Teaching 9/11 to Conspiracy Theorists

James F. Tracy

This article was originally written in November 2015. Many have accused this author of teaching “conspiracy theories” to college students. Contrary to critics’  assertions, however, events such as the Sandy Hook School massacre or Boston Marathon bombing were never addressed in any courses taught at his former university. Only in the last college class he taught over a twenty year career in academe (13 of which were spent at Florida Atlantic University) did he have a chance to carefully examine and discuss September 11, 9-11-towers2001, or, more specifically, the US government’s official 9/11 conspiracy theory.-JFT

An enduring psychological effect of “the propaganda of the event” is a foremost element of all modern forms of war. Advances in hidden governance and concentrated media ownership have made the “war on terror” possible via increasingly fine-tuned trauma based mind control–in other words the enforcement of belief through overwhelming events subsequently placed in meaningful narrative context absent any contradictory information.

Such a phenomenon is readily apparent among the younger generations, particularly as they have come to rely on US government-sponsored conspiracy theories in order to make sense of momentous political events bearing upon their lives. Despite their irrational nature and profound shortcomings, such conspiracy theories are unquestioningly accepted as valid by an overwhelming majority of journalists and academics, who then repeat them as fact to their respective constituents.

This author recently taught an undergraduate media studies class where he chose to specifically address news coverage of September 11, 2001 and the broader history of false flag terrorism. This was the first time one specific historical incident was focused on throughout the term, and the overall approach involved cultivating students’ understandings and recollections of those events as the foundation of a working model that might demonstrate how such significant events and their re-presentation by corporate media and educational institutions actively hinder honest attempts to make sense of that tragic day, and thereby our present political location and historical moment.

Despite the academy’s progressive veneer, with few exceptions 9/11 and similar deep events are actively eschewed even by self-professed “radical” scholars, otherwise quick to take up questions of social and political power, particularly as they pertain to race, class, or gender. Taking their cue from public intellectuals such as Noam Chomsky,[1] they conclude that such questions interfere with analyses of ongoing “oppression,” not to mention potentially jeopardizing personal economic opportunities (i.e. accumulation of “cultural capital”) inevitably bound up in professional reputation. Unfortunately, this author’s experience suggests how such assumptions only tend to prolong and exacerbate the psychological trauma and detachment from historical reality many students still harbor as a direct result of 9/11.

On the first day of class students were given a brief informal survey to complete where they were asked about their experiences and understandings of September 11. Since most class participants were in their early-to-mid twenties, they were in early grade school years in 2001.

Upon vicariously witnessing the carefully coordinated “attacks” and their repercussions as children, the students recalled feeling shocked, confused, afraid, frustrated, and in some cases even angry that something like this could happen to their country, and in broad daylight no less. Some even knew of friends or relatives lost in the World Trade Center. The traumatic effects of those events were accentuated by observing the responses of their teachers and parents, who were likewise visibly shaken, in some cases reduced to tears.

Students were also asked what media venues they consulted for information and how they were educated on the 9/11 events. Almost without exception their main sources included K-12 instruction, what might be gleaned in a few years of “higher education” (most are college juniors or seniors), and conventional news outlets–particularly network news and cable news channels, made-for-television documentaries, and to a far lesser degree traditional print media.

A final question asked, “To the best of your knowledge, what exactly took place on September 11, 2001?” Students almost invariably repeated the same conspiracy theory concerning 9/11 that has been touted by federal government officials and corporate news media alike since that fateful day: Our country was attacked by Muslim extremists who hijacked planes and flew them in to New York’s World Trade Center Towers and the Pentagon in Washington DC. In one rare exception, a student who took a previous class with the author expressed skepticism, noting possible intrigue in the terrorist acts.

The class proceeded to read and discuss Barrie Zwicker’s Towers of Deception: The Media Coverup of 9/11, and view several documentaries, including Massimo Mazzucco’s September 11: The New Pearl Harbor. As the term proceeded an almost uniform sense of cognitive dissonance, disbelief and denial among students turned to uncertainty, and eventually an acknowledgement that they had been compelled to accept as fact a carefully-crafted myth, one paving the way for the “war on terror” that has largely defined their lives and those of their loved ones. The myth has required massive government propaganda abetted by a “free press,” which to this day refuses to interrogate and bring to light the greatest mass murder of US citizens in the nation’s history.

