Prof David Ray Griffin “Resigns” From Scholars for 9/11 Truth

From: Andrew Johnson

Date: 2007-10-21 10:07:28

From Jim Fetzer  All: One of our members, David Ray Griffin, has decided to resign from Scholars for 9/11 Truth over concerns about the vitriolic back-and-forth that has been going on for some time.  While he supports research on alternative possible explanations for the events of 9/11, he feels that public discussion of the possible use of unconventional methods of destruction employed at the WTC, or of the doctoring of TV news footage of the plane strikes, should be conducted in private forums.  He believes ad hominem attacks should be minimized and that Scholars has been the principal offender.  I find this interesting, since it was the issue of public discussion about the possible use of directed energy weapons to destroy the Twin Towers and the question of video fakery and planes/no planes that brought about the original split in Scholars and led Steven Jones to resign and become a member of a new society called “Scholars for 9/11 Truth and Justice.”  Most of these ad hominem attacks have come from members of that group, including, especially, Ms. Victoria Ashley, who is that society’s press representative. Dr. Griffin initiated a discussion of these subjects with me on 4 October 2007 and we exchanged opinions for a week until 11 October 2007, when he advised me of his resignation.  During that interval, he sent me thirteen (13) emails and I replied with over twenty (20).  I explained to him that the vast majority of ad hominem attacks had originated from the other side and offered examples in support, but I was not able to convince him.  He ultimately made his decision, which I regret that he felt he had to make, but it is his decision and I wish him the best.  I would have liked it if he had awaited publication of the DVDs from The Madison Conference, which will be released later this month, because they include presentations on the possible  use of directed energy weapons as well as of video fakery, including what I take to be impressive supporting evidence, which should contribute greatly to the discussion.Everyone is welcome to watch these presentations and to form their own conclusions about what should and should not open to public debate. In my efforts to bring many leaders of the 9/11 truth movement together to reason about controversial issues such as these, I invited Dr. Jones and Kevin Ryan to attend the conference to present their findings, but they chose not to do so.  I arranged for Dr. Frank Greening to attend but, after having agreed to speak, he subsequently withdrew.  When I asked if he had been subjected to pressure regarding his participation, he declined to respond.  The answer, I think, is apparent.  My efforts to deal openly with controversial issues and potentially resolve them was offset by pressure applied to those who were willing to address them.For anyone to object that certain areas of research, such as video fakery or DEWs, are “controversial” is to grossly overlook a key point: that the entire movement in search of 9/11 truth is controversial!  We are mired in controversy.  If we start reigning ourselves in because we don’t like, can’t abide, or just don’t want to consider, say, video fakery or DEWs, how can we possibly know we are right and those hypotheses are wrong?  The only way we can figure these things out is by serious scientific study, which does not include unrelenting attacks from The Journal of 9/11 Studies, which has devoted around 70% of its efforts to attacks on Judy Wood and Morgan Reynolds.  To suggest this is an inappropriate waste of time is to put it mildly.  Anyone who doubts that this journal has displayed a pattern of attacks should consider the studies found at… . I cannot agree with Professor Griffin that discussion of video fakery or no-planes or of the possible use of unconventional weaponry at the WTC should not be a matter of public discourse.  We are making tremendous progress in both areas, as I see it, where the recent “Qui Tam” lawsuit filed by Dr. Wood strikes me as probably the single most important legal measure ever taken by any member of the 9/11 truth community.  How could a suit of that kind be filed in the absence of open discussion of the core issue, namely, whether the NIST report on the WTC might have been undermined by the participation of parties who are involved with the construction and development of DEWs?  Alas, I was unable to convince Professor Griffin that the offensive conduct by Truth and Justice is far more characteristic, far more vitriolic, and far more destructive than any from Scholars.  But I have enormous respect for his work and admire him tremendously.  He continues to make very important contributions through his books and lectures.  And, like every other 9/11 participant, he is also free to choose with whom to associate.  I therefore wish him well! Jim On the logic of ad hominem attacks . . . Given the frequency with which charges of “ad hominem” attack are leveled and that even David Ray Griffin and I have not agreed on specific examples, it may be useful, even appropriate, to discuss their nature from a logical point of view.  