Do Information Science and Media Professionals Have a Duty to Provide Evidence-Based Information to a Questioning Public?
The ALA ethical statements provide guidance:
- We provide the highest level of service to all library users through appropriate and usefully organized resources; equitable service policies; equitable access; and accurate, unbiased, and courteous responses to all requests.
- We uphold the principles of intellectual freedom and resist all efforts to censor library resources.
- We distinguish between our personal convictions and professional duties and do not allow our personal beliefs to interfere with fair representation of the aims of our institutions or the provision of access to their information resources.
Similarly, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) states that “respect for truth and for the right of the public to truth is the first duty of the journalist.”
The American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) states that:
“the primary purpose of gathering and distributing news and opinion is to serve the general welfare by informing the people and enabling them to make judgments on the issues of the time.”
ASNE adds that:
“freedom of the press belongs to the people. It must be defended against encroachment or assault from any quarter, public or private. Journalists must be constantly alert to see that the public’s business is conducted in public. They must be vigilant against all who would exploit the press for selfish purposes.”
The IFJ defines press freedom as:
“that freedom from restraint which is essential to enable journalists, editors, publishers and broadcasters to advance the public interest by publishing, broadcasting or circulating facts and opinions without which a democratic electorate cannot make responsible judgments.”
The IFJ “Clause of Conscience” even seeks to protect journalists, by stating that:
“No journalist should be directed by an employer or any person acting on behalf of the employer to commit any act or thing that the journalist believes would breach his or her professional ethics…No journalist can be disciplined in any way for asserting his or her rights to act according [to] their conscience.”
Thus we see that librarians and media professionals have both the responsibility and the ethical support of their associations to seriously question 9/11, especially if that responsibility is the public wish – and the polls indicate that it is.
To recap: A parallel can be drawn between evidence-based medicine, which provides a standard of information for human health, and evidence-based library science and journalism, which could equally provide a standard of information for democratic and political health.
Using the scientific method, EBM ranks various types of evidence according to their freedom from bias. In reporting on controversies relating to the events of September 11, library science and journalism could equally draw on types of evidence that are free from bias.
Whether or not these professionals have a realizable ethical responsibility to provide the best evidence to their clients can only be gauged by determining whether they have access to such evidence.
I turn now to an examination of the available sources of evidence-based knowledge on the events of September 11.
6. Evidence-Based 9/11 Literature Sources
The literature of 9/11 can be divided into US government documents, which support the official account of 9/11, and the body of literature that has emerged from the professional research community through dissatisfaction with this account.
Government Documents Advancing the Official Story of September 11th
A 9/11 investigation was resisted by the White House and only granted under pressure from the surviving families nearly two years after the event. The 9/11 Commission was a low-budget affair (costing a fraction of the Monica Lewinsky investigation) and tightly controlled by a White House insider, Philip Zelikow.
Commissioner Lee Hamilton said the 9/11 Commission was “set up to fail.” Commissioner Timothy Roemer was “extremely frustrated with the false statements” coming from the Pentagon, and former commissioner Max Cleland resigned, calling it a “national scandal.”
Among 115 other omissions,  The 9/11 Commission Report failed to mention the sudden straight-down collapse at 5:30 PM of nearby WTC Building 7, an enormous steel-frame skyscraper 47 stories high that was not hit by an airplane.
Thus the Report, which is incomplete, lacks peer review, and has been shunned by its own Commissioners, can hardly be viewed as an evidence-based study.
The other central documents in the official account were prepared over a seven-year period by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), in an attempt to explain the strange vertical, nearly free-fall collapses of the Twin Towers and Building 7. There was no consideration given to a controlled demolition hypothesis, though the attending firefighters and TV anchors (including CBS anchor Dan Rather and ABC anchor Peter Jennings) suggested the uncanny similarity at the time.
The NIST reports were not peer-reviewed. Sixty days were given for public comment on the first draft, but the comments, and many serious concerns that were raised, were almost entirely ignored in writing the final report.
As the building collapse reports were not peer-reviewed, they cannot be judged as evidence-based.
Independent Scientific Research Opposing the Official Story of September 11th
Perhaps the best evidence challenging the official story has been compiled by Prof. Emeritus Dr. David Ray Griffin, who was mentioned above. Griffin taught theology and the philosophy of religion, with a heavy focus on the relation between religion and science, for 35 years, and has written nine carefully researched and documented books that together represent “the known” in relation to verifiable knowledge about 9/11.
At the present time, a website offering Dr. Griffin’s books, videotaped lectures, and online essays is the best single source of online evidence-based knowledge on 9/11.