As part of the final exam students were given an option of using the surveys filled out at the start of class to contrast the previous lack of knowledge about the specifics of 9/11 and willingness to accept implausible government explanations of the event with the established facts and critical insights gleaned throughout the term. They were further challenged to analyze what their previous assumptions suggest about the overall failure of educational and informational institutions in general. How could it be, for example, that young people sit before televisions and inhabit classrooms for tens of thousands of hours by the time they reach young adulthood, yet still harbor irrational and likely harmful state-sanctioned conspiracy theories about the defining event of our time?

Moreover, what of their prospective profession as journalists? For example, after their instrumental roles in covering up September 11 major agenda-setting venues of US news, such as the New York Times and Washington Post, have gone on to hustle the American people with even more murderous government-backed deceptions, including “weapons of mass destruction,” the Iraq War, and more recently the decimation of Libya and Syria’s “civil war” by the Western-backed “Islamic State” mercenaries.

Yet the failure to more carefully address September 11 lies at the root of how techniques of mass psychology are now routinely used against what political strategist Karl Rove famously termed the “reality-based community.” As Kevin Barrett observes,

“Due to the collective emotional reaction to 9/11, and the outrageous and hard-to-believe social engineering project behind it, people who accept the official 9/11 myth are living in a very different world from the (real) world inhabited by those who know the awful truth; whereas those who recognize that Saddam’s WMD never existed, however outraged they may be, still inhabit pretty much the same consensus reality as those who haven’t figured that out.”[2]

Indeed, in the only nation on earth that provides for freedom of speech in its constitution and purports to make the world safe for similar forms of liberal governance, a potent mode of thought control permeates everyday though and discourse. The orientation begins in childhood and is shaped and reified by almost every major mass media institution. It manifests through a propaganda of silence and acquiescence that disguises itself as “journalism” and “scholarship,” and an almost reflexive acceptance of uninterrogated narratives in the hallowed halls of the modern university.

Institutions of higher education are the foremost underlying link in the ideational bulwark upholding the national security state. The hegemony of empire works a persistent and subtle mechanics of intellectual censorship under the professional guise of seeming impartiality and credentialed remove. Concrete questions of socio-political and economic power may be dismissed out-of-hand. Along these lines a critical mass of academics exists in a parallel universe characterized by an Orwellian double think enforced through a very real fear of professional isolation and, yes, economic privation. In this way one’s silence may be rationalized as practical.

Yet in the end such cowardice is a disservice to students, colleagues and self. It marks a point at which geopolitical design permeates the very life of the mind, and is suggested in the moral and intellectual decay of America’s increasingly Mandarin-like academic class. Under ideal circumstances a reluctance to confront and examine harsh yet verifiable historical and contemporary realities would be antithetical to the higher learning. In the modern state so heavily dependent upon surveillance, secrecy, and endless war for its continued existence, such intellectual strictures bound up in myth have become thoroughly indispensable.


[1] Noam Chomsky, 9/11: Was There an Alternative? New York: Seven Stories Press, 2001.

[2] Kevin Barrett, “Introduction: Another French False Flag! Why Shouldn’t We Jump to Conclusions?” in Barrett (editor) Another French False Flag: Bloody Tracks From Paris to San Bernardino, Lone Rock, WI: Sifting and Winnowing Books, 2016.

33 thoughts on “Teaching 9/11 to Conspiracy Theorists”

  1. I would surmise that perhaps the best course that could be offered in advanced journalism would be to ask of the students, “what are the most important aspects of being a journalist? What factors in investigating and writing up a case are the most important? What wrongful temptations must one avoid in order to be fair, detailed, and honest?

    In other words, let each student write about what it is that THEY must do to do justice to the event and their write-ups?

    It is wrong to allow student to listen/watch countless numbers of shows, radio programs, etc and then write up their analyses. If this way is followed, they will already have been imprinted with how this event was reported on and written up. Since they are also concerned about getting a good grade, they may stick too close to what they believe “sounds good”.

    1. On the other hand, what if the instructor gave students an exam at the beginning of the course asking for their comments as to how a good investigation/write-up should be done. Then, towards the end of the term, ask for the same thing and then observe how they have changed over the duration of the course.

