In a fitting and prototypical example of the conversive thinking that runs epidemic among our hysterized society, Ivor Tossell of the Globe and Mail demonstrates in a recent article the very fuzzy thinking he attempts to deride. If it wasn't so sad, and so pitiful a look into the lengths to which a seemingly healthy mind will go to hang onto a belief system, it would be humorous. For Tossell, in his article, accuses others of the very things he himself epitomizes, as will be shown in my comments below.

Tossell begins:

The problem with deriding conspiracy theories is that it really does leave your columnist feeling like he's just playing his part in the International Bankers' plan for one-world government.

Comment: In his first sentence, Tossell shows how little he has actually thought about "conspiracy theories." Has he ever asked himself, "Just what is a conspiracy theory?" I doubt it. If he did, he would probably conclude that a conspiracy theory was a theory (a supposition or a system of ideas intended to explain something) that involves a conspiracy (a secret plan by a group to do something unlawful or harmful).

So Tossell is a conspiracy theorist whether he likes it or not, for he posits that a group (Al-Qaeda) came up with a secret plan to do something unlawful and harmful. Now, for some reason, Tossell has rejected the idea that the American government and intelligence agencies could have been involved in said plan, or that said plan was not entirely secret and that there was advance knowledge of the attacks.

Why should he make such an a priori judgment? We know military and intelligence agencies commonly take part in conspiracies of their own. They are called "covert or black operations." The are also called psyops, or psychological operations, in which a lie is told for propaganda purposes. Many people are often involved, and the methods and means are often "extra-judicial." Sounds like "conspiracy theories" to me.

Already, from Tossell's use of the paramoralism "conspiracy theory" (that is, it has an emotional and moralistic connotation that makes it particularly derogatory and contagious) his logic must be: a) conspiracy theories are inherently irrational, b) the idea that the Bush-Cheney administration had anything to do with the attacks is a conspiracy theory, therefore c) the theory is irrational and cannot be true. Furthermore, using this logic, it is unlikely that the government has ever or will ever be involved in such "conspiracies". To think so is irrational!

Ironically, while Tossell sardonically mentions that he feels he is playing his part for the "International Bankers," he isn't that far from the truth. He is one in a long line of useful idiots.

Yet the topic asserts itself this week, despite my years-long attempt to ignore it.

Comment: Another clue! Tossell must have all the answers if he knows enough that he can ignore the issues, self-satisfied in his belief that one need not examine evidence to form an "opinion."

A two-hour movie, slickly produced and wrapped in an air of appealing mystery, has been making the rounds, propelled by recommendations from bloggers whose eyes were opened and lives changed. The reputable A-list websites are starting to acknowledge it. People in the offline world have asked me about it.

The thing is called Zeitgeist and can be found via Google Video. It's a online video set against a black backdrop, with no clue as to its creators' identities. It assembles archival footage, animations, and breathless narration into a kind of primer on conspiracies.

The movie comes in three parts. The first makes the case that Jesus is a mythological figure built from parts of earlier mythological figures. Christianity, say the filmmakers, is a concoction, just a form of social control.

So far, nothing ground-breaking. But now the movie jumps to 9/11, and things really get moving. The middle segment steps us through the orthodoxy of 9/11 conspiracy thinking.

Comment: Wait a minute... I thought the "orthodox (of the ordinary or usual type; normal) conspiracy theory" was the Al-Qaeda hijacker theory?

The twin towers weren't destroyed by jetliners; they were intentionally demolished with explosives.

Comment: In fact, there is a wealth of evidence to support this theory. If the towers were demolished, what would we expect to see and find? Total collapse, pulverization, explosions, molten metal, near free-fall collapse, traces of common "cutting" materials. In fact, there is evidence of all of the above. See the papers at Journal of 9/11 Studies for the analysis of this evidence.

Something fishy happened to Flight 93, which the banker-controlled media will tell you crashed in Pennsylvania.

Comment: Something fishy did happen to Flight 93. Not only did eye-witnesses see a military jet trailing the flight (which the 9/11 Commission denied), they heard the sound of missiles being fired. The wreckage was strewn over a miles-wide radius, an impossibility if the plane had nose-dived as the official conspiracy has it. This is only scratching the surface of the problems with the official account of Flight 93. For more, see Dave McGowan's analysis at the Centre for an Informed America, and Rowland Morgan's book, Flight 93 Revealed.

The Air Force, we're told, deliberately failed to intercept any of the planes.

