With the anniversary of 9/11 upon us . . .
Why conspiracy theories are so popular and how our suspicious minds look for big causes for big outcomes
The speed with which conspiracy theories spread can make them seem typically modern. But, Rob Brotherton, the author of a new study on the mind of the ‘truther’, says they are as old as thinking itself and tap into our darkest prejudices.
Before the victims had been identified, before any group had claimed responsibility – before the blood had been cleaned from the streets – the “truth” about the terror attacks in Paris was already taking shape online. Just hours after the last shots, one YouTube user explained what had happened in a video that has since been viewed more than 110,000 times.
“It was a false flag event aimed at destabilising Europe into New World Order oblivion,” the anonymous man says in narration laid over shaky mobile phone footage of his laptop. The computer displays images of immigration and the Wikipedia entry for subversion. “Friday 13th is not a coincidence! – it’s an occult date of evil Illuminati satanists,” he adds.
As photographs and footage of the attacks emerged, armies of “truthers” went further, describing in dozens of similar videos and on their slick websites how, among other things, the crime scenes had been staged by the intelligence agencies. The fleeing woman filmed dangling from a window at the Bataclan theatre was an actor wearing a harness.
Terror attacks are always fertile ground for conspiracy theories, none more than 9/11, but committed conspiracy theorists find “truth” anywhere. One truther, as conspiracy theorists prefer to be known (many believe that the use of the term “conspiracy theory” is part of a conspiracy theory) was arrested in Connecticut this month after confronting the sister of a teacher who died in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting.
by David Lambert via Scholars and Rogues
Contrails are the wispy white clouds of frozen water vapor that streak across the sky in the wake of jet engines. But according to 17 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds—my generation—contrails are actually “chemtrails,” poisonous chemicals sprayed by the government for sinister reasons. As the world becomes an increasingly scary and complex place with no simple answers, the temptation to create narratives explaining all of its evil will grow. And here lies the heart of the modern conspiracy theory. Yet when fantasy overtakes reality, progress suffers.
Whenever anything bad happens in the world today, from September 11th to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, there is a growing gaggle quick to cry, “wake up sheeple!” Tragedies like the Boston Marathon bombing and September 11th are of course “false flag” operations by a sinister cabal—the CIA, New World Order, Neocons, Illuminati, Jews, and Rothchilds are the usual suspects—but so are natural disasters. Twisters in the Midwest: Weather weapons being tested by the Pentagon. The Indian Ocean Tsunami: Caused by a nuclear weapon detonated in a deep ocean trench. Even the Earthquake in Haiti was the result of malicious meddling. As one blogger alerts us, “If you just assume it was a natural disaster, you are probably not current with what technology is capable of.” Omitted were any credentials explaining how the writer is more knowledgeable on technology than the rest of us.
But who cares? Isn’t questioning big government and corporate dominance over our lives a good thing? Sure it is. But losing the ability to distinguish between the reality and paranoia won’t do us any good.
Let’s look at three hot topics on conspiracy websites: vaccines, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and fluoride—or as one website put it, the three biggest human rights tragedies of our time.
Far from a tragedy, vaccines have saved millions of lives. We are currently living in what UNICEF calls the Child Survival Revolution. Children no longer perish from dreadful, agonizing diseases as they have throughout most of history. Vaccinations are a major reason why. But good news is usually no news, which is why headlines such as “Plane Lands Safely” or “Swimmer Not Attacked by Shark” don’t exist, yet their opposites certainly do. As a result, society tends to underappreciate progress. Perhaps this explains why the loud voices behind the anti-vaccine movement . . .
OR . . . Static Versus Dynamic Loading
By Dave Burton via Burton Systems Software – (burtonsys.com)
Some conspiracy theorists are puzzled about why the WTC towers fell at almost free-fall speed on Sept. 11, 2001. They suppose that the speed of collapse is evidence that something or someone must have destroyed the structural integrity of the undamaged lower part of each tower.
After all, they reason, “only the upper floors of the building were damaged, so why did the lower floors collapse, and why did they fall so fast?”
This web page answers those questions, simply enough for even a conspiracy theorist to comprehend (I hope). I do use some simple math and some very basic physics, but even if you don’t understand that part you should still be able to comprehend the basic reasons that the towers fell so fast.
What the conspiracy theorists apparently don’t understand is the difference between static and dynamic loading. (“Static” means “while at rest,” “dynamic” means “while moving.”)
