Dec 012013

Simon Pollard is Adjunct Professor in Science Communication at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand. He is a specialist on spiders, and previously he was Curator of Invertebrate Zoology at Canterbury Museum. He is an award-winning natural history photographer and writer. He is an advisor, scriptwriter and presenter of a natural history documentaries, including the BBC series Planet Earth.

On Wednesday 20th November he was interviewed about ‘conspiracy theories’ on New Zealand National Radio programme Nine-to-Noon by Kathryn Ryan under the title: “Science with Simon Pollard”.

An Open Letter to Simon Pollard

by Martin Hanson, retired science teacher

Dr Pollard,

Following your interview with Kathryn Ryan on Nine-to-Noon, I wrote to you to express my disappointment at your casual dismissal of those people who do not believe that The 911 Commission Report is a truthful account of what happened in the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington on September 11th 2001. Your unwillingness to reply itself constitutes a kind of reply – that you are unwilling to engage in an academic debate.

Insouciant dismissal of serious academic matters may satisfy some Nine-to-Noon listeners, but for an increasingly skeptical and thoughtful public, it won’t wash. Even an arachnologist must know that gravity acts strictly downward! The photo of the collapse of Tower 1 in the World Trade Center proves that powerful lateral forces were at work in the ‘collapse’ of the towers. Given that over 100 eye-witnesses testified to explosions on that day, your silence speaks eloquently for your position on the issue.

Although some conspiracy theories are just plain silly, it’s important to point out that a conspiracy is nothing more than a process in which two or more people get together in secret to achieve an illegal or immoral end. Conspiracies are actually very common, but in popular use the term ‘conspiracy theory’ has come to take on a strongly pejorative connotation. The term was deliberately introduced into the popular lexicon by the CIA in an attempt to counter suggestions that Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone but was part of a larger conspiracy. Since then, and especially after 911, it has been systematically used by the media as a put-down to stifle any consideration of evidence.

Having said that, I have to agree with you that the term ‘conspiracy theorist’ is justifiably disparaging. I have personal knowledge of several individuals who seem to have a deep psychological need to distrust authority and consequently look for conspiracies even when they do not exist.

One who has achieved internet fame is Alex Jones who, in proclaiming that Global Warming is a conspiracy, makes the very idea of ‘conspiracy’ disreputable in the public mind. When such scientific ignoramuses also happen to believe that 911 was an ‘inside job’, it is only too easy to discredit the latter views by tainting them by association with the former.

The Heartland Institute used this tactic by putting up a billboard in Chicago featuring Ted Kaczynski, otherwise known as the Unabomber. Alongside Kaczynski’s mugshot were the words: “I still believe in Global Warming. Do you?” The intention was to put up similar billboards featuring Charles Manson and Fidel Castro, both of whom may have had related beliefs, but the scheme was cancelled before it could get airborne.

As you know, science is an activity of organized inquiry into natural phenomena, in which observations provoke questions, which lead to hypotheses that can be tested by experiment and further observation.

Beliefs that are not accessible to observation and experiment do not fall within the purview of science. Bertrand Russell famously said that he couldn’t prove that there wasn’t a teapot going round the sun between the orbits of Earth and Mars, but no sane person would use this as an argument for its existence.

Unlike Russell’s celestial teapot, the evidence surrounding the events of 911 is an embarrassment of riches, even for the most square-eyed troglodyte whose window on the world is limited to Fox News or The Sun newspaper. The trouble is, the most significant news items appeared for only a very short time after 911 and were soon buried and forgotten by the vast majority of the public.

The media have gone to great lengths to exclude from the public consciousness any evidence that is inconsistent with the official account. Truckloads of evidence have been published in many documentaries and books (I have over 25 on my own shelves). Almost none of these have been mentioned, let alone reviewed, by the media —except to condemn without mentioning any of the evidence they adduce. Amongst the most powerful are The New Pearl Harbor, and nine other books by Professor David Ray Griffin.

I realize that you might well say that thousands of nutty books have been published on innumerable subjects, so the credibility of a case can’t be measured by the number of books written about it. You’d be right, but what you can’t dismiss as conspiracy fantasy is the fact that literally thousands of professors and other academics and professional people round the world have called for a new and genuinely independent inquiry. There are now over a dozen organizations calling for such an inquiry, for example:

In addition to these organizations and their thousands of supporters, a number of highly distinguished individuals with impeccable intellectual credentials have publicly doubted the official story. To mention just a few:

  • Richard Falk, Emeritus Professor of International Law at Princeton University
  • Michael Meacher, ex British Cabinet Minister
  • Andreas von Bülow, ex German Governnment Minister
  • Paul Craig Roberts, who was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration and is a former editor and columnist for the Wall Street Journal.
  • Ferdinando Imposimato, honorary President of the Supreme Court of Italy, and former Senior Investigative Judge, Italy.

I think you’d agree that it is highly unlikely that people in such high positions are crackpots. Therefore, we should at least pay attention to what they have to say, rather than uncritically accepting media put-downs. In the spirit of the scientific method, we should study the evidence for ourselves.

