Disinformation and misinformation
including censorship of information and attacks on and "cognitive infiltration" of 9/11 truth groups
In the 9/11 Truth Movement this is simply known as "the Popular Mechanics article."
An entire book has been devoted to debunking this article: "Debunking 9/11
debunking : an answer to Popular Mechanics and other defenders of the official
conspiracy theory", by David Ray Griffin, 2007.
Democracy Now 9/11 Debate: Loose Change Filmmakers vs. Popular Mechanics Editors
of "Debunking 9/11 Myths"
Popular Mechanics' Assault on 9/11 Truth, by Jim Hoffman
Debunking Popular Mechanics' 9/11 Lies Nepotism, bias, shoddy research and
agenda-driven politics, by Paul Joseph Watson/Prison Planet.com, August 10, 2006
The Hidden Hand Of The CIA, 911 And Popular Mechanics, by Christopher Bollyn
Reply to Popular Mechanics re 9/11 by Peter Meyer
Conspiracy theories. by Cass R.
Sunstein (Harvard Law School) and Adrian Vermeule (Harvard Law School).
Many millions of people hold conspiracy theories; they believe that powerful people have worked
together in order to withhold the truth about some important practice or some terrible event.
A recent example is the belief, widespread in some parts of the world, that the attacks of 9/11
were carried out not by Al Qaeda, but by Israel or the United States. Those who subscribe to
conspiracy theories may create serious risks, including risks of violence, and the existence
of such theories raises significant challenges for policy and law. The first challenge is to
understand the mechanisms by which conspiracy theories prosper; the second challenge is to
understand how such theories might be undermined. Such theories typically spread as a result
of identifiable cognitive blunders, operating in conjunction with informational and
reputational influences. A distinctive feature of conspiracy theories is their self-sealing
quality. Conspiracy theorists are not likely to be persuaded by an attempt to dispel their
theories; they may even characterize that very attempt as further proof of the conspiracy.
Because those who hold conspiracy theories typically suffer from a crippled epistemology,
in accordance with which it is rational to hold such theories, the best response consists
in cognitive infiltration of extremist groups. Various policy dilemmas, such as the question
whether it is better for government to rebut conspiracy theories or to ignore them, are
explored in this light.
An entire book has been devoted to debunking this article: "Cognitive Infiltration :
an Obama appointee's plan to undermine the 9/11 conspiracy theory" by David
Ray Griffin, 2011.
... we define a conspiracy theory as an account of events
as the deliberate product of a powerful few, regardless of the
evidence ... Most notoriously and
influentially, the '9/11 truth movement' has questioned the official
accounts of 9/11 and has become a large and growing political force.--p. 17
Surveys show that very large numbers of people believe conspiracy
theories. Regards recent terrorist attacks, for example, according
to a variety of opinion polls, a third of all Americans consider it
"very likely" or "somewhat likely" that government officials either
allowed, or actually carried out the attacks on 9/11. In the
Muslim world, an even greater proportion – as high as 80% -
believe American and/or Israeli governments carried out the
While there are
important exceptions, on balance we believe conspiracy theories are
an important component of propaganda used by extremist groups
to recruit, explain the state of the world, identify scapegoats, and
encourage the shift from peaceful to violent activity. More generally,
we believe that belief in conspiracy theories by large numbers of the
population can harm government citizen trust, with particular
relevance for counter-terrorism work. A more long-term threat may
even be extremist and violent groups forming new alliances. There
are signs of this already.--p. 36
Government agents or their allies should openly infiltrate the
Internet sites or spaces to plant doubts about conspiracy theories,
introducing alternative information. Arabic speaking Muslim
officials from the US State Department have participated in
dialogues at radical Islamist chat rooms and websites to ventilate
arguments not often heard among these groups: often with some
success. This could be of equal use in other types of extremist
groups too. Planting seeds of doubt can have a powerful effect. The
famous Solomon Asch 'conformity' experiments have demonstrated
that when just one other member of a group disagrees with the
group consensus all members are significantly more likely to resist
the urge to conform.--p. 43
Progressive thought “falters under the weight of
apocalyptic and conspiratorial thinking,” argues
Professor Quinby, because “disagreement and dissent
are disallowed, democratic debate is precluded,
and differences of opinion are penalized.”
Professor Domhoff agrees, “Conspiracism is a disaster
for progressive people because it leads them into
cynicism, convoluted thinking, and a tendency to feel
it is hopeless” even as they denounce the alleged conspirators...
by Peter Phillips and Mickey Huff.
Conspiracy theories do not obey the rules of
logic, operating from faulty premises and preconceptions
while denying other possible explanations of
Conspiracist theories are attractive in part because
they start with a grain of truth embedded in preexisting
societal beliefs. Conspiracy books are top
sellers on the online Amazon U.S. bookstore, including
9/11 conspiracy books by Jim Marrs, Webster G.
Tarpley, Michael C. Ruppert, and theologian David
Conspiracy theorists are correct about one thing:
the status quo is not acceptable. Conspiracists have
accurately understood that there are inequalities of
power and privilege in the world—and threats to the
world itself—that need to be rectified. What conspiracy
theorists lack is the desire or ability to follow the
basic rules of logic and investigative research.
People who believe conspiracist
allegations sometimes act on those irrational
beliefs, and this has concrete consequences in the
real world. Angry allegations can quickly turn into
aggression and violence targeting scapegoated
Even when conspiracist theories do not center on
Jews, homosexuals, people of color, immigrants or
other scapegoated groups, they still create an environment
where racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia,
xenophobia, homophobia, and other forms of prejudice,
bigotry, and oppression can flourish.
By coupling sensationalist claims with blatant selfaggrandizing
hucksterism, celebrity conspiracy theorists
attract constituencies of sincere progressive and
liberal activists who are drawn away from constructive
political engagement into the shadow world of secret
teams and sinister plots. And when the fantastic
claims of the conspiracists collapse, all of us seeking
progressive social change are further marginalized.
Conspiracist thinking and
scapegoating on a mass scale are
symptoms, not causes, of underlying
societal tensions and while
conspiracism needs to be opposed,
the resolution of the grievances
themselves is necessary to restore
a healthy society. The spread of
conspiracy theories across a society
is perilous to ignore because
conspiracist allegations can generate
demonization and scapegoating; and these tools
of fear are used by demagogues to mobilize a bigoted
Whether conspiracist claims are circulated by
angry populists or anxious government officials, the
dynamics generated by conspiracy theories are toxic
In his recent essay “Toxic to Democracy,” Political Research Associates (PRA) Senior Analyst
Chip Berlet uses the very same methods of demonization by association that he so strongly opposes.
Berlet convolutes historical context, ideological differences, and progressives vis-à-vis extreme
conservative/neo-con/libertarians in a diatribe of meaninglessness ...
While we have solid respect for the long tradition of research into extreme right wing and
racist organizations for which PRA is well known, we are most dismayed by Chip Berlet’s
reactionary dismissal of academic research into conspiracies/State Crimes Against Democracy
by long time progressive intellectuals.
Watch as the simulated soda pop can passes right through the steel column without
breaking or even slowing down!
last updated March, 2015.