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Origins and reception
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 19, 2006 11:47 pm    Post subject: Origins and reception Reply with quote

Since the September 11 attacks, a number of websites, books, and films, largely promoted on and distributed through the Internet, have challenged the mainstream account of the attacks. Although al-Qaeda "conspired" to execute the attacks on the World Trade Center in the legal sense, a 9/11 conspiracy theory generally refers to a belief in a broad conspiracy, in which the attacks were executed by powerful groups often including government agencies or an alleged secret global network. The body of groups and individuals challenging the official account often refer to themselves as the 9/11 Truth Movement.

Initially, 9/11 conspiracy theories received little attention in the media. In an address to the United Nations on November 10, 2001, United States President George W. Bush denounced the emergence of "outrageous conspiracy theories ... that attempt to shift the blame away from the terrorists." Later, as media exposure of conspiracy theories of the events of 9/11 increased, US government agencies and the Bush Administration issued refutations to the theories, including a formal response by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to questions about the destruction of the World Trade Center, a revised 2006 State Department webpage to debunk the theories, and a strategy paper referred to by President Bush in an August 2006 speech, which declares that terrorism springs from "subcultures of conspiracy and misinformation," and that "terrorists recruit more effectively from populations whose information about the world is contaminated by falsehoods and corrupted by conspiracy theories. The distortions keep alive grievances and filter out facts that would challenge popular prejudices and self-serving propaganda."

In August 2004, a Zogby International poll indicated that 49.3% New York City residents and 41% of New York citizens "overall" say US Leaders "knew in advance that attacks were planned on or around September 11, 2001, and that they consciously failed to act". In July 2006, a Scripps Howard and Ohio University poll concluded that "Thirty-six percent of respondents overall said it is "very likely" or "somewhat likely" that federal officials either participated in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon or took no action to stop them", "sixteen percent said it's "very likely" or "somewhat likely" that the collapse of the twin towers in New York was aided by explosives secretly planted in the two buildings" and "twelve percent suspect the Pentagon was struck by a military cruise missile in 2001 rather than by an airliner captured by terrorists." A May 2006 Zogby International poll indicated that 42% of Americans more likely agree with people who believe that "the US government and its 9/11 Commission concealed or refused to investigate critical evidence that contradicts their official explanation of the September 11th attacks, saying there has been a cover-up." A September 2006 Ipsos-Reid poll found that 22 percent of Canadians believe "the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, had nothing to do with Osama Bin Laden and were actually a plot by influential Americans." An October 2006 New York Times and CBS news poll showed that 28 percent believe members of the Bush Administration are mostly lying about "what they knew prior to September 11th, 2001, about possible terrorist attacks against the United States."

Just prior to the fifth anniversary of the attacks, a flurry of mainstream news articles on 9/11 conspiracy theories were released.[10][11] In its coverage Time Magazine stated, "This is not a fringe phenomenon. It is a mainstream political reality." Mainstream coverage has generally presented these theories as a cultural phenomenon and is often very critical of their content. Michael Shermer, writing in Scientific American, said: "The mistaken belief that a handful of unexplained anomalies can undermine a well-established theory lies at the heart of all conspiratorial thinking (as well as creationism, Holocaust denial and the various crank theories of physics). All the "evidence" for a 9/11 conspiracy falls under the rubric of this fallacy. Such notions are easily refuted by noting that scientific theories are not built on single facts alone but on a convergence of evidence assembled from multiple lines of inquiry."
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