November 12, 2006

"Your tax dollars are paying for the killing of American soldiers in Iraq. The CIA is paying for resistance in Iraq."

So said UW lecturer Kevin Barrett, ending his last lecture in the part of his course on Islam that deals with the 9/11 attacks:
The part-time teacher vowed to teach the official version of the attacks alongside the Sept. 11 theory to which he subscribes. He said he would neither tell his students what his view was nor penalize them for not buying the theory....

Andrea Bromley, a sophomore, came away saying Barrett had failed to be impartial.

"It's become much more opinionated now that we're doing 9-11," Bromley said, referring to the tone and progress of the course. "He's trying to explain both views, but he's biased. I don't feel like he's presented enough info on the other side."

Freshman Jesse Moya disagreed, saying Barrett had been "very objective."

Moya, who said his uncle died in the World Trade Center attacks, said he had entered the course believing the attacks were the work of Islamic terrorists. He now believes otherwise.

"It seems like a more logical explanation that it was the U.S. government," he said.
How interesting that the student who did not perceive bias is the one who became convinced of the truth of the conspiracy theory. It's not surprising. Trying not to show bias -- as Barrett was told he needed to do -- doesn't necessarily produce neutrality. It is more likely that it will package the message in a more palatable form.

Here's an earlier post on the subject of Barrett's class and the required neutrality pose, with much discussion of a Stanley Fish's op-ed about it.

30 comments:

ignacio said...

It also seems elementary that Moya would believe himself to have fallen for the more intelligent, "objective" explanation. How else could he present himself without looking a fool?

Pogo said...

Wonderful, another useful idiot for Isalmic fascism. Kudos to UW Madison.

The school has an obvious (and historical) tolerance for anti-US propaganda. I hope the mood is not yet sufficiently radical to permit another building to be blown up there, like the 1970 bombing by campus radicals of the Army Math Research Center, which killed a young physicist.

That's the next logical step from these types.

John Jenkins said...

Ignoring the substance of his beliefs, how the hell does a card-carrying member of the tinfoil hat brigade get to be a professor anywhere?

Ann Althouse said...

John: He's not a professor. He was a part-time, one-semester hire to fill in for someone. That's not meant as an excuse. There really is a problem at the hiring phase, which is what I've been saying all along. The issue of firing him was a distraction from the real question: hiring.

Pogo: You should know that we have a mostly conservative faculty group on campus that supports free speech and opposed firing Barrett. These are the same people who fight against speech codes and the like.

PatCA said...

"It seems like a more logical explanation that it was the U.S. government," he said.

Lost another one.

Anonymous said...

"It seems like a more logical explanation that it was the U.S. government,"

Depending on what premises Barrett sold this kid, the above could very well be true. Of course, some of those premises are likely to be things like "George Bush is the most evil leader in the world", "the Jews run the world", etc. Taking those as true, yeah, logically, it makes sense.

It doesn't mean that it isn't also batsh*t crazy.

Also, it's easy to claim someone is "objective" in their portrayal when they spout things you already agree with. "Boy, this guy's a straight shooter" you think, as he confirms all the things you know to be true.

Pogo said...

Re: "...we have a mostly conservative faculty group on campus that supports free speech and opposed firing Barrett."

I didn't know, and I'm heartened to hear it.

Over time, Barrett has proven to be a further liability to the campus, not solely because he's vigorously anti-American, but because he's vigorously anti-intellectual (while posing as one).

Regarding free-speech for teachers, I don't view firing all that differently from not-hiring. Either way he's quieted. The latter method may feel more coercive, but it's no different in the final effect.

SMGalbraith said...

Using the CIA, Bush is funding the Iraqi insurgents in order to cause chaos in that country?

Worked perfectly this past Tuesday, didn't it? The plan is just going swell.

SMG

Internet Ronin said...

Mr. Moya should hope that his published comment doesn't follow him around and pop up every time some potential employer does a check. There are open minds, easily influenced minds, and empty minds.

foxlets14 said...

Moya sounds like a kid sucking up to his prof for an "A", which he most assuredly will receive. Ronin, not to worry, Moya's publisshed comment should guarantee him a slot on the UW faculty. (LOL)

tjl said...

As college students we all said and did things we later regretted. Admittedly, Moya sets a standard for stupidity few are going to equal. But ten years from now he'll be trying to blot out any recollection that this episode ever happened.

Barrett's crazed ramblings are unlikely to warp permanently the reasoning ability of his students, if they had any to start with. To do this, Barrett would need Svengali-like talents which have not been apparent in his rather dim career up to now.

The remedy for bad speech is more good speech. Unless Barrett's course is the last one Moya ever takes, reality will get in touch with him again.

Troy said...

Where do the Jews and the Masons fit into all this? That's much more logical than the gov't doing this. What are they teaching at UW

Anonymous said...

"It's become much more opinionated now that we're doing 9-11," Bromley said, referring to the tone and progress of the course. "He's trying to explain both views, but he's biased. I don't feel like he's presented enough info on the other side."

