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The Global GrapevineWhy Rumors of Terrorism, Immigration, and Trade Matter$
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Gary Alan Fine and Bill Ellis

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199736317

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199736317.001.0001

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Rumor and September 11

Rumor and September 11

Understanding the Unthinkable

(p.21) 1 Rumor and September 11
The Global Grapevine

Gary Alan Fine (Contributor Webpage)

Bill Ellis (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Using beliefs and rumors that emerged during the first days after September 11, this chapter discusses how a culture in crisis uses these tools to make sense out of a disorienting event such as this. Rumor is a truth claim not backed by authoritative information. Whether true or false, it is an expression of a community's collective beliefs. These are especially illustrated in rumors about religious miracles and signs that occurred in the attacks, about groups of Arab Americans who publicly celebrated the event, and about a terrorist who warned his girlfriend about the attack in advance. The chapter analyzes these in terms of the politics of plausibility (the sort of thing Americans are predisposed to believe) and of credibility (the sources that Americans normally trust for reliable information). To flourish in public discourse, a rumor should be both credible and plausible.

Keywords:   September 11, terrorist, rumor, truth claim, collective beliefs, miracles, Arab Americans, plausibility, credibility

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