Sunday, June 19, 2005

Ruppert's Approach II

Both Ruppert and his opponent Victor Thorn use a judicial model to "argue the 9/11 case." It is natural to think of what that requires in terms of trying to convince an audience of a proposition. Showing something to a person one-on-one is one thing, and showing it to twelve persons in the same room with you is not very different. But showing something to the population of the USA is not necessarily the same.

Instead of dealing with a person, where techniques of persuasion and argumentation are known to us from antiquity, dealing with a mass of people of a size unthinkable to the Greeks and Romans may well require very different methods.

On the Coast to Coast AM radio broadcast of June 16, 2005 (available to be listened to anytime at for the price of subscribing) Mike Levine said that his boxing instructor advised him (presumably a while back) to "open a cut," then work on it. Levine applied the advice to 9/11 activism. George Noory thought he was correct. I do too, at least in part.

"Opening a cut" in our context means finding something unexplained and incontrovertible, which can be described or pointed out briefly, and empasizing that it must be followed up, it must be answered, it must be explained. This thin end of the wedge relies upon the traditional and familiar techniques of rhetoric and logic---the techniques suited to interpersonal, face-to-face persuasion. We are forced to start small because the mass audience, and the media which address them, will not sit still long enough to consider everything pertinent.

"Justification is holistic. Support for a conclusion comes not from a single line of argument but from a host of considerations of varying degrees of strength and relevance. Indirect evidence and weak arguments, which alone would bear little weight, may be interwoven into a fabric that strongly supports a conclusion. Each element derives warrant from its place in the whole," says Catherine Z. Elgin (Considered Judgment, Princeton University Press (1996) p. 13); and everyone knows that she is right. But a host of considerations is invisible to an audience which will only consider one at a time. That audience must first be persuaded that it is a reasonable thing to devote time and attention to.

When this cut has been opened a different model than the judicial one will become appropriate. Because journalists tend to confine their reading to journalism, the media will then constitute a phase space in which that cut will become an attractor, creating its own basin of attraction. When this happens, then activists can supply the media in plenty with facts they themselves have provided and failed to connect. It will become a matter of quantity instead of quality, as in the first phase.

Priestly pedophilia was not that long ago something inconceivable (at least to the media). When once the cut was made, or the story broke, things changed rapidly.

Many activists think that in order to talk to others about 9/11 there must be no mistakes in what they say. If it turns out that indeed it was Flight 77 that hit the Pentagon, and they have espoused the no-plane theory, then they have hurt the cause. This is thinking in the traditional, one-to-one setting. Activists do not have to be 100% right about everything. It is enough if we are right about just one thing, if that one thing is enough to open a cut. Perhaps Flight 77 did hit the Pentagon. I don't know for sure, but I do know that Hani Hanjour didn't pilot it, because "he could not fly at all." So I was misinformed. Why? And how did it become a matter of no interest?


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