Sunday, April 28, 2013

A Good Article on the Boston Bombing by Kevin Ryan

9/11 Whistleblower Kevin Ryan has written a thoughtful article on the Boston Bombing: Emotional Response is the Mother of Terrorism.   I hope he doesn't mind if I just repost it here.  Readers are encouraged to go to the original site for the sources.

"As the Boston Marathon bombing continues to dominate the news, several characteristic responses to terrorism are becoming obvious once again.  First, reports of terrorist acts in America have become like the throwing of a mental switch that stops people from thinking.  Emotion is high and critical thought is rare in the midst of the initial media frenzy.  Propaganda has made it easy for people to fear and hate while forgetting facts about the government’s role in terrorism and its tendency to benefit from terrorist acts.  Additionally, the Boston incident has shown again how official accounts of terrorist events tend to change dramatically as time passes.
Immediately after the attacks, the entire city of Boston, an icon of independence and freedom since the American Revolution, was locked down in a frantic search for one scared teenage boy.  The suddenly “infantilized” public responded by accepting an unprecedented police-state occupation of the city.[1]  The mainstream media did not question any of these obviously anti-American actions and reported only the sensationalist viewpoint of the government “protectors.”[2]
The Boston story began to change quickly, however.  For example, just days after the bombing, the mother of the two suspects made some startling remarks about her son’s relationship to the FBI.
Mother“He (Tamerlan) was ‘controlled’ by the FBI, like, for three to five years,” she said, “They knew what my son was doing.  How could this happen?…They were controlling every step of him, and they are telling today that this is a terrorist attack,” she added.[3]
Although surprising, these claims agree with facts known about FBI-sponsored terrorist acts that have played out in the last decade.    In 2011, journalist Glenn Greenwald reported that the cases in which the FBI had supposedly stopped terrorist plots were actually instances of the FBI itself plotting the terrorist acts and entrapping the young suspects.
“None of these cases entail the FBI’s learning of an actual plot and then infiltrating it to stop it.  They all involve the FBI’s purposely seeking out Muslims (typically young and impressionable ones) whom they think harbor animosity toward the U.S. and who therefore can be induced to launch an attack despite having never taken even a single step toward doing so before the FBI targeted them.  Each time the FBI announces it has disrupted its own plot, press coverage is predictably hysterical (new Homegrown Terrorist caught!), fear levels predictably rise, and new security measures are often implemented in response.”[4]
The 1993 WTC bombing was also a case of suspicious FBI activities gone wrong.  As theNew York Times reported, it was clear that the FBI was somehow involved in the WTC plot.
“Law-enforcement officials were told that terrorists were building a bomb that was eventually used to blow up the World Trade Center, and they planned to thwart the plotters by secretly substituting harmless powder for the explosives, an informer said after the blast.  The informer was to have helped the plotters build the bomb and supply the fake powder, but the plan was called off by an F.B.I. supervisor who had other ideas about how the informer, Emad A. Salem, should be used, the informer said.”[5]
In the years leading up to 9/11, the FBI failed miserably at preventing terrorism when preventing terrorism was the FBI’s primary goal.  Moreover, the actions of FBI management suggest that it was facilitating and covering-up acts of terrorism.  When 9/11 happened, some agents accused their own agency of being responsible.[6]
Therefore it is not surprising that the mother of the Boston bombers, who declared that the Bureau had been controlling her son, was labeled as a terrorist suspect just a week after her accusations against the FBI.[7]  Supposedly, the CIA had put her name in its terrorism database months before her sons’ actions in Boston.  This was followed up more recently by vague claims from “U.S. officials” that the mother was recorded by Russian authorities speaking to her son about “the idea of jihad.”[8]  Although these late claims appear to be a matter of the government declaring an unwanted witness to be untrustworthy, the growing myth of the Boston bombing raises a number of interesting questions.
  • What could the mother have possibly gained from offering up her two sons as fodder for the terrorism-industrial complex?
  • Why didn’t the FBI and CIA immediately report that the mother was a terrorism suspect, instead of waiting two weeks and saying something only after the mother had publicly made accusations against the FBI?
  • Why haven’t the mother’s claims with regard to the FBI controlling her sons been investigated by independent reporters in the U.S. mainstream media?
  • How does this case relate to reports that the “underwear bomber” was working for the CIA?[9]
  • Will the media follow-up on the recent revelations that the Boston suspects were related to a top CIA official?[10]
The U.S. government has fostered and benefited from a fear of terrorism since 9/11.  Realizing this, citizens would do well to remember how quickly their freedoms can be lost in the uproar over even a single, relatively low impact terrorist incident.  The Boston Marathon bombing has reminded us that freedom comes at the price of eternal vigilance.  Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have the ability to control one’s emotional responses and temper the reactions of others.  When the next attack occurs, and as the official account of this incident evolves, people should watch for similarities with the accounts of other terrorist events and question everything they are being told."

