February 4, 2010 at 22:44:07


By Bill Willers Page 1 of 2 page(s)

A wide appreciation of the implications of "Conspiracy Theories" by Harvard law professors Cass Sunstein and Adrian Vermeule ( has been slow in coming. What makes the article and the views expressed therein all the more significant is that author Sunstein in 2009 was made Administrator of Information and Regulatory Affairs of the Office of Management and Budget by President Obama (click here).

(Note: The 2008 article at the Social Science Research Network's website appeared in virtually identical form in the Journal of Political Philosophy 17(2), 2009, pgs 202-227, except that the Journal's version, which carries the title "Conspiracy Theories: Causes and Cures", lacks several terminal pages dealing largely with 9/11 theories outside the U.S.. References to pages below are for the easily downloaded online article for those who want the entire article. The actual Journal is scarce and requires $41 for a download.)

While the article's title suggests conspiracy theories broadly, the 9/11 Truth Movement is the paper's focus, and it reveals substantial concern regarding that Movement's ongoing advance. Particularly ominous is that the authors, who use "theorists" and "extremists" interchangeably, limit their focus "to potentially harmful theories". To whom, one might wonder, would the 9/11 Truth Movement, so "worrisome" for the authors, be harmful? And why do the authors consider the 9/11 Truth Movement such a "serious threat" that it should be "broken up or at least muted by government action"? (pg 21)

The authors contend that conspiracy theorists suffer from "cognitive blunders" and "crippled epistemology". Using psycho-philosophic parlance they are saying those failing to accept the official story of the 9/11 Commission, leading members of which admitted it was "set up to fail", cannot think straight. But the "theorists/extremists" they wish to censure include by now thousands of physicists, architects and engineers using only physical facts and data; substantial figures in theology and philosophy applying elementary logic; military, political and intelligence personnel from all over the world with lifetimes of experience in how the system -- including its underbelly -- functions.

So, what is proposed? "Practically speaking", the authors write, "government might do well to maintain a more vigorous counter-disinformation establishment." (pg 19) They recommend that government officials respond "to more rather than fewer conspiracy theories [which] has a kind of synergy benefit: it reduces the legitimating effect of responding to any one of them, because it dilutes the contrast with unrebutted theories." (pgs 15, 29) Such advice assumes that all theories -- or aspects of a single theory -- are essentially equal in validity or lack of validity -- an odd position for legal minds supposedly sensitive to fine distinctions. But that would not matter when the point is simply to defeat citizen efforts.

More menacing, however is that the authors suggest "planting doubts [to] undermine the crippled epistemology [through] cognitive infiltration" of groups by governmental agents or by forces appointed by government. (pgs 3, 14, 15, 22, 29)"Government agents (and their allies)", they write, "might enter chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups and attempt to undermine percolating conspiracy theories." In light of such proposals for dealing with citizens seeking truth, that Cass Sunstein is "one of America's leading constitutional scholars" (See above link to the White House announcement) is appalling.

The authors contend that "crippled epistemology" arises from the "sharply limited number of (relevant) informational sources" used by conspiracy theorists, this making the theories "especially hard to undermine or dislodge; they have a self-sealing quality, rendering them particularly immune to challenge." (pg 3) This drips with irony, for information coming from the expertise found within the 9/11 Truth Movement, while both extensive and diverse, has been limited only through censoring by the U.S. Government. What's more, there has rarely been a "theory" more resistant to opposing information -- more absolutely and officially "self-sealing" -- than the mockery that is the official 9/11 Commission Report.

As one reads through the Sunstein/Vermeule article it is clear that the authors, while aware of the now infamous Popular Mechanics article -- that absurd prop for the official governmental account (pg 18) -- have carefully avoided any relevant material from within the mountain of easily available credible information that would dash their thesis. For academics ostensibly wedded to truth this is shameful.

Consider from page 20 the following misrepresentation of the position of the 9/11 Truth Movement:

"After 9/11, one complex of conspiracy theories involved American Airlines Flight 77, which hijackers crashed into the Pentagon. Some theorists claimed that no plane had hit the Pentagon; even after the Department of Defense released video frames showing Flight 77 approaching the building and a later explosion cloud, theorists pointed out that the actual moment of impact was absent from the video, in order to keep alive their claim that the plane had never hit the building. (In reality the moment of impact was not captured because the video had a low number of frames per second."

