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I'd like to say a few words at the outside of this course about nine 11 conspiracy theories and their

prevalence. first of all what is a conspiracy theory? it, there is no standard definition but in my view a conspiracy theory is a alternative narrative to explain a historical event that is contrary to the narrative that has been established by the facts, and it usually attributes blame for a certain incident to something that happened in secret, usually involving the government in conjunction with other secret nefarious actors and they place blame on this cabal between the government and other actors for some sort of historical incident. Now, the historical narrative for nine 11 has been established in the nine 11 Commission Report, which was created by this commission established in 2002, which issued this report in 2004, made up of a bipartisan group of distinguished Americans with a staff and a large budget. And they researched extensively, were given access to high levels of classified, all levels of classified documents. interviews with former and current administration officials, and they created a narrative which you will read much of in this class that was generally very well accepted on a bipartisan basis by elected political figures, by historians, journalists. And has become the accepted narrative for, how nine 11 took place and what happened during those attacks. did it answer every single particular nuance in great detail? No, that would be impossible. Did it answer to the satisfaction of all Americans? no. but it is the well established historical, well researched and it's held up to the test of history narrative of the nine 11 attacks. none the less alternative narratives, what I would call conspiracy figures conspiracy theories have indeed had a prevalence and

you can see this in some of the data. In a 2006 Zogby Poll in the United States only 48% believed that the U.S Government and the nine 11 Commission were not engaged in a cover up. Only, so less than half the American people accepted the official narrative. 42% believe there was a cover up, 10%, are not sure. this is even, you know, duplicated outside the United States, not surprisingly, very similar figures, in a poll conducted in 2008 of citizens in Europe, Middle East, Africa all these countries combined. again about half, but still less than half the people actually believe the official narrative that Al Queda executed nine 11 attacks. with about a quarter people believing it was the government of the United States in Israel. and a quarter of the people uncertain. we see this even more strongly and among Muslims. So a, another poll this is recent as 2011 showing very strong majorities in countries among Muslims and countries in the Middle East. in Turkey, in far East and in Asia, South Asia, so broad spectrum of Muslims. with large majorities over 60% in most of these countries not believing that Arabs engaged in the nine 11 attacks. That they are the ones who carried I doubt. And we see from this next slide over time that fewer people in 2011 believe the official historical account that Arabs did execute the nine 11 attacks. then in, 2006 when this first question was asked. So support for the official, narrative, is actually, degrading in, four of these countries. only in Indonesia did it, get more acceptance over time. And, You can see I'm only 20% or so of people in Egypt and and in Jordan [INAUDIBLE] agreeing with the official merit of the Arabs executing of nine11.

So why is it that these conspiracy theories persist? First of all, conspiracy theories persist in general or they exist in general, because individuals. the official narrative does not match with their vision of the, of the world. The heuristics, the lenses that they look at the world through. If there's a strong, very strong disjunction between the official narrative ah,Individuals would often seek to find alternative explanation that kind of meets with their view of the world. So their suspicious highly suspicious to United States Government they want to have a narrative it's going to, to match if they can't believe that small Terrorist organization could have pulled this off then they're going to look for response that, that figures out, that says that they did. now, but I think that the strength and the persistence of nine 11 conspiracy theories compared to let's say conspiracy theories about the Kennedy assassination, which were strong, but still seemed to have more of a fringe element. But here, almost half of people in the United States and even larger majorities elsewhere, not believing the official narrative. Why is that? I've got a couple of reasons, and these are hypotheses, not proven. This is what I believe. I think nine11 was the first core, huge historical event covered in real time,uh during the internet age. And I think the internet has had a couple of impacts. And first of all, just technology, video technology, has made it much more possible that, splice together a sleek looking set of videos, quotes from individuals a nice package, such as the loose change documentary that can really be persuasive and effective in poking holes at the official narrative. very rarely do they you know, provide a a, a concrete research-based explanation. But its much easier to make it seem that way.

2nd its very easy to proliferate these alternative narratives to anyone in the world, with an internet connection. And I think 3rd and probably most importantly in the internet and social media age Everyone is a commentator. and it's very difficult for individuals to weigh, any more, what are credible sources of information and what are not? So individuals with a good looking website, a twitter feed if you have a video with nice graphics, you can look just as credible as academics with strong research credentials as media organizations that fact check and only credit things that they can get multiple sources for and all this looks the same in today's media age and therefore the conspiracy theories can look more credible than they really are. News organizations, trained academics, scholars, researchers, journalist they all consider not only one side of the story but they, they will consider alternatives and, and look for ah,evidence to see if they uh,can be proven or if the official version can be disproven. Conspiracy theorists don't bother they take everything that possibly can either poke holes in their historical narrative and establish not only [INAUDIBLE], They only consider those things. They don't try to consider evidence to the contrary. And again, I think it's very hard to for people to sort out what is good sources and bad sources in the modern age. 2nd, I think you know , there is widespread opposition to both the United States' role in the world, and also specific US policy. So things like the word, rock, drone strike and I think people who oppose a lot of these policies or the general role the United States plays in the world or, or US militarism,uh will adopt the conspiracy theory as part of their broader opposition to US policy. so if they want to be against the U.S. You'll also accuse the United States of

