Faulty Towers of Belief: Demolishing the Iconic Psychological Barriers to 9/11 Truth

This was already linked in Steven Jones' blog, re-posting because it should be widely read, IMO. -r.

Faulty Towers of Belief: Part I.
Demolishing the Iconic Psychological Barriers to 9/11 Truth


Laurie A. Manwell
B.Sc. Biology and Psychology, University of Waterloo
M.Sc. Biology (Molecular, Cellular, Developmental) University of Waterloo
Ph.D. Candidate Behavioral Neuroscience, University of Guelph

"It is as hard for the good to suspect evil, as it is for the evil to suspect good."
- Marcus Tullius Cicero, Statesman, orator, writer (106-43 BCE)

"If only there were evil people somewhere, insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line between good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?"
- Aleksander Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago

"When I despair, I remember that all through history, the way of truth and love has always won. There have been murderers and tyrants, and for a time they can seem invincible. But in the end they always fall. Think of it, always"
-Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Political and spiritual leader (1869-1948)

Imagine for a moment that you are trying to discuss the 9/11 truth movement with a family member, friend, or even a colleague, and are met with remarkable resistance (of course if you are reading this, you most likely do not need to use your imagination). On the rare occasion, perhaps you’ve heard, "Hmm, that’s interesting, tell me more." More likely though, merely the mention of alternative theories of the events has of 9/11 drawn dismissal, joking, or even ire: "I don’t listen to conspiracy theories," "Yeah I’ve heard some really crazy stories that the government did it," or "How dare you mock the victims of 9/11!" You begin to wonder, why are some people less willing to examine all of the events of 9/11 than others? Is it really because they are obstinate or in denial? Is it because they are apathetic or judiciously lazy? Or perhaps is it because they are uninformed or purposely misinformed? Are there any other explanations? These are all very important questions to be explored if all of the properly investigated facts and evidence of 9/11 are ever going to reach the forefront of public consciousness.

Hence, the purpose of this article is to review relevant scientific studies of the cognitive, emotional, and behavioral processes that arise in response to information that contradicts the deep-seated beliefs that people have about 9/11. If we can better understand the reasons why people are not willing to investigate and evaluate other possibilities we should be better able to proceed in a more informed manner and engage others in more productive discussions of the factual events of September 11th 2001. We need to find ways to encourage awareness of all of the events related to 9/11, along with open discussion and debate with as many people as possible - as soon as possible. There are many people who, if they could recognize and overcome some of the psychological blocks to exploring alternate accounts of the events of 9/11, could greatly contribute to the impetus for a new and truly independent international investigation. In fact, after hundreds of hours of careful consideration, this is how the author was able to reach such conclusions herself - by the willingness to explore her own psychological biases and errors in evaluating the events of 9/11, and thus to be better able to objectively evaluate the evidence. To be able to report information as a behavioral neuroscientist, I rely on the research method, but as a person who is just as susceptible to bias and error in reasoning as everyone else, I must also be vigilant that my worldviews are always examined alongside my scientific views:

We tend to resolve our perplexity arising out of the experience that other people see the world differently than we see it ourselves by declaring that those others, in consequence of some basic intellectual and moral defect, are unable to see things "as they really are" and to react to them "in a normal way." We thus imply, of course, that things are in fact as we see them and that our ways are the normal ways. (Ichheiser, 1949, p. 39).

(pdf 265kb)


"Cult" my ass.

Interesting concept for an

Interesting concept for an article, but it's just a lot of psychological blah blah blah. What motive do people have for not recognizing the truth (and I do mean motive, they are actively participating in there own deception). Fear is the cause. Fear that the federal government could be capable of such a thing. Fear of the reasons behind such treachery, and fear of what else might come. So the head goes in the sand. But the truth won't go away just by ignoring it. Ignorance only increases fear, and leaves you with your ass exposed.

one more fear

Don't forget the fear of being fooled. Nobody wants to look stoopid.

Want to figure out 9/11? Ponder the 9/11 "Mineta Stone"

Thank you for your comments

Hello, I'm the author of said article :)

First, thank you all for your comments and please keep them coming.

While Part II is well underway, I have already made a few changes to address some the concerns voiced here - most notably how NOT to put people to sleep (LOL) :) Hey, I'd rather read something more entertaining and titilating myself, but that's not what's going to get my colleagues interested in the subject. In fact, one of the primary motivators for my writing the article is that, after nagging and nearly harrassing my fellow scholars to look into this, I was just so disgusted with their dismissal that I had to prove them wrong, and set out doing so by using their own means of "academic research." I put that in quotation because I was astounded that even though they expound the "scientific method" without question (perhaps therein lies the problem) they were just as ready to suspend the same critical thought processes so as not to have to discuss alternative accounts of 9/11. Completely unbelievable!! And also, the ways I was broaching the subject just didn't seem to be working, even my dogs were ignoring me. :)

Anyway, I do plan to as you say, "hit them in the gut" with part II, but a strong foundation had to be laid down first for other academics to even bother looking at it. Of course I would be more than happy to give a talk in less rigorous terms as someone has suggested (and yes, I can interject my sense of humour, albeit somewhat warped, I'm a Canuck, eh!). But one thing at time. :)

Thanks everyone, for taking the time to read it and again, any comments will be considered for part II if appropriate.


