"We do not talk about things that we do not have enough experts to tell us about"

From http://backofthebook.ca/media/2008/06/we-do-not-talk-about-things-that-we-do.html

(Part 1 of 2)

While researching my next-to-last post (and did you realize that "blogging" and "research" are not necessarily mutually exclusive?), I came across the following video:

In it, a very earnest and nervous woman confronts Alan Gregg, Chantal Hébert, and Andrew Coyne after a taping of the CBC political panel "At Issue," with a question about the media's handling of the events of 9/11:

"Why has the media failed to investigate the most glaring anomalies of 9/11, like the freefall collapse of the third tower, Building 7, or interview any of the high-ranking dissenters of the official 9/11 conspiracy theories --"

The Truther doesn't get to finish her question. Before she can, her companion notes that the events have affected Canadian policy, and Hébert humbly interjects that "It's the strength of our panel that we do not talk about things that we do not have enough experts to tell us about" (at least that's what I hear; judge for yourself).

Some screenshots from along the route of the questioning may be instructive:

Also before our Truther finishes, Gregg insists "I'm completely unqualified to answer this question." This, mind, before the question has actually been posed. Granted, the preamble is a bit long-winded, but that's entirely because most mainstream pundits need to be informed of basic facts surrounding 9/11 before they can be asked about them.

After expressing their regret at being uninformed, Gregg and Hébert make for the exits. Coyne, to his credit, remains to engage the woman. What follows is less admirable.

Now, I was going to take off after Coyne for his responses: that you couldn't keep quiet "all the people who'd have to be involved," or that "people have actually looked at this in some detail, and the people whose judgment I trust have looked at this in some detail and don't find it credible." But I think, first, I'll ask some questions. After all, maybe Mr. Coyne will have some better responses this time around.

So, Andrew. (May I call you Andrew? You may remember that we worked across the hall from each other for a few months. Or maybe not.) Here are my two, simple questions:

- Who do you mean when you talk about the people who have looked at this in some detail?

- And, who are the people "whose judgment [you] trust who have looked at this in some detail and don't find it credible"?

Maybe they're the same people in both instances, in which case that's a single question. Even simpler.

Now, you may suppose that Andrew Coyne doesn't check into backofthebook.ca on a regular basis, and you'd probably be right. So, in addition to e-mailing him a link to this article, I'm going to advertise it on a few sites -- including andrewcoyne.com. One way or another, hopefully he'll see it. I'll let you know if he replies (or he can simply click on that Comment link down there).

Mr. Gregg and Mme. Hébert are also welcome to respond, but I wouldn't count on it. After all, we already know they're too busy to answer questions after the cameras are turned off.

This is painful to watch

The lady needs to understand the value of "Less is More", when engaging people in a situation like this. As she drones on watch the body language of the trio. Tune out and escape time.

Does anyone think that the Socratic method would have worked better here?


...it's hard to say. And it's easier to criticize it watching it over the internet. Actually being there, it's a little harder. Just keep trying. Don't quit on the truth. That's the key.

"Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government." -The Declaration of Independence