Grothe vs Shaddock Debate - 2024

Douglas .J. Grothe (former JREF president) and I continue the debate on his Substack channel.

D.J. began by posting an ad hominem photo of a tin hat man.  Then:

1.  D.J. is concerned that I might not stay on topic, so there is no use to trying to debate.

2.  If  he debates, then it will bring legitimacy to "fringe theories" so it is best not to hear them.

3. He has about 200000 subscribers and does not want them to question the Official Conspiracy Theory.


Debating conspiracy theorists

And my reasons for declining

A prominent conspiracy theorist has recently been chasing me to do a public debate on various topics, and somehow tracked down my home address. This is my explanation to him for why I refuse to debate him, even though I love doing public debates in general.


Hi XXXX, I got your stuff in the mail yesterday. Not sure how you got my home address.

Iíd like to reiterate that I am not interested in debating you on any of your pet topics. I admit that these topics are interesting to me, but I do not believe it would be fruitful to debate things like your claims of Hillary Clinton having murdered dozens of people personally, nor your 9/11 conspiracy theories, etc.

Given my former professional background, I do admit that Iím something of an armchair expert on conspiracy theories, and that they fascinate me. I used to run a website devoted to them, and I think belief in them offers an explanatory lens for much of our polarizing politics today.

But, I must decline your invitation. Hereís why:

I believe debating conspiracy theorists is generally a fruitless thing, especially for a skeptic like me who prizes evidence-based discussion. Donít take my refusal personally, but here are my main three reasons.

  1. Gish Galloping: You often engage in a debate tactic known as the ďGish Gallop,Ē named after creationist Duane Gish. This is when you overwhelm your interlocutor with a rapid succession of numerous arguments, claims, and pieces of evidence, no matter how spurious, always shifting to a new line of argument the instant the last one is debunked. But the sheer volume of these successive false claims makes it all but impossible to refute each one in real-time in a debate setting, creating the false impression that the your conspiracy theory arguments are stronger or more substantial than they actually are. This tactic actually exploits the very format of public debates, focusing on the quantity of arguments rather than the quality, which detracts from a genuine examination of the facts and evidence.

  2. Legitimization of your fringe theories: By agreeing to debate a conspiracy theorist like you in a public forum, there is a likelihood I would legitimize your views. Public debates confer a sense of equal validity to both sides of the debate, regardless of the evidence. This can elevate your fringe theories to the same level as my well-established positions on these questions (in all due immodesty), misleading a lower-info audience into thinking that the conspiracy theory deserves the same consideration as scientifically or historically validated information. People canít be expected to be experts on these topics, and thatís something you exploit, knowingly or notó a public debate effectively places the conspiracy theory on an undeserved pedestal, giving it unwarranted exposure and credibility, if that makes sense, and viewers wouldnít be equipped to know otherwise.

  3. Promotion: In addition to legitimizing them, participating in public debates with conspiracy theorists can actually promote their theories to new and wider audiences. I have nearly 200,000 folks connected to me on various social media platforms and a debate with you would provide a platform for spreading your misinformation to them, many of whom may never have encountered your fringe views before. The nature of these debates can also make folks feel they have to immediately pick a side, rather than further evaluate the evidence critically, which can have further promotional effects. In other words, these debates tend to be polarizing, which creates further promotion on social media; should I debate you, when you and I and our viewers would share the debate online within our social networks, in order to show what a good fisking I gave you, it would further amplify the reach of your misinformation.

I love public debates and have engaged in well over 100 over the last 25 years, mostly on college campuses. But they were on legitimate academic topics, areas of inquiry, or social issues (things like the proper role of religion in public life, gay marriage (at The Matthew Shepard Symposium on Social Justice in Wyoming etc.), the existence of God, the historicity of Jesus, secular vs religious morality, evolution vs creationism, science and the magicianís art vs the paranormal, and the like).

But precisely because of my love of public debate, thatís why Iím politely refusing to debate you: my reasons are grounded in the understanding that the goal of a productive public debate is to foster truth and understanding based on evidence and rational argumentation. And when debates are hijacked by tactics that prioritize obfuscation and the pushing of unsubstantiated fringe claims, they cease to be a meaningful method of public discourse. This is especially relevant when it comes to harmful conspiracy theories where the aim is generally not to engage in genuine inquiry but to promote a particular ideological narrative wholly divorced from the evidence. (Similarly, I would never debate an adherent of QAnon, or a believer in the Satanic Panic.)



