|Shining a Light on 9/11 Denial|
|Written by Dennis P. McMahon, JD, LLM|
|Friday, 15 February 2013 15:38|
How to Handle False Arguments Used to Reject the WTC Evidence
Editor’s Note: New York attorney Dennis McMahon spearheaded the legal effort by NYC CAN in 2009 to compel the New York City Council to initiate a new investigation of the destruction of the WTC skyscrapers. If you would like to support legal actions toward a real 9/11 investigation, write to Gregg Roberts.
It can be challenging for advocates in the 9/11 Truth movement to get our message across to family, friends, and strangers alike. Even when we are able to find an audience not too distracted by electronic devices, work, or their favorite sports team's latest performance, all too often the responses we get amount to false arguments. By having ready, effective ways to respond to the various types of false arguments, you can break through the denial and have greater success in educating those around you.
Often, the negative responses to the evidence presented by Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth have a subtext that could be fairly titled, “kill the messenger.” Why do so many people respond this way? As discussed by psychology experts, one explanation involves the issue of “nationalist faith.” What this entails, for certain Americans, is the steadfast view that the U.S. government is always “the good guy,” and that anyone not in sync with this view is “anti-American” and not to be trusted. Those who blindly cling to nationalist faith simply cannot entertain the idea that America’s leaders would do anything wrong.
For these people, a suggestion that we have been purposefully misled by individuals high up in the U.S. government about what really happened on 9/11 is tantamount to sacrilege. Any implication that 9/11 was an “inside job” is viewed as something close to treasonous. If you can get them to just look at the evidence that indicates that the Twin Towers and Building 7 were brought down with explosives in a controlled demolition, and thereby sow a seed of truth, you have done well.
Closely related to the mindset of nationalist faith is a person’s “worldview”, which subjectively determines what is possible and what is not for them. For example, if your audience is comprised of people who feel certain that it would be impossible for any group of conspirators to somehow wire and detonate the Twin Towers without being publically revealed, then no amount of scientific forensic evidence will persuade her or him otherwise.
Another type of mindset that 9/11 Truth advocates often bump up against is possessed by those people who are predisposed to “wishful or fearful thinking”. Wishful thinkers see the world as they wish it to be. Fearful thinkers will simply not believe something that they fear to be the truth. With these people, even the most persuasive evidence will usually fall on deaf ears and blind eyes.
Being able to understand people's views through these perspectives—including the views of members of the so-called scientific community—can be helpful in making their positions, thought processes, and false arguments easier to understand and respond to.
So then, with whom can 9/11 Truth advocates rationally discuss the overwhelming evidence indicating that the three World Trade Center buildings were brought down by controlled demolition on 9/11? These would be the people who are “evidence based.” People who have an open mind about tough issues and can examine and evaluate uncomfortable evidence objectively will be more open to 9/11 Truth. It is essential to know the evidence you are presenting inside and out, especially with this audience, because they will test you with questions. It is also important to understand that, at least in my experience, not very many people are evidence-based.
If you find yourself discussing the issues of 9/11 with a person who is other than evidence-based, you still must have a firm grasp of the evidence. But also be prepared for them to react defensively toward you, and to even subject you to insults and ridicule. This is especially true on internet forums where defenders of the official story often gather. Many “9/11 Truth deniers” possess an arsenal of techniques designed to belittle you and make you look foolish. If you don’t have a handle on the evidence, this could prove problematic… so get yourself up to speed on some aspect of the evidence you feel drawn to, and can speak about confidently. If you are like me, and don’t trust your memory or ability to respond unemotionally to personal attacks, have at the ready a list of the evidence you want to focus on. Links to AE911Truth.org and the informative FAQ responses listed on the website can also be utilized.
The following is a list of some of the more common false arguments and denial strategies you will run up against, and suggestions on how to respond:
The mocking and dismissing of statements that challenge the official government stories as a “conspiracy theories” is a very effective time-tested technique that came into vogue during the mid-1960s, as a response to those who dared challenge the Warren Commission’s findings that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone assassin of President John F. Kennedy. One advantage 9/11 Truth advocates have that Warren Commission critics did not is that the official story of 9/11 is itself a conspiracy theory. In very general terms, a conspiracy exists when two or more persons agree to commit a crime. Obviously, agreeing to willfully destroy property and take the lives of innocent people is a crime. Thus, if two or more people agreed to damage the World Trade Center buildings and bring about the murder of innocents on 9/11, there had to have been a conspiracy. According to the official conspiracy theory, that’s exactly what happened, and the perpetrators were terrorists from the Middle East. The official story is just a theory, as it has never been proven to be true in a court of law or anywhere else. It is just a story that has been sold by the U.S. government’s public relations experts who masquerade as members of a free press. So, one way to respond to the charge that you are a conspiracy nut is to remind your attacker that anyone who believes the official story is in fact a conspiracy theorist. I like to put it this way: “You realize of course that what you believe in is also a conspiracy theory, and actually the wildest conspiracy theory of all…that nineteen Muslims, armed with box cutters, could outwit the most sophisticated military defense system the world has even known – four times in one day. That’s what you believe in, right?” I find that this kind of response usually defuses the charge that I am a conspiracy theorist.
Your detractors might try to connect you with alternative theories regarding issues that have nothing to do with 9/11. The key here is to point out that any hypothesis must be judged by its own merits, and that the validity of the 9/11 evidence is not affected by unrelated issues. You can also point out that they are trying to change the subject.
