Monday, February 14, 2005

Mythbusting: 9/11

There's a certain fascination with conspiracy theories in America. Partly fueled by a desire to puzzle out the truth, which is a good thing, it can nevertheless descend quickly into paranoid delusion. The myths surrounding 9/11, from the concept that it was actually missiles or bombs that hit those buildings that day to the questions about whether and when fighters were ever ordered to intercept the planes, have all been discussed wildly on the Net and in the press. Overseas especially, the theories have been lent a credence some of us find incomprehensible. Some of us just don't know. Popular Mechanics, it seems, didn't know and thought they should find out.

::::::::Healthy skepticism, it seems, has curdled into paranoia. Wild conspiracy tales are peddled daily on the Internet, talk radio and in other media. Blurry photos, quotes taken out of context and sketchy eyewitness accounts have inspired a slew of elaborate theories: The Pentagon was struck by a missile; the World Trade Center was razed by demolition-style bombs; Flight 93 was shot down by a mysterious white jet. As outlandish as these claims may sound, they are increasingly accepted abroad and among extremists here in the United States.

To investigate 16 of the most prevalent claims made by conspiracy theorists, POPULAR MECHANICS assembled a team of nine researchers and reporters who, together with PM editors, consulted more than 70 professionals in fields that form the core content of this magazine, including aviation, engineering and the military.

Popular Mechanics certainly knows its stuff in these fields. They've been explaining it to the rest of us for decades, literally. The story is a very good read and I recommend it highly.

Hat Tip: Smash