A 9-11 Interview – My First Skeptical Podcast Interview (That I Never Did)

I know that it’s 12th September on this side of the planet, so I’ve missed recognising the anniversary, but I realised that I had an interview transcript that I’ve never used and thought that it might be of interest to people.

It’s between my friend Mark and Mark “Gravy” Roberts, who was a tour guide in New York. “Gravy” Roberts may be a familiar name to some, as the creator of www.sites.google.com/site/wtc7lies/, which documents and debunks 9-11 conspiracies.

I’ll post the video (just a segment, not the whole thing) and the transcript of the whole discussion. In Memoriam Requiescat In Pace - and may we rebuild and not allow tragic history to prevent progress towards better days.

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Mark: As I understand it, I may be wrong, you don’t have an area of expertise in any of these things, but you know how to research. You know how to find the experts and get the answers…?

Gravy Roberts: It’s what I do for a living. I’m an amateur historian and I spend a lot of my day doing research online. It’s astonishing that I never came across these conspiracy theories when they were starting out in 2006, because I was looking up things about the World Trade Center all the time. I was giving tours there every week, many times a week.

At the time that I got involved in this, I was there every single day at the World Trade Center and no one had ever asked me about these conspiracy theories. So it wasn’t until I signed up at the JREF forum that immediately this stuff came about and someone said, “Have you seen this movie – ‘Loose Change?’” And I said, “No.” And they said, “It’s driving me crazy,” And so I watched it, and it drove me crazy also.

I went to their forum and got kicked off promptly, because you can’t be presenting facts to these people. And I thought that was kind of odd, an odd way of searching for the truth. They were calling themselves “Truthers.”

Mark: Oh, yeah. I know.

Gravy: And I had never heard of these theories before – never.

Mark: What year was this?

Gravy: 2006, April of 2006, when I got involved, and the theories had been coming up within hours of the attacks.


A lot of the early conspiracy theories for 9/11 were Holocaust Deniers, not a lot but prominent ones, looking for another excuse to be able to present their views on “what the Jews had done.” But they didn’t make it overtly a Jewish thing, most of them. So they could work their way into it, they would start a website, and people would say, “Wow, this stuff is really suspicious. We should look into this.”

And later on, find out that these are hardcore Holocaust Deniers and anti-Semites and that continued for quite a while, quite a while. But these sort of underground websites were growing for a long time. Not that many people knew about them, but a few conspiracy nuts were really passionate about them. But didn’t hit the mainstream until the video-hosting sites, like YouTube and Google Video really became popular, 2005 – like late 2005.

Mark: The Scholars for 9/11 Truth, did that happen before or after the YouTube stuff all hit?

Gravy: That happened after.

Mark: Really?

Gravy: Pretty much, simultaneously. But the movie “Loose Change” was the thing that really made things take off.

Mark: That was the catalyst.

Gravy: Yeah. There was a group called “Physicists for 9/11 Truth,” or something like that. And that was in 2003, pretty early, but nobody really paid much attention to that. But it wasn’t until the videos started hitting and getting really widespread viewership that these scholars – and I use – I can’t help but use air quotes.

That they said, “Ah, here’s something for us to make our name in that we have not been able to do in our 20-year scholarly career.” Lots of them have taught the scientific method, some of them are familiar with engineering, and lots of technical terms and studies, and how to present your findings. And they threw it all out the window for political reasons.

Mark: I know, and you’ve said it many times, that this stuff, you’d just as soon not do this. Why you?

Gravy: I feel like I’m almost uniquely – not qualified in terms of expertise, but in terms of I’m a single guy, I’ve got time on my hands. I’m a generalist.

And know how to do some of the research, and have a wide variety of interests and always have, know a lot about New York – and a lot of this stuff is about New York. And so, I saw an opportunity were I might be able to make these facts accessible to a lot of people very quickly, and that took a lot of reading. Most of the conspiracy theorists, almost none of them have read the things that they are purporting to critique – almost none of them have.

Mark: Yeah, that’s like I’ve seen so many times in threads, it’s like: “Have you read it? Have you read it?” And it’s never.

