Sunday, October 08, 2006

Chomsky on 9/11 conspiracy theories

Here's Chomsky making the best succinct statement I have heard yet against the proliferation of 9/11 conspiracy theories, in a Znet sustainer forum.:

ZNet Sustianer: Dear Noam, There is much documentation observed and uncovered by the 911 families themselves suggesting a criminal conspiracy within the Bush Administration to cover-up the 9/11 attacks (see DVD, 9/11: Press for Truth). Additionally, much evidence has been put forward to question the official version of events. This has come in part from Paul Thompson, an activist who has creatively established the 9/11 Timeline, a free 9/11 investigative database for activist researchers, which now, according to The Village Voice’s James Ridgeway, rivals the 9/11 Commission’s report in accuracy and lucidity (see,,mondo1,52830,6.html, or

Noam Chomsky: Hard for me to respond to the rest of the letter, because I am not persuaded by the assumption that much documentation and other evidence has been uncovered. To determine that, we'd have to investigate the alleged evidence. Take, say, the physical evidence. There are ways to assess that: submit it to specialists -- of whom there are thousands -- who have the requisite background in civil-mechanical engineering, materials science, building construction, etc., for review and analysis; and one cannot gain the required knowledge by surfing the internet. In fact, that's been done, by the professional association of civil engineers. Or, take the course pursued by anyone who thinks they have made a genuine discovery: submit it to a serious journal for peer review and publication. To my knowledge, there isn't a single submission.

ZNet Sustianer: A question that arises for me is that regardless of this issue, how do I as an activist prevent myself from getting distracted by such things as conspiracy theories instead of focusing on the bigger picture of the institutional analysis of private profit over people?

Noam Chomsky: I think this reaches the heart of the matter. One of the major consequences of the 9/11 movement has been to draw enormous amounts of energy and effort away from activism directed to real and ongoing crimes of state, and their institutional background, crimes that are far more serious than blowing up the WTC would be, if there were any credibility to that thesis. That is, I suspect, why the 9/11 movement is treated far more tolerantly by centers of power than is the norm for serious critical and activist work. How do you personally set priorities? That's of course up to you. I've explained my priorities often, in print as well as elsewhere, but we have to make our own judgments.