Following up on my earlier post, I should mention a possibly-not-religious nut from academia. Fortunately, his 15 minutes are nearly up. I heard him on NPR this morning, because, well, they sometimes roast nuts on the air. The Tribune also picked up the story:
[University of Wisconsin lecturer Kevin] Barrett believes the U.S. government orchestrated the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, to create support for a larger military budget and a long-term Middle East war. He believes the World Trade Center buildings fell after a controlled demolition and doubts that the hijacker believed to have flown the plane into the Pentagon had the skills to do it. He thinks Osama bin Laden is probably dead.
"I have always been trying to distinguish myself from all the weird people," he said, recalling past ventures as a writer. "Little did I imagine I would have become devoted to exposing what most people think of as a conspiracy theory."
From this we can deduce...what, class? Number one: Barrett has not done a good job distinguishing himself from the weird people. Number two: most people think of his hypothesis as a conspiracy theory because it imagines—wait for it—a conspiracy. We should keep in mind that the generally-accepted theory of 9/11 (stupidity at the highest levels of government, 19 fanatical terrorists with no regard for human life, airplanes as guided missiles, Osama bin Laden behind it all) also imagines a conspiracy, so I'm wondering if Barrett might have forgotten an adjective to differentiate his conspiracy theory from the others. (I can think of one.)
Number three: the generally-accepted theory of 9/11 has volumes of corroborating evidence, and his hypothesis has none, which we take to mean the generally-accepted theory may be more correct. Number four: even absent said volumes of corroborating evidence, the generally-accepted theory sounds a lot more plausible on its face. (Kevin Barrett, meet William of Ockham. William, Kevin. You guys really need to have a chat.)
So, yes, even in academia, kooks abound. And because academic nut-jobs rarely have heavily-armed followers, it's OK to laugh at them.