Gravy: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Even the very top people, clearly, because they make statements, “Such-and-such is not in this report.” And I can, in my head, tell them where to find it in these reports. So it’s a matter of reading 15,000 pages here, another 15,000 pages there, and taking notes. Because it’s no good if you’re just reading it and you can’t process it and make some use of it.

So all of my spare time – for about a year and a half – was spent doing that, which does put a crimp on the social life.

I don’t let this stuff spill over into my personal life at all. My friends – most of my friends have no idea what I’ve been doing with all this time. Well, a vague idea. So I’m glad. I didn’t intend to do this forever and I’m not doing this forever. I figured I could get as much as I could done as quickly as possible, and I was in a pretty good position.

I had an email today from an Israeli writer living in Spain, who, some friend of his tried to make these arguments, and he found my website, and he wrote this long, long, thank you email to me – which was almost more than I could read. But so grateful to see that, especially the people who got caught up in this stuff because a lot of smart people suspended their disbelief.

Because what they would say is, “If even some of this stuff is true, this is damning. It’s damning!” Well, that’s a big “if.”

Mark: It’s a huge “if.”

Gravy: Yeah, and you’ve got to establish if any of that is true and I’ve looked into several hundred conspiracy theories, claims about 9/11. Zero have been true – zero!

Mark: I saw on the “Scholars for 9/11 Truth” website, there was a list of, “If any of these are true…” And it was about 18 things at the time. And I remember, having read some of the claims, and I remember going to the first one, and going, “…No.” Then looking at the second one, “…No, that’s ridiculous. No….”

And I’m going down there going, “Why is this website still up?” These questions are all – they were all very answerable questions, and there were answers!

Gravy: Yeah, and their mantra has been, “We’re just asking questions and we’re demanding answers.” Well, these have all been answered for years now.

Mark: Yes…

Gravy: And these answers, for me, when I started getting into this, the very first day, I looked into this stuff. People on the Loose Change forum were asking me these same questions. I had never heard these questions before, so I’d spend five minutes and look it up. And you can get solid answers often. Sometimes it takes a lot more time, you have to look at the original documents, whatever.

But for the most part, no. For the most part, these are 5-minute, 10-minute, half an hour assignments that anyone who’s out of junior high school could do.

Mark: So basically, you’ve got a day’s worth of work there and it’s taken over a year of your life!

Gravy: (Laughs) Yeah. It’s involved! And that’s what the conspiracy theorists are about. This is not about answering questions, this is about keeping the conspiracy theory going. They’re in a little club that’s very comfortable for them. They get to act like they’re doing something against “the man,” against the government, against some shadowy power that they feel powerless against, which is understandable to an extent.

When the U.S. invaded Iraq, I have a feeling that if that had not happened, we would be seeing half of this, a third of this, or less. But the political animosity, coming from me, too. I was right outside the street here when the Republican National Convention was happening in 2004, protesting against that, had been marching in the streets before the U.S. invaded Iraq, in protest of what we knew was coming.

So if that stuff hadn’t happened, I’m almost certain that I wouldn’t be sitting here now, because this would have died out a long, long time ago. But they peaked in 2006, there was a…

Mark: Five-year anniversary…

Gravy: Yeah, a five-year anniversary, that’s when all of these videos were hitting. Suddenly, everyone’s making a 9/11 conspiracy video. They were very, very popular, very compelling to a lot of people.

And if you look at the website traffic for their big websites, it’s a huge peak in September of 2006. It trails off after that. September, 2007 – it’s a tiny bump, and it’s almost off the scale right now.

Mark: Anything to – any reason to suspect that some people will bump it up this year? I mean, the last thing…

Gravy: The bumps are happening because there’s a big report that came out about World Trade Center Building 7, the final engineering report on the collapse of Building 7. Guess what? It wasn’t explosives after all! They were all shocked to hear that!

Mark: Well, it was polled, wasn’t it?

Gravy: And I still haven’t read it. I got – I had a number of interview requests on the day that it was being released, saying, “We want you on our show to talk about the report.” It’s a thousand-page report. And I said I respectfully declined. I said I would like to read it before commenting on it.

