Here’s why I don’t believe in conspiracy theories, Part I

“9/11 was an inside job. There are just too many unanswered questions.”

Wait, so it was a plan that would have to involve thousands, maybe 10’s of thousands of people to cover up the huge logistical and practical actions and materials involving an interwoven effort to cover up a plot by our government that spans at least 8 agencies, the governments of at least 4 countries, and our entire Executive branch, the Armed Services Committee of Congress, any Congressional committee involved in budgeting, every FAA employee within radar range of any of the planes, every Air Force person on duty within 1500 miles, a demolition team that would have had to set hundreds of shaped charges in precise places to perfectly replicate a demolition sequence that had no practical data set to inform what to mimic in 3 buildings without anyone noticing, or leaving any evidence, that would have to be timed with airplane strikes without any communications that could be monitored by any of the civilian or law enforcement agencies – foreign and domestic –  in one of the largest cities in America, placed well enough to fool not only government agencies but also civilian experts who have surveyed the evidence for over a decade now, and they STILL lost a plane, or wasted it, somehow also perfectly broadcasting sounds of a struggle that had been recorded earlier by a cast of 100+ actors, involving a host of recording engineers and sent FROM THE PLANE to a tower as they crashed it in a field for no reason, all to create an incident that began a war that they started instead for completely different reasons?

And out of all the people who worked on this plan to kill 3000 innocent people, kicking off a decade long conflict that has claimed 6000+ more American lives, and an estimated 1,000,000 Iraqi, Afghan, and other ME civilians’ lives, NOT A SINGLE ONE has the remorse to gather incontrovertible proof of this plan?

Let’s just put aside that most of the claims made by 9/11 Truthers have been debunked and that even demolition experts and physicists show the impossibility of the Truther’s claims. And let’s ignore that a dude flew a plane that landed in Red Square during the high of the Cold War, one of just a few airplane hijinks that had far more suspicious flights than the commercial jets of 9/11. Let’s just focus on the human component.

Because in the end, here’s my problem with 99.999% of these conspiracy models: In order to affect something, you must apply weight sufficient to overcome inertia, move that which you are trying to affect. This is true in Physics, and it’s true of people, society, and government. And let’s face it, all three of these things are notoriously difficult to move. Social inertia – the weight of the status quo – itself is a monolithic beast unmoved by decades of protests and legislative changes. 100 years of Suffragettes and Feminists and Oxygen still shows Bad Girls Club. But some dude with a laptop can affect the election of an American president by himself, leaving no trace of his work at all?

This stuff is like Dungeons and Dragons for political morons.

Every “conspiracy” cannot be judged on the “unanswered questions” raised by it’s adherents – fabricating those are easy, as is throwing around a whole host of seemingly shady coincidences, and painting shadows and figures lurking in the dark corners of the paranoid mind – chasing down every aspect of these unsubstantiated claims is impossible, especially since every time a claim is debunked, the goal posts are moved. These tactics are the same for those involved in mainstream politics, made famous by the various “nutjobs” who have polluted practical politics with ideological justifications and huge reams of false information. Ask Glenn Beck, Fox News and Andrew Breitbart how well these garbage tactics work.

But in the end, it comes down to a simple equation: the larger the number of people that have to be involved for a conspiracy’s end goal to be achieved, the more likely that human nature and basic chaos theory will throw a monkey wrench into the plan – or, the more likely a mistake or change of heart would lead to an illuminating act that unravels the plot.

Doing bad things is hard, and it’s hard on people. We have a need to confess, to come clean. This is a fact of human nature. Ask OJ Simpson or Oliver North or any of these people. Or the Catholic Church.

Now, I’m not saying that nefarious plots don’t exist. Certainly they do – Iran Contra, for example. But that’s a story that was broken by journalists, with evidence, vetted and corroborated, and eventually described in detail by the principals involved. I’m certainly not saying that there aren’t shady people out to do shady things, and yes, some of them are “conspiracies” on a grand scale. But what we’re really talking about here are unsubstantiated conspiracy theories with no real evidence, that are perpetuated in a vacuum of internet chatter and hookum, based on bad science and even worse “journalism” that stagger zombie-like through our social consciousness without ever having to face the scrutiny of real critical thinking. The perpetuators of these theories also never have to face the consequences that promoting such unsubstantiated nonsense would have for whistleblowers or journalists.

