Unanswered Questions: Some Thoughts On Research
EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a discussion on the research process involved with delving into the questions surrounding the events of 911. Included is an appraisal of many of the Real Deal Media web sites involved in disseminating the story. The author MalcontentX (whose main website is now at http://www.communitycurrency.org/MainIndexMX.html) is the writer of INVESTIGATION: Sept 11th - Unanswered Questions , 911 INVESTIGATION: Further Unanswered Questions and Unanswered Questions: More Thoughts On Research
Some Thoughts On Research
At the moment, (since our governments seem un-interested in carrying out an open review of the events surrounding Sept. 11th) it is up to us citizens to carry on the search for the truth, ourselves.
In doing so, we are confronted with a basic challenge:
How do we discern the truth, from so many conflicting stories? -some of which cannot be trusted for accuracy... and others, to varying degrees?
How do we discern solid information from soft?
Without the central source of information-gathering, (normally available to us in society, through government, police, etc.) and with the mass of the mainstream media prejiduced against an independent inquiry,
Let the following be but a contribution to a list of reminders about effective research, (and a reflection of the principles guiding the research you see before you):
In terms of social events, institutions, power... opinion becomes fact, (generally) in two ways:
by logical argument, (what "makes sense" to us personally); and,
to what extent an opinion is agreed upon by others around us.
Obviously, there are exceptions and limitations to this.
To a certain extent, logic, (like beauty) lies in the eyes of the beholder.
If something doesn't make sense to me -or appeal to my own interest- then I am not going to keep reading; yet sometimes, we can reject concepts or information which are actually worthy of our interest, agreement, (as is our nature, as imperfect beings).
This is why we study, contemplate, communicate: to learn more.
This is also why we consider the opinions of others: because they reflect the larger human condition; and the combined opinions of a certain group or society tends to offset the weaknesses, bias, or imperfections of our own, singular perception.
Thus, the collected body of opinion in a society is a significant measure of truth for us as individuals, and a fundamental test of our own opinion's value.
At the same time, however, it's also possible for the members of a society to be so profoundly mislead about certain truths, (for the social discourse to be so corrupted) that an individual who chooses not to be so misled must make certain adjustments in their/our own thinking.
They/we must sometimes be willing to "stand alone" in the midst of society, to maintain positions which are deemed "unpopular," "untrue," etc.
Yet this should not tempt us to reject the opinions of the "the many," out-of-hand; rather, we may need to translate those opinions, that they remain congruent with our convictions, whereby the notion of a unified, intelligent society, (as expression of truth) can be preserved.
An example of such a translation may be in our choosing to see the mass acceptance of a corrupt government policy as an expression of economic insecurity, fear, naivete, and propaganda -rather than a well thought-out, conscious conviction.
Obviously, in such a situation as this, we individuals run the risk of insulating ourselves from the opinions of others: of turning whatever "society" says, into an agreement with whatever we choose to see.
Such a danger cannot be helped or averted. It is the natural consequence of an unbalanced social condition, which can only be righted by the combined efforts of individuals who deny neither their own convictions, nor the conviction that the truth of all remains the ultimate test of one's own, (regardless of how distorted the expression of all may be).
While this translation may sometimes err on the side of the ideal or the convenient; while it may always be subject to review, transformation, etc. it is an essential ingredient of our willingness to verify what we hold to be true in the experience of others: to hold up our convictions to the mirror of "the many"- even as we hold up that mirror to a critical light.
Such is the dance we cannot do without.
In certain social circumstances, we may have to be satisfied to know that only one or two other people truly understand what we are trying to say, (if we are so lucky); and what makes such a momentary satisfaction real, is our willingness to ever-seek its expansion in a wider, more-inclusive dialogue.
The logical ideal, by which we organize our thoughts, to make them understandable, lyrical, or otherwise effective, may stand as the medium by which we attempt to adhere to the logical instincts within humanity as a whole; but given that the most absurd, unfounded arguments can also be made to sound, logical, reasonable, objective; and given the strength of our conviction, the ultimate test of our opinion's reality lies in our willingness to do...
