Friday Woo History Skepticism/critical thinking

Your Friday Dose of Woo: And now for something completely different…

Ever since I started Your Friday Dose of Woo (YFDoW) back in June, I had always intended that someday I wanted to expand this loving deconstruction of various forms of woo beyond just medical woo and quackery. True, having a little fun with woo that claims to treat disease or restore health is something that I’ve gotten pretty good at. You may wonder why I would want to move beyond medicine occasionally. After all, there’s no shortage of medical woo to deal with every Friday, and I’ll almost certainly return to it next week.

Sometimes a skeptic needs a change of pace, and this is one of those times. Believe me, there’s lots of really potent and strange woo out there that has little or nothing to do with medicine or health. There’s paranormal woo, various forms of pseudoscience, and there are conspiracy theories, among other things. All share the same sort of magical thinking, cherry picking of data to support bizarre beliefs or conclusions, and the tendency to discount vast quantities of data that do not support their woo. So, consider this an experiment. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll drop it. So what woo did I have in mind this week? Well, this week marked the 65th anniversary of the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor; so I had contemplated Pearl Harbor conspiracy theories, but in reality very few people believe in those any more, other than a certain commenter yesterday. However, there is an event as traumatic that occurred a mere five years ago that is sometimes conflated with Pearl Harbor and that has already spawned a cottage industry of woo greatly beloved by the tinfoil hat brigade. So I decided to pull a particularly bizarre bit of 9/11 woo out of the woo folder on my computer in which I store potential targets for YFDoW. It’s woo so strange that, until a few weeks ago, even I, connoisseur of all that is woo, hadn’t even heard of it.

No doubt you’ve heard of the 9/11 “skeptics” who don’t believe that the impact of two large jetliners was enough to bring down the Twin Towers. These and conspiracy theorists like them have been responsible for the movie Loose Change (the producers of which, contrary to their claims that they are doing this “for the victims,” have some really vile and despicable things about those who died) and the 9/11 “Truth” movement. These guys love to spin tales about how somehow the U.S. government (sometimes, depending on who’s telling the tale, with the help of the Mossad) was actually responsible for the attacks, how supposedly the planes alone were not enough to bring the buildings down, and how there must have been bombs or other devices already in the towers. All of this was done, if you believe the tinfoil hat brigade, for nefarious purposes like giving the government a pretext to invade Iraq, to enrich Haliburton, or a variety of other reasons connected to reality only in the most tenuous way, if even that. One of the more prevalent among the many competing claims (some of which are mutually exclusive) is that it wasn’t really commercial jetliners that struck the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon at all, but rather missiles or refueling military tankers. Never mind the thousands of eyewitnesses and the copious photographic, documentary, and physical evidence that do in fact support the conventional idea that it was suicidally murderous Islamic terrorists who hijacked these jetliners and piloted them into these buildings. It must have been the government or the Jews who did it. Popular Mechanics and the most recent episode of Skeptic Magazine have deconstructed the conspiracy theories of the 9/11 “Truth” movement quite well, as has the blog Screw Loose Change and the website Debunking 911, including its claims that the fires in the building couldn’t have weakened the steel enough to cause the buildings to fall and that there must have been explosive charges that caused a “controlled implosion.”

So what do some 9/11 conspiracy theorists do when faced with such copious evidence refuting their crackpot ideas? They descend deeply into woo, of course! But what form does this woo take? Easy! Some argue that, even though so many photos, videos, and eyewitnesses documented commercial airliners crashing into the towers, it still wasn’t really airliners because the government cleverly did something to disguise what really crashed into the towers. And how’d the government supposedly do it? And what sort of woo could top the woo already purveyed by the more “conventional” 9/11 “Truth” movement?

Holograms, of course. They postulate what is known as The Hologram Theory to explain how those alleged cruise missiles could appear to be jetliners:

The “Hologram Theory,” as it relates to 9/11, proposes that no commercial airliners hit the World Trade Center on Sept 11 2001. Proponents of the theory contend that rather than full sized airliners, the World Trade Center was hit by “Cruise” type Missiles which appeared to the naked eye to be airliners through the use of sophisticated hologram technology. Rosalee Grable is one the the theory’s leading proponents. One eyewitness described the ‘airplane’ he saw: “It just disappeared. It disappeared like a, like a, bad special effect. Disappeared right into the building.” Eyewitness Accounts. This theory is controversial even among 9/11 researchers.