A real story changes as new evidence is revealed, and as old evidence is debunked. Truth is revealed through critical analysis of the FACTS. As incorrect reporting or false theories are contradicted by facts, these theories and reports are abandoned in favor of exposing the truth. These “conspiracies” like the 9/11 “Truth” movement follow the OPPOSITE morphology, GAINING strength as each new contradictory fact becomes somehow “proof of the cover up” and “that’s what THEY want you to think”. It creates an impossible intellectual arena, one that is more concerned with saving the egos of those promoting the theory than anything to do with the truth. This intellectual disingenuousness in the face of critical thinking is the hallmark that separates “Birtherism” from, say, waterboarding investigations.

This is NOT a case where “for every one we know of, there are 10 we don’t”. In fact, that’s my point. Most of the plots that fall into this “subverting governments” bag either lack the force to move the object of their desire – and thus escape detection by virtue of being small enough AND harmless enough – or they do become large enough to affect change, but in doing so become large enough to be exposed. This equation is what ultimately makes a lie of these complex, nefarious Illuminati-Masonic-Bilderbergian-NSA-shadowy-goverment-X-Files-wannabe plots.

If they are small enough to escape detection, they are too small to do anything. If they are large enough to do anything, they are too large to escape detection. It’s that simple.

Iran Contra failed, by the way. So did Nixon’s Watergate break in. In fact, the vast majority of these grandiose plans fail. A lone gunman can sneak into a book depository. 20 dudes can get on planes with box cutters. The scale is small, the agenda simple. But massive, sustained operations with hundreds of people all playing parts that need to be executed with atomic-clock accuracy? Cuz no one is going to stop to pee, or take a wrong turn, or drop something? That doesn’t even work in the movies.

Anthony Weiner can’t get away with tweeting a cock shot that was up for all of a minute, somehow an entire professional demo team set up shaped charges right where and when they knew planes were going to hit?

At some point, we can accept that we don’t have the whole truth on something – 9/11 certainly is not without legitimate questions – while NOT building up these elaborate Rube Goldberg machines of intellectually disingenuous castles in the air so that a bunch of political dilettantes and borderline paranoiacs can feel like they are smarter or more “on the inside” than everyone else. More likely: a bunch of wide eyed people with little to no critical thinking skills believe whatever fantasy makes their lives seem more interesting? Or that a conspiracy of thousands agree to murder 3000 innocent people in cold blood?

Even as to the “unanswered questions” – more likely that a cover up is to hide that our government is completely filled with sociopaths bent of world domination? Or that people are just covering their asses because they know they fucked up?

Conspiracy theories occupy the same part of the brain as religion, magic, Astrology, Tarot, role playing, and other stuff we like to believe to make life seem more magical, or more interesting. Whether it’s believers in angels and demons, fairies, ghosts, Climate change deniers, vaccines and autism, fortune telling, psychic abilities, whatever, it’s clear that we as humans have a love for believing crazy shit that we believe NOT because of compelling evidence, but because we are incapable of building positive self esteem without the external labels and reaction to the crap we wrap our egos around. It’s an easy way to become one of the “cool kids”. ”

You’re just a rube, man, LOOK AT THE WORLD AROUND YOU MAN CANT YOU SEE WHAT’S GOING ON???”

I’ve spent the last few years reading quite a bit about the 2008 Financial Crisis, and in turn, about crises that preceded it – the Enron scandal, the collapse of the Junk Bond market, and of Salomon Brothers. If there is a story ripe for plunder with hidden agendas and powerful cabals of powerful men with huge sums of cash, this is the arena. Washington is riddled with Wall Street’s lobbyists, our fiscal policy has been in the hands of Goldman Sachs employees for 50 years. Elected officials swimming in corporate cash, the Supreme Court itself bowing to the moneyed interests with the Citizens United decision, I mean it just REEKS of conspiracy, doesn’t it? Koch Brothers vs George Soros for the Global Caliphate or Socialist Utopia?

