9/11

By Daniel Margrain

It’s been almost 15 years since the tragic events in New York but the theories which deny the reality of that day keep coming. One of the latest in a long line of articles which attempt to undermine what billions of people saw with their own eyes is by author Frances Shure who asserts that people who critically dismiss the arguments of the 9/11 Truth Movement are unable to engage with reality. Thus the inference is that millions of critics of the denier narrative, including the thousands of witnesses and families who lost loved ones on that day, are mentally ill. But since Shure neither saw anyone, had a protocol for interviews, or engaged in research would suggest that no clinical observations were possible and thus she would of been unable to compare any subject’s mental states to either 9-11 conspiracy theorists nor to a control group.

The introduction to her papers says that they are a “synthesis of reports on academic research as well as clinical observations.” However, her “synthesis of reports on academic research” was not a meta-analysis, did not include even one proper research paper or authors that contradicted her and was sloppily referenced and dated. Shure does not once ask the question, why do people refuse to acknowledge that many people in the world quite justifiably – after years of horrendous war crimes against them – have very valid reasons for attacking the United States? With her blinding ignorance of what evidence and research are, she claims “the 9/11 Truth Movement has been stunningly successful in documenting mountains of evidence.” 

The reality is there has not been a single piece of “evidence” that has not been thoroughly debunked. In 2006, Noam Chomsky gave some helpful advice to people who believe they have physical evidence refuting the official account:

“There are ways to assess that: submit it to specialists . . . who have the requisite background in civil-mechanical engineering, materials science, building construction, etc., for review and analysis. . . . Or, . . . submit it to a serious journal for peer review and publication. To my knowledge, there isn’t a single submission”

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) who have exhaustively documented the failure of the Twin Towers surmised that far from being impossible, the collapse turns out to have been inevitable. The planes cut some of the support columns and ignited fires sufficient to weaken (but not melt) the remaining steel structures. As the perimeter columns buckled, the weight of the collapsing top stories generated a momentum the rest of the building could not arrest. Puffs of smoke were blown out of the structure by compression as the building fell. In other words, contrary to many of the claims of the conspiracy theorists, melting steel was not required to bring about the collapse. All that was needed were temperatures high enough to heat the steel beyond their tolerance levels.

This thesis was also acknowledged in the immediate aftermath of the attacks on the Twin Towers by numerous structural engineers and experts. Hassan Astaneh, a structural engineering professor at the University of California at Berkeley, for example, explained that the high temperatures in the fires weakened the steel beams and columns, causing them to become “soft and mushy”, and eventually they were unable to support the structure above. Astaneh also suggested that the fireproofing became dislodged during the initial aircraft impacts. Reiterating the subsequent conclusions of NIST, he explained that once the initial structural failure occurred, progressive collapse of the entire structure was inevitable.

The magazine, Counterpunch, commissioned its own expert, an aerospace and mechanical engineer, Manuel Garcia, whose conclusions into the official findings also tallied with NIST. Garcia demonstrated how Building 7 collapsed. Shure takes it as a given that Building 7 collapsed into its own footprint and implies that what everybody saw was a building in free fall indicative of a controlled demolition. But as Garcia shows, Building 7 fell slowly and gradually. This interesting set of videos, which are shot at different angles, clearly show Building 7 does not fall straight down and that Building 1 falls from the top first. It was Galileo who dropped two cannon balls of different mass off the tower of Pisa and found that they both arrived on the ground at the same time. Therefore the Towers did not free fall because debris which was in free fall arrived on the ground first. This is basic physics which denialist websites do not explain.

The final NIST report in November 2008 into the collapse of building 7 explains that fire was the main reason for the collapse, along with lack of water to fight the fire and falling debris which ruptured the oil pipes feeding its emergency generators. The reduction in pressure triggered the automatic pumping system, which poured thousands of gallons of diesel onto fires which continued to burn throughout the afternoon on the lower floors. At 5:20 p.m. a critical column buckled, leading to the collapse of floor 13, which triggered a cascade of floor failures within the building, eventually leading to global collapse. Popular Mechanics magazine polled 300 experts who came to the same conclusions.

The denialists also make false assertions in terms of the pancake theory which they claim has been debunked. But it is has only been “debunked” by the conspiracy believers. Actually, it is not a “theory” at all. It’s the most common sense explanation and has been documented in a number of other high rise buildings around the world. Despite all this, realists are somehow expected to believe that either:

a) “Explosives” were planted when the buildings were erected. That would require the longest conspiracy planning in history.

Or:

b) They were planted later. In which case, who planted them? How did they do that in a building occupied by 50,000 people on a daily basis? Perhaps they did it on weekends when the building only had about 5,000 visitors /day?

As Craig Murray argues, “The notion that a small team at night could plant sufficient explosives embedded at key points, is laughable.”

After reading the various theories of architects and engineers and other “experts” who support the claims of the 9-11 truth movement, one might be left with the impression that their views represent the majority. However, here’s a sober reminder of the context of such “support”.

