(2PM EST – promoted by Nightprowlkitty)
In 2004, I saw the collapse of World Trade Center Building 7 for the first time on an internet video. The building had not been hit by a plane, had insignificant damage from falling debris from the other two big towers that fell, and had spotty fires burning asymmetrically across a handful of its 47 or so floors. Out of nowhere, it suddenly dropped its four-square topmost corners symmetrically and descended rapidly to the ground as if the entire supporting matrix of steel I-beams had not just weakened according to local areas of damage, but had vanished entirely and instantaneously:
Although I knew instantly — by my own cognitive recognition hardware — exactly what I was watching from seeing many similar demonstrations before, I watched the video again another 25 times, or so, out of sheer incredulity at the implications (eliciting the subsequent autonomic re-shuffling upon first viewing), before sitting back in my chair and conceding, “Holy shit! That is a fucking duck!
Whatever the implications of my seeing “a duck” at the time, including my autonomic reactions, is unimportant. Those are irrelevant to the cognitive recognition, the fact and the manner of the building’s collapse (the duck itself), which seemed and seems perceptually obvious. The question, however, that cannot be ignored is, “Was that really a duck?” In other words, “Did that building fall in the way it appeared to fall? Why did that building fall in the perceptually obvious way it did?”
These are NOT extraordinary claims requiring extraordinary evidence, once you separate the observation from the implications of the observation. These are simple observational claims requiring simple evidence. Only the implications might be considered “extraordinary,” but not the observations themselves. In this respect, while it was a mistake for “truthers” to jump to implications, nobody in the present discussion claims any extraordinary implications, just observations of physical facts.
From a scientific perspective, one needs to have both the courage and wisdom to separate the observation from its implications. If one could not separate an unexpected observation from prior theoretical narratives, then knowledge could not advance. One would be hopelessly trapped in previous expectations. The Universe itself would continually revolve around Earth and Man.
The very phrase “conspiracy theories” is a term that conflates and obfuscates a valid observation, in and of itself, with the potential implications of that observation. Those who fear the potential implications often either leap into conspiratorial thinking or retreat into a Neanderthal mentality of retribution against the observation itself, regardless of whether there is, as Hume would say, “a necessary connection” between the observation and the implication.
There have been name-calling, tub-thumping reactionaries on both sides, but a particularly virulent form of reaction has come from the left against the left, in the absence of discriminating between “the observation” and “the implications of that observation.”
Others, like Chomsky, while dismissive of the scientific evidence (the observations) as he saw it based on his professional expertise in linguistics (while developing and maintaining an admittedly non-trivial interest in the sciences and historical events more generally), bucked both reactionary, Pan troglodytic trends, and instead laid out two more rational guidelines for seeking the truth, one that is relatively weak (based on reliance on established authority), and the second relatively strong (based on reliance on reason via antagonistic or adversarial methods, e.g., scientific peer review), but both far superior to emotion-based pant-hoots. In this respect (only), I will defer to Chomsky’s assertion that (and I paraphrase closely if not perfectly),
Ape language is to human language what broad jumping is to flying
Keep the basic distinction between observations and implications thereof in mind as your read David Ray Griffin’s summary of a fairly narrow set of observations concerning the fall of WTC 7, and related issues. In other words, read the basic observations and any accompanying validations dispassionately.