This is not entertainment for me and for a lot of people, it is. For a lot of the debunkers, I think it’s they like to have an argument. They like to have a good argument and they like to get in the mix of it and me, I wish they would get their facts out there. If someone is not going to get the facts out there or do their research, then move along.

But some people like the argument and like to beat up on some of the more crazy conspiracy theorists.

Mark: You get knee-jerk reactions both ways, too.

Gravy: Yeah, and a big problem I have with it right now is that a lot of the people who stuck in there are the most adamant are clearly not well mentally. If you’re seriously going to argue that no plane has hit the World Trade Center, if you’re seriously going to argue that the Twin Towers were destroyed by space beams – there’s a guy, like Jim Fetzer, who taught critical thinking to college students – you know, that’s beyond the pale, and I’m not going to touch that.

They need help and there’s no other way for me to encourage them to need help. There’s no way for me to make them do it, so. And they’re going to keep going on. People say, “When is this going to end?” so, and it is – I have a humor section on my website, because some of this stuff, I need to laugh about some of this stuff.

And other debunkers, because we got very heavily into this madness. Not because there’s any intrinsic value to it whatsoever. There’s almost no value into looking into most of the questions that they have because it was so easily answerable.

Only because so many people believe it. That’s the only reason that I got involved. We took it a bit for granted early on, we thought, “Well, they’re making crazy videos. Anybody can see that this stuff is crazy.” Or, finding a compelling answer to these questions early, the way we do.

But no, these videos took off virally, as they say, and were spectacularly successful at spreading very, very bad information.

Mark: I had friends of mine who had seen them and came to me, to ask me about them: “Well, what about this,” or, “What about this?”

Gravy: Sure.

Mark: And again, because conspiracy theories are self-contained. Any evidence against them is evidence for them. It’s a conspiracy of silence that people are trying to put a lid on the evidence. The very fact that people are debunking it is proof that it’s true?

Gravy: It lends it legitimacy, which is another concern of mine. If at this point, we’re giving them attention, that’s all they’re seeking, because the facts are very plain. And we don’t want to keep doing that either. Yes, the argument toward authority, that’s their main argument these days. Why should anyone believe me? Honestly, they shouldn’t. No one should believe me.

People should look at the information that I put up on the website. Most of it is not mine. There’s some analysis that’s mine, quite a bit of it actually that’s mine, that has never been refuted by anyone. But other than that, don’t believe me, don’t believe anybody. Get the information. I did it. Anyone can do it.

But that’s their biggest argument at this point. When I debated Richard Gage a couple of months ago, almost the entire reaction from the truther community was, “Ah-ha, a tour guide against a registered, licensed architect, a member of the American Institute of Architects. Game over.”

Unfortunately, no, and I take a lot of pride in that. I wanted to be able to argue any of their points, any of their claims, and be the tour guide who has no expertise, who challenges every one of their experts. And I have, every one of their experts.

Mark: It’s not inside information.

Gravy: And say, “Bring it on. Let’s see if you can take on a tour guide, you who spent a career doing this kind of research and I haven’t.” Most of them have declined that challenge, of course.

Mark: Well, they’ve read David and Goliath!

Gravy: (Laughs) …So I feel a little bit bad because there are real experts on our side who don’t get the attention that they deserve. I’m so indebted to people, like on the JREFs, like Ryan Mackey, who is a NASA scientist, who is just cold, hard facts. He hammers away at the myths – he wrote a 300-page dissection of David Ray Griffin’s material, which Griffin has never responded to, of course. No photographs – I use lots of pictures, because, well, I need to use pictures. I can’t do it all with words. But he can. He knows the science cold. He knows when they’re getting it wrong. He’s not uncritical of the official reports and things like that.

But does it all very quietly and doesn’t seek publicity or anything. So I’ve learned more about science from him than I have from any teacher that I ever had.

It’s spectacular that the biggest expert that we have on North American air defense is a guy in New Zealand, who just took up an interest. Only about half of the debunkers that I know of – we actually took a poll – are actually from the US. People from Canada, people from the UK and Ireland, Finland, Sweden, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, so big interest around the world, which surprised me.

Mark: What about in the truther movement? Is that also world-wide?