Except that none of it’s true. Oh, Wall Street and Washington are intertwined with corporate and financial interests beating this country into a bloody pulp of wage slavery and serfdom, don’t get me wrong. A mutually beneficial circle jerk of power and influence, an echo chamber that resonates kick backs, sweetheart deals and nepotistic self interest? Absolutely. Quid pro quo, back scratching, vacations for votes, corruption and greed? You betcha.

But as for it being a solidified, driven cabal with a singular, overarching agenda? Fuck no. I’ll go into it more in Part II, but suffice to say that the story of our financial system is ironically one of fierce individualists, iconoclasts, and monomaniacal narcissists who would no more collude with their fellow business people than a lion would with a jaguar in a herd of Wildebeest.

What creates this sense of collusion is a shared perspective, not a coherent plan. There are certain things that benefit them all, and a certain conventional wisdom that informs business, finance, and economics (a lot of it wrong). Picture it like Christianity, or Islam – there are some basic principles they all share, but there is still plenty of backbiting among sects. Sure, Baptists and Mormon will both fight Gay Marriage, but they have VERY different ideas about everything else. And in truth, each one thinks the other is going to Hell, and is glad to see them get there. Just as religions each think they have the only key to spiritual and moral superiority, each bank, corporation, and investment firm thinks they – and ONLY they- have the right ideas about success.

But the conspiracy theorist sees these simple connections, and invents deeper and deeper meaning, ascribing motives and agendas to casual actions, painting a picture of twisted human emotion and evil right out of a Hellfire and Brimstone sermon from witchburning Salem. Except that people really aren’t like that. Our basic motivations and nature all stem from pretty well documented areas, not from some “absolute morality” that is the only thing that could account for these consistent and coordinated acts of sociopathic evil.

In the end, applying Occam’s Razor to these arguments, it is not the particulars of who met whom in a cafe in Paris, or what paper trail was destroyed by flunkies in black helicopters (where do these helicopters get their fuel? Wouldn’t that leave a trail? Or how about whoever is making all these black suits? Is Georgio Armani IN ON IT??) that is most easily debunked. It is the human nature.

There is no endgame to the 9/11 attacks as described in the conspiracy that would not have been achieved by far easier means. This in itself makes a lie of the conspiracy itself, without the need to get into the details – yet it also reserves the details for further analysis. It does not rule out the idea that someone, in a panic, didn’t want to get blamed for maybe getting a coffee at the wrong time, or for funding the wrong organization 30 years ago. And it’s far more likely that this is not even a concerted cover up, but a disjointed slew of individuals covering individual asses. Rats bolting a sinking ship is VERY DIFFERENT than a bunch of rats getting together to sink a fucking ship.

The reason why these bullshit theories bother me so much is that they are just another example of narcissistic, ego pumping, “aren’t I cool look at me” pseudopolitical grandstanding clung to by people who really don’t give a flying fuck about actually participating in the democratic process in order to actual FIX THE SHIT THAT’S WRONG. It is another section of the peanut gallery screaming for attention at the top of their lungs, refusing to accept any viewpoint other than their own. As with the other blinkered, fanatical ideologues – Libertarians, religious Conservatives, PETA – it all comes down to promoting the ego.

Thanks to bullshit science, how much money has been diverted to studying vaccines – a proven technology for over a half century – from finding the REAL causes of autism? How many studies on Climate Change will be enough to satisfy the deniers? Because of these “Truthers” how many resources have been taken away from finding and stopping the real perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks to satisfy the morbid delight of intractable conspiracy theorists who refuse to accept the evidence that demolishes their claims? We’ve had a DECADE to find evidence of this conspiracy, and it’s just not there.

3000 people died to give you the right to treat them like a political football so you could pretend to be oh so cool and informed. Way to go, Conspiracy America, way to go.

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