Monday, November 29, 2010
Thursday, November 04, 2010
I have heard that Bill Maher is a member of the advisory board for Project Reason. Project Reason is the name of a foundation that seeks to promote scientific knowledge and secular values within society.
I find Bill's possible relationship with Project Reason to be rather startling, and, as a result, I worry for the welfare of Project Reason with people like Bill Maher advising it. There are a number of reasons for my concern on behalf of Project Reason.
For instance, I wonder how anyone who believes that planes and fires brought down the Twin Towers on 9/11 – as Bill has claimed publically on his own show, Real Time -- can maintain (with a straight face) that he is interested in promoting scientific knowledge. After all, a statement like the foregoing one that pretends to explain how the Twin Towers were destroyed is completely devoid of real scientific knowledge and, moreover, it gives expression to a conclusion that is based on something other than scientific methodology.
Neither FEMA nor NIST had a plausible, scientific explanation for how the three towers at the World Trade Center were destroyed. In fact, NIST only actually offers an unproven hypothesis/model for what it believes to have been the initiating events that may have led to the progressive global collapse of the three buildings at the World Trade Center, and even that hypothesis/model is not rationally or scientifically defensible.
Moreover, the American Society of Civil Engineers had no plausible, scientific explanation for what caused the destruction at the Pentagon but merely worked on the unproven assumption that the damage to the building was caused by American Airlines 77. The foregoing ASCE assumption was blown out of the water when a group of military and commercial pilots demonstrated that the Flight Data Recorder (i.e., Black Box) information presented by the National Transportation Safety Board depicts the flight path of an aircraft (allegedly Flight 77) that could not possibly have hit the Pentagon as claimed.
Apparently, Bill's hypothesis that the three towers in New York were brought down by crashing planes and burning fires is nothing more than either: (1) an example of folk science at its worst (the intuitively appealing but false belief that crashing planes and fires could destroy steel-framed buildings in a matter of hours); or, (2) a critically undigested regurgitation of the sort of junk-science published by NIST in its various reports concerning the three World Trade Buildings. Either way, Bill Maher has no idea what he is talking about … either with respect to 9/11 or with respect to the nature of scientific knowledge or how such knowledge is generated.
In 2002, Bill Maher made statements on his -- since cancelled – show, ‘Politically Incorrect’, that the 9/11 hijackers showed courage in what they did. From time to time during those days he also indicated a certain amount of grudging admiration with respect to the way in which the 9/11 hijackers were able to defeat the military might and technology of the United States with just box-cutters.
In another words, from a very early period of time relative to 9/11, Bill Maher had formed a conclusion about: what happened on 9/11; who did it, and how they did it. Unfortunately, none of what Bill believes about 9/11 can be backed up with verifiable evidence, and there is a wealth of resources that can be assembled in support of the foregoing contention.
In more than nine years, Bill hasn’t changed his opinion about the nature of 9/11, despite the fact that a great deal of evidence has been established since that time to indicate how completely wrong his ideas concerning 9/11 are. Such intransigence toward changing one’s understanding – or lack thereof -- in the face of overwhelming evidence is not part of the process through which scientific knowledge is acquired … in fact, what Bill Maher is doing in this respect in relation to 9/11 is in complete opposition to the process of science.
Bill has been extremely careless, and mentally undisciplined in how he has approached 9/11 issues. Contrary to the principles espoused through Project Reason, Bill has not used much: reason, common sense, critical thinking, or scientific method in arriving at his position vis-à-vis 9/11.
Furthermore, this same kind of mental sloppiness has manifested itself in other ways. For instance, recently, on his show “Real Time” Bill Maher indicated alarm that the most popular name in Britain this year was Muhammad. He then went on to say: “Am I a racist for being alarmed at that? Because I am, and it is not because of the race, it is because of the religion. I do not have to apologize, do I, for not wanting the western world to be taken over by Islam in 300 years?”