Gravy: Yes, and that’s the reason is that these people see it and catch on. Someone in Melbourne sees a poster up saying that 9/11 was an inside job and “we’re having a meeting about it” – and gets a little ticked off about it, says, “What is this about?” And then they do their own research, and the Internet allows all of us to come together spectacularly [in that regard].

Initially, the truthers got a big head start, because when you’re forming a conspiracy theory, you don’t have to get anything right.

Mark: Right…

Gravy: You can start within hours of the event, as they did. Start putting this information up online, speculation, accusations and whatever. For people like us, who have to rely on evidence and fact, it takes often a long time for these things to come to light, like years, as it does with the report on building seven that just came out last week. So they have a big head start.

This is not going to be the first time in the Internet age that this happens, or the last time obviously that this happens. It’s going to keep happening and keep happening. Now, we know. We took this for granted. We’ve thought that this stuff can’t possibly spread like that.

My big concern is that it spread not just in the US, but it spread in Muslim countries. You can see videos online of prominent Muslim speakers, speaking to big crowds and citing chapter and verse out of “Loose Change,” out of Stephen Jones, who is another completely discredited, former scientist. Recommending their videos, giving their argument to authority, saying, “See all the scientists believe this stuff, so it must be true.”

In Pakistan, only three percent of people in Pakistan believe that Al Qaeda was responsible for 9/11, OK? That’s serious.

It’s not so serious when it’s some kids in their basement watching this. Most of them are going to get over it. Most of them are going to realize that this is silly, eventually. But places where people are really predisposed to not believe this stuff and maybe live in a culture where that’s encouraged, that’s serious.

You get Americans who are appealing to that kind of crowd. There’s one guy in particular, William Rodriguez, who was a World Trade Center survival and hero on that day. He risked his life to save other people on that day, but didn’t get the attention that he felt he deserved.

He was a former magician who didn’t quite make it on the New York stage when he moved to New York. And he’s been doing essentially stage about 9/11 since then, accusing the government of being involved.

These accusations didn’t start until about 2005. Before that, he wasn’t saying anything like that. Suddenly, he’s saying that there were bombs in the basement and things like that, where he had his opportunity to tell his story…

Mark: Yeah, and he can say that; “I was there.

Gravy: …To the people who were investigating. Yeah, and he did tell his story and it was a completely different story early on. So that’s a sad case where someone is looking for attention, but traveling the world and primarily to Muslim countries where he gets a very big reception.

He converted to Islam in 2006, a sad, very sad case of someone who is clearly traumatized. He lost dozens of friends. He worked at the World Trade Center for 19 years. Clearly traumatized and acted out, and still is.

He named his last European tour “The Gravy Tour”. That’s my screen name at the JREF site. He put that on his website, saying that this is “The Gravy Tour,” because I wrote this analysis of his claims, showing that every single one of them is false.

Even things that he was involved in, showing him that you wouldn’t necessarily have known this, and here’s what was actually happening. These people were in the thick of things, like a lot of firemen were, and had no idea what was going on around them. So you have to put these accounts together.

Mark: I think one of the things that, if I’m not mistaken – I may be thinking about the wrong person – he had the towers falling in reverse order, the north and south?

Gravy: It was actually a fireman whose account got really abused by these guys who made “Loose Change” and some other conspiracy theorists. A very confused guy, who says he’s suffering from severe traumatic stress disorder, that his life has been hell, he said, since 9/11, lost his job.

He also had a situation where he was in danger of losing his pension, for a positive drug test. So this is maybe some political stuff going on; I don’t know. But a severely confused guy, who actually thought that when he was in the north tower, that when he came out of the north tower, the lobby was devastated. It wasn’t the way that it was when he went up in the north tower.

All the windows had blown out. There was debris everywhere. There were bodies there. He thought a bomb or something had gone off.

Well, what had happened, when he was in the north tower in the windowless stairwell, the south tower had collapsed. A lot of firemen experienced the same thing. The building is shaking, but they had no idea. They had no communication. So they come downstairs and make it out; a lot of them didn’t make it out. He was one of the last guys to make it out.

