9/11 Scholars Forum

Exposing Falsehoods and Revealing Truths

Can't we Stop Quibbling and Work Together?

Date: Mon, 22 Jun 2009 10:03:58 -0500 [10:03:58 AM CDT]
From: jfetzer@d.umn.edu
To: KenJenkins@aol.com, "Anthony Lawson" , jfetzer@d.umn.edu

Subject: Fwd: Re: On Can't we stop quibbling and Work Together?? :-\
[NOTE: I have made some minor edits to make this easier to follow.]

Anthony and Ken,

Yesterday I was traveling and, with family "Father's Day" activities, have
been out of action. There is quite an imposing set of additional posts, so
I am working backwards to avoid making posts that are already out-dated. I
especially appreciate Ken's observations, which are generally on the mark.

I have appended the other post that appears to be the background for this
one. Ken is certainly correct about (c) and (d). I found Jack's studies
of the engine persuasive and have drawn the inductive inference that it was
planted. Inductive inferences can be mistaken and affected by new evidence.

Relative to (a) through (d), while Ken is right about (c) and (d), (b) needs
further clarification. Truth or falsity is separate from proof or disproof.
An assertion is false if what it asserts to be the case is not the case.
That is another question than whether or not we have supporting evidence.

Here is Anthony's statement about whether or not I knew this to be false:

>(c) Did Dr. Fetzer know it (his assertion) was false? Yes he did, because
>there was no evidence to prove his statement.

That's very odd What are Jack's studies? Potted plants? Anthony's attitude
here is completely ridiculous. The kind of proof is not conclusive, but that
is the nature of inductive reasoning. Anthony is imposing a standard that is
inappropriate and excessive, which I think motivates many of his attacks.

An absence of evidence, incidentally, can be used either way, both of which
are fallacious. Consider, for example, "This must be Mammy's pipe, because no
one has shown that it's not!"; with "This must not be Mammy's pipe, because no
one has shown that it is!" But Anthony is clearly wrong in this instance.

What Anthony means--and he has made many other statements that indicate this--
is that the evidence upon which I have relied does not render my inference to
the planting of the engine "certain" or "conclusive" or "definitive", which is
correct. But those conditions are rarely if ever satisfied in cases like this.

Deduction vs. Induction

Two patterns of reasoning are generally acknowledged by students of logic and
of the nature of knowledge: inductive and deductive. If we assume that the
premises of an argument present the evidence in its support and the conclusion
of an argument the hypothesis or conjecture they are intended to support, then:

(1) deductive arguments are (a) demonstrative, (b) non-ampliative, and (c)
additive, where are argument is "demonstrative" when the truth of its premises
guarantees the truth of its conclusion and "non-ampliative" when there is no
information or content in the conclusion that goes beyond that of the premises.

When we have the premises, "John is a bachelor" and "Bachelors are unmarried,
adult males", we can infer "John is unmarried", "John is an adult", and "John
is male" from those premises. These conclusions merely renders explicit part
or all of the content of the premises. They do not go beyond their content.

Indeed, it is because the content of a (good) deductive argument does not go
beyond the content of its premises that the truth of the premises can provide
a "guarantee" of the truth of the conclusion. Not all arguments presented as
deductive are good ones, however, where those that are are qualified as "valid".

The validity of an argument alone is not sufficient to guarantee the truth of
its conclusion, however, since that also depends upon the truth of the premises.
The conclusion, "John is green", for example, follows from the premises, "All
aliens are green" and "John is an alien", but by itself does not make it true.

The validity or lack of validity of an argument derives from its form, which
means that, for various classes of arguments, every instance of that form will
be valid. Logicians consequently devote themselves to the study of (what is
known as) the logical form or arguments and the sentences used to make them.

(2) inductive arguments are (a') non-demonstrative, (b') ampliative, and (c')
non-additive. Because the content of their conclusions goes beyond that of
their premises, the truth of the conclusion of inductive arguments cannot be
guaranteed by its premises, even when they are true, which they amplfy upon.

Typical examples of inductive arguments are reasoning from the past to the
future, from a sample to a population, or from the observable to the un-ob-
servable. Even the inference from "It looks like a duck", "It walks like a
duck", and "It talks like a duck" to "It's a duck", however, is inductive.

Anthony's Arguments

This is an instructive case in relation to many of Anthony's arguments. He
likes to suggest there are possibilities that would undermine an inference,
such as, in relation to the "impossible speed" argument, that we might be
dealing with a special plane with special engines that can fly that fast.

That's true, but in relation to the "official account", this is supposed to
be a Boeing 767, which cannot fly that fast at the altitudes involved here,
which means that the video has been impeached on that ground as well as, I
maintain, its smooth entry into the building and violation of Newton's laws.