Let me first say that I do not feel that true ad hominem attacks have a place in our discussions. That said, I think there is some confusion about what an ad hominem attack is and is not. Those who may have speculated that the “prominent member of Scholars” with whom I was discussing the Victoria Ashley hatchet job was David Ray Griffin are correct.  The “Ugly” part of my recent post was inspired by my exchanges with David over these very issues.  It was his position that Steven Jones had demonstrated offenses by Scholars, such as during a discussion on “The Dynamic Duo” in which the suggestion (which did not originate with me) that Steve might be a “plant” was countered by my own alternative that he might be “a mediocre scientist” instead.  I certainly agree that, out of context, a remark like that could be taken as an ad hominem attack.  But since I have explained in some detail why someone might draw that inference in “The Science of 9/11” section of, I think that this is a legitimate question for discussion. It was a remark in passing, not the topic of 70% of our conversation.  But let’s consider the possibility that I may be wrong. Certainly, given his standing within the community, his qualifications make an enormous difference to our credibility.   Indeed, the importance of context to understanding is well-illustrated by the claim that Morgan and Judy called Steve “retarded.”  This remark was made in relation to a suggestion from Steve that oscillations in the South Tower had to have been caused by the plane hitting it.  Morgan and Judy observed about the data here that there are alternative explanations for those oscillations, including the occurrence of explosions within the building.  In the belief that a Ph.D. in physics should appreciate the existence of various possibilities, they said, “Can a Ph.D. in physics be this retarded?”  It was a rhetorical remark that, properly understood, not only implied that Steve cannot be this retarded but thereby asks why someone who should know better would make such a flimsy argument.   It is a rhetorical means for denying Steve is retarded, not affirming it! Ad hominem attacks can be especially effective in political contexts.  When Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez recently observed that the Bush administration’s handling of the war in Iraq had been “incompetent” and said the result was “a nightmare with no end in sight,” the administration did not address his reasons for having arrived at that conclusion but instead described him as a disgruntled officer who was trying to shift blame for his own mistakes, because of which he was passed over for a fourth star (The New York Times, 13 October 2007, p. A1).  This was a characteristic move by an administration that has gone so far as to expose the head of a covert CIA network to contain the proliferation of nuclear weapons, especially in the Middle East, because her husband, Ambassador Joe Wilson, had visited Niger and discovered that claims that the administration had made in support of its contention that Saddam was attempting to obtain materials for constructing nuclear weapons were bogus.  The administration implied he had been on some kind of “junket” arranged by his wife!  These were nice examples of ad hominem attacks for the purpose of discrediting arguments without ever addressing the issues or the evidence. A straightforward definition states, “The fallacy of abusing the man (argumentum ad hominen) is committed when the defender of an issue is attacked instead of the issue itself.”  (Alex Michalos, Principles of Logic 1969, p. 371).  They are commonly viewed as irrelevant appeals, since, in general, the truth of a statement and the soundness of an argument do not depend on the character or status of the person arguing.  But some ad hominem attacks are justified and do not qualify as fallacious.  (Robert J. Fogelin and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Understanding Arguments 1995, p. 335).  While standard conversational exchanges are governed by principles of cooperation, including rules of quality, where participants do not say things they know to be false or for which they lack appropriate evidence, sometimes participants are engaged in adversarial proceedings in which the cooperative principles cannot be taken for granted.  Examples include suspects under police interrogation.  When Judy and Morgan ask of Steve, “Can a Ph.D. in physics be this retarded?”, therefore, they are not impugning this intellect but asking whether he might have abandoned the principle of quality because he is not in a cooperative context.  That makes it an example of an ad hominem attack that’s not fallacious.  Others raising possible conflicts of interest tend to fall into the same category.  The businessman who supports a political position (such as moderating our embargo against Cuba) because he would benefit financially (by making profits on the importation of cigars) may have his objectivity challenged on that ground.  