If you don’t think it can make a difference, consider the effect of a stationary bullet resting on your chest, compared to the effect of a moving bullet striking your chest. The stationary bullet exerts a static load on your chest. A moving bullet exerts a dynamic load.
As a more pertinent example, consider a 110 story building with a roof 1,368 feet high (like the WTC Twin Towers). Each floor is 1368/110 = 12.44 feet high, or aproximately 3.8 meters.
Now, suppose that the structural steel on the 80th floor collapses. (Note: I’m using as an example 2 WTC, which was the building that collapsed first.)
The collapse of the 80th floor drops all the floors above (which, together, are equivalent to a 30 story building!) onto the 79th floor, from a height of aproximately 12 feet.
Of course, the structure of the lower 79 floors has been holding up the weight of the top 31 floors for many years. (That’s the static load.) So should you expect it to be able to hold that same weight, dropped on it from a height of 12 feet (the dynamic load)?
The answer is, absolutely not!
Download HD version of this video for reposting: http://tinyurl.com/7rjrsjr
- “You Know You Are a Conspiracy Theorist If…” (illuminutti.com)
Ross and I are in a coffee shop, on a miserably uncomfortable bench that may have once been a church pew, surrounded by conspiracy theorists who are yelling at us.
“Do you want your employer to know you have cancer? Or AIDS? Or AIDS?!” yells Abel, the leader of the group, his forehead bulging. Ross has asked him about digital surveillance. His question barely relates to AIDS, but we’re getting used to this kind of thing. Ross says he wouldn’t want his employer to know if he had AIDS.
We’ve been going to these “9/11 Truther” meetings for a couple of months now. The Truther movement emerged shortly after the World Trade Center attacks in 2001. Truthers hold that the United States government planned and executed the attacks to create a false justification for the war in Iraq. Here in Los Angeles, there are two prominent Truther groups seemingly in competition. We have been attending the biggest and most active one. About twenty-five people attend each meeting. Each one is four to five hours long and mostly consists of Abel showing us YouTube videos and steamrolling conversations. Say, for instance, responding to a question about surveillance with rantings about employer/employee AIDS relations.
Another issue on Abel’s agenda: his recent tweets to Tom Hanks. He calls his tweets “twitters.”
“I twittered at Tom Hanks,” Abel says, “and asked him why he isn’t calling out Hollywood for covering up 9/11. Now his eight hundred thousand followers will all see my message!”
The room breaks into applause. Several people tell him he did a good job. A small voice from the back asks, “What’s Twitter?”
When I get home, I check Tom Hanks’s Twitter profile. He has seven million followers. I wonder whom Abel actually “twittered.”
After spending about a dozen hours with these people and watching the three 9/11 documentaries they have given us as homework, Ross and I still have questions about the September 11th conspiracy stories. The Truthers try their best to field our questions, but their answers sound exasperated. They can’t believe this isn’t obvious to everyone. And they’ve grown tired of showing 9/11 videos, so the “9/11 Truth” meetings are conspicuously absent of 9/11 truth.
“There’s only so many times you can watch Building 7 fall,” says Abel. Ross and I agree that that’s a good point.
Building 7, a part of the World Trade Center complex that collapsed along with the Twin Towers during the attacks, is key to the Truthers’ argument that the tragedy was orchestrated by the U.S. government. The DVDs they gave us for homework were full of Building 7. They say Building 7 collapsed exactly how you’d expect a building to collapse if someone blew it up. To them, this is evidence that the government deliberately manufactured a “false flag” event to lead us into war. The DVDs are full of barely related details and wild assumptions. We try to broach a couple of them during the meeting.
“The videos mentioned that the World Trade Center was built to withstand a plane crash, but wasn’t it also built in the 1970s, before these kinds of planes even existed?” I ask, a bit weakly. “Wouldn’t that be part of the government’s explanation?”
“RIGHT!” shouts a fifty-year-old woman across the room, throwing her hands in the air, “They built it to withstand a strike from the strongest airliner at the time!” She seems to have missed the point, but she’s very pleased with herself. She throws her hands in the air, as if to say, “Nothing could be more obvious!” It becomes clear that this group has grown so accustomed to incredulity that scoffing is their default. Counterpoints fly past unnoticed.
Two hours later, the room has dissolved into a shouting spree that I cannot follow to save my life (which, at this point, I’m not sure I want to save). Abel is on a long diatribe about Hillary Clinton: “The Democratic party is dusting off old Hillary’s vagina and waxing it and polishing it up so you can vote for her because she’s a woman. And we all know how well it worked when they did that for the black guy!”