That's because if you look honestly at the 9-11 commission report, it doesn't hold water. All it takes is a high speed internet connection, and about two weeks to break through the cognitive dissonance. I found out just by googling "why did WTC #7 fall?". Hundred of hours later, I'll never look at anything the same way I did before I started. It's kind of funny, I'm a registered republican and I can honestly say there's just as many people in denial about this issue on the left as the right.

Daryl Herbert said...

Or, those too stupid to see through a little bias are doomed to live stupid lives bereft of any real insight into the world around them.

If you get upset that people aren't capable of seeing the obvious, then you're doomed to live a sad, angry life (like Ted Kaczynski)

What's obvious and what's true? Who knows? All I know is, Barrett's on The Other Side, and if we give up in Iraq and throw our friends there to the wolves, we won't deserve to survive into the next century. Islam will dominate the world and send us into a new dark ages. Who cares, though? It's not like America will have proven that liberal values and tolerance for both religions and secularism has any profit in the long run. If we throw our friends in Iraq to the wolves, that says America as an experiment has failed and we might as well adopt the hijab and blame women who don't wear it for their rapes. If we can't offer the world something better, then what's the point?

Internet Ronin said...

foxlets: After I wrote that, I thought the same thing: "unless he wants a career in academia." LOL!

tjl: True, but who knows what will follow us around forever now that everything is stored semi-permanently on the internet. In fact, many companies and private background check agencies routinely google applicants names to see what might pop up. They definitely can find if someone is registered to vote or not, how often they vote and which party they are registered in because that is now easily researched public record. And some of the private agencies have purchased email, commercial transaction and bulletin board subscriber lists, allowing them to pierce anonymity in many cases. Privacy is a thing of the past.

Zach said...

"It seems like a more logical explanation that it was the U.S. government," he said.

This is precisely why you should be very careful about exercising "logic" in areas where you have very little knowledge. If you're going to do that, then you need to have a very realistic idea of whether you have enough facts to close your eyes and let the logic mill churn away. The girl who didn't think Barrett was giving enough facts on either side has the right approach.

All it takes is a high speed internet connection, and about two weeks to break through the cognitive dissonance. I found out just by googling "why did WTC #7 fall?". Hundred of hours later, I'll never look at anything the same way I did before I started.

This is the second worst way to approach the issue -- seeking out sources who have complicated, intricate, passionate responses to an issue that you know very little about, and where you have little independent expertise to catch weak thinking, hidden assumptions, logical gaps, etc. You'll end up judging material facts and events using standards that are more appropriate for literary criticism or kibitzing an Agatha Christie novel.

If you really want to know what made WTC #7 fall, you should find someone you trust who actually knows about building fires, engineering, etc and ask them to walk you through the differing claims. Don't take conspiracy theorists' words for anything. Popular Mechanics did exactly this, and reached a conclusion quite different from the one you hint at.

Seven Machos said...

Here come the conspiracy theorists to Ann Althouse's blog. Again. The ones who are registered Republicans, as if that makes you some kind of sane and rational person.

People: airplanes hit the towers and there was a huge fire that consumed several city blocks. Fire is hot. Fire destroys things. Why is that so hard to get your gnat-like heads around?

Internet Ronin said...

Seven Machos: Where? Who? What are you talking about? What I mean to say is, who commenting here disagrees with your point? Perhaps I overlookes someone, but I didn't notice a single conspiracy theorist commenting here thus far.

Sloanasaurus said...

There is also the part about Osama admitting that he had attacked the Towers.

Osama must be another Bush stooge.

Internet Ronin said...

Osama must be another Bush stooge.

Oh, no! Not a stooge, Osama is a CIA operative!. I thought everyone knew that ;)

Personally, until I see a picture of Osama holding a newspaper dated today (or whatever day the picture is taken), I'll continue to lean towards the idea that he is buried under a few hundred feet of dirt and rubble in what was once a tunnel.

In this particular case, I'm a Missourian.

Tibore said...

"That's because if you look honestly at the 9-11 commission report, it doesn't hold water... I found out just by googling "why did WTC #7 fall?". Hundred of hours later, I'll never look at anything the same way I did before I started."

Did you read the NIST report? Which aspects did not "hold water"?

Just because there's a plethora of sites on the net saying there's something fishy about the WTC collapse doesn't mean those sites are correct. Too many of them peddle the same misapprehensions and mistruths; it's less a wide variety of information, and more an echo chamber of "me too!" that leads to all those sites you've Googled.

So, anyway, what exactly doesn't hold water about the WTC 7 collapse?

Zach said...

Who was that masked man?

It seems that the "registered Republican" dropped his comment and moved on, like a fart in the library stacks.

Mike said...

rj: Here are 13,600 links explaining that the B2 bomber employs antigravity technology to fly. http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=B2+antigravity

Enjoy.

Juliet said...

