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Noam Chomsky

Several weeks ago, after giving a talk at the University of Florida, Noam Chomsky was confronted by a ‘9/11 Truther’ during the Q&A period. The questioner asked Chomsky what he thought about the evidence that 9/11 was the product of a government conspiracy. He specifically noted the large groups of people (in particular a society of ‘Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth’) that believe World Trade Center Building 7 was demolished in a controlled explosion.

I’ve transcribed Chomsky’s reply below.

NC: Well, in fact you’re right that there’s a consensus among a minuscule number of architects and engineers – a tiny number – and a couple of them are perfectly serious. But they’re not doing what scientists and engineers do when they think they’ve discovered something.

What you do, when you think you’ve discovered something, is write articles in scientific journals, give talks at the professional societies, go to the civil engineering department at M.I.T. or Florida or wherever you are, and present your results. And then proceed to try to convince the national academies, the professional societies of physicists and civil engineers, the departments in the major universities – and convince them that you’ve discovered something.

Now there happen to be a lot of people are around who’ve spent an hour on the internet and think they know a lot of physics – but it does not work like that, and it never has.

There are reasons why there are graduate schools in these departments. So the thing to do is pretty straightforward: do what scientists and engineers do when they think they’ve made a discovery.

Now when the ‘9/11 Truth’ movement is brought up in talks I give, there are always one or two minor articles cited. Like there’s one article that appeared in an online journal, in which someone claims to have found traces of nano-thermite in Building 7. Now, I don’t know what that means. You don’t know what that means. But if it means anything, bring it to the attention of the scientific community.

So, yes, there’s a small group of people who believe this, and there’s a straightforward way to proceed… 

World Trade Center 7

However there’s a much deeper issue, which has been brought up repeatedly, and I have yet to hear a response to it.

Whatever one thinks of Building 7, and frankly I have no opinion: I don’t know as much about science and engineering as the people who believe they have an answer to this. So I am willing to let the professional societies determine it if they get the information.

There’s just overwhelming evidence that the Bush administration wasn’t involved. Very elementary evidence; you don’t have to be a physicist to understand it. You just have to think for a minute. So let’s think for a minute.

There are a couple of facts which are uncontroversial. One fact that is uncontroversial is that the Bush administration desperately wanted to invade Iraq – that’s a longstanding goal, there’s good reasons for it. It has some of the largest energy resources in the world, right in the middle of the world’s energy producing region.

So they wanted to invade Iraq.

Second uncontroversial fact: they didn’t blame 9/11 on Iraqis. They blamed it on Saudis mainly. And that’s our major ally. So they blamed it on people from a country which is a major ally, not on the country that they wanted to invade.

Third uncontroversial fact: unless they were total lunatics, they would have blamed it on Iraqis. That would have given them open season for an invasion of Iraq. Total international support. A UN resolution. No need to concoct wild stories about WMD’s or contacts between Saddam and Al-Qaeda, which of course quickly exploded, discrediting them…

The conclusion is pretty straightforward. Either they are total lunatics, or they weren’t involved. And they’re not total lunatics. So whatever you think about building 7, there are other considerations to be concerned with.

September 11th


Noam Chomsky, speaking at the University of Florida on October 18, 2013.

Two footnotes:

1. Chomsky underestimates the sustained popularity of 9/11 conspiracy theories. Numerous surveys show that skepticism towards the official story is prevalent around the world. A 2008 poll by the Program on International Policy Attitudes found that only 9 of the 17 countries studied featured majorities that held al-Qaeda responsible for the attacks. In the U.S., some 15% of people believe allegations of a controlled demolition to be credible.

2. In vehemently expressing skepticism about the official story, or in directly charging the United States government for the attacks, you are also vindicating the criminals who hijacked those aircrafts and killed thousands. The allegation of a conspiracy is not merely an intellectual position, it is a moral one. Watch Chomsky below.