D.J.ís Substack is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.

Dear D.J., You posted a quote by Bertrand Russell about being liberal minded, and not thinking that a long contested topic is "absolutely unquestionable, and that no argument must be allowed to be heard."

So you surely would not be hypocritical, by not allowing an argument to be heard, especially about an important topic that impacts world peace. Please show me how I am wrong, and save me from possible retaliation by the perpetrators of 9/11.

The Official Conspiracy Theory (OCT) is a conspiracy theory - about 19 hijackers (15 Saudis) and Osama Bin Laden conspiring in a conspiracy.

The ad hominem photo above is not a logical argument. The Hillary utterance is a Straw Man and Gish Galloping. I don't believe she killed anyone. She has nothing to do with 9/11.
It is good to read that D.J. loves debates, not Debate Dodging, nor Fake Skepticism (mocking anyone who is skeptical of government stories).

Your above response forgot to mention the debate topics for us subscribers to consider, posted at

We both agree on many aspects of 9/11. There WERE planes. Please explain:
1. How can you distinguish a remote controlled plane from a jet taken over by hijackers? Boeing had Remote Control Take Over (RCTO) technology in 1984, 17 years before 9/11/2001. Boeing continued to develop RC (while classified) to make it uninterruptible, then publicly patented it just 1.4 years after 9/11. An "anti-hijack system" can also hijack a jet and steer it into the WTC or Pentagon.
"Disabling onboard flight-commands to render the airliner's guidance-system irretrievably placed into total reliance upon its existing autopilot-system in RF-communication with encrypted remote ground/air-intercept personnel... ATI (automatic/tranquil-infusion) which introduces tranquilizing-gas into the airliner's entire interior. "
Airline Irreversible-control Anti-hijack System, Patent 6845302, Filed January 27, 2003
"Engagement may be automatic or manual from inside the vehicle or remotely via a communication link. Any onboard capability to supersede the automatic control system may then be disabled by disconnecting the onboard controls and/or providing uninterruptible power to the ACS" (autopilot).
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Boeing, Patent 7142971, Filed February 10, 2003

2. Why did ACE Elevator Company with few if any previous clients, get the world's biggest service contract at the WTC away from Otis Elevator in 1994? They worked in the shafts for 7 years, the perfect place to plant explosives. Ace disappeared into bankruptcy after 9/11. Larry Silverstein got paid $4.1 billion by insurance so he could pay his vendors.

3. What were James Randi's views about 9/11, and "Truthers" being blocked by the JREF Forum Moderators?

4. As an expert in critical thinking and skepticism, what would you need to see in order to debate 9/11? There are studies published in independent (non-Truther) journals, such as the International Journal of Structural Engineering. Richard Gage and I presented the Collected Articles On Nine Eleven to Dr. Noam Chomsky at MIT.

We look forward to your response to these 4 questions, either here, by phone, or via Zoom. Your time is valuable, so ANETA still offers $60/hour at your convenience.

The Boeing Company (Chicago, IL)
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
Patent Public Search Basic (PPUBS)

Patent 6845302  Filed: January 27, 2003
Patent 7142971  Filed: February 19, 2003

"Disabling onboard flight-commands to render the airliner's guidance-system irretrievably placed
into total reliance upon its existing autopilot-system in RF-communication
with encrypted remote ground/air-intercept personnel...  
ATI (automatic/tranquil-infusion) which introduces tranquilizing-gas into the airliner's entire interior. "

"Disabling any onboard capability to supersede the engaged automatic control system" (autopilot)

Patent 6845302
Airline Irreversible-control
Anti-hijack System

Patent # 6845302.pdf Filed January 27, 2003

Patent 7142971
System and method for automatically
controlling a path of travel of a vehicle

Patent # 7142971.PDF  Filed February 19, 2003

Rick Shaddock
Education Director
Association for Nine Eleven Truth Awareness
K Street, Washington, DC.
Lobbying for an investigation of uninvestigated aspects of 9/11

Remote Control Take Over
- the key to 9/11    

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