  2. Beautifully written. Thanks for re-posting it.

    The post is a reminder of the significance of real teaching, as well as a description of its practice. It illustrates the tremendous loss to the profession inflicted by the university when it fired Tracy.

    1. This was exactly my reaction. How rare TRUE journalistic and intellectual inquiry is these days. This is well beyond the sphere of simple propaganda, IMHO. What is being irretrievably altered is even the ability to independently and fearlessly question the constructed reality presented by The System. In other words, The Matrix was a documentary.

      Any one event, hopelessly distorted by MSM, is horrendous. How much worse the long term imprinting that is going on that you are persona non grata among your friends, peers and society if you dare even ask questions about these events…questions that have NEVER been adequately answered.

      What is the answer? I think Prof. Tracy has provided it. You stand for truth despite the costs, the smears, the whisperings by the ignorant or corrupt. This is not a battle that is going to be won through timidity.

      We need to double down, to know facts that we are presenting, denials claimed to them to disprove their objections and keep hammering. There are, in every group, the independent thinker who has not had the opportunity to hear these kinds of serious critiques of the received wisdom. We’re going to have to be the people who provide that, come what may.

  3. wow, that’s really gutsy, teaching a course like that. It’s no wonder that academia looks askance, it makes it bad for truth pros serving as the truth police. But I would disagree that ‘institutions of higher learning are the foremost link’ to authorized ideological delusion. I would suggest that this is the function of institutions of LOWER learning.

    If your students had been taught in the lower grades that power historically tends to lie to the people to make us easier to rule, they would have developed a democratic suspicion of US power. Instead the youth are taught about ‘Honest Aba” and Washington who cannot lie about the cherry tree, and enumerable other deceits which develop a truth in authority which is not only undeserved, but which leaves them open to ‘trauma based mind control’ (nice phrase.)

    The problem is not simply what facts are taught, or not taught, but the conceptual CONNECTIONS among these facts. The conceptual language is restricted, fragmented, and disconnected to disconnect the truths, making it difficult and in some cases impossible for the population to connect the truths.

    This can be done by holistic conceptions that integrate the truth, but they convey truths that subvert the mainstream story of the state power system. So, as in the scientific revolutions, these can only be legitimated by conceptual revolution in social or people theory. Currently in the USA under the War on Terrorism, when one refutes one lie, they just come up with another.

    And it is implanted by trauma based mind control It is not only war where truth is the first casualty, but all homicidal trauma. But if your students changed their minds on being presented with the facts, so can all students on being deEducated of the untruth.

  4. Very nicely written piece. I couldn’t agree more. Our lives are governed not only by what we are taught, we are self-censoring what we consider “acceptable” to question.

    The corporate media has now assumed the mantle of “truth bearer”. Previously, most people approached “the news” with some skepticism. Since 9-11, that has been replaced by an unstated belief that “the media” is the standard bearer of orthodoxy.

    Even those not normally given to self-reflection possess a fear of questioning something that may result in holding contrarian views. They instinctively know that some things will not stand scrutiny but their fear of what such an exploration might produce renders them unwilling to look.

    I have seen this personally. It is a form of cowardice. It often makes the possessor angry at having to show their true fear. They know the official story is a lie, but if they knew more they would be unable to belong to the cult.

    Of course, simply put, if we believe that education should teach people to be critical thinkers and lovers of truth, our schools and universities should be engaged in that practice, no matter where it leads. If, on the other hand, we believe that “education” is simply to teach conformity to official dicta regardless of its veracity, we arrive at where we find ourselves.

    So, whether imposed by authorities and administrations, or self-imposed through cowardice and self-preservation, for educators to turn their backs to truth is more serious than individuals that do this. Who will these students acquire their skills from? Is their lot to be builders of a better world or droids serving like cattle?

    I think we all know the answer. It may no longer be possible to educate inside of the conventional educational system. Perhaps it is better to simply do than it is to ask the perpetrator for change.