All it takes is a high speed internet connection, and about two weeks to break through the cognitive dissonance. I found out just by googling "why did WTC #7 fall?". Hundred of hours later, I'll never look at anything the same way I did before I started.

I am related to several engineers who have spent thousands of hours over four years getting a professional degree. They have no time for this idiocy, because they make a living building and demolishing things in the real world. I'll take their word any day over someone who got their two-week degree in Conspiracy Batshit at the University of Google.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I said it. I've been a General Contractor for 20 years. I have a brother 11 months my junior with a master's degree in civil engineering. We've studied this.

Anyone defending the official theory, should in fact have read the 9-11 commission report. There is no denying that. If you haven't done so, please don't waste time quoting popular mechanics. They can't explain the demise of building 7 any more than the 9-11 commission could.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=8To3cX9Mudw

Tibore said...

Again, which aspects do not hold water?

And how about the NIST report? That's a separate report from the 9/11 commisions. Is that one also inaccurate? If so, can you list examples of how?

Or, as an alternative: What is the explanation for the tower's and WTC 7's collapse?

Henry said...

What is the explanation for the tower's and WTC 7's collapse?

failed premises.

jaed said...

Where do the Jews and the Masons fit into all this? That's much more logical than the gov't doing this.

That's because you haven't penetrated to the heart of the conspiracy: the Jews and the Masons control the government. Secretly. (You may optionally throw in the Trilateral Commission, the Knights Templar, and/or the Ascended Masters of your choice, to taste.)

There is nothing that can't be explained by a good conspiracy theory because a good conspiracy theory can always be extended. Contradictions are explained by referring back to the conspiracy, viz: "'But X and Y are enemies, how can they be conspiring together?' 'Aha! That's what They want you to think!'" If you find yourself thinking in patterns that contain a pre-emptive explanation for every seemingly contradictory fact, suspect yourself of having fallen into a conspiracy theory.

Revenant said...

I love how crazy the conspiracy theories surrounding WTC7 are. Airplanes are hijacked and crashed into the two towers and the Pentagon, but for some reason the conspirators also wired building seven -- a building that, I suspect, few Americans even knew existed, and fewer still remember collapsed -- to blow. Because, I guess, destroying the towers and damaging the Pentagon wouldn't really have gotten Americans riled up for a war. No, what really got us ready to kill us some Ay-rabs was that Building 7 -- once *that* collapsed, then we'd really had all we could stand.

And the conspirators did all this in order to declare war on Iraq. They just forgot to actually, you know, tie Iraq to the attacks. Which I guess just goes to show that even the most brilliant plan always overlooks something. They ended up having to make up a story about WMDs -- and then forgot to plant proof of THOSE in Iraq, too. Man, its a miracle those guys can tie their own shoelaces in the morning, I tell you.

I think RJ needs to see this film. It'd teach him something about the hubris of self-educated conspiracy theorists.

Tibore said...

Sorry, folks, didn't catch this the first time I read it:

"...please don't waste time quoting popular mechanics. They can't explain the demise of building 7 any more than the 9-11 commission could."

Red herring. Pop Mech didn't try to explain the WTC 7 collapse in complete detail. They were merely addressing myths about controlled demolition and the supposed "light damage" the building sustained, as well as arguing in favor of the NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) analysis. See for yourself here:

Pop Mech story link

My point is that any claims made in the article were based on the NIST assesment, some of which has been revised and much of which is still being studied (info available at NIST's site; be advised that the material at the PopMech link is already dated in some aspects). So attacking PopMech is a way to disparage the NIST research without confronting the expertise and careful, deliberate research the teams are conducting.

Anyway... It's a common 9/11 conspiracy fantasist tactic to attack the Popular Mechanics' 9/11 Myths article; you see them doing it all over the web. You also see them raising all sorts of red herring claims, taking quotes out of context (eg. the infamous Silverstein "Pull it" quote), favoring fantastic claims by some witnesses over the claims of others, etc. RJ here is doing nothing that hasn't been done elsewhere in attempting to throw doubt in the minds of others. It's all misdirection. If RJ were indeed truly interested in discovering the truth, he'd realize that said truth is not to be found in the ludicrous narratives of the 9/11 conspiracy fantasy clique, but rather in the careful analysis of the NIST groups, as well as the careful analysis of the holes in the conspiracy fantasist's assertations.

For resources:

NIST site dedicated to WTC 9/11 research: http://wtc.nist.gov/

Basic 9/11 Myths & conspiracy debunking sites:

http://www.911myths.com/index.html

http://www.debunking911.com/index.html

James Randi Educational Foundation's conspiracy theory posting forums (James Randi is a pseudoscience and paranormal phenomena debunker most famous for challenging psychic & telekenetic Uri Geller):

http://forums.randi.org/forumdisplay.php?f=64

Bad Astronomy conspiracy posting forum:

http://www.bautforum.com/forumdisplay.php?f=19

Anyway RJ:

Which aspects of the WTC 7 collapse narrative put forth by the NIST group does not hold water?

And: What is your explanation for the collapse of WTC 7?