Part 10: Terror Management Theory
by Frances T. Shure
Sept. 30, 2014
Architects and Engineers for 911 Truth

Editor’s Note: Frances Shure, M.A., L.P.C., has performed an in-depth analysis addressing a key issue of our time: “Why Do Good People Become Silent—or Worse—About 9/11?” The resulting essay, being presented here as a series, is a synthesis of both academic research and clinical observations.

In answering the question in the title of this essay, the August segment, Part 9, reported on the interface between brain research and the study of moral psychology, and how this research demonstrates that some moral convictions are innate and thus hardwired in the human nervous system. Additionally, we learned that some of these innate brain structures make it difficult for 9/11 Truth activists to present their evidence, as well as for listeners to receive this evidence openly.

We continue Ms. Shure’s analysis in October with a dual offering — Part 10: Terror Management Theory, and Part 11: Systems Justification Theory. They examine, respectively, how the fear of our own death and the need to feel good about the cultural system in which we live create resistance to the evidence presented by 9/11 skeptics.

Part 10: Terror Management Theory

Why Do Good People Become Silent—or Worse—About 9/11? Part 1

Terror Management Theory postulates that whenever we are introduced to information that reminds us of death — such as simply the mention of 9/11 — our anxiety increases, since we are reminded of our own inevitable death. This anxiety is called “mortality salience.” Studies show that our behavior immediately becomes more defensive when we are reminded of death. In turn, we become increasingly insecure. This normally causes us to show increased preference for members of our own group (the “in group”) over out-group members; to show more “consensus bias,” or favoritism toward those who hold beliefs similar to our own; and to develop “compensatory conviction,” an inflated faith in our personal worldview, such as a bias toward our own country and religion.

Therefore, when we skeptics try to educate people about 9/11, we provoke anxiety in our listeners since, unconsciously, we are reminding them of their own death. More defensive behaviors then ensue.

In addition, if our listeners view us as members of a minority group, they usually resist what we are saying — at least initially. If, on the other hand, they view us as members of the majority group, they are more likely to accept our information. In other words, people like to be on the winning side, or in the middle of the bell curve, as we saw in Part 6: Conformity.

As of this writing, skeptics of the official account of 9/11 are generally viewed as holding a minority opinion, but this need not remain the case. The good news is that research shows that information coming from a perceived minority group, although initially resisted, often exerts a hidden or delayed impact. When listeners hear dissenting views repeated, those views become more familiar. Thus, resistant individuals, when interviewed later, often show shifts in favor of the new information.1

German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer intuitively understood this delayed impact when he wrote,

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

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