|Sent on:||Monday, March 11, 2013 3:55 PM|
I am attaching the transcript from an interesting lecture on the cognitive trap of conspiracy thinking which may shed some light on this discussion. Please forgive the formatting issues. I copied this from something else and don't have time to correct them. I will point out a few relevant concepts expressed throughout the lecture.
"There are various cognitive traps that conspiracy thinking falls into. One is confirmation bias, which involves the tendency to see all evidence as confirming the conspiracy. Any bit of evidence can be cast in a sinister light. Therefore, ambiguous and even negative evidence tends to reinforce the conspiracy theorists’ certainty and confidence in their conspiracy after awhile. This is a self-reinforcing effect that makes conspiracy theorists incredibly resistant to change. Conspiracy theorists often commit to what is called the fundamental attribution error, which is the tendency to blame other people’s behavior on internal, rather than situational, factors. Conspiracy theorists tend to think that all actions and outcomes are deliberate and intended. They ignore or downplay the quirky nature of history and of individual action, refusing to believe that people may be innocently responding to a situation rather than deliberately orchestrating every detail. For these reasons and others, the conspiracy theory tends to become immune to refutation."
"All evidence against the conspiracy can be explained as being part of the conspiracy itself."
"...unless every quirky detail of the events of 9/11 can be explained to an arbitrary level of detail, conspiracy theorists will claim that there are still holes in the standard explanation. Conspiracy theorists engage, like many pseudoscientists, in anomaly hunting."
"If you take any complex historical event—such as the John F. Kennedy assassination or 9/11—there will be many anomalous details, or events that cannot be fully explained. This is because of the law of large numbers—the fact that the number of variables is so high that quirky events and strange coincidences are bound to happen. Plus, we cannot know all the situational factors that may have contributed to how events occurred. Conspiracy theorists often combine anomaly hunting with naive assumptions about how things should happen. For example, what should the debris should look like after a large commercial jet crashes into a reinforced building, such as the Pentagon? It is naive to assume that we can know with any detail what would result; such an event is unprecedented, and the physics of high energy impacts are not always intuitive. However, 9/11 conspiracy theorists premise their claims on the notion that they can know what it should look like, and therefore, anything that does not support their assumptions is an anomaly and evidence that the standard explanation is flawed. To complete this chain of reasoning, the conspiracy theorist proposes a false dichotomy—that either the standard explanation of events is true or their conspiracy is true. Therefore, if they can knock holes in the standard story and call it into doubt, through naive anomaly hunting, then their conspiracy must be true. Of course, anomaly hunting is not persuasive. Additionally, there are other possibilities, so they are offering a false choice."
...The 911 conspiracy that has been discussed here falls into many of the fatal flaws that conspiracy theories also fall into. It widens the conspiracy to Bush and Cheney. By making this leap, it requires that many people at very high levels of the US government had to be in on this conspiracy. Is it true that Cheney, by means of Haliburton, profited from the effects of the tragic day in question? Indubitably. Which is more likely, Bush, Cheney, and many people and various levels of the US Government conspired to kill thousands of people in the United States and take out a couple of its most famous landmarks in the process in order to set the stage for a war that would eventually lead to the deaths of many more thousands of soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen to make themselves rich or a fringe terrorist group intent on making a very high profile attack in the US which has tried and succeeded several times before high-jacked planes and crashed them into well known targets. I don't think that all of the facts were made public because of the nature of the intelligence world. Yes there may be some anomalies that could benefit from further investigation. That being said, the evidence available doesn't seem to point toward a large scale conspiracy such as that suggested by Rus.