Comment: In fact, that the military were following a stand down order is the only plausible explanation for the events that happened on that day, according to which the FAA notified the military of each of the four hijacked airlines with enough time for interception, which did not happen. Instead, the 9/11 Commission fabricated a new story out of whole-cloth, ignoring much of the testimony that did not support their fabrication, in which the FAA failed to notify the military of any of the hijackings in time for interception. If Tossell believes the new account, he must believe that the military lied for three years to cover up for the FAA's incompetence and bringing possible charges of treason and murder upon the military. Fat chance, Tossell.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon wasn't hit by an airliner, but by something more like a missile.

Comment: In fact, there is very little evidence that the Pentagon was hit by an airliner. Not only was the damage to the Pentagon facade too narrow and short for the wingspan and height of a 757, Hani Hanjour could not have executed the 330 degree turn/descent, and would not have chosen the West side of the building. In addition, the only explanation for why the Pentagon's defense systems did not fire on the plane was that it possessed a military transponder, i.e., it was a "friendly." As with the questions surrounding Flight 93, these merely scratch the surface.

All of this leads to the conclusion that 9/11 was an inside job, staged by elements of the U.S. government to provide a pretext for invading Iraq and curtailing civil liberties.

Comment: That is exactly the issue. It is the same reason Hitler adopted a policy of terror. But is it "conspiracy thinking" to believe the Nazis were behind the burning of the Reichstag? I would think so...

To what end? Warming to its topic, the film shimmers into its third act. It seems that the Federal Reserve, the U.S. money-printing organ, is in fact the implement of a small cabal of International Bankers (the ethnicity of these money-lenders goes undisclosed) who stage global calamities to spur federal spending and enrich themselves.

They arranged for the Lusitania to be torpedoed, dragging the U.S. into the First World War. They manipulated FDR into essentially staging Pearl Harbour, starting The Second World War. (That was the start of The Second World War, right?) Ditto Vietnam, ditto 9/11.

Comment: Does Tossell dispute that Pearl Harbour was known about in advance and was allowed to happen in order to gain support for American entry into the war? Does he dispute that the Tonkin Gulf incident was staged to do the same with Vietnam? It would be hard to do so, as these facts are part of the historical record, not mere "conspiracy thinking."

Their ultimate goal? A one-world government whose citizens all carry implanted microchip IDs. And all the while, the hidden powers are using the consolidated mass media, the church, and the educational establishment to create a complacent zeitgeist - a spirit of the times - that leaves us dumb as sheep.

Comment: Does Tossell dispute that there exist such men with such goals? Or was Hitler an historical anomaly? These people exist. They are called PSYCHOPATHS, and they are ruthless in their pursuit of power. Luckily for them, they've left those like Tossell "dumb as sheep."

The film is an interesting object lesson on how conspiracy theories get to be so popular.

Comment: The same could be said for the 9/11 Commission Report...

(In 2006, one poll suggested that a full third of Americans thought their government was complicit in the 9/11 attacks.) It's a driven, if uneven, piece of propaganda, a marvel of tight editing and fuzzy thinking. Its on-camera sources are mostly conspiracy theorists, co-mingled with selective eyewitness accounts, drawn from archival footage and often taken out of context.

Comment: It would help if Tossell substantiated his claims. We have only his word that the footage is "often taken out of context."

It derides the media as a pawn of the International Bankers, but produces media reports for credibility when it suits it.

Comment: Perhaps Tossell does not understand the way this particular "conspiracy" works. He is part of the conspiracy, if only because he has a weak and gullible mind, as do most journalists. They report what they are allowed to report on. It is that simple. Often they will report on facts the importance of which they do not comprehend. This is how much of the evidence for a conpiracy comes to light. A media report (e.g., an interview with Dick Cheney where he says he entered the Office of Emergency Management up to a half-hour before the Commission says he did, demolishing his reason for not being able to have given a shoot-down order, and his reason for not knowing Flight 77 was approaching the Pentagon) will feature a piece of innocuous evidence that is later revised.

Perhaps Tossell would like to test his hypothesis that the media is not controlled. Try to publish an article from the perspective that the American government was responsible for 9/11. See how far that gets you.

It ignores expert opinion, except the handful of experts who agree with it.

Comment: Is that not expert opinion? Tossell seems to believe that experts are never wrong, or influenced by emotional thinking. Also he seems to think that the opinion of experts who disagree with official dogma are less reliable than those who espouse it.

And yet, it's compelling. It shamelessly ploughs forward, connecting dots with an earnest certainty that makes you want to give it an A for effort.