Similarly, when the suggestion arose during one of my talk show interviews that Steve might be “a plant” and I said that he might simply be “a mediocre scientist” instead, I was directly addressing his qualifications for his role within the 9/11 community.  His conception of scientific method, for example, which he so frequently touts, as a process of (1) observation, (2) experimentation, (3) peer review, and (4) publication may sound appealing but is not theoretically defensible, where a more adequate conception envisions science as a process of (1′) puzzlement, (2′) speculation,  (3′) adaptation (of hypotheses to evidence), and (4′) explanation, governed by the rule of reasoning known as inference to the best explanation.  Should I not point out that Steve does not even identify the principles of inference that are supposed to govern scientific reasoning, thereby introducing subjectivity and undermining the objectivity of science? Surely it is not an ad hominem fallacy to delineate the limits of this man’s competence. How many times has the objection been raised that Morgan is an economist or that I am a philosopher?  But neither of us takes offense at that, even though Morgan’s education and professional history is devoted to exact thinking in mathematical terms, while mine is in the history and philosophy of science, where the history of science is dominated by the history of physics and the philosophy of science by studying scientific reasoning, a topic on which I have published many articles and books.  Judy is not as easy to target in this respect, with degrees in civil engineering (emphasis structural), engineering mechanics (aka applied physics), and a Ph.D. in materials engineering science.  If credentials matter to research on 9/11, it is difficult to deny that she possesses them.  Morgan and I are far more plausible targets, but she has often been attacked on the ground that some of her research has focused on dental work, where different materials are subjected to various forms of differential stress.  That is a form of special pleading by citing only evidence that is favorable to your side.  David Ray Griffin, after all, is a philosopher of religion and a theologian, but few of us are prepared to dismiss his work on that ground alone! The examples of ad hominem attacks by Scholars, therefore, do not appear to qualify as fallacious.  Or, to be more precise, would qualify as fallacious only if they could not be supported by relevant evidence.  Were Judy and Morgan not discussing a subject that a competent Ph.D. in physics should rather effortlessly understand, it might be appropriate to consider their question abusive.  Indeed, once we recognize that some ad hominems are non-fallacious, even the attack on Lt. General Sanchez might be viewed as debatable, though less so the implied smear on Ambassador Wilson.  The ad hominems that I have drawn from the other side, however, do not fare as well.  When research on video fakery and planes/no planes or the possible use of DEWs at the World Trade Center are derided as  “nonsense” and as “unscientific”, that is a very different matter than describing them as “false” or as “wrong”.  The language used is loaded with evaluative content, which is a common practice (Fogelin and Sinnott-Armstrong, pp. 47-51).  By describing this work abusively, they implicitly disavow any responsibility for coming to grips with or even explaining their positions, which would expose their chicanery.  The claim that video fakery and the no planes hypotheses are empirically untestable, for example, which is implicit in calling them “unscientific”, can readily be shown to be false (See Appendix A below.) Similarly, fallacies are often combined to create the impression one wants to convey.  It may be widely supposed that the possible use of unconventional weaponry (nukes, lasers, masers, plasmoids, and such) is beyond the scope of scientific investigation.  Thus, for those who know no better, ad hominems can assume the form of specious bifurcations, which posit mutually exclusive alternatives as though they were exhaustive when they are not.  “You are either with us or with the terrorists” implies that, if you are critical of the President, you are are unpatriotic or even traitorous.  In argumentative contexts related to 9/11 research, implicit ad hominems—which, unlike explicit ad hominems, do not refer to their targets by name—may combine popular sentiments with the specious bifurcation:  “You are unscientific if you think no planes hit the Twin Towers” or “Those who study directed energy weapons are out to discredit the truth movement,” completely precluding the possibility that one could be engaged in scientific studies of whether or not planes hit the buildings or be investigating the use of DEW in the pursuit of truth about 9/11, where I elaborate upon the distinction between “explicit” and “implicit” below (see Appendix B). Some cases are so obvious that I cringe at the thought that I was unable to convince an astute thinker like David Ray Griffin that, by describing me as simply “claiming” to be the founder of Scholars, I was being subjected to an abusive ad hominem attack.  