This is the story of a man with “two competing world views that he’s never been able to reconcile”.
On a June afternoon in the middle of New York’s Times Square, Charlie Veitch took out his phone, turned on the camera and began recording a statement about the 2001 destruction of the World Trade Center.
“I was a real firm believer in the conspiracy that it was a controlled demolition,” he started. “That it was not in any way as the official story explained. But, this universe is truly one of smoke screens, illusions and wrong paths. If you are presented with new evidence, take it on, even if it contradicts what you or your group want to believe. You have to give the truth the greatest respect, and I do.”
In the days after he uploaded his video, entitled No Emotional Attachment to 9/11 Theories, Veitch was disowned by his friends, issued with death threats and falsely accused of child abuse in an email sent to 15,000 of his followers. “I went from being Jesus to the devil,” he says now. “Or maybe Judas. I thought the term ‘Truth Movement’ meant that there’d be some search for truth. I was wrong. I was the new Stalin. The poster boy for a mad movement.”
The turning point came when Veitch accepted an invitation to appear in a BBC documentary, Conspiracy Road Trip, made to mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Veitch was accompanied by four people, all of whom believed the many conspiracies surrounding the attack. Veitch was convinced that the Twin Towers had been brought down in a controlled explosion by the government, in cahoots with Mossad.
In an attempt to change his mind, the documentary crew took Veitch to meet experts including the chief air traffic controller on the day, demolition specialists and architects. At the start, Veitch was defiant. He showed a video, on a laptop, of the buildings collapsing, saying, “That’s a controlled demolition if ever I saw one.”
He publicly berated the film’s presenter, Andrew Maxwell: “You weren’t there, man. You just have this obedient psychology.” But the more experts he met, the more troubled Veitch became. Finally, when it was shown to him that the towers didn’t, in fact, collapse in a manner consistent with a controlled explosion, and how preposterous his notion was that teams of secret operatives had somehow planted thousands of high explosives in the buildings, he admitted defeat.
There is so much to say and understand about conspiracy theorists’ worldviews. It’s complicated. Evidence doesn’t matter unless it can be cherry picked to fit your preconceived account.
This piece has been going around all day. It’s worth a read because it is a case of being convinced by a good argument (after speaking to someone who explained the alternative view). So it CAN be done.
Want to get the best handle on what may be the truth? LOOK AT BOTH SIDES. For someone like Veitch, he was able to break out of the corrosive environment of “truthers”. I don’t think that happens very often.
This piece is also worthwhile. 5 Characteristics of Conspiracy [link is hit or miss].