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Should a Jew who decides to believe in Jesus try to remain Jewish?

Or should he just assimilate into Gentile society?

When I say "remain Jewish" I mean continue to do all the positive things he has done to live as a Jew up until his decision to believe in Jesus.   And when I say "believe in Jesus," I mean believing something close to traditional Christian belief:  Jesus is the Messiah and the Son of God, who died and rose from the dead, ascended into Heaven, and will return to judge the living and the dead.

Your respectful thoughts would be appreciated.  Or better yet, you can offer your answer to my question here.

An example of an orthodox rabbi who tried to remain Jewish while believing in Jesus:

Rabbi Daniel Zion.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Victor Reppert "is" Wrong about Bill Clinton and God

Philosopher Victor Reppert imagines a conversation between Clinton and God:

If there is a God, and God has informed us that something is wrong, then we can be relativists only if we think that God's opinion is no better than anyone else's. Can you imagine Bill Clinton saying to God "You say adultery is wrong, but that's just your opinion. I think it's OK. Who's to say which of us is right, and which of us is wrong?"

But that's just plain silly.  Everyone knows that Clinton wouldn't have said that. What he would have said to God was,

"You say adultery is wrong, but what do you mean by 'is'?"

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Putting Their Money Where Their Vote Is

Apparently, 833 people in a recent poll think 9/11 had inside help. If each one of those people chipped in five bucks, it would be more than enough to cover the costs of Mark Basile's proposed study of the WTC dust.

Better yet, there are 1,882 architects and engineers for 9/11 Truth. If each of them chipped in three bucks, that would also be more than enough for Mark Basile's study.

  UPDATE: And even better than that, if each of the 16,000 or so other truthers chipped in twenty-five cents, that would also cover the costs of Mark Basile's study.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Another Scientific Study for 9/11 Truthers to Perform: The FEMA Samples of Melted Steel

9/11 Truthers have already performed tests on dust samples from the WTC buildings and published their results in the peer-reviewed paper, Active Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe. There is controversy about their paper, and chemical engineer Mark Basile is trying to raise $5,000 to do a blind study of the dust in order to try to replicate the results.

Meanwhile, there is another scientific study that is waiting for someone to attempt. In a preliminary study of the WTC collapses, FEMA found two samples of eutectically melted steel, one from WTC 7 and one from either WTC 1 or 2. They performed a metallurgical analysis of the samples and published their results.

In The Great Thermate Debate, civil engineer Jonathan Cole produced some melted steel by means of thermate that looked very much like the FEMA samples. But as far as I know, no one has done a metallurgical analysis of Cole's melted steel, to see if it has the same micro structural appearance and same chemical content as the FEMA samples. I don't know how much such a study would cost, but I think it would be well worth the expense to see if it produced the same results. Such an outcome would strongly indicate the use of thermates in the demolition of the WTC buildings.

One of those Shows that makes me wish I had Cable or Dish

The Newsroom - Tea Party is the American Taliban

Friday, April 12, 2013

Ever Feel Like Giving Senator John McCain a Call?

No?  Watch the 2 minute video here.  Now do you feel like giving him a call?  In case you're wondering why Andrew Steele decided to pick on McCain, read his comments underneath.  And if you're not sure what all the fuss about "free fall" is, watch the second video.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

FSU Professor Speaks Out about Conspiracy Theories

Florida State University professor of Public Administration and Policy, Lance deHaven-Smith, has written an excellent letter about Conspiracy Denial in the U.S. Media . Some excerpts:

"...Today, the conspiracy-theory label is widely used as a verbal defense mechanism by U.S. political elites to suppress mass suspicions that inevitably arise whenever shocking political crimes benefit top leaders or play into their agendas, especially when those same officials are in control of agencies responsible for preventing the events in question or for investigating them after they have occurred. It is only natural to be suspicious when a president and vice president bent on war in the Middle East are warned of impending terrorist attacks and yet fail to alert the American public or increase the readiness of the nation’s armed forces. Why would Americans not expect answers when they are told that Arabs with poor piloting skills managed to hijack four planes, fly them across the eastern United States, somehow evade America’s multilayered system of air defense, and then crash two of the planes into the Twin Towers in New York City and one into the Pentagon in Washington, DC? By the same token, it is only natural to question the motives of the president and vice president when they drag their feet on investigating this seemingly inexplicable defense failure and then, when the investigation is finally conducted, they insist on testifying together, in secret, and not under oath.