    1. If I may interject a religious analogy here in response to your talking about people who do not want to examine much because it would take them out of their comfortable cult —

      In an earlier age, with people who may have known a lot that is practical about the world, but almost nothing of what we call science today, it was understood that the most educated people had to stand up and recite a Creed which contains language hostile to reason. They were to divide their lives into two separate spheres – faith (which cannot be subjected to the test of reason) and practical reason which made them responsible for things in the mundane side of life (contracts, legal obligations, bringing in a harvest, behaving appropriately in human relations). By keeping these separate, they did not fall afoul of the dominant religion in their region. If they resisted saying things they did not believe it was all right as long as they did not go public. Woe betide them if they did.

      I may have warm squishy feelings towards the religion of my youth, but then I believed it totally as though it were reality. When faced with the choice of splitting myself into two minds over it, I found the best course was to walk out. I have been back from time to time, and it amazes me that some have against all reason clung to the childhood view of faith. But I am more troubled by those who not only split themselves in two over it, but also insist that those who do not perform this contortion as adults are somehow less than they are, slackers as it were, unwilling to pass on the illusions they think people should have.

      Religion is one thing – it was founded by people who knew so much less about the world, had much less in the way of tools of discovery, and who were subject to a rough and random world, more dangerous than ours (although ultimately fatal for all). It has some honest bones in its body. But this substitute for religion, this secular faith in the reality of crisis actors — what a sad decadence, what a miserable decline.

      Did my experience with my religion serve as an early inoculation against believing everything authority tells me? If so, then it was good for me after all.

    1. I wondered the same thing. “Really?” They “lost friends or relatives in the World Trade Center”? From my years of examining the evidence surrounding the events of September 11, 2001, I believe it’s very possible that no one died in the Towers that day. And if anyone was killed the numbers were very, very low.
      I must add that It’s sickening to see Richard Gage’s face as the still shot for the video linked in the awesome article. There is no doubt whatsoever that Gage is controlled opposition with a message of half truths and a fear for the facts surround in the tragic day. There are many layers of propaganda and the vast majority of the so-called alternative media and such is nothing but a deeper layer of deception for those who wake up to the more obvious liars on broadcast TV. Most who think their awake are still sheeple.

      I’m more than impressed by your honest approach to teaching, Mr. Tracy! And great article here.

      1. Reply or tag to Greg: There is no doubt that Gage is a controlled opposition. I agree, but I’m having great difficulty reconciling the evidence that Simon Shack has brought forth showing the enormous level of fakery that was used, and the question of what sort of technology may have been used to molecularly disintegrate steel and concrete which is contingent upon the video evidence of that disintegration being real.

        For a long time I was certain that the 60 story spire of steel columns turning to dust as we watch was substantial evidence that some sort of weapon was used that formerly was only an object of science fiction. Because no honest study of that long planned psyop known as 9.11 is even started without looking into the true state of the art of special effects and perhaps finally deciding if some part of it wasn’t faked. I’m recalling Lookout Mountain Laboratory. Go to http://www.whale.to/b/lookout_mountain_laboratory.html for just one portal into this antilibertarian fishhead monster, (because everybody wants to look the other way when something wicked this way comes). We are under attack!
        “I just don’t see how anyone can watch a 60 story spire turning to dust and just disbelieve it. No physics rooted in Newtonian laws can explain this as an ordinary controlled demolition.”, (to quote from myself); soon the question angrily implores an answer. Is this too fake??? If huge steel columns can be turned to dust without the lying heat of S. Jones and Gage then we have all the energy we need to push this issue into the mediamind spectacle it deserves to be. They lie about the heat: Rivers of molten metal like the lava of a volcano, flowing down the troughs, or something, and oh, it turns out to be just a red and orange colorized work light.

    2. I was thinking the same thing. Considering the well-documented list of “vicsims” (coined by the clues forum people, I think), I really wonder just how many people really died in the towers. With all the faked deaths, one has to wonder if all of them were not probably faked.

      There is ample photographic evidence that least many, many floors of those towers had remained completely empty for years, indeed since their construction.

      1. Although I went to high school with one of the alleged 9/11 pilots, I never kept up with him. I went back to an old year book and verified my memory of him was correct. Interesting to me was the photo they always showed of “Chic Burlingame” ( I remember how our physics teacher pronounced it, always very precisely) looked perhaps ten years or more out of date and grainy. Someone at some random place I have forgotten threw out the line that he was already dead in a crash years before, in South America. Pilots fly a lot, sometimes for anti-drug reasons, once upon a time in places like Colombia (secret and no-so-secret wars). So maybe they used pilots who were already dead. He was an Annapolis grad. He may have remained in the military all along, and took on a civilian identity after death as an airline pilot.

