Why facts wonâ€™t demolish the conspiracy theories
A report on the collapse of Tower 7 will not shut up 9/11 Truthers: their theories spring from a culture of mistrust, suspicion and â€˜agency panicâ€™.
The rise and rise of conspiratorial thinking is one of the most disturbing developments in twenty-first century public life.
Sometimes it appears as if Western societies have regressed, adopting a medieval attitude towards calamitous acts. Back in the Dark Ages, people regarded accidents, disasters and other acts of misfortune as the work of hidden forces. Accidents did not happen, apparently â€“ they were intentionally caused, either by divine or malevolent forces. Misdeeds were often said to have been caused by people who had been manipulated by â€˜evil forcesâ€™.
This primitive outlook is making a comeback; it informs the way many people make sense of high-profile catastrophes today. Conspiracy theories are pushed forward to explain what happened on 9/11, or why there was such devastation in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.
And since conspiracy thinking believes that what you canâ€™t see is more important than what you can see, it is highly unlikely that the report on the destruction of Tower Seven on 9/11 â€“ due to be published by the Washington-based National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) this month â€“ will help to clarify matters.
The 47-storey Tower Seven was the third tower to collapse at the World Trade Center on 9/11. Unlike the twin towers, Tower Seven was not hit by a plane. According to the conspiratorial imagination, Tower Seven was destroyed by the American government in a controlled explosion. Why? Because, it is claimed, American security agencies such as the FBI and CIA had offices in Tower Seven, and that is where they plotted to execute the â€˜9/11 operationâ€™. In short, they demolished Tower Seven to cover their tracks. How else, the conspiracy theorists ask, can we explain the collapse of a massive building?
9/11 â€˜Truthersâ€™ and other conspiracy thinkers are unlikely to be moved by NISTâ€™s report, which is likely to argue that a raging fire caused Tower Seven to fall. As far as the so-called Truth Movement is concerned, this report is simply further evidence of a massive government-inspired cover-up.
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