Anthony's argument describes a possibility, but one that appears to be very
remote. To the best of my knowledge, we do not have any good reasons to
believe and, in the context, it appears to be advanced merely as an ad hoc
reply to deflect evidence of video fakery. It is possible but not probable.

When Anthony advances the following argument to impugn my integrity, therefore,

>(c) Did Dr. Fetzer know it (his assertion) was false? Yes he did, because
>there was no evidence to prove his statement.

he commits several blunders: (i) he does not separate truth from proof; (ii)
he discounts the evidence of Jack's studies as evidence; and (iii) he suggests
that an absence of evidence would enable me to "know" my assertion was false.
(iii) commits the mistake of confounding truth, knowledge, and justification.

Church & Murray

There is a difference between "opinions" and "beliefs" and "knowledge", which
is usually defined as beliefs that are true and supported by suitable evidence.
Indeed, since we have no direct access to truth, our judgments are affected by
the evidence available to us and the standards of reasoning that we satisfy.

Anthony not only discounts Jack's studies but he carries his "deductive" (or
certainty) standard of proof even to the frames that Jack has presented:

>I repeat: He may have *thought* he had evidence, but he now knows that
>there is no way that he or Jack White could have *seen* what the FBI were
>doing, so he could not possibly have *known* that they were planting an engine.

But it is no great (inductive) leap to infer (a) that the FBI was unloading
something heavy, (b) that it was at Church & Murray, (c) an engine that does
not even appear to be the right kind was subsequently found there, (d) on the
sidewalk, which was damaged, and (e) under a canopy, which was also undamaged.

A reasonable inference--one that is highly probable, given (a) through (e)--
is that the FBI was unloading the engine, which they were planting at that
intersection, to prop up a phony story about planes hitting the towers. On
that basis, I made the remarks to which Anthony takes such strong exception:

>*"It should not have been necessary to off-load an engine covering at
>Church & Murray. You don't have to fabricate debris from the real crash of
>a real plane!"*

Jack has observed that I am wrong describing it as "an engine covering" (or
cowling), which I grant. Ken suggests that, if I had qualified what I said
as merely " probable", then the situation would not have come across as so
provocative, which I understand. But the inference had several stages:

From (a), (b), (c), (d), and (e), I drew the (inductive) inference that "The
FBI was unloading an engine from the van in order to plant it at Church &
Murray". It is this inference that was "probable", not "You don't have to
fabricate debris from the real crash of a real plane", which is undeniable.

Situation Summary

So Anthony is attacking the presupposed argument from (a) though (e) to the
inference that that is what the FBI was unloading. I agree that this argu-
ment is "probable", "inductive" and "uncertain". But what alternative is
more reasonable? Because if there is none, then it has been established.

I would like to think this is enough to explain why Anthony is mistaken:

>I repeat: He may have *thought* he had evidence, but he now knows that
>there is no way that he or Jack White could have *seen* what the FBI were
>doing, so he could not possibly have *known* that they were planting an
>engine.

Jack established (a) though (e), which was the evidence on the basis of
which I have drawn the (inductive) inference that an engine appears to
have been planted at Church & Murray. This is not rocket science and, in
my opinion, Anthony has been way off-base in making such reckless charges.

Establishing a conclusion on the basis of induction, of course, is not the
same as establishing a conclusion that is certain or beyond any possibility
of doubt. On the contrary, the discovery of new evidence--beyond (a)-(e),
for example--could affect the strength of the evidence of the conclusion.

That is the meaning of "additive" relative to deductive and "non-additive"
relative to inductive arguments. The addition of more evidence in the form
of further premises cannot affect the validity of a deductive argument, but
it can affect the propriety (strength of support) of an inductive argument.

"Evidence", by the way, is anything whose presence or absence (in the case
of physical or photographic things) or whose truth or falsity (in the case
of documentary or testimonial things) makes a difference to (tends to affect
the degree of support for) the hypothesis or conjecture under consideration.

Anthony, of course, is not a professional philosopher, but I tend to agree
with Jack that his arguments, for the most part, are rather strained and do
not reflect ordinary usage. Much of this, however, could have arisen from
his commitment to an excessive standard in discounting inductive evidence.

I should add, however, that the usual way in which we know whether an argu-
ment is supposed to be inductive or deductive is by means of inductive or
deductive argument indicators in language: using words like "plausibly" or
"probably" indicates inductive, "therefore", "certainly", etc., deductive.

So Ken is right on the money in this regard. If any of my arguments need
qualification to indicate that they are intended to be taken as inductive
(probable but uncertain) rather than as deductive (certain and definitive),
when those qualifiers were absent, then that was misleading and my mistake.

