The Truth is not Enough: How to overcome emotional barriers to 9/11 truth

The Truth is not Enough: How to overcome emotional barriers to 9/11 truth

by Ken Jenkins
May 1, 2009

How many times has this happened to you? You are explaining to someone some of the rational, logical reasons why the official story of 9/11 can’t be true, perhaps explaining how WTC 7 fell in the exact manner of a professionally planned controlled demolition — a job which would typically take weeks to prepare — when out comes a ‘thought stopper’ phrase like:

“That’s just another conspiracy theory!” or …

“Do you also believe in Big Foot and tin foil hats?”

Or perhaps the person gets angry and/or agitated. Facts no longer matter at that point, and you can tell the person does not want to hear any more. For example, the following response came from someone after they were given a 20-minute summary of 9/11 Truth information:

“I wouldn’t believe that, even if it were true!”

That reaction defies all logic and reason. But it clearly illustrates just how irrational some peoples’ defenses can be. Here are a few more honest responses/defenses:

“As long as my wife and kids are fine and we can live the life style we have, the truth is, I don’t really care what happened on 9/11.”
“I would not want to live in a world where such a thing could be true.”
“You can’t expect someone to listen to information that turns their world upside down.”
“I’m not sure I want to know. If this is true, then up would be down and down would be up. My life would never be the same.”
“Look, I have to admit that I seriously resist anyone messing with my worldview!”

Why So Much Resistance to 9/11 Truth?

Such reactions are emotionally based. 9/11 is a very emotionally charged issue. The source of the denial and resistance is FEAR. The implications of 9/11 Truth are very scary for most people to take in. Given that a part of our government’s job description is keeping its citizens safe, it’s terrifying to consider that a secret rogue part of our government will do just the opposite — mass murder those very citizens, in order to advance dark agendas — like wars for corporate empire. To further consider that associated ‘secret teams’ would then put out corporate media cover-up stories, in the form of an elaborate fantasy story backed up with planted evidence, and to think that story was nearly universally accepted without question — this is the stuff of nightmares.

Then there is the difficulty of accepting the self-image shattering realization that we were duped by such cover story lies. 9/11 Truth suggests a very uncomfortable and disturbing worldview, especially to those new to such concepts. The intensity of fear brought up by these vast implications causes defence mechanisms to take over our rational thought processes. Such denial most often overrides rationality.

What’s a 9/11 Truth Activist To Do?

How can we overcome such powerful denial? What knowledge about these emotional barriers can empower us to be more effective in reaching larger numbers of our fellow citizens?

Start out by asking questions to find out what the person you are addressing currently thinks and feels about the 9/11 Truth message. Adjust your approach based on what you hear. Based on their responses, reach out and connect though empathy, to express to them an understanding of their difficult position. It’s not that hard to do — after all, most of us went through a similar process of conversion at some point, when we were in denial and uninformed about 9/11. Let them know about your own doubts, how you had a difficult time believing that the official story was false. Explain how upsetting it was for you to consider the alternative — those very inconvenient truths. Even for those of us who were not upset by the idea of 9/11 being an inside job, there was often a difficulty in wrapping our heads around the enormity of it all. Talk about your own difficulties in rejecting the official story.

Reasons for Resistance to the Truth

There are a number of valid reasons why many of us resist the truth of 9/11. What follows are some major ones.

A. The Big Lie: I’ll start with the ‘Big Lie’ because it was the main barrier that kept me from fully accepting the truth of 9/11 as I was researching it in the weeks after the event. The sheer audacity of pulling off something so outrageous in broad daylight, thinking they would get away with it, and the large scale of it all kept me doubting for weeks. My turning point was learning about what really happened at Pearl Harbor — the many warnings that were ignored, the Japanese secret codes that the US had broken, etc. This new understanding, that the attack on Pearl Harbor was clearly allowed to happen, was what finally had me fully accept 9/11 Truth. The comparable number that were deliberately mass murdered, the scale of the event, the audacity, and the 60 years of largely successful cover-up all showed me that a Big Lie had happened before, and worked to fool most of the public, and not all that long ago. It was only later I discovered these quotes:

“The individual is handicapped by coming face to face with a conspiracy so monstrous he cannot believe it exists.” ~ J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the FBI

“The masses indulge in petty falsehoods every day, but it would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths. … The bigger the lie, therefore, the likelier it is to be believed.” ~ Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf

B. Major Paradigm Shift: Questioning the official story of 9/11 threatens the foundations of our society, or at least seems to. It challenges our fellow citizens’ belief systems regarding the nature of our government, and even the very nature of our nation. Such questioning is far more profound than, say, questioning a war. Accepting the truth of 9/11 is, for many, a major paradigm shift, an inverting of their worldview. Such shifts risk a period of chaos and uncertainty, which many find scary.

C. Blind Nationalist Faith: 9/11 Truth is a confrontation with the self-image that many Americans have — of their country and of themselves. The self-image Americans have been sold though our school systems and media is that we are the exceptional nation, the good guys wearing the white hats, the bringers of democracy and freedom. Such nationalistic faith can exceed religious faith in its dogmatic blindness. David Ray Griffin has an article on this subject elsewhere in this issue. [See article ps. XX-XX] and, Dr. Griffin also addresses these issues in a DVD titled “9/11 and Nationalist Faith.”

D. Projecting Parental Duties on Authorities: In his book As If We Were Grownups, author Jeff Golden’s thoughtful assertion is that,“We consistently elect [political] candidates who tell us what children would want to hear. Children want to hear that everything is okay, that little is required of them, that they can go out and play or watch TV, and that they’ll be taken care of and protected. In exchange, they are expected to be seen and not heard, to pay their taxes, to take their flu shots, and to not question the authorities.”

E. Admission of Gullibility: Anyone we are introducing 9/11 Truth to now has believed the official story for years. To accept 9/11 Truth they have to admit they were duped, deceived, and manipulated for all that time. That brings up questions of gullibility, naïveté, lack of perceptiveness, obliviousness, etc. Most of us have resistance to admitting such shortcomings. Astronomer Carl Sagan sums it up nicely:

“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It is simply too painful to acknowledge — even to ourselves — that we’ve been so credulous [i.e. gullible].”

F. The Rabbit Hole Effect — Wider Implications: To believe 9/11 Truth, one also has to believe many other difficult truths, such as:

  • Parts of our corporate media must be incredibly corrupt to be complicit in such a massive cover-up;
  • There must be a powerful, secret, hidden government that is capable of planning and executing such a horrible and unthinkable act;
  • Some of our leaders are more corrupt and malicious than most of us would want to believe.

But one has only to remember the words of philosopher and statesman, Edmund Burke, to understand how corruption tends to prosper especially in good times:
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

G. Apathy and Complacency: Radio talk show host Mike Rivero sheds some light on why so many people are apathetic and complacent about changing their beliefs:

“Most people prefer to believe their leaders are just and fair even in the face of evidence to the contrary, because once a citizen acknowledges that the government under which they live is lying and corrupt, the citizen has to choose what he or she will do about it. To take action in the face of a corrupt government entails risks of harm to life and loved ones. To choose to do nothing is to surrender one’s self-image of standing for principles. Most people do not have the courage to face that choice. Hence, most propaganda is not designed to fool the critical thinker but only to give moral cowards an excuse not to think at all.”

H. PTSD — Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: 9/11 was first and foremost a psyop, shorthand for a Psychological Operation. It is a term used by secret services like the CIA to describe a class of operations that are intended to manipulate the emotions of populations; it is a form of mind control.
The specific intention of 9/11 was to terrorize the American people into supporting the so-called “war on terror,” which is a replacement for the cold war’s “war on communism.” It’s a blank check for the US government and the American military-industrial-complex to attack anyone, anywhere they want, anytime they want — to support the empire.

The psyop initially worked for a vast majority of US citizens, and for many, it is still working.

