Bullied To Believe Mainstream ‘Truth’
A US congressman called a crank for questioning 9/11 over a decade ago. I examine how bullying and narrative control is replacing sensemaking.
by Joe Martino
A news story written by The Daily Beast challenged US politician Jamaal Bowman about a poem he wrote in 2011 with lines about 9/11.
Bowman is a congressional representative for New York. He wrote the poem on his personal blog during a time when he was going through a period of extensive reading and documentary watching to explore various political views. Amongst the films he watched were Zeitgeist and Loose Change.
Both films I watched back in 2007 and I feel are well thought out and reasonable in their presentation of facts and ideas. Neither makes unreasonable or assertive claims.
Bowman wrote the poem ‘Recapitulate’ because what he learned about 9/11 through those films resonated with him in some way. So much so that he likely believed/still believes something about 9/11 doesn’t make sense, and he was inspired to share this with others.
His poem contains the following lines about 9/11:
“2001/Planes used as missiles/Target: The Twin Towers,”
“Later in the day/Building 7/Also Collaspsed [sic]/Hmm…/Multiple explosions/Heard before/And during the collapse/Hmm…”
“Allegedly/Two other planes/The Pentagon/Pennsylvania/Hijacked by terrorist [sic]/Minimal damage done/Minimal debris found/Hmm…”
“We blamed Osama/Went to war in Iraq/Captured Saddam/Killed him,” “Bin Laden is Afghan/So we went to war there too.”
”Watch Loose Change/And Zeitgeist,”
Before I get into the rest of the story and my breakdown of the implications of how we’re dealing with stuff like this, take a look at the article presentation from The Daily Beast.
We see the words “disinformation” “cranks” and “conspiracy theories.” All words that are associated with one another in our current culture.
Think outside of consensus reality and you’re a conspiracy theorist. If you’re one of those, you’re a crank and spreading disinformation. That’s the black and white line of thinking of bad faith actors like The Daily Beast and many other mainstream outlets.
It appears The Daily Beast wrote this story to get a response out of Bowman’s now deleted poem which they dug it up by going through web archives. The problem is, the way they attack his poem with official facts contains multiple problems.
The Daily Beast article states, as they critique his lines about The Pentagon:
“The strike on the Pentagon led to part of its outer wall collapsing, resulting in 125 fatalities within, and the deaths of all 59 people aboard the plane.”
If Bowman is referring to the same facts I am aware of, he’s not saying nothing hit the Pentagon, but that evidence suggests it wasn’t a large passenger plane. The Pentagon is one of the most guarded and surveilled buildings in the US yet it took a recent 5 year court battle to get the release of ONE video of a “plane” striking the Pentagon.
Not only did the ‘plane’ manage to make a hole in the Pentagon a lot smaller than the plane itself, but it looks a lot like a guided missile. Occam’s Razor would suggest that given all the available evidence, a missile most likely hit The Pentagon, not a plane. Why is this not a reasonable stance to take?
The most liked comments (thousands of likes) on the video above state things like:
“It amazes me with that pilots skill; looks like a guided rocket”
“My favorite part is how you can’t see the plane!”
“As a pilot, I watched lots of videos by very experienced airline pilots and they all said that trying to fly at 550 knots at or very near sea level was exceeding the maximum stress level of the aircraft by 100+ knots. An inexperienced pilot who only flew and failed flying Cessnas would never be able to hand fly a 757 so close to the ground and that the turn he made to hit the Pentagon (550 knot descending turn) would stress the structure to the point of breaking up. Again, not a conspiracy theorist but looking for transparency.”
“There was a gas station that had a perfect camera angle of the crash site but the FBI confiscated it for some odd reason. This isn’t the only footage”
The point here: people seeing things with their own eyes and using basic logic have a right intuition that something doesn’t make sense. Instead of being met with a reasonable conversation, they are bullied toward accepting what the government states. Even while the government withholds basic information. Outlets like the Daily Beast then crucify people asking reasonable questions.
In the article, the Beast also claims the fall of World Trade Center 7 is already a debunked theory.
“Bowman there invoked a favorite, disproven trope of the paranoid fringe: that the collapse of Building 7 was the result of a controlled demolition. In fact, the National Institute of Standards and Technology determined that Building 7 buckled and fell after debris from its taller peers struck it and ignited a blaze inside, undermining its structural integrity. The agency found that none of the details of collapse, from the manner in which the building’s windows broke to the sounds reported in the area, were consistent with the massive blasts a controlled demolition would have required.”
Add “paranoid” to the mix folks!
In their race to call people out and maintain consensus reality, they don’t even realize their circular reasoning.