I have probably not always been quite as self-conscious in this respect as
I should have been, where more use of "probably", "makes likely", and so on
might have forestalled some of these misunderstandings, if that, indeed, is
their foundation. So I greatly appreciate Ken's reflections on all of this.

A parallel discussion, couched in far more reasonable language, has been
taking place, where evidence (some of which is new to me) is being linked:

*http://s1.zetaboards.com/pumpitout/single/?p=405651&t=1829738*

*http://s1.zetaboards.com/pumpitout/topic/1829738/1/*

This thread is having (what appears to me to be) an objective discussion of
this data point, which I greatly value. If I am wrong, I want to know it.

Let me add that a lot of my posts, like this one, are extensive and (what
some may consider to be overly) detailed, even "professorial". That, alas,
goes with the territory. Having taught logic, critical thinking, and scien-
tific reasoning for 35 years, I have acquired habits that are hard to break.

Jim

Quoting "Anthony Lawson" :

Hello Ken,

There is no way that Dr. Fetzer can know his statement was a proven fact,
particularly after what I have pointed out to him, both recently and about
one month ago, yet he still insists that his statement is correct, in the
face of far more powerful evidence than the shady inside of an (alleged) FBI
van with a couple of FBI operatives messing about with a trolley, and parts
of an aircraft engine lying in the street. I am referring to about seven
videos which show a smoking object, arcing its way down from the South
Tower in the direction of Murray and Church Streets.

I repeat: He may have *thought* he had evidence, but he now knows that
there is no way that he or Jack White could have *seen* what the FBI were
doing, so he could not possibly have *known* that they were planting an
engine.

If he retracts his statement, now, then I will give him the benefit of the
doubt, in retrospect. Here it is, once again:

*"It should not have been necessary to off-load an engine covering at
Church & Murray. You don't have to fabricate debris from the real crash of
a real plane!"*

You may also be interested in a recent post, showing a building which may
have been damaged by the engine, during its fall. This has been posted by a
person who was formerly a very committed no planer; someone who has also
recently retracted his Puffballs-in-the-Wrong-Places theory, which I debunked.

http://s1.zetaboards.com/pumpitout/single/?p=405651&t=1829738

As can be seen from this man's recent e-mails, it is possible to be
genuinely mistaken, but it is also possible to correct one's mistakes, when
other evidence shows that that is what they were. Let's see which path Dr.
Fetzer will choose.

Anthony

2009/6/22

Anthony,

I basically agree with your list of "required qualifications" and your
appraisal/test of points (a) and (b). Where we start to diverge is at (c):

In a message dated 6/21/09 11:13:24 PM, lawson911@gmail.com writes:

(c) Did Dr. Fetzer know it (his assertion) was false? Yes he did, because
there was no evidence to prove his statement.

I believe Fetzer considers that he DOES have evidence. I'm not saying he
does or doesn't, I am only saying HE thinks is does have enough evidence to
make his assertion, and he seems to think that evidence DOES prove his
statement. Thus he is not lying, because he believes what he is saying is
true.

(d) Did Dr. Fetzer intend to mislead his audience. In point of fact, only
Dr. Fetzer is in a position to answer that, and others will have to judge
his honesty.

Yes, I agree, only Fetzer himself is in a position to be sure. We only
have our opinions.

In the absence of any qualification, in which he could have used phrases
like: "It is not beyond the bounds of possibility..." or "although there is
no way of knowing, for certain..." and "the incident could be regarded as
being suspicious, and should be investigated further..." To my way of
thinking, he did not include such modifying phrases because he wanted to
give the impression that the FBI did, indeed, plant the engine. But, of
course, I could be wrong.

I also find it regrettable that Fetzer chooses to not use qualifying
phrases. I think we are certain of little in the case of the engine in the
street pictures, so qualifying phrases are appropriate.

In any event, even to those not involved in this discussion, there is
absolutely no indication, in the quoted paragraph, that this is merely
conjecture, and the exclamation mark, at its end, adds an emphasis which is
quite unwarranted.

Yes, this is really all conjecture at this point.

I can think of dozens of ways of phrasing such a statement, to make it
clear that I was only suggesting the possibility that the FBI might have
planted the engine. But Dr. Fetzer chose not to do that. Therefore he was
knowingly presenting conjecture as fact

I agree he is presenting conjecture as fact. But if he believes that his
conjecture is proven as fact, then he is not lying. He may be right or
wrong, but he is not lying, because he believes what he is saying is true.
Right Jim?