Professor Griffin responded that it might be disputed because Steve was also involved, but that ignores that founding a society is a form of speech act—doing something with words—technically know as a “performative” (Fogelin and Sinnott-Armstrong, pp. 7-10).  I had the idea.  I invited Steve to join me as co-chair.  I founded the society by sending out an email to a specific list.  Others may have entertained similar ideas, just as others might have thought of sailing to the New World and claiming it on behalf of their Queen.  But this was actually done by Christopher Columbus, if our history books are accurate.  It is very odd to me that, in a case where the evidence is so easily accessible, anyone should be in doubt over whether or not I founded Scholars.  After all, if I claim to have founded Scholars when I did not, then I must be either delusional or corrupt.  I did it by means of email, where the copy list included Steve Jones.  Everyone should know it (See Appendix C below).  Scholars is an non-partisan society dedicated to exposing falsehoods and revealing truths about the events of 9/11.  No one except the perps know exactly what happened on 9/11.  Why be closed-minded?   Scholars welcomes diverse points of view on all issues that are related to 9/11 research.  We have no litmus test for membership and encourage research on every alternative scientific explanation of what happened at the WTC, for example, including video fakery, planes or no planes, thermite or thermate, nukes, lasers, masers, plasmoids—where the course of scientific inquiry will settle the matter in the tentative and fallible fashion distinctive of empirical science.  We share the belief that scientific inquiries are compromised by the imposition of constraints on subjective, personal, or psychological grounds.  The members of this society are united by no doctrines other than shared commitment to exposing falsehoods and revealing truths about the events of 9/11.  We stand for free and open discussion and debate as Scholars for 9/11 Truth. Jim James H. FetzerFounderScholars for 9/11 Truth APPENDIX (A):  Regarding the scientific standing of no-planes theory: Presumably, the characterizations of the no-planes hypothesis, for example,as “nonsense” and as “unscientific” would derived from presumptions aboutits untestability.  If it is testable, then I presume that it is neither “nonsense”nor “unscientific”.  If the videos broadcast on 9/11 are authentic, then ofcourse there were planes, so testing the authenticity of the videos is onemeans of testing the no-planes hypothesis.  If there is evidence that thevideos are faked, then that is a confirmation (not conclusive, of course,since the videos might have been faked to conceal features of the planesor of their interaction with the buildings) that lends weight to no planeshypotheses.  There are multiple indications videos may have been faked: SEPTEMBER CLUES, Part 1 “THE 911 NEWSWMEDIA COVERAGE”… 98CBB438E6378129/september-clues-part1.aspx SEPTEMBER CLUES, Part 2 “THE FLYING TELEPHANTS”… 82C73582D0F89949/september-clues-part2.aspx SEPTEMBER CLUES, Part 3 “OF MISSILES AND MEN”… A01CF664B22E16B5/september-clues-part3.aspx SEPTEMBER CLUES, Part 4 “THE DENSE COINCIDENCE DANCE”… A3CCC4CFC2F0F257/september-clues-part4.aspx  SEPTEMBER CLUES, Part 5 “17 SECONDS”… 9CDCAE38D86C5129/september-clues-part5.aspx SEPTEMBER CLUES, Part 6 “FORGERIES INC.”… 94FCA7A0EC01945F/september-clues-part6.aspx  SEPTEMBER CLUES, Part 7 “PANDEMONIUM”… SEPTEMBER CLUES, Part 8 “SYNCHRONICITY”… Genghis6199’s Epic – 911 Flatline – #1… Genghis6199’s Epic – 911 Flatline – #2… Genghis6199’s Epic – 911 Flatline – #3… Genghis6199’s Epic – 911 Flatline – #4…   Flight 175 – Impossible Speed [Editor’s note:  Proof of video fakery]… not to mention that Ace Baker has producedadditional arguments supporting video fakery: (1) the absence of vortex aftereffectsin the hit on the North Tower; (2) repetition of background in everyother frame in the hit on the South; (3) the motion of the plane becomes lessstable when the video is stabilized. PLUS Andrew Johnson has collated the reportsof 500 witnesses provided by THE NEW YORKTIMES and has discovered only 1 reportedseeing an American Airlines plane hit theNorth Tower and the same number a United plane hitting the South Tower.  That is,of 500 witnesses, 499 did not see Unitedplane hit the South Tower and a similarnumber did not see an American plane hitthe North Tower.   Check out his studies: Going in Search of Planes in NY City www.checktheevidence…? Since we have multiple lines of proof the videos may have been faked, whereis the (non-circular) proof that they are authentic (that does not take forgranted that they are authentic, but actually provides proof)?  Note that Iam not insisting that the evidence amassed above is all “good as gold” sincesome of it might have been faked (by creating fake videos of video fakery).Indeed, we now have a critique of “September Clues” by Nick Irvine,  Debunking “September Clues”:  A Point by Point Analysis10 October 2007, Nick Irving, Scholars for 9/11 Truth archived on, offering further evidence that theories of this kind are subject to rational criticism and empirical evaluation.  