By referencing our work, (opinion) to that of others, this does not necessarily mean that showing more voices in agreement with ours means it is more true.
Often, it is a matter of finding credible voices, which carry the weight of many other voices with them; conversely, it's often only after sifting through a large amount of material/opinion that the credible voices start clearly speaking to our ears.
Quantity of data alone is not sufficient, of course; an over-reliance on quantity can tire even the resolute reader; we must strive to be -and to look for- writers who can present substantial quantity with a simplicity of presentation.
Style too, and readability can suffer, when we reference our work: an ongoing challenge, this remains.
By giving accurate references, as to where we have gotten our information, we allow the reader to judge the value of that information for themselves; for clearly, there are other considerations to a claim of "fact" than the "fact" alone.
Credibility of Source
In general, first-hand experience is more-credible than second or third; and opinions of trained experts in a particular field are more substantive than novices.
Yet there are exceptions.
Those who experience an event first-hand may be so drawn into it, emotionally, that they are unable to see the external causes, (background circumstance, causes) with equal precision; thus, while the validation of an occurrence still stands, one’s capacity to draw the meaningful conclusions may demand an extra level of scrutiny.
In a similar vein, experts within a certain field tend to have the opinions most relevant to events and issues pertaining to it; and it’s also true that those with specialized knowledge can be so blinded to the broader consequences of their viewpoint, that they retard a meaningful understanding.
Many are the examples of medical doctors, chemists, nuclear engineers who justify or downplay hazardous practices and programs, while hiding behind a wealth of statistical data.
Further: simply because some television personality calls someone an "expert" doesn’t automatically make them one.
Another relevant component of "credibility" is access.
Generally, mainstream media sources with a lot of financial resources and government connections have a certain "credibility" that lower-budget sources do not; that is, they are able to get to the sources of influence, and/or insure on-the-scene reporting.
We know, however, (from our experience with the mainstream) that the more-powerful institutions often ignore or even cover-up details which may conflict with their corporate/establishment bias. It is more often the smaller, independent sources which consistently dig for the truth, (though such trustworthy voices are still often hard to find, in a media landscape awash with small-scale sensationalists, and big-time wannabees).
When critically assessing government, corporations, and other centers of influence, it makes sense not to base our larger analysis on mainstream sources; yet those sources are often an essential component to critical research –because of their access, and also precisely because of their tendency to tout the government line.
That is, when we find an article in a mainstream publication that gives evidence to a critical analysis of government, it is often in spite of that source’s best intentions.
They may feel compelled to report on a controversial subject, as a kind of pre-emptive strike, (to deflect critical opinion) or at ease to report on something rather routine –without realizing the significance of that fact, to those who see it from a different angle.
In such an instance, where "they" and "we" do not agree on what the facts mean, the facts themselves tend to stand more-alone, naked, less-adorned, than do the shades of "opinion."
Even the most brazenly-apologetic mainstream source has to speak the truth some of the time, in order to maintain access-credibility, (and sell advertising space). It remains for us to find the story within the evidence of the story.
Having said this, of course, it would be a mistake for us to base ourselves solely on referencing our work to the opinions and experience of others; for
journalists can (and do) line up an impressive array of "opinions" to give the appearance of a debate, when, in fact, they are all carefully orchestrated to support a single point of view, (usually the government’s).
Nor should we attempt to be absolutely objective in this process, or avoid taking sides. It’s sufficient that we present the other point of view as a reference to our criticism, and let the reader decide how well our underlying bias is grounded in objective reality.
In a serious investigation, the dilemma remains that, we can overlook no piece of reporting, or evidence –out of hand- for it may become relevant later on; yet it’s also problematic for us to base our search for truth solely on the information we provide, (i.e. the amount of it).
There is a saying that may be appropriate: "less is more."
There is no limit to the amount of information that can be placed before a mind to ascertain the simplest thing.
