By Prof Peter Phillips
9/11 has become an American enigma. For many, 9/11 remains a puzzling, inexplicable phenomenon that defies understanding in its complexities and misinformation. Most people doubt the full truth of the 9/11 Commission’s report, but are unable to accept that people inside the government could be so evil as to allow the deaths of 3000 Americans.
In a study published in the journal Sociological Inquiry, sociologists from four major research institutions focused on one of the most curious aspects of the 2004 presidential election: the strength and resilience of the belief among many Americans that Saddam Hussein was linked to the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The study calls such unsubstantiated beliefs “a serious challenge to democratic theory and practice” and considers how and why so many people linked Hussein to 9/11. Co-author Steven Hoffman, Ph.D., from University at Buffalo, says, “Our data shows substantial support for a cognitive theory known as ‘motivated reasoning,’ which suggests that rather than search rationally for information that either confirms or disconfirms a particular belief, people actually seek out information that confirms what they already believe.
“In fact,” the study reports, “for the most part people completely ignore contrary information. “The argument here is that people get deeply attached to their beliefs. Over the course of the 2004 presidential campaign, several polls showed that majorities of respondents believed that Saddam Hussein was either partly or largely responsible for the 9/11 attacks, a percentage that declined very slowly, dipping below 50 percent only in late 2003.”
The research concludes that people deeply hold on to their beliefs, and that they form an emotional attachment that gets wrapped up in their personal identity and sense of morality—irrespective of the facts of the matter. So given that many people in the US believe that we are the world’s best democracy it is likely that many will tend to seek self-serving justifications for wars and American misadventures and to ignore contradictory information. Therefore, it is at present cogitatively unlikely for many people to even consider that 9/11 was an inside job, or that our government allowed 9/11 to happen.
People can and do change their minds, but this often only happens with repeated continuing factual information being made available from multiple sources. Glen Beck said on national television that 9/11 Truthers were happy about the killing at the Holocaust museum and labeled us hate mongers. Beck’s statement, while completely without factual merit, reinforces emotional misinformation held by many people. These lies make it even more difficult for 9/11 truth seekers to effectively change minds.
So what are the strategies that we need to build to convince people of the validity of our factual research on 9/11?
First off, we need to be aware that conspiracies tend to be actions by small groups of individuals rather than massive collective plots by governments and corporations. However, small groups can be dangerous, especially when the individuals have significant power in huge public or private organizations. The Manhattan project aside, it is very unlikely that conspiracies can be interlinked in a macro way, bridging the gaps between dozens of corporations and government bureaucracies. There are just too many opportunities for leaks and exposures.
Nonetheless, small groups of people like corporate boards of directors do meet in closed rooms to plan to how best to maximize profit. If they knowingly make plans that hurt others, violate laws, undermine ethics, or show favoritism to friends, they are involved in a conspiracy. Conspiracies exist everywhere, and yes, people do sit in rooms and conspire all the time. Micro-plots may well be the answer to some of the famous conspiracies, however, without accurate complete investigations, we can only stew in our distrust. Critical thinking and accurate, transparent investigative research is needed to counter the emotional fraud and propaganda of speculative ideas, fear mongering, and groupthink.
Secondly we need to understand that 9/11 truth critics do not operate in a rational manner. The first thing that critics of investigations on 9/11 do is to link all the questions—including some of the most hair brained ideas— together in a crazy hodgepodge of irrationality that undermines legitimate investigations. There is often a series of logical fallacies used by critics of controversial issues, including personal ad hominem attacks, red herring and straw person distractions, and false dilemmas. Because many people are taken in or confused by these irrationalities, most journalists are fearful of being labeled conspiracy theorists. To protect their careers journalists—especially those in corporate media—will steer their inquiries to safer stories.
For example, in 2007, Project Censored covered research into the events of 9/11 by Brigham Young University physics professor Steven E. Jones. Dr. Jones concluded that the official explanation for the collapse of the World Trade Center (WTC) buildings was implausible according to laws of physics. Jones called for an independent, international scientific investigation “guided not by politicized notions and constraints but rather by observations and calculations.”
