Although many of the men were from Saudi Arabia, it wasn't a Saudi attack. Al Qaeda had made history with a coordinated attach against the United States.
And quite a few people think that's what They want you to believe.
Conspiracies, Convenience, and ComfortWho the "They" is varies a bit across the globe. America, more specifically the American government, is a big favorite. So is Israel, at least in the Middle East.
As I've said before, when elections or other stressful situations shake the tree of liberty, quite a few loose nuts fall out.
In cases like the 9/11 attacks, I think that many people find the idea of an attack on that scale, by a group like Al Qaeda, unthinkable. These people could
- Take the information, re-evaluate their beliefs, assumptions, and values, and come to a new understanding of what the world is, and how it works
- Point to their preferred bad guys, assume that they did it, and then assume that They conspired to hide the truth by besmirching Al Qaeda
When I was growing up, quite a few Americans seemed to believe that 'the commies' were behind most of the world's ills. (If you're too young to remember the fifties, watch some M.A.S.H. reruns. Frank Burns is a played-for-laughs buffoon, but he's also a caricature of a real sort of person.)
Times change. The commies have been replaced by other bogey men: like the CIA, Bush, and Big Oil. But the general pattern is the same: make up your mind, then treat reality like a cafeteria. If you don't like something, you don't have to accept it.
An outfit called World Public Opinion did an opinion poll, involving people in 17 nations. They released the results yesterday:
(From World Public Opinion, used without permission.)
I like the graph, but some of those numbers are a tad hard to read, so I put a table together, to get a better look at the data. A couple things jumped out at me. The percentage of 'don't know' goes from 3% to 57% - quite a range. And, what I think is good news: the European nations polled seem to have dropped anti-Semitism, for the most part. 1% is pretty close to background noise.
The Middle East, on the other hand, has a fair number of people who think Israel is responsible for the 9/11 attacks. A very interesting follow-up on this poll would be finding out why so many Egyptians, and others, believe that the Jews attacked America.
I don't think that public opinion polls are useful for determining what's true, and what's not. I do, however, think that they can be very useful in learning how people view the world: and what parts of reality they accept; and what parts they replace with their own assumptions.
- "International Poll: No Consensus on Who Was Behind 9/11"
Reuters (September 10, 2008)
- "International Poll: No Consensus On Who Was Behind 9/11"
World Public Opinion.org (September 10, 2008)