Disinformation and misinformation

including censorship of information and attacks on and "cognitive infiltration" of 9/11 truth groups

Debunking the 9/11 Myths: Special Report, Popular Mechanics, Feb. 2005

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.

The power of unreason : conspiracy theories, extremism and counter-terrorism. by Jamie Bartlett and Carl Miller. August 2010. (requires pdf reader to open), 2010.

... 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 attacks.--p. 18

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

Toxic to Democracy : conspiracy theories, demonization, & scapegoating by Chip Berlet, Political Research Associates, 2009.

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...

Conspiracy theories do not obey the rules of logic, operating from faulty premises and preconceptions while denying other possible explanations of events ...

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 Ray Griffin. 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 groups.

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 mass base. Whether conspiracist claims are circulated by angry populists or anxious government officials, the dynamics generated by conspiracy theories are toxic to democracy.

A Response to Chip Berlet’s “Toxic to Democracy” from Project Censored

by Peter Phillips and Mickey Huff.
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.

Purdue University's video modeling a "fluid filled aluminum can impacting a steel column"

Watch as the simulated soda pop can passes right through the steel column without breaking or even slowing down!

last updated March, 2015.