Prof. Michael Keefer: Critical Thinking on 9/11 & the War on Terror @ University of Waterloo


Michael Keefer, Professor of English at the University of Guelph
His presentation, "Critical Thinking on 9/11 and the War on Terror", addressed an audience at the University of Waterloo. There were several important topics covered such as mitigated skepticism, scientific method, witch hunts and torture, hermeneutics, the hierarchy of evidence and the flawed arguments of defenders of the official narrative of the events of 9/11.

Transcript/Summary of the Presentation:

The events of 9/11 were epoch making and there is a need to address issues of method – how we organize our thinking and ideas with regards to major current world problems. In particular, why have so many astute people not come to terms with processing the physical and material evidence of 9/11. A careful application of critical thinking, mitigated scepticism, hermeneutics (the philosophy of interpretation) and elementary principles of the scientific method are sufficient is showing that the official narrative of 9/11 is demonstrably false or scientifically absurd.

The events of 9/11 have been used to justify aggressive wars of genocidal intensity and assaults on fundamental legal principles which were developed over centuries. An excellent example that connects the present and past with regards to the corruption of law is the use of torture in the 16th century.

Early law codes in the 16th century, Constitutio Criminalis Carolina adopted in the states of the Roman Empire under the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in 1530. At the time, they had conceived of torture as the basic means of gathering information. Across Western Europe during the 18th century, “jurists came to understand that torture, apart from its functions as an instrument of state terror and as a means of inflicting agony, and mental breakdown of its victims, served only to enforce the words of the oppressors into the words powerless”, says Dr. Keefer. Jurists of the 18th century enlightenment were proud that they eliminated torture. This process occurred over a long period of time. From Edward Peters to Alfred McCoy, there was agreement amongst these scholars of torture that the evidential value of torture was zero.

Unfortunately, with the ‘War on Terror’ – we are seeing and are being subjected to the cancelation of the enlightenment of legal principles which is obviously a “reversion to the legal barbarity of the age that brought us the European witch-hunts of the 15th and 17th century”, says Dr. Keefer. The people of the time were told that society is under attack by a satanic conspiracy of murders with sleeper cells everywhere. This belief was sustained by judges, lawyers, theologians, and university teachers. Opposing this conspiracy was considered to be a “crimen exceptum” – a crime beyond crime that required violent and severe punishment. This is the unfortunate world, that Western Europe escaped from, is what we are reverting to. Interestingly, all the crucial evidence that links Osama to the events of 9/11 provided in the 9/11 Commission Report comes from torture – much of which was destroyed by the CIA.

Dr. Keefer explained the quality of mind required for critical thinking by exploring the semantic field that provides the equipment people need to think of crucial moments requiring judgement. Michael Shermer is a partial skeptic where, at times, he can be corrosively sceptical or mindlessly unskeptical of his own dogmas, the latter applying to his inability that concerns the official narrative of 9/11. Mitigated scepticism is an attitude that values critical interrogation not only of what others say and think but also reflexively to one’s own. Shermer certainly has a lot to learn.

In the second half of Dr. Keefer's presentation, he discussed the significance of poor arguments that focus on human contingencies – although they are worth considering, they ultimately do not trump the physical and material evidence – the latter being of a different order that cannot be trumped by “how many whistle blowers are there”. It’s a categorical error made by philosopher and the media everyday – an embarrassing error. To debate how the buildings came down is a technical issue that has its own category.

Organized by the University of Waterloo 9/11 Research Group.