        I am not just whistling Dixie here – because even without this guy, even without the loose ends, it seems the simplest story is that nobody died on 9/11 either. Control freaks prefer movies to semi-reality shows. The whole story about the WTC and the moving of the metal left from the buildings (whatever there was) was more Kabuki. It had an unreal feeling then, something controlled indeed, and after many years, I find that the most parsimonious explanation of what happened.

        “How often have I said to you, that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?” Sherlock Holmes to Watson. Most of us are Watson’s. We are slow and we backtrack. But we must keep track of the impossibles and thus eliminate them. Like planes crashing into buildings that didn’t. Like the passenger lists of those planes. Like the pilots of those non-existent planes. Etc.

        1. To clarify: the high school annual is old and real. My memory is merely confirmed by it. The Chuck-Chic Burlingame photos showing the alleged dead pilot predated 2001 by a long way, I would guess. The hair style (even though he was guy) is kind of bouffant and corresponds to men from the 80’s-early 90’s. It’s my opinion of course that this man was probably a hero of sorts from an earlier age, like one of those anonymous stars on the wall at Langley, whose death was publicized when it suited the objectives of the people who wanted the wars.

  5. I believe that Chomsky, and, other philosophical dreamers prefer to believe that conspiracies are the result of the wrong people at the top of the power structure, and must be ignored. This is in line with the Biblical hero mythos that sees world events shaped as by great individuals. Although these scholars are leftist, they do not believe that the zeitgeist of the times creates the men and ultimately the reality writ large. These are the people who would downplay the excesses of Stalin and Mao as necessary preconditions for a utopia. These are the true believers that believe, if only Trotsky had prevailed, the Soviet experiment would have worked. These scholars have to renounce any realpolitik with every intellectual machination they can muster. This type of philosophical dreaming is the borderline personality disorder of the intellectual class.

    1. “borderline personality disorder”? I think “borderline” is being too kind. These people suffer from induced psychopathy, and relay that psychopathy into the general population by invoking a desire to “rise to the top”, or at the very least, to choose a “leader” from a menu of psychopaths.

      1. Our constitutional rights are protected by checks and balances, and, Limited governmental powers, never in a benevolent power in the White House. Power breeds hubris and contempt even in the best of men.

        1. I think the only “personality disorder” to worry about it sociopathy, and I don’t think it can be induced.

          Criminals must be purged from any system before it can be judged rightly.

  6. Bravo, Dr. Tracy. A very well written piece. I wish my adult children could have taken your class. I, for one, cut my teeth on the JFK assassination when I was 17, so I have never trusted official stories nor the media. I read Mark Lane, and Jim Garrison in my twenties. When RFK was killed I did not believe what was said about his assassination.That made me an outsider. In my profession, opinions were kept to myself until 9/11. I had a colleague who lost her husband in the Pentagon, and a client who lost her father in the towers. In 2005, I read Michael Ruppert’s book Crossing the Rubicon…and then I knew there were SO many lies. And the internet was there to learn more. TV left my house forever. I have lost friends and some family because of my views. My son does not want to hear it (too stressful), my daughter knows but does not like discussing it.

    I would not presume to tell you how to teach….you apparently do it quite well, even unto handling the cognitive dissonance of your students. Florida Atlantic University is wrong. Sooner or later, they will have to answer for their own lack of discernment, unwillingness to research these topics, and the courage to support an unpopular but necessary view of the TRUTH. How else will we ever recover our country if academicians and professionals are too afraid to look, to study, and to speak out. Thank you for everything you have done.

    -Dr. Gail Nelson, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist.

  7. David Wheeler, actor, grieving father and FBI kingpin.



    This video won’t open to share presently.

      1. Thanks for the link, Pat. I think I’d read this paper of Mathis’ previously, but had forgotten it. I’d certainly forgotten that he offered tantalizing tidbits about Orwell…I will perhaps do some of my own digging to see if I can verify Mathis’ claims about Orwell’s family, at least. (I don’t trust that Orwell is any friend of ours–the hoi polloi, that is–but I haven’t been able to PROVE it.)

