Today I was accused of being closed-minded for not accepting some "evidence" concerning 9/11 being an inside job. While this is not exactly a religious topic, it does deal with general skepticism which is something that I highly recommend--especially for the religious.
The funny thing is that this person once asked me what my thoughts were on why so many people believe in god. I don't recall my specific answer to his question, but usually my response to such inquiries is that people tend to be pretty bad skeptics when it comes to analyzing their own beliefs. This person seems to be confusing skepticism through empiricism with conspiratorial thinking by taking a bunch of dots and swearing that they are somehow connected.
Here is the basic problem I have with the evidence provided tonight: Let's grant that all of the coincidental claims, disappearing planes, information withheld by the government, strange comments by building owners, inexplicable puffs of smoke coming out of the buildings as though it were a syncopated detonation and any other provocative claims are all completely true and accurate. Oh, and the conspicuously placed thermite in the basement. Don't forget the thermite. How does one go from "gee, those are weird coincidences" to "the government did it"? There is a disconnect in the reasoning.
Even if one could conclusively show--through verifiable evidence--that the buildings really were demolished with planted explosives, how do you know that the government was the culprit? Let's not forget that the administration being accused of such fatuous crimes is the very same administration which took 5 days to get water to the Superdome after hurricane Katrina, and went to war with Iraq because of bad information about weapons of mass destruction. Do you really have that much confidence in their ability to pull off an attack on their own country and flawlessly pin it on some terrorist on the other side of the world? AND THEN get that terrorist to claim to be responsible all along? A quick stroke of Occam's Razor should dispel any doubts of Osama bin Laden's guilt on that day.
Now, it could be that this person is right. I mean, it is possible. But at this moment he is working off of unsubstantiated, and in some cases debunked claims, which seem all too mysterious and suggestive for him. This is no different than people who claim that god exists simply because the universe is too orderly to be explained without such a creative force to start it. This is an argument from ignorance masquerading as skepticism.
Here is Penn and Teller on conspiracy theories, including 9/11 (explicit):