On September 11, 2001, an unforgettable incident occurred that would take the world by storm, the fall of the Twin Towers which was our World Trade Center stationed in New York City. This event caused the creation of many laws and policies and procedures in order to maintain order, at the cost of less freedom for the citizens of America. Arising from the horrific incident of the towers was people’s growing doubt of the government. These growing doubts eventually grow to a point where conspiracy theories were appearing out of fear from 9/11 and others with malicious intent to induce more chaos throughout the world. From these conspiracy theories, citizens started growing more anxious and wanting answers from the government. With citizens becoming increasingly anxious which also made them paranoid, making them take these theories deeply due to the impact of 9/11 while fretting over possible future incidents. Eventually, over these increasing tensions the people growing to feel uncertainty led to them becoming distrustful of the government and what the actual truth is. With the use of Uscinski and Parent “Falsifiability” and “Cui Bono Test,” these could be used to dismantle the belief of truthers.
One strong driving force behind conspiracy theories is distrust in the government. This wouldn’t occur if everybody has unrelenting faith towards their government. People tend to get caught up in the ideas of conspiracy theories when their trust in the government fades, such as their failure to intercept the planes that crashed into the two towers. One of the theories of the 9/11 truthers is that the towers’ fall was not caused by the airplanes but bombs that were set up ahead of time to explode when the time was right. According to Pew Research, Approximately ‘69% of Americans say that the federal government’ has decided to withhold information from the general public before that does not hold any harmful effects if they were to be released to the general public (Rainie and Perrin). This general distrust of the government has made it easier for conspiracy theories to take hold of people’s minds and become wary that the government may be lying to its people. That is why the Americans have come up with the idea that the government is behind the event or let the towers crashing happen. A noticeable thing to point out is that people that are distrustful of the government tend to be the less educated people of their society compared to the average person, as predicted, the lack of education prevents people from making proper speculations which leads to them turning towards conspiracy theories.
Another strong influence behind conspiracy theories is a person’s paranoia, or to be more exact the people’s paranoia. This can be caused by anxiety and fear. Paranoia can cause a person to feel that other people ‘are out to get them’. This feeling of the paranoia of the people can usually be dismissed easily, however considering that the government has done many things that have Americans questioning how dependable the government is in a crisis when they too had committed acts to a point that made them ‘acquired a justified reputation for deception: weapons of mass destruction, secret prisons, illegal wiretapping…This pattern of deception has not only fed diffuse public cynicism but has provided an opening for alternative theories of 9/11 to flourish’ (Hayes). These illegal acts as pointed out by hayes has a noticeable amount of people believing in anything that might be against the government. The 9/11 Truthers has found an opening in the public to provide their version of the incident that occurred during 9/11 due to the immoral acts that were hidden from the eyes of the American people. It should also be taken into consideration that people with paranoia may have mental issues that could affect their way of logical thinking. The three disorders associated with paranoia are paranoid personality disorder, delusional disorder, and paranoid schizophrenia. These 3 disorders could also be part of the reason why people do not believe in government stories. A paranoid personality disorder is most likely the most common disorder that affects most of the people with disorders that believe in 9/11 due to their constant mistrust in the world, which leads to their mistrust of the government as they can be seen to the Americans as the world authority since they affect many parts of people’s lives. 9/11 as an incident is still shrouded mystery to the people. A few of the answers to some of the variables to the incidents has been more speculation than hard concrete facts that would be more convincing than a government official’s claim. All people know is that the government could be working behind the scenes to this historic event to give them a reason to go to war with Islamic terrorist groups.
Anxiety is another factor that can be considered for one of the reasons that people are paranoid about the government. Political ideologies can be affected by anxiety when people are put under stress and tension, in which case can lead to their judgment or political views to be altered from their original view. As stated by Monika, ‘Anxiety and threat influence social and political attitudes (Bonanno and Jost 2006; Jost et al. 2003, 2007). A mortality salience induction increased support for conservative President George W. Bush and decreased support for liberal Senator John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election (Cohen et al. 2005). Death anxiety predicts political conservatism (Jost et al. 2003, 2007). Survivors of the September 11th terrorist attack reported increased political conservatism, regardless of their own political party membership (Bonanno and Jost 2006)’ (Grzesiak-Feldman). Like most people, if not all fear the possibility of death looming over people, people who valued freedom on a major scale became more open to increasing government control in exchange for more safety during a major incident that affects them on a large scale. With people preferring safety over freedom, people no matter their political party as for example the 9/11 survivors tended to be more politically supporting the conservative in times of crisis. Another example that comes to mind is the Great Depression, a time of heavy economic crisis for America. The citizens of America were so distressed that they allowed the president to take more control of their society then they were comfortable with in order for President Roosevelt to start getting back the nation on its feet. If the people hadn’t allowed President Roosevelt to try his ‘New Deals’ plan then the nation would still be in the economic condition they originally started with President Herbert Hoover.
