Friday, September 11, 2009

It's all a conspiracy...except it's not

Eight years on from 9/11 and how time has flown. What’s interesting for me though is how many conspiracy theories have sprung up in quite a short time.

Just to set out where I’m coming from – I don’t believe any of the conspiracy theories for two reasons. 1) As I see it, a jet plane crashing into a skyscraper is likely to destroy it without the need for thermite charges or the CIA. 2) I don’t believe large groups of people can keep secrets very well.

A lot of people would have to be involved in a conspiracy to bring down the World Trade Center. And human beings are unreliable blabbermouths. Someone would have let slip that there was more to 9/11 than the official view, if there was more to it.

Plus there’s the reasoning (if you can call it that) of the conspiracy theorists. Basically their argument runs like this: If the Government conspired to destroy the WTC, then they would deny it. So the fact that they deny conspiring to destroy the WTC ‘proves’ they did actually conspire to destroy the WTC.

Just about every conspiracy theory I have ever seen has that circular reasoning at the heart of it.

Ultimately conspiracy theories are just people looking for a ‘supernatural’ explanation for something quite mundane. We don’t want to believe that a handful of people with only rudimentary flight experience could cause such carnage, so we invent a conspiracy to make us feel safer – this must have been a huge operation with government complicity and decades of planning and so on. That’s far better than the thought that this was a random act of terror caused by a few people, which could be easily replicated.

As a race we have often created ‘supernatural’ explanations for random, frightening events that we have no control over. Whether it’s sacrificing virgins to appease the volcano gods, or throwing gold coins into rivers to ask the river spirits for safe crossing, it comes down to the same thing. We want to ‘explain’ the randomness as somehow caused by something, because that makes it less scary. We can perhaps do something to propitiate the gods (or the government) so that the danger goes away.

But the thing is, just wishing the world was a safer place doesn’t make it so.

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