Ten mythical years later

A couple of decades ago, the magazine Popular Mechanics was doing a cover story on the secret Nevada military base Area 51. Seeking art for the article, the magazine went to the Pentagon for photos of the base and was refused. So editors turned to Russia, which sold PM a very clear black and white satellite photo of the base.

The magazine has been using that kind of inventiveness more frequently as the years have passed and society has become more gullible. Originally a strictly technical magazine, Popular Mechanics has taken on the job of trying to quash myths and rumors about technology that bewitch the easily bewitched and that sometimes—usually unfortunately—affect public policy.

The current edition is typical. Not only is there a new cover story on Area 51 to freak out the conspiracy folks, but—just in time for the 10-year anniversary—there’s information on the new edition of the Popular Mechanics book Debunking 9/11 Myths to freak out the “truthers.” For 10 years, truthers have had a good thing challenging fundings about the September 11 tragedies. But PM is not wild about the Republican notion of letting the public vote on the facts. “But the facts surrounding Sept. 11, 2001, do matter,” according to Popular Mechanics editor James Meigs. “If there were even the slightest truth to the allegations of conspiracy theorists, those facts would be of the gravest geopolitical and historical importance.” He said the magazine’s reporters have found that critics of official September 11 findings have “twisted, misrepresented or flatly made up” their information.

Truthers have challenged official findings on the strength of the trade towers, whether the planes that hit the towers were commercial airliners, whether Flight 93 was shot down, whether official agencies were involved and so on.

A PM article on some of the September 11 myths can be found at www.popularmechanics.com/technology/military/news/1227842.