1. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9KQUQxyxv0


    Stian Arensen has been involved in the 9/11 Truth community for a number of years, and in the last year or so has been questioning some of the underpinnings of that community. Stian has also been very interested in topics such as crop circles and UFOs.

    We discuss how Stian’s thinking has evolved over time, and examine the parallels between the various communities – in particular we look at the effects of questioning the group consensus, and how it can lead to exclusion from a group unwilling to move forward.

    Stian also questions me about my debunking, and some things I’ve said in the past, and I try to explain.
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  2. Gerard

    Gerard Member


    That was a very interesting discussion which I think raises quite a number of questions.

    One observation I'd like to make is that I think one of the reasons I have little tendency to believe conspiracy theories is that my default attitude is to believe that most normal people are generally honest most of the time. To qualify what I mean by that I think there are people who seem to have largely exited the world of conventional reality and live in some sort of fantasy world where it's unclear what if any epistemological principles are thought to apply (there seem to be quite a few of these in UFO communities). So obviously I'm excluding these types of individuals from what I mean by "normal people". It might be overly restrictive but my basic filter for deciding whether a person is likely to be "normal" is have they demonstrated an ability to function at a reasonably high level in a field that is strongly grounded in conventional reality ? Examples would be people who have had a successful career in computer programming, engineering, physical sciences, medical sciences, aviation, etc. Computers are highly incompatible with fantasy worlds, if your reasoning isn't sound your programs won't work. Similarly if your perception and reasoning skills aren't sound you're not likely to
    survive long as a pilot (especially if you have to do things like land on aircraft carriers at night).

    Other qualifications are necessary as well, of course. First what I describe above is only a default belief. If evidence comes to light that a person has been deceptive in some meaningful way (for example, by lying about their educational background) I will of course no longer consider their statements to be likely true.

    Finally, there is the case where someone has a strong personal motive to lie. In this case I think most people are capable of lying, but the motive would have to be really strong and I don't think such circumstances arrive very often in practice.

    How does this affect my views of conspiracy theories ?

    Well, if someone claims that a bunch of NASA engineers are lying to cover up the existence of a moon base I'm not going to give that claim much credit unless it has very strong evidence to back it up. I've never worked for NASA but I had a career working for similar organizations and I suspect the engineers who work for NASA are as a whole similar to those I have worked with in the past and who have formed most of the empirical basis for my default belief in human honesty.

    Finally, it's interesting to note that while this belief in human honesty makes it less likely for me to give credence to conspiracy theories at the same time it makes it difficult for me to reject the large volume of credible testimonial evidence in favor of the existence of UFO's.
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  3. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    Towards the end, after you cut the chunk of 911 talk, he brings up a point that i found interesting. Now i dont remember exactly your CSI talk, but he says you used the term "debunked".. and the thing is what is debunked is the specific claim that ONLY thermite can explain the microspheres.

    So if CT leaning brains arent really grasping that, it might be important for all of us to try and rememebr to add that wording in. ie dont just say later in the convo "so it is debunked" but to remind everyoen of the claim: "so the claim that ONLY thermite can cause the microspheres is debunked".

    It was a very enjoyable talk! I love listening to polite rational discussions of opposing views. Thanks to Stian for his thoughtfulness, and for humanizing CTers a bit. (although the Manson family had pretty girls and a family vibe too.. so i'm not suggesting to just let fanatic CT thinking slide).
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  4. Agent K

    Agent K Active Member

    Engineers and scientists have worked on many secret projects like the Manhattan Project, the Stargate Project, and AATIP, and they may tell cover stories to protect legitimate state secrets because "loose lips sink ships" and leaking state secrets is a serious crime. But if the project or operation is criminal or very unethical, that increases the likelihood that someone will blow the whistle on it. I doubt that a 9/11 inside job or a cure for cancer would stay secret for long.
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  5. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    There's another hour of this conversation which I'm going to release as soon as I finish editing it. Hopefully by Wednesday.
  6. cloudspotter

    cloudspotter Senior Member

    Just for reference as I had never heard of it before. @16:30 he talks about the Hessdalen lights https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hessdalen_lights

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  7. Gerard

    Gerard Member

    I think that level of secrecy would only apply to the most deeply buried projects, things like unacknowledged black programs on which only a minuscule fraction of the millions of cleared employees work. I used to work for a government contractor and I never heard of anyone being obligated to lie. The obligation was very clear and straightforward: don't reveal classified information.
  8. Gerard

    Gerard Member

    The NDA that is signed by most cleared employees is available on the web (google sf312). I would post the link but I don't see how I could do that without violating this websites link policy since there's no part of the document I could quote that would prove my point, which is that the document makes no mention of any obligation to lie.