In a follow-up interview on CNN with Wolf Blitzer, Bill said: “I don’t feel that I have to apologize for being a proud Westerner, and when I say a Westerner, I mean someone who believes in the values that western people believe in and that a lot of the Muslim world does not … like separation of church and state, like equality of the sexes, like respect for minorities, free elections, free speech, freedom to gather. These things are not just different from cultures that don’t have them … It is better. I am not saying that every Muslim society subscribes to all of these … but a lot more than western democracies do. And, I would like to keep those values here, and if Muslim people are in these societies having babies at a rate of … I don’t know … six or eight times what the other people are having … you know, you can project ahead and say that in two or three hundred years … you know if Muhammad is the most popular name now … I don’t want England to lose those values that, of course, became our values here in America.”
Evidently, the sorts of values that Bill would like to promote (in relation to Project Reason and his show) involve considerable ignorance and arrogance. While I would agree with Bill that all too many Muslims subscribe to a set of values that are antithetical to democracy and/or a search for truth, the reason why such Muslims believe as they do, is because they have fallen prey to the same set of undue influences as Bill Maher has in relation to 9/11.
For example, just as Bill Maher seems to have failed to rigorously and critically investigate the many facets of 9/11 for himself and, instead, has relied on the words and ideas of others for his opinions concerning 9/11, so too, many Muslims have failed to rigorously and critically investigate the many facets of Islam (including the Qur’an) for themselves and, instead, have relied on the words and ideas of others for their opinions concerning Islam. Furthermore, Bill has displayed the same lack of investigatory diligence when it comes to making the necessary effort to discover the actual nature of Islam since he has permitted his ideas in this regard to be manufactured and constructed for him by others who, themselves, have failed to grasp the actual character of Islam.
Islam is not a religion. It is a methodology.
Shari’ah is not a legal system. Shari’ah refers to a path or process through which to seek knowledge about the ontological principles that govern life, reality, and human potential.
Islam is an individual pursuit. It is not a collective pursuit.
All the western values that Bill holds dear are consistent with Islam … at least Islam as it is in reality and not as it has been construed by all too many Muslims. Furthermore, those values were in place more than a thousand years before the Enlightenment so much admired by Bill, and those Islamic values already existed during a period when the Western world was still mired deep in ways of doing things that were quite contrary to the sorts of freedoms that Bill Maher champions.
Unfortunately, all of the principles that Bill advocates are values that have been decimated, shredded, and destroyed by the myth concerning 9/11 to which he adheres and which has been imposed on America. Just as the mythology surrounding the official conspiracy theory concerning 9/11 has had a destructive impact upon basic democratic values, so too, values inherent in Islam have been decimated, shredded and destroyed by the myths about Islam that have been perpetrated by all too Muslim theologians, mullahs, muftis, or qadis and, then, oppressively imposed on Muslims.
Although I do understand that Bill is not an atheist or agnostic and his position vis-à-vis religion is more one of being against the theocratic and religious bureaucrats who have sought to arbitrarily dictate what constitutes the truth in matters that are way above their pay-grade -- and I agree with him on this -- nonetheless, like Sam Harris, Bill won’t permit Islam to be anything other than what he and misguided Muslims want to insist that Islam must be … just as Bill won’t permit 9/11 to be anything other that what he and other misguided individuals insist that 9/11 must be. In a sense Bill wants to do to Islam exactly what he criticizes religious autocrats for doing – namely, he wants to reduce Islam down to his arbitrarily constructed sense of things.
One ought not to accept Bill Maher’s version of 9/11 as a scientific gospel, anymore than Bill Maher should accept the actions and sayings of ignorant Muslim theologians or Muslim leaders or a majority of Muslims in some locality as tantamount to being equivalent to an Islamic gospel. In both cases one will be led far from the truth.
For someone who is very intelligent, savvy, insightful, and funny about so many things, it is rather disconcerting to note what a complete fool Bill seems to be when it comes to understanding the actual nature of either: 9/11 or Islam. Like so many others, he has allowed himself to be duped on both issues.
