2009.10.07 Precautionary Principle aka Crimestop

In Chapter 4 of the last part of 1984, when Winston is trying to learn to love Big Brother, he suddenly catches himself thinking that there is a real world, that there are laws of nature, and that all is not hallucination. He quickly disposes of this "fallacy," though, realizing that

it ought never to have occurred to him. The mind should develop a blind spot whenever a dangerous thought presented itself. The process should be automatic, instinctive. CRIMESTOP, they called it in Newspeak.

Frank Legge of Scholars for 9/11 Truth and Justice calls it the "precautionary principle." The dangerous thought is that a 757 (AA Flight 77) did NOT hit the Pentagon. Dr. Legge informs us:

Application of the precautionary principle would result in investigators taking care to avoid the assertion that the 757 did not hit the Pentagon (p. 13).

Why is this assertion dangerous? Because it might someday be proved wrong -- which is to say, it might someday be proved that a 757 DID hit the Pentagon.

Do you follow so far? No? Well, that's only natural because this is a very scholarly argument. Let me try to explain.

You see, Frank does not believe the official story that a 757 hit the Pentagon; at least, he does not say that he believes it:

Please note that I do not say anywhere in the paper that a 757 hit the Pentagon (p. 1).

In fact, he believes that "the evidence for what hit the Pentagon is contradictory," and that this "contradictory evidence has been deliberately provided" (p. 13). Provided by whom? He doesn't say in this sentence, but it is clear that he means the authorities (a word that occurs seven times in the essay, referring to US federal agencies such as NIST, the NTSB, and the 9/11 Commission). He summarizes with "two essential points" (p. 13):

1. Nothing should have hit the Pentagon. This implies that a stand-down order existed, as appears to be confirmed by Mineta's testimony to the 9/11 Commission.

2. The authorities could easily show us what hit the Pentagon but they do not. This implies that the provision of contradictory information is deliberate and has a purpose.

Now pay attention, because after these two "essential points" it is difficult to go back and recapture Legge's "major" and "minor" hypotheses. Let's start with the minor one:

The minor hypothesis of the paper is that there is no scientific proof that a Boeing 757 did not hit the Pentagon (p. 1).

There is no scientific proof that a 757 hit the Pentagon, Frank is telling us, the government has lied to us and purposely given us contradictory information to confuse us, should have shot down whatever it was if anything did hit the Pentagon, and could easily prove that a 757 hit the Pentagon if it actually did but deliberately chooses not to. This is quite a mouthful, but it's nothing new. Better scholars than Frank Legge, e.g., David Ray Griffin, have been saying this since at least 2004 (and a lot more understandably). Most recently, Griffin devotes an entire chapter of New Pearl Harbor Revisited (2008) to the evidence that Flight 77 did not hit the Pentagon.

Legge does not attack Griffin, however, which could have something to do with the fact that Griffin is the most widely read and respected of all 9/11 "truthers," so you would have to have guts to take him on. You have to have some guts to take on Pilots for 9/11 Truth, too, I guess, especially if you are a chemist with no aeronautical expertise, so I give Legge credit for boldness, but since I cannot evaluate the technical data I tend to give more credence to a group of pilots (now numbering more than 3,400) than to one chemist.

I am not an idiot, however, and I can (usually) recognize when I am being jived. In this case, I can recognize it because, as I wrote just a few days ago (see "Controlled Demolition as a Limited Hangout"), I have been hearing this nonsense since at least 2004 and writing about it since 2006. The "argument" has remained remarkably uniform: Don't question Big Brother on the Pentagon because someday he might show us one of those videos and make us "truthers" a laughing-stock. Legge's version:

As stated above, the authorities could easily show what hit the Pentagon, as they have many video tapes of the event. That they choose not to do so must be because confusion serves their purpose. The situation to bear in mind is that the perpetrators may be keeping evidence in reserve which will prove that a 757 did hit the Pentagon. This evidence would function as their insurance policy. If they feel endangered by the progress of public opinion toward demanding a new investigation, and realizing that this will likely lead to criminal charges and convictions, they will produce this evidence. As many members of the 9/11 truth movement believe that no 757 hit the Pentagon, this evidence will throw the movement into disarray and create crippling loss of credibility over issues which are far more important. It will become very difficult to argue our prime evidence convincingly, that explosives were used at the WTC.

Those who are not of the opinion that a 757 hit the Pentagon should bear in mind that it is possible that they have been deliberately deceived by false evidence and have been set up by this evidence to serve the purpose of the perpetrators, when the time comes.

So David Griffin, Pilots for 9/11 Truth, and many thousands, if not millions or tens of millions, of the rest of us have been "deliberately deceived" into NOT believing the official story about the Pentagon. This is one too many NOTS for someone (Legge) who does not believe it himself, and who furthermore believes "nothing should have hit the Pentagon," that "the authorities" could have prevented it (if it happened) but did not, and could prove that it happened (if it happened) but do not. I repeat: No, says our scholarly co-editor of the Journal for 9/11 Studies, we must not say (though presumably we may believe it secretly) that it did not happen because we cannot prove that it did not happen, even though it has not been proved that it did happen because the authorities choose not to do so.

Let's try some analogies. Frank is telling us that there is no scientific proof that there are no aliens (extraterrestrials) living among us, no life on Mars, and no Santa Claus. Nor is there any scientific proof that you have never murdered anyone. If you're innocent, prove it. And you might as well move to Guantanamo while you're at it.

But we are only beginning to fathom the wisdom of Dr. Frank Legge. In answer to critics who faulted earlier versions of his paper (this is version no. 5) for having "no hypothesis" and being "therefore not a scientific paper," he informs us that in fact there are two. In addition to the "minor hypothesis" just discussed -- that there is no proof that a 757 did not hit the Pentagon -- there is also a "major" one, and by golly, it's a whopper:

The major hypothesis is that various groups within the 9/11 truth movement are strongly asserting contradictory views and hence weakening the credibility of the movement as a whole. The damage is exacerbated if the supporters of these views not only disagree but also attack one another.

The best way to avoid the development of contradictory views is to scrupulously adhere to the scientific method and to promote to the public only those concepts which are shown to be soundly based. Multiple views will cause confusion which will be apparent to the target audience, the public. Many will conclude that the case for a new investigation into the events of 9/11 is weak if proponents cannot agree on significant issues.

Oh lordy. Multiple views! Contradictory views! Disagreement! Public attacks! Good heavens, the "target audience" may become confused! How terribly, terribly unscientific! Science means agreement, or at the least a pretense of agreement! We must "scrupulously adhere to the scientific method" by having one opinion, and one only, namely mine.

Not even Orwell gives us a better example of CRIMESTOP than this. I am appalled. On second thought, I am happy for this outrageous and transparent demonstration of illogic and obfuscatory intent on the part of a core member of Scholars for 9/11 Truth and Justice, from whose ranks I am more proud than ever to say I was summarily and wordlessly ejected after I published "9/11 Aletheia" some months ago.

Legge's paper is an absolute travesty of logic and common sense, regardless of what one believes did or did not hit the Pentagon. In fact, in its camouflaged form of a "scientific" paper, it is downright immoral.