Semi-Sane Rantings About Society Today

Folk Memory
April 20, 2008, 10:36 am
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Perhaps it is to be expected, that something like 911, a catastrophic event will one day fade in our collective memories. Scientists have done a lot of work at how memory fades in accuracy in greater and greater amounts, particularly after 5 years or more – as it has with 911. This fading of folk memory is what i contend is the breeding ground for the conspiracy theories surrounding 911.

911 conspiracy theories are in the first instance a product of bigotry. In the middle east there has been the consistent theory that Mossad ordered the attacks and that Jews were warned not to go to the WTC on the day of the attacks. Simmilarly in the US for a time before the Iraq war a significant percentage of the population thought Saddam Hussein was responsible for the attacks – which was definitely not the case. The conspiracies also come from the “disturbing questions” angle. This is made up of the dregs of the Seattle generation, a small number of 911 families and the anti-government right of the Timothy McVeigh variety. I’m not here to discuss the details of the 911 attacks or the new conspiracy theories springing up like (either poisonous or halucinatory) mushrooms, just their breeding ground.

This issue came up for me when I was travelling on the train the other night. Some passengers have the habit of having conversations that are at a volume that you can’t ignore. After many boring topics they came to the 911 attacks. Here is what they said.

Person One: The attackers were Iraqi weren’t they?

Person Two: No no, they were from Spain.

Person One: That’s right Spain.

For the record most of the hijackers were Saudi with one from the United Arab Emirates. The terror cell that committed the attacks were students in Hamburg, Germany. That people could get it wrong according to scientists is to be expected. But it does raise a danger for Skeptics and people in general who are after the truth.

It is easy to dismiss the 911 conspiracy people as nutbags (even though they are). But the reason for their popularity can be put down to time passing. A lot more people may be willing to read or confront 911 now and there is of course a lot of 911 conspiracy material out there. When putting 911 into the search engine in youtube, the first results will include as much bullshit as factual content.


For skeptics the importance is not to understand where these theories come from, it is what environment these theories can grow in.