Without anyjudgment as to who is right and who is wrong on specific points, what more could be required to demonstrate that no-planes theories are scientific, which, of course, does not mean they are true but that they are empirically testable? My point is that there is an enormous amount of available relevant evidencefor TESTING the no-plane hypothesis, which extends to the physics of impactsbetween buildings and planes.  It follows that the claim that this hypothesisis “nonsense” and “unscientific” is not justifiable and, indeed, qualifies asan unwarranted smear (a subtle ad hominem) on the scientific competence andintegrity of those who advance it.  Please do tell me if you agree or not ina case of this kind.  Calling a testable hypothesis “nonsense” and “unscien-tific” is not only false but obviously meant as an implied ad hominem attack. APPENDIX (B):  Regarding different kinds of ad hominem attacks: INFORMAL FALLACIES:  ad hominem  =df  attacking the person rather than the position (hypothesis,                    explanation, theory) they represent; classically, assailing                    the messenger rather than the message.  There are two basic                    varieties, explicit and implicit, both of which are useful                    to discredit positions without even formulating them for                    discussion, much less evaluating them using evidence and                    logic.  They are commonly combined with other fallacies,                    especially begging the question.  The logical difference                    between them is the former explicitly names the target                    of the attack, while the latter is addressed to a class                    of persons, where the target is a member of that class.                     (a) explicit ad hominems:  “You can’t trust Smith because                    his brother works for the Mafia”; “Peter is an alcoholic,                    so his judgment must be impaired.”  Smith might have hit                    upon a brilliant idea or Peter may have solved a puzzle,                    where the brilliance of Smith’s idea is independent of his                    brother’s Mafia connection and Peter’s solution has nothing                    to do with his alcoholism.  Hence, a species of rejecting                    an argument or position for the wrong reason.  These are                    often combined with popular sentiments (assuming, since                    a view is widely held, it must be true).  Hence, “Beware                    of anything Brown says, because he believes in UFOs” or                    “Don’t trust Bill.  He thinks man didn’t go to the moon.”                     The possibility that Brown might be right about UFOs or                    that man actually did not go to the moon is excluded by                    taking for granted they are false and using that widely                    held belief as a basis for discrediting their positions,                    conveniently without ever even having to spell them out.                     (b) implicit ad hominems:  claims that attack position                    advocates indirectly, often combined with the fallacy of                    specious bifurcation.  “You are either with us or with                    the terrorists” implies that, if you are critical of the                    President, you are are unpatriotic or even traitorous.                    In argumentative contexts related to 9/11 research, the                    implicit ad hominem can combine popular sentiments with                    the specious bifurcation:  “You are unscientific if you                    think no planes hit the Twin Towers” or “Those who study                    directed energy weapons are out to discredit the truth                    movement”, completely precluding the possibility that                    one could be engaged in scientific studies of whether or                    not planes hit the buildings or be investigating the use                    of DEW in pursuit of the truth about 9/11.  Implicit ad                    hominems are more subtle and more difficult to detect by                    attacking everyone in a designated class.  They can even                    look principled by not identifying their targets by name. I would like to think that this explanation will make it more apparent tothat the category of implicit ad hominems captures an important classof cases, which I have repeatedly illustrated in the passages that I haveprovided drawn from, its press releases, and Steve’s ownLetter of Resignation.  (The specious bifurcation, let me add, occurs inthose cases when two alternatives are presented as though they were bothmutually exclusive and jointly exhaustive:  “You are either rich or poor”;”It’s either black or white”; and, strikingly, “You are either with us orwith the terrorists”.)  Consider these definitions (where the theory ofdefinition is one of my areas) as part of an updated Critical Thinking:A Course in Practical Reasoning (2007).  