In of itself, information is simply dis-empowering, disheartening... enticing us into an endless sea of questions, with no way to the simplicity that true understanding reveals.
We need to be able to discern the most relevant data from the secondary; and to do this, we need to be able to turn to the heart, the gut, the inner voice –not as a replacement for the mind, but as its corrective companion.
It is this inner voice which allows us to turn off the TV, the computer, the mental chatter, the external gab, (when we need to) and let the evidence find its measure of relevance in the weight of our whole, living BEING.
To summarize, it seems that for our research to be credible, we must base our work primarily on it being well-referenced, (to credible sources); and second, on being both logically explained, and heartfelt.
As often as is possible, we should reference a statement of fact to a particular first-hand (or media) source, and we should also reference where we got that statement from, (if we got it from another source, such as on the internet).
Although statements of opinion and logic still hold their own, intrinsic value, that value is ultimately limited, unless it is accompanied by a reference to the source of evidence supporting it.
Here now is a listing of the main internet sources I have thus far used in my research, (a few which I have avoided) and some thoughts on how I have approached them.
Naturally, this is just a beginning. I do not claim this to be an exhaustive list.
I merely present them, so that you can be in the best position –to assess my outlook according to your own.
I have found it rare for authors to consistently reference their statements of fact to specific authors and publications; those that do, tend to focus in one small area of a subject in order to establish what may be generally called "proof," or "hard evidence."
It seems to be a sign of real investigative work that progress comes by slow, steady effort -needing to take into account the doubts and alternative possibilities that may arise in the minds of many possible observers.
While it's also necessary to combine this with an overview of the larger picture, generalizations are not the foundation of a real investigation.
Numerous articles and sources tend to have references to one or two pieces of evidence; then proceed to make wild, bold statements without a reference to the source. Credibility thus quickly diminishes, (though portions may still be useful).
Some sites can have credible contributions mixed in with a lot of junk –which has the effect of discrediting the good stuff, and making the weak stuff more-absorbable.
At the same time, inconsistent sites can also reveal important material, links, etc –if we are able to make the distinctions, sift through, and find them.
Ultimately, the possibility ever remains: whether a once reputable source may eventually become a source of dis-information –either through unconscious bias, or conscious design.
That an author might end up twisting what was once valuable evidence, (into some narrow theory) cannot be helped; this doesn’t discredit that evidence, if we can find credible references to it elsewhere.
A word may also be said here about the "left" and "right" sides of the political spectrum.
Without getting into a lengthy analysis of what "left" and "right" means... there are elements within both communities which offer a radical and relevant criticism of the modern state.
In general, the "left" approaches this from the viewpoint of the dis-enfranchised, (workers, minorities, women, the poor); while the "right" approaches it from the viewpoint of individual and local sovereignty –against "big government."
Out of these two basic positions develop the sometimes opposing, sometimes agreeing critiques of economics, foreign-policy, gun-control, corruption, etc.
In order to gain a full spectrum of all the available, relevant information, (from both right and left) we may need to sometimes by-pass and disregard information alongside that is skewed, uninformed, or even absurd.
Judge for yourself:
Readers may have noticed that I have referenced my work to this source more than any other.
As many other sites on the internet will attest, (both credible and not) this site is impeccable in its consistent adherence to a certain model:
present a clear viewpoint of a specific subject area, based on a detailed analysis of on-the-scene reports, (usually mainstream) while speaking to various assumptions prevailing in the larger public discourse.
The contributors' ability to see the essential component of various reports is quite remarkable. Very rarely do they express assumptions which are not clearly substantiated by the evidence provided.
One exception may be their contention that George W. Bush, Rumsfeld, etc. are guilty of treason for the defence failures of Sept. 11. As of February, 2002, this remains inconclusive, (though the inclination may yet prove accurate).
The only other weakness, (that I can detect) is a tendency to downplay the brutality of some countries that were once within the old "soviet" empire, as "western" capital moves to brutally dismember them, (Milosevic, for example). Even here, their unconventional view may prove to be instructive.