He had no idea. He thought he saw both towers collapse, afterwards. Now, he’s telling that story to these conspiracy theorists on camera. They know that didn’t happen. They know what the sequence of events was, and none of them corrected him, not only then, but afterwards none of them.

They could have said, “All right, let’s let him tell his story, then afterwards, we’ll editorialise…” – nah-uh. They put it up as if this guy saw a bomb. He said he thinks bombs were there, so there must have been bombs there, and never told them.

So I wrote up a report about that and his experience and who he was with, showing exactly what was happening to him, which you can do from the recorded accounts.

But most of these firemen aren’t going to go back and try to relive that stuff.

Mark: Oh, that would be horrible…

Gravy: Oh, absolutely, and so lots of people – I have a whole section of that report documenting the confusion. A lot of temporal confusion because a lot of people thought that these events happened over hours and hours. Some people who were there for many hours after the event didn’t know that the towers had collapsed, and they’re right there on the scene.

OK, there’s smoke and dust and all that  was happening – enormous confusion, then the truthers take advantage of that confusion and it’s so reprehensible in that, to these people who have lost so many of their coworkers, friends and loved ones. To abuse those accounts is the most reprehensible thing I can think of, and they’re still doing it.

The very first thing I did was right up a report on the movie of “Loose Change,” which was the big new movie. I heard that these guys were coming to New York and they were going to be protesting at a premier of the movie “United 93.” Which was about the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania, heroic passengers tried to retake the cockpit, weren’t able to get in, but the hijackers said “We’re going to crash the plane ourselves” and did.

These guys said that that never happened. So they’re going to come to an event that’s attended by family members of these victims, and say, “This stuff never happened. Your people didn’t talk to you on the phone from the planes.” So I said, “No, not in my backyard.” I had to do something about this.

So I watched the movie, took copious notes on it, wrote a 150-page paper on it, and put a lot of those on CDs. I knew they’d be handing out their DVDs. So while they were doing that, they had no idea who I was. I showed up!

And they’re right across the street from the premiere – limos are pulling up, it’s the opening of the Tribeca Film Festival, Robert De Niro’s film festival, and a very well received movie. It won “Best Drama” from the New York Film Critics. It’s a hell of a movie.

So as they’re handing out their DVDs, I’m handing out these CDs with this paper on them, but they had no idea. They had never had any opposition before, OK? So I was very happy to do that and they finally found out who I was. But how many people are going to read a 150-page paper? At that time, it was a PDF document. It wasn’t even online. Very few.

A guy in Canada said, “Oh, wow. I really like that. It totally dissects this movie, line by line.” He made a video of my paper, basically. That was a big hit. That got a lot of views.

Mark: Now, was that the conspiracy…?

Gravy: This is a young guy. He gets it. He gets the whole video thing. I didn’t get the importance of video at the time.

And that’s happened a few times. I’ve made a… wrote up a paper about just different quotes from these truth movement leaders and how horrible and reprehensible they were when they were talking to people who they thought were their own audience.

But these were things that they promoted, radio shows they did that they promote on their websites. All I did was listen to their radio shows and their presentations and take notes. And it’s absolutely shocking, accusing victims of being in on the crimes, and I mean horrible, horrible…so these aren’t just naive, innocent people that get things wrong. These are…a lot of them are vicious about it, and they’ve learned, finally.

So I put that paper out. People were shocked by these things. They thought these were just ignorant people. No, they’re a lot more than that. Well some guy makes a video out o’clock that paper, right? Brilliant and shorter, obviously. Very few people are going to read 100-page paper, but lots of people watched the video.

He got more death threats than I did, because younger people, especially, who are more impressionable are going to be watching the videos. I get a lot of emails from older folks who will take the time to read papers, but the young folks are watching the videos.

And it took me a while. I did one, finally, a pretty long video called, “World Trade Center: Not a Demolition,” which takes almost all of the major claims about the World Trade Center buildings and shows especially visually why they’re wrong. They rely a lot on visuals and…

Mark: Yes, it’s YouTube research.

Gravy: Yeah.

Mark: If it’s not on YouTube, it didn’t happen!