Ken
Date: Mon, 22 Jun 2009 13:13:09 +0700 [01:13:09 AM CDT]
From: "Anthony Lawson"
To: KenJenkins@aol.com
Cc: jfetzer@d.umn.edu, jwjfk@flash.net, denzen@umich.edu, RunyanWilde@aol.com,
Zn365@aol.com, oldickeastman@q.com, politicstahl@hotmail.com, politicaldavid@charter.net,
9-11-NeXuS@yahoogroups.com
Subject: Re: On Can't we stop quibbling and Work Together?? :-\

Hello Ken,

What you have written can only be applied if such a statement carries the required
qualifications.

Dr. Fetzer, having, apparently, interpreted the findings of Jack White as evidence that
the FBI had planted an engine at the junction of Murray and Church Streets, then wrote an
unqualified statement which he must have know to be false, and which he must have known
would mislead his audience, because he had no proof that what he wrote had any substance.

"It should not have been necessary to off-load an engine covering at Church & Murray.
You don't have to fabricate debris from the real crash of a real plane!"


The criteria which Dr. Fetzer has stated were:

someone is lying only
if (a) they are making an assertion (b) that is false where
(c) they know it is false and (d) they are doing so with the
intention of misleading their audience.

So let's test Dr. Fetzer's statement.

(a) Was Dr. Fetzer making an assertion? Yes, he was. The assertion that: it should not
have been necessary for an engine to be off-loaded at Church & Murray. Inherent in that
assertion is the undeniable implication that this is what actually happened.

(b) was the assertion false? Yes, it was, because Dr. Fetzer had no way of knowing what
the FBI were actually doing, or whether it had anything to do with unloading an aircraft
engine. All he had to go on were some photo montages showing the three major elements
which led to his assumption: Pictures of some men in what could be FBI uniforms; a
picture of a van which was alleged by Jack White to have been an FBI van (I can't see the
logo) and pictures of some engine parts.

(c) Did Dr. Fetzer know it (his assertion) was false? Yes he did, because there was no
evidence to prove his statement.

Here, we have to look at how high Dr. Fetzer regards his mission, and take a look at his
stated standards. His web site's subheading reads: Exposing Falsehoods and Revealing
Truths. He is, therefore, not some casual observer who asks inane questions on YouTube
comments pages; he sets himself up as someone who knows that spreading falsehoods is bad,
and that revealing the truth is a good thing to do. He must, therefore, accept that what
he writes about such things should, at the very least: be accurate.

(d) Did Dr. Fetzer intend to mislead his audience. In point of fact, only Dr. Fetzer is
in a position to answer that, and others will have to judge his honesty. In the absence
of any qualification, in which he could have used phrases like: "It is not beyond the
bounds of possibility..." or "although there is no way of knowing, for certain..." and
"the incident could be regarded as being suspicious, and should be investigated
further..." To my way of thinking, he did not include such modifying phrases because he
wanted to give the impression that the FBI did, indeed, plant the engine. But, of
course, I could be wrong.

In any event, even to those not involved in this discussion, there is absolutely no
indication, in the quoted paragraph, that this is merely conjecture, and the exclamation
mark, at its end, adds an emphasis which is quite unwarranted.

I can think of dozens of ways of phrasing such a statement, to make it clear that I was
only suggesting the possibility that the FBI might have planted the engine. But Dr.
Fetzer chose not to do that. Therefore he was knowingly presenting conjecture as fact,
and that is the same thing as attempting to add something to the folklore of the 9/11
issues, knowing that it is not true.

We've got to stop pussyfooting around with Dr. Fetzer, his students and his advisers.
They are doing this kind of thing all the time. It is dishonest and it is not helping
the 9/11 truth movement one bit.

Anthony

2009/6/22

Jim and All,

In a message dated 6/21/09 6:52:12 AM, jfetzer@d.umn.edu writes:

someone is lying only
if (a) they are making an assertion (b) that is false where
(c) they know it is false and (d) they are doing so with the
intention of misleading their audience.

I am glad you spelled this out Jim. I hope everyone take careful note - this is
important.

I think it is fair to say we are all seekng the truth, and to do so, rational and
dispassionate dialog and debate is helpful. But false accusations of lying can get in
the way, as it is personal and insulting. It would be in all our best interests to drop
this bad habit from now on.

This applies to Jim, as he stated:

Both Jack White and
I believe what we are saying. We are making assertions that
we do not know for certain are true but believe to be true
on the basis of inductive evidence. We have no intent to
mislead our audience

So this implies that Jim is not a liar. I believe him.

Ken

PS, would someone post this to 9-11-NeXuS@yahoogroups.com for me please? I am not a
member. Thanks.

K

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Comment by Rosalee Grable on June 22, 2009 at 11:09am
"working with" this collection of defense industry shills would be counterproductive.

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