David Ray Griffin
The book 9/11 Unmasked, which I wrote together with Elizabeth Woodworth, has received several excellent reviews. But the most remarkable of these was written by Philip Roddis, who in 2016 had written with vitriol (his term) about the idea that 9/11 was an “inside job.” He wrote: “9/11 Truthism is not only seriously crackers but reactionary too.” What is remarkable about Roddis’ 2018 review is the extent to which he reversed his previous position.
Roddis’ reversal began after seeing responses to his 2016 piece. Most of the responses simply confirmed Roddis’ long-held “contempt” for 9/11 truthers. He had felt this contempt – he recently realized – because he had been “exposed only to lazy, simplistic and epistemologically naive truthers.” Put otherwise, Roddis admitted that his “exposure to truthism had come from armchair conspiracists too idle or brain fogged to put together a decent argument.” Given his long-held certainty that the truthers could not be taken seriously, he had felt no need to “engage with evidential flaws in the official account.” So sure had I been of the logic of my case,” Roddis admitted, I’d seen little or no need to address the empirical underpinnings of [the truthers.]
Contempt for truthers had been expressed by many other critics. For example, British political writer George Monbiot said that the 9/11 truth movement consists of morons and “idiots” who believe in “magic.” Calling me the 9/11 movement’s “high priest,” Monbiot described my 9/11 writing as a “concatenation of ill-attested nonsense.”
Likewise, in an essay entitled “The 9/11 Conspiracy Nuts,” Alexander Cockburn used me to illustrate the “idiocy of the conspiracy nuts.” In a follow-up essay, Cockburn wrote: “The main engine of the 9/11 conspiracy cult is nothing [but] the death of any conception of evidence.” Because of their failure to understand the idea of evidence, truthers illustrate the “ascendancy of magic over common sense, let alone reason.”
Matthew Rothschild, the editor of the Progressive, was equally dismissive in an essay entitled “Enough of the 9/11 Conspiracy Theories, Already.” Referring to me as the “guru of the 9/11 conspiracy movement,” Rothschild wrote:
Not every riddle that Griffin and other conspiracists pose has a ready answer. But almost all of their major assertions are baseless…At bottom, the 9/11 conspiracy theories are profoundly irrational and unscientific.
Whereas critics such as Monbiot and Cockburn have treated all critics of the official account of 9/11 as equally nutty and idiotic, Roddis noticed a distinction with regard to the truthers who criticized his vitriolic article. Although many of them could be easily dismissed, there were also “voices of reason from dudes who’d done their homework and whose tones were sober.”
This distinction was implicit in a Michael Moore quip:
Now, I’m not into conspiracy theories, except the ones that are true.”
In any case, having become aware that there may be such a distinction, Roddis “promised to re-assess the truther case and return either to concede and apologize or reaffirm my views with better arguments.”
Roddis’ evaluation of 9/11 Unmasked is here summarized in terms of seven issues he discussed.
1. One of the basic questions addressed by Roddis is whether 9/11 Unmasked, “by its detailed evidence and reasoning,” crossed “the threshold for being taken seriously?” Roddis replied: “I say it does.”
2. With regard to the attempt to discover the truth about 9/11, Roddis said: “One irreducible and most essential task is to expose the manifest inadequacy of the official narrative.” Except for a few minor problems, said Roddis, Griffin and Woodworth “have acquitted themselves admirably on that front. So admirably that I’ve been forced,” Roddis added, “to reexamine the logic of my own assumptions.”
3. His previous contempt for 9/11 truthers, Roddis admitted, had led him to assume that he “needn’t engage with evidential flaws in the official account.” This is crucial: A few people have, almost from the beginning, been pointing out problems in the official account. But no matter how convincingly such critiques have shown that the official account could not possibly be true, most people have simply chosen not to study these critiques, at least with an even 30% open mind, because of the contempt for “truthers” they had been taught to have.
4. Besides criticizing his previous position, Roddis also rejected another way of refusing to deal with flaws in the official account of 9/11 – a way that will likely continue to give people permission to ignore the evidence provided by the 9/11 Truth Movement:
eminent psychologists who’ve never – as I’d never – deigned to engage with evidential details will continue to publish acclaimed drivel on the pathology and pitiable delusions of all conspiracy theorists, citing all 9/11 truthers as textbook examples.
5. The Griffin-Woodworth book is built around the “best evidence” against claims made by the official account of 9/11. No reply to the book’s 51 chapters of best evidence could possibly be satisfactory apart from an extensive examination of the evidence. Discussing what would be needed to respond to “the gauntlet Griffin and Woodworth have thrown down,” Roddis gave this answer:
an inquiry quite unprecedented – a truly independent panel with no-holds access to all materials and witnesses, and immune from intimidation by pretty much the most powerful interests on earth.
6. The official account of the World Trade Center (the Twin Towers and WTC 7) was provided by NIST – the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Expressing his strongest endorsement of 9/11 Unmasked, Roddis wrote: “this is as strong a prima facie case for throwing out NIST, and its predecessors, as ever confronted an official cover up.”
7. Roddis concluded his review by saying: “I’ll close – with this recommendation for all who deem, as I had, the 9/11 truther case too daft for serious consideration. Buy this book.”
Between 2016 and 2018, Philip Roddis underwent a remarkable transformation. Beginning with the conviction that 9/11 Truthism is “seriously crackers,” he ended up thinking that the book 9/11 Unmasked must be taken seriously and also that it provides a strong “prima facie case for throwing out NIST.”
This kind of reversal is one of the things that my co-author and I hoped would be produced by our book. We had long known that the evidence against the official account of 9/11 is convincing. For people to be actually convinced, they need only to be willing to examine the evidence. Roddis’ response to our book suggests that this is the case, even with people who had been hostile to the 9/11 Truth Movement.