I never knew our government was so sophisticated. I wonder why it can’t track down Osama Bin Laden. Oh, wait, according to some of these woos, our government in actuality doesn’t want to find Bin Laden. Never mind. This “hologram theory,” though, goes truly beyond the pale, far beyond conspiracy theorists who claim that there was never any plane in sight, but that it was all missiles hitting the buildings, and that the photographic evidence was misinterpreted, probably intentionally, or nearly every video that was taken that day was somehow altered. But let’s hear it from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. Here is a purveyor of this particular brand of strange woo named Stefan Grossman putting forth the case for holograms:

The hologram theory says that south tower (WTC2) was not hit by a large Boeing 767-200 (flight UA175) but by a small USAF cruise missile or drone with a large holographic cloak around it that made it look like a flight UA175, i.e. a flying deception.

The hologram theory has been attacked and ridiculed like no other theory relating to 9-11. In fact, however, it is based on stringent science, on reports from the military community and on careful analysis of the photos and mainstream media news videos of the alleged “plane” crash into south tower and of at least 11 military stealth crafts close by the south tower.


Serious woo.

Breathtakingly amazing woo, so much so that I stand in awe of how anyone can believe this stuff. And it amazes me even more that Mr. Grossman seems disturbed that this theory has been “attacked and ridiculed like no other.” What reaction did he expect? People to slap themselves on the forehead and exclaim, “How obvious!”?

And there’s more:

1. Based on the MIT study of the attacks and twin tower collapse, it is established science that the visible flying craft could not have done any, nor all, of the following:

– the entering craft is in south wall’s shadow wedge but parts of the craft shine white like a lamp

– the visible flying craft emits a yellow flash instants before nose-touch-wall event
– the visible flying craft cuts six floors which is impossible (Prof. Wierzbicki, MIT)
– the entering craft creates dust pimples that blow outward as from explosions
– the sensitive wing tips do not bend or break off, nor do they flip forward
– the sensitive tips of tail rudder and elevator (winglets) do not break off
– no veer or teeter despite flying in at an angle (about 13 degrees)
– no deceleration despite calculated loss of kinetic energy of 26%
– no deformation, crumple or smash-up of the visible flying object
– no explosion until the visible flying object has faded out of sight

People who are not dumb brainwashed American hoodlums and idiots, i.e. people who can use their senses and their brains, have observed that all the videos that CNN, ABC, NBC and other mainstream news stations showed on 9-11 and the days and weeks thereafter document beyond any doubt that the visible flying craft at south tower did all of the above.

According to the video documentation, not contradicted by any eyewitnesses, the outer skin of the visible flying craft did not react with the solid steel-column south wall of south tower as a physical solid object. It behaved like a purely visual thing like a hologram. It is very clear that “something” that made a (unusually deep) plane-like noise did fly into the south wall of south tower (and then faded into the building out of sight like a TV special effect, the explosion being delayed nearly for one whole second, etc.).

2. There is sufficient news from the military community to establish a prima facie case that such a hologram technology did exist on 9-11-1. See e-book “T MINUS 9-11” at with many links in the hologram chapter, further the web sites mentioned above.

There are two military project code names for this, namely project “Ghost Gun” and project “Blue Beam”.

We actually have full proof of the existence, function and commercial useability of such 3D virtual imaging technology in form of so-called “Zebra holograms”, see a spinoff of MIT and military research.

In keeping with statements from the military community, an Air Force theory manual outlines an “airborne holographic projector” that projects clouds, mountains, troops, tanks, airplanes in the air in order to deceive enemies or enemy populations, see

These conspiracy theorists are big on pictures that purport to show that the planes supposedly “disappeared” into the buildings in a way that, according to them, was not physically possible. For example, here is one such animation. Here are more. Nearly all of them involve heavy manipulation or the dubious interpretation of what might be dust or artifacts. For example, here is a picture that purports to show the “hologram generators”:


Convinced yet, or are you just another one of those “dumb brainwashed American hoodlums and idiots” (which you obviously must be if you don’t buy this woo)? Then how about this picture?


Nahhh, those dots couldn’t possibly be specks of dust on the lens of the camera, distant aircraft, or other things. Nosirreee, they have to be hologram generators. But I see from your silence that you’re still not convinced. Well, then, how about this picture?