There’s a murmur in the crowd. Everyone mutters something quietly to him- or herself, ranging from “that’s right!” to “well, I don’t know about that…”
The man next to Ross and me, who is sporting cargo shorts and no shirt, shakes his dreadlocks at us. “They’re just MURDERERS. In a CEMETERY!” he says.
I give him a tiny smile, hopeful that this will end our interaction. Ross visibly pretends not to hear.
I raise my hand again. “I’m sorry. Can I bring this back to 9/11 for a second? I’m new to this, so maybe I’m missing something, but if so few people have even heard of Building 7, why did the government destroy it? Couldn’t they have achieved the same ends by just destroying the Twin Towers?”
Abel releases an annoyed sigh. Building 7, he says, was full of secret documents. September 11th planning documents, in fact. His voice slows and his eyes narrow on me. It’s the twelfth hour they’ve spent with us, but they seem to have just noticed us, like a smell creeping through a closed door.
“What’s your background, anyway? What do YOU think happened on September 11th?” asks Abel.
All eyes turn to us. We’ve been found out.
- 10 More Lies Truthers Tell (illuminutti.com)
- Charlie Veitch, the 9/11 Conspiracy Theorist Who Realized He Was Duped (illuminutti.com)
- Paul Ryan’s Democrat challenger is alien conspiracy theorist, 9/11 truther (theblaze.com)
- Sept. 11 ‘Truthers’ Mark Anniversary (nation.time.com)
- Noam Chomsky Schools 9/11 Truther; Explains the Science of Making Credible Claims (openculture.com)
- 9/11 truther challenge (lunaticoutpost.com)
- Dallas Gets It Very Own 9/11 Truther Billboard on Stemmons Freeway (blogs.dallasobserver.com)
Was the collapse of 7 World Trade Center actually a controlled demolition?
Today we’re going to point our skeptical eye, once again, at the events of September 11, specifically at World Trade Center 7, the building that collapsed after the twin towers for no apparent reason, in a manner consistent with a controlled demolition. We’re entering the weird wild and wacky world of conspiracy theories, men in black, deceit, doubt, mistrust, and delusion. But on which side?
First let’s be clear about what the two sides are, then we’ll examine the evidence supporting each of them.
The conspiracy theory states that World Trade Center 7 was a controlled demolition, an intentional destruction of the building by our government. The evidence supporting this theory is threefold: First, the video of the collapse and the tidy distribution of the resultant debris appear consistent with known controlled demolitions. Second, photographs of the building before it collapsed showed little or no damage to cause a collapse. Third, fire alone cannot destroy a steel building, and so the cause must lie in high-energy explosives. A great deal more information is put forward by the supporters of this theory as evidence, but it’s really only suppositions about proposed motives and observations of events perceived as unusual, and so is actually not testable evidence of a direct physical cause. This information includes government offices located in the building, the establishment of Giuliani’s emergency management headquarters on the 23rd floor, and portions of the government’s preliminary reports that openly stated that certain unknowns remained.
The competing theory is found in those very same government reports. The first, a preliminary report issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) only eight months after the event, concluded that fires on the 5th through 7th floors caused the collapse, but infamously noted:
The specifics of the fires in WTC 7 and how they caused the building to collapse remain unknown at this time. Although the total diesel fuel on the premises contained massive potential energy, the best hypothesis has only a low probability of occurrence. Further research, investigation, and analyses are needed to resolve this issue.
Three years later, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) issued a working draft of the complete theory, scheduled to be finished in 2008. (IllumiNuTTi Note: The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released their Final Report on the Collapse of World Trade Center Building 7 on November 20, 2008 [Web page here] [PDF file here]) This report states that the building suffered two major failures, either of which could have been survived on its own, but not in combination. The first failure was severe damage to ten stories of the south side of the building, dramatically shown in a single frame of video from an ABC news helicopter, which destroyed several major columns. The second failure was the fire, fed in part by diesel generator fuel from high pressure tanks, which proceeded unfought for seven hours due to a lack of water pressure, and caused terminal weakening in the remaining columns that were already overloaded from the loss of the initial columns. Firefighters noted a growing bulge between the 10th and 13th floors and major structural creaking sounds, and finally evacuated. Two hours later, the east wall began to crack and bow. The east penthouse sank into the structure, and eight seconds later, the northeast corner fell, bringing the rest of the building down on top of it.
