I just finished watching a very interesting documentary on the National Geographic Channel, 9/11: Science and Conspiracy. I don’t know how good it was scientifically debunking the 9/11 truther movement (I’m not a physicist or a structural engineer), but it was fascinating to watch truthers deal with evidence that contradicted their theories and to note the strong correlation between truther and birther. I knew the general outline of the truther views of 9/11, but it was a very different thing to listen to them talk about it and watch them interact with each other and with critics.
The first obvious similarity was the use of hyperbolic language, phrases like “overwhelming evidence” [of controlled demolition]. Truthers were given a great deal of air time in the two-hour documentary but came up with very little in the way of real evidence. It reminded me of the certainty with which birthers embrace the crank two-citizen presidential eligibility requirement.
The next obvious similarity was the overall nature of the evidence in support of their conspiracy theory. In fact, there isn’t much in the way of evidence, but rather there are questions and demands for explanations. Indeed, one truther documentary maker essentially said that the central fact supporting the truther movement is that the government doesn’t open the archives of every agency for truther investigators.
Truthers, like birthers, do not put forward comprehensive narratives of their alternate theories. They don’t explain how the controlled demolition explosives could have been put into the World Trade Center, no more than why Hawaiian officials say they have Obama’s birth certificate on file. They claim that producing these things are not their purview, but rather what a thorough investigation would reveal.
Like long-form birth certificate detractors, truthers demand that every nit be explained or they won’t concede anything. There is a massive burden shifting going on where the truther and birther basically just keep saying “not satisfied, no evidence” no matter what evidence is presented. Nothing looked so familiar to me from the birther business as when the 9/11 truthers gave knee-jerk rejection of evidence.
Finally, both believe that there is a massive cover-up inside the government and that the government is too corrupt to investigate itself.
It seemed to me that whether one calls birtherism a conspiracy theory or something else, the underlying mechanisms between conspiracy theorist and birther belief systems are very similar.