Picture taken in 2007 of some of those lost at the WTC on 9/11
I was a mixture of angry and frustrated this evening at getting caught up in a facebook debate that questioned the events of 9/11.
It started with a post by James de la Cloche – our photographer friend in Chiang Mai. He posted a link to an article claiming that no airplane hit the world trade centre.
I do not know whether James posted this to provoke or out of agreement or disagreement.
I commented that I find this sort of conspiracy nonsense so disrespectful to the crews and passengers that died that day and to the people who died a truly awful death working in or attempting to rescue people from the WTC.
Of course as soon as I post this comment out come the conspiracy theorists to shoot me down in flames. There may be more to come.
They feel like attention seekers waiting to pounce. And if you do not agree with them you become naive, stupid or worse. Engage with them and they get the attention that they want.
So why do people believe in 9/11 conspiracy theories? It is a simple question to ask, but not necessarily an easy one to answer.
One basic reason; people don’t want to trust their government. The rise of the Internet has also made it easier than ever to spread alternative suspicions about what “really” happened. What’s more, once someone is convinced a conspiracy is truth, it’s very difficult to change their mind.
9/11 was unprecedented chaos. No one has the complete story of the events, the emotions, the decisions, the errors (which people are never going to want to admit to) and the failings of that day and the subsequent days.
There are dozens of conspiracy theories surrounding the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Some speculate inside traders knew about the attack beforehand. There are people who are convinced that bombs, not airliners, destroyed the Twin Towers. One of the more popular theories states that the U.S. government, not al Qaeda, was behind the attacks.
Bollocks. But you cannot just say that.
The Internet also helps conspiracy theories win over new followers. It is easier to spread untruths. The internet can turn fiction into fact – fuelled by an innate distrust of authority.
It doesn’t help that people often turn to the Internet for information that backs up their personal views. I may be doing that right now. People go on to the internet to seek confirmation. At that point there is no interest in facts that might trip up your own belief. People either disguise them, ignore them or argue that those facts are planted.
Once you believe in a conspiracy theory, the condition is hard to break.
In the USA there is this assumption that the government keeps millions and millions of papers classified as secrets. Conspiracy theories thrive on this: “Why are they keeping this stuff classified? Why do we need so much secrecy? There must be something that the government isn’t telling us.”
Here is what happend on 9/11. The USA was attacked by terrorists, and there were multiple institutional failures within the federal government. The George W. Bush White House was at the very least unimaginative and deaf to warnings about terrorist attacks on U.S. soil that appeared in CIA briefings for months leading up to 9/11. The government was incompetent, not a co-conspirator.
The predictable reaction after the attack was a combination of bureaucratic infighting, turf protection and ass covering.
But this may be the biggest problem with the 9/11 conspiracies; the federal US government is not competent enough to carry out, and then cover up, what would have been such a vast, complicated operation in total secrecy.
So what happens when you get into a debate with so -called “Truthers.”
They may introduce some obscure fact into the argument that you have never heard of before. It’s hard to refute such facts without the resources and time to really research it.
What this means is that you really can’t win the argument because the subject of the argument keeps changing and you are trying to catch up.
ie: “Well what do you say about the minute quantities of military grade tungsten found in the air-vents of the buildings next door to Building 7 – how did that get there if it wasn’t from explosives?”
Meanwhile you’re rushing off to find out what the hell military grade tungsten is.
Of course by the time you’ve done the research the topic has shifted again.
“Clearly in this blurry photo the undercarriage of Flight 77 looks different from a normal 767. Therefore it much have been a heavily disguised drone.”
Back to google to look up 767 undercarriages.
“What I really want to know is why the BBC covered up the fact that they announced Building 7’s demolition before it actually happened.”
Just in one paragraph tonight came the following questions:
“Ask yourself was it a coincidence that Marvin Bush heading the security firm responsible for the WTC on and before 9/11?
Was it a coincidence that Dick Cheney altered the rules guiding what would be done if any plane entered the airspace of the pentagon just 2 months before it happened?
Was it a horrible accident that the head of NORAD stepped out for coffee for 1.5 hours during the attack?
And wtf was so much tritium found at the WTC following the attacks?
Or how about the gold vault that ended up empty? To be so naive, that takes real effort.
And of course any successful argument you use is labelled “Government propaganda” and you’re told to “think for yourself” and that “it’s only a matter of time before everyone accepts the truth…” or as I got tonight: “To be so naive, that takes real effort..”
Did I mention dealing with these people also requires an extraordinary amount of patience?
Michael Shermer, writing in Scientific American, said: “The mistaken belief that a handful of unexplained anomalies can undermine a well-established theory lies at the heart of all conspiratorial thinking. All the evidence for a 9/11 conspiracy falls under the rubric of this fallacy. Such notions are easily refuted by noting that scientific theories are not built on single facts alone but on a convergence of evidence assembled from multiple lines of inquiry.”
Scientific American, Popular Mechanics, and The Skeptic’s Dictionary are among magazines that have published articles rebutting various 9/11 conspiracy theories.
Popular Mechanics has published a book entitled Debunking 9/11 Myths that expands upon the research first presented in the article. In the foreword for the book Senator John McCain wrote that blaming the U.S. government for the events “mars the memories of all those lost on that day” and “exploits the public’s anger and sadness. It shakes Americans’ faith in their government at a time when that faith is already near an all-time low. It trafficks in ugly, unfounded accusations of extraordinary evil against fellow Americans.”
You know what McCain is right.
Der Spiegel dismissed 9/11 conspiracy theories as a “panoply of the absurd”, stating “as diverse as these theories and their adherents may be, they share a basic thought pattern: great tragedies must have great reasons.”
Columnist Matt Mankelow, writing for the online edition of the British Socialist Worker, concludes that 9/11 Truthers, while “desperately trying to legitimately question a version of events”, end up playing into the hands of the neoconservatives they are trying to take down by creating a diversion. Mankelow noted that this has irritated many people who are politically left-wing. Indeed.
The problem with conspiracy theorists is they see any factual information or logical argument against their point of view as a further evidence of the depth of the conspiracy. You will never be able to convince them.
It is almost fifteen years since the events took place on September 11th. Even the mildest instance of 9/11 conspiracy would’ve involved hundreds if not thousands of people. Yet not one person has come forward with any credible or verifiable information.
Others are convinced that we are not being told the truth. Go to China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and the full story will never be known. The US system is almost too open…the 9/11 commission would never have existed in most countries and it’s report would never have been a public record
Add to that some of the best investigative reporters in the world.
But the truth does not always give us the answers that we want.
Sp conspiracy theorists persist in their belief that teams of explosive experts, remote-control jet pilots, holographic display operators, not to mention hundreds of passengers who “disappeared” have all been able to maintain their silence out of respect for the noble goals of the conspiracy. (Keep in mind no one can tell you what these noble goals were.)
In a world that thrives off instant communication just what are the odds that thousands of people with no prior connection would volunteer to participate in the most heinous terrorist act as yet known in the world and also be able to keep quiet about it forever?
But don’t believe me, any good conspiracy theorist will tell you I am naive enough to be part of the conspiracy.
A few links for you:
9/11 was a Hoax The American government killed its own people
Debunking 9-11 conspiracy myths Debunking9/11
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/9/11_conspiracy_theories Wikipedia: summary of 9/11 conspiracy theories
What Do 9/11 Truthers Believe? Slate/Quora