        We’ll see…

  8. I appreciate this article and many of the comments.

    I think a person having concepts of truth and fairness has to be trained into a child at a very young age, from the “age of reason.” This takes two parents and it takes time. “Society” has engineered out two parents and time.

    A sincere love of truth and desire to seek it always is of course most important for each individual’s mental and spiritual stability and therefore also for their physical well being. Unfortunately, many young people do not have a strong understanding of what is good and right and true. Many have simply been pushed into survival mode.

    I realize this article and thread are not primarily about 9-11, but need to say a little about that.

    I too was particularly turned off by the photo of Richard Gage. He is a minion of the Dr. Steven Jones / nanothermite operation.

    For a snapshot picture of Gage’s modus operandi, take a look at these two videos of a medical student named Abraham Hafiz who tried to ask Gage some very intelligent questions at the 9-11 Toronto Hearings.

    Richard Gage Questioned at AE911Truth Presentation (4/12/2011)
    Abraham Hafiz Rodriguez

    Medical student at Univ. of Illinois

    I have been an independent student of 9-11 truth since 9-11-01.

    Here is part of a recent comment I made on another site that sums up 9-11 for me…

    “There is only one person that I had a strong feeling was a government operative from the beginning and that is Dr. Steven “Mr. Nanothermite” Jones who co-opted and diverted a large part of the 9-11 truth seekers from the very beginning.

    The thing that slam-dunked 9-11 as a false event also was very early on and that is that there is zero evidence for commercial airliner crashes at the four designated sites and therefore there were no hijackers and therefore the “war on terrorism” was a Big Satanic Lie.

    Dr. Jones and the entire nanothermite gang apparatus always and consistently subtly supported real planes and real hijackers and spurned any talk of Zionist / Mossad / Israeli involvement.”


    1. “I too was particularly turned off by the photo of Richard Gage. He is a minion of the Dr. Steven Jones / nanothermite operation.”

      Ah, a minion of Dr Steven Jones and his nanothermite operation, eh? Sorry mate, but I find myself turned off by that smear on Jones AND Gage, not to mention the very large and solid body of evidence supporting the premise that nanothermate/thermite were used in bringing down the twin towers.

      I think Gage makes a pretty reasonable response to Hafiz’s questions – he makes a very good point that there are indeed a number of points of evidence and issues around 9/11 that he has not been able to explain, and that he is hard pressed working long hours to deal with whatever aspects of this overwhelming mass of evidence he feels he has the time and expertise to address. To be fair, I don’t think any one person can even keep track of the bewildering volume of evidence and information pertaining to those events, let alone be capable of presenting a coherent theory explaining every last detail of it.

      One thing that adherents of either of these seemingly competing theories should consider is that they are not necessarily MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE. In other words, we should definitely consider the distinct possibility (I would say probability) that both nanothermite AND some sort of secret energy weapon were employed in conjunction with each other on 9/11. I think that the evidence of nanothermite use is absolutely conclusive, but there is now way it can explain the pulverization of the metric tons of concrete to fine powder and the disappearance of incredible masses of structural steel, plane parts, and thousands of filing cabinets.

  9. This is off-topic, but in the spirit of being helpful, I wondered if James ever employed the classroom technique of smacking students about the ears with a wet fish (or, alternatively, with a sock full of rice pudding) when they got wiggly or distracted? Better yet, how about the administration? Just trying to help!


  10. I have serious doubts with the “nano-thermite only” theory, as it seems to me nano-thermite would not produce the results we see, i.e. two huge towers and all of their contents turning to dust in mid-air. I also doubt the “nukes in the basement” theory, because it seems to me that the lower floors would’ve blown out before the upper portion of the towers, which is, again, not what we were shown. I don’t know anything about Dr Judy Woods’ “Directed Energy Weapon” theory, but it seems plausible that whatever took down the twin towers could be something new, something we’ve never witnessed before.

    Regardless, we have enough information to know that the events of that day are not what we are being told by our leaders and the mainstream media. That should be enough to spur We The People to make desperately needed changes in the system.

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