Friday, April 4, 2008

The state of things:

If Facebook is a barometer for the state of the conspiracy theorists (and since by my measure most of them are high school-college kids this is a pretty good assumption), then desperate is the best word to come to mind.

Our group has experienced a DRAMATIC increase in activity. When I first took over the admin position for our 9/11 group there were no debates, very few discussion topics, and some 300 members. Now there are close 900, and as John Ray pointed out, we are one of the most active 9/11 conspiracy-related groups on Facebook.

With this influx of activity, a few observations:

The sheer number of "9/11 WAS A CONSPIRACY 100%!!!!" posts and those like it. It's either out of laziness or hopes that some sort of provocation can come of it: neither of which are healthy, or productive methods of argument, even way to live a life. The need, the desire, to believe that the government was involved in 9/11, and other conspiracies, doesn't just reach "personal interest" levels, it skyrockets to obsession. The government NEEDS to be part of it. Why?

From a psychological standpoint, I would believe that someone who finds these conspiracies appealing would be feeling significant in their own lives. These conspiracy theories, and communities, empower the individual: doing research, creating videos, meetings, rallies, etc. It's a strong, albeit insane, community, that makes members feel important because they're part of something bigger.

The realization that there is nothing bigger, nothing other than what we've been told and have seen, goes beyond just being "wrong", for them it's destroying a necessary facet of their lives. To be wrong means to be insignificant. And that's understandably terrifying.

And at the same time, gloriously fitting.


thorswitch said...

I've always thought it was more of an issue of feeling like they have some control over the situation. If 9/11 really was an attack by foreign terrorists who managed to get past all of our defenses, there's nothing in that scenario that we can really do anything about.

If, however, the attacks were a conspiracy by our government to achieve whatever nefarious purposes you want to ascribe to them, well, then, we can band together, try to educate people, campaign to elect a different government, demand investigations, demand hearings, even try to demand impeachment.

Accepting the truth means accepting that we, individually and as a nation, are vulnerable to the whims of powers far beyond our control. A governmental conspiracy, though, means we can actually try to *do* something - and to some extent, we can have a measure of control over our own fates, and the fate of our nation.

thorswitch said...

Oh, I would hope this is obvious, but I thought I'd point it out anyway. I'm not a "truther." I don't like having to admit how vulnerable we are, and I do think that a lot of that vulnerability could have been mitigated if the Bush administration was more competent, but I don't doubt that the attacks were what they appeared to be - foreign terrorists who got around our defenses and succeeded in pulling off the worst terrorist attack on US soil.

Neighborhood Rationalist said...

Thats a very good point thorswitch. Believing in the conspiracy shifts blame to something we can actually fight here on the home front. It also detracts from REAL issues we should discuss and debate domestically.

Edmund Standing said...

Here's a new article of mine, which might interest you:

The Pseudo-Science of the '9/11 Truth' Movement


Edmund Standing