Occam's Boxcutter

by Scott Aaronson

Warren D. Smith is not only a mathematician; he's an iconoclastic political thinker as well. His home page contains numerous opinion pieces in which, he asserts, "our hero [Smith] often finds himself puncturing the 'conventional wisdom,' usually supporting himself with lots of facts, figures, and math at every turn." His essay WTC bombing - who did it and what should the response be? shows just how unafraid he is to contradict prevailing dogma.

    ... Israel now is likely to get: more US financial and military aid, aid in wars against its perceived enemies, squelching (in the name of 'patriotism') of anybody who is against nasty-Israeli-policies, further international cooperation, etc. ...

    So: could it be that the entire 'attack on the US' was in fact an Israeli secret service operation, perhaps even carried out with the aid of genuine Arab fanatics recruited under a 'false flag' (to use the intelligence lingo for this kind of operation)?

Smith received a B.Sc. in physics and mathematics from MIT in 1984, and a PhD in applied mathematics from Princeton in 1988. According to his resume, he achieved perfect scores on both the math and physics GRE subject tests. When he's not battling the Zionist conspiracy, he studies such things as the computational complexity of simulating physical theories.

"As far as I can see," he says, "100% of the evidence released so far to the press in support of the 'Arab terrorist hypothesis,' in fact, is equally consistent with my 'Mossad false-flag hypothesis.' How can we distinguish between these two alternatives? It seems to me to be extremely difficult to do."

Clearly, Smith didn't get that math PhD for nothing. Yet, with Holmesian investigative genius, he does manage to uncover evidence favoring the Mossad hypothesis over the Arab-terrorist alternative.

    Why did the supposedly incredibly clever Arab terrorists, who had planned this for over a year, and who supposedly meant to keep the source of the attack secret, do super-dumb things like: use their real names, leave behind convenient Arabic flight manuals, and leave behind a very convenient suicide note? Can they have been both that smart and that stupid at the same time? (If it had been you, would you have done that?)
Indeed. I wouldn't have done anything that stupid, were I a suicide hijacker.

Also: "Why was Israel (supposedly the only place these Arabs hate worse than the US) not also attacked?"

It is suspicious how Israel never seems to get attacked by terrorists.

After laying out his case, Smith modestly places the probability that the attacks were masterminded by Israel at only 50%, even though his own reasoning shows the true probability to be closer to 99.997%. And yet, I'm afraid, his argument collapses under the weight of its own validity, much like the famed Epimenides sentence. For consider: in time, the entire world will recognize the undeniable force of his reasoning, and will thus unleash its fury against Israel. What could Israel possibly gain by perpetrating what was sure to be exposed as a false-flag operation?

There is only one possible explanation. A devious network of Arab extremists recruited unwitting Mossad agents, telling them that by recruiting unwitting Arab extremists for suicide hijackings, they could precipitate an anti-Arab backlash that would benefit Israel. But the extremists knew all along who the real victims would be.

Smith could no doubt respond that a Mossad cabal framed an Arab terrorist cabal to frame a Mossad cabal to frame an Arab terrorist cabal. But that, of course, would be harebrained conspiracy-mongering, and as such unlikely to persuade those not already seething in anti-Israel venom.

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