Popular Mechanics Editor Takes on 9/11 Conspiracy Theories in NY Post Op-Ed

Following up his performance on “Democracy Now” as reported by NewsBusters, James Meigs, the Editor-in-Chief of Popular Mechanics, penned a great op-ed that was published in Tuesday’s New York Post (hat tip to American Thinker). Meigs comically began (emphasis mine):

ON Feb. 7, 2005, I became a member of the Bush/Halliburton/Zionist/CIA/New World Order/Illuminati conspiracy for world domination. That day, Popular Mechanics, the magazine I edit, hit newsstands with a story debunking 9/11 conspiracy theories. Within hours, the online community of 9/11 conspiracy buffs - which calls itself the "9/11 Truth Movement" - was aflame with wild fantasies about me, my staff and the article we had published. Conspiracy Web sites labeled Popular Mechanics a "CIA front organization" and compared us to Nazis and war criminals.

Makes one wonder what these folks think about Tim “The Toolman” Taylor! After discussing the various conspiracy theorists, including but not limited to the folks at “Loose Change,” Meigs continued (emphasis mine):

Popular Mechanics has been fact-checking such claims since late 2004, and recently published a book on the topic. We've pored over transcripts, flight logs and blueprints, and interviewed more than 300 sources - including engineers, aviation experts, military officials, eyewitnesses and members of investigative teams.

In every single case, we found that the very facts used by conspiracy theorists to support their fantasies are mistaken, misunderstood or deliberately falsified.

Meigs then offered the reader some examples (emphasis mine):

Meyssan and hundreds of Web sites cite an eyewitness who said the craft that hit the Pentagon looked "like a cruise missile with wings." Here's what that witness, a Washington, D.C., broadcaster named Mike Walter, actually told CNN: "I looked out my window and I saw this plane, this jet, an American Airlines jet, coming. And I thought, 'This doesn't add up. It's really low.' And I saw it. I mean, it was like a cruise missile with wings. It went right there and slammed right into the Pentagon."

We talked to Walter and, like so many of the experts and witnesses widely quoted by conspiracy theorists, he told us he is heartsick to see the way his words have been twisted: "I struggle with the fact that my comments will forever be taken out of context."

Apparently, those that take them out of context, Walter, don’t so struggle. Meigs offered another example:

An article in the American Free Press claims that a seismograph at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory picked up signals indicating that large bombs were detonated in the towers. The article quotes Columbia geologist Won-Young Kim and certainly looks authoritative. Yet the truth on this issue is not hard to find. A published Lamont-Doherty report on the seismic record of 9/11 says no such thing. Kim told Popular Mechanics that the publication's interpretation of his research was "categorically incorrect." Yet the claim is repeated verbatim on more than 50 Web sites as well as in the film "Loose Change."

Color me unsurprised. Meigs appropriately concluded (emphasis mine):

Every 9/11 conspiracy theory we investigated was based on similarly shoddy evidence. Most of these falsehoods are easy to refute simply by checking the original source material or talking to experts in the relevant fields. And yet even the flimsiest claims are repeated constantly in conspiracy circles, passed from Web site to book to Web site in an endless daisy chain. And any witness, expert - or publication - that tries to set the record straight is immediately vilified as being part of the conspiracy.

The American public has every right to ask hard questions about 9/11. And informed skepticism about government and media can be healthy. But skepticism needs to be based on facts, not fallacies. Unfortunately, for all too many, conspiratorial fantasies offer a seductive alternative to grappling with the hard realitiesof a post-9/11 world.

Words of wisdom, James. Words of wisdom.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.