12 September 2007

The Psychology of Fear

Forgetting 9/11

Because I have written about the physics of the World Trade Center fires and collapses of September 11, 2001, I have recently been asked by several people to comment on "9-11" during this sixth anniversary of the events. Because 9/11 happened a long time ago, as time is now experienced by the now-now no-history-cache wireless-wired over-caffeinated infotainment public mind, people have solidified their views on the subject, and new commentary is unnecessary. Those who have moved beyond 9/11 see it as blowback from decades of inhuman US foreign policy. Those who cannot accept the realization that "the natives" successfully struck back will instead find comfort in the hypothesis that 9/11 was an engineered catastrophe, and the ultimate puppeteers were those who pull the strings of the US government.

I consider the first school of thought to be of rationalists and realists, and the second school to be of irrationalists and fantasists. "Faith-based" is a synonym for irrational, and a strong belief in conspiracies -- with insufficient evidence -- is an irrational expression of fear. And it is fear, ultimately, which is at the root of the obsession by so many with 9-11. We, in these United States, are deeply afraid because we are deeply uncertain about the continuation of our personal comforts (jobs?, housing?, health?, global energy resources?), and even our personal survival (crime?, military draft?, more 9-11s?). If you can see through to the source of your fear, you will be free. I can never tell you anything more important.

The psychology of fear is involved, but I am impatient with it, thus "unsympathetic". The presence of a large population of fearful people creates opportunities for alert charismatic opportunists to profit, by resonating with the archetypes of the shared mass-mindedness and stroking it to spasms of "comfort" -- as the fictional Elmer Gantry did. In our commercialized world, the infotainment produced for this purpose is now a torrent. One of the mantras of the faith (of a US government conspiracy to engineer 9/11 and its subsequent perceptions in the public mind) is that "we need an 'independent' investigation" to expose the inner workings of the presupposed conspiracy, thus 'awakening' the American people to popular unanimity in toppling the Bush Administration and punishing all its associated hench-people. After this, nirvana supposedly. Much of the mail I get from conspiracists (my term for school #2) takes me to task for failing to support the idea of the desired investigation.

For the record, I am in favor of further investigation. Seymour Hersh did it in 1969 to uncover the My Lai massacre by US troops in Vietnam (based on the original heroic investigation by a soldier, the late Ron Ridenhour) and he had no clearance for classified information, nor any subpoena power. Yet, he produced results that awakened the American public and prompted government hearings ("investigation"). This "independent" and public investigation of My Lai was a result of Hersh's reporting, not a precursor to it. So, I encourage all conspiracists to investigate to their heart's content (in fact, why don't they?). I am sure this investigatory frenzy will thrash out like that of the Kennedy assassination, and in 40 years we'll finally know for sure: it was airplanes crashing into the buildings (1), insulation knocked off steel, fire, metal creep, and a massive oil-fed fire in WTC 7 (2).

Isn't it amazing that reality is not put off by our preferences among improbabilities, that it does not find it necessary to unfold in a reflection of the hierarchies of cause-and-effect, controlling persecutors and helpless victims which our uncomprehending minds insist on projecting upon it? Isn't it amazing that non-white "natives" from far away can make so many white people in the most powerful white people's country scared? Reality couldn't possibly turn out that way if we can't imagine it, could it? Are we really to believe that a small band of swarthy raiders from Islamic lands could possess the imagination, the cunning, the determination, the ruthlessness, the grit and the courage to scare the living hell out of the superpower populace? How is it possible for these "nobodies" to have a greater impact over us than our own powerful lords? Are we to believe that "the natives" smote us? Reality can present us with "an obvious" that our racist thinking is blinded by: "Dick Cheney," "Project for a New American Century", "controlled demolition" (3); inhale, "connect the dots", regain your equilibrium, now you see that the world is as it SHOULD be.

Why is it so imperative to the conspiracists to convert everybody else? No one prevents them from "investigating," no one prevents them from running engineering simulations of the Towers collapses to demonstrate their claims "scientifically" (commercial software is available to do this, and various universities, like Purdue, are touting their research software by applying it to the 9/11 events). Why the missionary zeal to infect me with their disease? Really, it's a virus; it propagates by corrupting consciousness -- like the invasion of the body snatchers -- so the new human carrier is propelled into a rabid invasion of the consciousness of others.

The moon rises low over the night horizon this time of year, and probably calls out the zombies in greater numbers. Let them enjoy their dreams, their moaning and dancing releases their tension, and the tight coil of their consciousness will keep them captivated for the duration. They want us to meld into their trance, and we want them to awake and help with the tasks at hand. But, really, neither of us has the right to direct other lives to the purposes we deem important. Leave them to their revels. Why antagonize them? Let us make do with those we can talk to.

And, after all this wrangling, what have we done to 9/l1?, but forgotten the only two lessons worthy of carrying out of it, and after such a high price paid for them, too:

-- "our way of life" has caused a holocaust of unspeakable pain and suffering in much of the world, and for generations;

-- the anguish of the victims and the sacrifices of the rescuers are wasted if we fail to recognize the universality of human anguish and our direct contributions to it.

[1] Giulio Bernacchia, http://www.911myths.com/Another_Expert.pdf.

[2] From Mr. K. S. by e-mail to MG, Jr. on August 27, 2007:

"WTC7 Collapse, So What?"

Hi,I read your piece on the CounterPunch site with some interest. I was just a tourist to New York on 9-11, so I come to you not as an expert on any of this. But, I have read, and consumed hundreds of hours of information on the Kennedy assassination over the last forty plus years. So, I'm familiar with the wild theories fueled by the paranoia of US Government secrecy. Many of these suspicions seem to be well founded, some not. But, I was there at 9/11. Hasn't anyone looked at local or national footage during the afternoon of 9/11? That building was an inferno all day long. To me it was really special. I've never seen a 47-story building burn like that. Every once in a while the wind would shift off the water, and you'd feel the heat come down the street two, three blocks away depending on where I was standing at the time. It was a huge fire, with flames coming out of most of the windows on the north side of the building. It was raging. I don't know how it could have survived. What is the conspiracy about this building? The NYFD, and the rest of them knew it was going to collapse, they started running away from the area waving and screaming for everybody to get back. I figured I'd better run too. When you see all of them rescue people running, it's time to go. Then the whole street shook, it was unnerving, or disorienting like losing your equilibrium, it was weird. But, what's the conspiracy? That building burned for what, seven hours? That scene reminded me of the Pearl Harbor pictures, I mean with the raging fires and the twisted metal of those battleships; the result of the intense heat. If you were down there, you'd appreciate the scope of the fire.Thanks,Ken S.

[I do not release the name/address for the sake of privacy; if this causes you to dispute the authenticity, so be it]

Homework project: how long do explosives and detonators remain intact in a fire? See (3).

[3] Zachary Wick, "WTC CD?", http://www.911myths.com/WTC_CD.pdf.

Manuel Garcia, Jr. is a retired physicist who still hopes to learn more about solar-powered thermodynamics to meet human needs. He might be reached at mango@idiom.com.


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