Saturday, December 29, 2012

Z and my Noetic Web

Randal Rauser recently posted what was supposed to be a discussion of Justin Schieber's disproof of God. In the ensuing combox discussion he wrote:

 "Consider an analogy. Imagine that you hear a lecture by a fellow who argues that 9/11 was caused by the US Government. And he provides a powerful case for the conclusion which you are unable to refute. Would it be rational to conclude that the government in fact caused 9/11 based on that single lecture? It might. But for most people such a conspiracy theory would involve revising so many other beliefs, e.g. by adopting multiple levels of corruption and conspiracy in the government, that it would take much more than a single lecture to win one over."

 Randal already knew I was a 9/11 Truther and probably half-expected that I would take advantage of the opportunity to divert the discussion and bring up that issue, which I did. Part of his reply to me was

 "Life is short, and I can't research every case of disagerement among experts. So what I do, what seems reasonable to do, is side with the position that requires the least revisions in my noetic web as well as the position that is represented by the most experts in the relevant fields. In this case both factors are found on the non-conspiracy side."

I think Randal's position is rational (though I think he is mistaken regarding which side the "experts" are on) and probably explains why most people do not take the 9/11 Truth movement seriously. So this led me to ponder yet again my own "noetic web" and why it was so easy for me to accept 9/11 Truth. I think one of the early influences in my own life that made accepting the idea that government (or military) conspiracies happened was seeing the movie Z way back in 1969:

" The film presents a thinly fictionalized account of the events surrounding the assassination of democratic Greek politician Grigoris Lambrakis in 1963. With its satirical view of Greek politics, its dark sense of humor, and its downbeat ending, the film captures the outrage about the military dictatorship that ruled Greece at the time of its making.[2] Z stars Jean-Louis Trintignant as the investigating magistrate (an analogue of Christos Sartzetakis, who 22 years later was appointed President of Greece by democratically elected parliamentarians)."

Watching the film as a 15 year old made crystal clear to me that government conspiracies, especially those backed by military leaders, do in fact occur. And that when they do, it is very difficult to expose them. The film doesn't have a happy ending:

"An epilogue provides a synopsis of the subsequent turns of events. Instead of the expected positive outcome, the prosecutor is mysteriously removed from the case, key witnesses die under suspicious circumstances, the assassins receive (relatively) short sentences, the officers receive only administrative reprimands, the Deputy's close associates die or are deported, and the photojournalist is sent to prison for disclosing official documents.
As the closing credits roll, before listing the cast and crew, the filmmakers first list the things banned by the junta. They include: peace movements, strikes, labor unions, long hair on men, The Beatles, other modern and popular music ("la musique populaire"), Sophocles, Leo Tolstoy, Aeschylus, writing that Socrates was homosexual, Eugène Ionesco, Jean-Paul Sartre, Anton Chekhov, Harold Pinter, Edward Albee, Mark Twain, Samuel Beckett, Trotsky, the bar association, sociology, international encyclopedias, free press, and new math. Also banned is the letter Z, which was used as a symbolic reminder that Grigoris Lambrakis and by extension the spirit of resistance lives (zi = "he (Lambrakis) lives").

If ever there were an actual independent investigation into 9/11, I don't think the end would be any better than in the movie.

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