A poll conducted earlier this month showed that 15% of people in the US believe that collapse of the World Trade Center on 9/11 was caused by a controlled demolition. And that number gets even smaller when the missile and hologram theories are introduced. This makes the mission of groups like Remember Building 7—which is attempting to raise money and support for an independent investigation of 9/11—very difficult. To succeed, the group is trying to divorce itself from the more conspiracy-hungry "truthers," so on Saturday, they held a conference in Hartford with 9/11 family members, architects, engineers, attorneys, and journalists. We schlepped all the way there to bring you back the truther!

Engineer Tony Szamboti and chemist Kevin Ryan did a thorough job of questioning the credibility of the official conclusion [pdf] that Building 7 collapsed from fire—even the officials who wrote it weren't initially keen on its conclusions. But there were frequent standing ovations as this information was presented, and without any debate from qualified professionals on the other side of the issue, it was hard to verify what was true and what was pabulum for a sympathetic audience.

Most glaring was the near-uniform method with which the speakers refused to answer the question, "Why?" Dr. Graeme MacQueen echoed this demurral in asking, "If Building 7 was brought down by a controlled demolition…we have to ask the question 'why?' Why have we been lied to for nine and a half years? Why did they do it? These are all valid questions, but I won't visit them today." Tune in next conference?! We took Amtrak and a shuttle all the way up here on a Saturday! The question of motive is a giant, underhand wiffle ball thrown to the folks who put the Pope on the grassy knoll, and forces demolition advocates to strain their own credibility to answer it. It's essential to their cause that it is at least discussed.

And discussed it was—but only in the aisles and the lobby. People in t-shirts emblazoned with "DEMAND TRUTH" discussed insurance fraud, the 2000 PNAC report that calls for a "new Pearl Harbor," Operation Northwoods, and a total lack of any involvement by Al Qaeda. It was compelling to hear old journalistic war stories from a panel that included NYU professor Mark Crispin Miller and author/journalists Craig Unger, Dick Russell and Leslie Griffith, but all shied away from explicitly stating their own take on 9/11 and instead referred to events like the "October Surprise" and Watergate as precedent for a massive government conspiracy.

Is the personal toll that these beliefs have exacted on the faithful worth it? 9/11 family members spoke of the need to "save our anger," with one even tearfully stating how "my neighbors are scared to death of me...my wife and I don't go out anymore" before launching into a tirade in which he doubted that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was alive and stated unequivocally that "Muslims had nothing to do with 9/11." One architect cheerfully noted how "I lost my house and my wife...but it's worth it." That's right! You too can trade everything in this life that brings you joy for endless rehashing of senseless destruction and total ostracization. Oh, and a tote bag. Also, could you spot us $250?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines "conspiracy" as "a secret plan by a group to do something unlawful or harmful." We have no doubt that members of our government have and will commit many conspiracies. But a firm belief in Occam's Razor coupled with the fact that our president couldn't even keep his pizza and blowjobs under wraps leaves this writer thoroughly unconvinced. Nine years after 9/11, Americans have cast off the color-coded terror alert system, eschewed the porno scanners and don't see terrorism as a top priority anymore. Maybe we can get cracking on a few of those other issues we have?