Films like Zeitgeist, Loose Change and studies like that of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, which pointed out that WTC7 could not have fallen from fire, are directly challenging the story proposed by NIST. To then say “No you’re wrong because NIST said so” is circular reasoning. It’s bad faith. It’s disingenuous. It’s lazy.
The Fairbanks study looked directly at NIST’s entire explanation and found:
“Our study found that the fires in WTC 7 could not have caused the collapse recorded on video,” […] “We simulated every plausible scenario, and we found that the series of failures that NIST claimed triggered a progressive collapse of the entire structure could not have occurred. The only thing that could have brought this structure down in the manner observed on 9/11 is the near-simultaneous failure of every column in the building below Floor 17.”
– Chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Dr. Leroy Hulsey
You can see the problem in using NIST’s explanation to debunk those critiquing NIST. The moral of the story, theories around the fall of WTC7 have not been debunked, they are unacknowledged.
The Daily Beast is using the all too common cardinal sin of outsourcing their critical thinking to mainstream institutions.
Is The Daily Beast not aware of this misstep in logic? Have they ever taken a look at these films or the scientific evidence that provides a different story of what happened on 9/11? Probably not. This is why most folks out there, like politicians, mainstream outlets and podcasts like the Conspitituality Podcast are acting in bad faith. They are taking to platform and ‘debunking’ things they have not yet taken the time to consider in good faith.
Yes, there is a stark difference between poorly thought out and ridiculous ‘conspiracy theories’ and instances where people are pointing out very specific and evidentiary things, all while saying “ I’m not sure what’s right, but I know something is off here.”
The tricky part is these outlets don’t seem to realize the difference between the two and instead lump them into one category: ‘cranks.’
Interestingly when I’ve met up with people in person who know what I do, sometimes they’ll pitch me wild and untrue conspiracies and when I say “Here’s why I don’t believe that” and provide evidence, they look at me like I have two heads. Because conspiracy thinking and conspiracy denial often become black and white for people. It’s all true or it’s all nuts. No critical thinking involved. I wrote an essay about this phenomenon here, simply, the same lack of critical thinking happens in both spheres.
My gut is that there is a general collective lack of capacity to truly hold multiple worldviews around a subject at once. A stress response emerges when our worldview is challenged and we don’t have the presence to let that be without shutting down our inquiry. Thus we go into defense and protection mode. This is not an issue of mainstream vs alternative, but one of the human condition.
The Implications of This Culture War
I hope it’s clear here that I’m not suggesting The Daily Beast should believe what I believe, but that The Daily Beast is not thinking clearly.
I’m saying that mainstream sensemaking around 9/11 is bad and obviously so. By not engaging in a real discussion of the evidence we are choosing to invoke shitty sensemaking to uphold consensus reality and protect standing governmental institutions. Hence outsourcing critical thinking to government institutions.
But at what cost? Unchecked power?
I’m curious, how would The Daily Beast know if NIST, the CDC, FDA etc was lying to them and compromised? This goes for much of the mainstream as well: if you invoke circular reasoning on people who reasonably and skillfully challenge the tropes of these institutions, do facts even matter? Won’t these institutions end up with unchecked power?
This is the plight of current consensus thinking. It’s broken and lost. And it’s being held in place via bullying, threats, and a lack of capacity to step into the unknown. Yes, the unknown takes skill and self awareness to navigate without becoming unhinged – something that happens to a ton of people in the conspiracy space – but it shouldn’t be avoided. I’ve pointed this out for over a decade.
Bowman deleted his entire personal blog years ago, likely because he knew his prior curiosities would come back to haunt him in his career. Now he publicly states:
“I don’t believe anything that these cranks have said, and my life’s work has proven that. As a Congressman, I’ve written a Congressional Resolution condemning a dangerous conspiracy theory, I’ve stood up to MAGA extremists, and I’ve called out the endless bullshit of the far-right.” […] I regret posting anything about any of these people. Anyone who looks at my work today knows where I stand.”
The trouble is clear I hope. We cannot know if Bowman is genuine in his words here because he knows what will happen to him and his career if he were to suggest he isn’t sure what happened on 9/11 and has questions.
You either believe what consensus reality states or you’re a leper. This isn’t freedom folks, this is narrative control via bullying.
In an upcoming episode of the Collective Evolution podcast, I speak to my guests about conspiracy. We work to define the term, what it means to our culture, and how there is an interesting relationship between exploring system dynamics and conspiracy.
For example, if I say “It’s a conspiracy that big pharma and lawmakers collaborate non-transparently to benefit pharma companies at the expense of product safety” someone might say, “No, that’s not a conspiracy, that’s just how corruption works in our system.”
Yet this is the literal definition of conspiracy. We’re just at a point where using the word comes with a ton of negative connotations. People are literally self-censoring due to current cultural dynamics.
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