Gravy: Yeah, and some of them actually said…will say, “Who needs science, when we have YouTube to show us what happened?!” And they really believe that. And that’s encouraged by people who do know better. Now a big part of this is…in terms of understanding the engineering, understanding of what you’re looking at when you see a skyscraper collapse which is not a familiar event to anyone. They’ve never seen that before. So we had nothing to gauge it against.

A big part of that, you have to know some science, something about the way the physical world works. And a lot of these people don’t, and so to them, anything is possible. Not only that but equally possible.

Mark: What gets me is some of the experts who thought that they should fall like trees.

Gravy: But there’s the problem. What happened was that these experts who do know better convinced a lot of these people to be their followers. This guy, Steven Jones – I used this in a presentation at a TAM event – defined entropy as “things topple over,” meaning Building Seven, because it was damaged on one side should have fallen like a tree.

Well, actually, the thing that caused it to fall was the fire in the center of the building that destroyed columns in the center inside the building. There was no other way for the building to fall but straight down.

Mark: Yeah. That’s kind of obvious.

Gravy: But that definition of entropy wouldn’t be suitable for a six-year-old, much less a college audience, which was his audience, and this was a physics professor, spent 20 years teaching physics, working in big physics labs. He knows that that is absolutely dead wrong, but they will say anything to get an audience.

And so they convince these people that their physical reality can actually be reality. And so you get these guys, these pathetic guys, stacking up Coke cans on the Internet, and then dropping another one on top and saying, “See, the whole thing didn’t collapse, and so the World Trade Center shouldn’t have collapsed because this is a valid analog to the Towers. It’s better than the computer model that the world’s best engineers have developed.”

And they believe it. And they’re confident enough in that to make a video, often with their faces on it, and say, “Here’s my message to you, world. I know more about engineering than the experts do.” Total disdain for expertise, which is taught to them by people who are experts.

Mark: Who should know better. It reminds me an awful lot of the creationists. You see like Duane Gish out there giving his definitions that…I recognise from Asimov’s definition, from Asimov’s physics dictionary for children. They’ve been corrected a million times just like anybody who’s been in a debate with you, they’ve been corrected a million times.

Gravy: Oh, sure.

Mark: It doesn’t stop the million and first time!

Gravy: Yeah, it’s a great, great analogy, because this is a religious movement. It didn’t, I don’t think, start out that way. I think it started out with a lot of people who did have questions that I think at least believed were legitimate and lots of things were confusing and take some study and research. But it became quickly a religious movement. As I said, not a single, significant claim was correct.

Mark: They take it all on faith?

Gravy: Yeah, you’ve got to be a special kind of person to stick with that. And one thing they have is consistency. Why introduce any facts now where we’ve developed this world that’s a fantasy?

Mark: Do you have any advice for what are the right ways and wrong ways to go about challenging 9-11 myths…?

Gravy: This is a great, fun question, because I got involved in this stuff with no intention of being involved. I’ve no experience with conspiracy theories beyond some JFK stuff, no particular interest in it, and especially no real knowledge of the psychology of the conspiracy theorist, and I didn’t have the luxury of the time to learn about it.

Fortunately I found out about it at a place like the JREF where all sorts of people are knowledgeable about this stuff and have already written about it and were in the process of writing more about it as these conspiracy theories are growing – because I was clueless about how to approach these things.

So I took every approach. It was all trial and error for me, and it started out very, very angry. Anger was what sustained me through this whole thing. I never would have finished a single paper if it weren’t just spitting anger at these people who go to Ground Zero every Saturday and claim that firemen were in on the conspiracy and things like that. This is intolerable.

And so I started going there to counter them on the weekends and take different approaches with different people. If someone’s new coming into the movement, obviously is brand new there, is handing out leaflets, I’d never seen them before, you take a completely rational calm approach and ask them what they know about it: have you read this, have you read that? Here’s my website, here’s some things to look at, and let’s talk next time you come out.

And there are videos of me out doing that at length, and I’m glad to talk for an hour or more to someone about that if they want to. To people who are there every week, however, totally different approach. Get right up in their face and say:

Here’s the same damn poster you sent saying the hijackers are still alive from last week. Did you look at the material I sent you? Have you looked at the 36-page paper I wrote on this subject right here where I’ve given you the link for the past 10 weeks?

