Letter to Peter Michaelson
I wrote this in response to Peter Michaelson's essay at Buzzflash. http://www.buzzflash.com/articles/contributors/803
I agree that there are an infinite number of ways to
seek power, and that not all of them are rational.
However, I believe you're being sloppy or myopic when
you suggest that conspiracy theorists are given a
false sense of security when they cling to irrational
beliefs. Having read a number of articles and books
on the subject of US complicity in the attacks of 9/11
I would argue that taking the notion seriously brings
on a sense of anxiety and not security. I think that
would be the normal reaction to that belief system.
In any case, whatever a person's motives may be for
believing this or that fact or theory doesn't have any
impact on the truth value of the fact or theory. In
the case of 911 conspiracies I believe that there are
many facts that lead to believing that the US was
complicit. The August 6th memo, dozens of foriegn
intelligence warnings, and the most recent revelations
about Tenet's meetings with Rice and Rumsfeld on the
subject establish that the Administration had
actionable foreknowlege about the impending attacks
and failed to move to stop the attacks. All that's
left to discuss is whether the administration was
merely incompetent in its criminal negligence or
willfully negligent. I believe that the
administration's stated longing for a New Pearl Harbor
is evidence that they were willfully negligent.
Believing this does not give me a sense of empowerment
nor security, especially in light of how divisive the
issue is on the left. In fact I feel fairly isolated
from the activist/anti-war left which is my preferred
You say that "conspiracists are often desperate to
convince us of the 'truth' of their perceptions, which
is another trait they share with religious
fundamentalists." Of course this desire to convince
others of the truth of my perceptions is a trait I
share with atheists, jugglers, and psychiatrists.
Human beings are social animals. We form our maps of
reality through social interaction. That's hardly
indicative of some emotional immaturity.
If you're looking for a reason why some who are
convinced that the US was complicit in 9/11 are so
vociferous in their insistence you might take another
look at some of your old college psychology textbooks.
You no doubt recall the Asch experiment which
demonstrated the powerful effect the need to conform
to social norms can have on a person's behaviour.
Those who insist in US complicity are made
uncomfortable when their perception is not confirmed.
It seems obvious that such discomfort would provide a
powerful motive to convince others and find
In any case there is one point that you and I
definitely agree on. We must work together to stop
the escalating war and improve our future prospects.
Those like George Monbiot do not help anyone when they
label people as "morons" or "lunatics" when they
disagree with his new found position, a position that
is at odds with his stated beliefs on September 25th
of 2001, on the attacks of 9/11.