Monday, 6 June 2011

Jamie Bartlett says young people should develop critical thinking skills - Who would disagree?

Originally sent October 2010

For the first time ever in the history of the 9/11 truth movement, as far as I am aware, truth seekers will have an opportunity to be directly confronted by ‘the other side’.

The think-tank DEMOS has accepted an invitation to talk about their recommendations to Government on ‘open infiltration’ in what they call ‘conspiracy theory’ groups. That meeting will take place this coming Monday, under the heading ‘DEMOS v. The Truth Movement’.

The speakers will be the two authors of the DEMOS report ‘the power of unreason: conspiracy theories, extremism and counter-terrorism’, which I wrote about in my September newsletter.

Jamie Bartlett and Carl Miller have agreed to come along and explain the thinking behind their work, and to answer questions from the audience. In my September newsletter I described the recommendations, and gave some background on DEMOS, explaining its importance in Government thinking since 1997. If you don’t have that newsletter, and would like a copy, just email. I can also supply you with my Powerpoint presentation which I used at last month’s meeting of ‘9/11 Keep Talking’, in which I analysed the contents of the report.

In summary, I wrote in the newsletter:

“The report was headed, ‘the power of unreason: conspiracy theories, extremism and counter-terrorism’, and it claims to examine the role of conspiracy theories in extremist groups, arguing that conspiracy theories are linked to violence. It singles out the 9/11 Truth movement as being “most notorious and influential”, in that it questions the official accounts of 9/11.

It states that the obvious response by Government of producing information often fails because any refutation risks being taken as evidence of a cover up. The authors propose introducing ‘alternative information’ to civilian groups which believe in conspiracy theories. This may be introduced directly by agents of the Government, ‘or their allies’, in what they term ‘open infiltration’, or it may be introduced by civilian groups, which would be seen to be independent of Government.”

Shortly after the report was published, Jamie Bartlett opened up a blog on the DEMOS website headed ‘The bloggers strike back’ giving a description of the report, and accepting comments. Many of these comments concerned the issue of 9/11, which had been included in the report.

In response to one contributer, he stated: “Paolo you are absolutely right, the report was not about the 9/11 truth movement, but about conspiracy theories in extremist groups. I have, however, consequently been sucked into a debate about 9/11, which I am more than happy to take on”.

He added: “Finally, I will be going on to a radio show soon with someone who I think is quite an influential person in the 9/11 truth movement. To his credit he's willing to have me on his radio show. So I'll post details when I get them. I put a couple of questions up myself, and these were replied to privately. I then asked Carl whether they would be willing to come and talk to us and answer questions on their report. Carl replied that he would, but that they would both be abroad for the next meeting.

Some time later I wrote on Jamie’s blog page: “You and Carl will be most welcome to come to our 9/11 Keep Talking group in London to explain your report and to answer questions on it. This would provide an opportunity for both of you to demonstrate just how 'open infiltration' would work, and how you would propose to introduce ‘alternative information’ in connection with the 9/11 issue. It would also allow you to explain to us the other forms of infiltration which you propose, and why they are necessary, compared with the current methods already employed by the security services. Carl has already accepted in principle, and so if you could email me with some dates, I'll be able to set something up.”

Jamie responded privately, and that led to Monday’s meeting. Initially, we had intended this as a normal monthly meeting of the London group, which we had been holding in a pub in St Pancras Station, in a meeting room provided free of charge. But by the last meeting they were asking us to commit to £10 per head in drinks and food. Attendance went down. Then David Rose stepped in. He is a PhD student of Sociology at Goldsmith’s College, a part of the University of London, working on ‘Visual Sociology and Conspiracy Theories’ (

DEMOS press release

Instead, civil society must play a stronger role in engaging with conspiracy theories where they find them, and the education system needs to do more to equip young people with critical thinking skills, especially in respect of the net.

BBC report:

Secrecy surrounding counter-terrorism operations is fuelling mistrust of authorities, a study by independent think tank Demos suggests.

It urges the government and secret services to be more open to stop extremist groups using conspiracy theories to discredit them.

A Demos spokesman said: "Less-secret services could make Britain safer."

The study calls for greater communication with trusted community leaders and individuals.

Both the DEMOS press release and the Guardian blog give prominance to 9/11, thus emphasising that the 9/11 truth movement was indeed of primary relevance to the report. Please feel free to pass this newsletter on to friends and to get the information out there, and above all, keep talking.

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