More than ever, we need to discern what’s real and true about the events and circumstances of modern life. Unresolved emotions can clutter our mind, obstructing access to objectivity and wisdom. This is happening with 9/11 conspiracy buffs, many of whom believe that powerful individuals in the United States government orchestrated the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Studies have shown that various beliefs can be strongly influenced by our emotional issues (here, here, and here.) These issues, often relating to inner fear, are usually unconscious. People often aren’t aware of how, for emotional reasons, they can unwittingly be discounting or misreading relevant evidence while at the same time elevating the significance of marginal evidence.
Conspiracy adherents have evidence that they say supports their claim. Obviously, varied hypotheses can be drawn up from inconclusive evidence. Selected evidence can produce many logically consistent pathways through the maze of a complex event, yet only one of these pathways might lead to the truth. The remaining paths, though believable or plausible, lead to wrong conclusions. I want to present more evidence—psychological evidence—that conspiracy theorists have not included in their assessments.
Many of us experienced emotional disorientation and a sense of helplessness as we unwittingly identified with the thousands of victims of the calamity who were trapped in the targeted buildings and in the four airliners used in the attack. To cope with these feelings, some people desperately seek a compensating sense of power or orientation. [Read more…]