Official Stories reads like the transcript of a lobotomised, paranoid, drunk talking to himself in the pub.
I have recently been involved in a little bit of internet drama after producing videos critical of the AIDS denialist documentary House of Numbers. To be more specific it was after I published a video about Liam Scheff's contribution to the documentary. You see Liam seemed to be under the impression that HIV cannot be transmitted through heterosexual sex and cited the paper ‘Heterosexual Transmission of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in Northern California: Results from a Ten-year Study’ as evidence. When it was pointed out to him in my video that the paper did contain evidence of HIV's transmission and that many other papers exist that prove beyond all reasonable doubt that HIV can be transmitted this way he decided to file an illegal DMCA against it. Even though my video fell well within fair use (and every lawyer I have spoken to agrees), Liam seemed to think he was justified in filing it because he believed it was not made for educational purposes; but instead for propaganda. He later tried to defend his actions on the Robert Scott Bell Show by claiming that he was the victim of a well orchestrated attack and that I was not a person but part of "Myles Power inc." whose job it is to promote the "big pharma brand" To normal people this mix of paranoia and unwarranted self-importance is absurd but Liam lives in a bizarre world where every government, scientist and corporation is out to get him and those who disagree with his theories are in their pockets. This world is normally out of the grasp of people like myself but Liam has been kind enough to give us a window-in via his book Official Stories: Counter-Arguments for a Culture in Need.
I have given myself the task of writing reviews of some of the more interesting chapters in Liam's book starting with 9/11 - A Perfect Tuesday Morning. But before I go into detail about some of the more absurd claims and basic factual errors this chapter contains, I think it's important to discuss the book from a technical standpoint.
The book is a meandering, unfocused mess and in all honesty reads like it has been transcribed from Liam when he was drunk. There is no cohesion in any of the chapters and there are often parts where Liam would dedicate whole pages to unrelated topics. For example, when talking about what he considers to be the history of the discovery of HIV he spends a great portion of time talking about Watson and Crick. He then goes on to say that the central dogma of molecular biology is proof that science and religion are similar because of the use of the word dogma. The book is also punctuated by lines that I think are meant to be funny which quite often use inappropriate language. For example, when talking about why the HPV vaccination is given to children, Liam says “The medical establishment is now saying that your four year-old is a slut”. Also for a book that claims to be “heavily-researched”, it seems to be missing quite a few references. In fact, it’s missing them all and instead has a list of things to google……I’m not kidding. Liam tries to defend this decision by saying that “Footnotes are tools that academics use to demonstrate to their professors that they can’t quite think on their own yet, don’t have any opinions of their own”.
One thing that really stands out in the chapter on 9/11 is the lack of anything of substance. There is no grand elaborate conspiracy theory discussed; nor is there any evidence of any foul play presented. There is simply nothing to sink your teeth into. The chapter starts with the assumption that 9/11 was an inside job and runs with it. Now I know in the past I have bashed truthers for their lack of in-depth research but I have to admit at least they did the ground work. They saw something they could not explain or incorrectly interpreted and tried to base a hypothesis around their previous experiences. Here there is nothing but embarrassing factual errors that would make even the most hardened truther blush. At one point, Liam says that WTC3 (the Marriott hotel that was between the Twin Towers) survived the attack. Liam later goes on to talk about the bowing of the twin towers thought to be caused by the floor trusses sagging and putting pressure on the outer walls. Although this sagging is well documented on film and is accepted in the truther community, Liam claims to have never seen it. For someone who has a list of things to google at the back of his book it is very surprising to me that he has never once searched for this sagging.
When it comes to WTC7 Liam seems to be under the impression that the reason the firefighters left the building to collapse was because they were told to by Larry Silverstein. This all comes from an interview of Larry given a year after 9/11 where he said “pull it”. In this interview, Larry is quite clearly talking about the need to evacuate firefighters away from WTC7, and is often mis-quoted to give the impression that he was the one telling people to leave, when infact he says “and THEY made that decision to pull it”. Liam also incorrectly gets the WTC7 collapse time wrong – something that could have been corrected by timing the well-documented videos showing the collapse. He also keeps referring to Larry as “Lucky Larry” because of the settlement reached regarding the payout from the insurance companies. What Liam fails to mention is that Larry claimed approximately $4.6 billion (USD) and the cost of rebuilding the whole complex was originally estimated to be $11 billion but is now predicted to be closer to $15 billion.
There is a small part in this chapter dedicated to the weather conditions and time of day the attack took place. This small snippet is the reason why the chapter is called ‘9/11 A Perfect Tuesday Morning’ because Liam believes that the conditions were too perfect on 9/11 and this, therefore, is the undeniable proof that 9/11 was an inside job! For you see, if the conditions were the slightest bit different, the world would not have been able to see the horrors unfolding before their eyes on TV. I don’t believe this and think that it’s a perfect example of anything and everything feeding back into some people’s conspiracy theories. I can imagine if the attacks were carried out in bad weather conditions, Liam would be saying its the proof it was an inside job because the government did not want you to see the alleged explosions going off.
I realise that this review is a little short, but that’s due to the lack of …..well…..anything of substance in this chapter. Luckily the other chapters in the book that I have read so far are a gold mine of bad science, lack of understanding, incompetence, manipulation of data and paranoia that I should be able to talk for much longer about.