Bravo and thank you,

Bravo and thank you, Laurie.

“On the altar of God, I swear eternal hostility against all forms of tyranny over the mind of man."--Thomas Jefferson

Funny you should mention...

... my dog too, dislikes the intensity I apply to this subject. It seems he would simply rather me drop it, and just pet him. So now, just to keep him somewhat more ingratiated to me for putting food out and using my thumbs to open the door (funny how that just isn't enough)... I must now make an extra effort to show him my love.

Your paper is important, Laurie. This morning, I was rather surprised at the number of people willing to engage the raw concepts, in spite of the title. Over the years, I have inadvertently pushed many away from me through amateurish and clumsy attempts to open dialogue around the 9/11 subject. Visibly frustrated by their often automated-like rejections or ground-shifting away from substance in favor of hollow platitudes, this often increased our mutual distrust of each other. Not a good thing.

However, this morning I found several people intrigued by the more basic psychological dynamics at play which they concede ALL people are susceptible to. One more thing of note; I was previously successful in reaching agreement with many of these same people, that it did not matter which of us had a better handle on the "facts". The simple fact the we diverged in mutually exclusive ways over a subject of such gravity, and that both of us simply represented many more on BOTH sides of the issue... was actually an agreed item of concern (no matter which "side" a person took), in that some future, greater "showdown" among us was probabilistically inescapable. THAT, they could see.

Since reaching that basic agreement of a potentially deep social conflict, several have changed their style. Instead of blowing me off, or trying to offer trite throwaway lines (which I mercilessly turn back upon them without fail), they say hello, shake hands, sit and visit... and even... on increasingly more occasions... dig deeper asking about jet fuel, radar, thermite, evidence, due process, and even... motive.

I thank you for this paper. I've already written a page of notes for almost every double-spaced page of yours.

Take care,


I decided to repost my earlier comment.

What the heck, ya know. I just couldn't let stand the silliness of the comment that included... 'psychology, blah blah blah'. My experience has been that the only people who engage in such dissing either simply haven't read the article or are psychologicallyl naive.
(edited slightly) If you wish to persuade people. If you wish to influence how they think and what they will consider - with respect to 9/11 truth or anything else, I think as many as possible must understand these relevant psychological variables.

I imagine that most who post here can benefit from understanding these issues as they try to influence folks to look at evidence regarding the government's lies about 9/11. As a poor analogy, when I had to design some simple circuit boards (in the context of running a neuroscience brain wave imaging laboratory), ultimately I had to study Ohm's law and worse to figure out how to accomplish my tasks. The same with compujter programming. Didn't have a damn thing to do with neuropsychology per se, except they were crucial to accomplishing the research.

With respect to this article, basic, experimentally supported understanding of human cognition/emotion/behavior is equally crucial to the success of the goal of awakening others to 9/11 truth. Just saying "fear" is the reason is simplistic in the extreme and it doesn't help us understand how to defuse and circumvent 'fear' in order to get the 'fearful' to consider alternative ideas. I believe that 9/11 truth activists should understand these concepts and learn to utilize them.

While Part II will be welcome as it will seek to make the tie between experimentally supported concepts and how to use them to further the goal of informing about 9/11 truth, all should endeavor to understand these concepts and help facilitate the process.

More melodramatically, we have a war to fight. And it really is an 'end times' crisis (with or without the religious connotation) and we must understand our weapons in order to use them.

Oh, and on edit I must add: You can bet the opposition (CIA and other propagandists) know these weapons and other psychological weapons very very well. Social scientists such as social psychologists and Bernays-ian propagandists have been recruited by the CIA for 55 years. Ever wonder why the 'machine' has been so effective? Ever wonder how the American's have been dumbed-down so effectively? Ever wonder how the "fear" of the Americans has been manipulated so completely? One can deride the 'opposition' alll he wants but consider just for how long and how effectively mass opinion has been manipulated.
"There are none so hoplessly enslaved as those who falsely believe they are free." (Goethe)

You're right: This is vital information

However, I -- and I'm sure many others -- would prefer if someone would boil it down to a brief, comprehensive how-to. What to do, what not to do, period.


interns < internets

I think that will be coming

in the subsequent parts.

