Some time around 2015, while on break at work, the lunchroom conversation drifted to the subject of the 9/11 attacks. Unlike before, when acceptance of the official story was fairly widespread and talk of controlled demolition or government plots would garner stares and sometimes outright condemnation, people have become generally more skeptical. This group seemed a little more at ease to challenge parts of the official narrative that they felt just didn't make sense to them.
One thing I always find interesting about these discussions is that those involved are usually cautious at first, out of fear of being stigmatized for their departure from the accepted narrative. As the conversation progresses however, little by little, suggestions of one participant gives "permission" for the ideas of the others. Once people in the conversation realize it is safe to voice that a particular part of the narrative seems contradicted by the evidence, the doors are thrown open and you quickly realize that the repression of ideas has only really worked in polite society.
Feeling the stress of a false story unraveling before their eyes, someone in the group will inevitably ask "Well if the official story isn't true then who did it and why?" I offered the possibility that our government was looking for a pretext to enter Iraq. Perhaps this was a bit too far. Of course, there is always that one devoted patriot who steps forth to issue shame on those who would dare to suggest our noble, freedom loving, democracy spreading government would ever lie. Becoming indignant at the anti-government comment one woman asked, "Do you really think our government would kill its own citizens? For ANY reason?"
Being used to this attack over the years, I asked her if she had ever heard of Operation Northwoods. Of course she hadn't. So I said, "Google it. There is a link to the actual documents in the national archives about it. Go to page ten if you don't feel like reading it all. But yes, they would. And they would construct elaborate plans to lie, cover it up and get away with it." rchive2.gwu.edu/news/20010430/northwoods.pdf
Operation Northwoods is my go to "red pill" for those adamant patriots, but it was far from an isolated historical incident. Anyone who has read the slightest bit on the CIA would know that they have absolutely no issue with killing American citizens, or experimenting on them, without their knowledge or consent. Many times these horrific experiments have even led to the death of those individuals.
I have a particular interest in the manner in which government controls thought and always actively listening for the tactics which suppress free thought. The examples are in abundance at times when the government is most desperate to cover something up. Most government cover ups rely on the patriotic sense of loyalty and obedience to the narrative and prey on human emotions which will override logic and evidence.
When emotions are high, like in post 9/11 America, logic can be easily diverted in favor of patriotism and respect for the victims. The problem is that over time as emotions subside people are able to separate the victims from a logical analysis of the narrative. This explains why the once marginalized "conspiracy theorist" becomes more mainstream and gives permission to the general public to question. For those pushing the official narrative these people are a serious problem.
CBS This Morning did a segment on conspiracy theories just last week to discuss how such theories start and why people gravitate to them. Psychologist Sue Varma was brought on as the consulting expert to explain what is happening in the mind of those who "go down the rabbit hole". It's no surprise that psychologists as opposed to historians are the chosen experts to discuss the topic, with the assumption already in place that the conspiracy exists only in the mind of the theorist.
The segment starts with mention of the conspiracy theories which began to swirl in the aftermath of Jefferey Epstein's alleged suicide. (tu.be/TcD5KrGH-mE) They cut away for a short video talking about other conspiracy theories, the JFK assassination, the government's alleged cover-up of UFO sightings and the "Elvis is Alive" conspiracy. This was of course to start off with an appropriate tone, one of mocking or shaming independent thinking.
After a good laugh among the cast, host Tony Dokoupil frames the question to Varma asking how it is that in an age where we have so much information at our fingertips, we could seek out information that supports our "wildest imaginations". Varma who treats patients with anxiety issues and worked with patients after 9/11, seems immensely qualified and genuinely caring as she talks about why people gravitate towards these theories. She focuses on their feelings of helplessness and trauma and the human instinct to find a solution to their unresolved situation by "figuring out" why an incident occurs. She suggests that when people feel like they know why something happened they feel empowered and prepared should something else happen. With these parameters she casts the conspiracy theorist as a struggling, distraught, helpless victim clamoring to find logic in illogical acts.
This theme was repeated by many main stream tv and print sources in the aftermath of Epsteins unbelievable suicide. In an article by Conservative Ben Shapiro he also gives a similar reasoning stating the exodus from the top down narrative to the internet.
He describes how Epstein's death could have simply been mundane and a situation resulting from a long mismanaged prison but then says that the public's skepticism is normal. He does not mention public mistrust in government, but cites their mistrust in mainstream media. And once they go to social media, conspiracy theories grow out of control. Shapiro says, "Some of that certainly has to do with social media, where small pockets of fringe opinion can merge together to create larger pockets of fringe opinion."
Varma and Shapiro both reference the role of social media in spreading and reinforcing theories but neither bothers to mention the elephant in the room, our corrupt government.
Varma does mention the public is looking for "trusted sources" for their information and they have more trust in the information they get from peers, even if that information is misleading than they have in "official" sources. She even uses the words "top down" and says that people are looking for "a more democratic approach". Without realizing it Varma is describing how social media, through its back and forth group dynamic, brainstorming and challenging one another's theories etc results in democratizing the narrative. Rather than accepting the "official" story/propaganda which is a top down approach, people are going back to group discussion, free thought and rational deduction. And examination of the evidence to decide what they have concluded is the truth.
Of course the mainstream media and talking heads scoff and scorn and attempt to marginalize these freethinkers and say that looking to our peers for feedback is dangerous and reinforces confirmation bias. I can attest to the long debates among any given community about a particular conspiracy narrative, that absolutely do not agree with one another or seek out agreement. They argue fiercely over their differing analysis in an attempt to thrash out the truth.