Monday, September 10, 2007

Scratch a Little Deeper

An Australian writer encounters a "normal" kook:

The appeal of conspiracy theories isn't limited to a lunatic fringe. An otherwise rational and intelligent liberal-left American academic I met at a conference two years ago, for example, confidently assured me that September 11 was perpetrated by her own government. She didn't really have any evidence, but she was convinced that the whole thing had been a plot. My questions and counter-arguments to her claims were met with the kind of pitying smile reserved for the extremely gullible.

I guarantee you that she's lunatic fringe in other areas; as we have seen if you're gullible about one thing, you're usually gullible elsewhere. He buys into the polling:

Nevertheless, the conspiracy theorists are winning converts. A 2006 poll of 1010 Americans conducted by researchers from Ohio University found that just more than a third of respondents suspect that the US Government promoted the attacks or intentionally did nothing to prevent them. Sixteen per cent thought that explosives were used to bring down the World Trade Centre and 12 per cent believed that a cruise missile hit the Pentagon.

Actually in those polls, only 6% thought either of those scenarios were "very likely"; the figures quoted include those who found it somewhat likely. And anyway, we have a new poll that says that the hardcore Truthers who believe in MIHOP represent 4.6% of the population; a fringe indeed.

Discussion of the article is here.

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