See? It’s clear as day. It couldn’t possibly be smoke or debris falling from the building, given how close the highlighted area is to the tower, could it? Perish the thought! It must be hologram generators. At least it is to the woos:

Diligent research has proven that these and many related photos are undoubtedly authentic. Apart from the hologram theory there is no other explanation for the many cloaked orbs in the air (nearly invisible due to their accommodation to their respective background, chameleon-type) together with the non-solid “ghost plane” that fades like a Hollywood special effect in a reactionless way into the steel highrise. The orbs were airborne holographic projectors, and the visible flying craft that did not crash but glided reactionless nearly a second prior to the explosion through the steel wall was a holographic projection, probably with a much smaller cruise missile inside (such as would fit the merely 99 foot wide entry hole). This is well within reach of the military technology and the rabidly insane intentions of the Bush-Clinton idiocracy.

So let me get this straight. To accept this woo–I mean “theory”–you have to believe a lot of highly improbable things. First, you have to believe that the U.S. government would commit mass murder of its own people in order (1) to provoke a war; (2) consolidate power; (3) protect Israel, and/or (4) eliminate civil liberties and bring about a dictatorship, plus whatever other unclear reasons that the tinfoil hat woos like to put forward. Now, I really, really don’t like President Bush, but I don’t think he’s capable of such cold-blooded murder of Americans, and I doubt even the most rabid Daily Kos diarist or commenter does, either. Even if he were, I highly doubt that he or anyone in the present government (or in the Clinton Administration, for that matter) was competent enough to pull off something like this. Next, you have to believe that the U.S. government possesses some sort of secret hologram technology so sophisticated and so convincing that its images could fool tens of thousands of witnesses, photographers and TV cameramen, many of them professionals and many of them taking pictures and amateur video from a variety of angles, into thinking that little Cruise-type missiles were in actuality big passenger airliners. Of course, these guys also seem to neglect to explain how so very realistic a roar was created as the “hologram plane” flew overhead, given that Cruise missiles are neither as large nor as loud as a passenger airliner. And, of course, the “no plane” 9/11 conspiracy theorists seem to have little or nothing to explain what happened to the passengers on the planes who died. But if you can swallow all of that with utter credulity, you still have to believe that a government in command of such awesome secret technology would use it to disguise missiles as passenger airliners when it would be far more straightforward and inexpensive to use real passenger airliners rather than such elaborate trickery (trickery that might be discovered), not to mention that the government would intentionally destroy a section of the Pentagon and kill its own soldiers and employees to achieve this and that it would crash a plane in Pennsylvania to provide a “myth” of passengers resisting the terrorists.

And that’s just the minimum you have to believe to buy this “hologram theory.” Truly, magical thinking that leads to serious woo is not something that is restricted to quacks.

Of course, looking at the pictures above, it reminded me of the sort of evidence that UFO mavens like to produce in favor of their brand of woo. Yes, it’s all there, the grainy pictures that don’t definitively show a recognizable object, the pseudoscientific analyses of photos and video, and the fervent belief that the government is hiding something from them, the only people “smart enough” to “see through” the deception. Naturally, it’s therefore not surprising that some “no plane” 9/11 conspiracy theorists would start saying that UFOs–yes, UFOs–were responsible:

2. Apart from these three large UFOs there were many strange things in the air around the Twin Towers in the morning of 9-11-1. Such as:

birds, some of them seeming unusually large
cruise missiles flying by/from the Woolworth building
helicopters buzzing above the attack site in that day’s no-fly zone.
none of them identified or identifiable (not even the birds…).

Let me put all those things aside here. They have been discussed, to the extent that they are important.

In the remoter drawers of their archives, researchers silently keep the records of the strange UFOs of 9-11. When I say strange, I mean: strange. – Details:

3. I totally agree that the UFO community is distracted with Aliens and ETs in a way that makes them sound like Chicken Little (the cartoon which runs around saying “the sky is falling”).

In other words: Believing in a massive plot by the government to use sophisticated holographic generators to hide the use of Cruise missiles to destroy the buildings and murder thousands, all in order to start a war and consolidate power, is reasonable, but don’t bring aliens or ETs into this. That’s just crazy talk. But he goes on:

Here, it wasn’t the sky is falling but the towers and the Pentagon. It takes no Chicken Little to reiterate that these buildings were attacked and fell (at the Pentagon, only a building wing, the WTC altogether). At the Manhattan towers, the many cameras of that day unwittingly captured a flotilla of unidentified and strange flying objects. Commonly acronymed as UFOs.

