Since there happens to be no “evidence” that the World Trade Center was brought down by explosives rather than planes, it is hardly surprising that, as Michael Savitz complains [Letters, November 3], Michael Miner hasn’t “look[ed] into the reasoning behind the position.” I happen not to believe that George Bush is a giraffe, but I have to admit I haven’t investigated the lack of evidence for such a belief in depth. To say that David Ray Griffin’s “argument” “is one that has been developed evidentiarily, inductively, and cooperatively over the course of these several years by the many people working in what is usually called the “9/11 truth community” is a bit like saying that Scientology’s argument that the galactic overlord Xenu brought humans to earth 75 millions of years ago has been developed through the careful sorting of evidence in keeping with the precepts of scientific rationality.

I’d love to know what sort of “evidence” I’m supposed to examine in order to conclude that the Bush administration would risk the destruction of the Republican Party and the prospect of execution on charges of treason in order to murder thousands of American citizens. I know they haven’t shown any moral compunction regarding the murder of perhaps as many as half a million Iraqis, but to them this is a distinction that makes all the difference. For the record, anyone who’s managed to pick up enough critical acumen to delete unread e-mails from Nigerian finance ministers promising untold riches should be able to perceive the insubstantiality of the mountain of coincidence, paranoia, and straight-out falsehood that constitutes “evidence” within the delightfully christened “9/11 truth community.” Anyone still convinced that every last one of the hundreds of people needed to implement a conspiracy on the order of 9/11 within the government and military could manage somehow to keep it under wraps this long is urged to check out the useful and unfortunately necessary book Debunking 9/11 Myths, edited by David Dunbar and Brad Reagan, which exposes the pseudoscience and nonsense of Savitz’s “broad range of evidence.”

Savitz is of course correct to emphasize the urgency of our reliance upon “the way we use our faculty of critical inference.” All the more puzzling, therefore, that he seems to have abrogated his entirely, failing to discriminate among claims, as if each and every position were to be afforded equal consideration. I wonder that he has not written letters upbraiding reporters for failing to examine all the evidence before dismissing white supremacists or creationists or Holocaust deniers as “wingnuts.” Critical intelligence involves a certain dependence upon a well-developed and defensible common sense–a sense held in common, which teaches that some ideas aren’t worthy of being taken seriously. As Noam Chomsky has sensibly pointed out, the idea that the U.S. government engineered the 9/11 attacks is “so hopelessly implausible that [there is] no point in talking about it.” Savitz implies that it is fear that keeps us from confronting the truth of what our government is capable of. This is all too true, which is why such inane distractions from the actual crimes of the radical statist regime in power are morally implicated in the ongoing diffusion of that fear.

Michael Robbins

Hyde Park