Conspiracy theories most of the time tend to have an easier time making their conspiracy theories believable when there aren’t many definitive facts and many more false facts on the table. This leads to Uscinski and Parent ‘Falsifiability’. According to Uscinski and Parent, they said,” One of the hallmarks of conspiracy theory is that a dearth of positive proof and an abundance of falsifying evidence seem to count in their favor” (Uscinski and Parent 41).’ With no hard concrete evidence to support or be shown to the public to view, it makes it much easier to create rumors and eventually evolving into theories. One such example that also becomes a big conspiracy theory is the Illuminati. The Illuminati theories are shrouded in mystery and are one of the few really big and famous theories that are often heard around or rumored about during this time and age. People curious about what could be hidden behind the mystery of the group may conjure up ideas of possible theories that hooks the attention of the population in order to uncover things that are unknown to the common person. The Illuminati theory cannot possibly be real considering that no possible useable evidence has been found to confirm the possibility of an organization called the Illuminati that exists. With all the people dying to learn about the unknown facts about the death of Bruce Lee, they pinned the blame on the Illuminati believing that Bruce Lee was not simply killed by aspirin but a drug that was meant to kill him sneaked in by a member of the Illuminati cult. It was soon debunked that possible after discovering deducing that Bruce Lee died from his brain’s reaction to painkillers that he took before he decided to take a nap which was the last nap he ever took in his life. In a similar case to this, the 9/11 crashed towers being crashed and the audience only source of information being basically from second hand, it makes it difficult for the people to believe the proof that is being presented in front of them. That is why there has been a conspiracy theory where the buildings fall could have been caused by explosions planted in the building over time in order for the towers to fall. However, having the two towers falling right before the eyes and observing the crashing of the towers from the live feed is definite proof enough to be considered over the false information that spreads. According to Popular Mechanics, Van Romero, an explosives expert and vice president of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology claimed that ‘the collapse of the structures resembled those of controlled implosions used to demolish old structures.'(Editorial). As it may be true that it may seem similar to the effects of using an explosive meant to destroy old buildings, however, it doesn’t exactly mean it is, as investigator Shyam Sunder explained: ”When you have a significant portion of a floor collapsing, it’s going to shoot air and concrete dust out the window’, those clouds of dust may create the impression of a controlled demolition ‘but it is the floor pancaking that leads to that perception”. This speculation leads to more reliable evidence and proof of the smoke not being caused by explosives but the building burning down and its ashes blowing up in the air. With too many possibilities of how the outcome came to be, it seems that one of the most useful ways to tell between which outcome is more supported and more likely is looking at the proof that is demonstrated at the scene and leaving the false information out.
Another method to debunk a conspiracy theory other than Falsifiability is The Cui Bono Test. The Cui Bono Test goal is to question whether or not conspiracy theories would make sense when taking into account if the risk and rewards are acceptable for these conspiracies to happen. In the case of the 9/11 conspiracy theory where a plane was thought to be crashed into America’s headquarters by the Pentagon themselves, the risk far outweighs the rewards. According to BBC News, ‘American Airlines Flight 7… was not under the control of al-Qaeda but the Pentagon itself’ (Bell). The conspiracy theorists believe that the Pentagon, not al-Qaeda, flew the plane into their own headquarters. But what is confusing is why they would do that. According to Keaton Patti, people claim that ‘Bush did 9/11. The President of the United States needed a reason to attack and invade Iraq and Afghanistan, so he arranged for the September 11th attacks to justify his actions. It was an inside job.’ It is understandable that someone may make an accusation such as this. However, this reason alone does not seem to be enough for the amount of damage caused by the 9/11 attacks itself considering the trade-off. The Twin Towers, the World Trade Center for the US was destroyed, the Pentagon was damaged, many people lost their lives, many lost their jobs, and that doesn’t only end there as it a list of problems continues on and on. As explained by Unscinski and Parent, ‘Listeners should tap the brakes on their belief when they hear a conspiracy theory where the plot’s costs and risks exceed its expected benefits’ (Uscinski and Parent 46). The damages caused by the crashing of the towers just seems too ridiculous to support the idea that Bush did it all for the sake of having a reason to attack Iraq and Afghanistan. It cost too much money, too many lives, and too many problems to have this whole conspiracy to come to fruition. The costs and risks of this plan far outweigh the possible bounty.
As the world goes into chaos over and over again, it is expected that people will always create a conspiracy theory that may have people believing in false statements. With fear comes anxiety as people become unsure of the possibility of what had occurred or how to comprehend the event that took at hand in front of their eyes. As with anxiety comes with paranoia, paranoid theorists creating all the possible explanations for certain events that took place. With all the possibilities set on the table, these explanations that could be true makes people uneasy and distrustful of their powerful figures that run their society. Conspiracy theories can become conspiracy but it is unlikely for that to happen so with the use of strategies to debunk their false statements that theorist makes. 9/11 conspiracy theories from the 9/11 Truthers are simply just random theories that hold no hard truths to them as ironic as their name insists. All the theories so far rumor or predicted are all false without evidence or logic to back them up at all.
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