Thursday, May 24, 2007

A Final (hopefully) Example to Round Things Out

A Final (hopefully) Example to Round Things Out

Here's a final example of the Presuppositional Blindness and its Impact on Epistemology, for the gentle reader (from the same thread of comments:

The commenter writes:
Yes, I misquoted. Nothing rides on this, though. Besides, Silverstein gives the impression that he was involved in the decision. “Maybe the smartest thing to do is pull it.”

What should the critical reader see? Accuracy is not that important to this commenter. If the commenter gets an impression - that's enough.

The commenter continues:
This is the scenario you weave. Silverstein gets a call from the chief who wants to consult with him about the situation. (This implies that Silverstein was no on hand.) The chief and Silverstein presumably come the conclusion that the building is going to collapse. Silverstein then advises the chief to pull out all of the firemen from the general area. The building then falls down.

Note the unnecessary pejorative "weave." Nevertheless, the general storyline rings true, and we can verify that Silverstein was not downtown at the time of the crisis.

The commenter continues:

1) How did they know the building was going to collapse? Oh, yes. Everybody could just tell. But then why does the NIST report:
“The global collapse occurred with few external signs and is postulated to have occurred with the failure of core columns.”
Let me save you some time and reply for you. “The NIST said the global collapse occurred with few external signs. But they were not expecting a global collapse; they were expecting a local one.”

Note how the commenter is not willing to wait for a response. The question was not serious. It was not an inquiry to obtain information. It was a rhetorical device. Furthermore, the commenter does not understand the NIST report. The NIST report is stating that, as the global collapse occurred, there were not external signs of why it was occurring, therefore, it must have been the result of the failure of internal columns. This is a true report, and is true regardless of whether the failure was the result of explosives, thermite, thermate, or fire and impact.

2) Since there were all kinds of people in the (police, officials, reporters), why did Silverstein only make reference to the firemen? Why not say, “hey, lets move everybody back since this thing can go at any time.”

Note how bizarre this question/comment is. Why only the firemen? Because he was talking to the fire chief. Besides, I think any normal person would recognize that if the firemen are pulling back away from a building, they're not going to leave other people behind on purpose.

The commenter continued:

3) Silverstein’s quote gives the impression that these things happened in a short sequence. Phone call, “pull it,” the building falls. On your scenario it should be, phone call, “pull it,” Larry gets a cup of coffee, he calls his insurance agent and asks him how much loot he will collect if Bldg 7 falls, he leisurely goes over the figures in his head and imagines the new Silverstein Tower that he will build on the site one day, he strolls over to the chief and they chew the fat while they wait for the building to come down.
Notice how the pretense of the question format has been abandoned. Also, notice how again the commenter's impression is more important than what is actually said. The commenter is not altogether to blame. The video clip shows Mr. Silverstein making the comment and *boom* down falls the building. More imporantly, what is the underlying theory here? The fire chief "pulled" the building with some kind of special issue detonation tools?

The commenter continues:

As to your claim that the collapse was not symmetrical, watch the many videos of. But I guess on TurretinFan’s worldview gov’t reports trump empirical experience.

And there, at the end, we start to see rationality itself fraying. If you watch the videos more closely you will notice two things. The left side core (all of the videos are from the north or northwest side of the building), i.e. the part of the building under the east side mechanical penthouse, collapses first, but the building is still standing. About five seconds go by. Then the remainder of the building collapses, apparently from the bottom (the location that the collapse is initiated is below the 20th floor or so, but the lower floors cannot be seen in the currently available videos, because of the buildings in between). That staggered collapse alone is a remarkable asymmetry. Furthermore, as already noticed, and as thoroughly documented, the collapse footprint is asymmetrical, somewhat favoring the north east side of the building. Finally, at the initiation of the collapse, a noticable fault line or kink appears asymmetrically in the building. Yet, inexplicably, the commenter's impression upon watching the video trump a more detailed analysis of the data.

Of course, there was a great deal of symmetry, and the reason why is that the building was built symmetrically with respect to the exterior of the building. On what earthly principle would one expect the building to collapse differently? On the other hand, the reason the eastern penthouse collapsed first, is that in the interior structure, there was a significant asymmetry, with greater reinforcement over the Con-Ed substation beneath the building.

I say above that the commenter's personal impressions trump a more detailed analysis "inexplicably." As I pointed out in the last two posts, that's not quite true. The explanation is presuppositions. If you presuppose a conspiracy, you will find a way to give weight to the intangible impressions you get over the facts.

I am quite sure that the commenter, in preparing a lecture or sermon would never try to determine the meaning of a text simply based on the impression he got. I seriously doubt that he would give the time of day to someone who based their Constitutional argument on the impression that they felt from reading the Second Amendment.

No, in most areas, the commenter is a completely reasonable person, but because of presuppositions, this particular commenter has headed down a path that is difficult to remedy. Next thing you know, like Dr. Steven Jones, this commenter may begin to invent non-existent substances ("super-thermate" comes to mind) when it turns out that there is no explanation that relies on actually existent substances to fit the presupposition.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, this issue is essentially trivial. If there was a government conspiracy, they did an awesome job covering it up. The vast bulk of the evidence strongly favors the official story, and while there are some loose ends to be tied, it is only someone who presupposes government complicity that would grab that loose end in the hope that it would cause the rest of the tapestry to unravel.


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