I love movies, but I have a hard time suspending disbelief enough to enjoy them. I tend to pick them apart, as in this hilarious video. If they had just done this, then they could have avoided that. Consequently, people who live in a constant state of suspended disbelief really perplex me. I’m speaking, of course, about 9/11 truthers.
I met my first truther this weekend. In my own kitchen. He’d been a guest in my home for several hours and seemed to be quite normal. I was telling my daughter about a Hillary ad that I think is pretty funny – the split screen one of her debate flip flops, and he commented that there really wasn’t much difference between Democrats and Republicans.
In some respects I agree with that. Both parties want big government. Both parties largely consist of people who are interested in promoting their own welfare, not that of the country. That sort of thing… but that’s not what he meant. He asked me what I think of Ron Paul. (I thought, oh, boy, here we go…) I replied that while I might agree with Paul on a few issues, I think he’s dangerously naive with regard to Islamic terrorism. That did it. He asked me if I thought it was possible for the government to have had any part in 9/11. How lawyerly… and manipulative. Is it possible? Yes, possible in the same sense that I might have an abortion because I want to keep my figure. In other words, no. Hell, no. No, it’s not possible. It’s ridiculous. He rejects Popular Mechanics, by the way. They’re establishment tools.
There’s no reasoning with these people. Like gnostics, they are the Chosen Ones, privy to information the rest of us can’t comprehend. They’re special. Part of an elite few. We can’t handle the truth! They are the messiah, here to save us from our own dangerous ignorance. They are brave, standing up to The Man. The black helicopters could come at any moment to capture them and throw them into the gulag, but still they press on. They are heroes. They have A Mission.
The problem is that this insanity is viral. It seems quite innocent – what’s wrong with “raising questions” anyway? Thirty years ago, before we got so postmodern that all opinions are equal, and how you feel is given the same weight as proved facts, these nut jobs would never have gotten any traction. But now, 42% of Democrats are truthers or quasi-truthers. (I’m not linking directly to a truther site, but you can read about the Zogby poll here and click through if you want.)
Bill Whittle wrote (specifically with regard to chemtrails, but in an article responding to truthers, JFK conspiracists, and the moon “hoax”),
I think it’s high time — and way, waaaay past high time — to start pushing back against these kinds of diseased philosophies and the fact that they are getting traction because no one seems willing to point at them and go:
I can’t adequately quote his article. Please read it all.
The tools of the paranoid are denial, distortion, and projection. These psychological tools are almost always pathological when used to cope with the real world. For the user these three primitive psychological defenses permit a [hopefully temporary] rearrangement of external reality so that an actual, often unpleasant or painful reality may be avoided; for the beholder, the users of these mechanisms frequently appear crazy or insane. These are known as the “psychotic” defenses, common in overt psychosis, in dreams, and throughout childhood.
Denial is a refusal to accept external reality because it is too threatening. There are examples of denial being adaptive (for example, it might be adaptive for a person who has a terminal illness to use some degree of denial). But for the most part, denial is only useful as a short-term strategy, to permit a person to come to terms with reality. As a long-term strategy to protect self-identity, it is potentially lethal–since the person or group that uses it extensively is blinded to the real danger that might be out there.
Distortion is a gross reshaping of external reality to meet internal needs. Hinchey’s bizarre accusations against the evil genius Rove are a perfect example. It is more acceptable to believe that some evil person has tricked you, than it is to believe that you behaved stupidly.
Delusional Projection occurs when an individual or group have delusions about external reality, usually of a persecutory nature.
It is easy to see how all these psychological manipulations work together to keep a person or a group insulated from reality.
When you go to the movies, you sit there in the dark and immerse yourself in that reality for a couple of hours. When the lights finally come back on, it takes a moment to re-orient yourself to the real world. If the Zogby poll is correct and 42% of Democrats (and however many people of other political persuasions) believe that the government actively or passively caused 9/11, that means (42% of about 72 million Democrats) that’s 30,240,000 people who are out there “raising questions” and infecting others. We can’t afford to politely shrug this off anymore. It’s time to point our fingers and laugh. It’s time to forcefully challenge the people who are espousing this lunacy to resume their disbelief and think critically again.