Ryan Mackey on Why 9-11 Truth Became So Popular
Terrific and long article on the rise (and fall) of the Truthers (in PDF format) by JREF forum member Ryan Mackey. I will post my thoughts here when I've finished reading it; I'm about a third of the way through it right now.
Update: Excellent read. I have a few points that I wish he had covered, but overall his presentation is well-organized, and very well-written and argued. Quibbles:
1. Ryan discusses why certain conspiracy theories take off and endure, while others more or less wither and die. The key factor to me is the perceived consequence of the event which spawned the conspiracy theory. The reason JFK conspiracy theories endured and even flourished is the persistent belief that Kennedy would not have gotten bogged down in Vietnam. This also may account for the sudden surge in Kennedy conspiracy theories around 1968, as opposition to the war became more widespread. Indeed, the comparison (and time to critical mass) with 9-11 and the Iraq war seems nearly perfect.
2. While I agree that video sites like YouTube and Google Video were very important to pushing 9-11 conspiracy theories into the mainstream, I believe the timing is just a little off. Dylan Avery often mentioned in interviews that earlier file-sharing technologies like Bit Torrent were responsible for spreading Loose Change 1.
3. Another reason why 9-11 conspiracy theories did not take off earlier is simply that the people who were the initial researchers were, shall we say, not ready for prime-time. When you consider that some of those responsible for many of the initial bits of "evidence" that became key to the movement were socially awkward, like Rosalee Grable or Eric Hufschmid or Nico Haupt, it's hardly surprising that the movement remained stalled for years. It took someone less obviously deranged, like David Ray Griffin, to move the theories into more mainstream society.
On the other hand, there are brilliant parts that I wish to highlight. Brilliant ideas to me are those which I did not think of beforehand, but find myself agreeing with wholeheartedly after reading them:
1. I loved his discussion of the Gish Gallop, where Truthers will lob up one floater after another, never acknowledging the rapid debunking that follows, but instead moving onto the next piece of evidence. All of us who have debunked the Truthers have been frustrated by their unwillingness to accept and admit defeat on even one tiny issue. Ryan points out that this is a defense mechanism that enables them to avoid examining their entire worldview.
2. His point about personas on the internet beginning to become more important is worthy of a standing ovation. You know, one of the supposed features of the internet at first was its supposed anonymity. Now it is becoming more and more impossible to escape one's past.
Read the whole thing.