Umberto Eco on conspiracies and 9/11

In the September issue (vol. 4, 2008) of the Norwegian magazine Aftenposten Innsikt, the Italian writer Umberto Eco comments on the conspiracy theories surrounding the terrorist attack on New York in 2001. The article is translated from French and was first printed in a magazine called L’Esresso in 2007.

Eco claims that 9/11 was what it appeared to be, and that all the different conspiracy theories that surround it are wrong. His argument is that people (in general) are too stupid to come up with a plan regarding keeping something secret that would hold water. He thinks this, of course; the statement is hard to prove and even harder to disprove. The conspiracy theories are thus disproven since noone involved has talked yet. (Funny this proof, what if someone talks tomorrow?)

He elaborates his statement a little bit. He claims that from experience we know that if a secret exists, even though only one person knows, someone will talk at some point. In particular, there is always someone willing to talk for money.

I actually picked up this magazine in part because of the Eco article which looked interesting. I must admit; ‘Eco’ sounded famous and I assumed he had something sensible to say. I was disappointed. I find his statement to be utter rubbish, and I find some of his rhetoric to be tasteless. We, as he says, have no way of knowing whether there exist people, or groups of people for that matter, that are able to keep a secret. I am positively sure that such people exist, but we cannot prove it. Money? To some, (any amount of) money has less value than certain other things, I am sure. Let me refine this point: We talk about keeping a secret here, and not selling your kid or something, which hopefully very few would do. That some people cannot be bought may be hard to understand for people from the western world (even though it does not require all that much imagination), were we are taught to put money values on most things. Finally, when it comes to his rhetorical ‘tricks’, I will only comment on one of them: His use of the royal ‘we’. The form is common in science and mathematics and is meant to include or engage the reader. Here the effect is that Eco is extrapolating his experience onto the reader, which basically has to accept the statement (at least for the sake of argument) to be able to move on. This is cheap, and I don’t like it.

Let me add that I do not mean to defend any particular conspiracy theory about 9/11. I believe that 9/11 mainly was what it appeared to be, even though some of the facts may not seem to add up. But maybe I am wrong.

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3 Responses to “Umberto Eco on conspiracies and 9/11”

  1. unownednews Says:

    haha, oh indeed you are wrong. id start checking out some 9/11 truth research

    http://www.ae911truth.org
    http://www.patriotsquestion911.org
    911blogger

    Also, check out some of the new documentaries that have just been released over the past few weeks, such as Zero and Fabled Enemies. Zero was just played in Russia for 30 million viewers on 9/11, and Fabled Enemies came out as google’s #1 video and then was pulled off the top video list within 24 hours of being released.

  2. Brother Says:

    I know that “Kvams” has seen this, but to you others that read this – check out http://www.zeitgeistmovie.com/main.htm.

    “The more you educate your self, the more you see where things come from, the more obvious things become and you begin to see lies everywhere. You have to know the truth and seek the truth – and the truth will set you free.”

  3. Marc Rhodes Says:

    Could you help me figure out where Umberto has said “In the middle ages, God saved man- but in the Renaissance, man saved God.”

    I need to do a paper about why he said that, and though I think I know…I would rather be sure.

    Any help would be appreciated – even if you could just point me to some good resources.

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