Given the geo-political reality of power in the world, this discrepency remains a relatively minor one.
In the main, their emphasis is lucid, and illuminating.
Another similar site , (which may be organizationally connected to the one above) is,
Another example of solid documentation can be found at:
This particular page features a most comprehensive, yet lucid overview of 9/11 reference-material, (though there are certainly more reports that can be added).
(The host-site features a massive amount of important information, publicly available for review, (i.e. whole books, online) including "Understanding Special Operations."
Somewhat connected to the above site is this one below -not so much information-based, as insightful. The two complement each other well.
I’ve also heard the above writer speak on the internet; and I believe it’s true that we can sometimes tell a lot about a person’s credibility by the way they speak:
Another example of solid research, (and well-known for it) is:
In my opinion, the articles I have seen here have not been as accurately referenced as the "tenc" site. This may be partly due to the "original research" character of the work, which makes it good as an advanced point of investigation: still requiring a more-careful, detailed presentation... to be considered as "solid."
It appears to be the author's presentation of the broader social picture which leaves the greatest impression with readers/listeners.
Two examples of this may be found at,
show #48; and,
Scroll down to find the article by Micheal Ruppert.
A site with an extraordinary amount of useful information, (substantially updated on a daily basis, it seems) is:
The main limitation here is poor organization; there is so much information being continually added that what was thoroughly covered two weeks ago becomes "yesterday's news"; but if readers don't mind scrolling down and saving web pages, their efforts will likely bear fruit.
Another site of merit:
Here is a web page with an excellent overview of the Sept. 11th attacks, particularly in its listing of American military invasions/interventions over the last fifty years.
The rest of the site may, or may not be of equal value. I have not yet had time to examine it.
Next we come to a site which offers insight, with volumes of information; yet it's often poorly organized, characterized by a right-wing bias which, though often principled, seems marred by unresolved internal contradictions –all of which forces the reader to do a lot of extra sifting.
The author, (a former naval-intelligence officer) was recently killed in a shootout with police. (Oct. 2001)
Then we come to site which is problematic, though the author, (Sherman Skolnick) seems to be sincere in his battle against corruption, (has apparently proven to be an effective opponent against it) and is able to grasp massive amounts of information, (if an appearance on internet-radio is any indication).
(Click on "Archived Shows," then "2000 archive," then scroll down to show #6)
(NOTE: These comments here do not refer to the Black Op Radio series, which is a credible, leading edge investigative resource. Here, Sherman appears to be at his best).12:19 AM 10/04/2002
Perhaps it is more out of the author’s irritating, impatient personality –than anything else- that he falls into the trap of presenting views without documentation, under the banner of "original research." In my view, the author makes leaps and jumps from one statement to the next, which do make some sense –yet it is not a site I would recommend for those trying to establish the rigors of disciplined research.
Judge for yourself:
Next we move into the "spooky-conspiracy" realm. This is where certain personalities have figured out that there is a commercial gain to be had by hyping various criticisms of government. Now, because there are ample reasons to criticize modern government, and because sincere and important (often ostracized) critics are often open to almost any kind of publicity they can get, (simply to get the word out); some of these shows contain some worthwhile material.
One of the best of these I have found is:
Amidst a listing of unsubstantiated articles, claims about miracle-herbs, ufo’s, ancient mysteries, I found a surprising amount of useful information in the archives.
Of limited value is:
Some good stuff is mixed in with a whole lot of crap. The best material I have seen from here is frequently collated at the above whatreallyhappened.com site.
The site below, (which seems to be a consistent expert in providing dis-information, i.e. some real info. inter-mixed with a lot of junk) I avoid practically any and all reference to:
Finally, we come to what may be termed the "mainstream" of serious "left"-political criticism.
By this, I do not refer to "liberals," or the democratic-party-machine.
It is rather dubious, in fact, to use the term "mainstream" –in relation to this community of opinion- for such viewpoints are so-thoroughly unreported in the mainstream media, as to be on the radical "fringe" on most people’s television sets.