The first task, however, was to get the basic concepts - bulding blocks - into an article so that folks might understand the bases for the 'What to do's and what not to do's' . For example, if you are to counter 'cognitive dissonance' , you must first understand what it is. How it works. and so forth.

"There are none so hoplessly enslaved as those who falsely believe they are free." (Goethe)

Boiled down to one sentence

When considering how to approach a disbeliever, I agree there needs to be a simple, comprehensive response we can rely on. Here is a link to Joe Plummer's response to a "controlled demolition" skeptic. It is a fairly brief response that is one of the best I've seen. And, it can actually be boiled down to a single sentence: "Given a choice between that which is 'difficult but doable' and that which is literally impossible, we cannot reasonably choose the latter."


"As long as the Matrix exists, the human race will never be free." Morpheus, from The Matrix

Show "More blah blah blah." by strgzr

Be real.

More naivete. If folks won't even begin to consider what you are saying, then you are not going to 'hit them in the gut' or anywhere else. Most of the wealthy and middle class folks who live live nearby won't even begin to question their presuppositions, their 'consensus trance'. How to get around those cognitive/emtional behaviors is the issue. NOT just 'Hit them in the gut'....

"There are none so hoplessly enslaved as those who falsely believe they are free." (Goethe)

I don't give a rip about the

I don't give a rip about the wealthy and the middle class who don't see the truth. There are many in the middle class who do see. I want the common folk ,that know what they know, to see. These are the people who built America. These are the the people who keep America strong.

Do you really want to see pitchforks and torches?

The well-off and influential, are also "set up" with deep convictions that what they do is good and just... do you appreciate the implied inevitable conflict between these classes?

Sure, I agree with you, the working and remaining middle classes are ever less vested in maintaining this inequitable situation. These are the folks whom, if we fail, will take to the streets with pitchforks and torches. That will be an extraordinarily uncivil mess in the streets of America. Precisely what the minority of elite bastards seem to pine for more than anything else, as only We are capable of destroying ourselves. That is the only way to clear the path they wish for their sick visions of "World Order". "Get America out of the way."

Do you see the necessity for us to diffuse this setup? The upper classes, with their veritable armies of likewise deluded yet highly influential "intellectualism"... is a great fuel for the fire of our fucked-up zeitgeist.

I suspect this is more of a info-battlefield obstacle than you give it credit for.

Nice post, Medicis

I used to fight commercialism in schools -- Channel One, Coke contracts, ad-funded web filters, etc. As part of that, I went to the business library of my state university where all the advertising research is located. The library is full of articles by psychology PhDs on the effectiveness of various means of inlfuencing people. I can only imagine what the CIA knows -- here's a little example of what they knew 40 years ago:


Selling a captive audience of students to businesses to raise money for schools inadequately funded because of lobbying by those same businesses -- even to the point of pushing unhealthy products on preteens --- seems so benign in comparison to 9/11. However, it reflects the same corporate mentality of greed, manipulation, and ends justifying the means. The school board's ignorance of the use of psychology is also similar to people's ignorance of the power of the 9/11 psyop.



I read the article

The paper made some nice points. I am eagerly awaiting "Part II" - which presumably tells us how to in fact change someone's mind on this issue. The problem seems to come down to the fact that mentioning 9/11 automatically brings up death anxiety, which cues people to cling to their pre-existing ideologies (e.g., patriotism, religion, the US gov't is benign). If that is the main barrier, then it seems virtually intractable. How can we discuss 9/11 and then get people to discuss the issue rationally? One suggestion she hinted at was to talk about the events in a way that makes people sad, not angry. When sad, people are more likely to be able to engage logic and reason than when people are angry.

As for the paper's shortfalls, I saw only one: I wish that the author had stated a better case in her paper for why the OCT is so patently absurd. She did cite quite a few authors, and quoted one at length about the squibs. I wish she had cut nature at its joints and got to the heart of the problem.

I also worry that libraries won't carry this journal, so its authors are preaching to the converted. Finally, it would be nice to see an empirical project of this nature, instead of just a lit review. (But that may be where "Part II" comes in.)

I can't wait for her later works to arrive! She skillfully interweaves psychology literature with an understanding of people's reactions to 9/11.


Show "Part 2 please I almost fell" by strgzr

Look here, strgzr... please:

If this is not your thing as it almost put you to sleep, even though this is your fourth comment... please move along for now and let others continue to search for the civilized methods to 'fight' this mind-fuckery.

If the civilized method arrives too late, or is handicapped beyond effectiveness... I WILL STILL help you sharpen the pitchforks. Until then, please allow this effort to develop without your derision. thanks

I think this is a great

I think this is a great idea. The more academics that get involved the better. Makes sense that to reach certain segments implies communicating with them in their own familiar language. Great work Laurie!

More than one type of resistance

In addressing people's psychological blocks to looking at the evidence, I think it would be helpful to make a few distinctions between types.

