A Scientist Watches the Evening News

I do not really believe in a cabal of conspirators sitting around a table beneath an eye-and-pyramid in a basement in Geneva any more than Descartes really believed that an Evil Genius had his brain trapped in a jar, but I think Descartes had the right idea in positing this paranoia as the only basis for a truly rational epistemology. We do not assume the worst is true, but we exercise maximum skepticism by imagining the worst and asking, "How do we know it isn't true?" The idea, for instance, that 9/11 was really the work of powerful behind-the-scenes forces who wanted to effect certain changes in the American political system and/or the world economy, and not demonic terrorists, deserves to be examined rationally. Although my personal belief is that things happened more-or-less as the mainstream media has presented them to us, I see that belief as irrelevant to the question of knowledge. I don't know what really happened on 9/11 any more than you do, and it is almost certain that neither of us ever will. We are wise, then, to withhold judgement idefinitely, and especially to avoid making important decisions based on judgements we might otherwise be tempted to make. Politicians are not citizens in a court of law and should be presumed guilty until proven innocent, for the same reasons that a man who stands to lose his life or his freedom as punishment for a crime should benefit from the opposite presumption, and that is, that it is better to err on the side of caution. For me, for now (and probably forever), 9/11 was a tragedy on par with an earthquake, a hurricane, or a tsunami: Certainly we would prefer that it never happened, but there is no one to blame for it but God.