The trouble is that the evidence is so mountainous that I must limit myself to listing the topics, leaving it to you to look into the details. So, here they are:

1. Video evidence, for example the video analysis of collapse of the WTC towers, by physicist David Chandler:

North Tower Exploding

WTC7 Freefall: No longer controversial (revised):

Also the video Explosive Evidence: Experts Speak Out

2. Planted Evidence The most egregious (and laughable) of numerous examples: ABC News and the Associated Press reported that the virtually undamaged passport of hijacker Satam Al Suqami was found a few blocks from the WTC.

3. Destruction and Confiscation of Evidence

Immediately after 911 nearly all the steel was hurriedly exported to Asia, thus preventing forensic examination of the steelwork. Thus the biggest crime in U.S. history was made an exception to the Federal law that forbids interference with a crime scene.

Within 5 minutes of the attack on the Pentagon, FBI agents confiscated videotapes from the nearby Sheraton National Hotel and Citco Gas Station .

Immediately after the Pentagon attack, Federal agents removed many small fragments from the lawn in front of the Pentagon, and later the lawn was covered with sand.

4. Withholding of Evidence

After 911, the New York Fire Department interviewed firefighters, paramedics and other first responders. Of the 503 interviewees, 118 reported hearing or seeing explosions prior to and during the collapse of the Twin Towers. These ‘oral histories’ were suppressed by the New York authorities until forced by court action to release them.

Though the Pentagon is the most heavily surveilled building in the whole of the United States, only 5 frames of a video camera were released – despite the presence of dozens of (reportedly 83) video cameras.

5. Almost complete absence of Aircraft wreckage at both the Pentagon (Flight 77) and Shanksville (Flight 93) crash sites –in contrast to all other terrestrial aircraft sites, where bodies, aircraft wreckage, luggage, etc are the norm (though an unsinged Shia bandana was reportedly found!).

6. Guilty Behaviour by the White House.

The Bush Administration was deeply unwilling to hold an inquiry into the biggest crime in American history, and only after intense pressure (and over 400 days after the event) did they agree. And then, they allotted initially only $3 million (in contrast to the $50 million given to the Challenger Inquiry).

After it was set up, the 911 Commission was overseen by Phillip Zelikow, who had been a close colleague of Condoleezza Rice, and was thus for all practical purposes a White House insider. Zelikow decided what witnesses would be heard and what would be in the Report.

As documented in Philip Shenon’s book The Commission, Zelikow had written the outline of the Report before the hearings began, and during the hearings he was in telephone contact with Carl Rove, Senior Adviser and Assistant to President Bush). So much for the ‘independence’ of the 911 Commission of Inquiry!

When Bush and Cheney were interviewed by the Commission, they did not appear under oath, meaning that they did not have to tell the truth.

Much of the evidence provided by CIA interrogation of al-Qaida suspects was based on torture. Commissioners were not allowed to interview suspects, or even their CIA interrogators. Taped evidence of interrogations had been destroyed.

7. Foreknowledge

Insider Trading In the days prior to 911, there was a burst of highly unusual trading on the stock market, giving strong indication of foreknowledge.

‘Dancing Israelis’ The New York Times reported that five men had set up video cameras prior to the New York attack and had filmed the collapse of the towers. Later, these men were interviewed on Israeli television and said that they were there to ‘document’ the event.

Rudi Guliani, Mayor of New York at the time of the attacks, said in TV interview that the Twin Towers were likely to collapse. In view of the fact that no steel-framed building had collapsed due to fire anywhere in the world, this seemed like foreknowledge.

8. Prior examples of false flag operations

Those who baulk at the suggestion that elements within a ‘democratic’ government could organize attacks on its own people to provide the excuse to attack another country need look no further than ‘Operation Northwoods’, details of which were later de-classified. Operation Northwoods was a plan put forward by General Lemnitzer and other military top brass in 1962. The proposal involved a series of ‘false flag’ operations in which U.S. citizens would have been killed in simulated terrorist attacks to provide justification to invade Cuba. President Kennedy rejected the proposal. ‘Operation Northwoods’ is but one of many historical examples of false flag operations, the best-known being the Reichstag Fire, started by the Nazis and blamed on the communists in order to justify the passing of the Enabling Act that destroyed any freedoms under the old Weimar Republic. The passing of the ‘Patriot Act’ shortly after 911 was an uncanny parallel. The Patriot Act effectively shredded many citizens’ rights previously guaranteed under the Constitution. As Mark Twain said, “history may not repeat itself, but it does rhyme”.

A democracy can only survive if its citizens are informed and free to question their government, for which a fundamental prerequisite is the existence of untrammeled, independent media. If New Zealand democracy has friends like you and Radio New Zealand, who needs enemies?

  3 Responses to “An Open Letter to Simon Pollard”

  1. If Simon Pollard is a man of honour, which in the current circumstances seems doubtful, this excellent letter deserves a response. A response would be a submission of equal consideration with supporting facts, rather than a dismissal of the contributor as a ‘conspiracy theorist’.

    I am, by the way, distrustful of current ‘science’ regarding climate change. When I went to school science relied on proven evidence, not computer models which as I recall, generate nonsense if nonsense is programmed into them. Or to put it another way “As ye seek, so shall ye find”

  2. “If New Zealand democracy has friends like you and Radio New Zealand, who needs enemies?” Well said!

    An excellent letter Martin, lets hope he is man enough to reply to you. But don’t hold you breath.