No evidence of any explosives were ever found, but the conspiracy theory states that this is because the government took away all the debris before it could be independently tested. Since it’s normal for debris to be removed following any such destruction, this particular piece of information is too ambiguous to be given serious weight as proof of a conspiracy.
MORE . . .
- 10 More Lies Truthers Tell (illuminutti.com)
via The Soap Box
How many people actually believe that the government committed the 9/11 attacks, or at least allowed the attacks to happen? This is a question that I sometimes wonder about.
What I mean by people who actually believe the government committed or allow the 9/11 attacks to happen, I don’t mean … people who [simply] say they believe the government committed … 9/11, I mean people who actually … believe that the government committed the 9/11 attacks.
Now there are multiple surveys that have been conducted over the past decade that have asked people whether or not they believe the government was involve in the 9/11 attacks, but there are a couple of problems I have with these surveys:
One, they are often vary in percentages of how many people actually believe the government was involved in the 9/11 attacks. This can be because of where the surveys were taken, when they were taken, and how the questions were actually worded.
And two, there is no realistic way to filter out the people who just say they believe from the true believers.
Now many of you are probably asking “why would someone claim they believe that the government committed the 9/11 attacks but not really mean it?”
Well, one reason might be for political purposes.
It’s very well known that conspiracy theories are often time used for political and propaganda purposes, and the conspiracy theories surrounding the 9/11 attacks are no exception.
A person could be claiming this because they have anti-government beliefs, or anti-American beliefs, or anti-Israeli beliefs (for those that are antisemitic), or they could be a person who hated President Bush so much that they say they believe the government committed the 9/11 to (in their minds) further delegitimize his presidency.
Of course they could also be saying that the government committed the 9/11 attacks not because they have a anti-something beliefs, but because they wish to further their own political agendas, and they’re just using and exploiting the 9/11 Truth movement to do it.
Of course, political reasons are not the only reasons why some people claim to believe that the government committed the 9/11 attacks and not really mean it. It could be . . .
- Former Conspiracy Theorist: When They Say ‘Illuminati’ or ‘Reptiles’ They Mean Jews (algemeiner.com)
- Conspiracy theories only create more conspiracy theories (illuminutti.com)
- The 9/11 conspiracy theorist who changed his mind (illuminutti.com)
- 10 Counter conspiracy theories (illuminutti.com)
Some say that it wasn’t an airliner that struck the Pentagon on 9/11, but a missile.
Today we’re going to delve once again into the depths of conspiracy theories. We’ll take yet another look at the events of the September 11 attacks, this time focusing on the Pentagon, the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense in Arlington, Virginia. According to the generally accepted account of what was witnessed and recorded on September 11, 2001, the Pentagon was struck by American Airlines Flight 77, a hijacked Boeing 757 on its way from Dulles to Los Angeles. 59 people on board the airplane plus 125 workers inside the Pentagon were killed, plus the 5 hijackers. And as pop culture would inevitably have it, alternate claims have arisen: mainly that the Pentagon was not hit by a hijacked plane at all, but by an American cruise missile fired as a false flag operation. Years later, is there sufficient reason to doubt the official story?
First of all, the phrase “official story” has become problematic. All it really refers to is the generally accepted explanation or definition. For example, the “official story” is that the human body has 206 bones. The “official story” is that an atom of radon contains 86 protons. The “official story” is that Hiroshima was destroyed by the Little Boy atomic bomb in 1945. Just by referring to any observation or result as the “official story”, it makes it seem to be shrouded in doubt or tainted by political corruption. Thus, virtually all web sites promoting an alternative version of the September 11 attacks will start by dismissing all observations and evidence as the “official story”. In this sense, “official story” is what we call a weasel word; terminology intended to communicate something other than what the words actually mean. In the strict sense, the official story is the one that’s most authoritative and best supported; but in common usage, it’s only employed when the intent is to cast doubt.
And casting doubt seems to be the strongest reason to believe that it was a missile and not an airliner. There are mountains of evidence confirming what so many people witnessed on that day, evidence that’s all rock solid and that has no real flaws. This is the case with a lot of conspiracy theories, yet it never detracts from the popularity of the conspiracy theory. It’s not possible in one show to cover all the many objections raised to the official story, but we will look at a handful that are representative of the whole. With the exception of a couple claims that are simply factually wrong, each specific objection is based simply on the possibility that some observation might be consistent with an alternate version of events. Unfortunately, “consistent with” is not “evidence of”.
Let’s look at the most popular such example:
Myth #1: The security video shows a missile hitting the building.
