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Conspiracists need not apply
On pattern-seeking, terrorist violence, and the error in seeking new imaginary evils when so many real ones already exist
Another September 11th anniversary has passed, and a small but noisy crowd of conspiracy theorists remains committed to promoting narratives about the events of that day that have no foundation in evidence. Even a declared Presidential candidate remains among them.
■ Conspiracy theories usually exist to satisfy a longing to have insider knowledge. People see patterns where none exist and are gratified by a sense of belonging among a special elite of those who are "in the know".
■ But the bigger question that applies to many conspiracy theories -- but in particular to those about the 9/11 attacks -- is this: Why are some people so committed to inventing new evils in which to believe, rather than the self-evident evil which already demonstrably exists?
■ Al-Qaeda openly claimed responsibility for the attacks. It isn't necessary to go searching elsewhere for more convoluted explanations, particularly for explanations that would indict the decency of ordinary Americans.
■ What happened was complex enough, and there is real and continuing reason to examine how the government missed the fragments of information that could have thwarted the attacks. When people contaminate the public mind with feverish nonsense, they detract from the hard and important work of learning how better to apply defense-in-depth against future attacks, from whatever sources they may come.