The terror that so many felt during and after the attacks left many people, particularly in New York City, with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder — PTSD. To revisit those events, as is necessary to expose the truth of 9/11, can retrigger that stress and add to the other discomforts that are already intrinsic to that same truth we are revealing. The desire to minimize re-experiencing that trauma causes people to back away. We need to go easy on those who exhibit such stress.

I. Lack of Knowledge of Historical Parallels or Patterns: While not strictly an emotional issue, the ignorance most people have about the many false flag events used to justify wars throughout history also has a psychological component. Our ability to conceptualize new information is dependent on having a frame of reference, that is, already knowing something similar, in order to be able to anchor a new thought. The lack of such historical reference points, therefore, can be yet another source of resistance. This blockage is perhaps the easiest one to deal with — by educating people about the long history of false flag events used for triggering wars.

The Awakening Will Take Time

These are most of the major reasons why so many people resist 9/11 Truth. By understanding them, we can meet people with empathy and understanding, and have more patience with them. Patience is so important because for most, awakening to 9/11 Truth is a gradual process, often taking weeks, months, or even years. In light of that, try to be sensitive when presenting evidence, so as to notice when a person is ‘full’ — when they have heard enough for the moment, and need space to digest and absorb the new, and often, disturbing concepts.

The good news is that with all that is happening now in our post-9/11 world, particularly with the public knowledge of the lies about WMDs and Saddam being linked to al Qaeda and 9/11 that led us into war with Iraq, people’s minds are opening wider every day. More and more people are waking up to the degree of corruption and deception that is routine in our government. Every day they learn more about how the corporate media have been complicit in lies and cover-ups. Trust in such corporate and governmental institutions is now at an all time low, and dropping. This makes people far more open to the 9/11 Truth message. In a very real sense, our job is getting easier.

The truth alone is not enough, but the truth plus strategic thinking, planning and educating is enough to convince most fence-sitters. As David Hutton, author of The Change Agents’ Handbook, says: “You do not have to spend a lot of time and effort on those who strongly resist change. You only have to help and protect those who want to change.” Understanding the various emotional obstacles is an essential part of such a strategy.

It’s been over seven years for some of us who have been working to expose the truth about 9/11. It will likely take several more years, but we will win — as long as we work smart and don’t give up. The truth will be revealed, and the resultant awakening will lead to the kind of deep changes that are so necessary to create a more positive future.

Jon Gold, 9/11 Truther: A Movement Memoir with Broader Implications

Review Essay

A Movement Memoir with Broader Implications

Jon Gold, 9/11 Truther: The Fight for Peace, Justice and Accountability.
Foreword by Cindy Sheehan., 2012.

9/11 Truther is a significant book because it both renders leading personalities in the movement and also, at its best, displays wide, well researched knowledge of many key issues. By March, 2012, this new book had risen to #15 in Practical Politics at Amazon.

As one of the first 9/11 memoirs, 9/11 Truther takes readers into the life of an activist, now 40, who’s been an important player on the East Coast and in the blogosphere. Jon Gold went to Hebrew school and took his Bar Mitzvah. Later, as he moved into “calling out” people he believed were hurting the movement with their wild speculations, Gold encountered vicious anti-Semitism. Consequences included high blood pressure, chronic depression, and, later, panic attacks (pp. 112-115). The book does not, however, explore broader questions of anti-Semitism in the 9/11 movement.

The first few dozen pages recount how Gold got into drugs, attempted suicide, and joined narcotics anonymous. Though the first 55 pages or so could strike readers as largely, perhaps overly autobiographical, they do capture key moments in the movement.

Unlike some “truthers,” Gold doesn’t claim to have “woken up” right away, almost before the smoke had cleared. After 9/11, he worked as a web developer and did the “patriotic” things, placing a small American flag on the company website.

Gold’s Entry into the Truth Movement

By 2004, however, questions were piling up, eroding Gold’s belief in the Official Story. When he watched Kyle Hence of Citizens Watch question the 9/11 Commission findings on C-SPAN, he felt immediate resonance: “They were asking many of the same questions I had been asking.” In an intense moment of self-confrontation, he felt “abused by the media and by the government. I [had] openly advocated killing people because of the lies I was told.”