David Ray Griffin has just completed a new book on this subject. To support this theory, Jones and eight other scientists conducted chemical research on the dust from the WTC. Their research results were published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. The Open Chemical Physics Journal, Volume 2, 2009, entitled, “Active Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe.” In the abstract the authors write, “We have discovered distinctive red/gray chips in all the samples. The red portion of these chips is found to be an unreacted thermitic material and highly energetic.” Thermite is a pyrotechnic composition of a metal powder and a metal oxide, which produces a thermite reaction and is used in controlled demolitions of buildings.
Additionally, architect Richard Gage, founder of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, has to date amassed nearly 700 scientific professionals in the fields of architecture, engineering, and physics who have signed a petition calling for a new investigation of the events of 9/11. Gage and Jones’ empirical research suggesting the possibility of controlled demolition at the WTC has moved many thousands of others to question the events of 9/11. The factual arguments clearly establish the possibility of controlled demolition of the WTC buildings on September 11, 2001, yet, there is almost zero coverage in the corporate media in the US.
This is top down corporate censorship pure and simple. Even if other scientists can be found to disagree with the study, the policy of ignoring the topic inside the corporate media is relatively absolute. It seems unlikely that corporate journalists are unaware of the research, as it is listed on hundreds of websites worldwide. Perhaps the mainstream science journalists left their critical thinking skills at home and gave the scientific method the day off. Or maybe the real conspiracy exists within the boardrooms of the corporate mainstream media.
The corporate media in the United States ignore many valid news stories, based on university level quality research. It appears that certain topics are simply forbidden inside the mainstream corporate media today. To openly cover these news stories would stir up questions regarding “inconvenient truths” that many in the US power structure want to avoid.
For example, current research indicates that public schools in the United States are more segregated today than they have been in more than four decades. According to a new Civil Rights report, published at the University of California, Los Angeles, schools in the US are 44 percent non-white, and minorities are rapidly emerging as the majority of public school students in the US. Latinos and blacks, the two largest minority groups, attend schools more segregated today than during the civil rights movement forty years ago. Millions of non-white students are locked into “dropout factory” high schools, where huge percentages do not graduate.
The most severe segregation in public schools occurs in the Western states, including California—not in the South, as many people believe. Most non-white schools are segregated by poverty as well as race. Schools in low-income communities remain highly unequal in terms of funding, qualified teachers, and curriculum.
Other taboo stories include civilian death rates in Iraq. Researchers from Johns Hopkins University and a professional survey company in Great Britain, Opinion Research Business (ORB) report that the United States is directly responsible for over one million Iraqi deaths since our invasion over six and half years ago. In a January 2008 report, ORB reported that, “survey work confirms our earlier estimate that over 1,000,000 Iraqi citizens have died as a result of the conflict which started in 2003…. We now estimate that the death toll between March 2003 and August 2007 is likely to have been of the order of 1,033,000.” A 2006 Johns Hopkins study confirmed that US aerial bombing in civilian neighborhoods caused over a third of these deaths and that over half the deaths are directly attributable to US forces. Iraqi civilian death levels in the fall of 2009 likely now exceed 1.2 million.
Each of these taboo news stories, like the 9/11 research on the WTC dust, is based on solid scholarly work. These stories represent the failure of the corporate media in the US to keep the American people democratically informed on important issues. This lack of coverage of critical news stories is what many thousands of people in the US are now calling a Truth Emergency.
A truth emergency is predicated on the inability of many to distinguish between what is real and what is not. Corporate media, Fox in particular, offers news that creates a hyperreality of real world problems and issues. Consumers of corporate television news—especially those whose understandings are framed primarily from that medium alone—are embedded in a state of excited delirium of knowinglessness.
To counter knowinglessness, progressive activists need to include 9/11 Truth and many other issues as important elements of radical-progressive political efforts. We must not be afraid of corporate media labeling and instead build truth from the bottom up. Critical thinking and fact-finding are the basis of democracy, and we must stand for the maximization of informed participatory democracy at the lowest possible level in society. We will continue to openly discuss, research, and validate our issues. As 9/11 Truth activists we see ourselves as an important component of building a new non-exploitative world based on democracy, openness, and human rights.
Peter Phillips is a Professor of Sociology at Sonoma State University, President of Media Freedom Foundation, Board member for 9/11truth.org, and recent past director of Project Censored this article was presented at the 9/11 Truth Film Festival Oakland Grand Lake Theater (September 10, 2009)
Posted at Global Research.