I use the term "mainstream" here, to distinguish this voice from others on the left that some may describe as "speculators," "conspiracy theorists", etc. (some of whom are, in fact, solidly grounded in reality, and absolutley essential to a meaningful review in this case).
The strength of this "mainstream" perspective, (as far as "Sept 11th is concerned) is in its critique of U.S. (and "western") foreign policy.
Both these sites below, are strong on documentation and analysis; they remain amongst the best sources for alternative daily news; yet perhaps because this community is strongly focused on communicating with the mass of the general population, it tends to be wary of expressing what many within its ranks may already be suspicious of, (i.e. Sept 11, governments which lie, past CIA shenanigans, the drive towards fascism) –that is, until there is a body of evidence to support it.
The caution here is both a strength and a weakness: strength, because a mass movement is indeed what is required for significant social change to occur; weakness, because the desire to be understood by the masses often means speaking to a public mindset which has already been profundly framed by the status quo.
In order to "reach" the people, it is sometimes necessary to step outside of the frame of what we think "the people" are ready to hear... i.e. what is "possible," "defensible" –and leave the mindsets of the general population temporarily behind; make a strategic retreat, follow a hunch, dig for the evidence, build a case.
The initial drive to uncover what has been concealed around Sept 11 will not likely come from this community –though they represent an essential ally, once a significant body of information has become established.
Also of value from the "left" side of the spectrum, are the various indymedia sites, located in numerous cities throughout the world, (i.e. dc.indymedia.org) -and, as an internet "chat" mechanism, tao.ca
A few final comments:
A strength of the internet is that, as a text medium, our research by it does not tend to be plagued by the manipulations of sound and graphics so characteristic of CNN and the mainstream media.
As such, I would encourage everyone to notice just how insidious the use of video graphics and music is within mainstream presentations.
Footage of jets taking off, bombs destroying buildings with the entertainment value of a video game, offers much voyeuristic pleasure, little substance; yet they are persuasive to many watching at home.
Hopefully, the internet will prove to offer a lasting tonic to this prostituted art of presentation.
Whether we meet someone in person, hear them on audio, or read their thought in text, each person carries within them the structure of their own world view.
A person's "world-view" may be expressed in volumes of words, complex theories, explanations; yet always, there is an underlying simplicity.
If we can grasp it, this simplicity may offer us valuable insight -into how trustworthy a source is, in our search for the truth.
In terms of human society, I would say that the simplest, most understandable way this world-view tends to be expressed is in what may be called the relation between "good" and "evil."
Now, some readers may be understandably uncomfortable with the above terms, (for, as we know, immoral people often speak about the "evil" in others, to justify their own ends); I use the term here, simply to denote the capacity for human beings to make good and bad moral decisions. Our ability to recognize that capacity, that challenge, (within ourselves) leads to our ability to recognize it in others; that is, the willingness of another to receive the whole truth, as it is.
For example: there are some people who are decidedly angry, who may have a certain amount of self-respect, and offer relevant insight, yet have little to offer by way of a positive alternative; others may be sincerely inspired with the potential within, yet be naively unable to deal with the real constraints that keep it from becoming a reality in the practical world.
Others simply offer up what knowledge they can, leaving the truly difficult moral dilemmas to others.
I believe it is in a person’s capacity to love, as well as their willingness to see how unloving people can choose to be, (in the context of a complex society) that I hear and see the deepest capacity to see and express the truth.
How deep the disappointment? How wide the compassionate heart? How high the hope? How great the guts required? -to come down off the visionary mountain-top and make it happen?
Ultimately, of course, our capacity to see and hear that capacity for truth in others, depends upon our own willingness to see and feel the tears of joy and sorrow within ourselves.
Sometimes, the gut speaks volumes; may it often be so.
I hope this overview helps you in your research, and that you have a better understanding of whatever biases may have gone into my own analysis.
Good luck to us all.
See also... Unanswered Questions: More Thoughts On Research