“I refuse to believe that 9/11 was an inside job.”
“Uh. That’s not what I wrote. I wrote that it was physically impossible for those buildings to pancake like they did.”
“Oh! You’re one of those conspiracy nuts, aren’t you?”
Those are just a couple of the kinder comments I’ve received over the years when I’ve written about 9/11. Anyone in America who spoke out about their doubts about 9/11 in the first several years after the event was immediately branded a conspiracy theorist and ridiculed or worse. Things are easing off a little now, but the most efficient way to debunk a person who questions 9/11 is still to call them a “conspiracy theorist.” There’s no need to re-examine the facts — they’re just crazy or, if you listen to the FBI and other government agencies, suspected terrorists. Some psychologists have even suggested that doubting the official line is some sort of mental disorder.
Several studies have been released that suggest that it’s the debunkers of conspiracy theorists who are the ones with mental disorders. According to a University of Kent study, What about Building 7? A social psychological study of online discussion of 9/11 conspiracy theories, those “people who favoured the official account of 9/11 were generally more hostile when trying to persuade their rivals.” Moreover, the anti-conspiracy contingent was more fanatical in clinging to their conspiracy theory that 19 Arab hijackers pulled off the job than the conspiracy theorists they were so aggressively debunking.
University of Guelph psychologist Laurie Manwell interprets this irrational stance by conspiracy theory debunkers as being based on an inability to entertain a notion that conflicts with their pre-existing belief system. “Cognitive dissonance” is the technical term for this phenomenon.
“Conspiracy theory” should simply mean a theory about a possible conspiracy. How did the term come to be associated with irrationality, insanity and even terrorist tendencies? It looks like we have the CIA to thank for that.
According to Lance deHaven-Smith as quoted in an article by Dr. Kevin Barrett in PressTV, the “CIA’s campaign to popularise the term ‘conspiracy theory’ and make conspiracy belief a target of ridicule and hostility must be credited, unfortunately, with being one of the most successful propaganda initiatives of all time.” The term was coined and circulated by the CIA following the JFK assassination. It worked brilliantly then, but times are changing. The popular media today is the internet, not the newspaper and TV and conspiracy theorists have a voice.
The word “debunk” means to expose or ridicule a false or exaggerated story. When conspiracy theorists are debunked, the implication is that a more rational and independent authority is putting the story to rest and that any attempt at a rebuttal is futile and will only lead to more ridicule. That gives the phrase “debunking conspiracy theories” a double whammy – debunkers are the final authority and conspiracy theorists are crazy. Case closed.
I ran across a website the other day called Debunking 9/11. It’s hard to miss because it’s at the top of the list when you google “Building 7 free fall.” I gave a stab at reading the article, but, like others like it, it was painfully flawed.
In typical debunker style, the article chose an easy target as their example of a “truther” (another loaded word) — Alex Jones, whose emotions can get the best of him and who does sometimes take flights of imaginative fantasy. I didn’t see a reference to Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth anywhere in the article. I can’t imagine why.
In attempting to explain Silverstein’s infamous “Pull it” remark, the author quotes numerous fire fighters and others on the scene who said “pull” the fire fighting team out of the building or used the word in some other context. Way down towards the bottom of the article in an update, the writer says:
Conspiracy Theorists have once again hung their hopes on a word. Now the word is “it”. Because I did not include the word “it” – as in Pull “it” – I am purposelly (sic) changing the phrasing of his statement which implies complicity. I will include his argument and insert the word to show how silly his argument is.
Conspiracy theorists don’t hang their hopes on a word. Many of them come to their conclusions only after long and arduous research — research that takes them places they don’t want to go. In the case of academics and professionals, revealing what they know often spells the end of their careers. That takes courage, and last time I looked, courage wasn’t on the list of mental disorders; it was something to be admired.