This is a classic "straw man" set up to be knocked down. The intensely grainy few frames made available (of the many certainly detailed security camera records that exist) were not adequate to identify Flight 77. But in this instance it is beside the point anyway, because 'moment of impact on the video' was never a central issue in a case consisting of an abundance of strong evidence. The authors certainly know this as they seek to create the false impression that 'moment of impact on the video' is the centerpiece of the 9/11 Truth Movement's case, an impression the authors can then refute.

And the authors continue:

"Moreover, even those conspiracists who were persuaded that the Flight 77 conspiracy theories were wrong folded that view into a larger conspiracy theory. The problem with the theory that no plane hit the Pentagon, they said, is that the theory was too transparently false, disproved by multiple witnesses and much physical evidence. Thus the theory must have been a straw man initially planted by the government, in order to discredit other conspiracy theories and theorists by association."


What Conspiracy - Just the facts

The problem is that the official story - a conspiracy as well, does not stand up to scientific scrutiny. It's largely a myth which seems to make sense... that is until you look closely and see it was constructed on a very odd (to be generous) evidence.

Without taking a position on what actually happened at the pentagon (the case cited). Whatever the official explanation is, the supposed evidence is very thin which supports that explanation. Something explosive happened and it may very well be a plane (or a missile shot from a plane) which struck the pentagon, or even just an explosion. This could all be clarified by releasing the many videos taken at and around the pentagon at the time.

Since those who advance a theory, have the evidence which would support it without question, that they refuse to release that evidence is very suspicious and EASILY leads one to conclude that the evidence does NOT support their explanation of what happened.

What could possibly be a legitimate motive for not releasing this evidence?

What might other motives be?

What say you?

Sunstein said it himself

Sandero- "What could possibly be a legitimate motive for not releasing this evidence?"

As Sunstein observed- "The problem with the theory that no plane hit the Pentagon, they said, is that the theory was too transparently false, disproved by multiple witnesses and much physical evidence. Thus the theory must have been a straw man initially planted by the government, in order to discredit other conspiracy theories and theorists by association."

There's a huge controversy over the 'what' hit question, which has led many, including myself, to speculate that the reason for not releasing all video, photos, documents and physical evidence proving it was AA77 is simply that the controversy has been hugely successful in disrupting, dividing, distracting and discrediting the 9/11 truth movement. Any one who suggests that the govt should release the evidence- let alone anyone who suggests that anything other than AA77 might have hit the Pentagon- is immediately labeled a 'conspiracy theorist' by the establishment and marginalized from mainstream society and political processes.

The govt's credibility is diminished by not providing hard evidence it was AA77, but not in the 'mainstream', and the establishment is not in any 'danger' at this point of having to give up the goods, whether or not they have them. So why would they release the evidence, if they in fact have it? At some future date or opportune time, they could release it, milking it for all it's worth to discredit the movement, and sow confusion and new fake 'conspiracy theories' that the evidence is all faked.

Meanwhile, while they're fueling the controversy and speculation, truth movement activists and resources are being sucked from larger questions, including why there was no air cover over DC, why anything was able to hit the Pentagon at all- after a 'summer of threat' and more than half an hour after the 2nd WTC strike. And why the side hit was the recently reinforced side opposite the top brass, which was largely empty except for civilian contractors and defense accountants.

this is the...

#1 most read story in the past 12 hours at OpEdNews

I find an abundant lack of

I find an abundant lack of credible evidence to support the OCT. But Chandler provided irrefutable that completely undermines the OCT story about WTC7.

This one fact, calls the entire OCT story into question and the entire day needs to be subject to close scrutiny and re examination.

We don't need more evidence, we need to get NIST and others on the witness stand and get the evidence that they are withholding or the answer to who told them to destroy or not look at it, fake it and so forth. Who are they protecting?

We will crack this by going after NIST which committed fraud, and abuse and waste and LIED to congress. WTC 7 is not a matter of opinion. They were caught on video in a lie, and not they have to be questioned in a court of law. Everything will follow after that.