    I would be very interested if you could cite any US law or executive order related to classified information that imposes such an obligation.
  9. Agent K

    Agent K Active Member

    Many engineers and scientists work on black projects at Area 51, Skunk Works, Phantom Works, NSA, NRO, etc. Such projects can have cover stories or legends as part of their OPSEC plan, like the Glomar Explorer.
    Last edited: May 14, 2019
  10. Gerard

    Gerard Member

    I have trouble seeing why that sort of thing would be needed for ordinary classified technology projects. What's wrong with "I can't talk about that" when asked what you're working on ?

    I think Glomar Explorer falls more in the category of a covert intelligence operation. I don't doubt that the practices you describe exist in that sphere.
  11. Agent K

    Agent K Active Member

    When the project is unacknowledged, saying "I can't talk about that" sort of acknowledges that it's classified and attracts attention. Even the names can be deceptive: the Glomar Explorer wasn't an explorer, the Manned Orbiting Laboratory wasn't a laboratory, the F-117 fighter wasn't a fighter, the Manhattan Project was far from Manhattan, and Paradise Ranch was no paradise.
  12. Qulaey

    Qulaey New Member

    nice air pods mick
  13. Gerard

    Gerard Member

    Only if someone knows about the project. Suppose you work at Phantom Works and you're assigned to an unacknowledged SAP. You probably can't really hide that you work there and it's well known that many classified projects are done there. Saying you can't talk about your work provides no information that isn't already well known. Even if someone knows the name of the black project and asks you about it you can just say you never heard of it. That's technically a lie but it's not the kind of elaborate falsification that most conspiracy theories require.

    It would be different if there were a black project which was the only reason for some facility to exist. Then I can see where a cover story might be needed. But I think that must be a very rare occurrence in the US today, certainly outside of 3 letter agencies like CIA and NSA and my belief of general truthfulness doesn't extend to those kinds of places. The example I gave was for NASA.
    Last edited: May 15, 2019
  14. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

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  15. Rory

    Rory Senior Member

    Enjoyed that chat: I especially liked the 'standing on a can' explanation - as, it appeared, did Stian.

    I might have added to his question "why don't scientists look into conspiracy theories properly, why do they just dismiss them?" by mentioning that they have jobs, other things to do, possibly families and social lives, and CTs are very time consuming and numerous. It takes a special sort of mind to delve into them. And, as you say, since most people see them as 'ridiculous', there wouldn't be much motivation.

    Also, the answers are all out there already, but maybe aren't accepted.

    Good format, this. Infinitely preferable to the usual YouTube 'debates'. :)
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  16. Leifer

    Leifer Senior Member

    @ Gerard
    .... I get your ideas . generally.
    I would add, that if average people know of "super secret" operations....well then, they are obviously not so secret.
    Often it is to attract online attention, that people claim to know of "super secrets", and usually they have no evidence to disclose their secret sources.....or they are comparing "apple secrets to orange flavors" ?.
    There are certainly cases of "insider info", or people who "leak info"....but there needs to be some credible and substantial irrefutable evidence....to make a case for dispute.
    Last edited: May 21, 2019
  17. Gerard

    Gerard Member

    I'm not sure I quite follow you. Are you saying that all testimonial evidence should be ignored unless it is accompanied by physical evidence ?
  18. Leifer

    Leifer Senior Member

    Certainly, why not?
    Otherwise anybody could claim anything.
    But I wouldn't say it should be "ignored", just investigated.
    Last edited: May 15, 2019
  19. Gerard

    Gerard Member

    So do you follow that principle in your daily life ? Do you ignore all statements everyone makes and require them to provide physical evidence ?

    Even if this is your practice I suspect you are aware that it is not the practice of the legal system where testimonial evidence is accepted in both civil and criminal cases.

    So I find it a bit surprising that you take this stance to be an obvious one.

