Herr KaLeun wrote:
But that’s probably just me. I also believe that Lee Harvey Oswald shot John F. Kennedy, that terrorists
and not the US government blew up the World Trade Center, and that Neil Armstrong did walk on the moon in 1969.
I would argue that the human desire for social, economic, or sexual rewards is typically much, much stronger than the human desire to impartially seek absolute truth. To give an example, imagine the following scenario. You are a college student. You are convinced that religion/belief system X is objectively true. So you go to a few meetings associated with X. You are very disappointed with the quality of person at those meetings. On the other hand, you find yourself very attracted to many of the students at the Mithras worship sessions. So you take one of them aside, and try to convert her to X. She sees your efforts as an attack, and avoids you in the future. You try this on one or two others, and they respond the same way.
Undaunted, you persist in attending the meetings of X, while eschewing Mithras worship. Then you get out into the real world and start looking for work. One of the hiring managers you talk to is very pro-Mithras, and openly states his desire to hire only other Mithras people. You mention your dissatisfaction with that encounter to some other hiring manager. That other hiring manager completely shares your disgust. Then he adds that it’s completely obvious that Mithras is a joke, and that everyone should be worshiping Thor. He sees your story as confirmation of the rightness of his own decision to hire Thor worshipers only. Displeased by all this, you decide that you’ll only get hired if you network through other members of X. You do plenty of networking, but never come across anyone within X who has the authority to hire you.
Displeased by your love life (due to only being able to date believers in X), and displeased with your vocational situation, how long will it be before you begin to proclaim your enthusiastic devotion to Mithras? Even if you, personally, would never get pushed to that point, the average person would. In environments where there is strong social, economic, or sexual pressure to profess a belief in ____________, most people will profess that belief, completely irrespective of that proposition’s truth.
Take the September 11th attacks for example. Supposedly, it was the journalists’ job to investigate the government’s claims rigorously and impartially before accepting them. Did the journalists in question do that research? Or, might they have been pressured (with threat of job loss or otherwise)? If such pressure existed, their apparent consensus on the September 11th issue should be seen as a social consensus, not an intellectual consensus. (An intellectual consensus is the result of analysis of facts and data. A social consensus is the result of social pressure.) Obviously, a social consensus communicates information about social factors only, and does not communicate information about the underlying truth or falsehood of any given proposition.
I do not claim to know whether the consensus on the September 11th attacks is a social consensus or an intellectual consensus. If the former, it is noise to be ignored. If the latter, the data and logic which led to that consensus can and should be carefully examined. If both are found solid, then and only then can we safely join that consensus. This is the approach one should use toward every historical consensus, not just the September 11th attacks only.