According to The United States Census Bureau there are 233,000 architects and 2,495,000 engineers in the United States. Only 1,761 out of 2,728,000 joined Architects and engineers for 9/11 truth. That’s 0.065% of the total. And I haven’t even looked at whether the architects and engineers listed were in fields in any way relevant to the WTC. Although the tiny minority of “experts” and others who support the perspective of the denialists might know nothing about physics, structural engineering, ballistics or explosives, they still feel qualified to assert that the vast majority of experts in these fields are wrong.

Alexander Cockburn described these kinds of amateur detectives in the following way:

“[They] proffer what they demurely call “disturbing questions”, though they disdain all answers but their own. They seize on coincidences and force them into sequences they deem to be logical and significant. Like mad Inquisitors, they pounce on imagined clues in documents and photos, torturing the data ­- as the old joke goes about economists — till the data confess. Their treatment of eyewitness testimony and forensic evidence is whimsical. Apparent anomalies that seem to nourish their theories are brandished excitedly; testimony that undermines their theories–like witnesses of a large plane hitting the Pentagon — is contemptuously brushed aside.”

Some might argue that there is a potential conflict of interest issue with respect to the US government and NIST funding. But this presupposes that if NIST conclusions of their findings were based upon falsehoods and lies, then the alleged cover up would extend to a further 200 technical experts and 125 leading experts from the private sector and academia— many of whom worked independently of NIST and whose work involved:

– Reviewing tens of thousands of documents.

– Interviewing more than 1,000 people.

– Reviewing 7,000 segments of video footage and 7,000 photographs.

–  Analysing 236 pieces of steel from the wreckage.

– Performing laboratory tests and sophisticated computer simulations of the sequence of events that occurred from the moment the aircraft struck the towers until they began to collapse, and so on and so forth.

Is the general public seriously expected to believe that if the NIST conclusions were based on falsifications, not one individual among the literally thousands of people who were involved in the NIST project, would not by now have come forward to publicly question any wrongful and misleading interpretation of events attributed to them by NIST? The reality is that too many people would of had to of been involved in any cover up. Moreover, it’s inconceivable that over the course of almost 15 years nobody has objected or come forward to the media.

But even if one thinks that organisations’ or individuals have colluded for reasons of political expediency, how does one explain findings from other investigations that fires alone (without any damage from the planes) were enough to bring down the WTC buildings?

Take a study undertaken by the University of Edinburgh as an example. Edinburgh published a paper in which they concluded that the towers were uniquely vulnerable to the effects of large fires on several floors at the same time. When the NIST report was published, Barbara Lane from the UK engineering firm Arup, criticized its conclusion that the structural damage resulting from the airplane impacts was a necessary factor in causing the collapses.

Cesar Pelli, who designed the Petronas Towers in Malaysia and the World Financial Centre in New York, remarked, “no building is prepared for this kind of stress.” On September 13, 2001, Zdeněk Bažant, professor of civil engineering and materials science at Northwestern University, circulated a draft paper (subsequently expanding the analysis) of the World Trade Centre collapse. Bažant suggested that heat from the fires was a key factor, causing steel columns in both the core and the perimeter to weaken and experience deformation before losing their carrying capacity and buckling. Once more than half of the columns on a particular floor buckled, the overhead structure could no longer be supported and complete collapse of the structures occurred.

Other analyses were conducted by MIT civil engineers Oral Buyukozturk and Franz-Josef Ulm, who also described a collapse mechanism on September 21, 2001. Many who have questioned the official version of events argue that the truth can be found by visiting websites like http://www.911truth.org, http://www.physics911.net and http://www.911scholars.org or by reading articles by the theology professor David Ray Griffin, the physicist Steven E. Jones and others. But in all these cases you will find wild supposition raised to the status of incontrovertible fact; rumour and confusion transformed into evidence; selective editing; the citation of fake experts and the dismissal of real ones.

Rather like climate change deniers, 9/11 “truther’s” cherry-pick their evidence and seize any excuse for ignoring the arguments of the vast majority of the relevant experts in the field.  Naturally, those in positions of power or influence who challenge conspiracy theories are invariably deemed to be part of the conspiracy. As David Robert Grimes, postdoctoral research associate at the University of Oxford, who has used maths to examine conspiracy theories, argues “..those making these charges will descend into accusing one of shilling or being an agent of some malignant entity.” Grimes calculates the greater number of people that are involved in a conspiracy means the shorter its lifespan is likely to be. In response to his work, conspiracy theorists have threatened him and tried to get him removed from his academic position.

The evidence that planes smashed into the twin towers which triggered a set of events that resulted in their collapse, is overwhelming. But all this overwhelming evidence is not enough. Apparently, to qualify as an opponent of the neocons, it’s not sufficient to acknowledge that the Bush administration exploited the attacks on the WTC for their own political ends, but rather, one must also believe that it could blast the Pentagon with a cruise missile while persuading over a hundred witnesses that they saw a plane, wire every floor of the Twin Towers, detonate them in a perfectly timed sequence and make Flight 93 disappear into thin air while ensuring that the relatives of the passengers collaborated with the deception.

In other words, one must believe that an incompetent set of governments,’ who failed to pull off Watergate and who were incapable of faking weapons of mass destruction, are all-seeing and all-powerful. People believe the false arguments of the 9-11 truth movement because it proposes a closed world that’s comprehensible and controllable, as opposed to one that’s chaotic without destination or purpose.

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