He has permitted his understanding of Islam to be shaped and colored by all too many Muslims who, themselves, are ignorant about the actual nature of Islam. Moreover, he has permitted his understanding of 9/11 to be shaped and colored by all too many people (within the media, in academia, and among the purveyors of junk science) who, themselves, are ignorant – or pretend that they are -- about the actual nature of 9/11.
Therefore, in honor of the portion of the ‘Real Time, with Bill Maher’ show known as “New Rules”, the following recommendations are offered with a sense of hopeful skepticism that Bill may change his mind about 9/11 and, in so doing, demonstrate that he offers something more to Project Reason than just a name.
New Rules Segment
New Rules for Bill Maher – before advising someone about scientific knowledge, he should understand the nature of that which he is proposing to advise others about.
New Rules for Bill Maher – he needs to learn how to go about collecting evidence, analyzing that evidence, and drawing appropriate conclusions that are consistent with such evidence in relation to 9/11 … this is, after all, the actual nature of science, and this is not all what he has done with respect to either 9/11 or Islam.
New Rules for Bill Maher – he should take the time to read the NIST reports, The Pentagon Performance Report, The 9/11 Commission Report, as well as the FEMA report about 9/11, and, then, read a variety of critiques of those reports, and, then, actually, do some independent thinking of his own concerning the whole matter.
New Rules for Bill Maher – he should stop talking about things he doesn’t understand with respect to 9/11 … things like the idea that crashing planes and ensuing fires are all one needs to know to understand what happened to three buildings at the World Trade Center and to the Pentagon on 9/11.
New Rules for Bill Maher – he should develop a little humility with respect to his substantial lack of knowledge concerning the facts of 9/11.
New Rules for Bill Maher – he should start referring to himself as a conspiracy theorist since he supports the government’s official conspiracy theory.
New Rules for Bill Maher – he should devote an entire show (preferably several since his ignorance really is that extensive with respect to 9/11) ridiculing his own lack of knowledge with respect to this conspiracy theory on 9/11 … and if he is not prepared to make fun of himself on this issue, then, he is really being a hypocrite when he points out the foibles of others who, like him, are often only acting out of ignorance – factual, moral, and/or spiritual.
New Rules for Bill Maher – he should stop serving as a source of propaganda for false information concerning 9/11.
New Rules for Bill Maher – he should do a show with Dr. Judy Wood and any shill of his choice representing the government’s conspiracy theory for 9/11 – other than himself that is … Judy is more than sufficiently capable and knowledgeable to deal with the disparity in numbers (after all, with respect to Bill's dynamic duo side of the discussion, two times zero knowledge is still zero).
New Rules for Bill Maher – rather than have people thrown out of his audience for saying things about 9/11 and, thereby, disrupting Bill’s quest for control, he should consider the possibility that there might have been people in the audience who knew more about 9/11 than he did and, as a result, democracy and the truth might have been better served if he brought them up on stage and talked to them rather than censoring them … after all, Bill says he believes in free speech and freedom of assembly … so, why doesn’t he reduce the disparity between the values he claims to cherish and the nature of his behaviors.
New Rules for Bill Maher – when he jokes about any, and all, of the mistakes that are being made with respect to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, perhaps he should try to remember his personal role in helping to perpetuate those conflicts through the manner in which he has promoted his ignorance concerning many facets of 9/11 that have helped to create a climate of ridicule toward anyone who questions the official conspiracy theory – Bill’s conspiracy theory -- in relation to the events of 9/11 … the conspiracy theory that, with Bill's help, brought about the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people through the obvious superiority of Western values.
In summary, Bill’s ramblings concerning 9/11 and Islam entail the kind of thinking about which no one in the West should be proud. In addition, while I agree with Bill that I wouldn’t want misguided Muslims over-running things in 300 years, I also wouldn’t want misguided people like Bill Maher over-running things in 300 years either … in fact, I find it deeply disquieting that such anti-rational and anti-scientific 9/11 conspiracy Islamophobes like Bill are in positions of influence today.