being involved in an inside job that the government was some how involved, in nine11. I think anti-Semitism and anti Zionism an anti Israel sentiment both play a role, of course anti-Semitism idea that Jewish people have untold and undue influence on governments, on the financial system global operations has been a, you know, an anti-Semit, Sematic trope for, for many decorate, decades, even centuries. And you see that in the nine 11 conspiracy theories that somehow Jews could have possibly benefited from the horrific attacks that took place in, in New York and Washington. Either benefited financially, or geopolitically by, you know, getting the United States to. To go after and suppress Muslims and you definitely see anti Semitics trains. You also see of course anti Zionists that Israel was somehow involved because again it would advance Israeli interest and clearly there is a lot of anti Israel sentiment in the world much of it motivated by the political dispute, of course, of the creation of Israel and, and the Israel-Palestine dispute and, and I'm not questioning that at all. But I think people take their loathing even of Israel. And again, they use the nine 11 conspiracy theory as part and parcel of this opposition to Israel and Zionism. and, and anti-Israel sentiment is, is manifest through them. through the conspiracy theories. I think denial, is an important motivator here. we have, you know, of course, over a billion people around the world. Muslims, have great love for the Islamic faith, and they don't want to believe that Muslims could have perpetrated such a horrific, event. That, people who they share a religion with. Could be engaged in such atrocities. There's a sense of denial. I want to believe some alternative that doesn't cast aspersion on Muslims, that doesn't cast aspersion on people

purporting to act in the name of Islam. I think pervasive distrust in government that we see in the United States. And in deed many countries all over the world. Plays an important role. you can see on this graph over the last 20 years a very high level within the United States of distrust in government. The, the sense among well over a majority of Americans consistently over two decades. that the governments can't be trusted either some most or all of the time. and distrust in government, of course, breeds a scepticism, a lack of trust, in the, in the historical nerve. That is seen as the government's story, even though when the nine 11 Commission was, doing its work. In many instances, some people saw it, being hostile in some regards to, the Bush administration, or critical, as well, of many government actions. [UNKNOWN] the distrust in government, I think, then displaces, or draws scepticism to the official narrative. Think there's one interesting part by this graph, I wanted to point out the one time over the course of two decades in this poll that trust in government exceeded distrust is in the immediate aftermath of the nine 11 attack. People wanting the government to protect, that they wanted to trust in the government,uh,as out of the sense of security that they will be able to you know deal with the threat that nine 11 exposed but then you see that very quickly after nine 11 trending, back in a number of years back to historical norms. And a subset of the, distrusting government, I think, is the notion of excessive government secrecy. and we've seen, a lot of secrecy. More classified documents. More people with security clearances. Secret government programs, that have arisen, in response to nine 11 in the United States. and when those government secret are

revealed through leaks or through press reports people say well if you, if you, if you hid that from us there must be so many other things. So, government secrecy breeds a notion of that you're not, the, the government is not being candid and therefore has a lot to hide. And the, that breeds you know, [UNKNOWN] support for, conspiracy theories. so that's that's why I think these theories have persisted. and I'm not going to spend time in this course debunking the conspiracy theories, because I think. They've all been proven to be contrary to the fact, contrary to science and I've put materials on the course reading list that if you're interested in delving more into it you can look at them and see how much stronger the argumentation is and the science on the official narrative compared to the, conspiracy theories. But I want to make one stab if there are any of you watching this, video who, who still believe in the conspiracy theories, ask yourself this, a conspiracy of this magnitude where the US government is attempting to. Cover up the an extensive detailed plot that would have required hundreds or thousands of people to be in on. large amounts of funding, documents that would have documented this. Do you really think the United States government would be capable of keeping this a secret? But there wouldn't be a single whistle blower who wouldn't come out to expose the injustice. The the intentional murder, the scandal, the intentional murder of 3000 people by, their own government, or the involvement of some foreign government or, or private cabal, of individuals. I think the answer to that is it has to be no. It's preposterous. The government can't even keep many of its, you know, deepest counter-terrorist secrets from leaking.

Do you really believe in your heart that it could keep, a crime of this magnitude, that many thousands of people would have to know about secret, who was really an inside job where the insiders, who would certainly come forward to expose this tragedy, this terrible event. I think the fact that there haven't been any of those insiders, that there's been no leaks of documents to show this, there's been no whistle-blowers shows that these theories indeed are false. So we'll be spending the rest of the time in our course talking about the true historical narrative. And there's plenty of things to delve into there. Oh, how did Al-Qaeda form? What were it's ideas? what was it's ideology that it had to motivate. these people to get on the planes and commit these actions? there's a lot to learn in this course so this is the last we'll be saying about conspiracy theories.