Zaid Jilani: 9/11 conspiracies are 'crutch' to simplify complicated world

Journalist Zaid Jilani told Hill.TV that extreme cynicism is helping sustain conspiracy theories about the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

In an interview on Hill.TV’s “Rising,” Jilani discussed the results from a recent Economist/YouGov poll that found 34 percent of respondents believe the U.S. government “probably” or “definitely” knowingly helped to make the terrorist attacks happen.

Conspiratorial thinking, Jilani said, has been a “crutch or a reflex” for some to simplify complicated issues long before the rise of the internet.

“It’s a mistake to think of conspiratorial thinking as largely a result of the flow of information or access to information,” he said, pointing to historical conspiracies about the moon landing and former President Kennedy’s assassination. “It has always been with us, and I think it’s more about people’s emotional or psychological response to a messy world than it would be the fact that YouTube exists.”

Jilani said conspiracies about Sept. 11 are easier to comprehend than piecing together the more complicated yet accurate storyline.

“It’s much more likely that a lot of these things that we think are conspiracies are sheer incompetence by the government,” he said. “It wasn’t planned out. It wasn’t plotted, because the government was not very good at planning or plotting then. That’s what led to a lot of the breakdowns.”