August 6, 2007

Discrediting By Association: Undermining the Case for Patriots Who Question 9/11

Note by Arabesque: a new paper by Victoria Ashley references several of my articles on Disinformation and tackles the "Big Tent" 9/11 Truth Phenomenon as seen in the website "Patriots Question 9/11".

Discrediting By Association: Undermining the Case for Patriots Who Question 9/11

by Victoria Ashley is not unique in its mixing of nonsense-advocates with real researchers, but due to this site's high visibility the need to address this issue is all the more important. Efforts to get these small needed changes -- for the sake of the basic credibility of the entire 9/11 community -- have been fruitless. Hence, in order to keep the public aware of the basic role of the insertions of nonsense into our work which sites like are ignoring, this essay was created.

As we enter the 6th Anniversary of the attacks, the nonsense advocates are meeting for their own conference about TV fakery, nukes, UFOs, and space weapons, meaning that essays such as this are unfortunately increasingly necessary to provide a basic resource for journalists, researchers, and average readers who are questioning the 9/11 attacks, but are coming upon ideas so absurd, so often, that it might seem like most of the entire 9/11 community is simply nuts. But if one looks closely one finds that, in general, these people also appear to have held reasonable jobs and have even won grants for tens of thousands of dollars from the government.

This basic contradiction which we see again and again -- nonsense combined with expert credentials or high competency -- is a red flag in which only two possible rationales reasonably exist: either the person has begun a tragic course of Alzheimers (or some other organic disorder of the brain) which has apparently not yet been diagnosed nor affected any of their other abilities to function independently, or they are intentionally protecting the official story by attempting to discredit those who are questioning it by association. There are other possibilities - i.e., ego, spite, ideology etc. -- but most of those necessitate such a level of reckless disregard for the truth that they amount to an intentional effort to discredit, nothing more.

Some will argue that such essays and research as this are only negative, waste time, and risk getting us too involved in debunking and divisiveness rather than the positive work we should be doing instead. Indeed, the individuals described in this essay would likely feel the same -- "Shut up about the disinformation already, and lets all get along!" This is the basis for Big Tent, an organizing strategy which tends to welcome all ideas, no matter their content, for purposes of "unity."

The truth is, each of us has our own path, interests, fascinations, and abilities, and we can each contribute our best work by following what we feel most strongly about. Sometimes writing about mis- and disinformation is a cathartic exercise which can allow researchers to move forward knowing they have done as much as they can do to expose the charades. I recall discussing disinformation briefly on stage at a 9/11 event while waiting for the main speaker to arrive. Audience members were confused about some of the information they'd recently learned that made no sense to them and someone brought up a question. When I explained a little about mis- and disinformation, the history of it, the examples we know of, the likely possibility that this may be at the root of the topic they were confused about, there was a palpable relief in the room, almost an audible sigh that went across people. It surprised me: people understood immediately and in a gut way, gaining a knowing look on their faces as if to say, "Ah, of course . . . now I get it." After such situations are resolved, I've noticed, events move forward positively. I've witnessed such relief in a number of audiences when false claims have been brought up -- "But I think nukes were what really caused those clouds at Ground Zero!" -- and quickly decapitated by individuals like Dr. Steven Jones, Jim Hoffman and architect Richard Gage.

We are engaged in a 2-front information war, and pretending that we are not won't make one side go away. There are more than enough of us for all the different types of efforts -- outreach, organizing, group building, physical evidence research, petitions, lawsuits, FOIAs, and refuting false claims -- to move forward in unison.

The good news is that more and more people are seeing the nonsense and are rejecting it openly in their posts to forums, in their own essays, on blogs, and in films. Creating a firewall between the genuine research and the nonsense will take more than ignoring nonsense, it will take uniting against it. And that takes courage, as anyone knows who has attempted to expose mis- and dis-information and has been met with vitriolic public attacks and threats.