    EDIT: It appears you've edited your post since my reply. When I replied your post only said "Certainly, why not ?"
    Last edited: May 15, 2019
  20. Leifer

    Leifer Senior Member

    I edited my response before you replied....to be more specific:
    In everyday life, for example...if someone said to me, "certain plants like more iron in the soil to grow better", I'd like to know how or why they came to that conclusion.... (before I add iron to the soil.)
    That was their testimony, and if there was real proof and outcome...I would believe them.
    Last edited: May 21, 2019
  21. Leifer

    Leifer Senior Member

    "Testimony" is only one person's belief expressed to another, based on prior knowledge, usually on or under a promise of oath or other credibility.
    And in court law, testimony is often legitimized or de-legitimized by the ascertainment or collection of facts to support the testimony.
    Last edited: May 15, 2019
  22. Gerard

    Gerard Member

    Often but not necessarily. It's entirely possible and not uncommon for someone to be convicted based on eyewitness testimony alone.
  23. Leifer

    Leifer Senior Member

    ...if the witness testimony is to be believed. based on facts and other circumstances, like "I knew the perpetrator" or if the testimonial recollection is immediately credible.
    This is getting away from the thread topic, but interesting !
  24. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    well as Mick said, if the evidence is contrails being called chemtrails, all scientists need to do is glance at the photo and think "pfft. that's a contrail" or if the claim is "the buildings could not fall down without explosives" they would think "pfft. of course it could".

    The majority of conspiracy theorists make the theories ridiclous by posting such silly, irrational things that make no real world sense (like people of Newtown got their houses for free) or if you do hear something semi rational sounding (no deaths recorded in Newtown), it takes 2 minutes to find the explanation. Then when you do find how obvious the explanation is, you realize these conspiracy theorists are just shining you on. So why waste more time on them.

    I think Conspiracy theorists make too many wild, click bait claims in their headers. and that turns off the general population.
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  25. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Some of them, like David Chandler, are aware of this. Chandler is a 9/11 Truther, but he thinks a plane hit the Pentagon, so he's spent a lot of time trying to prove this to the Pentagon no-planers. Unfortunately, he applies a different perspective to his beliefs on the other side of his personal line of conspiracy demarcation, where he spends lots of time trying to prove that the WTC was demolished with pre-planted explosives, and that "free fall" proves this.
  26. Agent K

    Agent K Active Member

    If the whole project can be kept hidden from the public, it doesn't need a cover story. Otherwise, if it's not entirely hidden, it may need one, like the Glomar Explorer or Project MOGUL that contracted NYU to develop weather balloons without disclosing their top secret purpose, and when it crashed in Roswell, the Army Air Forces initially said it was a "flying disk." Even NASA's space shuttle has shuttled spy satellites into orbit.
    Last edited: May 15, 2019
  27. Agent K

    Agent K Active Member

    Was he asking why scientists aren't willing to believe conspiracy theories themselves, or why they don't debate conspiracy theorists? They don't believe conspiracy theories that they find obviously ridiculous, same reason sane people dismiss theories about shape-shifting lizards. And they don't debate conspiracy theorists because they have better things to do than to dignify ridiculous conspiracy theories with a response.
  28. Marin B

    Marin B Active Member

    Same here. I learned a lot listening to this. Mick's really good at explaining things. I was particularly impressed by the use of spanner and wrench in the same sentence (54:28), so no matter what side of the pond you're from you'll still understand what he's talking about :)
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  29. Manhattan was named so because engineering districts were named for the city that they were based in. For the first year of operation, the Manhattan Engineer District operated out of a building on Broadway, setting up their plans for places like Oak Ridge and Los Alamos. New York was the convergence point of the government (the Army Corps of Engineers Northeastern offices were located in the same building), academic (Columbia University), and principle civil (Stone & Webster) actors involved in the initial formation of the efforts.

    The thing was never really named the Manhattan Project anyhow. In reality, the Manhattan District was tasked with setting up the infrastructure to develop and produce radiological materials, design and develop a weaponized version of said materials, and deliver usable nuclear weapons under the project code named the Development of Substitute Materials Project. There were also other projects, like Project Y, under Manhattan's supervision.

    It is interesting to go back and read early public materials about the atomic bomb project, because you see "DSM Project" and "Manhattan District" more frequently. For instance, the Smyth Report never uses the phrase "Manhattan Project," and freely uses the others. DSM is always referring to the actual weapon development and Manhattan refers to the overall project oversight. Somewhere along the way, the names got blended together and even official documents began using the colloquial Manhattan Project by 1946.