And of course not. The idea of that is getting really aggressive in their face – but not physically.Although they have tried to block me physically from putting signs up and things like that. They’ve torn up my literature. But the idea is to make them so mad and frustrated that they’re going to go home and they’re going to do some research.

Mark: To prove you wrong.

Gravy: That never happened once.

Mark: Never??

Gravy: This is from over a year of doing… I mean I wasn’t going every week! I’m not crazy. I’m nuts, but I’m not crazy, you know?

Mark: See, I was thinking you were in their face for the people who were out there watching.

Gravy: In part. In part. But really it was to get them so worked up that they’re going to say, “I’m going to show that Mark Roberts next week. I’m going to come back with the facts that are going to refute what he just said…” right? Never happened once. You come back and it’s a replay, and you realise these people are not capable…the leaders, anyway, and the hardcore group are not capable of doing that.

And so I stopped doing that. There’s no point. And the newcomers weren’t coming so much anymore, so there’s no point in continuing with that kind of episode, especially at Ground Zero, which to a lot of people is something of a sacred place, although it’s a very busy, busy touristy place also. And so just let them fester in their own whatever you want to call it. But, yeah, another sad episode.

These are people that can’t… a really interesting thing you might be interested in, though. I would go there with this binder full of material. They would say, “Oh, the hijackers names weren’t even on the passenger manifest.” I’d say, “Yeah, here they are, all of them.” OK, there they are. “This didn’t happen.” “Well, here’s a photo of it happening right there. There you go.” And so many times when I would open up that binder to show them something, they physically couldn’t look at it. It was like a vampire and a cross.

Really. And it was shocking to me, because we’d be talking or arguing passionately about this stuff for ten minutes, and then I’d go, “I actually have that right here,” and, boom, literally can’t look at it. Or usually just walk away. And this is on video. I’m not making this up. This is stunning to me, a physical aversion to facts.

Mark: You happen to notice over the sequence of the political campaigns that the truthers would tend to follow a particular candidate or anything like that?

Gravy: Well Ron Paul was a big presidential candidate, a libertarian, and he outright said, “I do not support these people,” although he knew they were supporting him, and I…you know he claimed to not be aware of this, but…

Mark: Well if you’re aligning yourself with those people, then you’re essentially taking a stand against the fire department of New York and no, you can’t – not as a politician!

Gravy: No, you can’t. But they still would like their votes. So I don’t know how things got discussed in the back rooms. It would be interesting to be a fly on the wall there. Well it’s an intro into other political issues also. It’s a way of saying…whether it’s a peak oil issue, whether it’s we’re in the Mideast, invading the Mideast because of oil and things like that and certainly legitimate arguments you could make there, they think that they’re bringing people into those arguments.

But no, what they’re doing is absorbing a lot of active, young people who could be activists for causes that could really make a difference and that have facts associated with them and diverting their attention and getting them absorbed in hundreds of hours of videos.

People like Noam Chomsky, the truthers really want a Noam Chomsky on their side. A lot of the truthers are leftists, and I’m left of center myself in my politics. Boy, did he say, “Get out of my face,” and he said right out that you guys are doing a terrible thing. “You’re distracting from all these real issues, real political issues. You don’t want George Bush in office? Well there are things we could be doing right now.”

And they weren’t. They were doing the opposite. If I were the people in power, who these truthers claim to be against, I would be sending them money, because absolutely the best thing for them these horrible distractions and no focus on real issues.

Mark: Well, that sounds like a conspiracy theory…!

Gravy: (laughs) Well, I’ve worked on it! And my name is Mark Roberts. Thank you!

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About Kylie Sturgess

Kylie Sturgess is a Philosophy teacher, media and psychology student, blogger at Patheos and podcaster at Token Skeptic. She has conducted over a hundred interviews including artists, scientists, politicians and activists, worldwide.
She’s the author of the ‘Curiouser and Curiouser‘ column at the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry website and travels internationally lecturing on feminism, skepticism, and science.


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