I submit that the examples thatI have provided exemplify the conditions of implicit ad hominems, thatthey may be subtle but are none the less ad hominem, and that they arepart and parcel of an aggressive, systematic, and relentless assault onJudy, Morgan, and Scholars by Truth and Justice and associates of Steve. APPENDIX (C):  Regarding the founding of Scholars for 9/11 Truth: —–Original Message—– From: [mailto:]Sent: Tue 12/13/2005 8:28 PMTo: richard mcginn;; jfetzer@d.umn.eduCc:; Greg lopreato; DavidMacGregor; Bryan Sacks;  jeffstrahl;Paul Zarembka; ErnestRichard Rugenstein; Jculp; cirqlarKolar; mcdaniel;; dignityjec Combs; douglas_ascott@mac.c…;bdasher; Marcus Ford;; Gabbard, David A; ; lmuray; DrBruceEpperly@aol.c…; jcooper; mcmurtry; terrymorrone@yahoo.c…; Nafeez Ahmed; ; Jamie Morgan; Diana Ralph; Peter.Phillips; gracecoyote Cianci; Four Arrows; daubman; Mmorrissey@bemidjist…; devans; david.sprintzen; jrubins101@verizon.n…; chossudovsky;;; cbrandabur; Jchristensen@ncwc.ed…; kburrows; David.Orr; steven_jones Subject: Announcing the formation of “Scholars for Truth about 9/11” All, The response from Richard McGinn and others has been gratifying and hasrenewed my belief in the importance of creating a loose affiliation ofstudents and faculty who believe that the government has been lying tothe world about 9/11 and who are committed to using their abilities toexpose the false and discover the true about the events of 9/11.  I amconvinced that an organization of this kind can do a great deal of goodin relation to the discovery, transmission, and articulation of know-ledge in a case of this kind, which appears to be among the most press-ing problems confronting not only this nation but the world at large. I hereby announce that Steve Jones and I are creating a new societyfor this purpose, “Scholars for Truth about 9/11”.  Steve has agreedto serve with me as co-chair of this organization.  He and I invitethe members of this list to join us in this worthy cause.  He and Iwould like to hear from each of you who is willing to contribute tothe success of this endeavor.  We want to form a steering committeeof five or more members to assist us in directing the activities ofthe organization.  We would like to hear about your interests, back-ground and kinds of contributions you may be well-positioned to make. As a preliminary stage in the development of the society, therefore,we ask you to send an email response TO STEVE AND ME ONLY telling us: (1) your affiliation with an academic institution, including name,rank, mailing address, and email and phone contact information foruse by the officers of this organization and not shared with others; (2) your areas of interest in the events of 9/11, including tellingus how your background and abilities contribute to what you have tooffer in exposing the false and discovering the truth about 9/11;(3) the kinds of activities that would appeal to you the most, such as membership in a program committee, as a local arrangements chair,authoring statements, presenting lectures, appearing on radio, etc.  What you send us does not have to be a dissertation, but we need tohave a good understanding of the resources at our disposal to be ableto take advantage of the background, talent, and skill you represent. Our first task will be to form a steering committee from the memberswho respond.  We will review your qualifications and explore furtheroptions, which will include creating a program committee to plan aconference of scholars who are addressing 9/11 for the near future. Once we have heard from you–and responses through the weekend wouldbe fine with us–we intend to invite David Ray Griffin to serve asour “Honorary Chairman”.  David serves as an inspiration to us all. I should not close without discussing the potential benefits of yourparticipation with us as a member of ST9/11, which you ought to knowmay include additional government surveillance; inclusion on variouslists of “potential terrorists”, who threaten the national securityof the United States; and the creation of a dossier in your name bythe Department of Defense–just because you want to expose the falseand disclose the true about 9/11!  And that frightens the government.  We live in extraordinary times.  Join us in this extraordinary task! Jim James H. FetzerMcKnight ProfessorUniversity of MinnesotaDuluth, MN Quoting richard mcginn : Jim,         Thanks for the heads-up.  Your article is very impressive, to say the least.        Please don’t discount me as a “member” if and when the organizationYou are forming becomes a reality.  Here in Ohio, one might think we haveenough crises to deal with.  But your web site has convinced me that Ishould be on board with you re: Scholars for Truth about 9/11, not as anofficer, but as a foot soldier or letter-writer.  Keep up the good fight. Richard McGinn –On Monday, December 12, 2005 11:53 PM -0600 wrote: All, Please know that I have posted “Thinking about ‘Conspiracy Theories’:9/11 and JFK” on my academic web site, where papers by Steve Jones andDavid Ray Griffin may also be found:… is the penultimate version, so comments and criticism  are welcome. Jim

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