Aircraft Accidents and Conspiracy Theorists I

Last week I was inquiring after an author. I haven’t read said author’s book, but I’ve been assured the book is well-researched and accurate. However, when I inquired about the author’s qualifications – and having provided mine – I was met with several unnecessarily deprecating remarks, such as:
“Shame with all that talent then that you haven’t cracked MH370.”
The lead-in to this quote stated by this troubled Twitter-follower of said author was that the author I was inquiring after was the last word on all things aviation. The MH370 investigation? I should bow to said author’s convictions about the probable cause of the accident; that my years in accident investigation were irrelevant when compared to said author’s unequalled experience and knowledge.
I can smell a conspiracy theorist a mile away; this twitterer who I quoted (not necessarily the author, though that’s still up to debate) reeks of conspiracy theorist because, for one, they speak in absolutes: the said author [absolutely] solved the MH370 accident from the comfort of an office, end-of-story.
Conspiracy theorists, whether they are bloviating about the grassy knoll or spending hours proving demolitions caused the collapse of Building Seven, live in a world of theory, not fact; of opinion, not truth; of hearsay, not evidence. As much as I disagree with many things the NTSB does, one thing they do consistently right is they work to clarify by facts, not obscure with intuition. Conspiracies that harp on ‘Blaming THEM’ or finding ‘Government’ to be at the bottom of all that goes wrong are not only cruel, but dangerous. To me, a conspiracy theorist is the most dangerous person around because they speak from ignorance and emotion; they refuse two-way conversation; they won’t listen to factual information; and they take away resources from those looking for the actual cause of an accident.
What facts can we take from the MH370 investigation? Little to none; those are the only FACTS. I personally know at least five people who were boots-on-the-ground involved in MH370; they know it intimately, yet each one has a different theory – based on first-hand facts – what happened to the aircraft.
Every week a new ‘expert’ has stated that they know where the airliner went down or can predict with the utmost certainty when they will find the wreckage. Truth is they’re spitballing; they have nothing to lose and everything to gain, e.g. being considered an ‘expert’ for as long as the story runs.
So why is this dangerous? All these ‘experts’ have wasted valuable time and resources chasing theories. Instead of analyzing the few facts available and coming up with one or two likely possibilities, the search crews instead search thousands of miles of ocean looking for an airliner that may be in many unrecognizable pieces across a landscape that looks like an underwater version of the Rocky Mountains. So they’ve lost valuable time. The results: finding MH370 is now like finding a needle in a haystack in a warehouse full of haystacks on a New York City block full of warehouses full of haystacks. That is accurate.
The investigation should have included law enforcement at the first hint that the B777 was intentionally crashed. Evidence pulled off the Captain’s hard drive would have been better analyzed by people, e.g. as the US’s FBI did in 9/11, who look at terrorist activities regularly. Law enforcement knows how to collect evidence without corrupting it; how to interview associates with productive questions; how to read true intentions from misdirection. For instance, if the Captain wanted the crash site to remain secret, do you think he would have left evidence on his computer of where he put the plane down? Maybe, maybe not; the fact is: we’ll never know.
But why is it cruel? I’ve had the honor to meet with many victims’ family members from other accidents. One common theme I got from them is the not knowing what happened. Imagine how every week for over two years some new ‘expert’ opens that bleeding wound with an empty hope of finding their loved ones; how each week for over two years these people are paraded in front of the cameras, their emotions awkwardly displayed for public consumption over and over and over again. I can’t think of anything crueler.
Next week we’ll look at 9/11 conspiracy theorists.
NOTE: Let me impart on future non-fiction, ‘fact-based’ conspiracy authors some advice an FAA lawyer once gave me: ‘Be careful what you call fact. Even some hints of opinion can be interpreted as fact-reporting and will be used against you in a lawsuit. Don’t slander an airline, a manufacturer or a real person.’ Your conspiracy theorist followers will treat you as if you have the plague and no one will stand by you.
It is why I write fiction; Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures.” My books feature fictional characters, non-existent airlines and made-up airliners. My stories deal with issues that affect the whole industry. I can pass on my experience in accident investigation without hurting anyone.

6 thoughts on “Aircraft Accidents and Conspiracy Theorists I”

    1. Doug, What author? Which of the many? Was he/she on site or basing the book on second hand information? Let the market decide … what? That’s the problem with conspiracy theorists, everyone has an opinion, but not often based in fact, just conjecture. I had a guy telling me that the MH370 accident was solved by a journalist, when I knew several people on site who came out with different views of what happened. Now who’s right?

    1. Doug,

      I love Eastwood’s movies, but he blundered big time when he didn’t research the accident more thoroughly. I would never refer to a movie or documentary for information; even the Mayday episode I was in was very flawed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *