Questioning the Official 9/11 Story Doesn’t Make You a “Conspiracy Theorist”

by Melissa Karnaze

“I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I’m an air force pilot. And based on my experience, the story we’ve been told about 9/11 doesn’t add up.”

That’s a powerful statement.

Because its framing shatters the programmed thinking that many Americans have been indoctrinated into via establishment media — that those who question the official 9/11 story are “wacky conspiracy theorists.”

Okay, let’s back up a step.

Here’s the context:

  1. The 9/11 Commission Report did not mention the collapse of World Trade Center Building 7 on September 11, 2001 — which was not hit by a plane but collapsed in a near-identical manner as did the two towers which were hit by planes.
  2. More than 1,500 architects, engineers, and scientists, including many more concerned and affected citizens, don’t believe the official 9/11 story, as the official report did not address the collapse of Building 7. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) later concluded that Building 7 collapsed due to office fires, but in their 15-minute documentary, the organization Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth explain why they are not convinced by this story.
  3. The establishment media, which is controlled by a handful of corporations, along with much of the populous (i.e., consumers of establishment media), deny and ridicule those who question the official story, labeling them as “conspiracy theorists.”
  4. The conspiracy theory lingo distorts any true discussion (yes, involving “experts” and Ph.D.’s on both sides) on the controversial issue of how exactly Building 7 fell (and managed to free fall in the process, as NIST admitted).
  5. The general public largely ignores the controversy, as they believe what they are told: “Anyone who questions the official report is a ‘conspiracy theorist,’ and thus irrelevant.”

The underlying assumption here is that conspiracy theorists are bad, stupid, crooked, profiteers, scammers, uneducated, ignorant, paranoid, crazies, nut jobs — irrelevant.

Social norms regarding 9/11

This underlying assumption serves as a social norm.

People think that all (or just most) educated, rational, qualified thinkers don’t question the official story , because the establishment media (read: corporatist agenda) tells them such or indirectly frames it as such through reporting.

Is it really so? I don’t know how many people in the U.S. question the official story, but it’s probably not as insignificant as the media would have us believe.

There are many experts and educated citizens who do challenge the official story. And that doesn’t make them any of the above negative labels (associated with the term “conspiracy theorist”).

“I’m not a conspiracy theorist”

The fine print in the lower left corner of the above ad reads:

“I’m Lieutenant Colonel David Gapp (Ret.), a 30-year Air Force veteran. I served as Chief of Master Air Attack Planning for Iraq and Afghanistan wars.”

Several other poster ads such as this one, by, read:

  • “I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I’m a structural engineer.”
  • “I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I’m a first responder.”
  • “I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I’m a family member.”
  • “I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I’m a father.”

What do each of these statements have in common?

They each break the “conspiracy theorist” stereotype.

They each re-humanize those individuals who question the official 9/11 story.

In the minds of many citizens, those who question the official story have already been dehumanized, viewed not as complex individuals who have reasons to form their own opinions contrary to government dictum, but rather, as those of another breed — “conspiracy theorist,” and thus, irrelevant.

The social norm is shattering due to the political activism leading up to, and encompassed by‘s 10th Anniversary Campaign for 9/11.

A smart campaign by

The more that people approach the topic of 9/11 without preexisting and dysfunctional biases about “conspiracy theorists,” the more they’ll be able to discuss the controversy surrounding the events of 9/11 with more critical thinking — with independent thinking.

These poster ads being put out by are very smart, in that they target one of the major sources of public disinformation regarding 9/11: the stealthy and pervasive social norms imposed by establishment media (and reinforced by academia).

Which again, is propped up by a handful of corporations.

The derogatory “conspiracy theorist” construct won’t hold (or be exploited) forever, and the 10th Anniversary Campaign for September 11th certainly deconstructs it.

What do you think?

Do you consider yourself a conspiracy theorist?

How do you define the term?

Are there other aspects of the official 9/11 story you’d like to discuss?

If you watch the forthcoming documentary by Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth (cosponsor of, Experts Speak Out, your views on what happened on 9/11 (and especially regarding Building 7) may be drastically impacted. I’ve ordered a copy, and look forward to having a critical discussion about the opinions presented in this documentary with my loved ones.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike Baldwin August 19, 2011 at 1:55 pm

What a refreshing, well written article! Thank you Melissa.

Melissa Karnaze August 19, 2011 at 2:06 pm

Thanks for stopping by Mike!

Nor August 20, 2011 at 7:06 am

You might want to check out the following paper by philosopher John McMurtry:

In it he analyzes what Philip Zelikow – the man put in charge of institutionalizing the 9/11 construct – refers to as the creation of “public myths” or “public presumptions” defined as “beliefs (1) thought to be true
(although not necessarily known to be true with certainty), and (2) shared in common within the relevant political community.” (Zelikow, P. (1999). Thinking about Political History. Miller Center Report) as quoted here:

(page 232)

Maryanna August 21, 2011 at 6:09 pm

Hello, I stumbled upon this article while I was looking into how not to argue (with much success by the way). We discussed 9/11 in my Media Studies class, and unfortunately, I wasn’t yet diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. The issue I had with the ‘conspiracy’ video my teacher played for us centered around stuff that out of context most people don’t know. Why did so many military types cancel their plane tickets? Because that’s what military types do. Assignments change at the drop of a pin. My best friend, a Cadet in a military family knows this quite well, as his father told him one day “You’ll graduate from this highschool.” A week later they were on the other side of Ontario. Experts who say that ‘steel melts at this temperature’ seem to neglect the effect of extreme temperatures on anything, such that something doesn’t need to melt to fail, it just needs to go i/soft/. And when that much weight is on something soft, well, build a tower of bricks using mushy pasta and we’ll talk.
What really got me that day tho, was how the narrator didn’t seem to care that 3000 people died. I’m glad President Obama acknowledged both camps.

Cory August 23, 2011 at 11:11 am


John McMurtry is a wonderful resource – a true scholar and intellect. Watch him easily (and impressively) dismantle Thomas Donnely’s arguments for invading Iraq.

Another intellectual giant is Peter Dale Scott, author of War Machine.

Also see any interview with Prof. Anthony J. Hall about his views on 9/11 and Globalization.


I would point you in the direction of the experiments of Jonathan Cole. He has conducted easy to follow experiments that empirically refute the official explanation of the building collapses.

Most notably, he has heated steel beams identical to those used in the construction of the Twin Towers to temperatures far beyond those reported for 9/11 and no “softening” was observed.


This is a timely article. Thank you.

Cory September 7, 2011 at 9:47 am

There are a lot of great articles being published online about 9/11. Here is one by Jesse Richard that is similar to yours, Melissa:

And also an interview with Catherine Austin Fitts about the economics of 9/11:

Won’t find these discussions at your neighborhood Corporate Media!

Cory September 12, 2011 at 2:41 pm

This is going to be my last comment on this thread unless someone else chimes in. I don’t wanna feel like I’m on an empty street corner talking to myself :)

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts sums up the frustration of the so-called “9-11 Truth Movement” which is hardly a movement at all. Read the article here:

9/11 Truth is sort of like Self-Help in that you have to do the work on your own for your own betterment. There is too much minutiae for this information to be spoon-fed to you through established means. There’s no CNN or MTV for 9/11 Truth, but I’m not saying that we shouldn’t try to create media akin to these mainstream styles. We should. Style of communication and information is just as important (maybe more so?) as content. Loose Change has actually tried to do this, and their latest incarnation, An American Coup, is very engaging, convincing, and much more factually accurate than its predecessors.

We’re not going to change the direction of this ship, called the American Experiment, until we take Media Reform seriously.

Cory September 21, 2011 at 11:36 am

Sorry, but I’ve been chomping at the bit on this one:

It’s only 5 minutes, every line is verifiable, and it’s the perfect amount of injected humor. This video has gone viral, yet the count stays stubbornly below 700,000 views. No one knows why there were many more likes than actual views at the outset of this video’s life. Some suspect tampering, but nevertheless, you’ll never see this viral video on the home page of Youtube. Too bad.

Betresse Duggan February 23, 2013 at 2:29 am

Well done! We do need to fight these stereotypes that divide us. Another stereotypes doing great harm is the portrayal of the mentally ill. I think there is a difference between a crazy or eccentric person or a person who doesn’t care about others all who have a choice in their behavior and a person who is mentally ill. For example, a crazy FBI agent talks a mentally ill man into becoming a terrorist so the agent can make his quota of “catching” terrorists. Or, a crazy president who wants to spend billions on war when that same money could be used for the well being and good mental health of all citizens. What sane person wants to see people go without food, sleep in the cold, die from preventable conditions, and be molested at the airport?

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