As I see it, there is more than one type that resists 9/11 Truth. Here are a few of them:

1) The type discussed in Laurie's article--sort of Bill O'Reilly types who get angry, yell, and will not listen to anything.

2) The type that listens politely, but dismisses everything, also without looking at the evidence.

3) The type that looks at the evidence and then uses any number of excuses to dismiss it--"I am not an expert," "I am not persuaded," "Though this may be true, it is hopeless to try to change anything," or "This is a waste of time in view of more important issues like the war in Iraq." etc.

4) The type that looks at the evidence and is more or less convinced, but then just stops and sits on the fence forever. Their excuses also are of several kinds--"I just cannot handle the subject," "What can I do?" "It has always been thus," "How can we be sure?" etc.

A core issue in the psychology of resistance to the evidence is how the evidence is "processed" after having been looked at and accepted as valid to some degree.

I seem to know a fair number of people who are type 3 and 4, as described above. I believe that these types should be moved to action by what they have learned, but they are not. There is some core habit of apathy or a sense of powerlessness that causes them to remain silent even after having achieved a basic understanding. They will listen and agree, but their agreement does not change their behavior in any significant way.

Laurie, I hope that you will deal with these types (and more) and their levels of resistance to actually doing anything or speaking up, etc. I think part of the problem is that type 3 and 4 simply do not realize that 9/11 is qualitatively and quantitatively different from other political/historical issues. It is not like a war, which tends to be forgotten soon after it is over. And it is not simply run-of-the-mill gov't corruption and lying. There are deep-seated fears at work in these people,as well as apathy. Besides emotional or psychological explanations for these types, I think there is also an intellectual one--they simply do not have a mental category for this degree of danger and evil, and so they are simply processing it in the same old ways as everything else. And thus their mental wheels just spin and spin without going anywhere at all.

Thanks for your work. As far as this kind of article goes, you could not have made it more interesting or readable. I thought it was terrific and hope that it will open a long discussion in the same vein. This is some deep territory and we need to understand it well.

JFK on secrecy and the press

More than one type, yes but...

... the spectrum of "types" spanning between O'Really to say, my mother for example, is still based upon simpler dynamics of deductive slight-of-hand and inductive disconnect.

The remedy in either case will require a similar kind of treatment protocol, although to varying degrees and attention to the deductive/inductive.

My mother still needs more time to gather up and appreciate the tricks of deductive hand waving and political sophistry as it can be used as a deadly weapon, but her heart still works just fine. She knew the Iraq War was wrong, ab initio.

Whereas O'Really needs to have his chest opened for exploratory surgery. If a heart can still be located, it will need to be reconnected to his soul and atrophied brain stem, yet he needs absolutely no instruction in the tools of sophistry. He knows most every twist and turn to make any conversation sound like he's the winner.

Smart comment, but the bit

Smart comment, but the bit about O'Rielly's "heart", pure comic gold...just like ovaltine.


The mug is round...

...the can is round. Why don't they call it "Roundtine"?
"Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without." - Buddha
"What you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it." - Gandhi
"The Sun never shined on a cause of greater worth." - Thomas Paine

If we accept recent polls,

If we accept recent polls, only 16% of Americans completely believe the OCT.

Other polls have shown that around 15% are MIHOP, maybe 20-30% LIHOP, and 30-50% in some "intermediate" state where they see the problem but not how big and bad it is.

The LIHOP-intermediate figure is quite large. I see LIHOP as a half-way point between the OCT and MIHOP, so the rest of the "intermediate" group is somewhere on the weaker side of that.

That's who is out there, and those are the types we really need to reach.

I agree with you on O'R, and agree that he is hopeless for now.

I hope that Laurie will focus on addressing the problems of reaching the "LIHOP-intermediate" group, as described above. The Bill O's do have an "interesting" psychological make-ups, but most Americans are not in his category. His type is what we see most on TV, but as usual the media is not representative of most Americans. It is designed to persuade more than inform, as we all know.

JFK on secrecy and the press

Thank you, Ms. Manwell

I'm only half way through your paper, but so far it is explaining so much of the behavior we can observe surrounding 9/11. Thank you very much for writing this -- it is very insightful and easy for me as a layman to understand.

I've sent a couple of messages about 9/11 and the "war on terror" to an international law listserv I'm on, saying that lawyers should not accept the unproven official story about 9/11 as a premise for their discussions of human rights law, and should not use the term "war on terror," at least not without putting it in quotes, because it is a propaganda term that heightens the very pressures on civil liberties that they are concerned about. Your article discusses some of the issues I raised, and gives me further arguments to make. It also explains why the response so far has been complete silence -- these are people like you discuss on page 24 with a stake in the legitimacy of the power structure, such as academics or NGO analysts.