The funny thing about this stuff is that it's all been thoroughly debunked for years.

Comment: In fact, it hasn't. It seems Tossell has not read David Ray Griffin's book Debunking 9/11 Debunking in which he demonstrates, with precise logic, that none of these attempts have been successful.

Everyone from Scientific American to Popular Mechanics have produced reports puncturing the central claims of the 9/11 theory,

Comment: By "everyone", he means precisely Scientific American and Popular Mechanics. After reading Griffin's analysis you will see what a poor excuse for "science" these two publications actually are.

and when you look gullible next to Popular Mechanics, you know you're in trouble.

Comment: ?! If I understand Tossell's point here correctly he is saying that if you're more gullible than PM, you know you're in trouble. Is Tossell implying that PM is gullible? If so, I would wholeheartedly concur!

Evidently, debunking isn't the issue. You can't argue aliens with someone who has an "I want to believe" poster on his or her office wall. Nor can you cite the findings of the professional, journalistic, and academic consensus to someone who's decided that having credibility means being under the sway of shadowy forces.

Comment: It was until fairly recently that the "professional, journalistic and academic consensus" was that archaeology demonstrated the historicity of the United Monarchy of Israel. New findings have eliminated that belief. The consensus can change with new data. Tossell is right that it does not mean they are under the sway of shadowy forces, merely the results of their own paradigmatic thinking.

To that line of thinking, an expert who is rejected by his peers - say, for lunatic conspiracy thinking - gains credibility just for being ostracized.

Comment: Only in Tossell's twisted view of reality.

What troubles me the most is that, for all the talk of skepticism, conspiracy counterculture is really an anti-intellectual, populist movement - much like Intelligent Design. For all their absurdity, conspiracy theorists try to drag everything back to the level of common sense.

Comment: What absurdity? It is the official conspiracy theory that is absurd. In fact the intellectual leaders of the 9/11 truth movement are not anti-intellectual. For anyone who has read David Ray Griffin's books to say that can only be evidence of either their own anti-intellectualism, or their own sophistry. To expect all members of a movement to be clear thinkers and intellectuals is an unrealistic expectation. However, some aspects of the official conspiracy theory are so absurd as to only require a moderate degree of common sense to debunk.

Just look at the video evidence, they say! Did the collapsing buildings on 9/11 look like they were being demolished? Then they must have been demolished. Did the 757 that hit the Pentagon's blast-proof walls fail to make a plane-shaped hole? Then it must have been something else. Are there unexplained quirks in the official story? Then it must be the work of a higher power.

Comment: No, actually. The fact that controlled demolition provides a more intelligible explanation for the collapses is the motivating force. And the fact that Al-Qaeda did not have the means nor the opportunity to plant the explosives.

That's the thing: Conspiracy theorists want to see a guiding force, a malevolent design, behind events.

Comment: What evidence does Tossell have for this pop psychoanalysis of conspiracy theorists? Did he consider the fact that he does not want to look at the issue of 9/11 (after all, he said he has ignored it it for years) because of a FEAR of those malevolent forces? The vast majority of people do not want to believe in malevolent and ruthless forces controlling their lives; in fact, they actively reject information that leads to that conclusion. Does Tossell really believe they don't exist?!

The notion that calamity might be the unintended consequence of subtler causes doesn't hold the same appeal. Evil, whatever its other uses, drives a great narrative. Complexity, not so much.

Comment: This is not what "conspiracy theorists" want to believe, it is what follows naturally from the evidence, which Tossell has ignored.

The Internet bred the 9/11 conspiracy movement, and thanks to films like Zeitgeist, it's alive and well. Now riddle me this: I look at what's happening, and I see people using the Internet to gain widespread currency by rejecting social institutions in favour of an amateur-accessible common-sense approach.

Comment: And thank God for the internet! Without it, we'd all be reading apologetic drivel like this piece by Ivor Tossell.

I see people who are highly selective about facts,

Comment: So do I...

and who are ready to write off opposing views as the bile of powers that be.

Comment: ...or a symptom of the imaginary "conspiracy thinking."

I see them using the Web's echo-chamber to create a place where they're right, and everyone else is wrong.

Comment: The same could be said for mainstream journalists and their use of the term "conspiracy theory." They live in a hermetic environment of people who think the way they do. And if the poll results on the Globe and Mail's website are any indication, they're in the minority.

Does this sound familiar? If I told you that I look around the Internet, and am troubled to see this pattern everywhere, would you accuse me of seeing a conspiracy?