Indiscriminate condemnation of conspiracy beliefs is obviously misguided, because political conspiracies in high circles do, in fact, happen. Everyone knows that officials in the Nixon administration conspired to steal the 1972 presidential election, that the Reagan White House engaged in a criminal scheme to sell arms to Iran and channel profits to the Contras (a rebel army in Nicaragua), and that the Bush-Cheney administration colluded to mislead Congress and the public about the strength of its evidence for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. If some conspiracy theories are true, then it is nonsensical to dismiss all unsubstantiated suspicions of elite intrigue as false by definition....

... But most run-of-the-mill reporters have embraced conspiracy denial, and for them it has become an emotionally charged, self-reinforcing belief system. The mindset is self-reinforcing in the sense that it engenders feelings of superiority and is dismissive of evidence. Ironically, conspiracy deniers think they are protecting civility and reason in public discourse, when in fact, by ridiculing reasonable concerns and appealing to elite prejudices, they are doing just the opposite.

Design Inference in a Pile of Rocks?

ENV has an interesting article on the large pile of rocks found in the Sea of Galilee. Based only on their inability to think of a plausible natural explanation for the rocks, and that it resembles other known cairns, the researchers have inferred that the rock formation was made by humans. ENV suggests that if scientists are willing to infer design on such apparently weak evidence, then... much stronger is the design inference when looking at the genetic code, with its elaborate translation, transcription, proofreading and duplication mechanisms? If these archaeologists can find design in a pile of rocks, why should biologists not find design in structures that clearly have specified complexity arranged for purposeful function?

I'm inclined to agree with ENV's argument, though with some reservation. If the archaeologists decide that the pile of rocks dates to millions of years before there were human beings on Earth, would they still think it was designed? I suspect not. I suspect that they would search for some natural explanation to explain its origin: earthquakes, floods, meteors, etc. In other words, what makes the design inference attractive is that there is independent evidence for a designer. Absent that evidence, such an inference becomes much weaker.

With that said, given what seems to be stronger evidence for design: "...elaborate translation, transcription, proofreading and duplication mechanisms..." I think there is still good grounds for a design inference for biological features...or at least for a design hypothesis.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Oh That Kooky Majority!

There's a Poll going around the blogosphere, talking about all those "dark" conspiracies that the kooky minority believe. But what I find more interesting and much more disturbing are the kooky actions of the majority.

The Milgram Experiments consistently showed that 61-66% of people are willing to torture other people to death just because somebody tells them to do so.

The Asch Conformity Experiments showed that 75% of people were willing to give an obviously wrong answer just to conform to the majority.

So which should concern us more: Minorities that are willing to believe crazy conspiracy theories, or majorities that are willing to torture people to death or blind their eyes to the obvious truth in order to conform to the majority?

So What was I doing on the Internet last night?

I was talking to a friend at work about sports this morning.  Specifically about the Michigan-Louisville basketball game last night.  I told him that I was following the score on the internet, while looking at other things, and I was trying to figure out how Michigan went from a 12 point lead, 36-24 just a couple of minutes before half time, to only a one point lead, 38-37 lead at half time.   He explained how such an improbable series of events could result in such a phenomenon, then he asked me what else I was looking at on the internet.  I paused and wondered whether I should tell him that I'm a 9/11 Truther, who is also interested in the Shroud of Turin and Intelligent Design.  "No,"  I told myself, "He'll never believe that."

"Porn," I answered.

"Of course," he replied.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Video of Plantinga's Argument merely an Outline

Evolution News and Views has posted a two minute video of Alvin Plantinga presenting his Evolutionary Argument against Naturalism. If you watch it, please notice that after showing him stating the first and crucial premise of his argument, the video cuts out the much needed argument that Plantinga gives for it. So this video is only an outline of his argument. Whoever decided to post it probably doesn't know much about Plantinga's argument and thought this truncated video was merely an example of its "elegant brevity." For Plantinga's latest version of the argument I suggest reading chapter 10 of his excellent book, Where the Conflict Really Lies. And if one wants Plantinga's full treatment of the relationship between Science and Religion, they should read the first nine chapters also.

  UPDATE: Or one could watch a slightly longer version of his argument.