These appear to be advanced forms of electrokinetic/antigravity experiments of secret military programs, see:

In particular, Los Angeles has its share of observable encounters with flying orbs, see:

5. A specialized site for the Los Angeles type orbs and comparing them with the WTC orbs of 9-11-1 was the site:

This site by early April 2005 was killed, presumably because it was blabbing out hot military secrets relating to the Pentagon’s stealth technology. Fortunately for the cause of the truth coming out, archive copies exist on disk. Now I am happy to see that the site is back on the air again.

Hmmm. Not a very effective goverment conspiracy if it couldn’t shut down a simple website like Orbwar and keep it from ever going back online, is it? (Maybe its owners failed to pay their ISP bandwidth charges or something.) I mean, if there really were such a conspiracy and I were in charge of it, I’d make damned sure that websites like this went down and stayed down (or never appeared in the first place). I suppose this “conspiracy” could be letting such sites remain because they are so kooky and cast discredit upon the “real” 9/11 “skeptics,” but I probably wouldn’t take the chance. In any case, these guys look less and less like Dr. No and more and more like Dr. Evil.

But if you really want to know just how loony this “no plane” woo is, consider this quote:

Advocates of the ‘blue screen’ or ‘hologram’ theory hold that the planes that hit the World Trade Center, or at least Flight 175, were ghost aircraft and that sophisticated image projection technology was used to fake the illusion of them entering the towers.

The evidence they present to validate this notion is the contention that Flight 175 should have “bounced off” the tower yet sliced through it like a knife through butter.

The vast majority of the evidence is supported not by scientific analysis of what one would expect to happen when a large commercial airliner impacts a skyscraper at over 500 miles per hour, but with grainy Internet videos and hastily interpreted statements made by news reporters at ground zero.

If we are to believe, and the evidence suggests it to be so, that western intelligence agencies are carrying out acts of terror, to go to such lengths mandates the necessity of multi-layered fallback options if the criminals are caught red-handed. This is why a large scale terror attack is always shadowed by an almost identical government drill, as was the case with 9/11 and the 7/7 bombings. If significant and damning evidence were to be presented in a court of law powerful enough to have any impact that implicated high officials in acts of gross treason – the fallback option that it was “just part of the drill,” remains as a last chance saloon.

If we are to consider that some form of high-tech hologram technology was utilized as part of a David Copperfield style sound and lights magic show that only made it appear as if Flight 175 had hit the south tower – then we are seriously entertaining the notion that the criminals who ran the attack did not bother to construct any fallback explanation if this massive public stunt had gone wrong.

What if the bombs inside the tower had failed due to faulty wiring or had only detonated a second after the hologram had been sent into the tower? How could that one be explained away? Who in their right mind would make such a huge gamble with no fallback option?

The above was written by 9/11 conspiracy theorist true believer Paul Watson and came from Prison Planet, a veritable cornucopia of conspiracy theories and woo-filled paranoia that routinely posits that Israel knew in advance about the 9/11 attacks and were somehow complicit in them. Pat over at Screw Loose Change has the perfect rebuttal to this:

Yes, and what if the bombs in the tower that caused the controlled demolition had failed due to faulty wiring, or had detonated in the wrong order, causing a bottom-up demolition? Who in their right mind, etc?

But what really amuses me about Paul Watson’s article is what it says about the “no plane” 9/11 conspiracy theorists. After all, when people like Eric Salter, another 9/11 “skeptic” who clearly seems to believe that there was some sort of conspiracy to cover up what “really happened” on 9/11) writes a long article debunking your position and then a kook like Watson, who clearly believes that it was the U.S. government, rather than al-Qaeda terrorists acting at the behest of Osama Bin Laden, that was responsible for the destruction of the Twin Towers and the attack on the Pentagon, trashes you (and sounds almost reasonable doing it), that’s a pretty big red flag that your position is some pretty amazingly bizarre woo indeed. In fact, it should tell you something when even died-in-the-wool woomeisters like the tinfoil hat brigade that believes that 9/11 was a massive government conspiracy (rather than a result of government complacency and incompetence that allowed terrorists who had been threatening for years to attack the U.S. homeland succeed in doing so) fear being tarnished by association with you and even go so far as to write, “The hologram theory is severely damaging to the credibility that the 9/11 truth movement has fought so hard to obtain and should therefore be sidelined and shunned at all costs.”

Woo attacking even more woo-ey woo. It is a delicious irony indeed to savor.

ADDENDUM: Given that Christmas is just around the corner, here’s a little bonus woo, a little cartoon poking fun at the woo that is the 9/11 conspiracy movement: The 12 Days of 9/11. My favorite line from this parody? It’s got to be:

“Fiiiive dancing Jews!”

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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