James Henry Fetzer is an American philosopher, professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota Duluth (yes, this James Fetzer), and a batshit crazy conspiracy theorist. Now, Fetzer has written plenty of intelligent stuff as well, for instance on philosophical aspects of “the Christian Right's crusade against science.” It would, however, have carried more dialectical weight if Fetzer’s own critical thinking skills had been up to date. But they definitely aren’t. Fetzer is a 9/11 truther and advocate of JFK assassination conspiracy theories – he has published three collections of studies on the death of JFK, and co-authored another on the plane crash that took the life of Senator Paul Wellstone. His views have indeed landed him appearances on such respectable intellectual venues as Out There TV and Jerry Springer, Hannity (some criticism of his appearance here), the O’Reilly show, and Jesse Ventura’s America– almost worth as much as peer-reviewed publications.
With respect to JFK Fetzer has edited plenty of books, arranged conferences and made talk show appearances claiming that there was a well-planned and precisely executed conspiracy, including alterations of the autopsy X-rays (substituting another brain), and recreating the Zapruder film using sophisticated techniques of optical printing and special effects. He has for instance written a study (with Jack White) of the films and photos of the assassination, in which the basic claim apparently is that as long as you assume that the material is genuine you won’t see the conspiracy; therefore the material must be fabricated.
Concerning 9/11 he maintans that elements within the U.S. federal government orchestrated attacks for political and economic gain and that World Trade Center One and Two were destroyed using a novel form of controlled demolition from the top down, while World Trade Center Seven was brought down by a conventional controlled demolition from the bottom (search this for more info), and that the hijackings were staged (calls from passengers to relatives and operators were faked). He isn’t quite sure how, but suspects that high-tech weapons, such as a “satellite-mounted military weapon”, may have been used to destroy the Twin Towers. Larry Silverstein was involved as well, even though he wasn’t. Fetzer seems to be pretty ardent about spreading his views (not so much about making them even minimally coherent), and has arranged several happenings both within the US and internationally to spread his stuff (though he doesn’t particularly like people pointing out the, shall we say, darker undercurrents in his views). Apparently he doesn’t quite get the fact that if you just search for confirmation of your views you will certainly find support, and that for this reason science advocates testing and falsifying hypotheses (“but X seems to suggest that my theory is true” will for rational people be less compelling when the theory has already be shown to be false for other reasons) – but of course, going for scientific standards for confirmation tends to bring conspiracy theories down rather quickly, so one better not. Fetzer has even written books about philosophy of science; I am not sure I would recommend them.
Fetzer is also founder and co-chair of Scholars for 9/11 Truth, “a non-partisan association of faculty, students, and scholars dedicated to exposing falsehoods and to revealing truths behind 9/11.” Apparently he’s fallen out with Steven Jones, however, and tends to spend some effort debunking Jones’s particular take on the conspiracy (hilarity ensues), mostly by citing conspiracies against his (Fetzer’s) preferred take. But he remains on good terms with Judy Wood and Morgan Reynolds, who left Scholars because they were unwilling to consider the fact that there were no plane crashes at all and that all video material is faked. Fetzer claims that Jones has failed to refute Wood’s and Reynold’s “mini-nuke” theory (here is Fetzer finding that particular idea fascinating), but has himself suggested instead the planes were unmanned and in the end plumped for the appropriately idiotic claim that the evidence supports the use of a holographic projection. There you go, Fetzer, make sure you pick the silliest one – it goes better with the yellow spandex and bells.
Fetzer and White also promoted the moonlanding hoax conspiracy, citing video material and documentation supposed to prove a conspiracy but later admitted to having been faked as a parody (a really illuminating story, that one). That should give you some idea about Fetzer’s and White’s competence in assessing these matters, but their blatant lack of such does not seem to have deterred their followers the slightest.
On the other hand, the fact that Fetzer is so evidently batshit insane while also a critic of creationism has been used by your standard creationists (such as David Klinghoffer) as support for Intelligent Design creationism, diminishing the force e.g. of this one. In other words, though the degree of immediate harmfulness in his promotion of conspiracy theories is debatable, his lunacy indirectly fuels other denialist theories that he himself has criticized, which is, in fact, pretty tragic.
Miscellaneous conspiracy nuttery and holocaust revisionism
As for the Wellstone assassination, Fetzer thinks Wellstone was deliberately killed by an organization of assassinations run by Dick Cheney.
He has also alleged that Israeli involvement in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting – in an interview with the Iranian government-owned Press TV, he said that the “Sandy Hook massacre appears to have been a psy op intended to strike fear in the hearts of Americans by the sheer brutality of the massacre, where the killing of children is a signature of terror ops conducted by agents of Israel.” He has also published articles promoting conspiracy theories that the London 7/7 bombings, and that the Boston bombings were false flag attacks.
Indeed, to make sure that he appears as repugnant as he appears lunatic, Fetzer has (according to an article by Kevin Barrett) announced his support for holocaust revisionism at a talk by blunt anti-zionist Gilad Atzmon. In August 2012, Fetzer’s blog featured neo-Nazi Ernst Zündel who was allegedly “persecuted & imprisoned for research on WWII”. The Anti-Defamation League has noted that Fetzer has stated anti-Semitism “has been used as a political club to attack research on 9/11” and that Israel had a key role in the 9/11 attack. So it all comes around to anti-semitism, I suppose; not an unusual stopping point for a conspiracy theorist. Dickwad.
Diagnosis: Hysterically insane. Gibbering idiot who, sadly, views himself as a serious, rational scientist in shining armor, backed by valiant, smart, no-nonsense scholars, out to do good for the world. In the real world, of course, as opposed to his own fantasy kingdom, he is a deranged, mean, wailing madman surrounded by cardboard cannons and ushering incoherent commands to his army of tin soldiers and plush animals.