The next year, led by 9/11 widows Lorie Van Auken, Patty Cazzara, Mindy Kleinberg and Monica Gabrielle, a group of family members issued a statement questioning the “entire veracity of the 9/11 Report.” Along with bereaved father Bob McIlvaine, they mounted a cogent challenge to the corporate media which had uncritically accepted the Report. But the news media continued to afford scant coverage to their challenge. Two years later, Gold attended a preview of “Press for Truth,” which he believes is the “most important documentary of our age,” but which received almost no media coverage at the time. Nor has it received much since.

Inspired by Jenna Orkin, an outspoken health-issue activist, and also moved by compassion, Gold became especially concerned with the health problems caused by the environmental conditions in Lower Manhattan, especially on “the Pile” (pp. 49ff). He raised $3,000 for first responders, some of whom were becoming seriously ill by this time. Gold received an award as Honorary Director of the FealGood Foundation, and this, he feels, was “the greatest moment of my life.” At a benefit for first responders on the sixth anniversary of the attacks, Gold introduced injured responder John Feal and later met actor Daniel Sunjata, star of the TV show “Rescue Me.”

Concerns over Movement Ethics and Tactics

By 2006, Gold had come under the influence of Paul Thompson and his amazing research project, Because of Gold’s affinity for this approach and his closeness to the families of victims, Gold became concerned that “too much emphasis was being placed on the physical aspects of 9/11.” (This extended the perspectives of Michael Ruppert who, several years before, had rejected the utility of physical evidence). In contrast, Gold was impressed with the “Eleventh Day”-of-the-month street actions popularized by Cosmos, a Bay Area activist. Although Gold believes that “no better action [has been] devised for this cause” (p. 55), he doesn’t say why.

In 2008, increasingly concerned that the corporate media were refusing to cover 9/11 critique, Gold made a series of ten videos about different 9/11 family members. (These are available at Throughout his subsequent years as a 9/11 activist, Gold has made extensive use of his talents as a designer. Though he claims “I’m a regular, everyday person who’s paying attention and trying to make a difference,” he’s obviously a very bright fellow who’s devoted many years to learning in service of the cause.

Also in 2008, Gold, Nicholas Levis and 9/11 family member Donna Marsh O’Connor brought forth a “Declaration of Standards and Strategies for 9/11 Truth” (pp. 69ff). They called for “awareness of public perception and the need for strategic and responsible promotion and presentation,” a “commitment to build credibility and constructive alliances with the peace movement” and “adherence to the scientific method and journalistic standards, with a focus on facts, substance, and sources.”

Not surprisingly, Gold expressed his concerns about extravagant claims, such as Judy Wood’s belief that beams from space had brought down the Towers, or conspiracy mongering, which he felt characterized the statements of Alex Jones and WeAreChange. Somewhat more surprisingly, by mid-decade Gold had concluded that belief in controlled demolition was becoming a kind of cultish litmus test (p. 105). Gold cautioned not only against “speculative theories” but also against “disruptive behavior” (within the movement). He also called for “self critique”; in a prophetic call to action, he pointed out “we can’t sit on websites arguing whose theory is right or wrong until this issue disappears into the ether” (p. 88).

Though the Declaration’s calls were much needed, most of them went unheeded. Sadly, some “fringe” elements saw them as attempts to silence them, so the injunctions themselves became divisive. Thus Gold seems to represent a large class of 9/11 activists who have insisted on grounded facts and logical arguments, only to be marginalized by the news media and pummeled by those favoring “flights of fancy.” He continues this internal critique today, often challenging the selection of speakers prone to sensationalism.

