Sunday, August 02, 2015

Why did Willie Waste his Time?

I've probably said it too many times: in our brave new world of  instant information, no sooner does something happen but that it didn't. It's almost as though there were some Newtonian law about information producing equal and opposite information and another linking lack of information producing baseless certainty in inverse proportion,  I'm not 100% sure about how the pyramids were built, so it must be Martians.

It's not new.  In the century since the Titanic went down, lives have been spent proving that it wasn't a collision with an iceberg, if indeed the great ship ever sank. It was a different ship, it was a coal bunker fire covered up by the White Star company, etc.

Of course anything to do with the demise of Osama bin Laden inspires beliefs related more to one's personal politics and propensities toward recreational paranoia than to evidence. Who shot him? At the order of whom?  Is he actually dead or still hiding?  Had he been dead for years and any other permutation you can dream up:  assumption based on hypothesis derived from irrelevant observations litter the landscape. Finding the wreck and its obvious iceberg damage may have quieted some of the speculative certainty about the Titanic, but the principle survives.  Lack of evidence or surfeit of evidence - if it happened, the fun of denying it, the thrill of denial is too strong to resist.

So when I read about the plane crash in England which killed three members of Osama bin Laden's family  on Friday I started my stopwatch.  It didn't take long for it not to have happened and for old William of Ockham to take another somersault in his grave.  The conclusion demanding the fewest inventions or which leans on the least speculation has the best chance of being true.  OJ Simpson with the blood on his socks or Colombian drug lords for whom there is no evidence taking vengeance for a drug deal for which there is no evidence?  Why did Willie waste his time?  The crash in which the plane overshot the runway and went into a car auction happened in full view of hundreds and in front of  cameras - or did it?

Although the crash in Hampshire was witnessed, recorded, bodies recovered and all facts beyond dispute, " It just doesn't add up" says someone who wasn't there and why?  because it was a safe airplane that shouldn't have crashed.  Too many safety functions and because the airport had too long a runway for the pilot to have overshot it.

 ‘Why, if [the pilot] thought his angle was completely wrong – which is what happened in this case – didn’t he power up the engines to simply go round and try again?’

Said a pilot who had landed there before. Certainly no pilot ever did such a thing, no pilot ever made a gross error.  It's much more fun to see it as a conspiracy.   No driver ever stepped on the wrong pedal, no driver ever failed to see what was in front of him -- no astronaut ever pulled the wrong lever.  No mountain of evidence is so massive that it can't be ignored by an appeal to ignorance.

So you ask, your Honor, why I deny running that light despite the eye witness and the photograph? Well why would I do that as a safe driver and in a car with good brakes?  "I've never done that before so why now and how do you know it wasn't the twin brother I can't produce. . . . ?  Besides I would have been justified because of the Colombian drug lord was chasing me!

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