teller would like to do a show where they melt WTC steel with nothing more than jet fuel: it would be quite the magic trick...
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