This type of attack is often presented in shocked and condescending tones. Respond calmly. Point out that there is no evidence indicating that any of what the attacker is claiming is actually true – it’s all assumption.
Then point out that more than 100 9/11 family members joined the NYC CAN effort to get New York City to investigate what really happened at the World Trade Center on 9/11.
Stress that your attacker’s presumption that a search for the truth will embolden the terrorists presumes first that the official story about the terrorists is true, while the evidence overwhelmingly indicates that the official story about how the Twin Towers and Building 7 came down cannot be true. Then repeat the key points of the evidence for controlled demolition. (You’ve got to master the evidence; there's just no getting around that.)
As to the charge of treason, remind your attacker that the search for truth is never considered treasonous in a truly free society, but is considered treasonous only in oppressive regimes. Suggest that supporting the suppression of truth, as your opponent is advocating, is un-American.
For example, some skeptics might claim, “These clips are obviously forgeries planted by “conspiracy theorists” themselves.” In response to this type of charge, I will usually admit that there are some images of the 9/11 attacks online that appear to have been doctored. However, even if that is the case, that does not mean that every piece of photographic evidence is fraudulent. Point out, for example, that the collection of video clips of the collapse of Building 7 complement each other, and that this is a strong indication that what the videos show is exactly what happened.
Stress that this is a baseless allegation, but be prepared to trace the source of the documents you are citing, and authenticate them as best you can. For some of the “best evidence,” visit AE911Truth.org and Consensus911.org.
Again, point out that this is an assumption without evidence. You can also explain that only a real investigation can determine the validity of each eyewitness account.
These are personal attacks and can come at you from a variety of angles. Here, the goal of your attacker is to discredit you or someone you are citing. Don’t let this tactic derail you. Stick to the evidence you have mastered, and always return to it.
This is a type of argument whereby your adversary will misrepresent your position, attack it, and create the illusion of having refuted your position. One good way to deal with this is to first realize it is happening, point it out, and then tear it apart for what it is, a phony argument made because your opponent cannot address the real evidence. Then point out what that real evidence is.
Quite often an attacker will point to what he perceives to be the weakest point in your argument and inflate it as if it were the central point of your evidence, try to knock it down, and will pretend that all of what you have been presenting must necessarily be false. For example, someone might question WTC survivor Barry Jennings’ claim that he saw dead bodies as he escaped Building 7 on 9/11. Again, know your evidence. If there is a legitimate weak point that has been identified, acknowledge that, but stress how that does not negate the rest of your argument. Then go on to restate the evidence.
Sometimes your foe will focus on the minutest of details. Point out exactly what they are doing, and get back to focusing on the big picture or most important evidence. If you’ve made a mistake about some tiny point, admit it, and move on.
This kind of dismissal can be especially irritating. One effective response is to simply point out what is happening, perhaps by saying something along these lines: “Why are you ignoring the evidence? Aren’t you willing to try to see from my perspective? Can’t you just listen [or watch this video] for a minute, and hear what I have to say?” Then present your best case.
Sometimes you may be attacked with childless name-calling and venomous insults. This is especially common in online communication, where your detractors may call you a “tin foil hat wearer,” “flat-earther” or some other disparaging term. Do your best to ignore these insults and not stoop to your attacker’s level. Point out that your foe is being childish in an effort to avoid debating the evidence. Bring him or her back to the real evidence, and again, have a handle on that evidence, and/or notes and/or links ready.
Some people who wish to avoid having a civil debate are especially adept at provoking an angry response. If you find yourself getting angry, try to regain your composure, and come back to the evidence.
For friends and family – especially those who are not used to questioning authority – the best way to inform them about 9/11 Truth may be to ask them to watch 9/11: Explosive Evidence – Experts Speak Out with you.
However, many people may reject the film offer if it is not made humbly. Instead of saying, “You have to watch this film, it proves 9/11 was an inside job,” try saying something like “I just watched this film and I wanted to get your opinion on it.” The person will be more open to watching it because he will feel like his viewpoint is being valued and he is not being told what to believe. This strategy also takes the focus off of you as the messenger, thus helping you avoid future name-calling and ad hominem attacks.
Then, after the film has completed, you can have a more productive conversation about the 9/11 evidence and its implications. If you only have a few minutes to spend, you can try using our mini-documentary, Architects & Engineers: Solving the Mystery of WTC7.
In my view and experience, it takes great patience and dedication for a 9/11 Truth advocate to persuade anyone other than a person who is evidence-based, that we have been misled about what really happened on 9/11. If you can get so far as planting a seed of truth to the majority of people who are not evidence-based, you are doing well. Good luck with your mission!
Finally, see “How to Destroy a 9/11 Truther,” for a sarcastic tongue-in-cheek look at the playbook people use to try to discredit the 9/11 Truth movement.
A word of advice from 9/11 researcher Gregg Roberts:
It can time take a lot of time and effort to convince even one resistant person about the legitimacy of the controlled demolition evidence and the need for an investigation. Therefore, it makes sense to choose the targets of your argumentation carefully. Would the person you wish to convince become a good 9/11 Truth activist if you did succeed in recruiting him or her? Is your prospective activist someone with the resources or position to make a serious difference, 11 years after the crime? Perhaps one of the reasons the 9/11 Truth movement has been less effective than many of us have hoped is that we are not spending enough time talking to the right people. These considerations should come before intensively educating someone about the evidence.