A Growing Acrimony and Aversion to Science                                                                

Since 2011, Gold has also indulged his disdain for scientific analysis of the buildings, even to the point of repeatedly blaming Richard Gage for the decline of the truth movement ( 6/02/11, 6/18/11, 10/19/11, 2/21/12). At their worst, these attacks have struck a tone that’s not only vulgar but full of self-pity: “I’ve only wasted a decade of my life on this, only to have it thrown under a bus by ASSHOLES… Given up my life, my friends, my health . . . for this” (see: Sure, especially when those posting can hide behind code names, internet “chats” often become histrionic, but…

The tirades against Richard Gage are not only bitter and vulgar; they’re usually false. Rather than sinking the movement, Gage’s Architects and Engineers have demonstrably helped to keep it afloat. If AE has a problem, it’s probably not that it’s excessively scientific, but that it’s sometimes not sufficiently so. While Gold once represented a conscientious commitment to truth telling, in the past year he’s seemingly moved toward irrational, disruptive personal attacks.

Connecting with Sheehan and the Peace Movement

Again, it wasn’t always this way. Earlier, Gold had made significant efforts to work with the peace movement. In 2009, he met Cindy Sheehan and became involved with “Peace of the Action,” based on “putting bodies on the gears of the machine to stop this empire.” His work with Sheehan continued into 2010, when her efforts evolved into Camp OUT NOW at the Washington Monument and a demonstration using false coffins (p. 80).

Exhaustion and disillusionment were becoming evident. The Sizzlin’ Summer Protests, an extension of the Camp, were “such a disappointment to us when no one showed up.” In 2009 and 2010, Gold also worked with NYCCAN (New York City Coalition for Accountability Now); when, later that year, this initiative also failed, it “was the ‘last straw’ for me” (p.74).

Much more recently, Gold seems interested in revisiting questions of the movement’s rhetoric and persona. In her Foreword, Sheehan recalls that

The most prevalent of these people who bombarded me, though, were the 9/11 ‘Truthers.’ I was harassed all over the world by them and I swear if one more person asked me if I saw ‘Loose Change’ I was going to forget my pacifism and punch him (it was always a him) in the face. The sad thing about this harassment was that I never believed the so-called official story of 9/11 and would have tended to be an ally to these people, but they were so rude and pushy. And, I didn’t feel that I had the time or the inclination to wade through the stacks of information that they tried to force on me …. I left a lot of that material in cabs or garbage cans.

The implication is that Jon Gold was one of the few “truthers” who favorably impressed Sheehan—and that he, perhaps more than any other individual, helped to bring her into the truth movement. Readers might like to know how he succeeded after so many others had failed.

Gold’s Orientation to Real-Life Issues

When Gold urged that we let “the facts speak for themselves” (pp. 131ff), he typically means grounded journalistic research such as that done by Paul Thompson and others at Gold clearly favors foreknowledge arguments pointing to government involvement; thus we’re not surprised when he links to a network story (MSNBC 9/9/01) revealing that the Bush administration was planning an attack on Afghanistan. Gold also provides solid information on the CIA’s Office of Technical Services, which made an Osama bin Laden propaganda video. The book also contributes valuable research on the suspicious spike in insider trading just before the attacks (pp. 157, 160-62) and on the profits made on War on Terror (pp. 176-77).

Though Gold is also well versed on Philip Shenon’s The Commisson, he does not provide much critique of that book. His strongest affinity is with whistleblowers, particularly those associated with families of the victims who were ignored by the Commission. His interest in foreknowledge also leads him to retell the story of the Israelis seen dancing for joy on the roof of an Urban Moving Systems van (pp. 147ff). The van’s location, in Liberty State Park just across the Hudson from the stricken Towers, was also telling. Five Israelis were arrested but soon released and allowed to leave the country. Just three days later, on 9/14/01, the owner of the company fled to Israel. The fact that Gold is Jewish should counter potential suspicion of anti-Semitism when he discusses likely Israeli/Mossad involvement. It has not, however, kept him from being slandered as a government agent.

The final section of 9/11 Truther, Random Articles from Over the Years, is sometimes repetitive and less compelling. In addition, the book would be a better if it had an index. Overall, though, it’s an important retrospective that will encourage many activists to introspect on where they’ve been and where they need to go.

Paul W. Rea, PhD, is the author of Mounting Evidence (2011). More on movement players, plus a very complete bibliography on 9/11, are available at