Conspiracy Theories

My last post concerned the conspiracy theories that surround the collapse of 7 World Trade Center on the 11th of September, 2001. In that post, I tried to provide an objective rationale for why the controlled demolition hypothesis should not be believed, owing to its unfalsifiability. The truth is that this and other 9/11 conspiracy theories provoke an almost visceral response in me. I am pretty certain that I’m not the only person who feels this way.

Right now, it’s pretty obvious that I don’t believe in the conspiracy theories (at least, the ones in which the US government or one of its agencies “made it happen on purpose”). However, I am no great supporter of the present US administration, and my political leanings (if transposed to America) would be somewhere to the left of the Democratic Party. Why then am I inclined to give Bush and his aides the benefit of the doubt? Of course it’s their sheer ineptitude: one need only look at the prosecution of the Iraq war for a rich seam of evidence.

But that doesn’t explain why I am so viscerally affected by the conspiracy theories: after all, I might be an atheist on the balance of probabilities, but I have no problem with people who have religious faith.

I think part of it is cognitive dissonance: we are raised to trust the government, and the idea that a government could be responsible for an atrocity like 9/11 is utterly incompatible with that preconception. I’ve already rationalised away the conspiracy theories, but perhaps not everyone would do the same.

Let’s assume that Democrats are more likely to believe and perpetuate the 9/11 conspiracy theories; and that Republicans and independents are more likely to recoil from them. There are photos of conspiracy theorist banners at Obama rallies. This is perfect ammunition for the Republicans, who can associate the Democrats with their “lunatic fringe” and exploit the cognitive dissonance in their base and the independents.

Here’s a conspiracy theory for you: Karl Rove sowed the seeds for the “9/11 Truth” movement in a deliberate attempt to discredit the Democrats and make them unelectable in the near future. Or maybe just to distract everyone from the true scandals of the Bush administration: tens of thousands of dead civilians in Iraq, thousands of dead soldiers, domestic spying on US citizens, the erosion of habeas corpus, inaction over global warming and the near collapse of the economy.

There are plenty of things that we still don’t know about 9/11, and we should as a matter of course seek the truth. We should discover the real reasons that the buildings fell in order to apply the lessons learned to future construction. But in finding the truth, we must retain an open mind, and not resort to intellectual dishonesty or partisanship.

One Response to “Conspiracy Theories”

  1. tsrnovia says:

    Hi Derek,

    Have you considered that by paying attention to what happened in the Democratic primaries it became obvious (IMHO) that no popular vote is of any real importance. While there is still an electoral college, and delegates and super delegates who are allowed to vote in opposition to their constituents, can anyone really believe in the 2 party smoke screen designed to fool everyone into believing that how they vote matters? (Sorry for the run on sentence).

    And when that is finally realized, why believe in a government that through propaganda has successfully programmed people to believe they operate in the best interests of the “We the People”? From there it is not a very far leap to examining the evidence rationally without emotional preconceptions that blur our vision about the 9/11 tragedies.

    Derek, you may want to consider the current reality, no matter who is elected the little guy/gal/voter is screwed. Democrats and Republicans are 2 sides of the same coin.

    For a real eye opener consider “The Way the World Really Works” by Alan Jones.



Leave a Reply