I think Plantinga's argument effectively refutes versions of Naturalism where conscious beliefs do not affect our behavior.  It's not clear to me how it works on versions where conscious beliefs do affect our behavior.  But then, so far nobody has been able to form an acceptable Naturalistic version of such a state of affairs.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Joseph's Robe and the Shroud of Turin

While thinking about the Shroud of Turin, it occurred to me that there is a similarity between the story of Joseph's robe and the Shroud. For those unfamiliar with the story, it can be found in Genesis, chapter 37. Joseph's brothers are jealous of him, so they kidnap him, strip him of his robe, and sell him into slavery. Then they dip his robe in the blood of a goat and show it to their father Jacob as proof that Joseph had been killed by some wild animal.

If it turns out that the Shroud was really the burial shroud of Jesus, then we have a Joseph-robe story in reverse.  God has preserved the Shroud all these years as proof to us that His son was indeed killed the way it's been recorded of him.  And perhaps as proof of something else....

Thursday, April 4, 2013

While bloggers debate, scientists should try to Replicate.

The usual objections by bloggers to controversial research, only this time it's about the Shroud of Turin, instead of nano-thermite in the WTC dust. Meanwhile, what should be happening is scientists trying to replicate the results.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Monday, April 1, 2013

Shroud of Turin Blog

I've found a very good blog on the Shroud of Turin,, which I've put on my very crowded bloglist. He has a FAQ page, which is very informative. And he keeps readers abreast of the latest news about the Shroud. He thinks it's probably authentic, but doesn't believe that the image on it was miraculously caused. My favorite post is The Joe and Lenny Paradox:

Father Joe is a Jesuit priest. Lenny, his brother, is an Atheist. I met them at a presentation about the Shroud of Turin I gave at a Catholic Church. Joe, the Catholic priest, does not think the shroud is genuine, though he readily admits that proof of that is illusive. Lenny, the atheist, thinks it is “the real deal, the actual burial cloth of the historical Jesus.” He went on to say, “Obviously, I don’t think the images are miraculous. They are probably some natural phenomenon that we don’t understand. Clearly, they are not manmade. You simply can’t ignore the evidence like my brother does.”

“Why do you think it is fake?” I asked of Father Joe.
“It doesn’t work in my stew,” he replied. “Lenny might be right. But he thinks it is irrelevant. I would be okay with that, if I could really see it that way.”
Stew for Father Joe, who teaches biology, was a metaphor for how he approached faith. Throw in evolution, the Big Bang, everything that science might yet discover, history, philosophy, theology, scripture, and everything the church teaches. Mix it, cook it and let it simmer. If it tastes good then Joe has a faith he can live with. “The shroud,” he said, “is too overpowering a flavor. If real, it is too close to saying something certain. Faith is trust in the absence of certainty. Certainty spoils the stew.”
I’m an Episcopalian. In the Anglican Communion we have long had a way of explaining that faith, and indeed how we act on our faith, rests upon a three-legged stool. The legs are scripture, reason and tradition. Remove any one leg and the stool will not stand. Sometimes, with a bit too much pride, we call this metaphorical stool the genius of Anglicanism. Perhaps stew is a better metaphor. But the idea is the same.
I agree with Lenny, who also teaches science, that the shroud is probably real. I agree, too, that it is irrelevant, at least in the sense that he means. It doesn’t matter to me if the shroud is real or not. I don’t see it as an essential ingredient for my stew or my three-legged stool. But in another sense it is very relevant. Think of it like a dash of salt or a pinch of pepper that doesn’t overpower the taste of the stew. A decade of studying the Shroud has enhanced my reasoning skills, given me greater appreciation for tradition, and focused my thinking about scriptural meaning and possibilities. The shroud, be it real or fake, does not affect my faith. But the study of it has.
“My brother is afraid of certainty,” said Lenny.
“My brother is afraid of faith,” said Father Joe.
They both laughed and walked away to mentally torture someone else. I walked away very much liking both brothers and wishing that we could have talked more.
“Work on your brother,” I called out to Lenny.

Jerry Coyne Admits Mistake about Obama

Jerry Coyne admitted that his speculations about Obama being an atheist were mistaken. However, we really don't know if Jerry was wrong or right. Asking what religion a politician is is like asking what color a chameleon is.

What was more interesting about Coyne's post were his assertions that various statements that Obama made were "factually incorrect," such as the Exodus from Egypt and the Resurrection of Jesus. True, most scholars think that the Exodus didn't happen, but there is a growing list of archaeologists who think it did. As for the Resurrection, I'm curious what Jerry's proof is that it is "factually incorrect."