Of the 85 video tapes seized by the FBI that may have shown the plane strike the building, only one actually shows the impact of an object with the building. This is a Pentagon security camera pointed at a traffic gate along an access driveway. In the background is a white streak, visible in only a single frame, which is far too small and of low quality to make out any useful details. Missile theorists believe the depicted object is too small to be a 757, and is more consistent with a cruise missile.
So far as the object in the video appearing to be too small for a 757, that’s correct, it is. But this is to be expected, since the lens of the security camera is ultra wide angle. The camera was intended to see as much of the vehicle driveway where it was positioned as possible, side to side. Thus it did not produce a rectilinear image with straight lines; the lines on the Pentagon building are clearly curved in the video. Yet, missile theorists have superimposed straight lines of perspective onto this image, in an effort to show that the height of the incoming object was too small for a 757. Because of the lens used, the plane does in fact appear far smaller than it would with a normal lens, consistent with what we’d expect of an ultra wide angle lens and a full-sized airliner.
Myth #2: Donald Rumsfeld‘s office was on the opposite end of the building.
The implication being that Rumsfeld, presumed architect of the false flag attack, was carefully protected by having the plane hit a far-away part of the building.
This is a perfect example of “consistent with” not being “evidence of”. Sure, if Rumsfeld had masterminded the attack, he might well choose to preserve his own office. But by this same logic, you could point to anyone anywhere in the world whose office was not in the immediate vicinity of the crash site. This factoid is so irrelevant that I didn’t even bother to look up where in the Pentagon Rumsfeld’s office was. Whether it’s true or not, it’s useless information.
Now for an example of a claim that’s just simply wrong:
Myth #3: There was no debris from an airplane at the site.
Thus there was no plane, thus it must have been a missile (even though that in itself is fallacious logic). Even after so many years have gone by, I still hear this assertion being made, in blatant defiance of virtually every photograph taken that day. Debris from the plane was everywhere, including easily identified mechanical parts from the landing gear and engines and lots of twisted aluminum painted in Boeing BAC452 Green Epoxy Primer. It’s trivial to do a Google image search for “flight 77 debris” to see exactly what was reported by dozens of Pentagon employees, rescue personnel, and reporters, and observed live worldwide by millions of television viewers.
- Skeptoid #354: The Pentagon and the Missile (skeptoid.com)
- Is There Fake Video Footage in The 9/11 TV Coverage? (collective-evolution.com)
- This is why the Pentagon attack witnesses thought they saw a plane hit the Pentagon (planet.infowars.com)
- Disclosure: Multiple Proofs That No Passenger Jet Ever Hit the Pentagon on 9/11 (21stcenturywire.com)
- Sicko Conspiracy Sociopaths Harass Man Who Sheltered Kids During Sandy Hook Massacre (theageofblasphemy.wordpress.com)
- Gene Rosen, Sandy Hook Hero, Harassed By Conspiracy Theorists Who Claim He’s An Actor (huffingtonpost.com)
- This man helped save six children, is now getting harassed for it (salon.com)
- Grandfather who comforted Sandy Hook Elementary kids says ‘truthers’ are targeting him (usnews.nbcnews.com)
- Conspiracy theorists claim Sandy Hook tragedy is elaborate government hoax (vancouversun.com)
- Meet The Sandy Hook Truthers (outsidethebeltway.com)
- Sandy Hook Hero Harassed By Pro-Gun ‘Truthers’ (addictinginfo.org)
- Newtown school massacre a ‘hoax to tighten gun laws’ (thestar.com)
- ‘Sandy Hook Truthers’ claim Newtown school massacre a hoax to spur gun control measures (news.nationalpost.com)
This man helped save six children, is now getting harassed for it
Gene Rosen sheltered six kids during the Sandy Hook massacre. Now he’s become a target of conspiracy theorists
By Alex Seitz-Wald
“I don’t know what to do,” sighed Gene Rosen. “I’m getting hang-up calls, I’m getting some calls, I’m getting emails with, not direct threats, but accusations that I’m lying, that I’m a crisis actor, ‘how much am I being paid?’” Someone posted a photo of his house online. There have been phony Google+ and YouTube accounts created in his name, messages on white supremacist message boards ridiculing the “emotional Jewish guy,” and dozens of blog posts and videos “exposing” him as a fraud. One email purporting to be a business inquiry taunted: “How are all those little students doing? You know, the ones that showed up at your house after the ‘shooting’. What…
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