How Skeptics Confronted 9/11 Denialism
US, September 11, 2009 (Pal Telegraph)- Skeptics today bemoan the overwhelming proportion of people who claim to believe in all manner of conspiracy theories from the JFK assassination to the origins of HIV-AIDS. For that reason, it may be worthwhile to take a moment to stop and celebrate one area in which skeptical advocacy has been overwhelming successful: the world of 9/11 conspiracies. Through the work of scholars like Michael Shermer and James Meigs, along with everyday skeptics on the grassroots level, critical inquiry has been overwhelmingly successful in calling these conspiracy theorists to task.
A tragedy on a scale at least comparable to Pearl Harbor or the Kennedy assassination was bound to inspire a conspiracy subculture, but the takeoff success of the viral Internet documentary Loose Change and the movement it created was unprecedented. Looking out on the world in 2005 when Change became one of the most-watched Internet videos of all time, with over ten million unique viewers1, it was hard to anticipate a future that was anything but bleak for those who felt it was their duty to defend history from such pseudohistorians.
Yet, in just under four years, the 9/11 “truth movement” has ground to a halt. Apart from the fundamental incoherence of their theories, the downfall of the 9/11 denier juggernaut was good old-fashioned skepticism at its finest, the kind that conjures visions of James Randi challenging psychics and faith healers on their home turfs and winning. Skeptics are better at their jobs than they think, and its important to give credit where credit is due.